Graphic Knits!

Fall is one of my favorite seasons. We finally get to bid adieu to summer and the aisles that were recently filled with swimming pool accoutrements, patio furniture and accessories for the perfect BBQ become laden with school supplies, lunch boxes and long-sleeved shirts. Fall also means a new slew of books and magazines from my favorite yarn and knitting companies! I love seeing the roster of fall books from Interweave and I was excited to get a copy of Graphic Knits (Interweave) by Alexis Winslow. Alexis was kind enough to sit down with me for an interview...
Tanis (TG): Can you tell us a little bit about your inspiration for this book?
Alexis (AW): The garments in the book really reflect my own sense of style. Beyond that though, I made an effort to include patterns that would also be fun to knit. My idea of a fun knit is something with interesting twists and turns, or something that includes stripes of patterning, or maybe just the quick gratification of a big chunky knit. I also really enjoy seeing a garment develop before my eyes. I think this is why I gravitate toward seamless and top-down construction. It's just so great to finish the knitting on a thing and realize that all you have to do is weave in the ends. Having to tackle a big sewing project after I just finished a big knitting project is not my idea of fun!

Barbet Turtleneck

TG: Your book has some really bold, graphic stitch patterns and designs in it. What advice can you offer people who may have trouble choosing or knitting with colors?
AW: I get this question a lot! I say look at your wardrobe. What do you like wearing the most? You aren't suddenly going to love wearing pink if you've never bought anything that's pink. When picking color combos, let the yarn be your guide. Pick one color that is your absolute favorite–a color your very drawn to, and then the other colors should support (not compete with) the main color in some way. I love pairing a bright bold color with a neutral or a pastel version of the complimentary color. I have a background in painting, so I can get a little technical about this stuff, but it's really just a personal preference.

Orly Cardi

TG:  I really love the Orly cardi. Which is your favorite garment in this book?

AW: It's impossible to pick! Everyday I have a different favorite. Trilogy Cardigan is always at the top of my list though. I just started typing a list of some of my other favorites, and it was like half the book! I think I always go back to Trilogy because it has everything I love about hand knitwear design. The unusual construction of this garment is something that you would never see in a store-bought garment–it's even unique to hand-knits, actually. Knitting this pattern is like sitting down with a good novel because the direction of knitting changes in every new section. It's a lot of fun to see how it all comes together in the end. I'm so glad to hear that you like Orly. It's also one of my favorites. Of course I love seamless construction, but Orly, much like Trilogy, is a great example of how a strategically placed seam can become a striking design element.

Trilogy Cardigan

TG:  Tell us a little about the process of making your book?
AW: Well, making this book certainly wasn't easy! I have a full-time job as a textile designer and also do all the graphic design work for, so I had to fit the book into a very small amount of free time. I find designing to be a great release though, so I always looked forward to my time working on the book. I made most of the samples myself because it's important for me to experience the written pattern as a knitter would–especially for some of the more unusual pieces. I figured out most of my design concepts for my proposal before I got the book deal, so it was really just a matter of picking my favorites and trudging through. I got a little bored in the middle though, and added a few new designs– Danae Mittens, Germander Shrug, and Trilogy Cardigan.

Germander Shrug

TG:  What is your favorite color combination?
AW: I love color, so this is a difficult question for me! I think I'm drawn to a different color combo everyday. Right now, I'm really digging navy and peach, but last week it was cinnamon and cream.
TG:  There are both accessories and garments in your book. Do you prefer knitting and wearing one over the other?
AW: I like variety in my knitting so I alternate big garment projects and little accessory projects. I wear everything that knit! Even in the summer, I'm usually wearing something hand-knit.

Woodstar Mitts

TG:  Fair Isle or intarsia?
AW: Fair Isle! I'm a printed textile designer and just I love all-over patterning. Fair Isle just speaks to my heart, I guess.
TG:  What advice can you give people who want to start designing with color who haven't done so before?
AW: Color is a powerful thing in design. I think it's key to push the limit just a little so that your designs are eye-catching, but don't take it too far because garish color combos can repel people too. The most important thing to remember is that color should be used to accentuate your fabulous design work.

Bowerbird Wrap

Thanks, Alexis! Check out Graphic Knits, available for preorder (and on sale) here.