Carol's Book Tour
Here's the long-awaited interview with Carol on her latest book, Knits So Fine which recently started shipping and arriving in knitting households across the country.
I have always been a big fan of small yarn and small needles. I find the precise, intricate process of knitting fine-gauge fabric to be much more enjoyable than any other kind of knitting. I was glad to find a book that spoke to many of the reasons I enjoy fine knits.
QJ: Welcome to your virtual book tour and thanks for stopping at QueerJoe. With your newfound literary talent, is there anything you'd like to express about how much you like my blog (feel free to get as flowery and sycophantic as you'd like)?
CS: Well, Joe, you know it is not a stretch at all for me to be sycophantic where YOU are concerned. Yours was one of the first knitting blogs I started reading (you, and the Knitting Curmudgeon, and Dangerous Chunky – does anyone remember Dangerous Chunky?). And you encouraged me to start my own blog after I guest-hosted (guest-monopolized?) your blog while you were on vacation. So in a very real sense, everything I am today in the knitting world, I owe to you.
QJ: I'll start off with a real hard-hitting question. It's been rumored that you had the choice of either becoming the editor for "Knit 'n Style" or publish a book with your two co-authors. What made you choose the book?
CS: Actually, Joe, that is a misconception. I chose to write a book after Crochet Fantasy turned me down when I begged to become their editor.
(Anyone who’s ever seen me crochet is now laughing their ass off.)
Lisa and Laura are both tremendously talented designers and I am honored to have designs in the same book as them. We all worked together at Lisa’s knitting shop, Rosie’s Yarn Cellar, and Laura was the one who broached the idea about writing a book devoted to knitting with skinny yarns. As we mention in the book, we helped a lot of customers at Rosie’s who were terrified of working with skinny yarns. This surprised us because some of our all-time favorite yarns – Koigu, Zephyr, Black Bunny, Kid Silk Haze – are yarns that knit at a fine gauge. After Laura suggested the topic, everything else seemed to fall into place.
QJ: You've accomplished so much in your life...received your undergraduate degree, went on to get your JD with honors, and then your MRS degree (with a hot man, might I add), had a successful career as a lawyer before settling down to raise three lovely kids. Has the publishing of such an amazing book finally given you enough self esteem to be able to rub your in-laws' noses in it? Feel free to provide examples.
CS: I will forever be grateful to my in-laws for bringing my husband into this world. My life before I met him was like the black-and-white part of the Wizard of Oz.
QJ: Here's your softball question...if you knit a sweater in fine yarn for Barack
Obama, what sleeve treatment would flatter him most as he spreads his message of hope across the country?
CS: No, no, that is a trick question.
If I were to knit for Barack Obama, it would be socks in my special Obama-inspired colorway, Audacity.
But I have no business knitting for any other man, even hopeful Barry (Michelle doesn't mind that I call him that), until I knit something for my own husband, who, as you correctly note, is rather hot.
QJ: Wasn't it a helluva lot more difficult to meet your knitting/publishing deadlines, since you had to knit such fine gauge garments, or did you just swatch and let someone else knit your garments for you?
CS: Yes – I mean both.
We were on a pretty short time line due to our editor’s request that we have the book ready for the spring 2008 catalog, and I’m afraid we gave her a bit of stress when we, um, stretched our deadlines out and needed more time. One of the most difficult things to deal with is when a garment just doesn’t work the way you envision it. For example, I anticipated that the ruffled scarf would be fairly easy and quick. I’d swatched it pretty extensively and knew exactly how I wanted it to look.
Unfortunately, the yarn disagreed. When it was knit in full-size scarf form – by a wonderful test knitter, Judy – it just didn’t lay right. No matter what we did, it curled in on itself. Poor Judy re-knit it and tweaked it, and I knit many swatches at home, and for whatever reason, the scarf consistently behaved differently when it was full-size than it did when it was just a little swatch. Judy had planned a trip to Israel to see her son, so I had a second test-knitter (Mindy) pick up where she left off, using a different (although very similar) yarn. It took months for us to get a scarf that worked – and in the meantime I was knitting some of the sweaters.
All together, I knit the Bohus, the silk vest, the ribby vest, the beret and the sleeves of the skater-inspired top myself; while my wonderful test knitters knit the lace raglan, the scarf, and most of the skater top.
QJ: With three author/designers, how did you make decisions like for instance about how much text to include in the book, versus the choice you all obviously chose; to pack it with patterns instead of excessive editorial commentary?
CS: We were very fortunate in that we all had the same mind’s eye view of the book: we wanted to have some good substantive information in the beginning to help our readers who were not accustomed to working with fine yarns – but we wanted the patterns to be the central focus of the book. I hope we struck the right balance!
QJ: Could you see yourself going solo next time, or would that be more work than you'd be willing to put into a project?
CS: Yes! Ha!
I am working on a book that will be published in January that is a multi-contributor book. I am writing the text and contributing one pattern, but over 17 other designers have also contributed their patterns. I’m really excited about it, especially since some of my knitting idols, like Véronik Avery and Ann Budd, have contributed patterns.
But I am also hoping to convince my editor that Laura, Lisa and I should do a sequel…maybe a sequel with at least some men’s patterns?
QJ: I love the Ribby Vest done in different Trekking yarns. I could easily see this as a great man's vest...I guess there's not a question in this...uh...non-question.
CS: That’s one of my favorites, too. I love the way that certain colorways of Trekking have those plies that change color, and when more than one ply changes colors at different rates, you get these gorgeous blends of color that shade into one another. That’s why I wanted to design something that used those Trekking colorways. It’s fun to pair two different colorways and see how different combinations create different effects.
CS: Which of the other designer’s garments did you like the best? I have difficulty picking between Laura's Eyelet Halter (I LOVE the center bodice shaping) or her Lattice Lace Pullover, but with Lisa, by far I prefer her Zip-Front Hoodie.
That is a tough one. I am partial to Lisa’s Kimono Top; I love the lines and the way she paired the bamboo yarn with the Asian-inspired style is luscious. On the other hand, Lisa’s gloves and legwarmers are stunning. I am in awe of the stitch patterns.
I am with you on the Lattice Lace Pullover, but I have to say that because it’s all about me, Al Franken, I do love the lace stole that is knit in Black Bunny laceweight yarn. The Asymmetric Cardigan is awfully great, too, though.
Finally, how did you push yourself to the front of the line to bogart the cover design?
A combination of sleeping with anyone who would have me (not nearly enough people, sadly) and bribing them with BBF yarn.
Thanks for giving us the straight (so to speak) poop on this great design effort. I know this book will become a classic in many a knitter's library.