Coastal Knits blog tour + Interview!

costal-knits-cover

When Hannah Fettig and Alana Dakos, the authors of the wildly popular new book, Coastal Knits {web link} {rav link}, approached us to be a part of their blog tour commemorating the release of the book, we jumped at the chance! Hannah used one of our yarns, Organik, for the Rocky Coast Cardigan, and Kate is busily knitting away on a version for herself (just..one..more..sleeve) as part of a Knit-A-Long that they are hosting on Ravelry - you, too, can join here!

Since we tend to collaborate quite a bit on our designs and work - Vintage Modern Knits was a pure 50/50 collaboration, and no design of Kate's is complete without feedback from Courtney, and vice versa, we were very intrigued about Hannah and Alana's experience working together and thought it might be nice for you to hear a little bit about the process they went through in self-publishing such a gorgeous book.

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Kelbourne Woolens: You both have a lot of experience self-publishing designs as part of your individual pattern collections, Knitbot and Never Not Knitting. Hannah, you also have a lot of designs that have been published in knitting magazines as well as your book, Closely Knit, while Alana has built her following mainly from a wide variety of self-published designs. With your slightly diverse backgrounds in pattern publishing, what made you want to do a self-published book in lieu of going the more "traditional" route and working with a publisher?

Alana Dakos: I for one am a complete control freak. Just ask Hannah...actually on second thought...maybe you shouldn't. It would have been difficult for me to hand over the reigns to a publisher. I enjoyed overseeing every aspect of the book production. In the end I think we both ended up with a book that we genuinely like and that turned out exactly the way we had hoped it would. I don't think that we would have had such a hands-on experience going with a publisher. Self publishing is definitely more work, but in the end, I really enjoyed the entire process and hope to do more in the future.

Hannah Fettig: I agree. A few years back I had actually canceled a contract with a publishing house to take it in more of a self published direction. Being able to have control over your content is a wonderful thing. I've been able to do that successfully with Knitbot with individual patterns, so when Alana approached me about a self published book, it was very appealing. It was A LOT of work to build this from the ground up. But in the end it is as we wanted it, which is very satisfying.

panoramic-stole Panoramic Stole by Hannah Fettig

KW: Since the book is entirely self-published - from start to finish, you were responsible for the designs, getting the samples knit, finding models, tech editors, photographers, graphic designers, a printer, the list goes on! - what was the most difficult part of the process and what was the easiest? Was there anything about the process that surprised you in its ease or difficulty?

AD: I think that since we both self publish our own pattern lines, having to take on these responsibilities for the book did not pose a big adjustment for us. This project was just bigger and more work than anything we have done in the past on our own.

In my opinion, finding the people to work with was the easiest part since we already had those connections in place, the hardest part, which I think we both can agree on, was the editing phase of the project. Not only is pattern and text editing extremely tedious, but we had to make everything consistent between our patterns. We both have very different styles of pattern writing, so this step was a difficult one. Many long hours were spent looking for un-capitalized words, abbreviations and stray commas. What a nightmare!

HF: Yes, editing was tough. I thought the easiest, and my most favorite part, was designing my five pieces and having them photographed. What's so amazing is that we designed pretty independently, and had separate photographers. And yet in the end the collection is very cohesive and the photographic styles very complimentary. Amazing!

gnarled-oak Gnarled Oak Cardigan by Alana Dakos

KW: Alana, which one of Hannah's designs is your favorite and why and Hannah, which one of Alana's designs in the book is your favorite and why?

AD: I love Hannah's Rocky Coast Cardigan! It's such a beautiful sweater and I think it's such a nice modern twist on a traditional New England look. I'm knitting the cardigan in The Fibre Company Terra right now and its so amazing! I can't wait to finish and wear it!

HF: Alana's Gnarled Oak Cardigan is really nice. When I saw it in person I fell in love with it even more!

KW: Not only did you use your respective coasts as design inspiration for the projects in the book, but you both also made the conscious choice to feature yarns that are local to you, many of which are produced and sold by small companies. Why was this important to you when planning your projects for the book?

rocky-coast1 Rocky Coast Cardigan by Hannah Fettig

AD: Because Coastal Knits is a collection of knits inspired by our individual coastlines, we felt that choosing these local yarns to design with fit into the concept of our book very well. In many cases, there is an amazing tie-in between the project and the yarn it was knit from. For example, my Rustling Leaves Beret pattern was inspired by a local eucalyptus grove. The yarn I chose for this design was a Tactile Fiber Arts yarn actually dyed from California eucalyptus leaves! It couldn't have been a more perfect match!

HF: Yeah, it just adds another layer to allow these yarn companies to talk about how they are inspired by their surroundings in their work. I featured String Theory Hand Dyed Yarns and Swans Island and there is a definite connection between their yarns and the Maine Coast.

rustling-leaves

Rustling Leaves by Alana Dakos

KW: Since the theme of the book is "A Collaboration between Friends on Opposite Shores", you (obviously) live across the country from one another. How did being so far apart affect the process of writing the book? Did you each have certain tasks or was it a more organic process as you worked through all of the steps of publication?

AD: It was definitely challenging! We both agree that our distance and time zone difference slowed down the process quite a bit, but in the end I feel that Coastal Knits came about rather organically. Except for our individual patterns, we pretty much worked together on every aspect of book production. We made all of the decisions together as we went along.

HF: Yes, people have to understand, we were NEVER in the same room during this entire project. Most of this came about over e-mail. What a world we live in, huh? I agree, this was really challenging at times, but we did it!

morro-bay Morro Bay, California

KW: The book includes a really wonderful section called "set yourself up to succeed" and includes information on gauge, yarn choice, charts and finishing techniques. (It is, admittedly, one of our most favorite parts of the book! The paragraphs on checking gauge and yarn properties are worth the book price alone!) Why was it important for you to include these notes in Coastal Knits?

AD: We are really happy with the patterns in Coastal Knits and really want those knitting from our instructions to end up with successful pieces that they will love as much as we do. Planning ahead for a project really helps to ensure that the knitter will end up with a garment that they are happy with and will love to wear. In addition we provided some very detailed schematics for each piece so that the one making the item can really make an informed decision about which size to choose and how to adjust for the best fit for their body.

The information we included is basic, but so important. After all, we all know what happens when we don't do a gauge swatch...

HF: I'm glad you guys like this section! We wanted to include this basic information, but make it interesting to read.  We inserted some of what we each do, for instance we each talk specifically about how we block.  I hope this section really does set knitters up to succeed!

* * * * * * * We hope you all enjoyed this little interview! For more information about the Coastal Knits blog tour and to see who is the next stop, check out Hannah's post here!