Tuesday, July 10, 2012

Coronation Knits giveaway & interview with Susan Crawford!

Hello all! Sorry things have been so quiet on my end, as I mentioned in my last post my dad is in town visiting. He's wrapping up his visit soon and then my schedule will be a bit more normal... well, until my mom and step-dad come for a visit next week, ha ha! And after that it will be more normal. ;) In the meantime, thanks so much for all your wonderful comments on my apple picking dress!






As I announced early in June, I'm participating in the Coronation Knits blog tour for Susan Crawford's latest vintage knitting book, published this summer to correspond with the Queen's Diamond Jubilee. And today we've reached my spot in the tour. So sit back, grab a cup of tea, and enjoy! There's some knitting blathering by me, a wonderful interview with Susan, and a giveaway at the end!


I admit: I fully intended to knit a lovely sweater from the book and review the pattern, in time for this post. Didn't even come close. I was already giving myself a tight deadline, but then add in a wilting heat wave and having my dad in town, and I just had no desire or time to knit, unfortunately! I'm disappointed I couldn't include my finished pullover in this blog tour post, so alas, you'll just have to wait to see my knitting. But I can at least tell you what I'm working on (albeit slowly). It's the Lion and the Unicorn pullover, with bat wing sleeves and an intarsia rendition of the lion and unicorn from the royal coat of arms of England. Isn't it stunning? I'm just swapping the blue for red.

Copyright Susan Crawford

The original version of this pullover was featured in the 1953 special Coronation issue of Stitchcraft! Susan modernized the construction, which is ingenious—knit in one piece from the front bottom up, casting on for the sleeves outwards, knitting on up to the short-row shaped shoulders and neckline, then down the back to the bottom. It's been fun seeing the unusual shape unfold!

Copyright Susan Crawford

Of course, you know I'm a sucker for colorwork, and the next pattern I'm dying to knit is the Coronation Sleeveless Pullover. There are instructions to knit it in the round (my preference for stranded knitting as I can fly along at it) and knit it flat and seam the pieces (more original to most published patterns at the time). I love, love, love the crown motif! This was designed by Susan in the style of a 40s/50s men's pullover, but I think the design could easily transition into a woman's version, or be turned into a marvelous long-sleeved pullover or cardigan! 

Copyright Susan Crawford

Hmmm... it occurs to me I also have a 40s-inspired version of the Red Queen fair isle pullover (Ravelry link) on the needles, along with the Unicorn and Lion pullover, and I'm plotting that sleeveless pullover... I guess I've just been in a royal mood!




I was delighted to have the opportunity to interview Susan, as she is one of my all-time favorite knitwear designers. I hope you'll enjoy her responses as much as I have!


Q. I know Coronation Knits was partially inspired by your mother's interest in Queen Elizabeth's and her sister Margaret's early fashions. When you were putting this book together, was there one or two patterns in particular that really spoke to you as something the young Queen would have loved?
A. I think the young Queen Elizabeth would probably have worn the 'Princess Twinset' in her private time, in fact, I like to think its the sort of  pattern she would probably have knitted! I think she would also have liked to have worn 'Amies' on a slightly more formal occasion.

Princess Twin Set
Amies

Copyright Susan Crawford

Q. Do you have a favorite pattern in Coronation Knits (to wear, to design, the finished design, etc). Why does it stand out?
A. Ooh that's a tricky one. I love all the designs in the book for all different reasons. But if I was to choose a favourite pattern to fill each of the categories you mention I think I would choose 'Diamonds are Forever' to wear as it is the jumper I always wanted to design for myself. Its the perfect combination of the slightly more casual feel of the 1950s whilst still offering a well fitting and shapely garment. As a project to design I’m going to pick Crowning Glory as my favourite although this one really is a close run competition. But I’m going with this beret because of the perfect mixing of complexity of lace crown pattern with the simple beret construction which leaves you free when knitting to focus on the lace stitches. Again which would be my favourite finished design is also a very difficult one to choose but having had the opportunity to wear it will say the Princess Twinset Jumper. I love the front panel on the decolletage. It is so incredibly flattering, framing the face and directing the eyes upwards just as original 30s and 40s handknits did.

Diamonds are Forever
Crowning Glory

Copyright Susan Crawford

Q. Your books have such a wealth of historical information, knitting tips, not to mention the wonderful designs. Not just the Stitch in Time volumes, but your smaller publications as well like Coronation Knits and Vintage Gifts to Knit. It seems like there's a useful tip or fact everywhere I look. What inspires you to create such invaluable knitting resources?
A. I’ve always hoped that my books would be more than pattern books, although that is obviously their primary purpose. But I wanted to share the things I had learnt from working with vintage patterns over the years along with tips I had been given by my grandmothers, by other knitters I have talked to over the years and from the vintage magazines themselves. Also I am obsessed by the interaction of fashion and social history and writing these knitting books gives me the perfect excuse to talk about the periods the designs are from or are representative of and place them in their cultural and social setting. I’m very proud that people buy my books not just for the knitting patterns but also for the historical content and the authentic styling.

Q. When you're designing (or re-constructing) a vintage pattern, what makes the design process unique from modern patterns?
A. When I’m designing a vintage inspired pattern the design process isn’t particularly dissimilar than if I was designing a non-vintage inspired design. Where the differences really come in are when I am reconstructing or writing a pattern from a vintage pattern or garment. Often the construction is done in several separate pieces and is nearly always written for only one size. That one size is usually 30-32 inch chest and for a height of about 5 foot 2 inches. The language and terminology can often be quite differnet and sometimes abbreviations which now mean one thing have been used to represent something else. If I was writing a pattern from scratch I would choose my yarn, do a swatch and find out what tension I’m working to. The pattern would then be written based on that tension. With a vintage pattern, I swatch with different yarns and different needles until I can find a combination that gives me a tension as close to the original pattern as possible. I then knit a sample from the original pattern so that the sizing can be determined and any errors or flaws in the design can be clearly identified. Its not until this original pattern has been finalized that I then ‘grade’ the pattern. This means I then do the maths to add as many additional sizes to the pattern as the pattern will allow. Many vintage patterns use beautiful stitch patterns with large pattern repeats which can make it very difficult to introduce too many sizes without making huge leaps between sizes. It is also very important to me to keep the same shaping and fit for each size as in the original and a lot of work has to go into the sizing to ensure that each subsequent size fits as well as possible. One of the biggest issues with the fit of vintage patterns is shoulders. They need to end in just the right place on the body for any vintage knit to still have an authentic look to it. Our shoulders however do not usually increase by the same number of inches as our busts tend to grow, so this area of any vintage re-write has to be done with a significant amount of care.  Without a doubt re-working an original vintage pattern usually means much more work than creating a design from scratch, but there is a feeling of great satisfaction when you can make a really tricky pattern that was never intended for more than that one size, to work in 6 or 7 sizes - including mine!

Q. Is there one decade that you love the most in knitwear fashion, and why?
A. That's a real toughy. Depending on my mood I veer between the 30s and the 40s, although my personal body shape suits the 40s/50s best. There is something about the total freedom of expression in the amazing designs of the 1930s that can’t be beaten, but I adore the creativity during the early 1940s de-spite there being so many restrictions being placed on design. So I don’t think I can do it be honest. I will have to hover between the 30s and the 40s as I love them both so much.

Q. I practically jumped out of my seat with excitement when I read that one of your next projects is an upcoming book on vintage Shetland knits. What drew you to the knitting traditions of Shetland?
A. I think if you enjoy knitting from vintage patterns the chances are you have done some colour work knitting. I have loved doing stranded and intarsia knitting since I was a teenager so have long been interested in Shetland knitting. Add to that the joys of using Shetland wool for colour work and you have a match made in heaven. However, I had always been a little disappointed by what I found in ‘traditional’ Fair Isle pattern books. They didn’t seem to reflect what I saw in magazines of the 1920s onwards or in knitting patterns I had in my collection also from the first half of the twentieth century. I have been visiting Shetland for about the last four years and have got to know the islands quite well. I have also spent alot of my time there visiting the museum and studying the garments on display. All of which have so much style and shape and individuality and seem so different to the ‘norm’. So over two years ago now I started working with the Museum on identifying a number of items from their archive that represented what Shetland knitting was really about between the 1920s and the 1950s. None of these garments have written patterns. So I have been creating patterns from the garments themselves and am now up to the point of beginning to knit the samples. As a a keen social historian I couldn’t leave it at that and have also researched each piece to find out more about the knitter behind each garment and these stories will also be in the book. Its proving quite a lengthy project but I hope a very worthwhile one.

Q. Last but not least, why does vintage inspire you?
A. I have been fascinated by vintage since I was about 15 years of age and didn’t actually even realize at this point that I was. I would sit and watch old films with my grandmother soaking up all the beautiful costumes and wanting to dress in the same way. My two grandmother’s taught me to knit, sew, crochet and embroider using patterns they had gathered over the years and most of these were already very old, so again without even knowing it, I was already interpreting vintage patterns. As time passed it also became about the history behind the clothes and the stories behind something as simple as a knitting pattern and I think that this is what has continued to fuel my interest. I think there is so much to learn from both original vintage garments and  vintage knitting and sewing patterns about fit, shaping, small details that turn a garment into something very special, the use of pattern to distract from less flattering parts of the body and draw attention to the right bits. The beautiful fabrics used in original vintage garments are almost impossible to replicate but the finishing touches suggested in patterns such as embroidery, hand made buttons and facings enable us all to have a ‘couture’ vintage wardrobe at the fraction of the cost. As both a knitter and a dressmaker I have always liked things to be well made and its only really in vintage or hand made that you can be guaranteed of this.
Its also worth remembering that when I first began wearing vintage in the late 1980s it was considered a really odd thing to do, in fact, non-conforming was not encouraged at all. I can even remember acquaintances of my parents crossing the road to avoid me, tutting and shaking their heads as they did so! I think we now find ourselves in a great place where we can basically dress however we like without (too much) criticism and in many ways the huge popularity of vintage has helped this happen. And when an 80 year old great grandmother and a 20 year old student both want to knit one of my patterns I feel all that 1980s angst and pain was worthwhile!




Would you like to win your own copy of Coronation Knits? Here's your chance!

How to enter:
  1. Be a follower of this blog, anywhere on the planet.
  2. Leave a comment on this post. 
  3. Want an extra entry? Post about this giveaway on your blog, Twitter, or Facebook. Just post a separate comment on this post with a link to where you mentioned it so you get counted twice.
  4. Don't forget to leave a way to contact you if your blog or profile doesn't have your email address.
The giveaway ends this Friday evening, July 13th. Winner will be pulled at random. And if you don't win of course, you can purchase your own copy of Coronation Knits from Susan at her online store!

The next blogger up on the tour is the talented Tom of Holland, on July 14th, so be sure to check it out. Tom knit the gorgeous stole featured on the cover!
June 12th  More Yarn Will Do The Trick - Jean Moss
June 16th  JenACKnitwear  - Jen Arnall Culliford
June 18th  The Icelandic Knitter - Helene Magnusson
June 20th  Knitting Institute - Knitting Magazine
June 24th  Ingrid Murnane Investigates - Ingrid Murnane
June 28th  Domestic Soundscape - Felicity Ford
June 29th  Sheep To Shawl - Donna Druchunas
July 7th     Fourth Edition - Karie
July 2nd    The Making Spot - Simply Knitting 
July 6th     rock+purl - Ruth Garcia-Alcantud
July 10th   By gum, by golly! - Tasha    (me!)
July 14th   tomofholland - Tom Van Deijnen
July 18th   Woolly Wormhead - Woolly
July 22nd  Crinoline Robot - Mim
July 25th   Sexyknitter.com - Sarah Wilson
Hope you've enjoyed this stop on the blog tour, and thanks so much to Susan Crawford for asking me to participate! Now, on with the coronation knitting!

78 comments:

  1. I have to admit, the minute I saw the lion and the unicorn on the jumper above, I wanted to make it. I am definitely putting Susan's books on my Christmas list this year ;)
    And squeeee! A Shetland knitting book! Exciting :)
    But YES, I would love to win!

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  2. I really enjoyed this interview, and although I've loved all of Susan's books, I am beside myself with joy about the Shetland book, it can't come soon enough!

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  3. And I also did a blog entry for it :)
    http://jacobiterose.blogspot.com/2012/07/win-knitting-book.html

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  4. I'm super excited! I can't wait to see your sweater. The designs in this book are just fabulous!

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  5. Ohhh, count me in for this! I love the Crowning Glory hat... and the Lion & Unicorn pullover reminds me that I need to learn colorwork asap! Can't wait to see your version, I bet it's amazing!

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  6. Gorgeous! I especially love the Princess Twinset!

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  7. I left a link on twitter https://twitter.com/woolbothy

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  8. I'm following this blog tour leaving comments to try & win a copy. I'm desperately wanting to make Diamonds are Forever. Love it more & more each time I look at it. Would look fab in shades of Jacob, hand-spun from our own flock.
    Caroline (woolbothy on twitter).

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  9. I love Susan's books and patterns. Her Greta turban was the first knitting project I ever made (except for a handful of knit-purl rows once when I was 10 years old)! :) I just wish I had more time to knit right now (crazy international moving and house buying stuff). I want nothing more right now than to finish moving, buy a sofa and sit back and make something from A Stitch in Time or Coronation Knits.

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  10. I've loved all of Susan's books so far. Can't wait to get this one! jambolyn1@hotmail.com

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  11. i am a huge Susan Crawford fan, love all her work. Sign me up for the twinset!
    caroline ((at)) losbravosliterary {{."" com

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  12. What a great post! Susan is great; she just helped me suss out the pattern stitch for her Greta Turban pattern. :)

    I think your post about the Coronation Knits is perfect. While it would have been nice to see a new handknit by you, I think it would have been "too much". But I am excited to see your finished jumper all the same. :)

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  13. I've just discovered your blog. I LOVE it. Very inspiriting. I would also like to considered for the giveaway of Coronation Knits. Thank you!

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  14. That is a very interesting post! And I would love to win this book ;) I fell in love with the Coronation Sleeveless Pullover.

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  15. And I just twitted about the giveaway (my first tweet, but the account is quite old...): https://twitter.com/FrenchLitchi

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  16. I love every single one of these patterns! Can't wait to see your finished sweater :)

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  17. Of course I'm entering!! I really need to get my hands on this book please! And thanks for a lovely interview, I cannot wait for that Shetland knits book to come out!

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  18. At the moment I'm knitting the Jan sweater from A stitch in time 2. Just started on the sleeves!
    I would love a copy of Coronation Knits.

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  19. It has been fun to find you through this tour (as I clicked ahead on the upcoming blogs!) - this is such a beautiful book, full of information as well as the patterns - here's hoping......

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  20. Ahh, would love this despite being a bit 'Jubileed' out.. (I know that's not a real word even, but still! :p)

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  21. Is there anything in here good for beginning knitters? I want to learn to knit but I can't find anything I actually care to knit in books targeted at beginners.

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  22. have also linked to this on twitter here: https://twitter.com/Rhi_Graves

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  23. I love to participate. Those desings are gorgeous!

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  24. Please count me in! ! Love the look of the designs in this book.

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  25. These are all such great patterns. I'd love to be part of the contest. I'll be sure to add this to my wishlist too.

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  26. Oooh I just happened upon your blog off of Rachel's blog (The Jacobite Rose) and I would love to win this book, even though I'm JUST starting my knitting journey and it looks intimidating :) My dear sis-in-law just taught me knit and pearl stitches last week, working on a prayer shawl! I'm so excited!

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  27. I also blogged it: http://alamomof5plus.blogspot.com/2012/07/blogs-of-interest-vol-1.html and my email is mandamama at gmail dot com :)

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  28. I adore the updated vintage pattern! Adding this to my wish list.

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  29. Crossing my fingers and toes that I am the winner!!! sfuller7@hotmail.com

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  30. amazing! I would love to knit from this book. franknhurter@yahoo.com

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  31. What a great interview, it's so nice to hear more from the author whose books are so inspiring to me. I love the princess twin set, it just look so so wearable!

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  32. I confess: I wasn't that interested in the book at first, despite being a fan of Susan's other work...just not a royal fan, I guess. BUT: I *love* the construction of the lion & unicorn sweater--so clever! I would be very interested to try my hand at knitting that.

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  33. What a fun interview to read! I haven't followed the publication of this book too closely, but I like what I see here, it would be great to win a copy of this book and expand my never ending knitting queue.

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  34. Oh, enter my name please! After many years of trying and failing, I have finally learned to knit. I'm working on two boleros from a 40's pattern right now. My first knit ever was the date maker that you posted :)

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  35. I would love to enter the giveaway as I have just about every other publication of Ms. Crawford's but this one! All the designs featured in this post are swoon worthy! Pick me, pick me! :)

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  36. Please consider this my entry Tasha. I'd love to take a look at Coronation Knits. :D

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  37. I love the twinset and would love to win a copy of this :)

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  38. Very excited to read your interview as well as the fact that Susan is planning a Shetland book. Fair Isle is right up my alley!

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  39. Love love love the patterns in this book. Please enter me in!

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  40. What a fascinating interview. I have both of the Stitch in Time books and it was really interesting to hear Susan's viewpoint on why and how she chooses the designs she works with as well as how she makes them modern sizing. This was a brilliant post - thank you so much!! PS - please enter my name in the draw too!

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  41. I really like these patterns. A royal-themed book could have easily turned kitschy, but the designs in the preview are very tasteful and classic.

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  42. I would knit every single pattern out of this book!! Looking forward to the Shetland book too!!

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  43. Amazing giveaway, count me in! e-mail: anna(at)mormorhadestil.se

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  44. I also tweeted https://twitter.com/AnnaKaffekanna/status/222927356938039296 e-mail: anna(at)mormorhadestil.se

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  45. Yes please count me in. I've always got some knitting on the go and this book would be a perfect addition to my vintage knitting patterns.

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  46. Hello.
    Love your blog and Susans work. I would like to win!
    Take care, Jenny
    jenny_johanneson[at]hotmail[dot]com

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  47. I love the Princess Twin Set and I would be so happy to win a copy of this book!

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  48. I LOVE the jumper with the unicorn and lion....sooooo cute. And the twinset.......swoon! I've had my eye on Ms Crawfords patterns for a long time. They're gorgeous. Please enter me! :)

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  49. Fingers crossed! Thanks for this giveaway!

    paunnet@gmail.com

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  50. I tweeted about the giveaway (@Paunnet)

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  51. Please enter me! I love reading your blog and your colourwork has recently inspired me to try my first piece (a pencil case - gotta start somewhere!)

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  52. That looks like a really cool pattern book, I'll keep my fingers crossed!

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  53. I feel like that nerdy kid in class going pick me pick me!

    But seriously, pick me.

    Thanks to you and Susan for a lovely giveaway!

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  54. I love everything Susan has designed, and this interview was a fascinating look into her process. Thanks, Tasha!

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  55. I have this book and both Stitch in Time books on my wish list - such wonderful patterns! My wardrobe is aching for pretty vintage sweaters. Thanks for the interview and giveaway.

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  56. I follow you on bloglovin. I can't wait to see your finished sweater (perhaps when it gets a bit cooler!) The knits in this book look lovely! I'm at missionamanda at gmail dot com.

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  57. Those are some stunning designs! I would be thrilled to win a copy, and the upcoming Norwegian winter will require some new sweaters for me!

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  58. Oh my goodness I would looooooove to win this! I don't "follow" because I don't yet have a blog of my own. I'll mention it on fb though!

    moogers1 (at) yahoo (dot) com

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  59. Long time follower, massive lover of your blog, dear Tasha. Though I almost feel bad entering this giveaway (given that I'm not a knitter), I do believe that the style inspiration alone would make own this delightful title more than worth it (and who knows, perhaps one day I'll take up the mighty knitting needle, too).

    ♥ Jessica

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  60. really enjoyed reading this blog post, and would LOVE to win a copy of the book! i am already planning to knit the lion & unicorn, so i guess i'll buy the book even if i don't win :D

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  61. Beautiful sweaters (and hat)! Not an experienced knitter but I think I'd enjoy the learning curve just to make some of these wonderful designs! Please enter me in the contest. Thanks :)

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  62. P.S I posted a link to this on my facebook page! Yay! https://www.facebook.com/laura.macfehin?ref=tn_tnmn

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  63. Very interesting interview. I'd absolutely love to win a copy of the book.

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  64. I'd love to win a copy of this book - the Lion and the Unicorn pullover takes my breath away! I'm a beginner so I'm sure my instructors would love seeing this book as well. I'm ready to make my first sweater!

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  65. Susan's books just keep getting better and better! If only the weather would cool down, I would pull out one of the UFOs from Stitch in Time begging to get some attention. Thank you for the interview - I love learning more about her creative process.

    And I can't wait to see your new sweater!

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  66. I've been following for over a year but it's the first time I've come out of lurking. Thanks for the opportunity to win this book! I started knitting only recently and Susan Crawford's books are on my wish list for future projects. ammullins AT hotmail DOT com

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  67. And posted to facebook: http://www.facebook.com/#!/ann.mullins.7

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  68. I do love the book. I wasn't even that interested in the monarchy, but the whole atmosphere of the book is quite awesome. It even inspired me to watch a bit of the jubilee. I love Silk Rose!

    Thanks for your review of the book!

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  69. If I can't have a crown on my head I can at least wear one on my jumper. These designs are great!

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  70. wow, another MUSTMUSTMUSThave-book!!! :-)

    (nadinsche.schulz AT web.de)

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  71. shared in facebook at handarbeits-stübchen :-)

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  72. Oh please, please, please! This is perfect high tea project material! emilybmiles AT yahoo DOT ca

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  73. And a blog post too - with fingers crossed! http://www.emilymiles.com/1107

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  74. I would SO LOVE to win this book!! Thanks for the awesome interview, too, I love knowing more about my favorite knitting designers and Susan Crawford definitely tops that list!
    lisa.suit@yahoo.com

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  75. hanks for the interview! love to have the opportunity to win her book :)

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