The world of knitting and crocheting has changed dramatically in the past few years. It was probably the publication of the first Stitch 'N Bitch book that really started this revolution in knitwear and crochet projects that young people would want to make and wear.
About Ashley Paige
Ashley Paige is not your granny's knitwear designer. Her line of knitted swimwear hit it big when one of her designs was chosen for the cover model of the 2003 Sports Illustrated swimsuit issue. Since then her designs have been seen on the bodies of Liv Tyler, Kate Hudson, Britney Spears and other famous women.
Her first book, Sexy Little Knits, features designs for shorts, tops, dresses, loungewear and, yes, knit and crocheted bikinis. Though she does admit that knit bikinis tend to be better for land use than for swimming, "like many of the sweetest things in life, they're meant to look gorgeous rather than to withstand hard use."
LoveToKnow Crafts recently talked with Ashley Paige about knitting, her book and how to make it big as a knitwear designer. You'll also find a review of the book below.
Interview With the Designer and Author
LovetoKnow: How did you get started knitting and crocheting?
Ashley Paige: After fashion school I decided to design a collection of knit bikinis, so I had to learn how to knit in order to make the first sample.
LTK: Why do you think these hobbies are so big right now, especially with young women?
AP: People need some form of relaxation during these hard times. I also believe the trend of knitting come around every 20 years, just like the fashion cycle. In the '70s knitting was huge, just like the '50s.
LTK: Is knitting sexy?
AP: If you are creating something that is sexy, knitting can be. But, I believe also that anything hand made is sensual and precious.
LTK: What inspires you?
AP: Memoirs and vintage fashions.
LTK: I think many crafters would just love to see their creations for sale, not to mention on the cover of Sports Illustrated or the body of Paris Hilton. How do you make the move from a crafter with a passion to a successful designer and businesswoman?
AP: "You either have to be the best, first or different to make it in business," Loretta Lynn said. I love that quote and it's so true. When I made my bikinis in rayon instead of cotton, and plyed them with a lycra microfiber, my product became different than my competitors. I was also the first fashion designer to offer only knit bikinis, nothing else. I was very focused. It's very much about high fashion, if you think from that perspective you have better odds of getting press on your product.
LTK: What's your favorite piece in the book? Why?
AP: I love the Cozy Sleeper, it's so darling on, super soft and very sexy!
LTK: Do you do any other crafts?
AP: Fashion design is one big craft. I sew and also utilize many embellishments like beading, macramé, and silk screening.
LTK: Which do you prefer, knitting or crocheting?
AP: My book was supposed to only be knits, but I insisted on using crochet for detailing and diversity. I love what you can achieve using both techniques in one garment.
Review of Sexy Little Knits
Paige's book features 25 patterns divided into three chapters: one focusing on swimwear (or beachwear), one about sexy summery clothes to wear away from the water, and one about things to wear at home.
These patterns are decidedly sexy, but that doesn't mean that people with normal bodies can't wear them. It might take confidence to feel comfortable in some of these pieces, but one big plus about this book is that the designs are not typical of what you usually see in knitting and crochet books. Paige also encourages crafters to make the designs their own by adding rows to give a piece more coverage.
I picked the Little Mermaid Strapless Top to work on, and I could see how this would make a really cute dress if you just made it longer.
The book will also give crafters an opportunity to work with fibers they may not have used before, such as cotton with elastic, faux suede, microfiber and cotton blends. Some of the yarns might be difficult to find for some crafters. For instance I wanted to knit a different project but couldn't find anyone in America selling the yarn online (I'm sure it's there somewhere). The project I settled on I chose because I could find the yarn, but I still had to buy it online, as only one store in my state carries it (Arkansas, admittedly, is not that big on knitting, but we're a passionate bunch).
This book is not for beginners; it's recommended for those intermediate to advanced range. It's not that the techniques are that difficult but there are absolutely no basic instructions, so if you don't know how to do a technique you'll have to look elsewhere for guidance.
Recommended With a Few Conditions
I recommend this book to people who have a firm knowledge of the basic knitting and crochet techniques, who aren't afraid of showing off a little skin or trying something different, and don't mind having a book with a backside on the cover on their bookshelf.