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As the trend for homespun fashions such as patchwork and crochet continues through 2003, designer Suss Cousins is finding new ways to make her mark beyond a wholesale business and corner boutique here that together generate about $2 million.
The twice-weekly classes at her Beverly Boulevard store — which on some nights is hotter than the Ivy for sheer star power — are behind “Hollywood Knits,” (Stewart Tabori & Chang, $27.50) a 50-page coffee-table read featuring 30 of her best-selling and most original designs modeled by celebrity pals and clients including Julianne Moore, China Chow and Kirsty Hume.
Cousins and photographer Karen Knauer are celebrating the launch Friday morning at the store with a booksigning.
The book is divided into projects for all skill levels, from beginner to advanced, from turtlenecks to cell phone holders.
While sunny Los Angeles might seem like an unlikely place from which to build a knitting empire, Cousins and her husband, Brian, moved from New York in 1991 for his acting career.
After opening her store three years ago (where her wholesale manufacturing business is also based), Cousins ignited a trend among such Hollywood DIY-ers as Chow, Julia Roberts and Rose McGowan. She also began to establish herself as a costume designer. Her knits have since appeared in “The Matrix,” “Scooby Doo” and “How the Grinch Stole Christmas.”
“Knitting is the most stress-relieving activity I can think of,” she said, which may explain why so many entertainment types gravitate toward her classes. “It’s like the new yoga. And if you have a lot of time on your hands sitting around a set, it makes time fly.”
Suss stresses that knitting is a lifestyle rather than an activity. Among the projects she’s developing are baby and bridal shower parties, during which each guest knits part of a blanket for the mother or bride. There’s also a learn-to-knit DVD in the works, and a shop near Union Square in New York, where she’ll teach once a month.
Cousins, an avid vegetarian cook, said her next book will be a cookbook, not a fashion book. But she’s already found a way to combine her two passions: “At my knitting group I’ve been trying out new recipes each week.”