Regular readers will know that I'm a fan of designer Claire Garland, and have been since I knitted her Pixie Moon doll pattern back in November 2011. I follow Claire on Instagram and have seen photos of lovely knitted letters and alphabet cushions over the past few months, so I was delighted when her publishers, Stitch Craft Create invited me to take part in a blog hop for the launch of her new book, "Knit the Alphabet".
As you might expect - the clue is in the title, after all - this colourful book includes patterns for all the letters of the alphabet (in uppercase), as well as a few extra characters (a heart, star and ampersand). Each pattern is offered in three different sizes for different yarn weights - 4 ply, aran and super chunky. I like that a wide range of different yarns are suggested, and the knitter is encouraged to mix them up to include stripes - these would be great for using up "scrap yarns".
The techniques used in the book - from simple sock cast-on to knitting on DPNs and using mattress stitch - are well described and illustrated in the back of the book, although I would imagine most people who buy it would already have some knitting experience and would find the patterns to be straight-forward and fun.
So what can you do with these letters? The smaller sizes might make cute wall hangings, mobiles for a child's bedroom or look good on a shelf. I can imagine gifting initials and an ampersand as a wedding gift, or for spelling out a baby's name for naming ceremony. The larger sizes make cute cushions and would look great in the children's playroom.
Earlier this week I had a chance to ask Claire a little more about the book, and what she's been up to, here's what she had to say:
Hi Claire, and welcome to Crafts from the Cwtch. Many of my readers will be familiar with your work as one of my very favourite projects was your Pixie Moon pattern which I made back in 2011, and she has appeared on the blog quite a lot since then. When did you first start designing your own patterns? Is this something you always wanted to do?
I love your Pixie Moon version! Being a creative person I always wanted, and still want, to make things from my own imagination - my first 'makes' were space outfits made from sweet wrappers, loo paper and sellotape for my pippa dolls - I also designed my own cards for family members…
What other crafts do you enjoy?
I've suddenly got into crochet, and as I've got into it the hook has reduced in size and the yarn/ cotton finer! I also like sewing and embroidery although my sewing machine and I don't get on very well!
You are most well known for your knitted doll patterns and lovely doll clothes/ accessories - you seem to enjoy making what my mum would call "fiddly" things. How often do you knit full-sized garments? Do you make your own clothes?
My one and only full sized item was a cardigan which was knitted in garter stitch and was larger than life - I had knitted it for my art college days and used it to wrap around myself a few times to keep warm in the studio! Smaller things suit me because I like to see a finished article asap - not very patient!
How did you come up with the idea of knitting the alphabet?
I really like letters and numbers and their form and what they stand for - they also look great as an item of art in a room on a wall spelling out words or as a cushion on a chair - so to knit them (and now crochet them) seemed a natural progression
Do you have a favourite pattern in the book - one which you enjoy knitting more than the others?
The ampersand was a real challenge and I really like the way it has turned out - the flip side - 'S' was a bit of a nightmare!!
The thing I like most about your patterns is the attention to detail. When I was knitting Pixie, the little ankles and backs of her knees thrilled me no end. With the alphabet, it's all in the serifs. How did you go about designing the letters and characters - did you use a specific font?
I had the alphabet typed out on a page on my computer - Times Bold - to refer to - it became quite mathematical as the elements of each letter are all relative, something I had never realised before!
I've seen on Instagram that you are now crocheting letters, can we expect another book?
It's still in working progress at the moment so I've not proposed the idea to anyone with it yet.
What's next for you?
I would really, really love to sell finished/ handmade items with beautiful packaging - however it has to be something that would work logistically - that's what is occupying my mind at the present!
Thank you so much for taking the time to talk to us, I'd like to wish you the best of luck with the book and everything else you're working on. Thank you so much Sarah, and very good luck to your mum - I'm a huge fan - and we all want her to win!! Claire
You can see more of Claire's work on her blog, on Facebook and her Etsy store. You can also find her on Ravelry, Pinterest and Tumblr. You can find more details on the blog hop here.
If you'd like to get your hands on a copy of the book it's already available in paperback on Amazon for £14.99 and one lucky reader can get a copy for free! To enter the draw, please leave a comment on this post saying what you'd use the patterns for, and remember to leave an email address or your Ravelry name so I can contact you if you win. The draw will take place on Monday 31st March 2014 and is open to international readers too. Good luck!