Monday, June 20, 2011

Blog Tour: Knitting Knee-Highs, by Barb Brown
A few months ago, I was thrilled to get an advanced copy of long-time Blog Reader, Barb Brown. Here is the basic data about Barb's book:
Title: Knitting Knee-Highs: Sock Styles from Contemporary to Classic
Publisher: F&W Media
Retail Cost: US$22.99
Latest Amazon Price (at least for me): US$15.63 (32% savings)
Knitting Knee-Highs: Sock Styles from Classic to Contemporary

{QueerJoe} Congratulations Barb! You are the first author to have a Blog Book Tour on QueerJoe!

{Crazy Lady Barb} Thanks for having me. Yours is one of the first blogs I followed, so it made sense to ask if you would take part.

{QueerJoe} First question: Why Knee Highs?

{Crazy Lady Barb} When I started designing, it was for small publications, with no yarn support. Socks were projects that didn’t involve a huge financial outlay, so I sort of started churning out sock designs. Bonnie Franz used a number of them in her newsletter Stranded. One day my husband said I should do my own book on socks.
It seemed to me there were a lot of books out there on the subject, and I needed a “hook” if a publisher was going to be interested in working with a relatively unknown designer.
Then, my DIL asked for a pair of knee-highs, and I went looking for a pattern book (the perfect excuse to buy a book!). There really wasn’t one, and the idea was born.

{QueerJoe} First impression is that I was particularly pleased with the production quality of your book. The photos, the layout the print quality, etc. Like a good knitting design, it all came together in a great looking book. Who do you blame for this?

{Crazy Lady Barb} The samples have to fit the models. If they don’t, get another model (the one thing I didn’t think of there was the height of many models. Their legs are much longer than “average”!)
The pictures must be about the socks
No cutesy wootsy poses
And they did the rest. I’ve had a lot of compliments on the lovely job they did, and I regularly forward them on to Jenn to pass to the right people. I sent them all Cadbury’s chocolate, too.

{QueerJoe} One of the only less-than-rave reviews I saw for your book had a critique that the models were dressed in an alluring way, with short skirts and low tops. Was this done purposefully to try and get adolescent straight boys knitting knee-highs (that's my one hard-hitting question!) or was there some other subversive reason for this?

{Crazy Lady Barb} Don’t you think that’s a little bit sexist, Joe? I wasn’t just thinking of straight boys… there are girls out there who think the pictures are a tad stimulating too.
And age discrimintory too. My husband, aka The Old Fart, says “the models set the socks off very nicely” and has his favourites that he keeps looking at. A couple of his buddies even bought the book.
That’s two other totally untapped markets.
Seriously though, I do wonder just how deep in the closet this woman is. It’s rather sad, really.

{QueerJoe} I often find that when I delve into a very specific topic on something, I learn unexpected things about that topic. What did you learn about knitting knee-highs that was most surprising?

{Crazy Lady Barb} I was surprised how much fun they are to design. I love designing socks because they are perfect for a new or slightly complex technique, and the accountant who lives deep inside me is very satisfied with the balance of the design from top to middle to bottom. The shaping in knee-highs adds a whole new dimension to this. There are so many ways to shape them. And so many decisions to make… have the shaping stand out, be hidden, front, sides, back, make it the focal point.
I was also surprised that I fall short of the “average leg length” by an inch or more. I did a number of surveys to get accurate numbers for today’s averages, and I was right there at the bottom. My picture of myself includes a height of around 6 foot, so it was shock to find out how short my legs are.

{QueerJoe} Finally, if you had to choose the most complex project in your book, which would it be?

{Crazy Lady Barb} I think it would be Flora. The carries or floats in this design are quite long, and require a bit of fiddling. But they are also my favourite design. I toyed with changing my original concept, but I liked them so much as they are, I decided not to.

I would like to mention my philosophy when it comes to designing though. If there is a hard way and an easy way, and the results are very similar, I’ll go with the easy way. I like my patterns to be user friendly, and achievable by anyone who can knit and purl. Most of the patterns in the book require basic skills and a bit of patience.

Thanks gives your book even more depth to read your response to questions about it.

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