At TNNA this past June, when we were both exhibiting with our US distributor (Deep South Fibers) I got to see Carol Feller's new collection in the flesh. Among Stones is a beautiful book, so well thought through with gorgeous photography and a strong earthy theme.
Carol asked if I'd like to be part of the blog tour for this new book, and so here we are! It's always a pleasure to talk to Carol, to pick her brains and hear the process behind her well executed designs.
'Among Stones' has an amazingly organic and tranquil feel about it, noticeable in both the photography and the designs. Can you tell us a little bit about the theme behind the book? How do the patterns and/or yarns relate to each other?
The book started off almost accidently. I had a few designs I was working on at the same time and I realized that they had a very similar feel to them. I suspect that sometimes when you create a book it reflects the headspace you want to be in (not necessarily where you actually are!) so it’s almost aspirational in its mood and tone. Life is very hectic here so I think I find my work often reflects the tranquillity I want in my own space.
Once I realized the direction the patterns were going in I then stepped back and decided it might actually make a nice book theme so I laid out some pattern ideas and combined yarn choices and requested a few yarns to fill the holes in the book. This is one thing I love about planning a book in advance. You can have all your yarn swatches and sketches gathered together so you can see how it will work as a whole.
Construction and texture are key themes to your work, and both are especially apparent with this book. Can you tell us a little bit about your favourite piece, and your most challenging piece?
My favourite piece is probably the simplest, Dacite, the book cover. It is a grown up version of a child’s cardigan I designed a few years ago and I was eager to create an adult version with a few grown up ‘adult’ tweaks. It’s one of my favourite colours and yarns and the simplicity is something I would wear day after day.
In terms of complexity the hem of Gabbro was probably a section of the pattern that took the longest to wrap my head around. It’s created as a series of short row curves that is worked in sections all around the hem. It makes a very unique finished piece but it was hard to picture exactly how it was going to work until I got it on the needles. Knitting is so often like that, what you see in your head takes on a life of it’s own once you knit it!
Of course, I'm going to ask about the Hat! Basanite Hat is sideways knit, with short rows at the crown - one of my favourite construction methods for a Hat. Can you tell us a little bit of the background to this design?
This hat design was something that has been brewing for a while. I had the super chunky Quince yarn in my stash for a year or two and this herringbone slipstitch pattern is something I’ve always loved. Initially I tried to combine the two as a vest but it just didn’t work properly. When I turned it all on it’s side a sideways hat and mitt set was perfect. The vertical compression that you get from the slipstitch band created a nice snug fitting brim and the top of the hat could then be worked in garter, which is somewhat easier to work short rows in. I like the end result; the yarn is so fat that the garter looks dramatically textured for such a simple stitch!
I'm always fascinated by the process of putting a book together, especially a self-published book - it's a very personal and rewarding experience - and for those reasons I love to hear a little about it. This is your second self published book - how did the process of developing this book compare with your first? Did you find this one easier (not that self publishing a book is ever easy!) or did it bring about a whole new learning curve?
This book flowed much more smoothly, I think with every book you do (no matter how it’s published) you learn new ways to organise yourself and make the process flow more smoothly.
Always the hardest part of self-published books is that you’ve got so many plates spinning at once. Designs are being written, tested and knit, photo locations are being picked, layout and editing has to be finalised, print decisions to be made (batch print or print on demand) and then of course the real work starts after publication when you have to market it!
So I guess the book design get easier but marketing gets harder each time.
What does the future hold? Another book perhaps, or something different?
I’ve got a few different projects on the go this year. I’ve joined up with the yarn shop ‘This Is Knit’ to do an Irish Yarn Club for the first half of 2014. This should be opened up this Wednesday (23rd October) and I’m enjoying putting some custom colours together with some patterns that the are going to work well with. This is a new venture for me so I hope it’s well received.
As well as that I’ve got another big book idea brewing in the background. This would be a much bigger book so I’m still at the planning stages with this one.
These gorgeous photos make me miss Ireland. Maybe next year we'll all get back over?
Photos copyright © Joseph Feller, reproduced with kind permission.