Getting to Know You #10: Susan Crawford

Today we have an extra special feature on the blog as part of the Getting to Know You series of interviews, and it's a book review! Not just any book, either - an entire book devoted to knits styled after the royal family! Its Coronation Knits, from fashion historian Susan Crawford.

Coronation Knits, by Susan Crawford

Now, it should be pretty clear at this point that I am a ridiculous fan of the royal family. I've pretty much been obsessed with them since I was a small child. You'll read a bit more about that below, so for now I'll just say that when I first heard about this book I went completely bonkers. When I got my digital copy to look over, it didn't disappoint, either. The entire collection is themed around Elizabeth II's days as a style icon (think 1950's glam), and there's more than enough here to make any contemporary fashionista squee with delight. Drawing inspiration from women's magazines of the day, there are fresh new versions of 1950's lace patterns, colorwork motifs, even cardigans, all executed with impeccable flair. Each pattern includes a quick story about what inspired the piece and why it relates back to the royal family, which I found particularly wonderful. This book is chock full of royal tidbits, and if that and the incredible patterns and spot-on styling weren't enough, the styling of the format is to die for, too. I can't wait to add the print copy to my library, because this is one that I'll want to show off for the sheer beauty of it. Okay, enough raving! On to the interview....

Susan Crawford, author of Coronation Knits

TSK: As someone who's long been obsessed with the royal family, I love that you've written an entire book devoted to their style. But what on earth possessed you to do it?

SC: I have collected memorabilia from the early twentieth century onwards for many years which includes stories and photos of the royal family. However when I was a child I used to sit and look through a scrap book that my mum had put together when she was young which focussed entirely on the then princess Elizabeth and her sister Margaret. Mum always said that the two princesses were considered the style icons of their day, just as Diana was in the 1980s and Kate is today. Mum styled her hair the same as the princesses and looking at old photos of her, I can also see a lot of similarity in the style of clothing that she wore. Mum’s scrap book continues through Elizabeth’s marriage to Philip and then on through the Coronation. Added to this the fabulous memorabilia I had, such as the magazine containing the illustrated Royal Route used as the backdrop throughout the book, and it was just too much to resist. Also my mum had a severe stroke nearly three years ago now but is still managing to knit and still remembers the scrap book, and it just seemed appropriate to put something together that she would also love.

Diamonds are Forever: The shape! The diamonds! The perfect red lipstick!

TSK: I love that backdrop! I could look at that for days. I'm glad you've included a photo of it in its entirety at the back of the book. Who is your favorite member of the royal family (current or long dead)? Why?

SC: Ooh now. I love kings and queens of the past. Elizabeth I is probably one of my favourites. To maintain control when all around her were looking for ways to get rid of her was an incredible achievement. And she was strong and cool and independent. She also created her own style and was copied by women everywhere. So I’m going for Elizabeth I.
The Crowning Glory beret features a lovely crown motif!

TSK:Oh, Elizabeth I! I love that you answered that. She was indeed an incredible monarch, and what an incredible era for fashion, too...  Last year, I got out of bed at 3 in the morning, put on my finest hand-knit dress and the tiara I wore to my own wedding, and drove across town to watch Prince William marry Katherine at an event attended by at least 1,000 other viewers. (Consequently, I got on the local news...)When Princess Diana died, I seriously considered hopping the pond to see her funeral procession in person. Did you watch either of the last two royal wedding processionals in person, or have you ever seen any of the royal family in person?
SC: I didn’t get to see any of the recent royal weddings in person as unfortunately I live towards the other end of the country and it was therefore much easier to watch on the TV. That way I could see all the detail and get a good look at what everyone was wearing. I also remember sitting motionless in front of the TV for hours after Diana’s death was announced. It really didn’t seem real. I have been at one or two events where royalty was present but I’m afraid I’ve yet to meet any of them in person! My friend’s auntie however received an OBE (Order of the British Empire) last year and my friend went to the palace with her and therefore ‘nearly’ met the Queen!

TSK: I remember hearing about Diana's accident as clear as day. It happened the day I got my ears pierced, I'll never forget that. I was glued to the television as soon as we heard about the crash, and the shock when the final announcement about her death was made was pretty unbelievable. As to staying home to watch the latest royal wedding, I can totally understand wanting to see everything up close. There was so much to see! I suppose standing out on the street would give you only a glimpse, although if I'd been in the country, I wouldn't have been able to help myself. Okay Susan, last question: What makes you feel sexy?

SC: Feeling positive about myself and being happy with who I am. Its taken a long time for me to get there, but now, for most of the time at least, I am happy in my own skin and that makes me feel good.

Big thanks to Susan for stopping by the blog; you can check out the other stops on the Coronation Knits blog tour here:

8th June Susan Crawford http://justcallmeruby.blogspot.co.uk/
12th June 2012 Jean Moss http://jeanmosshandknits.blogspot.co.uk/
16th June 2012 Jen Arnall-Culliford http://jenacknitwear.typepad.com/
18th June 2012 Helene Magnusson http://helenemagnusson.blogspot.co.uk/
20th June 2012 Knitting magazine http://www.knittinginstitute.co.uk/
24th June 2012 Ingrid Murnane http://ingridmurnane.com/
28th June 2012 Felicity Ford http://thedomesticsoundscape.com/wordpress/
29th June 2012 Donna Druchunas http://sheeptoshawl.com/
7th July 2012 Karina Westermann http://www.fourth-edition.co.uk/
2nd July 2012 Simply Knitting magazine http://simplyknitting.themakingspot.com/blog
6th July 2012 Ruth Garcia-Alcantud http://www.rockandpurl.com/blog/
10th July 2012 Tasha Moss http://blog.bygumbygolly.com/
14th July 2012 Tom van Deijnen http://tomofholland.com/
18th July 2012 Woolly http://www.woollywormhead.com/blog/
22nd July 2012 Mim http://www.crinolinerobot.blogspot.co.uk/

Susan has generously offered up a copy of Coronation Knits to one lucky commenter! All you need to do to enter is leave a comment stating who your favorite member of the royal family is. If, after you leave a comment, you're on Twitter and would like an extra entry, just tweet the following:

I've just entered to win a copy of Coronation Knits from @astitchintime and @thesexyknitter! Come join the fun: http://tinyurl.com/gtky10

I'll announce the winner on August 1st. The winner will have 3 days to contact me to claim their prize, and if I don't hear from them by August 3rd, I'll draw another winner. So make sure to come back and see if you've won!

Speaking of winners, are you looking for the winner of the Olga's Vest giveaway, in conjunction with Gra2

Helezula Luxury Fibers? It's Susan Poulter, aka zuzu! Congrats Susan, you have until midnight central time on Saturday, July 28th, to claim your prize! Please write me at sarahATsexyknitter.com with your mailing address and (if applicable), Ravelry ID!

Picks of the Day:

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  1. Hmmm, I'm not sure I have a favorite royal - Prince William certainly is a good-looking young man, so I'll pick him.

  2. my favorite royal well that would be prince william he is so cute and alittle bit of a bad boy. The queen is pretty cool as well

  3. My favorite current royal is Fergie. She just strikes me as funny. My favorite royal over all? Princess Sophia Dorothea wife and cousin of King George I. She knew her husband was unfit to be king (hello! He didn't speak the same language as his subjects!) and made sure her opinion was known. So he kept her locked up in a tower and had her lover buried in quick lime.

    It's a very juicy story.

    1. Whoa, apparently I'm behind on the royal gossip by a few hundred years! Those crazy royals, man...

  4. Princess Anne - I covet the horses!

  5. Katharine Parr, the sixth wife of Henry VIII. She survived!

  6. My favorite would be Fergie. She is different from the rest of the royal family.

  7. My favourite Royal is the Queen Mum, because of the hats!

  8. My favourite member of the royal family is Her Majesty The Queen. Anyone who dresses her elder son and daughter, as children, in matching jumpers with Fair Isle trim and corduroys is OK in my book.

    We have a portrait of the Queen in the sitting room, and I have a collection of about 25–30 Silver Jubilee mugs, none costing more than 75p!

  9. It is so hard to pick just one favorite. Kate is so glamourous and holding up so well under all the new pressures of being a royal, I really admire her. The Queen Mum and her handbags! And Diana was so gracious.

  10. I'm going with Princess Kate. She would have made Diana proud!!

  11. My favorite royal has always been the Queen Mum. Her grace, dignity and style are something that I find to be amazing... even after 60 years. I just love her.

  12. Oh, Prince William. Since the day he was born.

  13. Queen Elizabeth has always been the favourite royal in our household, though the Queen Mum, God bless her, was a close second.

  14. My fav is Princess Diana. I admire her strength during her marriage troubles. Thanks for the giveaway.

  15. Oh...Prince William...what a smile!

    Yhime407 on Ravelry

  16. I think my favorite might be Victoria, though I kind of want it to be Eleanor of Aquitaine

  17. I saw photos from this book on Pinterest, it looks lovely! My favorite royal is probably Elizabeth I, she seemed very strong willed.

  18. I'm not sure I have a favorite of the royal family, but Diana always seemed like a cool lady.
    I am digging that diamond yoked sweater! Thanks for the giveaway!

  19. I love Queen Elizabeth I. She's always been one of my favorite royals. I also adore the Queen Mum. Both ladies had to be extremely strong women to rule and I love that about them.

  20. Hard to pick a favorite. I admire the Queen for her sense of duty. She was and is an attractive woman.

  21. My favorite royal - has to be Queen Elizabeth...I really appreciated her as a person and a queen after reading Elizabeth The Queen: The Life of a Modern Monarch by Sally Bedell Smith...

  22. I really admire Prince Charles' commitment to the environment. I would love to be a spinner/knitter living in his duchy.

  23. I would have to say my favourite is Prince Edward after he drank the cup of tea I made him at an event.

  24. I too have been fascinated by the royals since I was kid. I love the pomp and circumstance surrounding their rituals. I would love this book.

    schwip on ravelry

  25. My favourite royal is without a doubt Zara Phillips. I'm big-time into horse-riding, and also Olympics-mad at the moment. I was at the dressage on Day One and unfortunately missed out on seeing her, but I am really inspired by her, especially as she is so young to be doing equestrian eventing <3

  26. My favorite is Kate - she seems so confident and handles herself so well.

  27. https://twitter.com/cmouse01/status/230140202881003521

  28. My favorite is Queen Elizabeth. I really respect her.
    sparky136 on ravelry