Today we have the honour of starting the blog tour for Carol Feller's latest collection, Scrumptious Knits!
For her previous book, Contemporary Irish Knits, I interviewed Carol about her design process and how she found working with a mainstream publisher. You may have noticed by now that talking with designers about these aspects of their work is an interest of mine, and for this collection, I was intrigued to learn how she felt about self publishing, in relation to her previous experiences.
Scrumptious Knits cover, featuring Ignus. © Joseph Feller, reproduced with kind permission
1) What's your favourite piece from Scrumptious Knits and why?
I think that probably my favourite piece from the collection is Ignus, the top down tunic with side cables. It was knit very much for me and what I wear in the winter. While I like the skinner jean style I prefer it with a longer top to come down as far as the hips. The combination of a very streamlined top with almost hidden ornate side panels appeals to me on many levels. It’s low key enough that it can be worn daily but there is enough interest as a knitter that you won’t get bored while you knit. That’s a great combination; fun to knit but also very wearable.
It was also one of those knits that I had to ‘hold my nerve’ on. I could picture in my head what I wanted it to look like but it didn’t come together until the very end. It is so long with a big expanse of st st at the center so when the body was finished before the cowl neck was added it looked very unbalanced. The difference the neck made was huge, and aggressively blocking it gave it enough drape that it softened around the neck.
2) What was the greatest challenge to you writing/designing the Scrumptious Knits collection?
Organisation. When you’re putting a full collection together (as you well know!) there are so many different strands moving along at the same time it feels like you are being pulled in a million different directions.
You have knitting, test knitting, tech editing, layout and photography all churning along at the same time. Also, with a printed book you have lots of logistic issues going on in the background at the same time. Where will it be printed? How many copies? Where will it be stored? Who will distribute?
Most of the time I did enjoy the challenge but there are times when it became overwhelming. Also, thinking about logistics can be distracting to the creative side of the brain and it’s hard to toggle between them!
Haruni Hat. © Joseph Feller, reproduced with kind permission
3) Can you tell us what it is about Fyberspates yarn that spurred you to create a whole collection with it? I've worked with it, it's gorgeous stuff!
I’ve worked before with Fyberspates on individual patterns and Jeni was a pleasure to work with. Last summer I began talking with her about the possibility of a collaboration and she loved the idea. Everything about the project fitted in place as though it was meant to be! Her yarns are amazing to work with and the colour palettes are all shades I adore working in. Luckily I had enough time to plan a larger collection and it all came together much more quickly and easily than I would have dreamed.
4) How have you found the challenge of self publishing a collection after working with a mainstream publisher?
I learned a lot while working with a publisher on Contemporary Irish Knits. It was an amazing experience, it also made me aware of what kind of projects I could manage on my own and what would be better done through a publisher. It also gave me some organisational skills that I didn’t have before that I was able to use with Scrumptious Knits.
I kept the number of patterns in this booklet smaller so that I could produce the quality of booklet I wanted. If it was a bigger project it would have been much harder to do. Without the financial resources of a publisher behind you, it would be hard to take the 12-18 months publishing time necessary to create a 200 page book. It takes a lot of self-confidence to put the large money commitment into a booklet you’re creating yourself. I needed to evaluate the costs carefully to ensure that even in a worst case scenario I’d still break even. (BTW I’m happy to report that it’s done much better than that :)
5) What does the future hold? Are you working on any more books?
I have got plans in the coming months to get started on another booklet. I hope to have this one completed by the end of the summer or autumn if all goes according to plan. I’m enjoying the daydreaming stage of this project, envisioning a theme and interesting, fun projects that would fit within it. However for a little while plans for this have been put on hold as I’ve committed to a new project in an area that is totally new to me. As we’re still working on it I’m not giving any details away yet, but I’m really, really excited about it!
Eternity Cowl. © Joseph Feller, reproduced with kind permission
Thank you so much Carol for sharing your thoughts with us about this collection, the designing process and self publishing! I especially love these photos too, they're my favourites from the book - they contain a wonderful atmosphere. Scrumptious Knits contains all of Carol's hallmark design features - practical knits combined with lovely cables and textures, and I'm not surprised to hear that the collection has been well recieved.
If you'd like to grab yourself a copy of the booklet, which is available in print or digital form, or any of the single patterns, then have a look on Carol's website, Ravelry, or the Fyberspates website. The next stop on the blog tour is Ann Kingstone - look out for her post in a few days. Enjoy!