I'm the book's publisher, so we decided to turn the interview process around and have Donna ask me questions. I knew she would come up with interesting and perceptive angles. She did. The post got really long, so I've broken it into two sections; part 2 will appear tomorrow, including a free PDF download of one of the book's patterns.
If you can't wait for the PDF, it's here: Download EthnicExplorationExcerpt-FingerlessGloves (about 800 kb)—but if you come back tomorrow, there will be photos of actual gloves, too!
Donna: In several interviews on this tour so far, I've mentioned that the idea for these books on Ethnic Knitting came from you.
Can you remember how we first got started working on this project?
Deb: Absolutely. We were in that little coffee shop on Cleveland in Loveland, Colorado—that very funky place that unfortunately isn't there any more.
I was concerned that some people were missing out on the fantastic information in Priscilla Gibson-Roberts' Knitting in the Old Way because they needed help getting through the intermediate steps: from yarn-plus-gauge-swatch to a complete plan for making a sweater.
Many knitters could make that leap without help. Many more were missing out on the delights of traditional-style knitting because they couldn't quite untether from step-by-step instructions. That's a sensation I was familiar with, because I remember my own tentative first efforts. I envisioned a way to get information to knitters who might be stuck in the same place I was many years ago. It took me a long time to get past that.
You sat across the cafe table from me and volunteered to help knitters bridge that gap.
Donna: That brings up the next question: Many knitters want to know how Ethnic Knitting Discovery and Ethnic Knitting Exploration are different from Knitting In The Old Way, and which approach would be right for them.
What advice can you give us, since you publish all of these books?
Deb: Great question. They're all about ethnic knitting, and about empowering knitters to discover and then master new skills as well as their own creativity.
Knitting in the Old Way (KITOW) represents Priscilla's life-long fascination with the way sweater design has evolved through history and across geography. It's a book to dip in and out of, to experiment with, to come up with ideas. It gives the essential information on ethnic knitting in a very concentrated form: it covers a huge amount of territory, and requires the knitter to have a supply of confidence or bravery (either will do). The second edition, which I published, contains a lot more information (and more detailed information) than was in the original 1985 edition; both are classics.
Ethnic Knitting Discovery (which we call EK1 when we're at home) and Ethnic Knitting Exploration (EK2) began with the idea I mentioned above, of giving knitters a step-up to Priscilla's wonderful book. Since you are who you are, Donna, these books also became distinct works in their own right. More on that in a moment.
Here's my advice:
(1) Knitters who open KITOW and feel like they're in over their heads or doubtful of their abilities will want to start with EK1 and EK2. After they've got their bearings, they can come back to KITOW.
Yes, ANY KNITTER CAN make sweaters from scratch without a pattern! It's EASY! It's just the conceptual leap that takes courage and fortitude. EK1 and EK2 are the knitter's partner and safety net for that leap.
I recommend that knitters who are tentative about cutting loose work through one sweater from beginning to end, using the detailed EK worksheets, to see how the steps go together. For a drop-shoulder or modified drop-shoulder sweater (as described in KITOW), EK1 is the right resource. For a raglan, circular-yoke, or saddle-shoulder sweater (as described in KITOW), EK2 is the place to go. EK2 also has information on how to turn a pullover pattern (of any type) into a cardigan.
(2) Knitters who open KITOW and feel like they're in knitting heaven . . . might want to check out EK1 and EK2 as well. Those books contain information that's not in KITOW that they might enjoy discovering—like the Andean knitting techniques in EK1, and the Lithuanian material in EK2.
(3) EK1 and EK2 are also the ideal partners for people who want to teach classes on traditional and ethnic knitting techniques. KITOW is fantastic for an advanced knitters' seminar. Any of the books could provide the foundation for an extended guild study project.
Come back tomorrow for more!