Monday, February 23, 2009

Tops & Toes Interview with Kara Gott

Here we are at day three of the Blog Tour.

I'm pleased and excited to be one of the designers in Tops & Toes: A Whimsical Collection to Delight Hat & Sock Knitters, and to be part of this blog tour. This is my first inclusion in a collection of designs, my first blog tour, and my first venture into designing for adults, so we're in ground-breaking territory here. It's been a real delight for me to work with Kara from DRG, and I'm happy to share my knitting thoughts here.

Kara: Hi Erika, thanks for inviting me to your blog. I’d love to chat with you a bit about your two designs in Tops & Toes: A Whimscial Collection To Delight Hat & Sock Knitters. Can you tell me a bit about your inspiration behind the Funky Chunky Cloche?

Erika: My inspiration for the Funky Chunky Cloche came from having designed a baby beanie using the classic Quaker Rib pattern, and I wanted to play with this stitch pattern and see what other possibilities there were, especially relating to an adult-sized head.

Kara: When you designed this hat, why did you choose a chunky yarn? Do you think this would be a good project for a new knitter, and why?

Erika: I thought the pattern was better suited to a heavier yarn rather than a fine one as I envisioned a certain fabric and felt that the chunky yarn would fill this vision. A chunky yarn is a great choice for a new knitter because the project gets finished quickly; the sooner you see results, the more encouraged you are to move on to the next project or the next technique. It's a real confidence builder to hold a finished object and know that you made this.

Kara: The choice of Colinette Iona was a great choice for this design. The colors are so bright and vibrant. How did you like working with this yarn?

Erika: It's a lovely yarn. Having a project that takes just one skein really allows you to indulge and pick a special, out-of-the-ordinary yarn like this. When I began knitting seriously thirty years ago, the range of yarns available was pretty limited. Now, between the different fibers (who had heard of bamboo yarn thirty years ago?!), textures and wonderful colors, it's a fiber-ohlic's dream come true.

Kara: Now onto the Corkscrew Tam. Can you also tell me a bit about this hat. I love the whimsical corkscrew on the top. What inspired you to create this design?

Erika: A lot of my inspiration comes from vintage and classic designs, and I love to update the simple shapes with modern color choices and interesting finishes. I had used the corckscrew element in another design and thought that this was a great match of classic and whimsy.

Kara: Did you make this hat using a circular needle, or double-pointed needles? If you had your choice, what would you prefer to work with, and why?

Erika: I used both circular and double-pointed needles on the Tam. When making hats, I'm more comfortable using a circular needle, switching to double-points when working the decreases. But when I'm making socks, I'm more comfortable using double-points. It seems to be a project-specific choice for me.

Kara: How long have you been designing knitwear, and what are your favorite things to design?

Erika: Almost twenty years ago, my knitting hobby began to seque into my knitting career. That's when I began designing and making baby and children's items that I sold at regional craft shows. Five years ago, I dropped out of the craft show circuit, started my online business,, and began to focus more on design than on production. I love designing baby items because they're compact, quick to finish, and just out-and-out cute. I guess I'm practicing for when I've got grandchildren to knit for!

Kara: Have you been published in any other books or magazines? Tell me a little about your background, and what brought you to knitting.

Erika: My designs have appeared in different on-line knitting publications: KnitNet, For the Love of Yarn, The Daily Knitter, in the up-coming Spring 2009 issue of Knotions; I've designed for WEBS' Valley Yarns; and last year, I put together a book of my designs for babies: Head to To Knits: 23 Designs to Knit for Baby which is available through

I grew up in a family where handwork surrounded me: my grandmother knit and quilted; my mother (an artist and illustrator) sewed, quilted, and did needlepoint (her own designs). I learned to sew and knit at a fairly young age, and while sewing dropped by the wayside, knitting has become my focus---my real calling. In terms of design, I'm pretty much self-taught, focusing on simple, classic shapes and clear colors with minimal finishing.

Thank you, Kara, for inviting me to be part of the blog tour. It's always great to get together with other knitters, virtually or face-to-face.

Sunday, February 22, 2009

New Designs

The Spring 2009 issue of Knotions will be online tomorrow (the preview is up now), and my Rainbow Chain Carriage Blanket is one of the patterns:

There are so many great patterns in this issue----I'm pleased to be part of it!

And I overcame my ENS, and got this design up and available from my Ravelry store:

I'm very fortunate to be living next door to a family with four kids (all cute and photogenic), so when I need a quick model, I just have to look over the wall between our yards and see who's around and is the right size. Yesterday, Hannah was willing to do a photo-shoot for me and saved the day. Her youngest brother, Sam, modeled my Mini Rej Vest.

Now underway is another design using Peaches & Creme, and a baby sweater for Matt's baby who is due next month, using my Telemark Pullover pattern and some stash yarn. Looking good.

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Tops & Toes Blog Tour

Tops & Toes is being released soon! I've gotten my preview copy, and what a great collection of hats and socks this is! I feel very honored to be included in this and in the blog tour that will be taking place.

From February 21 through March 3, you can visit the blogs of several of the designers and find out what inspires them.

Here's the schedule so far:

2/21 Sarah Wilson
2/22 Jennifer Tallapeneni
2/23 ME--so come back then
2/24 Erssie Major
2/25 Ann Squire
2/26 Faina Goberstein
2/27 Celeste Pinheiro
2/28 Kara Gott Warner - editor of Tops & Toes
3/1 Joanne Seiff
3/2 Cindy Moore
3/3 Sean Higgens

(and I'll be making updates as needed)

This will be a fun couple of days of mid-winter surfing. And get a copy of the book---there are so many great projects between the covers!

Saturday, February 14, 2009


ENS: Empty Needle Syndrome.

Mine is usually in remission as my regular mode of working is to have (at least) three projects going at once: a design being worked out; a pair of socks; a sweater for someone. And while these three are underway, there are always a couple in mind, ready to go.

Occasionally, I realize with a start that all of these projects are finished---OTN---off the needles and for whatever reason, I haven't lined up at least two of the next three. That's when ENS flares up and all my nerve endings are twitching and raging until I can come up with two projects to get started.

Today I have ENS. The socks are finished, the sweater is being blocked, and the latest design worked out well and is completed.

So now I turn to Ravelry and have a cup of tea while I browse patterns and think about what yarn(s) are calling to me. Do I make another sweater? Do I try out a scarf or shawl idea? What do I want/need to make next?

I think I need to trot upstairs and look at my yarn bins and see what talks to me


No photos for this post--the memory is gruesome enough.

Yesterday, Allie tripped on a flight on concrete steps at school, taking the full brunt of the fall on her mouth (having a 20-25 pound book bag on her back didn't help with the forward thrust). She gashed her lip, and her two upper front teeth need to be reconstructed.

The afternoon was spent in two different hospitals: the emergency room of one, and the oral surgery clinic of another to have her lip sewn up. As bad as it all is, here's what's good: she didn't break anything except her teeth; the whole event took 4 1/2 hours from fall to when we brought her to our house; our next door neighbor is a dentist who came over, checked her out, and promised to fast-track her as soon as her lip is healed enough; she just finished a two-week marathon of getting an independent study added to her schedule to maintain her full-time student status and thus continue to be covered by our health insurance.

She has a history of smacking her face/teeth into things, but that pretty much stopped once she got glasses and her lack of depth perception was dealt with. But we did have a couple of toddler-being-rushed-to-the-dentist incidents (no teeth lost) and there were several incidents in pre-school where she ran into playground equipment (pre-glasses). I hadn't seen her with the swollen cut lip in a long, long time, so it was an extra shock to the system, as I remembered all those other face smashes.

What a day.

Saturday, February 7, 2009

On "Valuing Our Work"

Annie Modesitt, designer, knitter, wise woman, has posted this in her blog. Knitters and designers, read it and take strength from it. Publishers and editors, read it and sit up and take notice.

The overt message is for us, as designers, to value our work enough to demand that publishers compensate us fairly, especially in this world of paid downloadable patterns vs free downloadable patterns.

But for me, there is also a covert message for us to value our work enough that the outside, non-knitting world recognizes that what we do has merit and weight. Over the past four years, I've moved out of the craft-show circuit where I had something to show for my day's work (bins of sweaters and hats, a show schedule, signs, a receipt book, etc.).

Now, I'm dealing with intangibles: an on-line business selling kits and patterns that don't exist until someone makes a purchase; designing for yarn stores and on-line publications; ideas in sketch books. Often, there's nothing to point to at the end of the day and say, Look, this is what I did today. Or it's hard to convey the rush I get when 100 people on Ravelry favorited a new design.

Tangible/intangible. Real world/the tubes of the internet.

Being invisible makes it difficult to be heard. Not being heard makes it difficult to be taken seriously (by non-knitters; knitters get it).

Years ago, my daughter made reference to "Mom's hobby job". Being young, that was how she was able to express how my hobby had become my job, but put in those specific words and in the context of adult jobs, that phrase summed up how much of society looked at what I did.

Even today, when I have my own workroom and take what I do seriously, I still get the phone call in the middle of the day, asking if I can pick up pants at the cleaners, run an errand, help someone out. I know I wouldn't get these phone calls if I left the house every morning and had a "real" job.

I am assertive about what I do, even if people glaze over when I respond to their question of what do I do. No, it's not high-powered or easily pigeon-holed; it's a legitimate career; it's what I do.

Wednesday, February 4, 2009

A Good Day In Knitting Land

A. I finished Jon's sweater, and it turned out great. Pictures will be forthcoming.

B. I mended a sweater I made for Rebecca a couple of years ago, and mended and washed Jon's favorite black cotton pullover. These will be sent along with the new sweater.

C. In the last two days, I've had great response on Ravelry from two of my designs: Mini Rej Vest which is listed in my Ravelry store, and the Cabled Button Wrap that I did for WEBS (boy, has that gotten a good response!). This was the wrap that was on the display racks at WEBS' booth at Stitches in Baltimore.

D. I talked with Flo at Peaches-Creme about working with them on designs.

E. I'll be participating in a Blog Tour later this month for the up-coming publication of Tops & Toes from DRG (I've got two hats in it!).

So I'm feeling pretty good and knitful.