Today we are excited to be a part of the blog tour for Susan B. Anderson’s book Spud and Chloe at the Farm! We don’t hide that Susan is a favorite around here, and we definitely don’t hide that we love Spud and Chloe yarns! When we first found out that Spud and Chloe were coming to life, we were thrilled and now they’re here and a definite hit!
Spud and Chloe at the Farm is a unique book, definitely the first of its kind. Not only is it full of adorable projects, but it also includes a fun story for kids, written by Susan.
Personally, I think that Susan is a genius when it comes to designing knitted toys. She has had plenty of practice, with her book Itty-Bitty Toys, as well as the very popular knit chickens and other toys that you can find on the Spud and Chloe blog. I had the opportunity to interview Susan about the process behind her newest book, so I will let her talk about many of the projects. But I thought that I’d weigh in on some of my favorites, even if it’s impossible to choose!
First there are Spud, the sheep and his companion, Chloe. Totally adorable and visually true to the yarn’s logo. In fact, all of the farm animals are truly adorable, and you must check them out for yourself. But the projects that really make me squeal are the accessories! Susan knit a barn! A white picket fence! Buckets! Even Hay Bales! I cannot get over the cuteness. And what is really great is that they look to be quite simple projects. She’s brilliant, I tell you!
So that’s enough of my babbling. Let’s have Susan join in on the fun…..
Hi Susan. Thank you for joining me today. Why don’t you tell us how Spud and Chloe at the Farm came about. Whose idea was it to bring these cute characters to life?
I had been doing some designing for Blue Sky Alpacas and the new Spud & Chloe line which hadn’t been released yet. This was back in 2008 and 2009. I met with the owner of Blue Sky Alpacas and she asked if I could create knit versions of Spud and Chloë. I jumped at the chance. At that same meeting we started talking about making a series of books called, The Adventures of Spud & Chloë. I talked to my publisher, Artisan Books, about the idea and they gave it the green light. A farm setting for the first installment in the series seemed like the best location to start.
There are three main differences. The Itty-Bitty books were just on my own creating whatever I dreamed up. The Spud & Chloë book had a much more specific setting and characters. It was trickier in this way. Spud & Chloë each took multiple attempts and months and months to create. I worked until they were both exactly right. The second difference is that there was another party involved, Spud & Chloë – the company. This made everything more fun but just a little more complicated in a good way. The third difference is that I wrote a children’s story to go along with the knitting projects. This became a major part of the book and it was a lot of work. It was like writing two books in one.
Ok, tell us about Spud. He is so adorable!
Spud is a big, chubby sheep that wears a bow-tie. He is a lovable curmudgeon. He is witty and at times a little biting with his words but he is funny and silly at the same time. Spud is cautious to a fault but when he ends up trying new things he always has a good time in the end. Chloë knows him best and she knows his sweet and generous heart is always right under his wooly surface.
Chloe is such a cutie, tell us about her.
Chloë is the optimistic, spunky owner of Spud. She is Spud’s biggest cheerleader and loving sidekick. She is always game to get out there and try new things and she is always dragging Spud along on her adventures. Chloë is forever upbeat and she is a fun-loving girl.
How did the story come to be? Was it written first and then the designs came after, or vice versa?
I made the projects first but with the story in mind as I worked. Then I wrote the story incorporating the characters in the storyline. I worked with an editor at my publisher, Suzanne Lander, and we spent hours discussing the background story and personalities of the characters before even starting the story writing. After I felt I knew the characters I started writing the story. There were many, many edits and changes and test-reads along the way. I also had to work out the storyboards for each and every frame of the cartoon-style layout of the story. The placement and actions and facial expressions of all of the characters had to be plotted out down to the smallest detail. We hired Amy Cartwright to do the illustrations for us. She did a great job bringing the story to life.
The story is run throughout the book with a cartoon frame placed on the bottom of the right-hand pages. It is also run with all of the frames together, like a regular cartoon, at the end of the book. I love the story aspect and hope to do a lot more of this in the future.
Tell us about some of the knitting techniques used in the book. Were there techniques created just for these toys?
Small 3-dimensional toys are quick to knit but they also require a lot of technique on a small scale. Although many projects use only simple shaping techniques like k2tog or ssk or kfb some are slightly more challenging with additional techniques. They toys are so fun and fast to complete that they make the perfect project for learning new techniques along the way. A lot of the techniques used in toys are the same used in sweater making.
I use a cool and unusual stitch called the twisted loop stitch to make Spud’s wooly coat. I am sure I didn’t make the stitch up but I haven’t seen it used this way before so maybe that’s a new twist.
Should we expect more knitting adventures from Spud and Chloe in the future?
I am hoping for a series of adventures for Spud & Chloë. We are already working on the next stop on the adventure trail. It is going to be a good one.
We are looking forward to their next set of adventures! Thank you to Susan and her amazing team at Spud and Chloe and Artisan Books for making us a part of the blog tour. Make sure you check out Susan’s interview on the Ready! Set! Knit! podcast as well as the next stop on the blog tour with Alana of Never Not Knitting ( June 1st). And you just never know when Susan might make another appearance on our site Just sayin’….