Designer Spotlight #7: Kat Coyle, www.katcoyle.com

The Perfect Knitted Accessory

Sometimes the smallest bit of fibery goodness will make you smile. And Kat Coyle’s  (www.katcoyle.com/blog) knitted bits of highly creative goodness for Brave New Knits made me smile from my first glimpse of the sketch she sent to illustrate her idea.

Add This To Your Holiday Gift-Giving List

Who doesn’t love nearly-instant gratification? We knitters definitely love those clever stash-busting projects that can be completed in a single afternoon. And it’s even better when those little stash-busters turn out to be gift-worthy items that we can feel proud to bestow on a loved one.

Deploy A Special Button

And those of us with a secret stash of vintage and other special buttons (OK, maybe not so secret), especially love stash-busting projects that also incorporate one or more of those fabulous buttons as the perfect finishing detail. Kat must have read my mind, because when I first opened the gold boxes into which she had placed these two lovely accessories, I was absolutely smitten.

And I think you will be, too.

Although she feels as if she hasn’t worked as much this year, Kat has had a couple of brilliant successes in two popular knitting publications. Following up her fabulous Courting Sophia shawl pattern in the Spring, 2010 issue of Twist Collective, another of Kat’s designs appeared in Veronique Avery’s St. Denis Magazine Issue #2 – the Bright Stripes lace scarf pattern.

In addition, she made an art piece – something she’s been wanting to do more of, and was part of a group show of textile artists this past spring. For that show, her work was a combination of embroidery, crochet and knitting. And, this summer, she was in another group show – this time, a lace piece using her version of Irish crochet.

She continues to teach children’s classes at Wisdom Arts Laboratory, where the summer’s projects included having the kids make mobiles… and of course, she introduced several to the joys of knitting and sewing.

This fall, we’ll see more knit designs, and if we’re lucky Kat will produce some of her first self-published patterns.

Designer Spotlight #6: Chrissy Gardiner, Knittinmom

She ‘Hearts’ Self-Publishing

Since our Brave New Knits interview, Chrissy Gardiner (AKA “Knittinmom” in the blogosphere) has delved further into self-publishing, which has been, in her words, “the best experience!”

Her focus has shifted from individual patterns to books. She is busily working on her next book, for which her newest idea is to set up a pattern club which she dubbed a “CSK” (for Community Supported Knitting, a phrase coined by her husband when she described the similarities between her concept and a farm CSA).

Community Supported Knitting

Starting in August, each month for the next year the pattern club CSK group will get a pre-released pattern from the upcoming book. As part of the club, she is also doing raffles and goodie bags – and those 150 goodie bag slots sold out in a mere 3 weeks! More information about the project is available at http://www.indiesockbook.com

Chrissy has also shifted to a lot more digital delivery of patterns and her book; in fact, she released an e-book version of Toe-Up! on Ravelry a few months ago. Also in the works are her plans to offer online classes.

For Brave New Knits, Chrissy created a new design in the genre for which she is perhaps best known, and her fans will have no trouble recognizing it! Worked in one of Sundara Yarn’s fabulous semi-solid colors, a peek at this project is here:

Although Chrissy insists there have been no major changes to her design sensibility, her style continues to mature. “I’m a lot less afraid of experimenting, and I have a much broader base of experience to work from. Every year that I design brings me new challenges and discoveries – it’s great fun!”

While she still blogs regularly,  “… it just doesn’t quite have the same appeal that it did when I started my blog nearly 5 years ago.” She spends lots of time on Ravelry, but like many of us she has discovered that “… getting away from the computer and taking a break from technology is very refreshing.”

Like many busy designers, Chrissy has days when she finds that she’s not knitting at all due to all the time she spends surfing or formatting, and when that happens, she knows it’s time to refocus on the yarn and needles.

Designer Spotlight #5: Ann Hanson, Knitspot

Ask Anne Hanson of Knitspot how her life has been over the last year, and she will tell you, “Things are pretty much the same, but MORE.” 
 
2010 has seen her travel schedule get a jump-start; she is in ever-increasing demand as a teacher of lace knitting, sock knitting, and more. In fact, she recently returned from Knit Nation in London, and found that one of the best things about her expanded travel schedule is that, “… it’s been a lot of fun to get out there and meet so many readers and customers, as well as those who are new to me. i love teaching and talking about knitting, after all!”
 
The main downside to all this globe-trotting is that it takes a toll on how much Anne is able to get done at home. As a source of inspiration, however, it can’t be surpassed; she uses her travels to keep things fresh.
 
Secure in her place among that elite group of knitting bloggers who writes posts several times a week (nearly every other day most of the time!), Anne keeps a unifying focus on knitting and the design process, “… with a bit of gardening, cooking, and general life thrown in. And of course, travel! Everyone loves to see photos from the places I visit.”
 
She reads all of her readers’ comments (although she can’t respond as often as she used to), and still loves blogging and the interaction it affords her. It stimulates her both intellectually and artistically because, ” … having a forum to explore questions with is wonderful…”
 
An active participant on Ravelry.com since its inception, Anne’s Knitspot fan group there is flourishing – closing in on 3,000 members, in fact! It’s  a great resource for Knitspot pattern users and a fun place to come visit (everyone is welcome!).
 
At the end of August, Anne’s lovely lace project for Brave New Knits will make its debut. A sneak peek is below! And that gorgeous yarn is Opulence, a luxurious 50/50 blend of silk and merino wool from The Woolen Rabbit.
 
 
Anne’s husband, David, is the talented photographer behind the beautiful images that show Anne’s creations on her blog and patterns. As he has increased his involvement with the Knitspot business, he has created a presence for them on Facebook and Twitter, and started making little films that he posts on their youTube channel. According to Anne, “… he brings a delightfully fresh viewpoint to what we can offer….  He also travels with me once in a while and is a big hit with festival-goers and event participants.”
 
Never content to rest on her laurels, Anne continually looks for fresh ways to reach her audience and present knit design in a new light.

Designer Spotlight #4: Ann Weaver, Weaverknits

No Dust Grows on a Rolling Skein
 
Catching up with Ann Weaver (and her blog, Weaverknits) more than a year post-BNK-interview, it came as no surprise to learn that she is still doing at least ten things seemingly all at once. How she keeps all those balls (of yarn) in the air simultaneously is a mystery to me, except for her occasional hint that she gets about four hours of sleep a night. Yet somehow, she does it all, and she does it all WELL.
 
Although she loved her year-long stint as a commercial baker, she gave it up (but not, she maintains, because of the overnight and early morning shifts) when the bakery folded.
 
Landing soon afterwards at a publishing and editing company, she quickly became the “staff jack-of-all trades,” contracted indefinitely to work her way through everything from “…editing and proofreading educational book and web content one day, performing quality assurance checks on websites the next day, cold-solving math tests for coursebooks the next.” 
 
See what I mean? She does do it all.
 
For Brave New Knits, Ann created a fabulously colorful project that gives a tongue-in-cheek nod back to the punk rock scene. Its close fit,  slip stitch pinstripes and prominent buttons combine to lend this design an insouciant flair.
 
 
In the interim since we last spoke, Ann has produced designs for Interweave Knits, Knitscene, several published and upcoming books, and is currently working on additional projects for yarn companies, books,  AND her “… very own first self-published collection of 10 utilitarian patterns, tentatively titled Craft Work Knit, which will be available in digital and hard-copy format by the beginning of October 2010.”
 
As much as she has enjoyed working in different formats and with different companies and publications, she wanted to “… make something that was ALL ME, with everything made from yarns I chose independently, photographed the way I wanted, laid out the way I wanted, in my favorite colors, modeled by my friends and family.  No compromises.”
 
Coupled with her other activities, Ann’s independent pattern collection has been an enormous undertaking, particularly because it contains four fully-sized sweater designs, two of which are offered in two distinct variations each.
 
She clearly thrives on this kind of intensity. With characteristic enthusiasm, she says, “The content is all coming together and I love it.  I don’t care if it sells more than 20 copies… it is going to be AWESOMETOWN.”
 
 
I’m thrilled to announce that Ann will be joining me at Windsor Button in Boston on Saturday, September 11th from 12 noon to 3 pm for a Brave New Knits signing and trunk show (where you can see her fabulous project in person!). 

Designer Spotlight #1: Grumperina

Designer Spotlight #1

Meeting Kathy Veeza, better known in the knitting blogosphere as Grumperina, was an incredible thrill.

And with that introduction, this post kicks off my Designer Spotlight series, airing twice a week (or thereabouts) until I have shined the light on each designer who kindly agreed to participate in the making of Brave New Knits. With the book’s release just a few weeks away – and I get shivers down my spine just writing that! – I thought it was high time to check in with each designer beyond our regular communications, and find out what each one has been up to since we originally did his or her interview for the book.

For someone as brilliant and talented as she is, Kathy is also down-to-earth and sweetly modest about her gigantic talents. And she’s an absolute perfectionist, too. Perfectionism is a quality that can be hard to take in people who are already more gifted than seems quite fair, but in Kathy it just comes across as design integrity. In her day job as a research scientist she’d never settle for less than perfection, so it makes sense that her knitwear designs manifest the same scrupulous attention to detail.

Ch-ch-ch-changes

Since we met over a year ago, Kathy’s knitting has taken a dynamic turn. I like to think that the beautiful saturated color of her BNK project yarn had something to do with this when she says, “… my knitting has shifted from texture and lace to color!  I find that nowadays, more than before, I’m likely to use bright and cheerful yarns, and see what I can make with them.” This tiny peek at Kathy’s project for Brave New Knits demonstrates both her way with lace AND her newfound love of bright colors:

The single skein of Fingering Silky Merino (50% silk, 50% merino wool) yarn required for her project was generously donated by Sundara Yarn.

With the creation of several adorable baby garments during the past year, Kathy now finds that “… it’s hard to keep away from saturated greens, purples, and blues when knitting for little ones.”

An Embarrassment of Fiber Riches 

Another factor accountable for the shift in her focus is “… the ever-growing yarn industry in which companies large and small continually entice us with their new wares.” I think we can all agree on that! When I consider the yarns that were available 20-odd years ago when I first learned to knit, compared to what is now available in yarn shops and on the internet, the quantum leap forward is astounding.

Blog Loyalty

Kathy still considers her blog her “main method of staying in touch” with the knitting community. ” As long as I have something on the needles, I don’t find it too difficult to write a blog post once a week, which is a good pace for me.” With a demanding 9-to-5 job that competes for her time and attention, Kathy is nonetheless a prolific designer who even manages to find time to test-knit the occasional project for other designers.

The last year has also seen her experiment with other hand crafts; crochet and quilting projects have both shown up on her blog, with characteristically accomplished results. But knitting was her first craft love – her BNK interview explains how that came about – and clearly holds pride of place in her heart.

Shall I Compare Thee To An Uncorrected Proof?

What could be more exciting than the promise of a peach harvest this summer, even after a heavy pruning to minimize the damage of broken branches?

What could be more delightful than finding this riot of California poppies in the garden this morning at the same spot where only a few days ago,

there was only this lonely pair?

What could be more wonderful than discovering that the newly planted gazania are adapting happily to their new home?

What could possibly be more thrilling than the sight of the new Japanese maple tree bursting into wonderful spring color on the site of the recently-deceased pear tree?

How about a box full of galleys of my book, Brave New Knits? As happy as it makes me to wander the garden with camera in hand, none of it brought a smile to my face that could compare to this.

Coming Soon – Brave New Knits!

Is it a book yet? Not quite. However…

Not only is my book now available for pre-order on Amazon.com, but late last week I received copies of the galley! The galley is an advance uncorrected proof that shows the size and contents of the book (but not the project photos, charts, schematics, or actual layout). The galley is in black and white, with a separate packet of color photos showing the book’s projects.

There are several details on the cover itself that still need to be corrected, but it is pretty exciting to see – in a general way – what it will look like.

And with my hand PT sessions lined up for this week and next, it’s a matter of days until I can knit again. Something else to look forward to! No more evenings in front of the TV with nothing but a pettable skein of yarn in my lap (either that, or the cat making herself at home).

BNK

BNK? Bink? Is that some new acronym for ripping out one’s knitting? Yes, it does sound a lot like “tink,” but you’re not even close. BNK is Brave New Knits, the title of my knitting book due out next year from inestimable publisher Rodale, Inc. The last few posts, I’ve mentioned my recent trip to New York, during which I had the unparalleled experience of trying to keep out from underfoot  making myself useful during the photo shoot of the knitted projects.

Although I am actually frogging part of a sweater that I knit up in the early days of my optimistic ambitions for the National Knit a Sweater a Month Dodecahedron, there’s nothing very photogenic about the way that sweater (a boyfriend-ish V-neck in Noro Silk Garden and Cash Iroha, two rows of each to create narrow stripes – I posted photos of it several months ago) looks right now.

Although I’ve been able to salvage the sleeves, I’m having to frog and reknit the sweater’s back and front from the shoulder bind-off down to the beginning of the armhole shaping. And with my hand still recuperating from surgery, frogging has proven much easier than the reknitting is likely to be. In fact, frogging – in a perverse way – has turned out to be a reasonably pleasurable fix as long as knitting remains verboten. I still get to fondle the yarn, even though it is for the express purpose of ripping back something I’d already labored over for many hours. But never mind. At the moment, frogging is the closest I can get to knitting. How ironic.

Instead of sharing images of that pile of crinkled Noro yarn, allow me to offer up a couple of teeny-tiny details from BNK projects, details that merely hint at the knitterly loveliness within the pages of this book (not that I’m biased or anything)  just to whet your appetite. 

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