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Vintage Modern Knits Review & Interview

Modern Vintage Knits, Courtney Kelley and Kate Gagnon Osborn, Interweave Press, 2011, 159 pp.

The book is divided into three sections (Rustic Weekend (Fall), Vintage Feminine (Spring), and Winter Harbor), with 7 (9, 6) patterns per section.

The patterns include:

Cady

Cady Mittens. Image © Interweave Press LLC

  • 5 cardis
  • 3 pullovers
  • 3 socks/legwarmers
  • 4 mittens/handwarmers
  • 3 scarves/shawls
  • 4 hats

Stitch techniques range from stranded, intarsia, textured, cables, lace, variations of twined knitting and Roositud inlays and more. The Innsbruck mittens & leg warmers, typical of Tyrolean knitting, have embroidery tucked in between the patterns formed by the twisted stitches.

The antecedents of many of the patterns are easily recognizable: the Bohus-inspired mitts and beret, the above mentioned Innsbruck mittens and leg warmers, the Cowichan-inspired Maple Bay cardi.  Visit the book’s Ravelry page to see pics of all the designs.

Roositud

Yvette hat. Image © Interweave Press LLC

Although I would consider most of the patterns intermediate in difficulty, it looks like any would be a good first project of the given technique.

Schematics are provided for all of the sweaters. Stitch patterns are charted only. Sizing on the garments seems to run to fit from XS to XL.

I’d love to knit the Yvette hat, which incorporates the Roositud technique. It’s a technique I’ve never tried, and it looks fun – a way to embroider without actually embroidering.

Adelaide, the yoked Icelandic-inspired pullover, is very soft & romantic. Although it only uses four colors for the colorwork section (1 MC and 3 CCs), the blending of the colors lends complexity.

Kate and Courtney volunteered to answer a few questions for today’s visit. Thanks guys!

Looking through the book, I get the impression you both started brainstorming what techniques and styles you wanted to tackle, then narrowed the focus to one or two pieces per.  Can we look forward to a sequel with new, even more esoteric techniques highlighted, or one with the included techniques revisited?  Sweater patterns for some of the techniques used in the book for mittens & vice versa?

Kate: Right now, sadly, no, we do not have a sequel in the works, but it is always a possibility!  We have really loved the response the book has received and how excited people are to learning new things, though, so we would love to hear what else people would like to learn or find out more about, and that may just be the motivation we need to work on number two!

Courtney:  Ooooo…I love the idea of a sequel!  I’m off to hunt down more esoteric techniques!

Can you tell me about your role in the Fibre Company and the link to Kelbourne Woolens?  Did you have any new yarns or colorways developed just for the book?

Erin

Erin Cardigan. Image © Interweave Press LLC

Kate: The Fibre Company was founded in 2004 by Iain Stanley and Daphne Marinpoulos as both a spinning and processing mill.  They did most of the original color and yarn development, and when we took over the distribution in 2008, we started off initially with 4 of the original 10 or so lines they developed: Terra, Road to China, Organik and Canopy, which comes in both a Fingering and Worsted.  We immediately introduced Road to China Light, a finer gauge of the Road to China line, and in the summer of 2010, also brought Savannah back.  One of the things we love most about the yarns (besides he amazing colors and quality and softness) are that they are totally unique and there is nothing else like them – both fiber blend or color-wise – on the market.  Iain and Daphne still own the Fibre Company, hence the Kelbourne Woolens distributorship (which we own), and we have sole distribution rights to the line, so a lot of the time the names are used interchangeably.  One of the other wonderful things about the arrangement is that we and are able to make all the future yarn and color development decisions for the lines, and we do our best to make sure any new additions are on par with the initial vision they had for the company.

Courtney:  In addition to what Kate said, we did have new colorways of Terra developed as samples during the book process which were used.  The background of the fair isle yoke of the cover sweater, Adelaide, was unreleased when the sweater was knit and photographed for the book.  There were only 20 skeins of it in existence!  Also, Savannah was in it’s initial stages of being reproduced.  We released it to the public in the Spring of 2010, after the two sweaters from the book (the Erin Cardigan and Tilghman Island Pullover) were knit.  There was a big debate as to whether or not to use it for the book because the whole relaunch of Savannah could have fallen apart at any moment!

Do you have a favorite pattern from the book?    Courtney, what’s your favorite of Kate’s? and vice versa? Why?

Rhodes Point Gansey. Image © Interweave Press LLC

Courtney:  My favorite pattern from the book is…well, it does keep changing.  It’s like being asked which child is your favorite!  I do really like the way the Gansey turned out, but the Brigid Jacket is so darn cute and versatile, the Yangtze Cardigan is my absolute dream cardigan and the Whitby Stockings I want to wear every day, and want to have in multiple colorways.  Of Kate’s projects I love the Voderrhein Hat.  I am knitting a scarf in Organik right now and absolutely loving every second of it!  Now I really wish I could set aside time to knit another project.

Ajiro Scarf

Ajiro Scarf. Image © Interweave Press LLC

Kate: This is a question we get asked a lot, and I am realizing my favorite changes day to day!  For Courtney’s designs, my favorite is the Ajiro Scarf – I just can’t seem to get warm today, and the thought of wrapping that beautiful long doubled Fair Isle scarf around my neck a few times is really appealing.  We also both come from weaving backgrounds, so I love seeing the little ways woven motifs and structures find their way into our knitting.  I am currently working on a new Kelbourne Woolens design that involves a lot of cables, so I have been thinking about the Erin Cardigan a lot. I am really happy with that design for a few reasons – I absolutely love Aran sweaters, but most “traditional” Arans didn’t have the shape or fit I was looking for  – a closer fit, set in sleeves, a fitted armhole, etc. For the Erin Cardigan, I set out to design a sweater that was both flattering and also incorporated traditional Aran motifs, and I am really happy with out it turned out and hope others love it, too!

If someone was interested in delving more into the history and traditions of the various styles, what books or resources would you recommend as most useful?

Kate: There are a few books in our library that we just could not live without.  Of the bunch, my top four are Fair Isle Knitting by Sarah Don (I highly recommend the original printing – the photos and models are so much better!) for its amazing Fair Isle motifs and multitude of garment types, Ethnic Socks and Stockings by Priscila A. Gibson-Roberts for its large variety of techniques, Traditional Knitting by Michael Pearson, for its detailed history, amazing photographs, and coverage of both Fair Isle and Aran knitting, and Nordic Knitting by Susanne Pagoldh for is wide coverage of many techniques and time periods.  In fact, Courtney got me my copy of Nordic Knitting while on vacation in Oregon while we were working on the book and it had a huge influence on me during the process.

Abigail Hand Warmes

Abigal Hand Warmers. Image © Interweave Press LLC

Courtney:  I love going to libraries and museums.  Luckily the Philadelphia Free Library has really extensive collections of images and old manuscripts which are really great to look at.  Also, Historical Societies and small museum collections are great resources.  I spent some time at Winterthur Museum in Wilmington, DE doing research in their rare books department.  There’s some really great knitting books, including hand written journals of knitters from the 1800s and early 1900s.  Also, at most museums you can schedule appointments to view items from their fashion collections.  Here in Philadelphia we have the famous Schiaparelli bow-knot sweater in special collections.  Things like that are great resources for inspiration.

The book’s full of gorgeous photography – did you guys scout out the locations? or was that up to Interweave and the other people who worked on your book?

Kate: The photography – both the modeled garment shots and the landscape photography are both things we can’t take any credit for.  One of the reasons why we really wanted to, and loved, working with Interweave was because they were so open to our ideas about styling, the chapter themes, and how we wanted the book to look.  Their styling and art department scouted all of the locations for the shots of the knitted garments in order to really demonstrate the three cohesive chapters, and we are very happy with how they turned out.  All of the landscape photographs (any shot without a model in it) were taken by my mother-in-law, Lynn Osborn, who is an architect and amazing photographer. (her website: http://osbornstudioplus.com/).  Both my parents and in-laws were incredibly supportive of us throughout the book process, and when I asked Lynn if she would be willing to provide a few shots to round out the graphics in the book, she jumped at the chance.  We are so happy with how her pictures were incorporated into the book, and really think they make a huge difference in the overall look!

Adelaide

Adelaide. Image © Interweave Press LLC

Thank you Kate & Courtney!  To check out previous & upcoming blog tour stops, visit:

1 comment… add one
  • Anne February 17, 2011, 6:23 am

    This is a GREAT book – I just got a copy in the mail yesterday myself and have several things already earmarked to knit!!

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