UPDATE 11/7/14: Congratulations to winners Gillian and Shing! I have contacted you via email, so check your inbox! --------
Beth Moriarty, the brains behind Planet Purl, has interviewed me for her podcast so many times I am the "crowned queen of the Party Line." I take my reign seriously, so my first order of business is to turn the tables on Beth and interview HER about her new book, American Gift Giving!
Beth says, "Knitters are some of the nicest people on the planet, no doubt due to the soothing nature of knitting. They are also a generous lot, gifting loved ones with hand knit gifts, with love worked into every stitch. Thirteen American designers celebrate their favorite places with small projects perfect for gifting and inspired by the beauty of America — from the NY to Key West to Alaska and points in between. I’ve also included five yummy regional recipes as well as travelogues for an armchair tour of some of my favorite places. Happy knitting, traveling and cooking!"
Beth was kind enough to sit down with me, answer a few questions and generously offer up a book giveaway!
Tanis Gray (TG): What inspired you to make this book?
Beth Moriarty (BM): When I travel, I'm always seeing building details, carpet and drapery fabrics, artwork, and colors where I think "Oh, that would make a beautiful ...." All three of my books are about finding inspiration in your favorite places. Gift knitting is something really special, though, in that it's an opportunity to make a small project and share that inspiration with someone else.
TG: Do you have a favorite type of gift knitting?
BM: I love to make things for the house (pillows, throws, kitchen sets) if I know the person really well and have seen their home. It's something they'll see/use every day. Otherwise, it's usually hats or scarves/cowls/mitts or if they are up the hierarchy of gift-giving, a matching set. For husband, son and daughter-in-law, I let them pick sweater designs and colors since I'll need to measure and fit and they don't care if it's surprise.
TG: Do you personally give and receive a lot of hand knits?
BM: I give them but have never gotten one. And yes, that's really really sad. On the years I haven't handmade holiday gifts, I get "you didn't knit this year?" from the recipients.
TG: Do you have a favorite project in this book?
BM: Oh gosh, that's tough. I am looking forward to getting a couple back after the trunk shows to use for myself. The Mendenhall Draft Stopper will be perfect for the front door of my drafty cabin and was photographed there. The Mondrian Pillow Cover is photographed on a living room chair in my home in Florida and will look great there. And the shaping on the Red Riding Hood with it face-framing "fur" sits so nicely, everyone who has tried it on wants to steal it, but it's mine!
TG: Whom is this book aimed towards?
BM: There are projects for less experienced knitters and those ready to try something new. The great thing about small projects is that the investment in time and money is pretty small. For a new technique or skill, they are a nice introduction. Like the Mondrian Pillow Cover -- it's intarsia but in large straight blocks. Or the Silver Screen Sachets -- small squares of simple lace, easy repeat beading, and small intarsia design.
TG: What advice do you have for people about to start their first project or knitters looking to break free from the plain old scarf?
BM: Graduate from squares/rectangles to tubes. It will open up a whole new world. There are easy ways to knit in the round. I have videos on YouTube for doing it with one circular needle for larger circumference and 2 circular needles for smaller circumference. Tubes are great. Open on both ends it can be a cowl, arm warmers or leg warmers. Drawstring at the top end and it's a hat. Drawstring at the top and stitched closed on the bottom and it's a bag. A small bag can be a soap holder, a large one a purse or project bag. It's no more work (and maybe less) than a rectangle and so versatile.
TG: Any advice for people looking to start designing their own knits?
BM: Design things you like. There are computer programs that can help with the math if you're designing garments. And a good technical editor is an absolute must if you plan to sell or publish your patterns.
TG: What is your favorite part of the country?
BM: My freshman year at college in Mississippi definitely converted me to a Southern girl. My vacation cabin the Blue Ridge mountains of North Carolina is my favorite place in the country. So far!
TG: Have you finished your holiday knitting yet (be honest!)?
BM: Almost. But I started on Christmas day last year (don't mock me). I still have ends to weave and some seams to sew, but otherwise done.
TG: What makes a hand knit gift so very special?
BM: Anyone worthy of a handknit gift understands that the gift is really of your time and love. My nieces have told me that when they wrap a handknit scarf around their necks, they feel my love. One of my sisters and one of my nieces told me that when they're sick, they like to wrap up in one of my afghans. They feel snuggled and loved. A gift card to Starbucks can't do that!
Thanks, Beth! And now for the exciting part! Beth has been kind enough to giveaway not one, but TWO copies of her new book!
Answer this question in the comment section to be entered to win (US residents only, please):
What do you want for the holidays this year?
A winner will be chosen at random on Friday, November 7th.