Hi Jean. Welcome to my blog. It’s a thrill for me to have you visit me as I’ve been a fan for many years. Congratulations on the publication of your newest book, “Sweet Shawlettes”.
I’m curious about your creative thinking. What generally comes first? An idea, the yarn, a request from a yarn company, something else?
My career has always been fashion-led, so each season I look at the trends. I also love street fashion and like nothing better than to sit in the sun with a cup of coffee and observe what people are wearing - especially in the big cities. I’m also fascinated by old fashion illustrations, the designs of David Downton, Rene Gruau and Erte are mega-inspiring. My camera is always to hand and I take many pictures of interesting objects, people and places - looking back over them often sows the seeds of new designs.
I think that you’re very lucky to work so much with Rowan yarns, my favorite company. How did you become involved with Rowan initially?
I became involved with Rowan way back – magazine #4 if my memory serves me well, when Stephen Sheard, founder and co-owner, came to see me in our workshop in York. At this time the business had already taken off and it was a hive of activity. We employed quite a few people, who were involved in making up and sending out kits to knitters all over the country, finishing off the completed sweaters, quality control, labeling, packing and shipping.
I was doing a lot of design and production for Polo Ralph Lauren and Laura Ashley, as well as selling my own line of handknits to many top-end US stores. Stephen had seen the fairisles I’d done for Ralph Lauren, which all used Jamieson & Smith Shetland yarn. He reckoned my perception of colour would translate well into his 4-ply botany yarn (still one of my alltime favourites) and asked me to do an exclusive version of a dolman-sleeved crew neck sweater. This became the Bellmanear, named after our beloved old farmhouse in the Yorkshire Wolds where we were living at the time - the first of many subsequent designs for Rowan.
How long did it take from the beginning until the book was ready to go to the publisher?
This may come as a surprise, but the timeframe for the book was alarmingly short. I was asked to write the book in November 2010 and I had to deliver the completed manuscript by the end of March 2011. It did seem like a huge ask from scratch, but I’ve always found it hard to turn down interesting new projects, so it didn’t take me long before I jumped in and agreed.
The schedule seemed to dovetail with other things I was committed to at the time - Knit Morocco, one of our knitters’ tours was due to start in the last week of March. I reasoned that if I could eliminate all other projects for the next four months, it was doable. However, I certainly couldn’t have done it without my band of trusty knitters who tested every stitch, but it did require an unswerving daily commitment.
I knew I had to have a couple of weeks at the beginning to chew the cud and dash off some drawings as and when the ideas came to me. Eventually I had a whole pile, in fact many more than I could possibly use. Once I got into the genre the ideas poured out and then came the task of editing them to make a balanced book in terms of difficulty, yarns, colour, techniques and styles. I did have to decide early on exactly where the big knits were going to go and write the patterns first, as I had to deliver the finished pieces at the same time as the manuscript
Do you have plans for another book in the future? If so, can you give us a hint about it?
I’m in negotiation with Taunton at the moment about another book. At this stage I can’t say a lot about it other than it’s developing one aspect of Sweet Shawlettes and applying it to small projects
It was a treat to have Jean visit on her blog book tour. I have plans to make more of her sweaters in the future as well as another project or two from Sweet Shawlettes. You can see all the designs in the gallery, here. I've almost finished the Penumbra Cowl and I'm seriously drawn to the Ceilidh Shawlette. I’d also like to take one of her tours. Last year she took a group to Morocco (I’m so envious) and this year the trip is to Ireland.
To learn more about Jean Moss’ designs and tours check out her website: http://www.jeanmoss.com/ and the Ravelry group, found here.
You can purchase Sweet Shawlettes at a yarn shop or bookstore near you, or online at one of these sellers: Amazon, Chapters/Indigo, Threads Magazine, or Taunton Store and I'm sure that there are more.
GIVEAWAY: I have three copies of this beautiful book to giveaway. Leave a comment and you're entered to win. Winners will be chosen randomly. Perhaps you'd like to tell us the name of your favorite design? Winners will be announced next Friday, January 13th. Good luck.
Here's is the full blog tour. Why not follow Jean on her travels around the blogosphere?
Mon 2 Jan More Yarn Will Do The Trick– Jean Moss
Tues 3 Jan Wendy Knits - Wendy Johnson
Wed 4 Jan Knitgrrl - Shannon Okey
Thurs 5 Jan Yarnagogo – Rachael Herron
Fri 6 Jan The Knitter – Rosee Woodland
Sat 7 Jan Rhythm of the Needles – Joanne Conklin
Sun 8 Jan Knit Purl Gurl – Karrie Steinmetz
Mon 9 Jan CraftSanity – Jennifer Ackerman-Haywood
Tues 10 Jan Planet Purl – Beth Moriarty
Wed 11 Jan Sunset Cat – Stephannie Tallent
Thurs 12 Jan A Really Good Yarn – Julie Schilthuis
Fri 13 Jan knit 1 chicago – Lynn Coe
Sat 14 Jan Go Knit In Your Hat – Carol Sulcoski
Sun 15 Jan Redshirt Knitting – Erika Barcott
Mon 16 Jan In The Loop – Cheryl & Ellen
Tues 17 Jan WEBS – Kathy Elkins
Wed 18 Jan Zeneedle – Margene Smith
Thurs 19 Jan Knitspot – Anne Hanson
Fri 20 Jan Urban Yarns – Alexa Ludeman
Sat 21 Jan A Friend to knit with – Leslie Friend
Mon 23 Jan Tentenknits – Margaux Hufnagel
Tues 24 Jan Fancy Tiger Crafts – Amber Corcoran
Thurs 26 Jan The Panopticon – Franklin Habit
Tbc Chic Knits - Bonne Marie Burns