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Wednesday, June 4, 2008

Day Three of The Blog Tour for Knit So Fine

Did you catch the first two days with Carol and Andrea Lyn on Fiber Forum and Lisa and Courtney on RosieBlogs? It is so interesting to hear what goes into making a knitting book, don’t you think?

Today is the third day of the tour and I would like to begin my part with a little story.

My mother-in-law used to live in Philadelphia. Before coming to the U.S., she lived in Russia and was quite an avid knitter. During one of our visits to Philadelphia my husband suggested that we surprise her with a trip to a knitting shop. I have to admit that I did not oppose to this idea too much ;) That was the first but certainly not the last time we visited the Rosie’s Yarn Cellar. What a charming yarn shop! My mother-in-law was speechless. She had never seen so much yarn, needles, books, buttons, and all that she needs for knitting in one place. The ladies who worked there were very helpful and pleasant as well as very knowledgeable. I do not think they remember me since I was coming there only once a year or so, but I surely remember them.

When I saw this beautiful book called Knit So Fine at our local Barnes & Noble, I had to pick it up and at least look at it. The cover photo of Lace-Trimmed Raglan was calling me to knit it. The projects were beautiful and the yarns... I love the yarns! I could not be happier. I am a big fan of fine-gauge yarns. I looked at the back of the cover and became even more excited. The book was written by the owner of Rosie’s Yarn Cellar, Lisa Meyer, and by two other wonderful designers, Laura Grutzeck and Carol Sulcoski. Congratulations to all of you!

Now, can you see why I am so thrilled to host here Carol Sulcoski , who is one of the authors of Knit So Fine?

Today, Carol is visiting here with me to share some thoughts about the book and answer a few questions that I have for her.

Faina Goberstein: Hi, Carol. Congratulations and welcome to my blog. Could you share some thoughts about the book and the yarn choices you have made for it? Last week you have sent me a ball of Svale that you chose for one of your projects. Can you tell me about this yarn and the use of it for the book?

Carol Sulcoski: Sure. Dale of Norway is perhaps best known for their stranded-pattern ski sweaters and their Baby Ull baby yarn (it’s great for lace, too!). But in the last decade or so, Dale has been introducing some less traditional yarns that are quite lovely. Svale is a blend of cotton, silk and viscose, and it combines the coolness of these fibers along with a bit of drape. I like the way Svale feels; it’s soft and a little crunchy.

I chose Svale for the Skater Inspired Sweater. I mentioned previously how my son’s skateboarder tops, which feature faux layered sleeves, inspired me to create an adult version. I wanted to start with a DK or sport-weight yarn for the T-shirt part, and use a fingering weight for the faux sleeves (I figured a lighter-weight yarn was required for the long sleeves so they wouldn’t be too heavy to be attached to the short sleeves). I paired Svale with Dale cotton called Stork. If you don’t want to knit the attached long sleeves, you could very easily just knit the T-shirt sweater in Svale and wear it in warm weather. So, Faina, what did you think of the Svale?

FG: You know Carol, at the first glance I did not think much of this yarn. I am not much of a cotton lover in general. One way to find out if I like this one or not is to make a swatch. So, I took my size 6 needles and knitted this swatch using two stitch patterns.

Here, take a look.

I was pleasantly surprised that the more you knit with this yarn, the softer it becomes. Finally, I had to admit that I would like to wear a garment out of this yarn. I can see why you chose Svale for this comfy sweater.

When you are working with a fine yarn, is the project taking you much longer to knit ?

CS: It all depends. One of the things we wanted to do in the book was to show knitters that a garment doesn’t necessarily need to take a long time even if you are knitting with a skinnier yarn. So some of the items – like the striped vest – are knit with 2 strands of a fine yarn. But it is true that fine yarn projects often take longer to knit. We think they’re well worth it, though, because the end result you get is so terrific! For example, you may be able to knit a chunky sweater in a weekend, but where I live, a sweater that is that heavy and warm can only be worn a few times in the winter when it’s very cold. On the other hand, a sweater knit in a skinny yarn can be worn three seasons of the year, maybe more, depending on where you live.

FG: How important is it for your readers to follow your directions on making a gauge swatch and finishing techniques?

CS: That’s a great point. Whenever you knit a garment, you need to pay attention to gauge and knit a good-sized swatch with your yarn before you plunge ahead with the sweater. And if you are going to spend a little longer knitting in a fine yarn, you want to be extra-sure you are knitting something that will fit beautifully.

FG: How different is it to work with fine yarns and do you have any special tips on handling it?

CS: The first section of the book has a section devoted to tips on using fine yarns. For example, if you’re used to knitting with bulky yarns, we suggest going to a DK or sport- weight yarn first, before picking up the skinniest lace-weight, to make it a more gradual transition. But I find that whenever I start a new project or work with a new yarn, after working with it for a little while, it starts to feel comfortable. Doing a gauge swatch is a good way to get used to the feel of the smaller needles and skinnier yarn.

FG: Could you tell me why should I consider using skinny yarns?

CS: There are so many reasons!!

Fit – fine yarns provide you more opportunities to customize fit

Flattering – fine yarns don’t add bulk and therefore are more flattering to wear

Climate – fine yarns are more versatile; you can wear them more days of the year

Economical – if you’re on a budget, fine yarns give you more knitting bang for the buck as your yarn will, on average, be cheaper and you will get more knitting time out of most projects

Style – there are certain design effects that you just can’t do with chunky yarns. For example, Laura’s beautiful lace stole. You just can’t knit floaty, ethereal lace with a chunky yarn.

FG: How many sizes of the garments do you offer in the book?

CS: This varies a bit. There are some garments that are one size fits all – the lace stole, for example, and the beret. Others are written for four to five sizes, ranging from approximately 32 to 34 inch finished chest to 48-inch finished chest.

FG: Is your book for young people only?

CS: Hmm, I guess that depends on what you consider young! I’m in my early forties, and I would wear just about anything in the book. But we made a conscious effort to try to come up with designs that would appeal to all ages. I think that many of the pieces are versatile enough that you can incorporate them into your wardrobe, regardless of your exact sense of style. What you wear them with and how you accessorize them can change the look dramatically and tailor them to your own unique sensibility.

FG: Did all the authors have the same vision for the book? Does your book represent very different design styles or you all agreed on one and followed that?

CS: Having worked together before at Lisa’s knitting shop, I think we understood each other’s styles pretty well and they seem to balance each other out. My designs are, I think, more accessible for less experienced knitters, while Lisa’s travelling-stitch legwarmers, for example, are designed for more experienced knitters. Laura’s designs tend to have a more urban feel than mine – like the stunning wrap dress – whereas mine may be a bit more casual, like the skater sweater. I think that makes for a stronger overall book since you get a variety of styles.

FG: This Ruffle Scarf is stunning, Carol. Where someone can purchase this beautiful and useful book?

CS: Right now, the book is on sale at, Barnes & and other on-line bookstores. It is also being shipped to knitting shops; I know that some on-line retailers, like WEBS and Jimmy Bean’s Wool, are listing it as “in stock,” and I hope that your local bookshop and LYS will have it soon if they don’t already! You can also order it directly from Interweave Press’ website.

FG: This is all so interesting! Thank you so much for being here today and giving us a great preview of the book. I am sure that your book will be very successful. Make sure to schedule some California trips for the book- signing events!

CS: Thank you, Faina for letting me visit your blog! I look forward to seeing your book Casual, Elegant Knits when it arrives at the end of July. May I ask: did you use any skinny yarns in your book?

FG: Thank you, Carol for mentioning our book. Dawn and I are so excited about it. As a matter of fact, we did use some fine-gauge yarn for our projects. But, this is your day and we can talk with you about our book some other time.

Congratulations again to you, Lisa, and Laura! I am looking forward to the day four with Kat Coyle and the rest of your blog tour . So far it is going fabulously!


Kara Gott Warner said...

Hi Faina!

Your blog is gret, and awesome interview with Carol. I remember hearing about the Knit So Fine Blog Tour, and now I can't wait to go out and buy the book!

(from DRG)

Unknown said...

Hey, Kara. Thank you. It was very nice to meet Carol and hear about her design process and yarn choices.