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Book Review: Vampire Knits

Reported by Jen Geigley 

Whether you’re Team Edward, Team Jacob, a True Blood fanatic, or not exactly a huge fan of the blood-sucking variety, Vampire Knits: Projects to Keep You Knitting from Twilight to Dawn may be worth sinking your teeth into this fall and winter. Author Genevieve Miller became so inspired by her favorite vampire flick that she began designing her own vampire-themed knitting projects. Through the magic of the internet and Ravelry.com (an online knitting community), Genevieve collaborated with other designers and vampire/werewolf fans across the country to create a collection of patterns paying homage to some of their most beloved vampires and shape-shifters.

The book is full of gorgeous, wearable knitting patterns that anyone would love, like these Bella Swan-inspired mittens.

Or these lovely ‘Pulse Protectors.’

The photography and styling of the book is beautifully done and is refreshingly light, while maintaining that necessary hint of looming darkness. The Twilight feel is really well-represented, and it’s easy to envision your favorite vampire characters wearing the hand-knits in the photos.

 

The Lore Hoodie is my personal favorite project from Vampire Knits, although there are several patterns I hope to try out in the future. All of the patterns are very creative while still being quite practical (for the most part). I admit I was a bit wary before I looked through this book, anticipating a potentially campy/costumey vampire theme. But I was quite impressed with the patterns themselves and many of the projects will appeal to knitters who have never picked up a Twilight book in their life (below are several more photos from the book).

I was excited to pick a pattern to knit right away when I received my copy of Vampire Knits, and I instantly decided I had to knit a pair of Alice Cullen-inspired fingerless gloves. While I didn’t have the exactly perfect color of variegated yarn on hand, I knew I had something close enough to make the cut (I used a skein of blue/green Classic Elite Montera from my stash).

The pattern was easy (and quick!) and I’m loving my new Alice-ish Palm Readers (page 58). Such a perfect fall accessory, and they’d look great knitted in any color!

Curious to know more about this book and how it all came about? I had the opportunity to interview author Genevieve Miller. Here’s what she had to say about Vampire Knits.

Tell me a little bit about yourself.
A little about myself?  Hmm… I’m a California native. I’ve been married for 13 years – I met my husband in a comedy writing class in Los Angeles. We have 3 great kids – one boy and two girls. Before having kids I was a teacher. I love vampires, Harry Potter, and thanks to my kids I’m now a Star Wars geek, too!

How were you first introduced to knitting, and how long have you been a knitter?
I learned to knit when I was 11. My mom was pregnant with my youngest brother and we learned together. My first project was a big pink blanket knit with 2 colors at the same time on huge size 17 needles. I took a break from knitting during high school and college and picked up the needles again when I was pregnant with my son, 10 years ago. I rarely go more than a month or two without knitting something.

Out of all the most recent vampire movies, books and television series, which is your favorite and why? Do you have any favorite characters in particular? 
Oh, gosh. Well, of the recent vampire stories, I’d have to say the Twilight saga was what got me back into vampires, and sparked my interested in designing. I love the movies, but the books are where I fell in love.  I like Alice, the hyper, stylish little pixie, but I love Edward!  My favorite “bad boy” would have to be Damon Salvatore from the Vampire Diaries. I confess I haven’t read the books, but Ian Somerhalder plays Damon so deliciously it’s hard to resist loving the scoundrel.

What inspired you to write a book and compile a collection of knitting patterns dedicated to vampires?
Twilight inspired me, actually. I just thought the characters were so varied and interesting that they could inspire a lot of creative ideas for knitting projects. It grew from there, since there are so many vampire stories to draw from. Vampire stories have been around for centuries, as has knitting – they seemed a perfect combination!

How did Ravelry.com play a part in the making of Vampire Knits?
I mentioned my idea in a group on Ravelry and it was met with tons of enthusiasm from fellow knitters.  In a matter of days I had several designers on board and we got to work. I started my own group where we could brainstorm, call for test knitters, bounce ideas off each other, and call for designs. I don’t think the book would have become a reality without Ravelry.

The designers who have contributed patterns to Vampire Knits include all ages and walks of life. How did you find, choose and bring together this diverse group of contributors? 
I met most of them on Ravelry. When I called for submissions, they delivered!

What’s your favorite project in Vampire Knits (and why do you love it?) 
Oh, gosh!  It’s so hard to pick a favorite – they’re all gorgeous!  I love the Lore Hoodie by Cirilia Rose. I want to knit it for myself! I also think the Palm Readers are going to be on my Christmas list for friends. I love the Blood Bottle Cozies, too… they’re so fun!  I can’t choose a favorite and I hope to knit everything at some point! 

The photography/styling in the book is gorgeous. Where were the photos shot, and by whom? 
The photography was done on the publisher’s end. My acquisitions editor, Betty Wong and I discussed what we wanted for the “look” of the models, and they were hired by an agency in New York. I love that the redhead looks like Victoria in the Twilight movies. The outdoor shots were in New York, although they look like they could be in Forks, WA. (There is a photo of Forks at the end of the book that was taken by my sister-in-law, Tere Mendez on our trip to the Olympic Peninsula last July.) The photographer who shot the models and projects is Heather Weston, and my author photo was taken by my other sister-in-law, Candice Eley.

And because I have to ask (you knew this was coming) … Team Edward or Team Jacob? 
TEAM EDWARD!!!

Vampire Knits: Projects to Keep You Knitting from Twilight to Dawn (by Genevieve Miller) 
Potter Craft
Sells for $18.99
Paperback
144 pages
25+ projects
 
Pros:
The majority of the patterns in this book will appeal to both Twi-hards and people who aren’t so into the vampire thing. The photography and overall look of the book is beautiful, not morbid or overly vampy.
Cons:
If you aren’t bi-stitchual (meaning you only knit and don’t know how to crochet,) you may notice that a couple of the patterns in the fourth section of the book (Bloody Accents) require some crochet know-how.

Are you a knitter who is inspired by Twilight, True Blood and other vampire books, television series or movies? If you’ve knitted a project from Vampire Knits, share it here!
Click on the link at the top of the page to visit Craft Critique for comments, giveaways and more!

Vendor Spotlight & GIVEAWAY: Plaid Mod Podge Professional Decoupage Tool Sets

Reported by Jen Geigley

Everyone has heard of (and most likely used) Mod Podge by Plaid. But have you ever tried their decoupage tools? I chose four different projects to test out a Mod Podge brush set (which included a #8 flat brush, textile brush, glue brush and foam spouncer) and a professional decoupage tool set (which included a rubber brayer and squeegee).

Along with these tool sets, I used two kinds of Mod Podge: Gloss and Matte.

For my first project, I decided to cover a small ceramic pot with fabric using the brush tool set (using Matte Mod Podge).

I cut my fabric to fit the small pot I wanted to cover…

and applied a generous amount of Mod Podge onto my pot using the large brush from the tool set.
The fabric adhered very smoothly and nicely on my first try, and the air bubbles and creases were easily smoothed out with the rubber brayer.
I cut notches in the fabric overlapping the top of my pot…

and used more Mod Podge to adhere the fabric over the top edge.

I folded the fabric on the bottom until it was as flat and smooth as possible and then sealed it using the brush.
And finally, painted a coat of Matte Mod Podge over the entire fabric-covered pot to give it a stronger finish.
In no time, my project was dry and ready to go! And it turned out super cute!

Next up – a fabric covered Moleskine notebook.

I cut a piece of fabric to the size of my small notebook (so that the edges overlapped by about 1/4″).
I used the flat brush to apply a solid coat of Matte Mod Podge to the notebook cover.

Then put my fabric on top and smoothed with the brayer. (The brayer works like a charm on fabric! But the roller itself did get a little bit sticky, and stayed sticky, even after washing).

I let everything dry for about 15 minutes, and then trimmed off the excess fabric around the edges of the cover.

I could have left it as-is after the last step, but I chose to give my new fabric cover another coat of Matte for extra durability.

Another fast, successful project!

My next project was re-finishing this wooden tray. I had saved a sheet of this Sassafras scrapbooking paper, thinking it might make a cool kids’ party or Halloween tray.

I painted the inner and outer edges using Plaid’s FolkArt acrylic paint and the #8 flat brush from the tool set.
This paint goes on super smooth and dries fast!

Next, I used a brush to apply a thin layer of the Gloss Mod Podge to the bottom of the tray.

And then I placed my trimmed piece of paper directly on top.

The brayer worked great to smooth out the air bubbles and provided smooth, even adhesion.

Next, I used the Mod Podge squeegee to clean up and smooth the corners, ensuring that my paper was stuck down to the surface right up to the very edge.

After letting everything dry for about a half an hour, I applied a coat of Gloss to the top of the paper. And then I applied two more coats to the entire tray.

Done!
Last, but not least, I wanted to use some fabric, paint and trim to cover a boring cork board. I started by painting the frame with two coats of Plaid’s FolkArt acrylic paint. After the paint dried, I sealed it with two coats of Gloss Mod Podge.

I chose fabric to cover the cork and ironed it before adhering.

Then I used Gloss Mod Podge and a brush to cover the entire cork surface.
Starting with one edge, I smoothed the fabric across the cork board, using the brayer as I went to get even coverage.

Again, the squeegee came in handy to press the fabric into the corners and edges.
After the fabric had been stretched and stuck down to the whole board, I went over the entire surface again with the brayer.
After the fabric had dried, I used a hot glue gun to apply some twill tape to hide the fabric edges along the frame.

And my fabric-covered cork board is complete.

One more look at these Mod Podge projects proves the versatility of this product and the variety of things that the tools help you accomplish with fantastic, professional results.

Pros:

  • The variety of shapes/sizes of brushes included in the tool set was great for both painting and applying Mod Podge
  • Brushes washed clean
  • The brayer and squeegee are the perfect tools to use in any Mod Podge project and I can see myself using them on lots of projects in the future

Cons:

  • The roller on the rubber brayer did get sticky after a couple of uses (even after washing) and I couldn’t quite get all of the Mod Podge off of it
  • Not sure I’d buy a whole set of brushes solely for Mod Podge purposes (since regular sponge brush applicators are so cheap) but the brushes worked great for painting as well as Mod Podging

Both Mod Podge tool sets are available for purchase at Wal-Mart, Michaels, Jo-Ann Fabrics and Crafts, Hobby Lobby and most other craft stores.

Price:
$4.95 per kit

Resources:

Plaid website

Mod Podge Rocks

Plaid Kids Crafts

• follow on Twitter

What do you love about Mod Podge? Do you think your Mod Podge projects would be easier and turn out better using these tool sets? We’d love to hear what you think!

GIVEAWAY!

Plaid is generously giving one of our readers a gift pack full of Plaid products! Just leave a comment on one of the Vendor Spotlight: Plaid articles and tell us which Plaid product is your favorite; one comment per person, per article, please.

Disclosure

Click on the link at the top of the page to visit Craft Critique for comments, giveaways and more!

Book Review: Mason-Dixon Knitting

Reported by Jen Geigley

Mason-Dixon Knitting is a collection of knitting stories, patterns, advice, opinions and humorous enthusiasm. Reading through this book made me feel like I was knitting with two beloved aunts or neighbors, so if you’ve always secretly longed for that ‘bond’ with a fellow knitter, you’ll love Mason-Dixon Knitting.

Authors Kay Gardiner and Ann Shayne are founders of the knitting blog masondixonknitting.com where they share correspondence and adventures in knitting with each other and hundreds of thousands of visitors who check in regularly. The two writers met online (Kay lives in Manhattan and Ann is a Tennessean) and they share their story of online forum friendship and love for all things knitting in this friendly book.

The Mason-Dixon Manifesto is this: Peace, Love, Natural Fibers. (Not necessarily in that order.) Inside these pages you’ll find all kinds of stories from the writers and their friends, plus 34 knitting patterns for you, your loved ones and your home (along with knitting humor at its very best and anecdotes about the friendships that often form out of this hobby.)

There is a section that explores teaching children to knit and sharing your hobbies with your kids.
The writers also talk about knitting for the common good and getting involved in knitting circles and the knitting community, which is a huge part of knitting for me!

I was extremely excited to start knitting after reading through the patterns and looking through the colorful photos, but choosing what to make was so hard! I longed to make a blanket but decided to start out with a few smaller projects first. I began with the ‘baby bib o’love’ pattern, which was a quick and fun knit (and would make a great gift).

Then I knitted the ‘ballband dishcloth’ after being completely inspired by the fantastic color combos shown in the photos.

Here’s my version of the dishcloth, which was so much fun to knit and will totally brighten up my kitchen.

I’m really excited to make more of these using all kinds of different colors and I really enjoy knitting something so functional.

Although I stuck to knitting the quick and simple projects from the book, I definitely was reading through the other patterns and I plan to knit some of the bigger projects as time allows.

The bedspreads and log cabin blankets in particular are incredibly beautiful and well-diagrammed in this book.

The patterns throughout are very well-written and easy to follow, and even the more complicated patterns are really not that hard to make if you’re willing to put in the time and effort (and for a bedspread like the one pictured here… it would be so worth it!). You can find the errata/corrections for the patterns in this book here.

While reading, there was constant encouragement from the authors to take the basic patterns and ideas described and make them your own. Which left me inspired, and I kept coming back to the pages that had photos of these rag yarn balls.

They just totally intrigued me!

I decided I had to try to make something out of my own recycled fabric yarn. So I found some fabric scraps, ripped them into strips, tied them end-to-end and voila!

I ended up knitting a small skinny scarf out of my rag yarn on large needles for my daughter and I to share.

(And I think that Ann and Kay would be proud!) Now, I just have to teach this kiddo how to knit.

Inspiration, Guidance, and 30 Projects to Knit

Featuring: Technical hints; Great (knitted) things you will do; How to cope with disaster; Must-knit T.V.; Mistakes you will definitely make; Knitting for the common good; Knitting something that looks like something else

Pros:

  • Lots of real-life patterns that everyone will want to knit make this a great resource.
  • The friendly humor is engaging and every knitter will relate to the stories and sidebars.
  • Everything from knitting with children, to knitting for your family, to knitting for charity is covered in its pages.
  • This book gives you the skill sets to knit the patterns included and encourages you to take those ideas and run with them, making this an inspirational read.

Cons:

  • There are a large number of ‘big’ projects in this book (like blankets, bedspreads and rugs) that will require lots of yarn and a big time commitment.
  • There are lots of pages that are devoted to ‘the story’ throughout this book, so if you’re looking for a patterns-only resource, this might not be for you. (But I assure you that the anecdotes shared are fantastic and worth a read!)

Format: Softcover, 160 pages
Price:
$22.99
Mason-Dixon Knitting: The Curious Knitter’s Guide is available at Amazon.com.
What patterns have you knit from Mason-Dixon Knitting? We’d love to see – please share the links to your photos and projects!

Disclosure

Click on the link at the top of the page to visit Craft Critique for comments, giveaways and more!