Wednesday, February 20, 2008

Susan B. Wonderful

I don’t buy too many knitting books – I always look with interest at all the new titles when I visit yarn stores, B & N or Borders. And these days, there are literally tons each season. By the time a book is published, I usually have heard about it from a colleague or fellow author and I’ve got a good idea of which books I am planning to buy. Honestly, I barely buy a knitting book anymore. And If I don’t start weeding out some of my old books to donate to the local library for their book sale, I don’t know where I’m going to put any new ones. I do have a hard time discarding knitting books.

When I do find myself at a giant bookstore, which is rather infrequently, I grab a stack of the newest knitting titles and take them to the children’s section so Julia can look at what she wants to. Every season publishers bring out so many books that is is very hard to keep up. This is how I found Susan B. Anderson’s first book Itty Bitty Hats. The subtle but beautiful colors on the cover and the spiral binding caught my eye. It was with great interest that inside, the book didn’t disappoint me – it was jam-packed with cute little hats with interesting trims. There was even some crochet and embroidery on the hats which always wins me over. I guessed that it was going to be a big seller because of the cuteness factor, incredibly sweet photos, cute babies, and really clever projects. Finally a book that I wanted to buy.

So it has been a great pleasure for me to spend time with Susan at both TNNA in January and this past weekend at The Knit Out. Susan is just as nice as you would expect from looking at her books. This weekend after my talk at The Textile Center, we went out to dinner. I told her that when I first saw her book I said to myself, “Who is this new designer? Where did she come from? Where has she been hiding?”

I found out that Susan has been happily living in Madison, Wisconsin with her husband and four children for a long time. She designed baby clothing and hats professionally before her latest venture - writing knitting books. I read her blog every time she posts (thank you Feedburner) and am constantly amazed at how enthusiastic she is about knitting and how much she knits beautiful colorful projects.

I asked her how she got into writing knitting books and she told me that it was by luck. She wrote up a rough book proposal, tucked in a little hat project and sent it off to Artisan – the publisher of Kids Knitting (which I illustrated). In a very short while, she found herself with a book deal and started knitting.

Her second book Itty Bitty Nursery came out last fall and is just as good as her first. I’m a bit crazy over knitted toys so I really enjoy looking at all the super fun projects in this book. Of course, being a chicken farmer makes me a bit partial to these polka dot chickens. Are they just the cutest little things? Makes me want to knit some up – if only I didn’t have to work on my own stuff right now.

I asked Susan how the heck she got so much knitting done. She let me in on her secret – she gets up ridiculously early in the morning before her family stirs and knits and knits and knits. Maybe I should try this – although I’ve never been much of a morning person. My knitting tends to get done later in the day.

Luckily for all of us, Susan is working on yet another book so stay tuned! It was really fun to spend time with her at the Knit Out and share knitting stories. She really is as nice as her books would suggest - which is very refreshing. If you want to learn more about Susan, I highly suggest listening to the two interviews (episodes 46 and 64) with her over at Craft Sanity.


Lasso the Moon said...

Oh, those chickens are too much! I wish I had time to make some for my mom, who also has a deep love for the farm bird...
Thanks for the recommendations.

tina said...

Ridiculously early eh? Dang it anyway! I keep hoping against hope that someone will come up with an idea that is quite revolutionary and far FAR easier than this solution. I want something involving sloth and chocolate. I do suspect this might be a bit removed from reality!

Dianne said...

I agree completely. Susan is just as sweet and enthusiastic in person as she seems in her books and on her blog (and she says you are also). We knitters are very lucky to have such nice people for mentors.

coffeechris said...

I posted a comment on Susan's blog about the two of you, from her post on your color talk. It is easy to see how you are soul sisters, you both our so genuine and bigger than you will ever, know. As an both an admirer and fan, I am truly grateful for both of you and your inspirations. Funny you should mention Itty Bity hats, I just got the book and started knitting the upside-down daisy hat for a friend who is expecting in May.

Coffee Catholic said...

Hello! I grew up in Western Mass and now I'm a shepherdess on a farm in Scotland. What a small world!