I'm so pleased to share an interview with Andrea Rangel about her new book, Rugged Knits. If you haven't spied the book yet, it's a must! There are so many great wardrobe staples in the book, and knowing Andrea personally, I know that she is diligent when it comes to her knitwear designs. Her patterns are always well thought out and her designs have an edge of fun while being totally functional.
Bea: First of all, congratulations on a beautiful book Andrea! Having watched you go through the process of creating this (from afar), I was so excited to see it come into being! A book of knitting patterns is quite an undertaking. I wonder if you would share a few highlights of the process; How did Rugged Knits come into being in the earliest stages? Was it your vision from the beginning or did it evolve?
Andrea: Rugged Knits was a combination of a couple of different concepts. First, I wanted to create a collection of knitted active-wear - pieces really designed for cold weather sporting activities like camping, cycling, hiking, climbing, and snow sports. I’d been turning this idea over in my mind for a while when I was invited to submit a book proposal to Interweave. Kerry Bogert over at Interweave actually came up with the title, Rugged Knits. She suggested I create a proposal for a book of chunky knits that had the same feel as Sentiment, a super bulky lace shawl pattern I published a few years ago. While I wasn’t sure I wanted to do a whole chunky collection at the time, I loved the concept of Rugged Knits, and I took a lot of time to explore what “rugged” could mean to me. In the end I broadened my sportswear idea to encompass all sorts of activities with the focus being on functional, classic, and long-lasting pieces. And of course, I also included several chunky pieces too! (Textured Wisp, Blackberry Grove, and Surging River.)
Bea: What was the biggest challenge in creating Rugged Knits?
Andrea: In most of my work, there’s a point where I’m deep in creating the sample and something isn’t as amazing as it could be. Being able to see that, pause, and make the necessary improvements can be a huge challenge. It often means ripping out the work I’ve already done, going back to my spreadsheets and my charts, and re-thinking everything. That can be really emotionally difficult, particularly if the knitting has been extensive, and even more so if I’ve already ripped it out a few times. The first frogging doesn’t make me happy, but it doesn’t depress me either - it’s a part of the process. But the third and fourth are harder. The design I re-worked the most was Woolen Explorer, and I also made major changes to Hazy Cloud, Gleaming Horizon, and Boreal Toque while they were in process. It’s one reason I feel so attached to knitting my own samples - I love to see how much better pieces can be than I originally envisioned. That was made even more challenging because I was on a tight deadline and I needed to maintain a cohesive collection while I made improvements.
Bea: What was the most rewarding?
Andrea: There was something very special about seeing the book in print for the first time. It’s this physical proof of all the work I did and an amazing collaboration with the folks at Interweave. I was so excited by the matte cover combined with the glossy lettering. The book design is just amazing and I have to give a shout out to Charlene Tiedemann, the designer, along with the photography and styling team, Julia Vandenouver, Allie Liebgott, and Kathy Mackay for that!
Bea: Do you have any particularly favorite pieces?
Andrea: Of course it’s hard for me to choose, but the first one I’ve cast on for myself is Hazy Cloud. The sample is too big for me, and I know I need to have that in my wardrobe asap. I’m also thrilled with how Woolen Explorer came out. I think it’s the perfect winter coat for the PNW.
Bea: We recently talked about the collaboration between you and your husband when it comes to certain aspects of your knitwear design. I think this is such a special collaboration, and so intriguing since your husband is not a knitter. Would you tell us about the pieces in this book that were a collaboration?
Andrea: My husband Sean has a degree in fine art (sculpting and portrait painting were his focus). Since my formal training is in education and literature, not art, it’s always been helpful to get his opinion on colors and silhouettes. But he’s also helped me a lot by creating charts. Our process is generally collaborative - he’ll create a chart that’s visually engaging, and then I’ll adapt it to work with knitting. This definitely involves a lot of swatching and we tend to go through a few iterations before we settle on the final thing. He worked on the charts for Gleaming Horizon, Woolen Explorer, Passing Glacier, and Braided Brook.
Bea: What are your hopes for the book now that it's out?
Andrea: I hope that this is a long-lasting book that knitters will be inspired by for years to come. And of course I hope that lots of people knit the designs!
Bea: I'm not sure if you can talk about this yet, but I happen to know you have something else up your sleeve. Is there any tidbit you can share about your next project?
Andrea: I’m working on another book with Interweave! I can’t give too many details yet, but it’s going to be a hefty stitch dictionary just for color work and it’s due out next summer. Stay tuned!
Thank you so much Andrea! The book is filled with a lot of wonderful, functional designs, and so beautifully done. I'm dreaming of a Woolen Explorer and cedar Bough for myself! Congratulations!