A few months ago I was asked by Katya Frankel to write a few lines for her new book. Writing about this particular book seemed very appropriate for me considering it was a book of boys’ knits! The title, very fittingly, is Boys’ Knits. I was very happy to see a book being released that was devoted just to boys. The garments are all seamless (you can make sure they fit as you’re knitting), and are subtle enough than boys of all ages would love to wear them. Boys are amazingly hard to knit for. If you use yarn that is too scratchy they won’t wear it (no matter how much you tell them that it will keep them warm!). If you knit something very complex you are also almost guaranteed that they won’t wear it either. Katya has got it just right with this book, enough knitting interest that you’ll have fun while your knitting but nothing over the top that little (or big) boys will refuse to wear!
There are even several pages devoted to getting the fit right at the start of the book with suggestions on good places to make different modifications. This is something I’ve never seen in a children’s book before. Katya gives a size chart at the beginning that shows the ‘assumed’ sizes for each age category. Now we all know that every child is built differently so you can then go and make any adjustments you need for your child’s size based on this information. The fact that there is a uniform construction technique used throughout the book means that the information on making adjustments is valid for every single pattern.
So a little about the details; this book has got 16 different garments which includes pullovers, jackets, hoodies and a few sleeveless tops. All of the garments are knit seamlessly from the bottom up in the round but there is a variety of different shoulder treatments. If you want to see each of the garments in detail you can view them directly on ravelry here (can be digitally downloaded here also) and to buy a hard copy directly from Cooperative Press click here.
My favorite part about being part of a blog tour is asking the author questions. I get a chance to find out how the project started and what the book writing experience was like for them. So without further ado here is my brief interview with Katya:
Was your son excited about you writing this book?
Not about me writing a book per se, but he was excited about being able to wear some of the jumpers, yes. I am enjoying their appreciation of hand knits very much too!
How long were you working on the book, did you give yourself a fairly long lead-time?
Time wise it was a rather long process. From the very beginning to the time I submitted the manuscript and the photos it took around a year. However, I am a generally slow person, totally believing that procrastination is good for you and so it was the planning for the book and each single design that took almost for ever. I can’t possibly start making something before every conceivable option for shaping or stitch pattern alignment has been examined, over and over again. But the actual knitting was finished in a couple of months. I have had an amazing knitter help with the samples, she was great and the sweaters were virtually flying off her needles.
Looking through the book you’ve used the same basic construction technique for each garment, seamless and bottom up. Is this one of your favourite techniques? What advantages does it have?
When I start planning the pattern, I always begin at the underarm and work on its yoke first. Figuring out sleeve caps, armholes, necklines and shoulders is where I perfect the fit and settle down on stitch patterns. Personally, I think working from the bottom up lends more ways to customising sleeve cap shaping through a variety of decreases. I did entertain the idea of mixing it up with top down knits, of course, but in the end it was simply a call for consistency.
Dax, one of my favorites.
You’ve got a great set of models for the book; they all look so happy and natural in the photographs! Were you involved in the photography and model selection for the book?
In a way they did, prior to putting the designs together I polled the boys to find out what kinds of sweaters they like or would like to wear. But the good weather and the half-term break were to thank for the smiles. The photoshoots coincided with the sunniest Autumn week we had after a rainy Summer and the boys were genuinely happy. Which was super helpful of course because I wanted to make sure that the photos don’t appear to be modeled or rigid, just kids having a good time at the park, doing what they do best. It worked out to be all very casual. Albeit for exactly this reason our very first photoshoot turned out to be a disaster, I completely overestimated how much can be physically achieved in a park with kids bouncing about. I certainly wasn’t prepared to run around as much as I did trying to photograph them :-)
My two favourites from the book are probably Dax and Baley. I’m always a sucker for orange on boys! Do you have a favourite from the book?
That orange one is fab, such a vibrant colour! My favourites are more to do with the construction than the colour, Runaround for example was extremely pleasing to work on because of the way the scale of the stitch pattern changes through its yoke. I love that! And Baley, the very first jumper in the book I worked on. It’s knitted in a buttery soft Malabrigo singles that was perfect for a simple style sweater with a little interest in its ribbing.
Would you like to win your own digital copy of this book? Leave a comment below and I’ll pick a winner on Saturday 12th of October.
Runaround, one of Katya’s personal favourites due to the scaling of the stitch pattern on the yoke.