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April 2, 2010

Book Giveaway: Wendy Johnson's Toe-Up Socks for Everybody!

UPDATED TO SAY: Ok, today's book giveaway just closed -- I think you set a new record in comments! I'll try to figure out the form thing next week so we can do something where you don't have to comment. Or maybe not as I love reading what you have to say and also I am lazy with the technology (and with the laundry). By the way, I am almost convinced from your comments that I am not the only one who has had a yarn room all these years but been too ashamed to admit it... and I thank you for helping me with my weird punctuation issue (in the interview below) as I feel rather big brained now having been told I had it right all along. Which is sort of rare for me, High Mistress of Comma Splices.

Our winners were reader "threadbndr" (real name still to be determined) and a reader from Poland!

Congrats and have a great holiday weekend, everyone! Also there is another sock book giveaway coming in a few weeks and several knit books, a crochet book and a great fiction giveaway in mid-April so stay tuned. Freeness abounds!

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Here is the the thing about Wendy Johnson. She is good people. I am lucky enough to get review copies of all kinds of books from publishers (fiction, nonfiction, knitting, crochet, the works) and I am more than happy to promote them and do a giveaway because I love contributing in any small way to an author's success.

But Wendy is something special, and I'm the one who asked her publicist for books to give away because I know you rabid sock knitters out there will love this book and because Wendy is the real deal. She's smart, she's a knitting genius, and she's no bullshit. I have a lot of respect for her and also I think Bob sits on my keyboard at night hoping his furry butt will transmit a love letter to her cat Lucy who is far too beautiful for his himbo cat self.

Wendy Johnson is the author of WendyKnits (the blog) and Wendy Knits (the book.) She's the reason I know how to knit in the round. Her Kitty Pi was one of the first non-scarf items I ever made and her pattern was so well-written that even I could follow it as a super beginner. (Oh wow, did I make that back in 2005? How old am I? Can I age in reverse? Is it too late to go back to lying about my age again?)

Her second book, Socks from the Toe Up: Essential Techniques and Patterns from Wendy Knits, was a little love letter to socks. And now she is out with her third book, Toe-Up Socks for Every Body: Adventurous Lace, Cables, and Colorwork from Wendy Knits, which is just a delicious feast for all you sock fans.

And today I'll be giving away two copies of Toe-Up Socks for Every Body: Adventurous Lace, Cables, and Colorwork from Wendy Knits and throwing in a signed copy of my Wine book for each winner. Just post a comment (I know, I know, but it's so easy!) between now and (updated to be 6 p.m.) 6 p.m. Pacific time and you'll be eligible to win.

Wendy and I did a little chatting this week, and I got some of my burning questions answered!

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Me: Hello! Please please explain the sock secret to me. I know knitters who are addicted to them and knit exclusively socks and yet with me the creeping contagion of sock obsession never caught on. What is it about sock knitting that draws you in?

Wendy: I actually resisted sock knitting for years because I am a creature who resists new things. Passionately. But I was sucked into it when the first self-striping sock yarns appeared on the market. Now I'm hooked. I love that you can whip 'em out quickly and have a finished product in short order. I love the challenge of designing in a small space. And I love that you can complete a project with just a skein or two of yarn.

Me:When you sit down to write a book do you ever have panic moments that you won't make the deadline?

Wendy: Every minute of every day. It's a wonder I can sleep at night. (Well, I don't sleep at night. Wait, I think I am on to something here . . . )

Me: Let's say you're at a party and someone you don't know asks you what you do. (Or maybe that is just an L.A. thing, but out here it's the first question anyone asks.) Do you tell folks you're an author, an elite knitting professional, or do you talk about your day job as your profession?

Wendy: It depends on the situation and the attendees. I usually respond "I'm a Washington bureaucrat and an author." Sometimes when I'm in a particularly smart-ass mood I say "I'm a mild-mannered civil servant by day and a knitting superhero by night."

Maybe this is why people shy away from me at parties.

Me: When you and I last chatted, you mentioned you have a yarn room. When you told me that -- "I have a yarn room..." -- it was a lightbulb moment for me. I have a yarn room, too, yet I have felt shamed and a little embarrassed by this, so I still call it my "home office" or even "guest room" though no one could sleep in there because of all the yarn. At what point did you embrace your stash as the your tools of the trade and go from "I have a spare room..." to "I have a yarn room..."? (I know the question mark should go inside the quotes yet it looked weird to me. Grammar conundrum.)

Wendy: Ah, the yarn room. When I first moved into my condo (in 1994!) it was the room where I threw everything that had no other place. Then I got a bed for it and it became a guestroom. Then I collected 164 pairs of cowboy boots (don't ask), had shelves built along the walls for them, and it became the boot room.

Then I learned about the concept of stashing yarn. I used to buy my yarn one project at a time, pre-internet. When I started reading about stashing yarn in knitting groups online, I started my yarn collection, I started getting rid of my boot collection. Now the room is filled with yarn and the boots have all gone to the Salvation Army. And I openly refer to the room as my stash room. Honored guests are allowed to stay in my stash room, but I need three days' notice to clear the yarn off the bed. And they have to sign a non-disclosure agreement.

Me: So... what types of yarn do you gravitate toward in stash mode? Do you find you buy mostly sock yarn, mostly cotton, wool, variegated?

Wendy: I have eleventy-billion tons of sock yarn, mostly 100% wool, a few sweaters worth of Shetland wool, and perhaps one billion tons of laceweights in a variety of wool, silk and cashmere. I am generally not a fan of cotton so I don't have a lot of that. But I love other natural fibers, so I've got wool, silk, cashmere, bison, and even a bit of qivuit. The only acrylic allowed in there is in blends with natural fibers.

Me: Do people at your job know that you are a World Famous Bestselling Author Knitter?

Wendy: A couple of them do. But mostly I don't talk about it at The Day Job.

Me: Do you wax and wane with knitting, sometimes going for a while without a project, or are you always knitting something?

Wendy: I am always always always knitting something. I knit every day, unless I am deathly ill with the flu or unconscious or something. If I am nearing the end of a project and don't have another project lined up I suffer End of Project Anxiety until I figure out what's going on the needles next.

Me: I adore your blog, WendyKnits, and your kitty pi was the first successful item I ever made in the round. It was also the first time I used double-pointed needled and first time I felted anything and honestly, I have you to thank for my love of all three of those things! Were you surprised by how incredibly famous (and necessary) the kitty pi has become in the knitting world?

Wendy: I never would have dreamed it! It was just something I winkled together for my own sweet Lucy during a phase when I was experimenting with felting. I love seeing all the photos on Ravelry of kitties the world over enjoying their kitty pis! And I always grant permission for people to make them and sell them in aid of animal charities. A few years ago Petfinder contacted me about the kitty pi and we put together a project where a bunch of us knitted them and sent them to Petfinder, who in turn gave them away to people who adopted older cats during one of their "Adopt an Older Pet" drives. Isn't that cool?

[ By the way, everyone, here is a link to the Kitty Pi recipe!]

Me: That just makes me a little misty-eyes! (It's my built in crazy cat lady alert system.) (I am the crazy cat lady, by the way.) So, when are you coming to Los Angeles to visit?

Wendy: When someone invites me and pays my way. Yeah, I'm cheap like that.

Do you think Lucy is playing hard to get with Bob? He's just a domestic shorthair, you know, his ego is already fragile...

Lucy sez: "Is Bob not getting my emails? I thought he was ignoring me!"

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Post your comment to be entered in the drawing. Good luck to all of you!

And thank you to Wendy who gave the world (and me) the kitty pi which in turn gave my beloved little Roy so much happiness and kept him warm when he was sick. It's fairly rare that I am effusive and fawning over anyone other than Dallas Raines, but Wendy inspires me and makes me want to be a better knitter and a better technical writer. Her descriptions of technique make me feel more excited about knitting rather than confused or intimidated. I hope her books find their way to your collection!

Posted by laurie at April 2, 2010 9:42 AM