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Sweet ShawlettesJanuary 5, 2012

I'm happy to be hosting Jean Moss today who is talking about her new beautiful book, Sweet Shawlettes. Since I'm all about spinning right now, and what better to use handspun for but shawls, I was honored to get a preview copy (it's gorgeous) and the chance to ask her a few questions.

Please leave a comment for a chance to win a copy of the book! I'll draw a random winner on Monday.

Sweet_shawlettes_cover1.    What made you interested in writing this particular book?

The book came to me out of the blue when Erica Sanders-Foege, then a senior editor at The Taunton Press, rang to ask if I would consider doing it. The working title was Sweet Shawlettes, but Erica  assured me I could change it if I didn't like it.  However, for me the title had a certain broad brush appeal – whimsical, feminine,  could even be ironic - or it might have been that I'm just addicted to alliteration, but knowing how difficult it is to come up with decent book titles, I quickly applied the if it's not broken, don't fix it principle.  

I agreed to submit a synopsis and by the time I'd finished it I was completely hooked on the idea.  Previously most of my books have concentrated mainly on sweaters, and this gave me the opportunity to explore a totally different form.  Shawls, capes, cowls, furbelows or anything that can be worn around the neck was the brief and I was thrilled to explore as many ways of interpreting it as I could. 

CEILIDH3I was given complete control over yarns, stitches, colours, styles, techniques - something I really value.  I was kept in the loop about each process of the book's production, consulted on the book's design and to my utmost surprise and great relief the editors at Taunton actually listened.  In a previous hardcover book that shall be nameless (I should add with a different publisher), in the same situation I was treated like a jobbing author and ended up with a book I hated, where the images reflected completely different sweaters to the ones I'd designed.  

I'm intrigued by the process of book-making from beginning to end – the shoot is the icing on the cake when you see your designs come alive.  With my two previous books, Wandering Spirits and In The Mood, I was given the freedom to deliver the completed print-ready book on disk, which I now admit could have been an absolute disaster!  However, a steep learning curve ensued and ultimately it was such an exhilarating and satisfying experience. Sweet Shawlettes was photographed in Connecticut, so for various reasons, not the least of which being that I live in the UK, it wasn't possible  for me to be there.  Consequently I was really nervous about the pictures and was mega-relieved when I saw Alexandra Grablewski's strong and beautiful images.  

I'm so glad I decided to write the book now.  It took me on an interesting journey exploring the construction, techniques, yarns and the history of neck wraps and I'll always be grateful to Taunton for offering me this opportunity.

PURPLE_PATCH32.    What's your favorite thing to knit when you're not working on knitting?

Not surprisingly I do enjoy making shawls.  Everyone in my family received one this Xmas – one size fits all, so no sweat about fitting. Recently there's been a baby boom in our family, so I've been doing a lot of tiny sweaters which have a built in feel good factor as you just know you're going to finish the project before something else grabs your attention – good for limiting the UFOs.  Oh and also I've knit my favourite shadow knit baby blanket about four times this year.

3.    What was your favorite part of pulling this book together?

Definitely the adrenalin rush that you get when there's a blank sheet in front of you and it's uncharted territory and you can either get totally paralysed or take the plunge.  It often takes me some time to get past the paralysis stage, but this is what I call the cooking time when the ideas are crystallising and I need displacement activities. I chop things down in the garden, make lots of food, play my guitar, or even clean the house, though that would only happen if I'd done everything else first! Sometimes I even dream about designs and have been known to get up in the middle of the night and rush upstairs to my office to dash off a quick sketch.  When I eventually do dive in, the first thing I do is to map out the book in detail, making lists of the types of designs, yarn, colours,  techniques, stitches, moods etc and then set about placing them in the relevant chapters, with the aim of getting an overall balance.  I then set about the swatching, which is always exciting as you can never tell how a yarn will behave with a particular stitch pattern until you knit it and you can usually count on some surprises.  

MANTILLA3One of Britain's leading knitwear designers, Jean Moss's innovative combinations of texture, colour and styling have been widely influential over the years. A self-taught knitter, she has been producing her own unique collections of handknits for more than twenty years, as well as designing for Rowan Yarns and many international fashion houses such as Ralph Lauren, Laura Ashley and Benetton. She teaches in the UK and Europe and is a regular visitor to the US.

Her new book Sweet Shawlettes is available at your local independent bookstore or from retailers like Amazon, Chapters, or directly from Taunton Press. The project gallery can be seen here.


I'd love to win, looks like a really great book.

Looking forward to checking out Jean's new book.

Those are beautiful. I especially love the last one pictured.

amazing designs!

Many lovely pieces, Arabesque will definately be on my "To Knit" List for this year. In fact I could use Ceilidh right now to counter a slightly chilly office.

Looks like an awesome book - would love to get a copy and use up some of my stash knitting those beauties!

the more photos i see from the book the more i want it! :)

Bronte and Green at Heart are my favorites - or, I might be tempted to try entrelac again with harlequin. Thank you for this lovely offer!

The plaid shawl is stunning! I really love the colors. I would love to see what else is in the book.

I have quite a few of Ms. Moss' books and looking forward to looking through her new one. (I approve of where she places housekeeping on the list :)

Just love the last pattern, a definite must knit.

I think Furbelow is my new favorite word just because of how fun it is to say.

I would be very pleased to own this book so if I do not win it a friend and I will buy a copy to share. Thanks for the give away.

There are so e nice patterns in that book. Thanks for doing a giveaway!

Looks like this book contains lots of interesting projects, different than I've done before.

Pretty pretty!

Very neat -- particularly the cover design!

Such great projects - some perfectly small and sweet.
Very inspiring
Thanks for the give-away

oo, pretty. Hay Rachael, if you draw me (on't'other side of the Pond) I'd pay my own postage...:)
Happy New Years and may this one be full of health, happiness and prosperity.
but not necessarilly in that order

Holy cow, how cute are those! Beautifully done. Thanks for the opportunity to win the book Rachel.

I've always loved Jean's sweaters but found them too complex for my body style to wear- the shawls are beautiful and body-complementing. Yay. :)

I love shawlettes... just enough of a challenge and as soon as I get frustrated or I'm about over it, they're done and gorgeous... lol.

I adore knitting shawlettes, and would LOVE this book. Count me as entered in!

Oh, that last shawl is so nice. Count me in also.

Looks great!

Thank you for this wonderful interiew with Jean Moss. I enjoyed the insight into her designing, writing, and publishing process - and it all adds to my appreciation of her truly sweet and sassy shawlettes.

Thank you, also, for the opportunity to be entered into the drawing for a copy of Jean's inspired book!

this looks darling

Such a great book! Thanks for the chance to win.

Looks like a lovely book. Hope you have an awesome 2012.

Would love to win this! Am currently looking for a shawl pattern and one of those shown in your blog would be awesome!

What a lovely and creative person Jean Moss is. Thank you for bringing that interview to us.

I have been wanting to try entrelac; the shawletter pattern would be a fun attempt! I would love to win this book, but will buy it if I do not.

I love shawlettes, especially lace ones. But, I love that entrelac one on the cover! Great colors. Thanks, Rachael!

What a fascinating-looking book. I love the interesting variations on the shoulder-wrap idea. The plaid is lovely, the buttons and squares cool and the lace just lovely.

As a fellow spinning knitter, I am COMPLETELY into small shawls these days. Plus, they are the perfect thing for the office, since a sweater is too heavy. So, please help to scratch my itch . . . pick me! Thanks for the giveaway.

This looks lovely - I am all about the shawlettes lately!

I love the patterns you chose to showcase in this blog hop. Thanks for the chance to win!

I have about as much need for a shawlette as I do for a hood with no sweater attached, which is to say I'd still have an awefull bunch of fun knitting it anyway :=)

I could certainly get a head start on Christmas gifts with all the fun patterns in this book. Cool.

Very cute looking shawlettes! I like! I like!

Here's hoping!

Which one is your favorite? I like how they are categorized. And it is always fun to picture them in yarns/colors of individual choosing. Some lucky winner. Nice giveaway - thank you.

Lovely book! Thank you for the giveaway.

I would love to win -- looks great!

Lovely! I just joined a yarn club and perhaps some of these shawlettes could be adapted to that yarn. Thanks for the review!

These patterns are adorable. Also they appeal to my ADD.

Several of these patterns are lovely and wearable .... Big plus for me. I would love to win this and get started on the Polerro cape!

I like that the pics you chose are different from the ones other bloggers chose....gives me a new view of the book. Mary in Cincinnati


Thanks for the chance to win! I love this concept. I am not a fast knitter, so small projects are right up my alley.

I love knitting shawls. The book looks great. Thanks for the opportunity to win it.

I love the shawlette on the cover! And Green at Heart is beautiful, too!

Saw an ad for another book you might like- City of Fortune: How Venice Ruled the Seas by Roger Crowley. It explores the mystery of how a small town of island-based traders became one of Europe's greatest powers for over 300 years. (from the ad) A little light reading to get you revved up for your trip. (HA! Like you'll need any extra revving!)

It's great to see a new book from Jean. I wantto make Bess.

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