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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!

Gifted: Lovely Little Things to Knit & Crochet

Reported by Jen Geigley

Knitting books are my most favorite resource, and I have to admit that I get excited when I see anything with ‘gift’ in the title (because that little word usually means quick-knits or smaller items that are easy to finish). So I was happy to have the chance to check out Gifted: Lovely Little Things to Knit & Crochet by Mags Kandis. If you love to knit, and enjoy giving your hand-knit items as gifts, you’ll adore this book.

A peek inside Gifted reveals a wide variety of projects for both knitters and crocheters, including scarves, mittens, hats, and baby items… but then also venturing into more creative territory with things like trivets, coasters, a wrist rest, notebook sleeves, knitting needle cases, and more. The book is divided into two sections: Gifts for the Body has patterns for lots of accessories, and Gifts for the Soul includes non-wearables and several felted projects. The best part is that all of the projects really are small and perfect for gift-giving.

I loved the little details and embellishments included throughout, like these crocheted flowers. This book also includes cool ideas for sewn fabric gift bags and sachets to pair with your handmade gifts
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Mags also shows examples on how to add these small additions to accessories, and ways to personalize projects with beads, needle-felting, embroidery or applique.
Several projects in the book explore sewing techniques and use scraps of felted knitting or even re-purposed items like old sweaters, which was really fun to see!
The first project I decided to try was ‘bevy of bangles.’ This is the perfect starter project if you’ve never attempted felting something you’ve knitted before (you really can’t screw it up… and look at how cute these bracelets are!).
You start by knitting a narrow strip of stockinette using 100% wool yarn, or another fiber that will felt well. I used Stitch Nation by Debbie Stoller Full o’Sheep in two different colors.

Using a three-needle bind off, you end up with huge rings that look like this (before felting). You can hand-felt these using hot water in your sink, or do what I did – throw them in the washer and dryer. Just check on them periodically to make sure they don’t shrink down too far.

Mine ended up looking like this. I used extra strands of Full o’Sheep to wind the contrasting colored stripes around the bangles.
I love how soft (yet solid!) these are! Mine turned out a little bit chunkier than the ones shown in the book, but all yarn felts differently. This is the perfect stash-buster – it hardly used up any yarn at all. Such a fast and fun project!

The second pattern I wanted to try was the ‘linen summer wrap.’

The photos of this scarf/wrap were just too pretty and I couldn’t resist!

I love the yarn they used in the book (Berocco Linen Jeans unbleached muslin) but wanted to use something I had on hand, so I grabbed a skein of I Love This Cotton in olive green.
In one evening – and using only one skein of yarn – I had this awesome lightweight scarf! I love how it drapes and cotton yarn totally works for this. I love it so much that I think I’m going to make another one in black right away! It’s totally wearable with just about anything.

Here are just a few more peeks at fun patterns this book includes:(I love the ear warmers!)

Gifted: Lovely Little Things to Knit & Crochet (by Mags Kandis)
Interweave Press
Price: $24.95
Paperback
136 pages
30+ projects and patterns

Pros:

  • This book offers a wide variety of small projects.
  • Gifted is not just a pattern book – it includes sewing, repurposed, recycled and felted projects.
  • In my opinion, the majority of the patterns are very usable and/or wearable. (And very gift-able!)
  • The little felted bits, gift tags and hearts are super cute and fast to make and would be a cute addition to just about anything you make.


Cons:

  • Some projects are knitting patterns and some are crochet patterns. If you’re not bi-stitchual (meaning you only know how to knit or crochet) you may not be able to make all of the projects in the book.
  • There are quite a few felting projects in this book. (I believe 15, to be exact.) If you’re not keen on felting, this seem like a lot to you. On the flip side … if you’ve felted anything before, it might get you excited to try it! 
  • Some of the projects take a bit more time to complete, like the fair isle or felted granny square bag. (Lots of the patterns included are fast and easy ones … but not everything can be a one-night project!)

Have you picked up a copy of Gifted yet? With autumn coming fast, what do you think you’ll be knitting and gifting this season?

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!