Monday, February 01, 2010

Where blog tours collide...

Today we have a perfect storm of blog tours. My own Toe-Up! tour is off and running with a little q-and-a session over at We Heart Yarn (the blog of my fabulous photographer, who dug up some favorite shots that we just couldn't manage to squeeze into the book). My interview with the lovely Debby Accuardi of At The Kitchen Table should also be going up sometime today. Finally, I missed tweeting about our Friday stop due to much craziness (I was supposed to teach at Yarn Expressions in Huntsville, Alabama, over the weekend, but when I arrived at the airport on Friday all flights from Atlanta and Memphis into Huntsville had been canceled, meaning there was no way for me to get there that night...which was a good thing, since I ended up with a horrible cold and spent the weekend in bed). My Portland designer friend Larissa, author of the wonderful Knitalong, was our Friday hostess at her lovely blog Stitch Marker.

Now that that's out of the way, I've got a different tour, for another book that I was involved in that's coming out in May. This one's all about lace based on the stitch patterns of the late lace expert Dorothy Reade (who also happens to be an Oregonian, hailing from Eugene). It was written by Donna Druchunas, author of Arctic Lace and Ethnic Knitting Discovery (two of my favorite knitting history/culture books), and you can find additional stops on the blog tour and more info on the book at her blog. I had the good fortune of being invited to contribute a design to the new book, and I'm going to tell you a little bit about that design here today.

The book is called Successful Lace Knitting - Celebrating the Work of Dorothy Reade and features 25 patterns, each utilizing an original Dorothy Reade lace motif. I got to design a top in luscious Lorna's Laces Lion & Lamb, using a lace pattern called "Inset Diamonds". Called the Diamond Swing Top, it's knit seamlessly and was originally designed as a maternity top. It turned out to be perfectly cute for the non-pregnant as well, so Donna decided not to limit its audience by labeling it as "maternity". I particularly love the length of this sweater, which covers my least-favorite body area (aka hips, love handles...the area that having kids really wreaks havoc on!).

This poor book has been through several iterations and several potential publishers, but it will be worth the wait. Back at the beginning, Donna sent all the designers a little questionnaire about their design - here are the designer notes for the Diamond Swing Top:

Please write a short description of your project, mentioning any
special inspiration and any special or unusual techniques that you used.

This is a scoop-necked top with a front opening to accommodate a pregnant belly through all stages of pregnancy and beyond. One of my goals with this project was to design a sweater that could be used beyond the nine months of pregnancy, since I was always sad to give up my favorite maternity clothes after each of my kids were born.

This top is knit completely seamlessly with sleeves knit from the armholes down for easy fit adjustment.

What stitch pattern did you use and why did you choose it?

I chose the Inset Diamonds pattern simply because I love diamonds! I was not disappointed - this was a very fun pattern to use.

Did you make any changes to the chart, or use different decreases than Dorothy Reade used? If so, please explain the changes you made and your reasons behind them.

I did not - I knit exactly as Dorothy charted them.

What yarn did you choose for your project? What made this yarn particularly well suited for this project specifically, and for lace
knitting in general?

I used Lorna's Laces Lion & Lamb, which isn't necessarily the first yarn you'd think of for knitting lace. However, the lace pattern was beautifully defined and the knitter doesn't need to be intimidated by small yarn and needles. I think lace looks fantastic in heavier yarn weights, and this project proves that!

Do you have any special lace knitting tips related to your project?

Since the sweater's skirt is knit flat and the sleeves are knit in the round, the lace will be knit a bit differently so keep that in mind when reading the charts. You can also substitute SSK for the k2tog-tbl for the left-leaning decreases, although I didn't think this was necessary with this yarn.

What kind of knitting needles do you prefer for lace knitting and
what makes these needles work well for lace?

I use my Addi Turbo needles for just about everything. Some will prefer the sharper point of the Addi Lace needles for lace knitting, but I don't - the blunt tips of the Turbos work great for my particular style of (English) knitting.

Would you like to add any personal comments about designing this project? Perhaps you'd like to comment on any connection between Dorothy Reade's foundation and your own creative spirit.

One of the things I loved about working on this project was the strong feeling of being connected to the past and participating in the passing of these gorgeous lace patterns on to the next generation of knitters. The silhouette and techniques used in this sweater may be modern but the lace pattern is truly timeless.

You can pre-order Successful Lace Knitting from Amazon. The book will be released in May, while Donna is teaching on an envy-inducing Alaskan cruise. I think they still have room, if you're not doing anything in May and want to go to Alaska! (Bring me with you?)


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