I recently had a chance to speak with one of my favorite designers, Rohn Strong. Rohn's latest project is The Heritage Collection: WWI & WWII. It's an amazing book full of essays, period photography and 20 gorgeous, revamped vintage patterns from World War I and World War II. I'm in love with this project- not only has Rohn melded two of my favorite subjects- knitting and history!- but his patterns incorporate classic, gorgeous lines. I'll be knitting these patterns for years.
We'll be giving away a copy of Rohn's newest book to one lucky commenter this week! Details at the end of the interview, below.
Rohn, I just adore your new book, The Heritage Collection: WWI & WWII. It hits on two of my favorite subjects: knitting and history! Could you tell me something about how you became inspired to begin this project?
It was just honestly a series of circumstances that led me to seeing that there was a need for this book. I really think people need to see and hear the stories of knitters long ago, ya know? So, I just went for it. Donna Druchunas was my amazing editor and she helped me through the process, which made it pretty easy!
This book is full of photographs from the past and gorgeous redesigns of vintage WWI and WWII- era patterns. I'd love to hear about your research process; how did you find your materials?
I am one of those people that actually like to keep my process of research to myself. I love sharing what I find and where I find it but how I find it is my little secret. Needless to say it takes an army. I hire outside people, rummage through what people see as trash, and spend way too much money on antiques!
Vintage knitting patterns tend to look markedly different from the patterns we are used to seeing now. Did you run into any challenges when you were redesigning the vintage patterns?
Not really! You see, I have this weird talent where I can look at a knitted garment and deconstruct it. When I see vintage patterns, I am able to look at them and re-construct them just by sight. So when I was putting this book together, that is just what I did. I just took my favorite design qualities, construction techniques, colors, and went to town! Vintage patterns nearly require a degree in archeology to understand them. Knitting was a skill and trade then. So men, women, and children, just knew what to do.
Rohn, was there anything about this project that surprised you?
Actually, the biggest surprise I have received is how shocked people are by the book. It is not a normal knitting book, not by far. It has a lot more writing than most are used to. I wanted to combine knitting and writing together...that was important to me. Some people like that, some do not. It depends!
What's your favorite pattern in the book, Rohn?
Cordelia by far. She is just gorgeous. People laugh because I talk about my designs as my children, but that is exactly what they are. Cordelia fit the model like a glove and made me cry when I saw it on. I LOVE that design.
You're one of the busiest people I know- you always have so many projects going. What's coming next?
I always like to have my hand in something! Right now I am working on releasing, Southern Crochet Book 2: Winter and then I have about 10 more projects that are coming out between December 2012 and July 2013. I have really worked at streamlining my process of patterns, photography, and publishing. So you will see lots next year! From a special Malabrigo Project to working with Red Heart. I am all over the place!
You can find Rohn on his blog, Rohn Strong Designs. You can find his book, The Heritage Collection: WWI & WWII on Amazon, and you can peruse all of his beautiful patterns on Ravelry!
If you'd like a chance to win a free digital copy of Rohn Strong's The Heritage Collection: WWI & WWII by taking a look through the patterns on Ravelry, then commenting on this entry and letting us know which pattern you'd knit first from the book if you were to win! We will pick a winner using the all- powerful Random Number Generator at noon on Tuesday, October 16th! Good luck, everyone!!