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Tuesday, June 9, 2009

Interviews with Stefanie Japel and Kristi Porter

By now you surely have heard the buzz about the new addition to the world of knitting books Knitting in the Sun. With soft cover
and medium size this book manages to offer 32 fabulous projects. The artistic gentle cover virtually reveals the inspiration behind the idea for the book. There are six chapters: accessories, sleeveless, short sleeves, long sleeves, cardigans, and odds & ends. Twenty-two contributing designers brought their own vision to the meaning of knitting projects for warm weather, yet the collection has a very solid point of view delivered by Kristi Porter who is the author of this book. One of my favorite details of the layout of the book is the Table of Contents done in pictures. It is such a convenient way to help a reader to locate a pattern. When we were writing Casual, Elegant Knits this was one of the features we asked our publisher Martingale & Co to include.
To give you a little glimpse at the designs included, I interviewed two designers.
Stefanie Japel is a very popular and prolific designer and author. I am thrilled to share with you her thoughts on her design Taos. Here is our conversation:

Faina: Hi, Stefanie. Thank you for taking time from your busy schedule to talk to me. In Knittng in the Sun you have the design called Taos. Since Kristi’s idea was to name projects after designer’s favorite or memorable spots, can you tell me why you named it Taos?

Stefanie:I decided to name the sweater after a beautiful spot here in new Mexico. When I was about 6 months pregnant with my daughter, my husband and I went on a road trip to Taos, and it was one of the most memorable, beautiful spots I've ever been.

Faina: This vest is already on my list to make before new semester starts. For me it is an ideal piece of clothing since I am moving all the time as I am teaching and some warm bulky sweater is not an option. I love how simple and elegant your design is. And it looks so good on Kristi:) Can you tell me a little about your designing process that took place for this particular project? What was first for you – construction of the vest, stitch pattern, or the yarn?

It was easy to come up with the yarn...our LYS had just gotten a shipment of it and I knew that it being a cotton blend was perfect for this. Kristi suggested that I make a reversible dress, one that could be worn with either the back in the front or the front in the back, and that is what this is. The buttons can either go up the back or the front. My mannequin is a little bit shorter than Kristi, so whereas on Kristi the vest comes just under her bum, on my mannequin, it is a mid-thigh length dress.

I love the versatility that you offer with this pattern. I can see how the longer version out of more luxury yarn can make it an evening outfit, for example. Do you often offer a knitter an idea how they can use your pattern in a slightly different way?

I usually don't. I think it's fun to see what the knitters come up with on their own.

Faina: You have so many popular designs and your two books

are flying off the shelves. Is there something new you are working on? I am always looking forward to seeing what you come up with.

Thank you, Faina! I'm currently working on a third book...but it's not a book of patterns. It's a reference book for people who would like to design their own sweaters.

Faina: It sounds terrific! People are looking for such information more and more these days.

Stefanie, thank you very much again for answering my questions. Right now before TNNA your schedule is even busier, so I do appreciate your time.

You're welcome! I've decided not to go to TNNA this time, so I won't see you there.

Later I had a chance to chat with Kristi Porter about her new book. Kristi is also not new to publishing. Her previous publications include Knitting for Dogs and Knitting Patterns for Dummies. She contributed to other books such as The Big Girl Knits and No Sheep for You. publishes Kristi’s numerous designs.

So, here is Kristi's answers to my questions:

Faina: Is knitting in the sun different from knitting in a cold weather?

Kristi: Knitting is definitely a year round activity for me, it's not something I put down when the weather gets warmer. Still, what one wants to knit or wear is different when it's hot outside! You may not be drawn to that bulky mohair lap-blanket project, but a lightweight lacy project, a slippery silk or a crisp linen is certain to get the needles clicking.

Faina: Some people say that knitted items are too hot or too bulky to wear. You are obviously proved them wrong in this book even just by your designs. How easy was it for you to choose the yarns for warm weather knits?

Kristi: There are so many interesting yarns to choose from these days! It seems like just a few years ago, a silk-wool blend was very exotic. Now there are many of them readily available which is wonderful news for me because that's probably my favorite fiber combination, a good balance of elasticity and drape, warm enough but very breathable -- perfect for a San Diego sweater! The last few years have brought us all kinds of really interesting fiber blends of animal, vegetable and mineral. While I did want to be sure that a variety of yarns were used in the book, when I stop and think about it, the diversity of fibers used in Knitting in the Sun is pretty amazing: wool, alpaca, silk, rayon, linen, hemp, cotton, mohair, bamboo, soy, and a variety of synthetics. More interesting are the combinations that yarn-makers have come up with. Cotton can be lighter weight and stretchier with a bit of microfiber, Alpaca blended with soy or linen is light, crisp, and just-warm-enough at the same time. So the hard part was having too many yarns to choose from rather than too few!

Faina: What was the most fun for you in the process of making this book?

Kristi: I think what I enjoyed the most about creating Knitting in the Sun was the variety. Receiving all the proposals and choosing from among them was both exciting and really inspiring. Creating my own designs for the collection, going through and editing the patterns (I do a lot of work as a technical editor, so I do really enjoy this sort of painstaking detail work!), coming up with the overall organization of the pieces, imagining how to show the pieces best in the photography, styling the outfits... being in charge of all these aspects meant that the work was always changing. I also really enjoyed getting to know the talented group of designers who contributed to the book.

Faina: I love the photography in this book. Did you plan on photo shoots in La Jolla?

Kristi: Thank you! I too am tremendously pleased with the photography. Because we wanted to shoot the photos "in the sun" it made sense to do it here in San Diego where I was pretty confident we'd have good weather late into October. I was even more pleased when my friend, Steve Simpson, agreed to do the photography. I loved his work, but shooting fashion photography, let alone knitwear, wasn't something he'd done before. Anyway, I talked him into it and trusted that we'd be able to work through the parts about "this is the detail that people need to see" or "this is what is interesting about this piece" as we did the photography. I think the fact that the photo shoots were very friendly and familiar (because the models were people we knew too) does come through on the page and makes it feel inviting and comfortable.

Faina: Kristi, thank you for your interesting responses. It is always a pleasure talking to you. Good luck with your book and other future plans.

So you see I am having much fun with this. I already mentioned that I have my design included in this book as well. I named it Black Sea. It is a beautiful sea with many countries enjoying its shores and many people having great vacations there. My husband and I spent our honeymoon there and later we took our son to one of the spots. So, I do have fond memories of this beauty. This skirt is what I think I would wear if I were in Yalta or Georgia right now. The yarn I used is Linen Jeans from Berroco and it is a perfect choice for this project.
Enjoy the book and you can check other blogs for more information: Stefanie Japel, Katherine Vaughn, Beth Casey , and Kristi Porter.

1 comment:

. said...

I totally agree. It looks so beautiful. I imagine there to be rock pools. I could sit and watch the water all day...