Sunday, 7 July 2013

Book Review, Author Interview and Giveaway: Knit Your Own Britain by Jackie Holt and Ruth Bailey

July brings some very exciting news on the novelty knitting book front. The authors of 'Knit Your Own Scotland' are releasing another book this week - 'Knit Your Own Britain'.



Jackie and Ruth are both costume makers in theatre land and their dolls reflect that. The costumes are fantastic and the dolls so characterful.



Included in the book are Shakespeare, Robin Hood, Henry VIII, The Beatles, James Bond, Margaret Thatcher, David and Victoria Beckham, Ant and Dec, Boris Johnson, the Mini, Marmite, a pasty, and a Bulldog pup.



All the patterns apart from the pasty, Marmite and the Mini are knitted using two straight needles, the other three need some circular knitting skills. The patterns are very easy to follow. There are often many different yarns listed at the start of the pattern so they are numbered and easily referenced throughout the pattern.



A good 75 per cent of the yarns recommended are Rowan and Debbie Bliss so the price could rack up if you don't substitute and you are on a budget, but if you are used to knitting dolls I'm sure you would find plenty in your stash to make the characters. Of course, as I always say, the great thing about dolls is that you don't need a tension swatch. Although you would need to take a different weight into account when fitting the costumes and clothes!



You can buy 'Knit Your Own Britain' for just £8.09 on Amazon. Other bookshops and online stores are available. Please read to the bottom to find out how to win a copy plus a signed copy of 'Knit Your Own Scotland'.

There is a great introduction to the characters, particularly the Boris intro. I was highly entertained. I was so impressed by this book I just had to interview the authors:

1. Are there any plans for an Irish or Welsh version?

Jackie: "Not specifically. We have a selection of ideas being talked about at the moment, things that we would enjoy the challenge of creating and having feedback from people they about what would find amusing to do."

Ruth: "Being Scottish myself but with Welsh, English and Irish also in the mix we would never say no to other versions of “Knit Your Own ....” You do find yourself thinking more about what is iconic, in terms of people or “things” about Ireland and Wales or indeed about other places."

2. How did you decide who to knit? Do you agonise over the decision to exclude/include famous people?

Jackie: "We wrote quite a long list of characters that we thought would be fun to do. Then whittled it down to those who had a strong image to be instantly recognizable and gave us a good mix of historical and topical and would be known to a varied age range of viewers. With both Knit Your Own Scotland and Knit Your Own Britain we wanted to present images that the countries are proud of and the wider world would know as associated with them."

Ruth: "It was extremely difficult and yes, there was a lot of agonising over who or what to leave out and to keep in and why. There were a few who ended up dropping off the finished list due to the restriction of time. You start off saying “We just can’t not do...” and realise that the finished book would end up being a tome! I do remember The Angel of The North being one that got toppled at the last moment. It is its people who give flavour and shape to a country and Britain as a nation is so diverse that it is difficult to give a good reflection that in one small book ... it’s a small taster really in historical and contemporary terms."

3. Who taught you how to knit?

Jackie: "I had parents, grandparents and aunts who all knitted so it has always been part of my life. While my mother was knitting a jumper for me I was busy making small versions for my dolls. At the age of about 8 or 10, I started doing more crochet as my great aunt used to make lovely delicate things that were an inspiration and then crochet became all the rage and many lacy waistcoats and shawls were made."

Ruth: "My mother taught me to knit, sew by hand and use a sewing machine from a very young age. Those were the days when it was also taught in primary schools. I remember everyone having to knit a teddy bear which was just a decorated stuffed rectangular shape and how at the end of term everyone’s bear had a completely different character of its own (some in fact more than others !) but definitely an achievement all round."

4. Do you knit anything else? Sweaters, scarves?

Jackie: "I haven’t knitted anything for myself in a long time. It always seemed to take such a long time to do I was always afraid I would have changed my mind about it by the time it was in existence. However I worked as Costume Supervisor at Pitlochry Festival Theatre for several years and most years I found a knitting or crochet project to do, whether it was a little period twinset or lacy cardigan that we couldn’t find. One year I remember making a crocheted bikini. Having worked on these two books I feel I would like to make something person sized, not having to count every single stitch and row. I have found a pattern I rather like so just the wool to decide upon!"

Ruth: "Only when the fancy takes me. Small items like children’s clothes are more up my street because I like to move on quickly to other projects - I am impatient to see an end result. There have been more than one or two cardigans in my life where I have knitted half way up the last sleeve and realised I had seen so much of this particular garment that I never wanted to see it again... I feel I have been mentally wearing it for however long it has taken to knit.
Once in my early twenties I knitted a cable knit jumper, skirt and matching leg warmers and headband only to put the whole lot on at the end and realise that the outfit was more suited to someone of an entirely different shape .The photograph on the front of the pattern had shown the model posing half way up a wild, rocky mountain and looking back I think I probably was drawn by the idea of climbing a hill when I bought the wool. Anyhow, that was a lesson I never forgot. Small is beautiful and sew individual items up as you go!"

5. Have you ever received comments from famous people angry about being included or being left out?

Ruth: "To date, no, but we would never go out to offend people and hope that people would understand that our knitting is always an affectionate, entertaining and slightly humorous take on people and things that give Scotland, Britain or wherever their own unique flavour."

Jackie: "In Knit Your Own Scotland the majority of the figures are very long gone. Billy Connolly and Andy Murray have not commented. I hope they wouldn’t object as they were both included with much affection and amusement. The same criteria apply to those included in Knit Your Own Britain. As for being left out, there could be opportunities to be included in further publications and we would be interesting in hearing from charismatic personalities who would be amused by their own wooly doppelgänger."

Brilliant! What excellent answers to my questions, even better than I had expected. Here's hoping for a woolly Tom Jones and Huw Edwards. Fingers firmly crossed. It's hard to type.

You can win a copy of 'Knit Your Own Britain' and a signed copy of 'Knit Your Own Scotland' by answering the question below in the comments, leaving a way to contact you, either on blogger or an email address or by direct messaging me on Twitter (I'm TeaToastJam). If you would like to email your entry click the envelope icon at the top right hand side of my blog.


The 'Knit Your Own Scotland' book featured Andy Murray and the review can be read here.

Please answer in the comments - Who would you choose to put in a 'Knit Your Own Wales'?

Competition is not open internationally and will close at midday GMT on Wednesday 17th July. The winner will win both books and will be chosen at random.

GOOD LUCK!

Thanks to Black and White Publishing for sending me these books to review.

4 comments:

Linda Rumsey said...

When I think of Wales, Tom Jones and Tanni Grey-Thompson are top of the list, along with the Welsh Dragon!
lindame dot rumsey at gmail dot com

Samantha said...

Tom Jones and Katherine Jenkins spring to my mind. My Twitter name @Samsara_1

sasha styles said...

so totally agree w/ Tom Jones but you have to make him w/ pairs of panties/knickers in his hands (I remember him singing and ladies in the audience throwing him their panties!!)

Jo said...

Thanks to everyone who entered - I had a few on email too. I will blog about this and contact the winner on Sunday 21st July : ) xx

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