Earlier this year my daughter’s first grade teacher invited me to come in and do a craft with her class. Right about the time I was casting about for just the right project, we were busy editing away on Maya Donenfeld’s just-released Reinvention: Sewing with Rescued Materials.
While an adult-level sewing book would not have been my first place to look for a project for 16 first graders, I just kept coming back to one project – the Nature Notebooks. I knew the kids would love the idea of recycling and the involvement of paint and stamping would allow a nice level of personalization. They all love journaling and the light level of sewing gave them all a big sense of accomplishment when they were done.
Take a look at the gallery to see how they came together and how wonderfully they turned out!
I should also note that all of the kids now want a sewing machine, most especially the boys.
Huge thanks to all of the kids for their hard work and creativity, to my daughter’s teacher for the invitation, and to Park Tudor School for allowing me to spend a morning with her class.
Maya- your project was a winner! There truly is something for everyone in your finished book and I, for one, am looking forward to making the rest of them.
And, now for the giveaway. We’re so excited about this book that we’re dying to share a copy with one lucky reader. Leave me a comment and on Monday I’ll pick a winner to receive a copy of Reinvention.
Today, Handmadeology‘s Timothy Adam offers a couple more tips on how to improve your selling experience on Etsy. Leave us a comment on this post and one lucky winner will be chosen at random to receive a copy of Tim’s new book How to Make Money Using Etsy.
There is a new Etsy app that just came on the scene called the Shop Marketing Helper that will help Etsy sellers save time by scheduling all their social media marketing efforts. I have been scheduling the social media promotion of the Handmadeology Etsy shop and our traffic and sales have doubled and beyond!
25 strong backlinks to your Etsy shop in 3 mins or less!
Now your Etsy business can have a social media presence even when you can’t be there!
I can’t tell all of you how happy I am to at last have Patty’s Sewing MODKID Style as an actual physical book on my desk. For any of you who have met Patty Young, it will be no stretch to imagine that she’d be a dream to work with. I can attest that this is truly the case. We had fun, we worked hard, and I’m absolutely proud of the finished book. Leave me a comment on this post by Wednesday and I’ll select one lucky winner to get a free copy of the book.
Check back on Wednesday to see her book as it evolved from concept to finished book. Today, I looked back on the process with Patty.
Wiley Craft: What was the hardest part of creating this book?
Patty: Writing the intro chapters. I can write how-to pattern instructions practically in my sleep but those first three pages in the book took me just about as long as the entire rest of the book. I worked on those pages during our Spring Break vacation to Hilton Head last year, so it’s been exactly a year since those were finished. I remember sitting by the pool writing and re-writing while everyone else had a great time. I made everyone read them about a dozen times and still on the way back home, I re-wrote the whole thing again.
WC: What aspect of the book production process was the most surprising?
Patty: Being the control freak, OCD, Type-A personality that I am, I was surprised that I was able to give up so much control over the look and feel of the book without too much of a melt-down. In my sewing patterns, I am a one-woman shop: I do 100-percent of the design, writing, typesetting, illustration and photography. Although I still did all of the the pattern design and illustration, for this book I hired a photographer to do some tandem shooting with me and the wonderful design team at Wiley did all the design and layout of the book. Also, I gave up control over sewing each and every sample piece to my assistants, Emalee and Emily. It was liberating, to say the least!
WC: Is there anything you found to be much easier than you’d anticipated?
Patty: The whole process was much easier than I anticipated. I won’t lie; I was positively terrified to take on such a huge project (certainly the biggest project I had undertaken in my professional career!). I imagined countless sleepless nights, nervous breakdowns and anxiety attacks. I was afraid of missing my deadlines and disappointing my publisher, my family and my fans. But, after the first deadline of the book came and went without too much ado, our processes fell into a steady rhythm, and I realized that I could do this.
WC: Is there anything you’d do differently on a next book?
Patty: I know it sounds crazy but I wouldn’t change a thing in this book. I thoroughly enjoyed the process and I am truly in love with the outcome. My next book will be completely different than this one, only because this one is now finished and I am itching to work on something new and different. I urge evryone out there to send me suggestions on what you’d like to see. I have some ideas swirling around in this crazy head of mine, but of course, I’d love to hear what you all want to see.
PS, Patty – we wouldn’t change a thing, either.
Sewing MODKID Style Blog Tour
Wed., April 4th, 2012: A Sewing Journal
Friday, April 6th, 2012: Pink Chalk Studio
Monday, April 9th, 2012: Melanie Dramatic
Wed., April 11th, 2012: Stop Staring and Start Sewing
Friday, April 13th, 2012: Generation Q
Monday, April 16th, 2012: Lil Blue Boo
Wed., April 18th, 2012: True Up
Friday, April 20th, 2012: Paige Hill
Monday, April 23rd, 2012: Boutique Café
Wed., April 25th, 2012: The Long Thread
Friday, April 27th, 2012: Sew Pretty Dresses
Monday, April 30th, 2012: Prudent Baby
Wed., May 2nd, 2012: Our Busy Little Bunch
Friday, May 4th, 2012: Fat Quarterly
Monday, May 7th, 2012: Making It Fun
Wed., May 9th, 2012: MODKID blog
Tim Adam of Handmadeology.com, author of How to Make Money Using Etsy: A Guide to the Online Marketplace for Crafts and Handmade Products, has graciously offert to share some wonderful tutorials and tips with our Wiley Craft readers.
As a creative business owner there is no doubt you want your Facebook Fan Page to draw fans in and keep them there. You also want your images to match your brand and at the same time be crisp and clear. The deadline is fast approaching and all Facebook Fan Pages will make the switch over to the new timeline.
Here are some examples from the handmade/design world…enjoy!
1. On the Handmadeology fan page we are featuring new fans each week. You can get your Etsy items featured by clicking the cover photo, liking and sharing the photo, and leaving your Etsy shop link. This helps stimulate fan interaction and greatly increases our reach on Facebook.
2. A little biased here as this is my wife’s fan page! You can see she integrates her logo along with her slogan and samples of her work.
3. Great design here. Shows off designs and lets the fan know what their shop is selling.
4. Eye-catching for sure! A close-up shot piques the interest and makes me want to find out more.
5. Love this product display!
6. No text, but simple eye-catching photos!
7. Adding a photo from your last craft show is a great way to show your fans what is happening offline.
8. Get seasonal with your cover photo.
9. Great mix of photos and info.
When you are designing your timeline cover, profile pic, and even your custom app pics, it can be a pain and time-consuming. With this Photoshop template you can drag your images and test them out in Photoshop first.
Fan Page Timeline Photoshop Template FREE Download:
With this template you can design your timeline before you upload them to Facebook…saving tons of time!
By far the biggest perk of my job is getting to know and work with some of my favorite designers. I’ve worked with Anna Maria Horner for several years and was excited to include a sneak peek inside her studio in our recently published Better Homes and Gardens Studio Spaces.
Me: Your work environment has been a creative studio for quite some time. What is your top organizational tip to keep your space functional?
Anna Maria: Everyone has their own idea of organization–but for me that means everything for a related type of work gets organized in the same general area. I keep all my sewing-related goods on one side of the room, drawing in another nook, office stuff in a different spot, etc. Also, I really like my tools out in the open where they are easy to pick up, and not buried in too many bins and boxes. So I have lots of open shelving, and hang several tools on the wall.
Me: What do you feel is the difference between a craft room and a studio?
Anna Maria: Well, I don’t know, really! But I guess I’ve never called my space a craft room because it exists for the sole purpose of my work, and not a pastime. I guess the notion of a craft room, for some, might mean it’s a family space to create, or a space to work on hobbies. Although I think these words and their meaning have been changing a lot in the past decade or so, because the nature of making both for income and for fun is changing. I think you call it what you call it and you do what you do. We certainly have lots of family crafting that goes on in my work studio!
Me: Is there anything you change in your studio when you are looking for fresh inspiration?
Anna Maria: Yes, I like to sift things around. I do switch around what I choose to put up on the walls and pin boards. I love being able to have a few couches in here too, and I frequently change out quilts and pillows on them depending on the season. In a lot a ways all that kind of tinkering makes the studio just like the rest of my house.
Me: What aspect of your studio changes most frequently?
Anna Maria: UUUhhhm. The “piles” of things. And by that I mostly mean sketches, swatches, project materials, notes, etc. They all change based on whatever I’m working on.
Me: For someone who is starting on their own creative space refresh, what would be your top piece of advice?
Anna Maria: Clear out anything that doesn’t inspire you or function for you. Pay attention to how you work, and let everything in the room support and inspire that!
Hopefully some of Anna’s studio savvy will inspire you as you work on spring cleaning your creative space. And now, how about that giveaway and announcement I promised? Anna and I are hard at work on her third book, due out this fall! Stay tuned to this blog, and her blog, for more information as we get closer to our publication date. For now, I’ll just share that you may want to keep en eye out for some nice, sturdy embroidery hoops.
At last we get to the giveaway! I’ll offer up a copy of Studio Spaces to two readers who leave me a comment on this post. I’ll select the winners at random and announce the winner on Wednesday.
I can’t help taking a break from our holiday free project roundup to introduce you to our newest craft book, Make and Takes for Kids by Marie LeBaron. If you have young children at home, this is a complete necessity for the upcoming cold months. As the founder of the popular Make and Takes blog, a mom, and a former early childhood educator, Marie has a lot of experience working with kids and craft and in her new book she offers up her 50 favorite projects to make thoughout the year.
A lot of work goes into creating a craft book. On top of the usual manuscript and editing, you have design, layout, testing, and photography. Photography is particularly important because it is critical that our readers be able to clearly see the finished project in a way that enables them to follow the steps and recreate the finished item. It’s also got to be beautiful, or who would want to make the project? In my opinion, it can be more difficult than fashion or portrait photography, but its also a ton of fun. For this book, Marie teamed up with the talented Nicole Hill Gerulat, who blogs her photography and styling work over at A Little Sussy. To give you a bit of a behind-the-scenes look a how it all comes together, I intereviewed Marie and Nicole on the photography for the book.
Wiley Craft: What was your first craft/how-to photography project?
MARIE: My first craft project for my blog, back in 2007, was for a no-sew ballerina tutu. It was a really fun project, but then my 2 year old didn’t want to wear it, ha!
Wiley Craft: On average, how long does it take to plan, organize, set up, and capture just a single image that ends up in the book?
NICOLE: It all depends on how we decide to feature the project and how complicated our set might be. For example, we made a set for the Sunflower Cookie Lollipops that included crafting clouds and grass. Any single image could take from 30 min to 2 hrs from concept to execution.
Wiley Craft: For every photo that ends up on a printed page, how many never see the light of day?
NICOLE: For the Make & Takes book, there were at least 3 variations for each project that were not published.
Wiley Craft: I think most of us can imagine most potential difficulties in working with kids. What do you find are the positives of working with children in photo shoots?
NICOLE: Kids bring the project to life!
Wiley Craft: I notice that you chose to do all in-studio work for this project. How does that compare to your natural light work? Obviously there are aspects of studio work that simplify a job, but are there aspects that you found to be more burdensome?
NICOLE: This book was shot in the studio, but some were shot with natural light, and others were with studio lights. I love the consistency and reliability of shooting in studio for a book. I actually don’t find any aspect burdensome in the studio because there is so much control. Oh wait, there were times where it was freezing when we’d open the garage door for natural light!
Wiley Craft: It’s inevitable that every photo shoot produces at least one funny story. (note: mine involves having a tiny flower fairy princess chuck her oh-so-sparkly wand at me!) were there any moments of levity that you can share?
MARIE: All in all, the children models in our book were great. If anything, it was my own kids, the untrained ones, that were a little harder to get to focus. My 3 year old was trying too hard to say “cheese” and more than half of her photos were with a huge under-bite!
Wiley Craft: Okay, and now for the giveaway. To celebrate the launch of this book, we’ll be offering up this box of kid craft goodness to keep you crafting all winter long. To enter to win, leave me a comment and share your favorite kid craft tip or project. I’ll pick a winner on Wednesday, so enter now!
UPDATED! Congratulations to Slacker for winning the prize pack below!
Amongst piles of oilcloth, laminated cotton, and chalk cloth we were able to track Kelly down. But before we get to chatting with Kelly, we would like to announce Debra L as our winner of our Sewing with Oilcloth giveaway. Congrats Debra!
Wiley Craft: Tell us a little about your background as a sewer.
Kelly McCants: It’s a funny story actually. When I was in Junior High I was forced into sewing classes by my father. I really wanted to take art classes but it was Home Ec for me. The night I filled out my class schedule, my dad took us all to Sears to buy me my first sewing machine. It ended up being the best thing I was ever “made” to do.
By the time I was in college I was making most of my own clothes from my own patterns. I studied and received a degree in Costume Design and spent my post-college years working on film sets and in theatre costume shops all over the country.
Soon, my love of costumes and my love of sewing met up with my new job as a stay-at-home-mom. I had been collecting vintage aprons for months, and I was inspired to start designing and making children’s aprons for my kids and their friends. Three months later, Modern June was an official business.
WC: How did you “discover” oilcloth?
KM: When I started Modern June in 2006, I knew I wanted to make the perfect market tote. My inspiration was a photo from my favorite cookbook, in which the author was shopping at a farmers market with a big wicker basket in hand. I loved the way that the fruit, veggies, and bread laid nicely in the basket. I really wanted to create a basket-like bag in a material that would clean nicely and wear well. About the same time, a friend had recovered her kitchen’s nook benches with oilcloth. She made the material sound so cool and retro. I had no idea what oilcloth was but I was sure I needed it. Within weeks, I was making oilcloth totes and aprons for Modern June as well as a local shop. I was instantly in love with oilcloth. And a few months later I had a full line of oilcloth goods.
WC: The book is full of some really creative ideas, which project is your favorite?
KM: Oh, that is a very hard question. I have to say that the laminated cotton Mommy and Me aprons are my favorite. Over the years, I’ve used that pattern for both oilcloth and cotton. It’s one of the very first apron patterns that I designed, and it’s based on two of my favorite vintage aprons.
WC: What was the most difficult part of creating and writing this book? How long have you been working on it?
KM: Writing the text for the patterns was very hard for me. I am a visual learner to a fault. I’ve always been able to look at pattern pieces and know what to do with them, but I never really read pattern instructions until I needed to write my own. I had to read every pattern I could find just to get a feel for how to write them.
We started working on the projects for the book in late winter of 2010, and I started working on the patterns in April. We finished up the last edits April 2011. From the “proposal email” to publication, it was about 18 months. It’s an amazing process that includes many very talented people. I was very lucky to have such great editors to help me every step of the way. I am also very thankful for the lovely photos and illustrations that make the projects come alive. This book belongs not just to me, but to so many wonderful people who contributed to it and supported me.
WC: Where do you get your inspiration for pieces? Or do they seem to come from necessity?
KM: I would say that all of my creations are useful, and come from necessity. Combine that with the fact that I am a housewife that likes pretty things, and you can see why I do what I do. I really want everyday things to be pretty and not just practical. For example, I have always loved nice table linens, but I didn’t have time to wash and iron my tablecloths every time a child spilt their juice, so it was oilcloth to the rescue!
WC: What are some common mistakes you’ve encountered using oilcloth? Any good tips for beginners?
KM: I am a bit of a speed demon when it comes to sewing, so I have had to slow it down if I want nice, even stitches. Oilcloth can get a little sticky under the foot, so using a roller or non-stick foot is very helpful. If you don’t have a fancy foot you can use painter’s tape on the bottom of a regular foot instead. A regular home sewing machine, all-purpose thread, and a new universal needle is all you need. Use your fabric scraps to get used to working with oilcloth, especially when top stitching.
WC: Is oilcloth hard to find? Where do you recommend people buy it?
KM: Five years ago oilcloth was really hard to find. I couldn’t find any around town and only a few places carried it online. Thankfully, oilcloth is getting easier to find in your local fabric shops now. I’ve even seen some kitschy housewares shops carrying it.
If you can’t find it locally, I recommend my Oilcloth Addict shop on Etsy, oilclothaddict.etsy.com. We have 45 oilcloths, over 20 laminated cottons and lots of chalkcloth on hand. You’ll also find charm packs, fat quarters, and ½ yards in all three fabric types in the shop.
WC: What are some of your other favorite crafts or projects you like to do besides sewing with oilcloth?
KM: I really love to crochet, but unfortunately I am not very good at it. I want nothing more than to learn how to knit. Any excuse to buy more yarn is fine by me! I wish I could spend my days hanging out in a yarn shop, chatting with the girls while creating beautiful garments.
With school about to start, many of us will reluctantly put down the crafting supplies, thinking we can’t fit projects into hectic school-day routines. I sat down with Bernadette Noll and Kathie Sever, authors of Make Stuff Together: 24 Simple Projects to Create as a Family, to see how they inspire themselves and their families to keep the creativity flowing.
Q: The school year is about to start. How do you find time to create as a family during the hectic school months?
A: We start off with our big back-to-school clothes swap, which is pretty darn creative with sewing stations and screen printers. During the school year the crafting/creating comes in starts and stops, and we go for weeks without making. But we do try to integrate some creativity into the work assigned to them. We have found that MOST teachers (not all!) appreciate a little creative expression interjected into even the most mundane of assignments. It took a little convincing on our part to let our children see that, but now they mostly appreciate it.
Q: You’re both experienced crafters. Has including your families in your creative projects changed how you approach crafting?
A: It has really expanded our possibilities. We love to find old children’s craft books in the thrift store from the 60s and 70s and get ideas from there for new projects. I don’t think I would have found these at all if I didn’t have children. Also, my children come to the table with their own ideas, which then feed my own ideas, which then feed their ideas and so on and so on. We all learn so much from watching and crafting with each other.
Q: What has surprised you most about working with your children?
A: How hard it was in the beginning to let go of our own vision and let them have their own. Then, once we really learned the importance of that, just how many amazing ideas they have. Not all of our kids are into crafting, but when they are, they blow my mind.
Q: What are the top things to keep in mind when working with the whole family?
A: Let go of your vision to some degree. If you can’t let go, then make your own. Sit back and watch when you can. Don’t hover over your child’s process. Give them a leg up when they need it and mostly, remember that the process is the goal. Do you want to have a perfect finished project? Or do you want to be connected?
Q: I know this is like being asked to name a favorite child, but which project in the book ended up being your favorite?
A: I love the Appreciation Banner for what it brings to the household. Amping up the appreciation really can shift negative feelings and definitely amps up the joy factor!
Q: If a reader has not yet begun to include her or his family in their projects, do you have any words of encouragement?
A: Let go. Start small. Keep your work sessions age appropriate as far as time is concerned. Eat protein. Breathe deeply. If you have a hard time letting go of your vision of the finished piece, then make your own first or alongside your child’s project. Remember that the joy and connection is in the process not in the finished piece.
We met up with Carol amongst her busy travel schedule and asked her a few questions.
WC: Tell us a little about your background as a knitter?
CF: Like most Irish children I learned to knit in school when I was small. I don’t ever remember actually learning the mechanics but I have faint memories of knitting fingerless gloves in a lemon acrylic yarn! As I got a little older I began knitting garments for myself (as well as my dolls). I always had a big supply of cotton yarn available as my aunt owned a wool shop in Dublin.
For many years after that I did not knit at all. In fact, I almost forgot how to knit! My first child was born in Florida and when he was still small we returned to Ireland. The weather was so much colder I longed to knit some warm jumpers (sweaters) for him but didn’t have enough time to relearn. Several children later I came across a new Irish online yarn shop (www.thisisknit.ie) and gave in to the desire to pick up my knitting needles again!
Once I began knitting again I was unstoppable, I tore through every knitting book I could find, and within 6 months I started designing. I find designing knits to be the perfect blend of the artistic and engineering sides of my brain, which makes me very happy on multiple levels.
WC: I am just learning to knit and look forward to designing a few new patterns myself. What advice do you have for new designers?
CF: Don’t be afraid to experiment, and practice your pattern writing. When you are starting out you may find that patterns need to be rewritten several times before the directions make sense to other knitters. They then need to be read and knit by several people (and the numbers checked) before you reach a point that they are ready for the general public.
Knitters are very inventive and creative. However the pattern writing part of designing often takes a good deal of practice, and not everyone enjoys it!
WC: What are the characteristics of traditional Aran patterns?
FC: The concept of a traditional Aran pattern is actually a bit of a misnomer! Complex cabled Aran patterns are a relatively modern invention, dating from the mid-20th century. The Aran Islands was a very poor area and the sale of complex knitwear produced by the women on the islands was a vital source of income. The patterns they produced were a complex blending of cable patterns with highly textured stitches. The traditional yarn used for these garments was a cream (banin) 100% wool yarn that was very rich in wool oil (lanolin).
WC: What are your thoughts on natural fibers like cotton and wool and bamboo versus synthetics like acrylic?
FC: My own personal preference is for natural fibers. I like that they are breathable, comfortable to wear and very durable, for the most part. I especially like to use 100% wool yarns that are more durable. Often they can be a little rougher to knit when you are working with them but as soon as you wash them they soften beautifully. The huge advantage that they have over slightly softer yarns is that they wear really, really well. When you use a cardigan every day over a cold winter it is nice to know that it will look just as well at the end of the winter!
I do use yarns with acrylic content also when it is of benefit to do so. Sock yarn is a good example of this; socks take a huge amount of abuse and the addition of nylon helps them last much longer. I also like some blends of cotton and acrylic as it still retains the nature of cotton but by having an acrylic content you reduce the heaviness of 100% cotton especially for heavier weight yarns.
WC: What’s the favorite thing you’ve ever knitted?
FC: That’s a really hard question! I’ve probably got several different answers; I knit a shrug for my sister’s wedding (Summer affair) a couple of years ago that I felt very proud seeing her wear on her wedding day. The cardigan which is shown on the front cover of Contemporary Irish Knits was also very satisfying. I had envisioned that pattern in my head almost a year before knitting it. It took me that long to figure out how to knit it in a way that would make it possible to write an easy to follow pattern for it.
In terms of the knit I wear most often, that would be a Felted Tweed version of my Akoya pattern. It is in a lighter weight yarn and I wear it summer and winter!
WC: Where do you get your inspiration for pieces?
FC: Sometimes an idea comes to me when I’m swatching with a yarn; I’ll start experimenting with the yarn using different stitch patterns and an idea starts to form. Other times I’ll see a clothing detail and I’ll wonder how that could be interpreted in knitting to make a fun knit and beautiful garment. Still other times, I began brainstorming ideas around a particular theme (although I often find I head in a totally different tangent!)
The inspiration for the book was a combination of all these different ways of working. The textured Irish yarn and subtle color blends were lots of fun to swatch with, especially with complex cabled patterns. The overall theme of the book was also always in my mind. I wanted to create a collection of designs inspired by tradition, but still very contemporary, flattering and wearable.
WC: Tell us about your construction methods, why or how are they unique/ different?
FC: I enjoy unusual construction methods, especially if they are seamless. The knitted fabric is flexible and versatile; knitting seamless takes full advantage of this. I knit garments from the bottom up, top down and even from side to side! All of the garments in the book Contemporary Irish Knits are worked seamlessly. When a garment is knit in one piece it makes it very easy for the knitter to try it on as they are working to ensure that they are getting a good fit. This also means that if you need to make any adjustments for your own particular body type, you can ensure you are doing so in the right location. Simple additions such as short rows to shape shoulders (rather than stepped bind offs) make for smooth lines and a more pleasant knitting experience.
CF: Until a few years ago I knew very little about milling and even less about Irish mills. Researching this book was a voyage of discovery for me with some interesting surprises along the way. I was astonished to discover how few mills still commercially produce yarns for hand knitters; I found only 3! These mills are sprinkled around the country. One is very far north (‘Donegal Yarns’ in Donegal), ‘Cushendale Woollen Mills’ is closer to the center of the country in County Kilkenny, and ‘Kerry Woollen Mills’ is located close to Killarney in the South west of the country. Each of these mills produces their own unique style of yarn. Donegal produces a yarn with colored tweed flecks through it, Cushendale produces a lighter weight yarn in subtle, complementary shades and Kerry is the only mill in Ireland spinning organic fleece when it is available.
Each of these mills has been in operation for several generations, with information being passed on and techniques improved by each generation. The yarn each produces is beautiful and unique and deserves to be cherished as a distinctly Irish, usable yarn.
I’ve written an article for http://twistcollective.com that is due to be published on August 1st, 2011 that talks a little more on the mills and their history as well as showing pictures of all the mills.
WC: Do your sons knit or know how to knit? Or do they just like wearing what you make them?
FC: Three of my four sons knit and my youngest (who is 5) desperately wants to know how, but can’t quite manage it yet! My oldest son knit a hat for himself last summer with yarn he dyed himself using Kool Aid, and he wears it nearly every day. My 10 year old knit an entire sweater for himself last winter – he was very proud of himself (as was I!) It was a top down raglan sweater that he finished with minimal help from me. My third boy likes to keep his hands busy and finds knitting great for his concentration.
Thanks Carol. We’re all really looking forward to seeing your book.
By now many of our blog tour guides have talked about the designs in the book, about the designers and their experiences creating these garments and accessories for kids. I thought I’d take you behind the scenes so you could understand a bit more about making the book.
I talked with my editor at Wiley, Roxane Cerda, soon after the release of Knitting in the Sun about what might come next. After deciding that a book of patterns for kids was the right way to go, I began my work on the book in January 2010. I put out a call for submissions and then had to whittle my selections down to a suitable number that I really felt spoke best to the mood and scope of the book — a truly difficult process! After some tweaking of design elements and puzzling over yarn and color choices, the designers worked away on their designs for a few months. Then the samples began arriving on my doorstep! Each day was like my birthday; I couldn’t wait to rip open the boxes to see what I’d received!
One of the luxuries of working on this book was that I knew a lot of my “team” from last time, including photographer Stephen Simpson. Steve lives nearby, and our kids go to the same school. So, not only do we know one another, we know lots of kids in common and that made doing the photography for the book much more of a community experience. Most often for a knitting book, the samples are shipped to the publisher who engages a professional photographer and models for a couple of days to create the images used in the book. I had the great privilege with this book to style the photography and work with a photographer I knew well and to work in familiar settings over a longer period of time. All of the photos were shot within walking distance of my house!
I remember one summer evening, where Steve and I were barefoot — as were the kids modeling — running up and down my block capturing images for More Knitting in the Sun. I remember feeling so lucky to have that count as “work”! That was also the evening we got my author photo on the pogo stick! As is clear from many of the photos, if Steve asks you to jump, you only ask, “How high?” . . . and maybe your feet hurt in the morning!
I asked Steve a few questions about working on this book and its predecessor, Knitting in the Sun. Before doing these two books, Steve hadn’t really focused on any sort of fashion photography. I asked if this was different from his usual work doing stock photography. Steve answered, “To me, it’s not different at all. It’s just shooting people in appropriate places with good light and a good atmosphere . . . playful, comfortable, and sometimes goofy with laughter. . . . You have to be sure you show the details of the clothes, but that’s no different from when you need to show a piece of technology, like a motorcycle or a piece of sporting goods.” I asked Steve whether he thought shooting kids was different from shooting adults. His response was that as long as the subjects are comfortable, he can get an authentic face or move out of it. “Adults are much more concerned than kids about the final images.”
I asked Steve about his favorite photos from More Knitting in the Sun. His response: “Why the author photo, of course, that kind of says it all! But I particularly like the twirling skirt on page 43. It’s a lot like the cover photo on Knitting in the Sun. It’s great to see and capture something that is normally too fleeting for the eye to catch.”
In this post are some favorites from Steve that didn’t make the book. Lots of jumping and movement. And siblings having fun! I think one of the things that really make these photos sing is that they are just real kids having fun. Nothing’s pinned or cinched, no one has to hold an unnatural pose to make these garments look good. Sure there are some ripped pants and dirty feet, but that’s what childhood is about. My hope is to demonstrate that these knits are up to the task!
I also had the chance to talk to some of the models from the book about their experience wearing some of the patterns from More Knitting in the Sun. Some said that modeling for a book that their friends and family might see made them feel “awesome!” or “famous!” One said, “It makes my backyard look so exotic!” and another said, “It makes me think of our neighborhood differently!” The principal of the local grade school was also tickled that so many of her students appeared in the book.
The kids’ choices for favorite knits were all different. Some liked what they wore best, and others thought friends’ little siblings “looked so cute.” Four of the older models aged 10 and 11 happened to be gathered around my table a couple nights ago (after I pulled them off a street ball game of some sort when the sun set!). They had lots to say about the book and their favorite designs, and are all ready to undertake some knitting projects of their own underneath this summer’s sunny skies.