Happy Friday, all!
I’ve got another treat for you as we all prepare to enjoy this long weekend: a sneak peek at Kung Fu Knits, an animated knitting adventure for kids and adults alike, written by the inestimable Elizabeth Green Musselman!
(all images copyright of, and courtesy of, Elizabeth)
(Some of you may recall that Elizabeth and I have been working together for some time, as Elizabeth was instrumental in the design of my logo. If you’ve purchased or downloaded one of my designs recently, you’ll also notice that I have a new pattern template/layout, and some eagle-eyed technical editing, which is also down to Elizabeth’s talents. I can not recommend Elizabeth’s skills highly enough to anyone who might be looking for this type of graphic design or editing work, and I consider myself very lucky to also count her as a witty, intelligent, and collaborative friend!)
So without further ado, let’s check out her new book, which is unique on the knitting scene. Kung Fu Knits tells the tale of a young boy who sports a variety of knitwear, proudly and ingeniously knit for him by his mother, to help him combat both the cold weather outside and any monsters that pop up along the way. Not only is KFK an animated book filled with bright colors and bold imagery that will appeal to young readers, but it’s also a pattern book with instructions to make each of the knitted pieces that feature in the book! That’s probably my favorite part of the book – the way it inspires both children and adults to engage in a burst of creativity.
So where did Elizabeth come up with the idea for Kung Fu Knits? Luckily for us, she answers this question and more in the chat I’ve posted below. And trust me – you won’t want to miss the surprises at the end ;)
Makewise Designs: Inquiring minds really want to know – what made you think of combining knitting and kung fu in the first place?!?
Elizabeth Green Musselman I wanted to tell an illustrated story about knitting that would appeal to school-aged boys, but that wouldn’t tread on any trademarked toes. My son [Liam] has been studying kung fu for several years, and it dawned on me one day what a perfect theme it was for a kids’ knitting book. The kung fu uniform makes a great costume, something many kids would be more likely to wear than an Aran pullover or snow pants … not to mention that this book’s knitted pants on their own make super-comfy pajama wear. And unlike karate, the martial art of kung fu involves weapons, so that opened up all kinds of great toy possibilities: nunchuks! throwing stars!
MWD: It’s so great to see patterns for boys and better yet, that your son Liam is modeling them! Was Liam involved in the process for KFK and if so, how? What was the best (and most unexpected) part about seeing the project through his eyes?
EGM: Liam always has a huge influence on my design process. He’s such a great reality check. On the one hand, if I’m getting too fancy, he’ll bring me back down to earth. On the other hand, he reminds me every day that boys are not always predictable. You really can’t pigeonhole them, so I wanted to design a collection that let their fertile imaginations run wild.
I love how seriously my son takes the design process. He will talk with me at length about what he likes and what he doesn’t. And when I asked him to do kung fu moves for the camera at the photo shoot, he really turned up the drama! It was all I could do to keep from chuckling while I was holding the camera.
MWD: How did you connect with your illustrator and what was that creative process like? Did you always know that you wanted the book to have a comic book look and feel?
EGM: Though it’s not obvious from the illustrator’s bio at the end of the book, Ben Bender is my son’s kung fu teacher! I had been thinking about a comic book format for a while, and when I found out Ben did comic illustration, I realized I had hit the jackpot. He knows what kung fu really looks like—I did have to give him a little coaching on what knitting really looks like, though—ha ha.
MWD: The great (and totally unique) thing about your book is that it’s not just for knitters and not just for kids; there are plenty of elements to please both camps here! How do you envision knitters and children alike enjoying your book?
EGM: Here’s what I really hope will happen: that a kid and a knitting adult will read through this book together, fall in love with the story, and then decide between them which patterns they want to make. (Listen to episode 53 of the Down Cellar Studio podcast for a perfect example of this dialogue—the host recorded her nieces and nephew begging her to read it again and knit all the things!) I would love it even more if kids this age knit these projects for themselves. Finally, I intended the comic book story to work on an adult level, too. The whole premise of the book is that it’s painfully hard sometimes to get boys to wear knits—it’s a plot that too many of us are familiar with. And this book, I hope, bridges some of that gap between what we want to knit and what kids want to wear.
MWD: How did you go about designing the pieces that accompany the story in KFK? Did some real-life kung fu garments come in handy?
EGM: Absolutely! I modeled both the garments and the toys directly off of my son’s kung-fu gear—right down to the gusseted pant legs. I wanted the pieces to look as authentic as possible while still having a big dose of fantasy. The backpack is the one piece that isn’t directly modeled on kung fu stuff, but it’s the ideal cool bag for holding all kinds of adventure gear.
MWD: Do you have a favorite design from the book? Where would you recommend that beginning knitters start with a project?
EGM: I know that designers usually say that this question is like making one choose a favorite child, but I’m not going to be that person. I love the nunchuks the best. They’re a fast, easy, and fun project to knit, and they’re even more fun to play with. I designed them to be nigh-indestructible. Believe me, there were several failed prototypes before this version won the day.
Thank you, Elizabeth!
And now that surprise I promised you: Leave a comment on this blog post by Thursday, October 16th and I’ll randomly choose one person to win a digital copy of Kung Fu Knits!
But wait, there’s more! From now until the end of November, the coupon code kfklaunch will earn you 15% off ALL of Elizabeth’s self-published patterns! Elizabeth is well known in the knitting world for her wearable, fun pieces especially designed for men and boys – check out her portfolio and be prepared to download!
I hope you enjoyed this peek into this fabulous book, and if you’d like to follow along with the Kung Fu Knits book tour, or purchase your own copy, you can learn more below! Happy long weekend!
22 September | Mixed Martial Arts & Crafts blog
24 September | Fibretown podcast
28 September | Must Stash podcast
29 September | Through the Back Loops blog
2 October | Through the Looking Glass blog
5 October | The Knitgirllls podcast
15 October | Sunset Cat Designs blog
17 October | Joeli’s Kitchen podcast
22 October | Slate Falls Press blog
3 November | Wattsolak blog
Other useful information:
Digital download: $9.95
Paperback: $15.95 (comes with the digital download if purchased through Cooperative Press)