When I was asked to take part in this blog tour, I was thrilled. Spud & Chloë at the Farm is one of those whimsical books that is entertaining in a multitude of ways: you can learn how to make a collection of farm animals and farm props such as: a picket fence, bales of hay and ever-so- dainty baskets! Anderson also shares a story about an irresistible sheep named Spud, his quirky owner Chloë, and a host of other farm yard animals. You can read this story out loud to the children in your life while you knit and share these refreshingly simple-to-make projects. Take a look at this quick video preview of the book here.
So read on to get a little glimpse inside the mind of Susan B. Anderson, and the inspiration behind her new book, and a chance to win a free copy all thanks for Artisan Books!
Kara: What was the inspiration behind wanting to make a book of small knitted toys, specifically farm animals?
Susan: The inspiration for Spud & Chloë at the Farm came from the idea of Spud and Chloë having a series of adventures together. I had a list of ideas for stories and settings but a farm adventure seemed like the best place to start for the two main characters.
Kara: Small projects like these really take on a life all their own. Why do you prefer to design small items and not garments?
Susan: I like to design and knit all kinds of things including garments but I seem to gravitate toward small projects and accessories the most. I think toy knitting and baby knitting are two of the most fun categories to work in for many reasons. Toys especially are timeless and don’t follow any trends, they appeal to all age categories (adults seem to like them the most), the worry of fit and size is not there and toys are always a challenging, fast and happy subject to knit.
Kara: Why did you choose to work with Spud & Chloë yarns? Is it the fiber content, easy care? Color variety?
Susan: I started designing for Spud & Chloë before it was released on the market in 2009. I had always been a fan of Blue Sky Alpacas (the sister company of Spud & Chloë) but when I tried the Spud & Chloë yarns I fell in love. The yarns are all natural fibers and they are machine washable which is perfect for the projects I enjoy creating. The colors are fun and beautiful, perfect for adults and children. The entire concept behind the line is very inspiring.
Kara: My two year old son London loves the read-aloud story in the back. What a clever idea to incorporate the characters in a fun and interactive way to tell the story to your child. Would you say this was your idea behind wanting to include the story?
Susan: When my third book, Itty-Bitty Toys, was released I was surprised at how many knitters told me that their kids were reading the book. The kids were placing orders from the book like it was a catalog. I loved that interactive aspect of the toy book. With Spud & Chloë we decided that we had the perfect opportunity to include a children’s story along with the projects. You can knit the characters and the farm to go along with the storyline. I love the concept of kids being involved in the knitting book.
Kara: Now I’d like to ask a bit about your background: How did you get your start in the design world? Have you designed for magazines, or strictly focused on books and independent designs? Why did you choose the route you did?
Kara: What is a typical “day at the office” for you?
Kara: When it comes to color and design, how do you decide what color stories to use? Do you sketch your designs first, or just jump right into swatching, and allow the yarn to dictate what happens?
Kara: The facial expressions on your characters are so precious! My favorites are the Farm Dog and Barnyard Cat. I love how you use the simplest stitches to create the cutest little mouth or eyes. It certainly is an art form in itself! Can you share how you magically bring your characters to life with just the right expression?
Susan: The face of a toy is the most important part. It is make or break in my opinion. I don’t often need to re-knit things but I will work on the face embroidery over and over until I get it just right. With a few little straight stitches the entire mood of the toy comes to life, whether it is sleepy, happy, wise, friendly, serious or funny. Face-making definitely becomes easier with practice.
Kara: Can you tell us about any new projects on the burner? Any new books coming down the road? I love your blog, can you tell me about the kinds of patterns you offer, and how knitters can find out more info about you?
Susan: I have a lot of projects in the works like more books, magazine projects, adding patterns to my online pattern shop and the Spud says! blog. I have a wide variety of patterns available for free and for purchase that include scarves, washcloths, hats, toys, mittens, socks, sweaters and blankets. You can check out my blogs at: susanbanderson.blogspot.com and spudandchloe.com/blog.
And now for the contest! Out of all the cast of characters in the book, send a comment to this post explaining which one(s) you plan to make and what attracted you to them. PLEASE don’t forget to tell me who you are when you leave a comment, and how I can reach you! Your name will be entered in a drawing to receive your very own copy of this book, courtesy of Artisan Books.
The contest starts today and ends tomorrow, 4/30 at midnight.