Posts Tagged ‘books’

If you’re one of my more regular blog readers, you’ve probably already seen my various posts about my designs and the process of designing for Knitting In the Sun: 32 Projects For Warm Weather by Kristi Porter, knitting designer, teacher, tech editor and an all-around talent.  I still promise to reveal more details about my experiences later, but today in this blog tour stop, I want to talk about the other wonderful things in this book…

What’s that saying that we hear all the time? “Don’t judge a book by its cover.”

Well, judge, judge away! You definitely should judge this book by its cover.  You will not be disappointed. The content and photos inside the book are just as inspiring and beautiful as the cover photo, which is modeled by one of Kristi’s daughters. Knitting in the Sun is well-organized and the many layering pieces are not just for warm weather, they are also appropriate and suitable as transitional pieces for any climate and season.

Image Copyright of Wiley Publishing, Inc.

Image Copyright of Wiley Publishing, Inc.

The book is organized into six chapters: Accessories, Sleeveless, Short Sleeves, Long Sleeves, Cardigans and Odds & Ends.  Many of the patterns have a simple, classic and relaxed style, with enough details to make them  interesting and unique, but not too much to make them overly fussy.  The photography is excellent and fresh, and the models look very natural and do not contort in weird poses. Furthermore, I love that the models are more like everyday women.  In fact, this past weekend I had the pleasure of seeing some of the models in person when I went to Kristi’s book party in La Jolla.  They were healthy-looking real people, unlike the rail-thin models typical of the fashion industry.

As if the patterns and photos are not drool-worthy enough, there’s also a bonus! What, you ask? You can print charts from the patterns in the book from the publisher’s website.  How convenient and sublime is that!? You won’t have to worry about dragging your book to your copy center, messing up the binding of your book, and you avoid getting any wonky or distorted copies (which always happen to me, especially near the spine).

Image Copyright of Wiley Publishing, Inc.

As I stated when Marnie MacLean, who designed Aviara, interviewed me, I’m trying to practice some good self-discipline and finish up my long list of knitting to-dos, but there are several patterns that are calling my name. It’s especially true now that I’ve seen them all in person.  Seriously, no matter how gorgeously photographed they are, photos still don’t do the garments the same justice as being able to see and touch them in person.  Namely, the 3 that I like most are, in no particular order,  Cinnamon Bay by Carol Feller, Coronado by Kristi, and Anacapa by Kendra Nitta.

Cinnamon Bay is a clever take on a pinwheel blanket.  It features a simple fan and feather lace edging and a drawstring that allows you to convert the blanket into a bag.  I think that Cinnamon Bay would make a nice gift for expecting parents, and I have a good friend that I think would totally appreciate it as a gift.

Coronado just screams comfy to me.  I think that the best feature of this wrap-style cardigan is its giant shawl collar.  The eyelet rib creates slimming vertical lines, and I think it would be a superb cardigan to wrap myself in without me looking preggars, especially since I am, ahem, rather buxom on top.  I have some Mission Falls and Karaoke in my stash that might work for Coronado, but it would look luscious in some Noblesse that I’ve been coveting, wouldn’t it?

As if the cover photo was not inspirational enough, I cannot express how much more beautiful and interesting Anacapa is in person. Lately, I’ve been having a love affair with textures and cables, and I may just have to engage in a tryst with Anacapa.

Maybe I could squeeze in an extra project afterall…

Next up on the Knitting in the Sun blog tour is Amy O’Neill Houck.  Please visit her blog in the next few days to see what she has in store for you.

left: With Kristi at her book party at her LYS, Knitting in La Jolla on 5/16/09; right: posing next to Yehliu at the book party.  (I would’ve taken more photos, but I was too distracted and having too much fun meeting new people. 🙂 )


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Alishan bookIn my last post, I mentioned that I simply called this garment  “Summer Nights Hoodie” as a working title.  Thanks to Kristi and the publisher, I was able to give this garment a beautiful, meaningful and very personal name: Alishan

Shortly after I submitted my garments, Kristi sent contributing designers an email asking us to submit names of sunny places that we might want to name our pieces.  The list of names that I submitted for both garments of were of places that I have lived or have traveled to with fond memories. Being ethnically Taiwanese, most of the names I submitted were from my ancestral home.

I named Alishan after a mountain range in Taiwan, and also the name of a very famous Taiwanese folk song 高 山 青 (阿 里 山 的 姑 娘) about the beautiful mountain, the water, the people and an aboriginal maiden.   Here is a version sung by a very famous and legendary Taiwanese singer (Teresa Teng) in a live performance in Japan, and a video of a folk dance performance to the song.

image from taiwandna.com

image from taiwandna.com of someone from the Tsou tribe

You may be surprised, especially here in the West, to learn that like the Native Americans of North America, and the aborigines in Australia, Taiwan was also populated with many different aboriginal groups, though their numbers are certainly dwindling.  More information about the history of some of these peoples can be found in Taiwan’s digital museum about the Taiwanese Aboriginies.  I don’t want to get too much into politics, but I feel it’s important to at least mention that also like some of the civil rights movements in the US and in Australia, there has been more call for the civil rights and recognition of the aboriginies and the preservation of their cultures in Taiwan — and rightfully so. I think modern society really needs to preserve the indigenous cultures and environment of the lands we inhabit. ::of soapbox now::

The Alishan mountain range is definitely on the must-see list for visitors to Taiwan.  It was named after the chief of the Tsou tribe,  in remembrance of his contribution to his people.  The common name of the folk song, literally translated, is “Girls (or Maidens) of Alishan” and is a song that most Taiwanese know. Despite not remembering much of the lyrics, the catchy tune and the main line of the chorus is one that I have never forgotten since it was taught to me as a child.  But then again, I am really bad at recalling song lyrics in any language.

A wedding couple drinking from a cermonial tribal cup. I bought one of these hand-carved cups from a Cultural Store in Beitou, north of Taipei. It is amazing how many of their ceremonial and daily items, including clothing resemble many other indigenous cultures around the world.  The ceremonial cups I have remind me of some African ones that I have seen.

A Rukai wedding couple drinking from a cermonial cup. I bought one of these hand-carved cups from a Cultural Store in Beitou, north of Taipei. It is amazing how many of the aboriginal ceremonial objects, clothing and other items resemble many other indigenous cultures around the world. The ceremonial cups I have and the images carved on them remind me of some African ones that I have seen. Image from http://www.dmtip.gov.tw

When I explained the meaning behind the garment’s name,  a friend asked me if I had an aboriginal heritage.  The truth is that I don’t know, and neither does my dad.  What we do know is that our family has been in Taiwan since the Ming dynasty (1600’s) and that our first ancestors were Han people and came from the Fujian province of China, which is literally next door to Taiwan.

Most east Asians track family lineage patrilineally, and our family does have some sort of family “book” with the names of our branch of the ancestral tree.  Unfortunately, being a patrilineal society, the maternal lineages and relations were not recorded, even if there were ever female names documented.

When I asked my dad about any possible aboriginal heritage years ago, he said that he would not have been surprised if some of our long-ago female ancestors might have had some aboriginal heritage.  Since, over the centuries of history, the early settlers from the Ming dynasty and the aboriginal Taiwanese did trade,  intermingle, intermarry, and even fought some resistance movements and wars both against one another and together.  According to my dad, our ancient ancestors were farmers and likely lived closely to and traded with aboriginies.

Paiwan man with hand tattoos. Image from www.dmtip.gov.tw

Paiwan man with hand tattoos. Image from http://www.dmtip.gov.tw

There is also another bit of history that is interesting to me.  In the Ming dynasty, there were lots of Chinese pirates.  One of the pirates, second in command to a head honcho pirate (according to a English-Chinese history book I bought in Taiwan several years ago), was surnamed Kuo, the romanization and his Chinese character last name is the same as mine. (The pirate Kuo in my book is a different a pirate from Koxinga, who has a different surname, but is also romanized as Kuo.) I really don’t know how accurate that book is and Kuo is not the most common last name, but it is in the top 50 of the list of 100 surnames, so there certainly are lots of Kuos with a different ancestral line than my family’s.  However, despite the fact that there is no way to find out for sure and the chances are probably unlikely,  a part of me kind of wants to claim that one of our first ancestors was the pirate Kuo.  It may explain my sister’s affinity for skulls, and why I keep designing things with skulls for her.


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I was intrigued when I saw the call for submissions for Knitting in the Sun in mid-2008, so I went to work and worked up 3 design submissions. I was very lucky and excited when 2 of the 3 submissions were selected for the book.

Originally, the working title for Alishan was “Summer Nights Hoodie” (name explanation in this post).  I got the inspiration for the design after a trip to the fabric store, where I was fondling some laser-cut velvets and silky sheers.  I wanted an airy look, while I thought the garment would look cool with an illusion-ish center panel that kind of looked like a tank.


alishan swatch

The swatch that I submitted was worked in a fingering weight alpaca yarn from my stash.  In the end, Kristi and I settled on Kidlin Lace by Louet.   Although I am mildly allergic to mohair, I didn’t think the small mohair content on this project would be a problem, since I had worked with mohair in the the past.  Little did I know of the horrid 6+ months of torture that I was about to endure thanks to my wonderful immune system.

I’ve always had allergies, but I never had them as badly as I did in the Summer and Fall of 2008, where it was grossly debilitating, even on tons of allergy drugs.  I was not able to sleep or function — my head and chest were so clogged that I wanted to rip them out, and my eyes were so swollen and red that I dared not go into public until absolutely necessary, or when I thought I’d pull out my hair with cabin fever.  If you’re a regular blog reader, you’ll probably recall the gross pictures and posts about my swollen and bleeding eyes.

The horrid allergy attacks made knitting Alishan almost impossible.  My head and nose were so stuffed up that I couldn’t think, and even if I could manage any knitting, mohair or not, I could not see since my eyes were so swollen and running like a waterfall.  Luckily, Kristi gave me an extension on my deadline and I managed to send it in by the extension date.  Now that I have more designing experience and have found some good sample knitters in the last few months, I think in the future, I will play it safe and have sample knitters work any garment that requires mohair.  (The positive update on the allergies is that I am currently awaiting a medical lab to concoct a custom formula for me to be able to receive allergy injections. )

Alishan book

image (c) copyright by Wiley Publishing, Inc.

While working up Alishan, I had to deviate from the original sketch  a little bit (especially around the neckline) in order to fit it to the wider neckline that I wanted to achieve.  After I finished with it, even though I was happy about it,  I really put it out of my mind, especially since it unfortunately reminded me of my allergy hell.  Then to my utter surprise, in the promotional materials for the book, Kristi is shown wearing my garment.

I don’t have the garments for the book in my possession, but the agreement is that after 1 year of the publication date, the garments will be returned to the designers.

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The book was released yesterday!  I gave y’all a sneak peak of my designs that are in the book a few months ago, when I couldn’t contain my glee at seeing postcards promoting the book with Kristi Porter wearing my garment, and when I saw my lace & cables cardigan at the Lorna’s Laces booth at the neeedlearts trade show.

The book has recevied really good reviews so far, and all of the contributing designers are quite talented, including several “known” designer names that you may recognize, such as Dawn Leeseman, Stefanie Japel, Marnie MacLean,  and me of course (::wink, wink::), just to name a few.

Alishan book2Btw, there will be a blog tour about the book later, of which I’ve volunteered to be a part.  🙂

If you look at the table of contents for the book, you will notice that the garment names have something in common.  We were asked to suggest names of some sunny places for the garments.  The names I came up with mostly were of places that held memories for me, whether I lived or traveled there. I didn’t know whether Kristi really cared or wanted a description of the places and/or why I selected them, but I did give her a verbose list.

Yehliu book2I’ve already posted both patterns and projects onto Ravelry.  Also, for those interested in the design to book process, over the next couple of weeks, I will post and document information about my experience, design process and working up Alishan and Yehliu.

1st Left: Alishan; 2nd Left: Yehliu. All images in this post are copyright of Wiley Publishing, Inc.

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My sister came down from San Francisco to visit me this past weekend in part so that I can hold some of her personal items while she spends the next few years at a special nursing program at Yale (and also to visit her “friend” in San Diego) .

In preparation for her visit, I finished a hat for her using the yarn that I painted at Denise’s at the dye party.  The hat only took me a short 2 hours or less, and I made it as she described: “chunky, squareish but kind of pointy at the ends like kitty ears.”

We spent a morning at a local Arboretum, where she posed with her “new favorite hat.”  Aww, I feel all warm and fuzzy!  I’m also working on a vest for her with the rest of the yarn, but it’s on hiatus for the time being, as I prepare five(!) soon-to-be-revealed designs to be sent off for tech editing.

The designs will be displayed at the TNNA trade show in Columbus in June.  The date is fast approaching, but I am still undecided whether I will be going. By all reasoning, I should go, especially since my garments will be showing at a couple of yarn booths, but the trip will be a rather expensive investment.

Speaking of designs, two of my designs, Alishan and Yehliu, are in the new book by Kristi Porter, Knitting in the Sun, which will be released on Monday, May 11! How exiciting is that!!  I will post more details about each designs and their process after the official release date next week.

Project: Bulky Kitty-Eared Hat (working title)

Pattern Source: Designed by Anne K. Lukito. It is of my design, based on an idea that my sister described. It”s not available as of yet. I will write it up eventually, and right now, I am leaning towards posting it as a freebie.

Yarn: Bulky Weight yarn that I hand-painted (70% Merino Wool, 20% Alpaca, 10% Silk); I used about 55 yards.

Needles: US #13

Notes: It was a really quick and easy knit. I worked it in the round in one piece.  The “ears” were not an extra attachment or piece that was sewn on.

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Technically, this was not my first TNNA attendance. Aubrey and I went to the one in Phoenix this past summer. The summer one is much smaller and there seemed to be way more needlepoint than yarn. We did meet some really nice and fantastic people in Phoenix though, including David and Terri of Ozark Handspun, Janice Rosema who does some fantastic freeform crochet, and Karin Skacel of Skacel Collection.

We ran into all those folks at this TNNA, which is a stark contrast and a much much much larger event compared to the Phoenix one. We also met some new and very nice people, including knitting and crochet celebs and LYS owners from around the country. I’ll start with the celebs, because that what y’all want to hear, right?

For me and Aubrey, TNNA started on Wednesday morning (Jan. 9). TNNA had some educational classes scheduled from Wednesday through Saturday morning, and the market opened from Friday through Sunday. I am so glad that I registered us early, because I got to take 2 fantastic sock classes with Cat Borhi. If you know me, you know that I am not a sock knitter and was not very happy knitting my first sock. And even though I wrote and knitted Buccaneer’s Booty, it was only my 2nd pair of socks ever. Anyway, because I am not a sock knitter, Aubrey and I thought that I should hone my skills and take Cat’s classes. I truly am happy that I did. Cat is a fantastic, dynamic and fun teacher! She structured the classes very well, with lots of tips, tricks and stories. The first class I took was a Coriolis sock class, where we made baby versions of her Coriolis sock.

The second class was more geared towards making up your own sock pattern by combining different forms of sock architecture. The techniques covered in the class are covered in Cat’s book, New Pathways for Sock Knitters and in the supplemental You Tube videos Cat put out to support the book. But of course, sometimes learning in person is very different and better than learning from a book. In the end, I walked away thinking that sock knitting can be fun and enjoyable, especially teeny tiny baby socks. Now I don’t know if I’ll ever make a pair for myself, since I personally don’t wear socks that much, and would feel bad trampling on my own work, so to speak, but I think if my sister the sock lover or my hubby asks me to make her/him another pair, I think I would say yes with enthusiasm instead of mild dread.

In addition to Cat’s classes, I also took some business classes and a technique class taught by Melissa Leapman focusing on pleats and gathers. I’ll talk about that class in my next post.

One really fun aspect of TNNA is running into knitting celebs and all the book signings. (We tried to go to as many as we could, but we weren’t able to go to all the signings because we had to shop and purchase inventory.) There’s no dirt to spill on anyone because everyone we met were very friendly and nice.

The first knit-celeb we met on the show floor was Wenlan Chia of Twinkle. We had stopped her booth because we want to stock Wenlan’s Twinkle yarns by Classic Elite. She was also there to promote and sign autographs for her new book, Twinkle’s Weekend Knits. On the day of the book signing, I wore my Twister cap. Wenlan complimented me on the hat and seemed quite interested in how I made the twisted stitches — she said she didn’t know this technique. So, as to not hold up the line, I promised to stop by her booth again later to show her, but alas, she was busy talking to some people the two times I attempted to stop by and teach her. And on the last day of market, Aubrey and I had to finish some business and did not have time to stop by again. Though I tried, I was disappointed that I didn’t fulfill my promise to show her how to do the twisted stitch. I guess I will email her the instructions later and if she likes it a lot, maybe she’ll buy my pattern (which will be available after I get feedback from all my test knitters). 😉

In fact, I was so elated to have received so many compliments on Twister from various show attendees, including vendors, other designers, Cat Bordhi and other people from whom we received autographed books, that I felt all warm and fuzzy inside for the rest of the weekend.

While standing in line for one of the book signings, (was it for Debbie Stoller‘s Son of Stitch n Bitch?), we spotted Cookie A., who we flagged down to ask about buy and selling her patterns for our soon-to-be business, and about possibly teaching a class or two when we do open. It turned out that Cookie was lurking in the vicinity because she was looking for a ticket for the book signing, but there were no more tickets available. (The vendor that sponsored the book signings would hand out a limited number of tickets on a first come, first serve basis.) So, Aubrey, being the kind and generous person that she is, offered hers to Cookie, who was reluctant and hesitant to take it, but Aubrey insisted. It wasn’t a big deal to us, since I was getting book too, and we were requesting that the authors sign the book to Handicraft Cafe. I found Cookie to be very cool, nice and down-to earth, and we had a nice chat with her in line.

Yeah, I know this is getting boring because everyone was nice and there’s no dirt or gossip to share with y’all, so I’ll share the rest of the TNNA details in another post. Next post: more swag, Shannon Okey, Melissa Leapman, etc.

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We Don’t Have A Dog

For the will and not the gift makes the giver.
— Ephraim Gotthold Lessing

My husband came back from a business trip with an unexpected gift in tow. Apparently, he wandered into a NYC bookstore and happened to see a knitting book on sale, sot he go this for me:

For many reasons, I was quite surprised and a little puzzled by this gift. First of all, my husband has never bought me anything knitting related of his own volition, and this was certainly a nice gesture. (He did begrudging go to an LYS to find me some knitting needles upon my request once.) Secondly, we don’t have any dogs, nor are we planning to get one in the near future — 3 spoiled cats, 0 dogs and some ugly black widows lurking in our yard. Thirdly, my husband has not really asked me to knit anything for him — he once requested socks, but at my prompting, and as a joke, he once asked for a pirate’s eye patch for the fat one.
My husband doesn’t really wear sweaters either. The only time he bought sweaters in the 7-8 years we’ve been together was when Amazon had a great sale on them. Knowing him and his sense of humor, he probably thought getting this book would be ironic and funny, and that I’d probably appreciate anything knitting. However, just to be sure, I asked him if we wanted one of the sweaters in the book or if it was a hint for me to knit him a sweater. He doesn’t want one.

Thankfully, he didn’t waste his money, even if he meant it as a joke. The patterns in this book don’t look as crappy as the title sounds. There are some nice sweaters and many cute doggie things, like the ones in the photo below. Maybe the cute dogs camouflage some of the uglier ones, like the hat on the cover or the variegated yoke pullover on page 32.

Well, whatever my husband’s reason for getting this book, I will cherish it and appreciate his first knitting gift to me. Perhaps he or my dad will want me to knit them a sweater one day.

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