Friday, April 27, 2012

Guest Post Author Leanne Prain

Leanne Prain writes...

I am the author of two DIY books Yarn Bombing: The Art of Crochet and Knit Graffiti (co-authored with Mandy Moore) and Hoopla: The Art of Unexpected Embroidery. Both books are publishined by Arsenal Pulp Press.

Yarn Bombing: The Art of Crochet and Knit Graffiti (Arsenal Pulo Press, 2009)is the definitive guidebook to covert textile street art. This full-color DIY book features 20 kick-ass patterns that range from hanging shoes and knitted picture frames to balaclavas and gauntlets, teaching readers how to create fuzzy adornments for lonely street furniture. Along the way, it provides tips on how to be as stealthy as a ninja, demonstrates how to orchestrate a large-scale textile project, and offers revealing information necessary to design your own yarn graffiti tags. The book also includes interviews with members of the international community of textile artists and yarn bombers, and provides resources to help readers join the movement; it’s also chock full of beautiful photographs and easy step-by-step instructions for knit and crochet installations and garments.

Hoopla: The Art of Unexpected Embroidery (Arsenal Pulp Press, 2011) showcases those who take the craft of embroidery where it’s never gone before, in an astonishing, full-color display of embroidered art. Hoopla rebels against the quaint and familiar embroidery motifs of flowers and swashes, and focuses instead on innovative stitch artists who specialize in unusual, guerrilla-style patterns such as needlepoint nipple doilies and a ransom note pillow; it demonstrates that modern embroidery artists are as sharp as the needles with which they work.
Full-colour throughout and bursting with history, technique, and sass, Hoopla will teach readers how to stitch a mythical jackalope, needlepoint nipple doilies, a ransom note pillow, and mean and dainty knuckle-tattoo church gloves, and encourage them to create their own innovative embroidery projects. If you like anarchistic DIY craft and the idea of deviating from the rules, Hoopla will inspire you to wield a needle with flair!

Author links
Author site:
Yarn Bombing blog:
Twitter: @leanneprain

How/why did you start to write?
I was a voracious reader as a child – both my mother and grandmother worked in a public library and I'd spend most of my after-school time at the library reading anything and everything I could get my hands on. I remember trying to starting a school newspaper in grade two and entertaining my class with my stories about backwards cartwheels in grade four. I was an incredibly shy kid but my written stories always received attention from my classmates and my teachers. I had a pretty rich internal world as a kid, so writing has always served me. It allows me to process my ideas and form connections between disparate subjects.

How did you become an author?
I became an author in 2009 when Arsenal Pulp Press approached me about the idea of Yarn Bombing. I had pitched it as mock project in a graduate publishing plan. When I came up with the idea of the book I thought it was funny and absurd and that crafters would love it, but no one would ever be interested in publishing it in real life – it was too offbeat. Little did I know...

What was your first published piece?
I think it was probably a column I wrote for my hometown paper about high school being over for the year. My first paid piece of writing was a collection of reviews for a website called 120 Seconds that the CBC published in the late 1990's.

What did you do before embarking on your writing career? Was it an asset to your writing? How?
Before I became a published DIY author, I studied creative writing at UBC and spent a lot of time writing fiction, poetry, and screenplays. I graduated with a BFA in creative writing and art history. I followed that degree with a publishing diploma and have worked as a graphic designer for ten years. Being a graphic designer has been an incredible asset to the non-fiction books that I write – I use my graphic skills when I style photographs, draw pattern diagrams, and create my own marketing pieces. I also have a graduate degree in the business of publishing and I think this has given me a good understanding of how the book business works – from distribution to rights to sales. I feel really lucky to have had formal education in both the creative and business side of publishing.

What inspires you?
A legal pad to write on with a black felt tipped pen, a hot cup of tea, a great craft blog, a good memoir, a trip to the fabric store, doodling, cooking a great meal, sleeping in, thrift shopping with a good friend, listening to the CBC and NPR, and even, working...I tend to get my best ideas when I'm involved in another project.

Please share one of your successful marketing techniques
I love twitter. While many people would call it a marketing tool, I also think that it's just a great way to learn new things and get to know more about other people. I've used it to befriend other authors, get travel trips, interact with journalists, accept speaking engagements, and just chat with people about things we have in common.

Who taught you to knit?
While I grew up in a very crafty household and learned to sew at a young age, I didn't learn how to knit until I was 25. My friend Janet taught herself to cast on and do the knit stitch from a kid's book. I was sick one day so she came over and taught me. I learned how to purl, and taught her this in return. Then we formed a stitch and bitch so we could learn from other people. Mandy showed up to a meeting, which is how I met my co-author.

What knitting method do you use? Continental or English or...?
Continental – sort of. I sort of do this strange thing where I twist each of my stitches when I knit – I'm left handed so I'm always sort of doing my own thing in order to make the stitches work. Mandy introduced me to Knitting for Anarchists which is a great book which encourages everyone to knit in their own way. It doesn't matter how the stitch is made, just that you make it. This is one of the things I love about subversive crafting - there are no rules. I'm a colour-outside-the-lines kind of gal. 

What is your favorite stitch pattern?
I'm a fast knitter so I like things to be simple. A good k2 p2 rib is my favourite thing to knit. I love the look of seed stitch but it is too hard on my poor wrists. I love the way lace knitting looks, but I prefer to knit things a bit mindlessly. I like to knit and watch movies – which you can't do with lace knitting.

When is International Yarn Bombing Day? What happens? Where?
International Yarn Bombing Day is on June 9th this year. Joann Matvichuk of Lethbridge, Alberta invented International Yarnbombing Day, which was first observed on June 11, 2011. but knitters all around the world participated. The basic idea is that everyone goes out and yarn bombs on the same day. They take photos of their work and post them online to share their creations. Mandy and I worked with a group of ten other knitters to cover a statue here in Vancouver.

Do you attend fibre festivals? Why? Why not?
I have attended a couple of fibre festivals. I find them really educational and you get to meet knitters, spinners, and weavers. All good types of people. And there usually is a lama or two on site – and I never miss an opportunity to see a llama.

What are you currently knitting?
Since the books have come out, I do a lot of crafting with other people in workshops, so it is has become a guilty pleasure for me to create something just for myself. Right now I'm creating some long fingerless gloves in a deep red merino wool and sewing some pillows for my apartment. When I'm finished, the next project will likely be a yarn bomb, June is coming up fast!