Sunday, August 2, 2009

a very warm book, or a knitted book jacket

Here finally, is my super secret mystery project unveiled. Yup, it's a knitted book jacket. Why oh why would anyone go to the trouble of doing such a thing, you may ask yourself. All I can say is because it was there. My job job is that I'm a graphic designer, or a book cover designer to be specific. It's something that I've done for years and it just seemed to make sense finally to knit a book jacket.

Click on any image to see a larger version on flickr. Details of materials on Ravelry.

The greatest challenge that I had with this project was sizing and charting. This seemed much more difficult than sizing for a garment because I had to make it fit EXACTLY to the height, width, and spine of the book. I made my Lorem Ipsum swatch and I charted, and charted, and charted. Knitted stitches aren't exactly a square in dimension but more of a rectangle. At one point I got hung up on the difference between stitch size and the graph paper squares and made the dang thing much too short. So I had to chart all over again, which took me almost two weeks. Stranded color knitting requires an even density of the the foreground and background colors since both are being carried along as I knit. For you graphic designers out there that meant no really big white spaces.
front of book jacketback of book jacket
front flapback flap
Above you see the front of jacket, back of jacket, front flap and back flap. I couldn't resist adding in a bar code on the back and a self-portrait on the back flap, it kind of looks like me.

What is Ex Libris? Ex libris is Latin and it means "from the books of...", but it also refers to a bookplate. A bookplate is a small paper label that is glued inside the front of the book, usually on the endpapers and has the owner of the book's name on it. Bookplates were at one time very elaborate and could be a piece of art of their own with great type and a lovely illustration. You can see many examples at the Book Plate Society website.

What about the ME part? ME are my initials, so this is my book and exterior bookplate. I've been thinking as I worked on it that it's a bit like a sampler for me. Cross-stitch or needlework samplers used to be something that women made to show off their skills, but also as a little library of stitches. I pulled designs from Norwegian and Fair Isle books, the Digitale Bibliotek, but also charted the letters, self-portrait, and a few other parts myself.
The book underneath all of this knitting is Fashion: The Collection of the Kyoto Costume Institute, a great book by the way. I picked it because it was on my shelf, was a hefty size (about 8 x 11")which gave me more room to design, and had a nice red case. It seemed kind of empowering to be dressing a book about the history of fashion.
After all this effort I finally steeked and the damn thing was too big. I tried the covered steek method and it looked nice, but it seemed a bit bulky and stretched the end seams out a little, so I ripped it out. A little machine stitching up the sides held it together as I steamed, and fulled with the trifecta of hot water, soap (lavender shampoo!), and agitation, and finally it was the right size. A big shout out to the folks at Rauma Yarns because the colors did not run in the hot water. The red bleeding into the white could have been a disaster. This book is going to be mighty warm this winter.
Above is a glimpse of what my charts looked like. And below, the book jacket made a nice tube top before I steeked it.
bookjacket tubetop
Here is where the book will be living, it's in good company. Is it practical to knit a book jacket? No, the jacket slithers off the book and it's really too hard to get the knitted piece just the right size. But it was a fun brain, hand, and art exercise.
I will be on vacation and away from the internet (yes there are still parts of the world where people aren't spending all their time blogging), for most of August. See you at the end of the month!


H3NR7 said...

That is soo AWESOME!

I'm gonna hire you to design / knit a book cover.

e said...



Paige said...

Yay! I would've never guessed that the super-secret mystery project was a book jacket. How cool - I love it. Have a wonderful August, and enjoy your break!

gale (she shoots sheep shots) said...

wow. I'm speechless, this is so cool. Not what i was expecting from the little glimpses you gave us. off to go favorite it.
I think the author portrait is what really blows me away!

Puttermeister said...

After seeing your book jacket on Ravelry, I had to visit your blog, too, and I'm so glad I did. I really enjoyed reading about your process and your thoughts on this project--and especially that you did it despite its impracticality. But it's so wonderful--who cares about practical?

Kim said...

DAMN! Just amazing! I just love the bar code and your self portrait. Truly a work of art.

weaverknits said...

I had no idea what to expect from you secret project, but this is above and beyond what I would have even considered as a possibility. I admire you for making an object for its own sake (as opposed to practicality or wearability), and for all the elements of craftsmanship this project involved. Wow. WOW!

Enjoy August, can't wait to hear from you in September!

MaryjoO said...

just found this ... oh so lovely, fabulous, original and the colors ... very "antiquey" looking, actually, if you see some old cross stitch patterns from Russia -- cream and red/orange! So impressive!!

Meganne Fabrega said...

It's amazing! And my favorite colors.Can't wait to see it in person.

Deborah said...

MISA this is BEAUTIFUL! Be very proud of what you accomplished for yourself with this super secret project. I never would have guessed that this was what you were knitting. I LOVE IT!!!!!

KURLY said...

This is such a witty and simple concept, and so beautifully executed!

I've tinkered with the idea of doing this before but not with such attention to knitty (sorry!)gritty detail - it's fantastic!

nakiacasey said...

Pure Delight! I completely understand why you made this. I hope you're as satisfied with it as we all are impressed!

Mary Beth said...

You are a creative genius! That has to be the best idea come to fruition I have ever seen. Practical project? No, but sometimes just doing something because you can is reason enough. I love, love, love it! It made me say, "Oh, wow...."

Jeanne said...

That is amazing!

myboringblog said...

I've been away from the internet for a while as well. Love that book cover. It looks totally worth the effort. :-)

shamaree said...

My, you've been busy! I've been catching up on blog reading lately, glad I popped in to see what you're creating these days. Beautiful work, as always.