If I had to sum up Shaping Shawls, a lovely new shawl pattern book, in one word, it'd have to be breath-taking! Anna Dalvi, the book's writer and designer, manages to capture not only gorgeous lace designs expressed in several different shawl shapes but also delves into the technical knitting aspects of each one in thorough detail. She has managed to not only give knitters beautiful designs but has also managed to explain them all in great detail. Gorgeous lace design paired with material geared to enhance your knitting skills...there's not much more to ask for in a book!
Ravelry: Shaping Shawls
I had the pleasure of first meeting Anna in person at TNNA in June of this year in Columbus, Ohio. We only spoke briefly over the 3 days of the market but with our first meeting, I could sense that Anna really had a lovely grasp of the technical side of lace knitting. It wasn't until the Knitters' Fair that I got a chance to talk more with Anna about her designing and it all came together as she showcased and signed her book in my booth:
Anna Dalvi - Shaping Shawls
Knitters' Fair - Sept 10/2011
Anna is an Engineer by education and also holds an MBA. Finally, the pieces of the puzzle were coming together because as a few of you know, Mr. Zen is also an Engineer by education. Engineers have a way of conceptualizing design and implementing them with fine details. Anna is no exception when it comes to lace designing and her Shaping Shawls book definitely captures her ability to put her conceptions into her designs.
So with that in mind, I had a chance to ask Anna a few questions about her book and I hope you enjoy these as much as I did:
Anna: I grew up just outside Gothenburg, Sweden. In 1990 I moved to the US and went to school at Cornell University. I have a B.S. in Computer Science with a concentration in Electrical Engineering. While I was in school, I worked in a robotics lab developing localization algorithms for the robots (basically helping the robot figure out where it was and how to navigate in an unknown environment). I also worked on a Hybrid Electric Vehicle - an HEV built from scratch by a team of 40 students or so. Our HEV then competed in a race in California against a number of other schools. After I moved to Canada, I went back to school for an MBA (from Queen's University), which has been very useful in terms of running your own business. I've been self-employed since 2003, and that MBA has definitely been useful.
Anna: I have always liked to experiment with my knitting and make up new things. As for writing the patterns down and publishing them, I really just looked around at a number of the knitting patterns that were out there and thought "I could do this". I submitted a design just on impulse to (now defunct) MagKnits, and when it was accepted I wrote it all down. That was the Burridge Lake Aran Afghan. And after that, I decided to host a lace mystery KAL, just for fun, and that was Mystic Waters. After that, it just sort of continued, and here I am.
Anna: I'll have to say that it depends on what I'm making. I mean, I always love a good merino, as well as a number of merino blends (MCN, merino/silk, etc). I also really like the yarns with a slight halo, like the baby alpaca blends, or even angora blends, as long as the yarn is not so furry that the lace pattern is obscured. And then silk and tencel result in a completely different texture and drape. All are nice, it really depends on what I'm aiming for.
Anna: I often do start with a particular yarn and a particular colour and associate freely from the colour to pick the theme of a design. That said, I do love when knitters substitute yarn colours in the design, because it really impacts the finished look of the shawl.
Anna: Yes. I like all sorts of things actually. In the past year, I've been on a bit of a fingerless mittens spree, just because they are nice, small projects that can be used to explore a variety of techniques and textures. I love lace and cables, colours and textures, and anything that allows me to play with those is fun. And that would be all knitting.
Anna: I have a couple of designs coming in the Fresh Design Series published by Cooperative Press, in both Shawls and Mittens. And I'm also working on another book focused on lace and colour, which will be published during the summer of 2012.
CONTEST: Win a free e-book copy of Shaping Shawls by leaving one comment per person to this post with your Ravelry ID name and also a short comment telling us what shawl shape you prefer knitting. If you haven't knit shawls yet, tell us what your favourite thing is to knit. I will have a random drawing for the winner on Saturday, September 24th so the deadline to submit a comment is midnight EST, Friday, September 23rd. Good luck!