Welcome to my stop on the All Koval blog tour for Imagical Seasons! The blog tour kicked off a few days ago and runs through July 22nd. I’m thrilled to be in such great company on this tour and to be able to introduce you to this unique and interesting set of crochet books.
About Imagical Seasons
Imagical Seasons is a set of 4 different crochet books, themed by the seasons of the year, featuring a total of more than three dozen crochet patterns by Alla Koval. The patterns are for lovely crochet kids’ items, designed for children ages 2-12. The first two books on the tour (Imagical Seasons Spring and Imagical Seasons Summer) can be purchased through My Little City Girl on Etsy as well as on Amazon and at the Imagical Seasons website. And guess what? Alla is offering a special discount to the readers of the blog tour posts. If you buy the print edition of her book at Imagical Seasons, on Etsy or on Amazon then you’ll get the digital edition of the book as well for no extra charge. The deal is good through August 1, 2015 using promo code IMAGICAL.
Imagical Seasons: Spring
The first book in the collection is, of course, Spring. It includes ten crochet patterns for children of various ages and stages of life. There are fingerless gloves, shawls and cowls for those kids that are closer to their teens. You’ll also find a blankets, amigurumi and a headband for younger girls. The crochet patterns are colored with spring in mind – bright pastels and the colors of candy.
Imagical Seasons: Summer
The second book in the collection is Summer. You’ll find seven new crochet patterns in this book including wearables and accessories for girls of all ages. The colors are a bit more punchy and vibrant, reflecting the warmth of summer, although the designs are intended for warm weather wear.
Both Spring and Summer crochet books are now available. The other two books in the collection will be out later.
Interview with Alla
What is the most important thing that you would like readers to know about Imagical Seasons?
I like when the “most important thing” is still coming and I like when it is not just one thing but many. For me these four books are a big, huge, unbelievable achievement! These books are the result of huge effort and have been a part of my life for the past few years. The effort is not over yet – I still have to polish the last two books and print them and spend many, many hours to make them real.
I wrote these books pretty much to express myself to the other crocheters and designers. The main message, I believe, is a language of design and inspiration, which is not only international but targeted to all ranges of skills. I tried to express myself in detailed crochet stitch diagrams and schematics, in different approaches for how to apply the same pattern in different ways to get outstanding results. I see my book to be useful for English readers from US or Europe and for readers with no English skills at all; useful for crocheters of any skill level – from beginners and to advanced designers; and finished projects to be worn by girls from 2 to 12 years old and some patterns are even suitable for adults also!
It sounds like the main thing we should know, then, is that the books are really diverse in terms of who might enjoy them. Awesome! What inspired the idea to create four separate books, one for each season, as opposed to say one book with four chapters?
Two years ago, when I started this journey, I had one book in mind. Even the idea of a single book was a challenge for me back then. But time went fast, content grew up and I started to feel somewhat uncomfortable. I was unable to understand the reason until the day when I printed the unfinished book and it was clear that book was already too big. That was the day that I decided to split the content into four books and it magically changed everything – I’ve got more space to express my ideas, the title got new meanings, plus I instantly became the author of my very first four books at once! Well, this “instant” is still going on, actually, but for me the puzzle was solved when I realized I should make the books into seasons.
Do the books stand alone or are they best as a set?
No one right answers will be right for everyone on this one. As the book author, I think that they are best as a set, but each book has value on its own also. All 4 books (including Fall and Winter, which are coming later this year) have the common idea to show how one simple element may become something beautiful. It can stay simple and small, or it can grow to large and more advanced projects, but it is still the same element with fresh imagination added. There are more books to come; imagination is endless and so is crocheting.
As the book designer, I like how they all look together – same size and style, same quality inside and out. I love to come to the book store or library and go to the magazine section to be able to recognize my favorite publishers from a distance that’s big enough for the text to become illegible. I don’t have any goal to become such a publisher, but I’d like to get some virtual credits or warmness when one would have a guest and bring her to the library and point to a set of my books as something special.
As for a novice or learning crocheter, I would recommend all four books, again, in order to find the right inspirations that speak to you across the seasons.
What were the biggest challenges in writing a crochet book for the first time? What have been the biggest joys?
One of my favorite quotes of Amy Chia: “Nothing is fun until you’re good at it.” And yes, everything is a challenge when you do it for the first time and writing a crochet book is no exclusion at all. When you start a book you may think “Huh, it is just set of single patters under one cover! I will save on cover design!” Oh my, how wrong you’d be! Books are different from single patterns in so many, many ways that I could write pages just to cover this topic (and I actually blogged about my book writing experience at mylittlecitygirl.com).
“Size does matter” with books and size impacts everything – from content to logistics with models and photo sessions, and to the need to write thebook with specialized software which has to be learned first and, you know, it is “specialized” for a reason! For example, I had no clue what “regular expression” means and how it should be used with style definitions to keep 100+ pages formatting in sync. And book writing does take time, significantly more than the sum of individual patterns. Again, these are my first books and maybe following books are going to be easier but there was definitely a learning curve.
Looking back, I still can’t believe that just two years ago I was not able to draw crochet charts in Adobe Illustrator and I knew nothing about how to work with long documents in Adobe InDesign. Now I’ve learned all of that and even created a totally new style of my patterns, which I jokingly call “Wordless” or “understandable without words”. I always loved stitch diagrams – the international language of crochet and knitting – not only because they are more clear and easier to read compared to written instructions, but also because the patterns really do not need to be translated to any other language. So if you are visual person and prefer charts, these new patterns are for you and I hope you will enjoy them as much as I do! If you prefer written instructions, they are of course also included.
It sounds like you’ve put a lot of thought into the book. How did the seasons influence the designs?
This is a bit difficult question for me lately. When I started to crochet, I lived in a country with all 4 seasons expressed so hard that season did have an influence on what you’d like to wear and it would define colors to some degree. Now, when I leave in Seattle, I see pretty much 2 seasons; when I have to take an umbrella, and when I don’t. (Well, that plus 2-3 days with snow and 5-10 hot days.) So my seasons now seem to be more related to fairy tales and are aligned to the blossoming in spring and the changing of colors in autumn.
I like to imagine how seasons would influence other designers – all countries have many season-specific traditions and holidays. For example, Christmas is winter and only winter when Neptune’s Day is summer and only summer and so on, but that depends where you live.
What is your own favorite season to crochet for?
Favorite season – spring first, because it is such a relief after rainy Seattle’s winters; then fall because it’s a very spectacular and eye-catching season, and such an inspiration!
What do you recommend as the single best project in the Spring collection for a beginner?
Spring collection starts from Airy Fairy Ruffled stitch patterns. There are three options to play with and doing so will allow you to discover different textures and looks. Other great projects for beginners are a Parfait Headband or Lemon Meringue Cuffs. Or just make an Ice Cream Amigurumi! Then come back to make the Sakura Top or Hugs of Love Blanket, which are just a small bit more complex then Cuffs or Headband!
When and how did you learn to crochet? What inspired you to add crochet when you already knew knitting?
Surprisingly, but I do not remember exactly when I started to crochet on a regular basis and what was my first crochet project. The Russian and Ukrainian languages have no special word for determining crochet. We say “knit with needles” and “knit with hook”. Back in Ukraine I was mostly knitting with needles but always had a bunch of crochet hooks just to fix something or to crochet embellishment, finish edging and so on.
Since I discovered the crochet world, I was completely hooked and amazed by all the magic and possibilities of crochet textures and techniques. I do love both equally, knitting and crocheting, because they’re so different. I tend to use crochet more for lace on summer and spring garments and knitting when I want something more fluid or when I use textured yarn. But my absolutely favorite part is to use both techniques together in one project – they both add so much to each other and give you more freedom than one or the other does alone.
So you really don’t have a preference?
The funny story I could tell is this: I was asked to help to make a few Jewish hats for some special event a few years ago. The event was big and the organizer wanted to have many custom-made hats. I was provided with yarn and a sample hat. The hat was hand knitted and I didn’t like the result so I decided to redo the hat in crochet style to emphasize firm shape and better fit, plus it was easier to make this way. The resulting hat was so much better that I was asked to crochet few dozens of these hats in many different colors for all guests even if most of them were already done by that time by other knitters. I ended up with writing patterns for that crochet hat. Definitely, there are times when crochet is real winner.
How has crochet helped you in your own life?
One of my all-time favorite quotes is “Remember, when we are knitting/crocheting, all is right with the world!”
What do you hope people will get from following your crochet patterns?
My patterns may seem long; the average pattern for a garment is around 10-15 pages, thanks to all of the details and explanations. I’ve tried to do all of the work for you, so I hope you can just enjoy the crocheting!
I provide very detailed stitch diagrams, schematics and complete written instructions, set out in a way that allows you to just follow along without having to do any interpreting or calculating. I provide instructions and stitch diagrams for shaping and all finishing and other maneuvers I might call for in the pattern, as well as having special stitch descriptions and tutorials for the techniques I use.
With easy to understand and easy to follow patterns, I think readers will enjoy working on each project and will get a clear understanding of how each pattern was designed so that they could apply that approach in other projects.
Follow the Crochet Blog Tour
I am thrilled to be in such great company on this blog tour. It kicked off on July 13th with a post from Amy Solovay of Knitting and Crochet. There have already been posts on Faina’s Knitting Mode and Crochet Queen: Royal Ramblings. And here’s where it goes next:
- July 17th: Petals to Picots
- July 18th: Stylish Knits
- July 19th: Craft Gossip
- July 20th: Positively Crochet
- July 21st: Magic with Hook and Needles
- July 22nd: Cute Crochet
All photos courtesy of Alla Koval/IMagicalSeasons.com