Today I’m tickled to host my second-ever author interview! My good friend Audry Nicklin has designed, written, and published Lit Knits, a book of ten knitting patterns inspired by works of classic literature that allow you to “wear your favorite story.”
Let’s go behind the scenes of a real live author’s creative process. Welcome to my virtual living room, Audry!
1. We all know that a book takes a long time to produce. How long has your book been in the making, from concept to publication?
This book has been a long time coming. It took me roughly 2.5 years from concept to publication. And within that 2.5 years, I was also working part time at a yarn shop and submitting patterns to other publications.
2. How did you get the idea for Lit Knits?
After reading Anne of Green Gables in early 2011, I was inspired to make a shawl that had bits of the story knit into it. So I made up a stitch pattern that looked like the house, Green Gables. Below that I knit a texture of a fence followed by a field of flowers leading down to the Lake of Shining Waters.
After completing the shawl, I started working on a pair of mittens inspired by the white rabbit in Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland. One thing led to another and I realized that I had a solid theme for a collection of patterns. It did take some time to figure out how to make the collection as cohesive as possible. I thought about doing a knit for A Tale of Two Cities by Dickens and one for The Raven by Poe. But Anne of Green Gables and Alice’s Adventures in Wonderlandare considered classic children’s literature, so I kept within that theme.
3. Of the 10 patterns in the book, which is your favorite?
I can’t say that they are all my favorite, can I?
Each pattern represents a different part of my knitting journey, so I like each one for a different reason. “Down The Rabbit Hole” is based on one of my favorite childhood stories. But the “Robin Hoodie” represents the culmination of all my knitting abilities. I couldn’t have written that pattern when I started the book. But I gained enough experience while writing the other patterns to make it a reality.
|The “Robin Hoodie,” the culmination of all of Audry’s knitting abilities.|
4. What would be the 11th work of literature you would add if you could?
This collection almost had 12 patterns. Before I designed each garment, I read the book I wanted to base the knit on. I read Little Women and Heidi, but when it came down to it, I had trouble designing knits that didn’t look kitschy. So I cut the collection down to 10 patterns.
5. The photography in your book is incredible. However, we all know that serene images don’t always come from serene photo shoots. What were some funny stories that happened while you were taking pictures for this book?
Well, you were part of one of the more amusing photo shoots. Since the socks you modeled were Black Beauty themed, we needed to have horses in the background. After getting permission to go to a field where there were horses, we couldn’t find them! It took a good half hour of circling around groves of trees before we found the herd. Then three curious horses came over to investigate. Just as we would shoo one away from the equipment, another one would sneak up and have a look. I still have horse spit stains on my camera bag.
I know you were cold during that shoot since it started to mist by the end of it, and I had horrible allergies for two days afterwards because I spent the entire time with my face practically rubbing the grass. And I never did get those grass stains out of my jeans.
6. I know you made extreme efforts to use authentic props in your photo shoots. What was the coolest prop you collected for this book?
I was lucky to have all sorts of neat props for this book. But my favorite prop was the real Piece of Eight that I used in the “Sail To Treasure Island” shoot. It came from my Opa’s coin collection and was minted in 1744 during King Philip V of Spain’s rule.
|The “Sail To Treasure Island” blanket, its inspiring book, a compass, and a real Piece of Eight.|
7. Okay, let’s get into your secrets of creative success. On a “normal” day, what does your creative routine look like?
I know some people like to have strict time schedules. I find that keeping up with a schedule stresses me out, so I just have an order I do things. I’ll get up mid to late morning, shower, and walk the dog, Scooter. Then I walk myself to and from a local coffee shop to get tea, after which I eat lunch and read a little bit of a book before I sit down and work. I typically make a list of what needs to be done the night before, so I just start working down the list. Then it is a second dog walk followed by more work. After eating dinner, I might watch a little TV with Scooter while knitting. (He gets grumpy if he doesn’t get at least a half hour of TV time.)
|Audry’s four-legged creative muse, Scooter.|
Depending on what stage I’m at in a design, I might be doing “work” knitting or “personal” knitting. After TV time with Scooter, he and I head to bed, where I might work into the wee hours if things are going well. If not, I give up and go to bed. Before my head hits the pillow, I’ll typically list a few things that need to get done the next day.
8. 2 1/2 years of dedicated work is a lot. What kept you from quitting on this project when the road got tough?
My options were to either finish the book or go look for another job. Working on the book looked like the better option. After a while, I had told so many people about the book that it would have been terribly embarrassing to not finish. So avoiding humiliation is what kept me going after a while. That, and I didn’t want to disappoint my parents.
9. Self-publishing v. traditional publishing is a big conversation in the book world these days. Why did you choose to self-publish rather than seek traditional publication? Are you glad you did?
I chose to self-publish because I didn’t want to sign over the rights to my work. The thought that a publisher could do one print run and let the book go out of print was a little too much to take. However, this also means that I am in charge of all the promotion. So while part of me is frustrated that I don’t have the resources to promote Lit Knits as widely as a publisher could, I’m still satisfied that I’ve chosen to self-publish. I’ve been lucky that my background is in print design. I don’t think I could have done it myself without that experience.
|I’d say she did a pretty good job designing her own cover.|
10. Now that Lit Knits is done, do you have another creative project in the works? Can you give us any hints?
I think I’ll always be working on some sort of knit. I have 2-3 more book ideas, but at the moment, I’m working on some single-pattern proposals for knitting magazines. It’s been interesting seeing how each of my previous jobs has led to the next. I look forward to seeing where this book takes me.
Thanks for having me, Alina!
My pleasure! It was a fun privilege for me to both copyedit the manuscript of Lit Knits and model a pair of socks. But above all, seeing my friend successfully pioneer her own book enterprise inspires me to take my own novel seriously and see it to completion.
If you love to knit, know someone who does, or just like whimsical pictures of cool, literature-inspired clothes, check out the book on Audry’s web site. She’s got a special preorder deal going until September 25. You can also find her author page on Facebook.
Have more questions? Leave a comment! Audry and I will both be around for some Q&A!
Unless otherwise noted, all photos are courtesy of Audry Nicklin.
3 thoughts on “Literature, Kniterature”
Alina and Audry, What a fun and fascinating interview! Your interaction as friends AND authors is delightful! And speaking of delightful, Audry, your books is a banquet for the eyes! I have two questions for you: How did you decide what would be most representative for a book: e.g. mittens for Alice, socks for Black Beauty, a blanket for Treasure Island, etc.? And, did you choose the knits based on the books you read, or did you have knits in mind and then you looked for classics that would fit the pattern ideas? Congratulations!
Hi Paty,Well, in the case of Motoring Madness, it seemed appropriate to have drive gloves for a driving themed knit. For Sail To Treasure Island, I almost made it a shawl. I knew I wanted it to be a square that looked like a treasure map. But it was Alina who convinced me that it would be more versatile as a blanket.When I read the books, I had a slight idea of what the knit might be. I knew that I wanted the Robin Hoodie to be a sweater. But I didn’t stay married to a particular garment if another one fit the book better.
Did I campaign for the blanket? I’d forgotten about that 🙂 Glad I did!And “banquet for the eyes”–such an apt description!