Congratulations to winner of the Planes, Trains & Automobiles Cowl, Laura! Laura, please check your email.
I was excited to get a copy of a wonderful new book, Pam Powers‘ Dress-to-Impress Knitted Scarves (Stackpole Books). Every knitter I know is a busy person. We all have schedules, lives, some of us have kids that need ferrying back and forth, we work, we have families and spouses to take care of, food that needs to be cooked, houses that need to be cleaned… We’re busy. So when I personally get a minute to knit on something *shock, gasp, awe* for MYSELF, I tend to gravitate towards small accessories that I know I’ll wear, can pull from my stash to knit and most importantly, are portable.
When Pam’s book came into my hands, I found many things I wanted to knit (a couple were already in my Ravelry queue), and even found myself stash diving for a few in particular. I really enjoyed looking over this book and am excited to cast on soon.
Pam, a freelance knitwear designer living in Orange County, California with her family, has designs that have appeared in Interweave Knits, Twist Collective, Belle Armoire and Apronology. She was kind enough to sit down with me and answer a few questions for us regarding her great new book…
Tanis Gray (TG): Hi Pam! Knitters will recognize your name from Ravelry and your wonderful patterns on there (including your popular Cowboy and Challah Infinity Cowl, both of which I was happy to see included in your book), but this is your first book! Tell us why you wanted to dive into doing a collection of scarf patterns in your new book, “Dress-to-Impress Knitted Scarves.”
Pam Powers (PP): I have designed sweaters in the past, but have had the biggest response from my scarf patterns. So a couple of years ago I made the decision to focus on developing accessory patterns. I think the scarf is the quintessential knitting project—it’s quite often the first project a beginner knitter takes on, but it’s also a great way to showcase stitch patterns and technique without having to commit to the time and expense of doing an actual garment. And from a wearability standpoint, a scarf is really fun and easy to incorporate into an outfit.
TG: How did you find the book-making experience? How was it different from doing an individual pattern?
PP: Quite honestly, I think it took 5 years off of my life. The largest collection I had done up to that point was maybe 6 pieces, so doing 24 pieces, even though some of them were existing patterns, was a whole new world. The logistics of sourcing yarn, getting samples finished, tech-editing, etc., had to be done very systematically which is not how I was used to working. When I do individual patterns, I work on one project at a time, and a collection usually starts with one piece, then builds off of that.
TG: Do you have a preference? Individual patterns vs. a book?
PP: Definitely individual patterns—it’s a lot more manageable and less stressful.
TG: One thing I really like about your book is that so many techniques are represented. Ruching, lace, cables, braids, color work and even lattice work! Do you have a favorite technique?
PP: Not really—I love texture, so any technique that creates an interesting fabric is good. I’m a big fan of the Japanese stitch dictionaries, and it’s really exciting to watch a stitch pattern come to life as you work.
TG: I know it’s like asking a mother whom her favorite child is, but do you have a favorite project in the book? I love the Mosaic Cowl!
PP: My favorite project keeps changing. I like Mosaic Cowl also—it’s really simple to knit, but looks similar to entrelac. It’s also a great stash-busting project with the stripes. Duchess Wrap in ivory and gray is in my queue right now. I ‘m a sucker for any pattern that shows off a bunch of little buttons.
TG: Your book is beautifully styled. Can you tell us about the photo shoots?
PP: I live in Orange County, CA which is very much suburbia, so it is always a challenge finding locations with character. I did two photo shoots. The first was at a park and the second was at The Kellogg House, which is a historical home built in 1898 and is preserved in its original condition as a museum. I had a fantastic photographer, Misty Matz, great hair & make-up team, 6 beautiful models, including my daughter Claire, and I did the styling.
TG: What kind of fibers do you like working with the best?
PP: My preference would be wool and alpaca blend, DK or worsted weight. I like yarn that has a lot of body and will “stand up” with great stitch definition, but is also soft to the touch.
TG: Your introduction in the book was very interesting and I liked how you described your design and thought process. Can you tell our readers a little more about that?
PP: My style is kind of bohemian / quirky. I love Anthropologie and Free People, and I often buy clothes there for photo shoots. I get inspiration from putting an outfit together, then designing an accessory that gives it a finishing touch and makes it stand out. I start with a shape, then fit construction and stitch pattern into the design. I think many designers start with stitch pattern and work in the opposite order.
TG: How did it feel to hold your finished book in your hands? What was your family’s reaction?
PP: Ecstatic! I don’t want to slight my kids by saying it was like giving birth, but holding the finished book for the first time, after all the time and effort involved, was pretty monumental for me. My family was very proud as well. All of them suffered and sacrificed to some extent while I worked on this project.
TG: What’s coming up for you on the horizon? Another book?
PP: I think I will be on hiatus from book writing for a while, but never say “never”. I am working on a couple of patterns for spring, then I will be putting a fall collection together that I may release as an e-book.