The title of this blog post may come as a bit of a surprise, particularly to the legendary Jean Moss herself, but when I was asked to take part in the blog tour for Jean’s latest book, "Sweet Shawlettes", I knew I wanted to write a little about the Jean Moss who has influenced me so much.
In 1991 as a young wannabe knitwear designer I purchased Jean’s first book “Designer Knits Collection”. I was sold! With its beautiful photography and Jean’s obvious love of vintage fashion I couldn’t have asked for more.
Two particularly gorgeous designs ‘Berlin’ and ‘Vienna’ really helped cement my love of 1930s knitwear and styling.
Jean also began designing for Rowan who were young, vibrant and offered cutting edge design. One of Jean’s designs ‘Monotone long sleeve sweater’ featured in one of my favourite Rowan books of all time - number six, and I knew I wanted to be like Jean one day.
Later into the 90s, as a struggling newbie at Rowan, I got the chance to assist Jean in a workshop. I was completely awe struck and as a result probably completely useless, but I loved every minute of it. I particularly remember learning double knitting on that day - as well as a number of knitting related folk songs - and thinking about that really helps explain the breadth of Jean’s skills and talents. At that time patterns in the UK didn’t really feature advanced skills such as double knitting, patterns didn’t always have schematics or full colour charts, but Jean’s did. I feel Jean really helped drive knitting and pattern writing into a new era whilst at the same time still producing stunningly creative designs, which brings me neatly to "Sweet Shawlettes". The book itself is beautifully produced with exactly the sort of top quality photographs and styling that one would expect in a book from Jean. The concept of the book, which is a collection of cowls, capelets, shawls, scarves etc., gives Jean free reign to incorporate unusual and interesting techniques and also celebrate her love for colour. The range of patterns also ensures there is something for everyone.
The book is divided into chapters, such as Folk and Country and very pleasingly, Vintage.
Not surprisingly most of my favourite designs in the book feature in the Vintage chapter. The first of these ‘Fizz Capelet’ is beaded and shaped using short rows and is so very very pretty. The art deco shade of blue also appeals to me immensely.
My absolute favourite though is ‘Treasure Jabot’. I thought I was the only person left using the word jabot, so I instantly felt so much better seeing it in Jean’s book. This delicate frill is worked in DK weight pure silk and would be equally lovely in alpaca or cashmere for christmas gifting. What I really love about it though is the very clever way the jabot is knitted and makes use of lots of the ‘re-found’ techniques which Jean has always known about.
There are many, many more beautiful designs such as the ‘Mantilla Shawlette’ and the ‘Arabesque Scarf’ which really makes this a timeless book. A book which I could happily keep returning to for years and years .
If you would like to own a copy of “Sweet Shawlettes” Taunton Press and Jean Moss are kindly offering one of my readers the chance to win a copy. Just go to the projects gallery on Jean’s website before returning to my blog to leave a comment, letting me know your favourite design and why you chose it. You must include your email address so that I can let you know you’ve won. I’ll choose a name at random next Monday - 26th March 2012.
If you want to find out more about Jean’s designs, workshops etc. you can find out more on her website.
The tour is nearly over but you can take a look back at what these other fabulous people also think of “Sweet Shawlettes”
Wed 7 March: Jen Arnall-Culliford
Thurs 8 March: Needled (Kate Davies)
Fri 9 March: Rock and Purl (Ruth Garcia-Alcantud)
Sat 10 March: Woolly Wormhead
Mon 12 March: Yarnscape (Alison Barker)
Tues 13 Mar Confessions of a Yarn Addict Anniken Allis
Wed 14 March: Joli House (Amanda France)
Thurs 15 March: This Is Knit
Fri 16 March: The Knitting Institute (Knitting Magazine)
Sat 17 March: Life’n Knitting (Carla Meijsen)
Sun 18 March: ConnieLene (ConnieLene Johnston)
Mon 19 March: Just Call Me Ruby (Susan Crawford)
The tour then continues with a final three dates which are:
Tues 20 March: Tiny Owl Knits (Stephanie Dosen)
Wed 21 March: Ulla-Bella (Anita Tørmoen)
Thurs 22 March Heike Knits (Heike Gittins)
You can also purchase the book directly from Amazon if you can’t wait to find out if you’ve won a copy.
Jean has had some very sad news this week and I would just like to take this opportunity to say my thoughts are with Jean and her family.
Photos courtesy of Alexandra Grablewski/Taunton Press, Reed International Press and Rowan Yarns