Faina Goberstein and Dawn Leeseman just published Casual, Elegant Knits. The book contains 24 projects that include hats, skirts, bags and lots more. The classic designs will be a great addition to your wardrobe!
Faina and Dawn were gracious enough to do a guest blog about their book and the inspiration behind it…
FG: Thank you very much for having us here with you today. We are very excited about our book and love to share our passion with others.
How/where did you get your inspiration for the designs in the book?
FG: During the two years we knew each other before this project, we always admired each other’s work. Every time we got together, we had a million ideas for different designs that were inspired by a similar taste in colors, yarns, and style of clothes. After such informal collaboration, the next natural step for us was to design together. Very soon we have realized that we have enough ideas for a book. It was not a difficult decision to make. Most of our thoughts were directed towards people with very busy lives. Our designs are stylish, casual enough for work, but also elegant enough to go to a nice restaurant, or on a date elsewhere. Our Funnel-Neck Sleeveless Top, for example, is made with a fine-gauge yarn and can be dressed up with a nice necklace for an evening affair. The same can be said about the Golden Duet Tank and the Watercolor Shawl.
DL: Working in a yarn shop gives me exposure to all aspects of the knitting world. I try to pay attention to what our knitters are looking for, sometimes I will see something knit up and say, “what if we use this silhouette with this yarn”. Faina and I are also able to look at each other’s designs and think up something that would go with the others design. Our Triple Pocket Bag in the “Elegant Afternoon” collection was a true collaboration. Faina wanted a bag to accompany the Driver’s Cap, she had a basic idea. We knew the stitch pattern needed to be similar to the Driver’ Cap, so we sketched it out, and I worked up a swatch, we met periodically as this bag was being knit up to make certain that the end result was exactly what we envisioned.
How long did you work to develop the designs?
FG: It took us a year to develop all the designs including all the writing, knitting, photography, and so on. After that it took another year to polish everything working with many wonderful people from Martingale & Co.
DL: We worked over two years from start to finish on the book. It was amazing how each collection came together. We had a few designs completed before we started getting our idea for a book. Faina has amazingly good taste and knows what to add to make those items a complete collection. We quickly realized how well we could work off of each other’s creations. We had several of our designs completed and the other design ideas were sketched before we contacted our publisher with the book idea.
What is your favorite pattern in the book?
FG: Oh no! This is a very difficult question for me. I love them all. They were part of my life for two years, you know.
I think Dawn’s felted bags are incredible. I love both of her men’s sweaters. I already made the Tweed Polo for my husband. The Watercolor Shawl and the Sheer Gauntlets are beautiful as well. I am a big fan of Dawn’s work anyway.
The most fun projects for me, out of my designs, in terms of construction were the Little Flirt Skirt, the Vintage Hat, the Driver’s Cap and the Elongated-Neck Tunic. Also the Triple-Pocket Bag was so interesting to work on. It is the only project in the book, on which we worked together to design and to implement.
DL: Oh that is a very hard question, I really love them all. I think it would be easier for me to say what would I like to make, since I did not knit up the designs that Faina created, there are several that I would like to make up for myself. I think I would like to start with the Little Flirt Skirt. It is easy and so flattering.
What do you draw on for inspiration?
FG: I think it is a combination of factors for me. On the one hand, I am drawn to color and the texture of the yarn. I like deep and vibrant or gentle and soothing colors. In other words, there are not many colors that I do not like. On the other hand, since the time I was a little girl ,who played with paper dolls, I am fascinated by clothes construction. I always notice little details like buckles, pockets, buttons, pleats, etc. It excites me when I see a well-made garment with the unusual details.
DL: I look at what is going on in the knitting world of fashion, staying up on the current trends, however I also like the classics. I have a large collection of vintage patterns and books so there are days when I get out a stack of these patterns and spend time looking through them.
Faina and I inspire each other, when one of us gets an idea for a project the other one thinks of another garment or accessory that would complement that idea.
When you are knitting for fun, what do you like to create?
FG: I love to knit for my family mostly for my daughter and myself. Sometimes my husband and my son get lucky too. I still make my own patterns, but I do not have the responsibility of writing and explaining to someone what and how I did this. After the initial sketches and gauge calculations, I just create the garment as I go. It is very relaxing for me.
DL: I love to work on sweaters from other designers, maybe something in Vogue or IK. I love to use the exact yarn called for in the pattern, and perhaps choose a different color. I feel like it gives me a vacation from thinking too hard. I love tapping into someone else’s creativity.
FG: Andrea, thank you for the interest in our book. We hope very much that we offer an inspiration for people who are looking for some fun and stylish projects to knit.
And thank YOU Faina and Dawn for sharing your insights and thoughts on your new book. You can also check out Faina’s blog by going to: http://fainasknittingmode.blogspot.com/ and Dawn’s blog by going to: http://www.knittingwithdawn.blogspot.com/.
I certainly wish you both all the best of luck!