If You Want to Knit Some Mittens by Laura Purdie Salas and Angela Matteson

Hello, Laura Purdie Salas! Hello, Angela Matteson! Welcome to Watch. Connect. Read.! I’m so happy you’re here to share the book trailer for If You Want to Knit Some Mittens.

Laura, what would you like everyone to know about If You Want to Knit Some Mittens before they watch the book trailer?

Laura Purdie Salas: Hi John! Thanks for having us here to share. I’m excited to introduce Girl and Sheep, who learn that creating something beautiful takes sacrifice (no mohawk or pigtails for Sheep, sadly) and time (so. much. time.). But it’s all worth it when you actually make something amazing. And there’s nothing better than giving something you’ve made to a friend.

I just realized that the above statement is just as true for making a book as it is for knitting mittens! (Minus the mohawk part. I could have a mohawk if I wanted.)

Also, wool is incredible! The science and magic of getting from a sheep to wool mittens just floors me. I visited a small sheep farm here in Minnesota to do some research. (Cuteness alert: I got to bottle-feed the sweetest lamb named Mootchie!) I trekked through a lot of mud and muck. Honestly, who was the first person who looked at a sheep and thought, “a cozy, soft scarf, that’s what I’ll make”? But that’s the surprise and joy of making things—that transformation.

Angela, what materials did you use to create the art for If You Want to Knit Some Mittens?

Angela Matteson: Hi John! It’s an honor for us to be able to share here at Watch. Connect. Read! I started by sketching with pencils on paper, and then brought all the pieces into ArtStudio Pro to further arrange the compositions, and rough out color comps. I then transferred the sketches to gessoed birch wood boards, and painted with Atelier Interactive acrylics, a little Acryla gouache, and a touch of colored pencil.

Laura, please finish the following sentence starters: 

Angela Matteson’s illustrations charm my socks off. Sheep has so much personality! His expressions when he’s getting his hair cut, riding his bike over the fleece, and jumping rope…I just want to hug him!

And I love that you can see the woodgrain in her paintings. There’s something so physical about that, so handcrafted, that perfectly fits a story about making something from scratch. And don’t even get me started about the hand lettering for the cover and the beautiful sunny gold endpapers that bring to mind embroidery samplers from my childhood.

Knitting is like a meditation for me—and I’m not very good at it. Some of my knitting fails are truly spectacular. For me, it’s about doing something with my hands, about turning one thing into another (even though that’s sometimes just a tangled pile of yarn). Knitting is about the power we have to change things. To try things. To create things. To gift things.

Speaking of gifting, I have to give Kimberley Moran a shout-out. I wanted to make a book trailer featuring time lapse video of mittens being knitted, but I knew there was no way I could both knit mittens and video it. A friend of an online friend, a person I DIDN’T EVEN KNOW, volunteered to knit mittens and record the process. She even got sunny yellow wool yarn and then mailed me the finished mittens. Incredible! That’s what the community of creators is like. The time lapse knitting concept itself was a gift from a friend, Lisa Bullard. Everything we make is a collaboration, from knitting (kind of a long-distance collaboration with a sheep), to quilting bees, to books or book trailers, to robotics teams preparing for a competition. When we make something wonderful, it’s usually with help from others.

Click here to download an activity kit.

Angela, please finish the following sentence starters: 

Laura Purdie Salas’ manuscript for If You Want to Knit Some Mittens captivated me immediately! When I saw the main characters were a sheep and a kid, and seeing all the humor in their relationship, I couldn’t wait to get to work on the illustrations! The way Laura takes readers through the steps of turning wool into yarn while the Sheep and Girl go through all the twists and turns of their relationship is such a fun and clever way to weave or ‘knit’ the story together!

Laura also gave plenty of space for the illustrations to tell part of the story starting with page one’s first step, “1. Get a sheep’. I researched where one might buy a sheep, and created a scene suggesting sheep buying wasn’t on her Dad’s agenda that day, but who could say no to a daughter with ambitious plans!

Picture books can introduce a new world of possibilities. I would be delighted to hear that our book inspired a young creator to attempt a knitting project of their own. If this happens, I hope Laura and I are tagged on social media as we’d love to see the results!

Thank you, Laura and Angela! 

Laura Purdie Salas is the author of more than 130 books for kids, including Bookspeak! Poems About Books (Minnesota Book Award, NCTE Notable, Bank Street Best Books, Eureka! Gold Medal, and more), Stampede! Poems to Celebrate the Wild Side of School (Finalist, Minnesota Book Award), and In the Middle of the Night: Poems from a Wide-Awake House (NCTE Notable Poetry Book). Poetry and rhyming nonfiction books are her favorite things to write. Visit laurasalas.com.

Angela Matteson is the illustrator of Grumbles from the Town and In the Middle of the Night. After graduating from the Columbus College of Art & Design, a love of pattern and design led her to work as a greeting card and gift-packaging designer. Her paintings have been shown in galleries, both locally in the Midwest and nationally. Visit angelamatteson.com.

Look for If You Want to Knit Some Mittens on October 26, 2021. 


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