Saturday, July 18, 2015

Alla Koval’s Blog Tour

I would like to introduce a very talented crochet designer and author, Alla Koval, who I had a privilege to ask a few questions about her designs, her style, and her passions and inspirations.

Alla has recently published two books, Imagical Seasons: Spring and Imagical Seasons: Summer; but her talents do not lie only with her crochet creations, but also with her beautiful photography. What caught my eye with Alla's designs was how bright, fresh, and fun her pieces were. They always were such a eye candy to me.

Do not miss special promotion and a book giveaway at the end of the interview!

Petaline Dress, Option 2

1.     How did you come about to become a crochet designer?
The beauty of crocheting I discovered after my daughter was born. I was completely hooked and amazed of all the magic and possibilities of crochet textures and techniques. But I must to admit that I do love both equally, knitting and crocheting, because they’re so different. I tend to use crochet more for lace on summer and spring garments and knitting when I want something more fluid or when I use textured yarn. And I just love to use both techniques together in one project - they both add so much to each other and give you more freedom.

2.     How long have you been designing?
I  was designing as far as I remember myself. From early childhood I was involved into the joy of creating my own garments. My mom is a professional seamstress and amazing knitter and crocheter and she preferred to handmade most of dresses for me and my sister. As far as we all remember, I participated every single time - as a trouble maker when I was too small and as artist and designer once I got older.

Му very first garment I designed and made by myself, was a sweater for my daddy which I knitted when I was about 11 years old.  I was so proud from the fact that my dad loved it and wore that sweater until it practically started to break apart.

Then during my teens and studentship I been knitting and crocheting , but rarely created any children’s items – just did not have much motivation. But when I got my own daughter, I started imagining all the cute things Kristin could wear and this is how I started designing children’s clothes... And then I realized that it was exactly what I wanted to do in my life.

Millefiori Apron Top
3.     How long have you been crocheting?
Curiously enough, but I do not remember exactly when I learned to crochet and what was my first crochet project. I started knitting in the early years of school and back then, in Ukraine, I was mostly knitting with needles but I always had a  bunch of crochet hooks just to fix something or to crochet embellishment, finishing edging and so on. Russian and Ukrainian languages don't even have special word for crocheting - there are "knitting with needles" and "knitting with hooks".  Back in Ukraine I was mostly knitting with needles but always had a  bunch of crochet hooks just to fix something or to crochet embellishment, finishing edging and so on.

4.     What inspires you as a designer?
Sometimes, the idea for a design just comes into my head and I don't know from where. I just visualize it clearly and then somehow make the mental images into something real.  I call it “design as you go”, when having the rough idea is enough to get started.

Other times, I find inspiration in paintings and photographs—Pinterest is an amazing source of inspiration and pure eye-candy. I look at things and try to understand if I can see something special what has to be noticed.

Often I start by looking for unusual stitch patterns, and start building my ideas from them. It’s so interesting to see how a stitch pattern evolves when you start modifying it, especially when combining with other patterns!

But most of my inspiration comes from colors of nature and changing of seasons. It’s no secret that I am endlessly inspired by beautiful colors, you just have to take a peek at my portfolio ( to see that most my designs are thoroughly and obsessively color coordinated.

One of a brightest memories from my childhood was my very first set of 48 color markers. I was super excited to experiment with the colors, and my mom paid attention to how I used them. Later she told me that when she asked why I combined the colors that way, I explained - “They felt happy together.” Well, I still have that excitement about colors, and l am always on the lookout for new color combinations to work with.

5.     What inspired you to write books?
I was writing separate patterns and even collection of related patterns for a long time and I like that process. But sometimes I had a wish to be able to work with longer format - this way I could add more details and ideas than in just a single pattern. And for a long time I thought that it is unreal challenge until I earned few skills - like stitch diagram drawing in Adobe Illustrator and working with long-long documents in Adobe InDesign and some more - and I became really fast and productive with these products. Even then I was in doubts if I can write a book. But one day I stepped aside and observed what I was working on and realized that it was all aligned with the book I dreamed about. I gave up and started my first book adventure.

6.     How did you come up with the theme for your new books?
I started my first book project with pretty simple idea: everything about imagination and inspiration, and for every season.

Sure that original concept was changed couple months later. Not to mention that name for the book did not exist for the first 6-8 months :)

But time went fast, content grew up and I started to feel myself somewhat uncomfortable. I was unable to understand the reason until the day when I printed unfinished book and it was clear that book is too big already. That day I decided to split content into four books and it magically changed everything - I've got more space to express my ideas, the title got new meanings, plus I instantly became author of very first four books! :o) Well, this "instant" is still going on but for me the puzzle was solved.  

ImagicalSeasons: Spring
ImagicaSeasons: Summer

7.     Your name sounds Slavic. Are you from a different country?
I am from the country which does not exist anymore ;o)

My home city is Poltava, Ukraine; it has long history and many traditions and I love my city; my family is still there and I love to come back to them from time to time. I finished high school over there and moved to bigger city, called Kharkov, Ukraine to study in University. Even if both cities are only 3 hours on the bus apart, I started to live alone and that's a big difference, as you can guess, and I had many friends, memories, stories and adventures and also love that place. After graduation I was working as a software developer for almost a decade. In 1999 I moved from Ukraine to Seattle and that's where I live with my family in our not big but lovely house for last 16 years.

8.     I’ve noticed that with each pattern is accompanied by a comprehensive chart, which I absolutely can appreciate and love seeing. Do you make your own or do you have someone to help you with creating those charts?

Oh, I really can't describe how I am happy to have realized one of my biggest dream in pattern's creating  - learn how to draw stitch diagrams in Adobe Illustrator!  I just adore this software and so glad with a new and exact look of my diagrams I wanted!!

One of my favorite quote of Amy Chia: “Nothing is fun until you’re good at it.” Oh, yeah! ;o)

As a visual person, I always was a big fan of stitch diagrams, and now I am not only so enjoy draw them, but I amazed how much they help in writing instructions to avoid many mistakes and make instructions more clear. Not to mention that providing stitch diagrams make work tech editor much easiest!

9.     You design for children and teens, have you been inclined to design for other demographics?
Yes, so far most of my designs are for children, actually for girls, 2-12 years old. I definitely would love to design more for boys and one of my future project would be to create a boy's line. It's just a "timing" thing.

I also enjoy to create accessories for ladies—scarves, hats, wraps, necklaces, pins, etc., which appeared in several magazines, including Interweave Crochet, Crochet! and couple more designs will be featured in coming Crochet Scene and Crochet World publications. My patterns for knit and crochet garments and accessories also can be found at and in Imagical Seasons book series.

10.  What draws you to design for girls and teens?
My daughter Kristin and all these little wonders with their such precious personalities!

11.  I love your style; where does your style comes from?
Thank you Simona, I very appreciate the compliment!

I think that most of the successful styles in all human areas come from understanding simplicity - even if final result looks complex or has tons of details, it should be simple in realization. I see this idea in nature, architecture, in graphic design, and even in music; and this is what I try to follow. I had many successful gorges designs done in pretty complex techniques but I both happier and more productive if complexity level is low so that's how I see my "style": stay simple and colorful but look amazing!

12. What have you learn during your designing years? How did your style or techniques changed?
I always loved using many details in my designs,  which sometimes may take as much time as knitting or crocheting  of the main part.  And even if I still believe that a small detail can change something ordinary to something special, I try to use my love to details wisely since I start to write patterns  - adding details is much more fun than describing them in a pattern  ;o)

13. What are you future plans design-wise if you can share?
It's very tough question. I have tons of plans and ideas! I am working on next 2 books - Fall and Winter, both should be finished and printed around New Year! And then few more! Plus I have few new patterns in different stage which I plan to release in nearest months.

14.  And something personal, do you have other hobbies or obsessions such as crochet?
I love reading and knitting, and so enjoy to do it in the same time :)

Around age 20, I watched TV program where some blind ladies were knitting socks - I don't remember much details today, but I remember my  feeling at that moment - I was practically stroked with understanding that you don't have to look at your hands and follow your needles with eyes. It was a challenge and with all my designation I decided to learn how to "knit and don't look". So now I can knit and read a book to double pleasure at the same time :)

15.   How do you relax?
I am a big fan of power walking local trails or distant hikes. It's my favorite recreation after hours of working in front of computer. Also I love to cook and to spend time with my family and close friends. If you are lucky, you can find me enjoining early morning workouts or hot yoga classes :)

16.   What is your favorite thing to do?
Live, feel myself alive and enjoy from life.

17.   Is there anything you wished I asked you and I didn't?
I would add couple words about my Imagical Seasons book series. I wrote these books pretty much to express myself to the other crocheters and designers. What I was trying to say and who could listen that?

The main message, I believe, is a language of design and inspiration which is not only international but target all ranges of skills. I tried to show how to apply same pattern in different ways to get outstanding results. I created a totally new style of my patterns, and now each pattern includes: unique and very detailed crochet stitch diagrams, schematics, tutorials, easy-to-follow written instructions and stunning full-color photos. Many Thanks again to Edie Eckman for tech editing my patterns  and her Edie Eckman’s How to Say It class! They never were in such terrific shape as now, yay!

I see my book to be useful for English readers from US or Europe and for readers with no English at all; useful for crocheters of any skill level - from beginners and to advanced designers; and finished projects to be worn by girls from 2 to 12 years old and some pattern are suitable for adults also!

SMD: Thank you so much Alla for the interview! 

Special Promotion

Alla is offering a special to her blog tour readers who purchase the print edition of her book to get the digital edition for free! You can obtain your free digital copy after purchasing the print edition on her Imagical Seasons website, and Etsy and Amazon will run this special through August 1st. To receive it, use a promo code "IMAGICAL".


And of course it wouldn't be a proper book blog tour without a giveaway! One of you lucky readers will receive a copy of both of Alla's Imagical Seasons: Spring and Summer books. If the lucky winner resides in the U.S. or Canadian, a printed editions will be received; if an international winner, a digital copy will be sent. You have until 11:59 pm EST on July 25, 2015 to leave a note in the comment section, and the winner will be announced in the comment section as well as other media outlets. Good luck!

Alla Koval Blog Tour 2015
Follow Alla's book blog tour on the following websites.

July 13: Knitting and Crochet - Amy Solovay
July 14: Faina’s Knitting Mode – Faina Goberstein
July 15: Crochet Queen: Royal Ramblings – Gwen Blakely Kinsler
July 16: Crochet Concupiscence – Kathryn Vercillo
July 17: Petals to Picots - Kara Gunza
July 18: Stylish Knits – Simona Dest Merchant
July 19: Craft Gossip – Sarah E. White
July 20: Positively Crochet – Mary Jane Hall
July 21: Magic with Hook and Needles - Vendula Maderska
July 22: Cute Crochet – Jocelyn Sass

Wednesday, July 24, 2013

Another Great Review of The Art of Seamless Knitting

Columnist Pamela MacKenzie for wrote a wonderful REVIEW of our book The Art of Seamless Knitting. Not only she is a columnist and real estate editor for MyCentralJersey, but she is also an avid knitter and blogs about her knitting passion at There her readers can discover that she's a big fan of seamless knitting and know thing or two about the subject; therefore her review is even more meaningful.

"If you would like to make sweaters quickly, with sides that are even, with as little sewing as possible, then “The Art of Seamless Knitting” by Simona Merchant-Dest and Faina Goberstein is for you. Even I, who have made dozens of seamless sweaters, learned a few tricks in the book. And if you are just starting out on your first seamless sweater, then this book will cover all the basics for you. 
.......There are 11 projects, but I think each pattern is a gem. If you are a beginning knitter, be patient with yourself as you tackle one of these. Let the authors guide you through reading charts, and you may be surprised to find yourself knitting stitches you thought were too complicated...."   
(by Pamela MacKenzie, July 24, 2013)
Thank you Pamela for your review!

Saturday, July 6, 2013

TNNA Columbus 2013 Recap - DAY 3 & 4

Book Signing

Faina and I came to TNNA to introduce and promote our new book The Art of Seamless Knitting. We did a book signing in the Interweave booth on Sunday morning. They allocated one hour time frame for 50 books to be signed and in mere 25 minutes all the books were gone.

We got such a great feedback. It was so great to meet the shop owners. Many of them had stories to tell us on how some of their customers were waiting for this book to come in. It is very gratifying to hear such a positive response from knitters from all over the country after putting so much work into it.

At Interweave booth

After the signing, we finally got a chance to walk the floor for a bit. We looked at the new yarns and started to plan future projects.  Walking the show is always so inspiring. You also meet so many familiar faces. This show was busy, so we said hi to many people only in passing. But it was certainly so nice to chat with Anna Cohen and Jeanne Carver of Imperial Yarn, Carl Koop of Bijou Basin Ranch, Erika Knight, Robyn Chachula, Dora Oherstein, Stella and Alejandro Balian of Abuelita YarnsYsolda  here on her iconic red bicycle, Josh Bennett and oh so many others.


I also met a crochet designer Laurinda Reddig. I've heard stories about her new crochet technique way before meeting her. Keep your eyes peeled on her, you will be pleasantly surprised.

With Laurinda Reddig

In the evening after the show we met up with friends.

With Linda Permann and Faina. 
With Faina and Marly

It was really nice to talk to Martin Storey, a designer in Rowan Yarns. Besides him being a very talented designer, he is very thoughtful and such a nice person.

With Faina and Martin Storey

It wouldn't be a whole picture of a Columbus TNNA show without mentioning the North Market. Everyone at the show always talks about having to have Jeni's Splendid ice cream there. Milk and I are not best of friends so I cannot attest to that personally, but I love going there for the Taste of Belgium. Their buckwheat crepes are just unbelievable. You can order it as a breakfast meal with eggs and ham and vegetables. Mmmm, mmm, mmm soooo good. If you are ever in Columbus, you got to go there and try it.

Taste of Belgium

Friday, July 5, 2013

TNNA Columbus 2013 Recap - DAY 2

Saturday was the day when the show floor opens for all the attendees to browse through the isles full of new, exciting products. This year was busy, and I didn't get a chance to take too many pictures, but Faina and I got at least a quick look at a few of our favorite companies.

We discovered this beautiful silk yarn just by a chance. We drove in a shuttle with the owner of the Treenway Silks who told us about themselves, so we had to go and visit. Their color selection was un-be-lie-va-ble. Gorgeous!

Then as always, there are preview tables to search for new products quickly. Look at that! If you seem to be running out of time to check all the isles, this is a tremendous help. You can make a plan of how to walk to show to manage to see all you need or search for.

In the evening I met up with a few friends. Here I'm with a lovely crochet designer, author and avid runner Ellen Gormley.

To be continued....

Wednesday, July 3, 2013

TNNA Columbus 2013 Recap - DAY 1

Arrived on Friday with an hour and half delay. But once in the Columbus airport, it was all smooth sailing from there. The hotel Faina and I stayed in was nice (always a big plus); even though it was some mile distance from the Convention Center. Not only they offered free shuttle to and from the airport, to my surprise, they also offered shuttle to and from the Convention Center! That was awesome. No long distance walking or wasting money on cab rides. This was definitely a good start to one of the best TNNA shows I've had.

Meeting with Faina in person is always so wonderful. We have so much to catch up on. We started our show by going to the TNNA Fashion Show. Afterwards we headed out to attend one of the most anticipated events for designers, the Yarn Thing's Designer Dinner, hosted by Marly Bird.

Again, she's done it! Every year Marly comes up with something new and exciting. But that's just her, ever so creative Marly. Great number of sponsors came together for this event and presented their new yarns and knit and crochet related products for designers to try and use in their designs. The sponsors are always so generous!  There were many goodies, and here are a few of my favorites.

Gadgets and notions

The Namaste's Jemma Pouch. Namaste has always been a very generous sponsor of Yarn Thing's designer dinner. Thank you Namaste.

Chic*a's Double-Yarn Keeper. Very convenient if you do color work and your yarns get always tangled.

For the yarns, Eucalan's no rinse delicate wash Wrapture by Kristin Omdahl in new jasmine scent.

Lucky few won a free Craftsy class. And yes one of them was me! Thank you Cratsy, I love your classes!

Artist and Graphic Designer, Jill Zielinski of Knitterella provided stationery fun tags. She offers also other accessories in addition to original patterns


From Left to Right: Schachenmayr Boston Classic Elite Yarn have provided a variety of yarns, always lovely yarn - this time Finitoby Malabrigo, yummy yarn by  Knitpicks, and last but not least the Red Barn Yarn.


New Drew Emborsky's yarn line called IconicSarcastic, and Inappropriate (not pictured) was introduced at the show. Very catchy names, wouldn't you say? Named after what people have described him as such the most over the years.

I hope you had enjoyed a quick review of day one. To be continued.....

Thursday, June 20, 2013

Interview on Marly's Yarn Thing BlogRadio

If you missed Faina's and my interview on Marly Bird's BlogRadio podcast last week, you are in luck because it's been archived! You can listen to it here.

We talked about how we had started knitting and crocheting, how we became designers. We share with  you how Faina and I met, and how we met Marly.  We reveal how The Art of Seamless Knitting came about, why we wrote this book and how we worked on the book living on opposite sides of the country. Hope you will enjoy!

Listen to internet radio with MarlyBird on BlogTalkRadio

Wednesday, June 19, 2013

Lace Cardigan

What a great news! My Lace Cardigan from The Art of Seamless Knitting has reached 500+ likes within a week of being featured on Raverly

Constructed seamlessly from the top down and shaped along raglan lines, a beautiful chandelier lace pattern in the main body is combined with a smaller lace pattern along the center of each sleeve. Stitches are picked up along the center front selvedges and the bands are worked perpendicular to the body. 

This classic cardigan showcases how to position a pattern that repeats over a relatively large number of stitches in the body. Alongside the standard instructions, you can also learn how to adjust the number of stitches to achieve the desired bust circumference for a perfectly customized fit. 

Sport / 5 ply (12 wpi) 

24 stitches and 34 rows = 4 inches

US 3 - 3.25 mm
US 2 - 2.75 mm

900 - 1440 yards (823 - 1317 m)

35 (37, 41, 43, 47, 49, 53)"  Cardigan shown measures 35" (89 cm)

Tuesday, June 18, 2013

Starred Review in Library Journal for The Art of Seamless Knitting

It's been a long while since I blogged, and I am back. I have a great news to share with you. Faina's and my new book, The Art of Seamless Knitting, has been getting excellent reviews since its release last month.  It's been among the top 10 best selling book in knitting on Amazon. The latest awesome review we got was a STARRED review in the Library Journal this past weekend.
Interweave (2013)
Merchant-Dest, Simona & Faina Goberstein. 
The Art of Seamless Knitting. Interweave: F+W. 2013. 183p. illus. index. ISBN 9781596687882. pap. $26.95. FIBER CRAFTS
"Ask a group of knitters to name their least favorite part of knitting a garment, and many will say seaming. This aversion has led to an abundance of patterns—especially for sweaters—that don’t involve seaming. In this guide, experienced knitwear designers Merchant-Dest and Goberstein explore the whys behind seamless knitting, describe the various shapes of seamless garments and accessories, and educate knitters on best practices for seamless knitting. For the truly seam-averse, there’s even a section about adapting flat-knitting patterns for seamless knitting in the round. Eleven patterns—most for sweaters—are included. VERDICT Rarely do knitting books contain both gorgeous patterns and authoritative information on technique; this title is a notable exception. The background information about seamless knitting is useful, and the patterns are beautiful."—Nanette Donohue, Champaigne, P.L., IL
Library Journal Reviews (June 15, 2013) 
All you who know us personally know that we had spent countless hours on it and we are so excited that our hard work has been getting such a positive response. 

Monday, July 9, 2012

Greetings from the Czech Republic

Brno - my home town
I have arrived to the Czech Republic! For a change, it's been quite a warm, or rather hot, summer so far. It's been a bit challenging without AC here, I am not going to deny it, which only reminds me of how "spoiled" we are in the USA.

Vienna Airport
The travel went without a hitch. Well except for the fact when we arrived to Vienna airport, I realized that the airport had changed on us completely. They had rebuilt the airport to the point where it was unrecognizable from what we had known for years. And for being unaware, it was quite a shock. We always take a bus from the airport to my home town Brno. We had only about a half an hour before the bus was leaving, so it was a bit stressful to run around the airport to find out where the new bus stop was. Especially when the tickets stated different number of the stop than they were actually leaving from.

Well we made it and all was good.

Right now I have a full house of kids and relatives. I can appreciate every quiet moment I can get, especially for having to be able to concentrate on some edits that are coming back for me to check.

I am trying my best to have the kids and family entertained and still being able to get things done. I know that's a challenge for most work-from-home moms over the summer.

My everyday view of Brno

Sunday, July 8, 2012

Unexpected Afghans Winner

The winner is Dana Bincer.

Dana, please email me with the best email address for Interweave to contact you. They will get you your eBook copy.