Sunday, February 21, 2010

Toe-Up book winners!

Our lucky winners are Melody and Jae! Ladies, please email me at amypolcyn AT yahoo DOT com to let me know your addresses.

Thanks to all who tried!

Friday, February 19, 2010

Circular Knitting Redefined

The new book Circular Knitting Redefined is out, and is a fun interpretation on using circular needles. While all the projects are knit on circular needles, they aren't all in the round--all sorts of methods are included, such as side-to-side, top-down, and more.

I did two designs for the book. First, the Tribeca Belted Cardigan in Nashua Handknits Ecologie Wool (a nice thick and thin organic wool). It's knit in one piece from the bottom up, with raglan shaping and a shawl collar. No seams! The belt is made using double knitting for a nice thick piece that has no "wrong side".

Second, the Chain-Link Cardigan, knit in Berroco Comfort DK. It is knit from cuff to cuff with a slip-stitch color pattern on the cuffs and body. The color pattern is in garter stitch so it stands out in relief against the stockinette stitch ground. Both sweaters are sized up to a 52" bust so they will fit a wide variety of women.

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Toe-Up Blog Tour!

Today we are lucky enough to be the next stop on the blog tour for Chrissy Gardiner's fabulous book Toe-Up! Patterns and Worksheets to Whip Your Sock Knitting Into Shape. Though I am a bit biased (I'm one of Chrissy's tech editors), this book really is an inspiring and useful guide to toe-up sock knitting.

Chrissy guides you through a number of different cast-ons, bind-offs, and toe and heel techniques, provides you with a wardrobe of lovely patterns for the whole family, and best of all-- the worksheets! These allow you to easily customize a pattern using your preferred techniques and size.

I asked Chrissy a few questions to find out more.

1. What inspired you to write the book?

At the time I started writing, there weren't really any comprehensive books on toe-up sock knitting out there. I got really excited about the idea of including worksheets that allow knitters to customize their toes and heels because it empowers them to take any pattern and figure out the hardest part (heel and toe math) without reinventing the formulas from scratch. Since there's a huge disproportion in the number of top-down sock patterns vs toe-up, this lets math-phobic toe-up sock fanatics easily convert many top-down sock patterns or make up their own designs.

2. I think all sock knitters have that "special thing" that made them fall in love with socks. For me it's turning heels. What do you love best about knitting socks?

To me, socks are the perfect little palette for really going crazy with your stitch patterns. They're not a huge time commitment and I find it easier to knit complicated designs in the round rather than flat (like on a scarf). I love socks for the sheer joy of experimentation. I have to admit to loving toe-up socks because I hate knitting toes and love knitting cuffs. Top-down socks can sometimes be agonizing for me once I turn the heel and have to knit that endless foot/toe before I can put them on. With toe-up socks, the fun part (for me) comes last, and I always love to save the best for last!

3. If you were only allowed to use one toe-up cast on for the rest of your life, what would it be? How about one bind off?

For the cast-on, no question - Judy's Magic Cast-On! I use it pretty much exclusively now. For bind-offs, I love the yarn-over bind-off that I learned from Eunny Jang years ago. Very soon I'm going to teach myself Jeny's Surprisingly Stretchy Bind-Off, which is an improved variation of the yarn-over bind-off that Jeny Staiman developed totally from scratch and introduced to the world via Knitty ( I tend to be resistant to change and it often takes me awhile to get on board with these newfangled things!

4. My favorite pattern in the book is Sakura. What was your inspiration for that design?

I originally designed Sakura (which is the Japanese word for cherry blossom - for the Woolgirl sock club a few years ago. When Jennifer Jett sent me the club yarn, she included a beautiful Chinese painting of a cherry tree in bloom (similar to the one at The picture immediately triggered the memory of a cherry tree motif I'd seen in one of my Japanese stitch dictionaries, and that motif became the panels I used on the heel flap and up the back of the leg. The lace pattern down the front of the sock reminded me of falling petals, and I spent hours tweaking an existing leaf lace pattern so that the leaves were offset and didn't look quite so "leafy".

5. Any advice for those considering self-publishing a book?

The biggest advantage of self-publishing (complete control) is also one of the most difficult aspects of it. You need to be prepared to learn how to either do or hire someone who can help you do book design, layout, photography, editing, proofreading, publicity and any number of other little detail things that have absolutely nothing to do with writing or designing. You really have to be full-service! I love many of those activities and am extremely happy to have the absolute last word on what goes into my books, but it can be overwhelming. Some days I want to just knit instead of thinking about photo styling and choosing the right fonts!

6. What's coming up next for you?

My next book, which I hope will be coming out sometime this fall, will feature biographical profiles of a cross-section of independent yarn dyers who are currently doing wonderful things with fiber. I'll be focusing on one or two colorways from each dyer and discussing my design process for each yarn as I come up with a sock design that inspired by that yarn. I always love to hear about other artists' creative processes, and I hope that lots of knitters will be interested in them as well!

Note from me: Love the book idea! :)

SO-- would you like to own your very own copy of this lovely tome? I have 2 copies to give away! Leave a comment on this post if you'd like to win and I'll randomly select 2 winners at the end of the week.

Next stop on the tour: The Designer's Studio