Rachel Coopey has just released a new book, Toasty. This is her third book (previous books are A Knitted Sock Society and Coop Knits Socks).This book is a little different, it’s her first break away from sock books so I wanted to ask her a little about the experience. As Rachel is a wonderful sock designer I was very excited to see what she would do with a different canvas to work on. This book was done in conjunction with Baa Ram Ewe using their locally created yarn, Titus, it’s not a yarn I’ve worked with yet (although they’ve done some beautiful samples of a few of my patterns using it for Akoya, Huevos and Autumn Whispers) so I really wanted to hear what the yarn was like to work with.
Rachel you’re probably sick of being asked about this but I’m going to go ahead and ask it anyway :-)
Up to this point you have focused primarily on sock design, however in this book ‘Toasty’ there isn’t a sock to be seen. What inspired you to branch out in another direction?
I wear a lot of hats and I wanted to design some!
I really wanted to change direction a little bit for a while, I met Verity from Baa Ram Ewe last year at TNNA (with you!) and I wanted to use their lovely yarn. I think there are similarities in my approach to these designs and my sock designs but it really was nice to expand my horizons a bit!
What did you find challenging about this change of direction?
Balancing the different types of accessories, making sure it wasn’t all hats or all mittens – that isn’t something you have to worry about with a sock book!
What did you enjoy about it?
The increased stitch count! When I’m designing socks I’m limited to a much smaller canvas than hats or cowls or scarves. It was nice to do something different, think about things in different ways, a change is as good as a rest!
‘Titus’ yarn is used throughout this book. Did you enjoy working on an entire book in a single yarn? Did it give you a chance to explore it in different ways?
I did! The thing i enjoyed the most was that the palette was already in place and it was so well put together and beautiful. Putting colours together can take a long time and a lot of thinking so it was really nice to have that already in place. Working with the same yarn at different gauges is interesting too, it’s definitely something I would like to do again!
Can you tell us a little about what makes Titus special?
It is a lovely yarn! It has the halo from the alpaca, the silkiness from the Wensleydale and the woolliness of the BFL, it’s spun in Yorkshire using British fibre, I think it’s important to support the fibre industry locally.
What is it like to knit with?
Really nice, I like knitting with wool more than any other fibre and this is a wool-lovers yarn! The drape for looser gauges is fantastic and the definition for cables and twisted stitches is great.
In ‘Toasty’ you’ve got some amazing names for the patterns. Where did they come from?
They are names of places around where my mum lived in North Yorkshire when she was growing up, she lived there until she got married and some of my extended family still live there, I have made many trips there over the years. As the yarn comes from Yorkshire I thought I would name the patterns for MY Yorkshire.
Do you have a favourite item in the book, one that suits your personal style?
I think the Bedale hat is my favourite, it was the first pattern I made a second version of so I could wear it, I made the larger size because I like to wear slouchy hats, thats kind of theme for the hats in this book! They all have more that one size and information on how to make a less (or more) slouchy hat if slouch isn’t your thing!
There is a wide variety of knitting techniques used in this book; several stranded projects, plus a few with cables and lace. Do you have a favourite knitting technique?
I really like working with cables but I think for this book the stranded pieces were my favourites, the colour combinations were so much fun to come up with and yarn works so well in colourwork. I think stranded knitting seems to grow quicker than other techniques, it’s difficult to stop once you see the pattern forming!
Thank you so much Rachel for answering all my questions, I hope the book does really well for you. And now for my favourite, I think it would have to be Ripon, I love the cables and the colour is one of my all time favourites :-)
Note images shown here are courtesy of Rachel Coopey and Verity Brition.