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A Little Q&A with Bristol Ivy (Pre-Order Knitting Outside the Box)

(featured image is Bristol Ivy’s Burke Cardigan from Quince & Co, and is not part of Bristol’s upcoming book)

You guys, have I mentioned how much I love Bristol Ivy? I probably have, but whatever, I’m going to do it again, because I LOVE HER (and because this is going to make her supremely uncomfortable, and what else are friends for?). She’s one of the most incredible people I know—a gorgeously pure individual who combines her natural creative talent with her wicked intellectual spirit to make intriguing and thoughtful knitting designs. Add to that a sweetness and inner light—basically, the world doesn’t deserve Bristol Ivy. But we’re going to keep her because she’s awesome.

Now that Bristol’s squirming in her seat and the rest of you understand how much I cherish my frienship with her, let’s talk about the latest hat she has donned, that of book author! Bristol’s Knitting Outside the Box is a collaboration with Pom Pom Press and debuts this fall (you can pre-order for pick up at Rhinebeck thanks to Merritt Bookstore). I’ve got my copy on order and can’t wait to pick it up!

When I lived in Colorado, I took Bristol’s Knitting Outside the Box class at Fancy Tiger and loved every second of it. Throughout the class, Bristol gave us some tools and tricks to finding inspiration in different ways—I don’t remember how I got there, but I know that my Ipomoea Scarf grew out of this class.

So now Bristol has taken that class and both condensed and expanded upon it (because she’s a magician) into a book of the same name and I for one am super excited for it. So I asked Bristol if she’d be willing to answer a few questions (mostly) about the book to help you get an idea of what you’re in for when you order your copy or pre-order it for pick up at Rhinebeck.

As someone who has taken your Knitting Outside the Box class, I’m really looking forward to having a book that takes the topics we discussed and collects them in an beautiful reference guide (because god only knows where my class handouts are at this point). What was it about teaching the class that inspired you to write the book? How does the book take the lessons of the class and perhaps expand upon or modify what a student might get in person?
A: The biggest thing is time. 🙂 The class can be tricky because there’s only so much detail and math we can go into in a single day, and I am so excited to be able to offer these ideas in a format that you can return to after your brain has a chance to mull it over. One of the most important things that I think we’re missing in today’s knitting world is a sense of freedom, a sense of independence and agency. There’s SO much information that sometimes it’s hard to find the space for your own creativity, and I wanted to make a space for that, to say that it’s okay to modify things and not take the general assumptions we have about knitted fabric and structure as holy writ. And that can be a little hard to fathom! So with the book, I want to plant those seeds of dissension and rebellion, and have them be little bulwarks that people can come back to over and over, to reassure themselves that it’s okay to be different and to try things that don’t work the typical ways. (Reading back over this response, apparently I wrote a manifesto on being an outsider artsy kid. Who woulda thunk?!)

What are your three favorite magazines to demolish for inspiration images?
A: ooh, tricky! I’m actually pretty terrible at looking at magazines. I save all my airport time for knitting and listening to trashy YA fantasy audiobooks, and so try to keep my blinders on when I’m in the magazine sections. But I absolutely love architecture magazines, as well as magazines that are predicated on pure beauty like Selvedge and (obviously) Vogue. I also have a couple copies of a Scandinavian design magazine I picked up while in Iceland a few years back that I treasure!

What kind of thematic element might knitters find in the 15 designs included in the book?
A: There’s an overarching theme of diagonals and strong lines throughout, which is pretty consistent with my design aesthetic in general. 🙂 I tried hard to keep the designs relatively uncluttered so that the techniques shone through, so there tends to be one little shot of stitch pattern or only a single contrast color. I think it’s important, if you’re doing something kooky with a design, to keep the rest of the structure simple so that it becomes neither visually nor mentally overwhelming. I want it to be something that you both want to knit without throwing the book at the wall AND wear without feeling self-conscious. Designing something that hits both those marks is tricky, but I think we might’ve nailed it with this book!

If your book was in a bar, what kind of drink would it order?
A: Heavily peated Scotch, on the rocks. Or Chartreuse and soda. Something a little challenging, a little off the beaten track, a little bit of an acquired taste, but once you get into it. . . yeah, that’s the stuff. 🙂

Stranded on a desert island: which three knitting books other than yours would you most like to have with you? AND OBVIOUSLY THERE’S YARN OF SOME SORT ON THIS ISLAND, JUST GO WITH IT.
A: OMG thank god there’s yarn on the island. Okay, I think I’d go with Barbara Walker’s First Treasury—every time I look back through it there’s new ideas I want to work with. Elizabeth Zimmermann’s Knitting Workshop, because I love the way she writes (so sassy!) and I think she was a revolutionary in how we think about garment construction. And Lynne Barr’s Reversible Knitting, because she consistently pushes me to think harder about construction and fabric. Oh man, even hanging out on a desert island I’m nerdy, aren’t I?

To stay up-to-date with Bristol (as well as she can manage—she’s a busy gal!) be sure to follow her page on Facebook.

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