An Interview with Julie Turjoman: Author of Brave New Knits

Posted on | September 7, 2010 | 31 Comments

Last week, I got a chance to ask Julie Turjoman, the author of Brave New Knits: 26 Projects and Personalities from the Knitting Blogosphere a few questions. The book features the work and profiles of several well known designers: Norah Gaughan, Stephanie Japel, Shannon Okey, Connie Chang Chinchio, Jared Flood, and Ysolda just to mention a few! Yours truly has also been featured in the book.

Julie has also graciously sent along a copy of the book for one of you lucky knitters can call your very own! Just leave a comment and I will pick a winner via random number generator. Enjoy! I will keep the entries open until September 13 at 8pm EST.

Melissa: There is no doubt that you lined up quite a talented bunch of designers! How did you arrive at your list?

Julie: Blogrolls are a wonderful research tool! When I first started to read knitting blogs regularly, each new discovery led me to several more by scrolling through the blogrolls and clicking on any link that looked interesting. Over time I realized that I lingered longer at certain blogs – and that most of them were written by designers, whose work and creative process really drew me in. Those grew into the core group for Brave New Knits.

M: How did the idea for Brave New Knits come about?

J: It struck me that despite all the wonderful variety on the knitting book shelf, there wasn’t a single volume dedicated to exploring the many ways in which the internet has impacted the knitting community. Our little corner of the web is exceptionally active, with indie designers and spinners, teachers and dyers, all earning income and reputations because of their presence on Ravelry, blogs, and social media sites. I wondered why nobody had gathered some of this incredible talent into a book.

Despite the major changes in the publishing industry and our recent enthusiasm for digital media, we still love our knitting books. There is definitely a place for a physical book about this intersection of craft and technology in our knitting lives!

M: Can you tell us a little bit about why the book was named Brave New Knits?

J: Aldous Huxley’s book Brave New World inspired the title, because as knitters rely increasingly on the internet for tutorials, shopping, and especially for community and social interaction, it seems as if our very traditional hand craft has entered a brave new world of its own.

M :Since the book does feature designers who blog, what do you think sets designers who blog apart from those who don’t?

J: Not to be facetious, but I can think of very few designers today who don’t either blog or have a website that includes periodic newsletters and updates to announce new pattern releases. Knitwear designers who choose not to use the internet are at the very least depriving themselves of the opportunity to find new customers for their patterns – but more important, they deprive themselves of the opportunity to find a worldwide community of knitters who are friendly, supportive, and interested in the give-and-take of the creative process.

I would never presume to tell a designer s/he had to blog in order to have a viable business. It is certainly a personal decision whether to start a blog or to create a website to promote one’s design business, but I’ve never met a designer who is content to sell fewer patterns when s/he could be selling more.

With the explosion of digital media now available, why do you think it is still important to support traditional print publishing models?

It’s that intangible feeling we get from holding a printed book or magazine in our hands, admiring the photos, and browsing through the patterns; a book creates a sense of long-term possibility and promise, whereas an e-reader creates a sense of immediacy that doesn’t always fit with the competing demands of a knitter’s busy life. As efficient as digital media has become, in my opinion it cannot always offer the satisfaction that comes in the form of a book.

M: Have you had any thoughts about making Brave New Knits available in digital media one day?

J: The contract with my publisher allows for that possibility.

M: For the Brooklyn Tweed fans out there, what was it like working with Jared?

J: I’m sure it will surprise no one to learn that it was a completely wonderful experience. As a photographer, Jared is professional in every way. It was the icing on the cake that he is also a talented knitter who understands how to photograph knitted fabric. I’m beyond thrilled that he agreed to shoot the book’s projects, and think that his photos really bring together all the different projects into a cohesive “look”.

M: Where can knitters across the country find out about your book tour and will you be traveling with any projects from the book?

J: My plan is to travel with ALL of the Brave New Knits knitted samples, so there will be a complete trunk show at every signing event… and let me tell you, it takes a very big suitcase to carry all 26 of the book’s fabulous projects!

Dates and locations of signings are listed in the EVENTS tab of my website

And on the Brave New Knits page on Facebook

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  • Amanda

    What a lineup – I can’t wait to see projects popping up on Ravelry.

  • Corvus

    I love the concept behind this book. For me, the knitting community is the internet: it’s how I got started, where I learn, where I share, where I’m inspired and where, hopefully, I can inspire the community as well.

  • barefoot rooster

    i would love to win a copy of this! thanks!

  • Miriam

    I am anxious to read this book since many of my favorite designers are involved.

  • Alissia

    yay! I think I ran into this on Amazon and knew it would be something that’ll definitely find it’s way onto my bookshelf! Thanks so much for the great giveaway–I hope it’s me! :)

  • robin

    Can’t wait to see the book (& maybe I’ll be lucky enough to win it!)

  • Pam

    The book sounds great! I will for sure check it out the next time I’m in a yarn store.

  • Bridget

    I love the idea of this book, as a mostly self taught knitter I very much doubt I would have continued without the inspiration and help available on the internet.

  • Estella

    I heard a Webs podcast interview with her and have coveted the book since hearing it.

  • Janet Daniels

    Thanks for affirming the accumulation of print material on knitting. Sometimes I wonder if I’ve gone off the deep end with books, even though I love reading blogs and find great inspiration and information in them, as well as laughter.

  • Melissa

    This looks like a whale of a book, and I look forward to getting a copy.

  • Rachel

    I can’t wait to see this book – it looks great!

  • Ruth

    Nice interview. This book sounds fabulous.

  • GinkgoKnits

    This sounds like a perfect combo of interesting to read interviews and great patterns. I’ll be very excited when I get a chance to see it in person.

  • Kelly

    Such a wonderful collection of designers (and designs)…and I enjoy browsing my knitting books during those times I can’t actually pull out my knitting ;)

  • MJ

    What a fascinating gathering of designers! I’m sure the design collection is fabulous but also very excited about the interviews and such.

  • Paige

    Definitely looking forward to this book!

  • Alison

    This book has all my favourite designers and bloggers. I can’t wait to get a copy.

  • Peacock Chic

    Oh oh I hope it is me because I have to have the shrug you designed and Jared’s pictures are always so gorgeous!

  • Kerri

    I can’t wait to see this book!

  • sarah

    Congrats on being included in such an exciting book. can’t wait to see it!

  • Kristen E

    I’m really excited about this book, and I’m excited that she intentionally took the title from Aldous Huxley – I love him! :) I think it’s great that the mix of designers spans such different aesthetics, and even represents both higher- and lower-profile designers – folks who have “made it” and folks who are just getting there. There’s a lot of breadth here and it’ll be interesting to see how the knitters of the world interpret it.

  • Nicole

    I’ve been waiting for this book to come out! The designs I’ve seen pop up on Ravelry are fantastic! Congrats on being included!!

  • Meppybn

    She’s got all my faves, so i hope I’m the lucky one!

  • Olivia

    I love the permanence of hard back knitting books, even if I do end up writing out the pattern by hand. Even if it were to become available in electronic form, I don’t think I would but an e-copy of Brave New Knits.

  • Heather H

    Thanks for this great interview! I loved learning more about this fresh & fabulous book.

  • Madeline

    Even though the book is about designers with a large internet presence, Julie is so right when she talks of the intangible experience of holding and savoring a book. With Jared’s photos, I bet we’ll really be able to see what the designs are like. Sounds fabulous all around!

  • kylie gusset

    looking forward to getting my hands on “brave new knits” and finding out more about each blogger and why they do what they do. the construction of your garment is also really interesting – it will be lovely to sit down and work out how it all fits together.

  • Faye

    What a gorgeous book! Love the designs, designers, and the photographs! Congratulations to all!

  • Linda

    I think this book is a great idea – it’s a nice way to get a sampling of many of the “internet” designers all in one place. I’m amazed it hasn’t been done before!

  • Kathi

    Can’t wait to take a look at the book. I will have to see where the book signings are and if there are any in the area.