Sweet Shawlettes: Book Review, Q&A, and Giveaway!

I am so pleased to be the next stop on the blog tour for Jean Moss's new book Sweet Shawlettes!

SweetShawlettes_cover

Jean Moss is a British knit designer that has worked with fashion houses of the likes of Ralph Lauren! Her newest book Sweet Shawlettes is filled with designs that are sure to please every knitter's neck and shoulders.

Here are a few of my favorites!

PolperroHR
FizzHR
MantillaHR

I am especially excited to try the Penumbra Cowl. It uses the simple Japanese shadow knitting technique – one that I have yet to try!

PenumbraHR
The patterns are well written and I like that she offers a bit of the traditional and non traditional style patterns. The pieces are divided into 4 sections Country, Couture, Folk and Vintage.

Jean was amazing enough to take time to answer some questions!

When did you learn how to knit?
Originally I learned to knit before I went to school because I wanted to be like my beloved grandmother who spent hours teaching me.  A fallow period ensued but my interest was rekindled in my teens when I started to make my own clothes.  It was the swinging sixties and I loved what I was seeing on the street and in magazines, but had no way of achieving anything similar other than to pick up my needles again.  From then on I was hooked. It never occurred to me that I'd ever be able to make a living out of it, especially as I had no formal training in design, but after getting requests for sweaters I'd made for the kids, I decided that it might be a way of making some extra cash from home.  No-one was more surprised than I was to find that very quickly I was presenting my designs to luminaries such as Ralph Lauren and Calvin Klein and they were placing orders! It was a meteoric learning curve!

What made you decide to make the book Sweet Shawlettes?
The book came to me out of the blue when Erica Sanders-Foege, then a senior editor at The Taunton Press, rang to ask if I would consider doing it. The working title was Sweet Shawlettes, but Erica  assured me I could change it if I didn't like it.  However, for me the title had a certain broad brush appeal – whimsical, feminine,  could even be ironic – or it might have been that I'm just addicted to alliteration, but knowing how difficult it is to come up with decent book titles, I quickly applied the if it's not broken, don't fix it principle.  

I agreed to submit a synopsis and by the time I'd finished it I was completely hooked on the idea.  Previously most of my books have concentrated mainly on sweaters, and this gave me the opportunity to explore a totally different form.  Shawls, capes, cowls, furbelows or anything that can be worn around the neck was the brief and I was thrilled to explore as many ways of interpreting it as I could.  It took me on an interesting journey exploring the construction, techniques, yarns and the history of neck wraps and I'll always be grateful to Taunton for offering me this opportunity. 
Can you describe your design process? 
In  all my design work I travel an identical road. Every design has its own cooking time – some simmer slowly like a casserole for months, while others are immediately on a fast boil and just tumble out. At the start of a book,  I usually try to give myself two weeks of displacement activities, like gardening, playing guitar or cooking, which seem to be good for propagating new ideas.  I do a rough drawing, then choose yarns and colours I'd like to use, then I swatch, swatch, swatch until I get a combination of yarn and stitch which seems to reflect the look of the design.  I always sketch the design on a person (I'm no great artist, but I find even if I draw a  stick woman it's invaluable for focusing on the proportions) and from there I'll try out different versions of it on a mannequin using any fabric I have around.  This gives me a very good idea of whether or not the design will work. When I have the version I like, I complete a specification sheet, then make the chart and schematic and finally crunch the numbers.  

 Thank you so much Jean for creating such a wonderful book! Buy your own copy here!

Lucky for you all, I'm giving one copy of Sweet Shawlettes away to one of my fabulous readers! Leave me a comment by Wednesday 1/25 (midnight EST!)

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For more stops on the Sweet Shawlettes blog tour visit these fabulous blogs!

Mon 2 Jan  more yarn will do the trick Jean Moss 
Tues 3 Jan wendy knits Wendy Johnson
Wed 4 Jan  knitgrrl Shannon Okey
Thurs 5 Jan  yarnagogo Rachael Herron
Fri 6 Jan  the knitter Rosee Woodland
Sat 7 Jan   rhythm of the needles Joanne Conklin
Sun 8 Jan knit purl gurl Karrie Steinmetz
Mon 9 Jan  craftsanity Jennifer Ackerman-Haywood
Tues 10 Jan   planet purl Beth Moriarty
Wed 11 Jan  sunset cat Stephannie Tallent
Thurs 12 Jan a really good yarn Julie Schilthuis
Fri 13 Jan  knit 1 chicago Lynn Coe
Sat 14 Jan    go knit in your hat Carol Sulcoski
Sun 15 Jan  redshirt knitting Erika Barcott
Mon 16 Jan  in the loop Cheryl & Ellen
Tues 17 Jan webs Kathy Elkins
Wed 18 Jan   zeneedle Margene Smith
Thurs 19 Jan knitspot Anne Hanson
Fri 20 Jan  urban yarns Alexa Ludeman
Sat 21 Jan   a friend to knit with Leslie Friend
Mon 23 Jan tentenknits Margaux Hufnagel
Tues 24 Jan fancy tiger crafts Amber Corcoran
Wed 25 Jan chic knits Bonne Marie Burns
Thurs 26 Jan the panopticon Franklin Habit

 

Knit Style: Minimalist Cardigan

Knit Style: Minimalist Cardigan

Sweater: Minimalist Cardigan (knit in 08 but seamed 2009 – original post)
Cowl: Atelier Cowl (ravelry link)
Dress from Marmalade
Glasses: Bonlook
Boots: Frye  (sorry they got cut off!)

Sorry I got sidetracked with my knit style posts! I had originally wanted to do this weekly or at least bi-weekly and realized I had only done the ONE! So here I am all gussied up for work. I even washed my hair.

Knit Style: Minimalist Cardigan

My minimalist cardigan is high in the rotation. I love how simple and straightforward the pattern is and I almost forgot how much I love moss stitch. Not to mention the yarn from foxfire fiber… swoon.

FO: Rabbit Fur Cowl

Rabbit Fur Cowl

I am the first to admit I was wrong. When Atelier got a shipment of this rabbit fur yarn my initial reaction was, "Seriously? I just got this in my trick bag for halloween!" I swore up and down that I would never be caught dead knitting with it. Leave it to Amanda to make me put my knitting in my mouth. This is no fun fur.

Rabbit Fur

While I completely get what makers of fun fur or other eyelash yarn are going for there is no duplicating the real thing. This yarn which is exclusive to Atelier is made from actual rabbit pelts. Now before you get all PETA on me and start splashing my blog with cans of paint – the rabbit that this fur comes from is harvested for its meat. All those hides that would have gone to waste are used to create this unique yarn. As far as I know this is the first actual rabbit yarn on the market. It makes for a beautiful fabric just like the scarves or vests you would get at Neiman Marcus for a fraction of the price.

Atelier currently carries this red/black, a dark green, black (worn by the fabulous Linda below) and the currently sold-out grey/black color below. It was that cowl that turned my mind around. 

Lindame

It was my mother that fell in love with red/black blend. During her Thanksgiving visit we went to Atelier and she walked out with a skein of the red and while she wanted to make it herself, I couldn't help taking it from her.

Now she has something luxurious to wear on her flight home…

Rabbit Fur Cowl

and I have a reason to use my "people's eyebrow" model pose. You're all welcome.

Winner of Coastal Knits!

How fitting is this?

Coastalknitswinner

A TEN!!!

Congrats to Sillylittlelady!! I hope you enjoy Coastal Knits as much as I do!

I promise to get back to regularly scheduled blogging this week! It feels so good to be done with a few deadlines and to have some breathing room. My swift and ball winder are getting a good workout while I plan for some new knits for both me and some lucky recipents this holiday.

Hope you all had a fabulous and peaceful Thanksgiving! 

FO: Seersucker Capelet

Seersucker Cape

Finished Capelet Measurements (around body)
40”, 43”, 49”, 52”
sample knit in 43”

Yarn
Cascade Lana Grande (100% Peruvian Highland Wool) 4, 4, 5, 5 skeins in 6047, and one scrap for CC cast on. Great substitute: Rowan Big Wool

Needles
One 20” and 40” circular needle (circ) in size US 13 [9.0mm]
Or size to obtain gauge

Notions
• Stitch markers 
• Tapestry needle

Gauge
10.5sts and 15 rnds = 4” in seersucker stitch  

seersucker2

This was an idea that just wouldn't leave my head from the moment I started looking at Wrap Style again. I simple but cozy capelet.  The original plan was to make the cape long enough so that I had to make slits for where my hands would pop out but I decided to stop just above the elbow. That original sketch still lingers on my mind so you never know what could be coming next.

I had quite the educational time working on the pattern. I even ripped the whole thing out and started over. The CC color on the collar was originally a provisional cast on (at the time I was eager to get to the shaping and thought I'd complete the rest of the neck later) but after showing it to a few people they all loved that pop of color and I kept it in!

All in the creative process right?  What I'm left with is a cute, cozy, shoulder warmer, with a collar that can be buttoned or pinned up to be a turtleneck should the chilly weather sneak up on me.

Queue it up! or buy now!

Happy Knitting!

52 Days until Christmas

I recieved an email yesterday from a friend who is orgaizing a secret santa knit exchange and the words "there are 52 days until Christmas" made me choke on my coffee.

What the what! When did it turn into November? I should have seen the warning signs. The change in the weather, the pumpkin spice coffee at Starbucks, October… but for some reason it didn't register that time was of the essence with knitting presents.

I have a ton on my knitting plate this fall too aside from making gifts. It's been very exciting for me and I can't wait to share it all here – but in the meantime…:)

It's the weekend of the Interweave Knit Lab. I signed up for classes months ago and when I did November seem like a far off time but here it is! I am looking forward to seeing some old friends and have already had the chance to hang out with two of my favorite girls, Courtney and Kate. Like they said, we had some really great Indian food, I got to sing to them the opening song of Full House, and we went to a place that serves beer, wine, pie and ice cream. A fantastic day indeed.

Now that that fun day is over it's time to get refocused on knitting. Heck, if all else fails, everyone is getting jewelry.

Library Gem: Wrap Style

Wrap Style
Is it just me or are capes and capelets really IN right now. It's a moment like this that I love when I can go into my knit library and find a book I bought years ago that still stands up!

Wrap Style features 24 wraps, caplets and a very popular shawl which was the reason I bought the book in the first place. 

I think we often fear that we'll buy a knitting book and find that it is SO dated by the next year. To be honest it wasn't until I had a customer looking for a fun wrap to make that I pulled this book off the shelf. As we were flipping through the book I was getting more and more excited about the fact that I still wanted to make all those patterns! And did you know that it comes with wonderful instruction on how to make a cape of your own? 

A sneak peek…

Seersucker Sneak peek!

Pattern coming soon! (in the mean time check out Wrap Style, I know you won't be dissapointed!)

WIP Wednesday: Swatching

Swatching

I just returned from a visit to my home state and can't get the song "Edge of Glory" by Lady Gaga out of my head. It's good to have seen some old friends and family. They know how to make a girl feel loved.

Now that I'm back home it's back to work! The swatch above it a bit of an experiement for me – a whole lot of trial and error. Hopefully I'll have something to show you all soon!  Yarn is Lana Grande by Cascade. I love me some quick, chunky knits!

Rhinebeck!

Rhinebeck 2011

There's so much I want to say about this trip but I will sum it up in one way: Knitters, our community, what we do, who we are, how we create – is flat out AMAZING. I am so lucky to be amongst so many wonderful people. 

I may or may not have lost my voice after this day but boy was it worth it.

Knit on!
xo