Tuesday, October 02, 2007

Guest Blogger: Donna Druchunas, author of Ethnic Knitting Discovery

Today, GKIYH is happy to welcome Donna Druchunas (whose last name I very badly want to misspell but I think I got it right), author of Ethnic Knitting: Discovery: The Netherlands, Denmark, Norway, and The Andes. Donna

blogs here. You may remember that Donna guest-blogged in the spring, in conjunction with the release of her previous book, Arctic Lace: Knitting Projects and Stories Inspired by Alaska's Native Knitters. Today Donna is going to tell us a bit more about her new book and what motivated her to write it, so let's give her a warm, Go-Knit-In-Your-Hat welcome:

Carol, thanks for having me on Go Knit In Your Hat as part of my Ethnic Knitting Discovery blog book tour! I'd like to talk a bit about how I chose the various knitting techniques included in Ethnic Knitting Discovery and how I decided what to include. First we'll need to take a look at what's in the book. Here's the table of contents:

Chapter 1 : Freedom from Patterns
Chapter 2 : A Few Basics
Chapter 3 : The Netherlands
Chapter 4 : Denmark
Chapter 5 : Norway
Chapter 6 : The Andes

In the first two chapters of the book, I go over the basics of sweater design including how to make a gauge swatch, how to design a sweater that fits, how to knit in the round, how to knit from charts, and so forth. This is the information that you need to get started and, I hope, to overcome any trepidation you might have about designing a garment from scratch. It's actually easier, in many cases, than knitting from a pattern and it's not something that new knitters should feel afraid to try.

In each of the remaining chapters, I include techniques that are used in the garments made in that region. I also tried to keep it simple, but without oversimplifying to the point of making the projects boring. For example, in the chapter on Denmark, the only special technique include is how to join the welts at the hem of the sweater. Beyond that, basic knitting skills and the tips in Chapters 1 and 2 are all you need to jump in and design a sweater. In the chapter on Noway, I explain how to cut armholes and necks open on a sweater body that is knitted with absolutely no shaping, and I provide some tips for knitting with two colors. I don't explain how to do the elaborate embroidery that was used in the past on traditional Norwegian sweaters. I skipped that for two reasons: 1) it's not knitting, and 2) it's beautiful, but old-fashioned looking. I suspect that most knitters these days prefer simpler garments, and many would feel that elaborate colorwork knitting doesn't need any additional embellishment. In the old days, Norwegian sweaters were made in very basic colors, usually black and white, and the embroidery added a splash of bright color. Today we have a much wider range of colors available for knitting yarn.

In the chapter on the Andes, I follow the same philosophy and add a little something extra, including instructions on creating a crochet cast-on punta trim. The Andean color technique discussed is optional, but it is referred to in the sweater instructions that follow.

Most of the techniques in the book are things I'd picked up over the years as I satisfied my own knitting curiosity. I love buying books with new techniques, and I also love taking knitting classes. They're a fun way to meet other knitters, and if you learn one thing in each class, it's well worth the cost. Sometimes I take classes just to make something I've been procrastinating about. I make the class into my own private knitalong. All of this is to encourage knitters to try new things without feeling afraid. Help is as close as your local yarn shop or your web browser. And remember, it's just knitting, and it's easy enough to rip out and start over if you don't like the results. The best advice I ever read in a knitting book was from Sally Melville. She said, "Don't be hesitant to rip out your knitting." If you have to rip, that just gives you more knitting time with the yarn! What are you going to do after you finish this project anyway? Knit some more!


mindy said...

Thanks, Donna. Looking forward to getting my hands on the book.

Knitting Bandit said...

I look forward to reading your book. I'm not in any hurry to design my own sweater but I love the idea! Maybe I'll be inspired!

Unknown said...

I was so glad that Carol introduced us to Donna with her last book. Now I can't wait for the next one after reading the guest entry. Donna does good blog.

Carol said...

Thank you for the indepth look at your new book! I'm increasingly intrigued by ethnic knitting and can't wait to see the book & do some knitting.

Donna D said...

Thanks. I have set up a yahoo! group on this topic if anyone's interested.

It's http://groups.yahoo.com/group/ethnicknits/

It's not specifically about my books. But it's a place to talk about ethnic knitting techniques and designing your own sweaters or accessories.