Friday, November 12, 2010

Stitch 'n Bitch Superstar Book Signing with the Superstar Herself

I'm here to report that Debbie Stoller's book signing at Powell's City of Books in downtown Portland, Oregon last weekend was a great success!  There were 50-60 attendees and lots of them purchased the book and had it signed.  Knitting needles clicked in the awe-struck audience as Debbie spoke about her knitting inspiration, knitting tips (stitch positions involving audience participation was priceless) and background about her new book, Stitch 'n Bitch Superstar Knitting which was officially released 11/01/10.

Debbie had brought a trunk show of some of the book's projects, including my design, "Baby Corn", and "The Life Aquatic" pattern designed by Serena Murphy, also from the Portland area.  We were introduced to the audience, too.  The project models featured in the book were passed around and it was interesting to see the models in person.  I cringed when "Baby Corn" was passed to me, dreading how the model I knit might be faring through all the modelling, handling, etc.  There were a few loose ends and pulled stitches, which I remedied as best I could.

It was fun to meet Debbie's mom, Mrs. Stoller (I'm sorry I didn't catch her last name).  She was along for the ride on Debbie's book tour on the train.  She told me she would rather fly than ride a roller coaster after having been traumatized on a roller coaster years ago.  Debbie prefers riding the train on her book tours and still had Seattle, WA and several cities in California to hit before having to fly home to Brooklyn for the holidays.

I went to the signing with a couple of friends and was pleasantly surprised when my day job bosses and their families attended to show their support of my first published pattern (and hopefully not the last).  The kids, Jocie and Luke, were wearing sweaters I had knitted both of them so it was really special.  I've put their pictures on the left.  I even got to sign some books myself and got Debbie's signature on my book copies. 

I was wearing a black wool/angora version of "Coco" from the book I whipped out for the occasion.  I wasn't feeling the sequins in the original "Coco" so used a selection of random buttons along the bottom and sleeve edges.  I was sorry several times as it was overly warm and the angora kept going up my nose!

The next day, Debbie was featured on local TV on "AM Northwest" and showed the projects we had seen at the book signing.  Several of my friends saw "Baby Corn" and my name mentioned as the designer and contacted me afterward.  What a fun experience and Debbie is an excellent, clever speaker.  I would highly recommend making the effort to see her if she comes to your town!

Sunday, November 7, 2010

Boogie Shooz #1 Released To the Public

I FINALLY finished the Boogie Shooz #1 pattern and posted it on late last night.  It took w-a-y longer than I had expected, as I decided to do two other versions simultaneously (#2 & #3 natch), while I was finishing up several  projects and whipping out "Coco" from Superstar Knitting in record time to wear today.  Oh, and I wrote the pattern and am half-finished with "Sleet", my latest new scarf pattern which will be offered for free download on this blog (hopefully this coming week, if I can finish the prototype to photograph).  It is my favorite scarf pattern yet.  And there's the interruption of having to stop my knitting and go to work outside Knitworld 35 hours a week...

Boogie Shooz resemble quirky baby booties as you can see from the photos to the left and come in 3 sizes for grown a** women.  They are pretty quick and easy for some instant gratification.  I definitely let my freak flag fly on this one - why the heck not??  This is my first foray into selling patterns on Ravelry.  I've been giving away "Big Honkin' Bag" and the "Elusive Blue Rose Hat" for almost a year now and they've had a good response, as well as the two scarf pattern downloads on this blog linked to Ravelry.  This may prove if the hundreds of patterns were downloaded because they were awesome or because they were ....  free.

I chose Debbie Stoller's Stitch Nation Full 'o Sheep to knit them in as it comes in an array of bright, interesting colors and is my current fave yarn.  Debbie's book signing is at Powell's City of Books in downtown Portland today and I will be in attendance.  I 'm taking all 3 prototype pairs of Boogie Shooz for Debbie to see knit from her yarn and my next design sketches for "Sayde Sunshine", a bizarro doll also out of Stitch Nation yarn.

If you're interested, each Boogie Shooz pattern download can be purchased for a mere $4 on Ravelry.  I will do my best to get #2 and #3 on there this coming week.   I would love your opinion on these so feel free to post your comments.  I will also be posting the rules of the drawing for 3 copies of Superstar Knitting (one signed by Debbie) soon. 

Monday, November 1, 2010

Book Review: Design It, Knit It, Babies by Debbie Bliss

After buying and enjoying Design It, Knit It published in 2009 by Debbie Bliss, I was excited to check out her "sequel" for babies which came out Summer 2010.  My interest was definitely piqued in the first volume by several inexplicable photos of darling baby garments not included in that book, which proved to be teasers of patterns in this book.  Clever marketing idea, along with several other novelties which are included in this book.

PROS:  I like knitting books that feature a spiral wire binding like this one - it easily lays flat and is infinitely more useable than a regular binding when referring to pattern instructions.  The pattern instructions are clearly-written and easy to follow with plenty of diagrams and photographs to illustrate each.

The eighteen projects included in the 158-page book range from easy (tiny unisex Garter-Stitch Cardigan with minimal shaping) to more complicated, but still not overly difficult (boy's Shawl-Collar Jacket with clever northwoods styling).  My favorite pattern is the precious Hooded Cardigan which is charming in its simplicity or as a blank slate for design customization.  I can see using this pattern again and again.

There are also several baby afghans, accessories like a fair isle beret, several dresses, cardigans for boys and girls, and imaginative pullovers.  I'm intrigued by the colorful little girl's Chevron Cardigan as it is similar to a design idea that had been floating around in my head and appeals to my affection for ripple stitch patterns.

The photography is soft and beautiful, a hallmark of Debbie Bliss books and showcases the pretty babies and muted colors of the Debbie Bliss yarns utilized in the designs.  Really makes you want to grab some needles and whip out a baby project on the spur of the moment, even if there isn't a baby to knit for right this minute.  Even though it may be purely staged, I enjoyed the glimpses of Debbie's design studio (and Debbie herself with a tape measure around her neck) sprinkled throughout the book.

CONS:  If you are into designing patterns for babies (like Debbie Bliss clearly is), there is some helpful creativity advice, but little about the actual mechanics of calculations and the like, as she mentions herself in the book's introduction.  This is purely soft core knit design information.

When I buy a knitting book, I calculate the value of the book by dividing the cost by the number of usable patterns in the book.  Only 18 patterns in this book is a little on the skimpy side (although I found few page fillers) and the value of  "design inspiration" is subjective.  I admire Debbie Bliss and what her talent has accomplished in the knitting world, but I either want my knitting books to be either a knitting pattern book or a design inspiration book.  Or, contain enough of each in a hybrid to make me feel like the book was a good investment of my knitting dollars.

The jury is still out on whether the 15 pages of "Design Workbook", composed of grids and sweater outlines to embellish with one's own ideas was all that necessary.  I don't like writing or drawing in my books, so that was not something I would ever use.  Including a tear-out tool in the back for measuring knitting needle, gauge and knitting abbreviations is an interesting idea.  The flimsy laminated page clearly won't take the place of any of these more permanent tools you currently own.

Overall, I give Design It, Knit It, Babies by Debbie Bliss a 3 1/2 * rating (based on a 5 * system).