Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Boy, Does Kristin Knit

Hi Knitters,
As you've already guessed this post is devoted to my love of Kristin Nicholas. First, I have to make a brief mention of another topic near and dear to my heart, my son. Sixteen years ago today I had my first child. In some ways it seems like an entire lifetime ago, things were so different back then. I was in my third year of teaching middle school and my husband was in his third year of law school. I think we moved six times in those three years. We had a whole lot of nothing but it was one of those blurry, wonderful periods of my life where hard work, no sleep and youthful adventures were what we lived on. I always wanted to be a mother, I couldn't imagine what else I would do in my life. My own mother was the best mother I have ever seen, really too good to be true in every category. I am very lucky in that sense. When you grow up with a parent who embraces motherhood wholeheartedly like that it is all you can see and hope for in your own future. Having my first son was the best thing that has ever happened to me, besides marrying my husband. This baby became and remains the center of our universe. He is a sweet, family-oriented, kind, considerate, mature homebody (which I love). He sticks by my side through thick and thin, plus we laugh a lot. When I was touring I think he may have missed me more than anybody. He is my good friend and I love him. Happy 16th birthday, Evan.

Now on to this beautiful, scrumptious book by the one and only Kristin Nicholas. Kristin Knits was just recently released and it one book I was anxiously waiting to get my hands on. I bought it site unseen and I am not disappointed one bit. Just get a look at the cover, gorgeous, and that picture of Kristin is the best. Let me backtrack a bit, Kristin Nicholas is one of the reasons I wanted to start writing knitting books. When her book Kids' Knitting first came out, I just loved everything about it. The natural photography, the simple, clear patterns, the colorful style of the designs and of course, Kristin's original illustrations. With this book in my hand I started thinking maybe I could do this, too. Kristin inspired me then and she inspires me even more now.

You may know, I love color in a way that it often rules my life. I notice color, it overwhelms me at times. Kristin is all about color, crazy color, mixed color, stripes, dots, swirls, embroidered knits, flowers, checks! She is my kind of girl. If you want to learn about color you have to get this book. She provides insight into what inspires her color selections and you'll usually see that most of her inspiration comes from nature. She lives on a working farm in New England. This setting is glorious. I've enjoyed her blog so much that it is a permanent link on my sidebar. I am very selective about what I link to on my sidebar. I only link to blogs that are beautiful, clean, heartwarming and informative. Kristin's blog is one of my favorite places to visit. Her book gives this same warm, homey feeling.

When I read a knitting book and I actually read knitting books, patterns and all, my favorite thing is to get a personal feeling about the writer. I want to know all of that behind the scenes stuff like what inspired this design, what was she thinking, how did she learn that technique, basically how did this come to be. I don't know if that's normal, but I would like to peer into every designer's sketchbook if I could. That beginning idea is the meat, the filling, the basis for every design. Kristin sprinkles little snip-its of her "yarn journey" throughout the book. For example, she talks about her grandmother, her first attempt at knitting, her background in color exploration and much more. Each pattern has a background introduction. This is the stuff I love and it makes the book more of an experience. There is an instructional section at the back filled with Kristin's beautiful, clear illustrations, including terrific step-by-step instructions on how to put a zipper into a finished sweater. This alone is worth the purchase of the book. She also has this as a tutorial on her blog (you gotta check out her blog!).
Let's get a brief look at some of the patterns you will find in here. The book is divided into sections as follows: sensational scarves, colorful hats (see above photo, aren't those great hats?), cozy socks, marvelous mittens and gloves, stunning sweaters, and back to the basics. The photographer, Kevin Kennefick, does a spectacular job. The photography is outstanding. It is fresh, clear, well-shot to show the projects, and natural. The models are wonderfully wholesome and fun to look at. You feel like they are people you know.
The entire book has a natural, homey feel. Much of the photography takes place outside, where Kristin clearly like to be. One thing of note is that all of the patterns are knitted out of Kristin's own yarn line, Julia, which is distributed from Westminster Fibers. I think I own at least one ball of every color of this yarn. It is beautiful, lush and rich in color. I love how these patterns show off the versatility of her yarn. The other thing is if you don't want to use Julia (it is a mohair, wool blend) it is a worsted weight yarn. The sky is the limit for substitution!
Just look at these sweaters...I can't get enough. I want to knit everything in here. I only wish I had the time to do that but I will pick and choose many projects for sure. I read awhile ago, or maybe it was a podcast interview with Kristin, where she said she didn't like knitting scarves by width. She gets too bored and the project seems too long that way. She likes to knit scarves the long way. Well, she held true to this statement because the scarves are knit the long way in the book and they are wonderful.
The sock patterns are really great. They are all colorful, playful and cozy looking. I can just feel the squish of these socks. I love padding around my house in handknit socks in the winter and these make me want to cast on immediately.
Anyway, if you are looking for a new book to gather some gift knitting inspiration, look no further. The gift knitting potential in here is staggering. There are lots of quick projects that could be whipped up in a jiffy. There are also some big projects, like the afghan, that may take a couple of years to finish. There is something for everybody in Kristin Knits.
Kristin has so much knowledge from her vast experience in the knitting world, take advantage. She was the former creative director for Classic Elite Yarns and has been in the industry for over 20 years. There aren't that many knitters who can say that.
Well, I guess you catch my drift!
best, susie
p.s. Thanks for all of the pattern orders, knitters. I am overwhelmed and I appreciate your support.