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Sunday, September 07, 2008

Casual Elegant Knits

Casual Elegant Knits by Faina Goberstein and Dawn Leeseman is a new book of patterns featuring wearable designs for men and women. The book is divided into three stories. The first story makes use of a limited, but classic color palette and is geared towards work and city life. The second story features more casual knits for weekend play and introduces a more colorful palette. The third story features accessories.

FG: First of all, Connie, I want to thank you for giving me a chance to visit with you this morning. I have to tell you that I am a huge admirer of your designs. I cannot wait to see your next one. I am delighted to tell your readers about some projects from our new book Casual, Elegant Knits. Do you have a project in mind that you want me to talk about?

CC: I found the Vintage Hat very interesting. What were your inspirations for it? I especially like the versatility of the long tie and the many different looks it gives the hat.

FG: This is one of my designs. It was inspired by the Art Deco period. It was the period of Coco Chanel in 1920s that gave a woman freedom from corsets. The hats became small, feminine, and relaxed. I always loved this look. I also love to wear my scarves by wrapping them around my head in different ways. Putting these two ideas together in a hat was interesting to me. The decorative cast-on was also chosen for the edge that adds to this look. This cast-on is not used very much in American design, but in Europe it is well known. I just put the video on my blog to help knitters to learn this cast-on. The ties are where the fun begins with this hat. You can follow the instructions in the book for three different looks, or come up with your own.

CC: How do you match yarn to design? For example, for the vintage hat you use La Boheme and Crystal Palace kid merino. Why that particular pairing? The La Boheme is an interesting choice too - I've mainly seen it used in shawls so its use here is different and fun.

FG: La Boheme is a very romantic-looking yarn. That was our first choice for the hat. The combination of a rayon bouclé and a brushed kid mohair is great for this hat. Kid Merino made it a little thicker for holding the shape of the hat. I made this hat before from a different yarn and it was nice also. You can mix some kid mohair with worsted- weight wool and you will get close to what your gauge should be. You will be missing that sheen of rayon bouclé, though.

CC: I really like the funnel neck sleeveless top. It's such a classic, clean look. Can you tell me a little about its design elements and why you chose them?

FG: This top is also my design. I used a finer yarn and smaller needles than for the Elongated –Neck Tunic. I like to knit in the round as much as I can. Another thing I wanted to do is to work the edges of an armhole as I go along for a smooth clean look. To achieve this, I worked in the round up to the armholes and continued separately for front and back. I ended up having two little seams- shoulders. I did not need to go back and put finishing touches on the armholes. I am so glad I did that. It became a very quick project.
To make the top more attractive and elongated, I added some decorative lines that you see on the photo. By the way, this is only photo in the book that does not do justice to the garment. As you know, it is very hard to photograph a black-colored garment.

CC: As a designer, I find myself designing things that I would like to wear. How do you work as a designer? Do you design for yourself mainly or for other people?

FG: Most of the time I design for my family and me. I am lucky that my daughter, my son, and my husband love to have nice and stylish clothes. When I design for a magazine or a book, I think more about the audience I am trying to target, but my fashion vision does not change that much from what I want to wear myself.

CC: Have you knit many of your design pieces for your own wardrobe? What is your favorite knitted garment?

FG: If you mean designs from the book, I made both skirts, all the hats and scarves for myself. My favorites are the Little Flirt Skirt and the Red Waves Beret. I made many projects from our book for my family. Dawn’s Polo Shirt is a favorite of my husband.

CC: How did you and your co-author split up the work for the book? Did you each take on a particular "story" or did both of you design some pieces for each story?

FG: This is a great question. We worked very closely together at the beginning of the project. That part was involving coming up with the vision, breaking it into parts, thinking through what these two people would want to wear on different occasions, what color scheme to choose, what particular pieces of clothing they will have on, etc. After all that was set-up, we decided who would design this or that piece. Some things were naturally going into my or Dawn’s basket. All felted item had to be Dawn’s. I do not do felting. All hats and scarves were more up my alley as well as skirts. The rest was split between us. I took women’s sweaters; Dawn took men’s sweaters. We worked separately for a while, but were consulting with each other. When all the garments and patterns were done, we got together every day and worked on formatting and editing of the patterns and all other writings and paperwork that needs to be done. We did not think about letting our readers know whose design it is because it was such a close collaboration, but now we wish we did. We are both on Ravelry, so that is the only place where we divided our designs. We still feel attached to all of them in some way.

FG: I wanted to ask about your recent publications. It seems to me that every magazine I pick up, your design is there and it is wonderful. What should we expect to see in the near future?

CC: Thanks for the compliment! Well, I have a few things coming up in various Interweave publications, a few things in the new online magazine, The Twist Collective and hopefully a few more self published patterns.

FG: Connie, thank you so much for this interesting conversation. I hope people will be making many projects from our book and use my video on my blog. I did not add any sound there. I think people will let me know if I need to do it.

Tomorrow we will be talking with Marie Grace Smith of Marie Grace Designs about the four brioche stitches that we used in this book. I hope your readers will be there.

CC: Thank you for stopping by, Faina! And congratulations to you and Dawn on the publication of your book.