Ann's first book Novel Knits, is inspired by characters in British literature
I met Ann in a dark corner of a restaurant in Columbus while attending Marly Bird's Yarn Thing Designer Dinner. Ann's outgoing personality and infectious laugh put me right at ease in a room where I knew hardly anyone, and when Marly announced that we would all be receiving a Namaste bag at the end of the night, Ann and I were both jumping up and down in excitement and disbelief (seriously, you had to be there - from all the squealing going on, you would have thought Oprah had just told an audience they were all getting new cars)! When I met Ann, her first book, Novel Knits, had just been released. This book features fifteen showstopping patterns based on the works of Jane Austen, J.K. Rowling and JRR Tolkien. That's a pretty rich set of inspiration, and Ann doesn't disappoint, providing the book with a full range of patterns from lace to cables to fair isle. There are sweaters! There are shawls! There are socks! There are housewares and accessories! And each is beautifully executed with the flair and technical skill that only Ann can give.
TSK: I love the idea of this book. It's like...knitwear based fan fiction! As I flipped each page, I could envision a little story to go with each project. The French mother, sending a pair of Chausettes de Beauxbatons socks in a care package for her daughter at Hogwarts who didn't get the champion spot in the Triwizarad Tournament, or Galadriel, donning Lanthir Lamath for a walk through her wood on a chilly day. Clearly you're an avid reader; do you have plans for more book-based knitwear designs?
AK: I do!! I'm especially keen to get to work on some Brontë-themed knits as I live in Brontëland (the West Riding of Yorkshire).
The actual Platform 9 3/4 at King's Cross Station has a half-trolly lodged in the wall for passerby to take Hogwarts photos!
TSK: I simply MUST ask you this. Have you been to King's Cross Station, and stood at the barrier between platforms 9 and 10? Does such a barrier actually exist, as depicted so clearly throughout the Harry Potter films? I'm curious to know whether this has become a popular tourist spot.
AK: LOL - yes I have!! The metal barrier that the books describe isn't there, but there is a stone walkway between platforms 9 and 10 where the station has placed a tribute - a luggage trolley apparently disappearing into the wall. There is invariably a queue of tourists waiting to be photographed pushing the trolley! Alas, my siter's photos of me pushing it didn't come out very well (it's a dark spot, and the photos were taken with her Blackberry). Maybe another time swith a better camera we'll get some good shots of it?
TSK: Tell me about your design process. When you read through these books, did you picture each character in a specific piece of knitwear? I do that sometimes... Or would you say you were designing for the spirit of the characters you love so well? I know some books specifically refer to knitwear (in fact, I'm currently designing a 4-piece collection based around the knitwear mentioned in The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern); were the knits in your book literal interpretations, or loosely inspired by?
AK: The designs were mostly 'inspired by' or 'named for' rather than being literal interpretations. For example, in 'Northanger Abbey' Jane Austen parodies the 'Gothic romance' literature that was very popular at the time she wrote, so I endeavoured to give my 'Northanger' gloves a gothic feel. Similarly, the hooded scarf 'Lanthir Lamath' is deliberately elvish in appearance. However, many of the designs were already pretty well formulated before I realised they were appropriate to a particular literary theme. For example. the Durmstrang socks were so named because they had such a Nordic feel (Rowling presents Durmstrang as a school in a very Northern sea-faring and mountainous land...).
TSK: Pemberly is hands-down my utter favorite from this collection. The brilliance of this design, the flattering quality of the undulating center panel, the clever monochromatic nature of the original sample, it all combines for one magnificent piece. Did you have a clear favorite in the collection? If so, what made it stand out to you?
AK: For me it's the hooded scarf, Lanthir Lamath (pictured on the book's cover). I love the way the pattern develops from the drops of water at the bottom of the tails, through the intertwined rivulets further up, to the separation of the cascades to frame the celtic knot on the hood. The design began as a way to make sense of the pattern for embossed circles that I had come up with by using them to represent droplets of water. When I started out I didn't know it would end up being so very glorious! And it seems other knitters agree with me; although Pemberley is very popular too, Lanthir Lamath is currently winning on Ravelry in terms of numbers of projects and favourites.
TSK: What's up next for you? Tell us all about your latest collection, plans for your next book (if any?), knitting events you plan to attend this year, teaching engagements, etc.
AK: Currently I'm working on a collection of seasonally-themed knits, 3 designs for each season of the year which together form a book I intend to publish in late May/early June. I'm also working on developing the 'Knitting School' at my website where I'm slowly building a library of lessons for advanced knitting techniques. It is important to me to help knitters develop the advanced knitting skills that are used in many of my patterns. That's why I'm also workshops in yarn shops around the UK. Next weekend (28th January) sees me signing books and teaching stranded knitting techniques at The Sheep Shop in Cambridge, then 23rd February sees me signing books at the new season yarn launch at Baa Ram Ewe in Leeds. I have a wonderful knitter friend contacting other yarn shops around the country to set such engagements up for me, with the intention of having at least one teaching engagement a month.
And... I'm coming to America again for the TNNA trade show in June. I hope to see you there again Sarah?
Be sure to visit Ann's blog to keep up with her newest designs!
TSK: Squeee! I would absolutely love to see you again. If you need a roommate, look no further! I'll be looking forward to that. Okay, one last question for you. With so many creative outlets for crafty people (especially literature & movie fans it seems), why choose knitting?
AK: Knitting is about so much more than creating warm and flattering garments. It truly is an expressive art form, articulating feeling, culture, themes, ideas, interests, wishes, etc. I love the term 'knitting voices', so prosaically communicating that knits are expressive of the knitters who produce them. Obviously, my particular interest is in how knitters express literary interests in their stitches. Just how much knitters love to do that is shown in the abundance of literary-themed groups and patterns in Ravelry; for example, there are 89 Harry Potter themed groups and over 300 Harry Potter themed patterns! So when I had the idea for a literary-themed knitting book, I knew that it would appeal to a lot of knitters.
I'd like to thank Ann for stopping by and sharing a little bit about her book with us. You can check out the other stops on her blog tour through Woolly Wormhead, The Knitting Goddess, MaryJane Mucklestone, Carol Feller, and Anniken Allis' websites.Forthcoming blog spots in the tour include Stephen West, The Yarn Yard, Ruth Garcia Alcantud, and Franklin Habit, so keep your eye on their blogs, as well!
As a special thank you to my readers, Ann is offering a digital copy of Novel Knits to one lucky commenter! To enter, simply leave a comment below telling Ann how fabulous the new book is. I'll announce a winner by the end of next week. If you're on Twitter and would like an extra entry, simply tweet the following:
"@TheSexyKnitter and @AnnKingstone are giving away a copy Ann's book, Novel Knits! Visit Sarah's blog to enter: http://tinyurl.com/novelknits"
Looking for the winner of the last giveaway? It's Andria (Adia on Ravelry)! Congrats Andria! I'll be in touch to get your address.
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