Before I first met Kristi Porter in person I had Zappos send a pair of shoes to her house for me. Shannon Okey and I were going to be staying with Kristi during the TNNA trade show in San Diego a few winters ago, and I'd been unable to find cream-coloured Converse sneakers here in town. So I was like, “Hey Kristi, I know we've never met and you're taking me into your home anyway… and anyway would it be cool if I had a package sent to your house so I have comfortable, chill, and perfectly cliched shoes to wear for the trade show?” And she was like, “You bet!”
Then a year or two later, I invaded Kristi's home again, this time on my first photo shoot for Interweave Crochet about four seconds after I was hired. She was so chill, as if half a dozen people often come to her house to take photos. She modeled too. It was awesome.
Over the years we've maintained that easy friendship, and I'm so excited that Kristi's new book, Knitting in the Sun, has just come out. (Yeah, we share a publisher, too.) That's her daughter on the cover. She was much more wee when I first met her and taught her how to crochet a granny square over breakfast.
This is the first stop on Kristi's blog tour to promote the book, and so I asked her a bunch of fairly general questions to set the stage.
Me: It's a cold, rainy day in Vancouver today [this was yesterday; today looks to be much the same, since I know you're constantly wondering what weather I'm experiencing], and it feels like it's been cold and wet interminably since last October. Why do you torture me with this book? What is this “sun” you celebrate on every page?
Kristi Porter: I grew up in the Pacific Northwest and have lots of family there, so I can truly empathize with you. Still, you know that there will be sunny days, and in the meantime, you can live vicariously through the pages of the book maybe and be proactive with your knitting!
There's a lot more wool in your book than I'd expected. Why aren't wool, and more specifically, wool blends, too hot for warm-weather clothes?
I see this book as being not just for the hottest days of the year, but rather a collection that features year-round choices for warmer climates. And honestly, since most of us live and work in places with climate control, I think lots of people will find everyday favorites here.
So often I look through books and magazines and find the offerings tempting, but off-limits half the year because I know I wouldn't get to wear them much. Or that I'd want to substitute a cooler fiber and then have to worry about whether the garment would turn out as it should.
There is wool in the book and other animal fibers, but often mixed with plant materials to get the best of both worlds. You'll notice too that many of the designs done in warmer fibers feature looser gauges, lace or other openwork. This helps them keep their cool.
Also, there are more cables. Lots of patterns in the book pair cables with lace, which I think is genius. Was that your call, or were your contributors all cosmically inspired?
Cosmic inspiration, definitely! I encouraged the designers to think about how to keep things light and airy and to design things that they would truly want to wear in their own favorite sunny spots. But I was thrilled with what they came up with. The cable-and-lace wrap on the cover, Anacapa, designed by Kendra Nitta, is a great example—it's got that seaside aran thing going on, but the lace takes it someplace new. And it's made with in a easy-care hemp blend, so you really could take it to the beach. Yehliu is a wonderful cables-and-lace cardigan designed by Anne Lukito in a silk-wool blend. The construction on it is brilliant. It looks so fun to knit!
I recognize more faces than yours in the book. What did your daughters think of modeling?
For me, they are all familiar faces! I really wanted the models to be real people, so the models are neighbors, knitting students, my babysitter… none are professional models (unless you count my work for Interweave Crochet!).
My kids are proud that their mom wrote a book, and now that it's out, they're excited to see themselves in it. My younger daughter doesn't really like having her picture taken, but now that her sister's on the cover she may be rethinking that. But that's her with her pal (the photographer's daughter) giggling beneath Dawn Leeseman's Silver Strand wrap.
Do you craft together as a family?
Sometimes. I don't mandate craftiness or anything, but it's just part of what goes on around here. My office is usually called “The Craft Room” and if the urge to sew or paint or play with fiber comes over anyone, we're well supplied. I remember my children being very surprised to learn that Kool-Aid was actually meant to be a beverage. I suppose they assumed that everyone was taking it home to dye yarn with.
Some of the project names are more Pacific Northwest than SoCal. What gives?
The designers named their pieces after their own favorite sunny spots, so the project names span the globe. Now I have sunny places to imagine visiting, too.
The format of your book (you know, a strictly big-photos pattern book) seems new for Wiley. Was this your idea or theirs?
I think it is a bit of a new direction for them. From the planning stages of Knitting in the Sun we talked about what we wanted it to look like and fortunately we were very much in agreement. The photography by Stephen Simpson is wonderful and really shows the projects well. The book's design really complements them too, so I'm tremendously pleased with the whole package.
You mention in many patterns that the charts are also available online so readers can print them out and mark them up. This is the first time I've encountered this in a print book, and I think it's wonderfully thoughtful and a huge convenience. Your idea? Theirs? Am I dense—is this becoming common practice?
I don't know that others are doing it, but I hope they do! Several of the patterns in the book rely on charts and some of them worried me for a while, because I wanted to make sure they were easy to use. I don't remember who eventually came up with the online solution (I know it was after the fold-out-centerfold chart idea), but I love it.
When I make photocopies of charts [from a book], sometimes they come out wonky, or I end up having to cut and paste. This way, you can print out your charts and stick them in with the project, and if you really mess the chart up, print another one. And your book stays nice.
Um, it's still raining here. What's it like in your neck of the woods?
Honestly, it looks about like it does in the book today, so you can get the feel. Sleeveless, but a little cardigan for morning and evening. And they give a surf report with the morning weather and traffic, even on NPR.
A surf report. How lovely.
Kristi's next stop is over at, you guessed it, Shannon‘s.
Knitting in the Sun
Buy a copy from your local yarn store or independent bookseller, eh?