I’m so excited to have my second interview with Carol Feller!  She’s the author of Contemporary Irish Knits (interview & review here) and now the self-published collection Scrumptious Knits.

Scrumptious Knits includes 2 cardis, 1 sweater, 1 hat, 1 pair of gloves, 1 shawl, and one cowl, all done in various weights of Fyberspaytes Scrumptious yarn.

Steph:  What made you decide to self publish this collection?  I’m assuming there was a big difference in the amount of control you had regarding tech editing, yarn choices (since this was a collaboration with Fyberspates), graphic design and so on?

Carol:  With Contemporary Irish Knits, published with Wiley, I had a huge amount of control; I got the pick the tech editor, was part of the editing process all the way through, we handled the photography ourselves and I was consulted about the layout and book design.

I know that this is not every designer’s experience with working with publishers so I think that I was especially lucky with the team that I worked with.

Which do you think you prefer, now having gone through both?  Why?

I think both publishing methods have their own advantages and the model I’d use would depend on the project I had in mind.  For larger projects, I think that a conventional publisher works really well.

Having outside organization from a publisher means that you stay on track, to the point and create good plans and layouts for yourself.  Also, if you include a large amount of non-pattern text within a book, having a larger team of editors is a huge advantage.  Working with a publisher also means that you don’t have to do every single job, which is especially nice if there are jobs you don’t like so much!

However regardless of which method of publishing used it is still your name on the book.

This means for me that I feel 100% responsible for how the finished product works.  The extra degree of control you having when publishing yourself does mean that even though it is more work you get to be completely in charge.

I noticed the designs in this collection have a much more contemporary/modern aesthetic – clean designs with a few striking details.  Do you prefer this to the more traditional (albeit modernized) look of your previous book?  Was it just time for a change? Or is this what the yarn ‘told’ you?

I like designing using a wide range of styles and techniques.  I don’t have any desire to be ‘pigeonholed’ so I strive to take on new challenges with each new design.

Having said that, in terms of what I wear myself and am drawn to as a knitter I gravitate towards cleaner lines with simple details.  As well as this, the general aesthetic and theme of each book is quite different.  In Contemporary Irish Knits I was working with Irish yarns which are rustic and tweedy.  I wanted to create designs that show these yarns to their full advantage which for the book ended up being an updated traditional feel.

Fyberspates yarn is completely different, smooth, with a silky shine.  This yarn cries out for sleeker designs with sparks of design highlights.  I hope I’ve created this in Scrumptious Knits. For example, Ignus has decorative side panels that blend cables within the ribbing, and the Haruna hat and glove set are simple knit pieces with welted/bobble details that draw the eye and create a unique knit.

How did working with just one yarn company – and one fiber composition from that company — affect your design process?  I’m thinking also the impact of color palette, yarn weights available, the fiber composition, etc.  Did it make it easier or harder? How did it affect your creativity?

You know I don’t think design constraints are necessarily a bad thing!  Fortunately I love Fyberspates yarn, it is wonderful to work with and Jeni’s colour palette matches exactly with my own aesthetics. If I walked into a yarn shop to pick up colors that I liked I think her range would be pretty much spot on what I’d choose myself!  The range of yarn weights is fairly wide, it comes in lace weight, sports weight, dk, aran and chunky, so you’ve got a good chance of finding a yarn to suit your design idea.

As I had done some individual pattern designs for Fyberspates before I had a good feel for the yarn and how it behaved. This did play in very much with the design ideas I came up with.  I wanted the collection to have a cohesive feel that allowed the knit features and yarn qualities to work well together and enhance one another.

Do you have a personal favorite of the patterns?  Which & why?

I told Woolly Wormhead on her blog tour stop that Ignus is probably my favorite from a wearability point of view (for myself).

However, in terms of fun knitting I think it would have to be Taupo.  This is knit from side to side starting with a provisional cast on at the center of the back.  Short rows (one of my favorite techniques) are used to create the hip shaping and the sleeve caps for the cardigan.  With unusual constriction like this knitters are kept guessing all the way along making for a really enjoyable knit!

Any design plans for the next year you can discuss?

I’ve got a whole stack of designs coming out between now and the end of the year in different magazines.

In terms of self-publishing, I’m working on another themed collection that I would hope is ready by September or so.  I’ve become fascinated with the idea of working around a theme, it helps create a cohesive collection of work that fits well together.

I’ve settled on an idea, which would incorporate fun, small projects.  So many of my jobs for magazines tend to be full garments, and I crave a set of smaller projects that incorporate skills and techniques that help enhance knitters skills.

 What advice would you give to aspiring designers regarding publication choices? 

I think as a designer deciding on a publishing route that you need to evaluate your skills and abilities realistically.  If you don’t have a full set of skills yourself to self-publish then you either need to have the funds to pay for them or be willing to put in the work to learn them.  When you publish a book you are creating your reputation so everything should be as good as it can be.  Strive for perfection but accept that it is an elusive goal!

If you don’t want to take on the full responsibility and financial risk of self-publishing then a mainstream publisher may be a good option for you.  I learned an awful lot from the process and know that if I wanted to publish a book of that size again I’d go with a main stream publisher.

Either choice does require huge amounts of organization and planning.  Even with a publisher you need to take ownership and control, it’s your project!

Thank you Carol!


To win your very own PDF copy of Scrumptious Knits, leave a comment on this post with your favorite design from the book and which color of Fiberspaytes yarn you’d like to knit it in.  Comment by midnight PST April 21st.  I’ll use Random.org to pick a winner the next day and post the name here.  Make sure you leave a way for me to contact you!

Be sure to visit the other stops on the tour:

Apr 2nd: www.woollywormhead.com

Apr 6th:  www.annkingstone.com

Apr 10th:  www.stefaniejapel.com

Apr 14th:  www.sunsetcat.com (me!)

Apr 17th:  www.rockandpurl.com

Apr 21st:  www.knitspot.com

Apr 24th:  www.nelkindesigns.com