Karie Bookish Dot Net

Shake & Shift

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If you backed my This Thing of Paper Kickstarter campaign, you will find a new update for July on the site. If you didn’t back it, the lowdown is this: I’ve been busy making things happen. At this stage I am basically wearing two hats: I’m a creative (designing and writing) and I’m a project manager (doing groundwork for future things). And beautiful yarns are arriving in Casa Bookish!

I have discovered some pretty nifty software to help me with work.

First of all, I have invested in Scrivener. I first heard about it via the science-fiction writer Charles Stross who raved about it on Twitter. Scrivener is a writing software that lets you work with outlines, create order from chaos (because writers don’t tend to work from A->B), and view visual research right next to your writing. I downloaded the free thirty-day trial and discovered a tool that I wish I had had years ago. After spending a few days outlining the entire book, setting up templates, and compiling my bibliography, I knew that Scrivener would make my working life a lot easier. Whilst writing a book is still a big undertaking, the project becomes more manageable when you see it broken down into chunks.

Secondly, I’ve finally embraced Evernote & Mendeley. When I worked on Doggerland, I used an unwieldy combination of physical notebooks, bookmarks, and Pinterest to organise my source material. It never really worked for me and I spent a lot of time searching for things I knew I had already saved.

It feels very apt that I am using 21st technology to write about 15th century technologies that altered how we interacted with writing and reading.

Outside of work, the world has been rocked by shifts and shake. I read this short, smart piece about modernity, time & seismic cultural shifts. Then I read this very depressing opinion piece about the events of 2016 seen from a historian’s point-of-view (I have issues with its narrow geopolitical scope). And I revisited Frank Cottrell Boyce/Danny Boyle’s Opening Ceremony of the Olympic Games in London 2012 – Cottrell Boyce recently wrote an extraordinary article about culture in contemporary Britain.

And I respond to an unsettled world by making stuff. This weekend the delightful Sonya Phillip is ‘hosting’ the Summer Stitch Fest:

During the last weekend of July, makers are invited to participate, using any or all methods of making a stitch, be it sewing, knitting or crocheting and then sharing their handmade clothes on social media.

I have plans already, but I might try to make myself a quick (and awesome) skirt. Join us?

From the Sublime to…

April 2011 018aaWhat an overdue blog post. It feels like I have aged five years in the last nine days. Where to start?

Let’s start with the good bits!

The Kickstarter for This Thing of Paper ended on June 22. In the end an amazing 725 people pledged a staggering £23,637 to help me bring my project to life! Isn’t that incredible? I am still blown away by the experience.

This Thing of Paper: Amnesty

A couple of people have asked if it is too late to pledge support. I know some of you only found out about the project on the day it finished or a few days later. I’m going to open an amnesty: if you are really keen on pledging support, please contact me using the contact form below. This amnesty is open until midnight GMT, July 7, 2016. If you miss this deadline, I’m afraid you will have to wait until the book is published.

We are a very, very small team and we want to get this book out as soon as possible, so we are very keen on avoiding complications at this stage! If we get more than a very small handful of responses, I reserve the right to close this amnesty before the date stated.

June 2016: More Good Bits

I didn’t realise until I looked back how busy June was. I taught in Leeds, travelled to Edinburgh’s Yarn Crawl, had fun at Glasgow’s Queen of Purls, and saw porpoises on my way to a workshop in Dunoon. I ran the Kickstarter campaign which was a lot of work (I had no idea how much energy and hard work it took to keep it running! I plan on doing a big post about that later). I also designed & knitted two garments and made two dresses. And all the normal day-to-day business work too. No wonder I ended up with laryngitis and fever at the end of the month. When work is this much fun, it’s hard to remember it is still work and that I need to take time off.

The porpoise-spotting was really magical. I was on the ferry to Argyll & Bute when I noticed rings in the water. I figured it might be a shoal of fish and strolled over to take a look. No! Two porpoises cheerfully started accompanying the ferry for a minute or so before swimming off in the distance. I was too busy looking to take photos – I find those are actually the best moments!

June 2016: Less Good Bits

I started out by saying I feel like I’ve aged five years in nine days. Nine days ago, it was announced that Great Britain had voted to leave the European Union. As a small business owner, this creates a lot of complications for me (though not on the scale of, say, a yarn shop that imports yarns from overseas). As an Dane who fell in love with a Scotsman many years ago, this creates a lot of uncertainty and heartache. I don’t want to go into details (we are all here for the knitting, right?) but I’ve spilled a lot of tears lately.

My good friend Woolly Wormhead has written an eloquent and important blog post on what the recent vote means to her family and her life. I am afraid there are many, many stories like hers.

Life goes on. Mostly it is filled with wonderful, amazing people and I get to see porpoises on my way to work. And I get to work with equally amazing people on projects I love! And then sometimes life throws a spanner in the work but we carry on.

I’ve updated the workshop page with the workshops I’m teaching this month and August. Do take a look and I hope you can join me for one or more. I feel the urge to spend time with wonderful, talented knitters.

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Almost Time: This Thing of Paper Wraps Up & An Everyday Make

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Behind the scenes work may already have commenced on This Thing of Paper, but the campaign still has a few hours left. If you want to pledge your support, be aware that one reward level has gone and only a few slots remain on others. People have asked me how I am feeling – it is difficult to explain but I will try once I have summed up what a most extraordinary community has achieved.

Thanks to people:

  • This Thing of Paper will go into print!
  • I will have a small, awesome team of people working on this project.
  • The overall quality of the printed book has been enhanced.
  • Sample knitters will help me cut down the production time of the book.
  • I am able to apply to be a vendor at key UK knitting shows.
  • We will have book launch parties in Central Scotland and in London, UK with periscope feeds.
  • We will have a trunk show with Q&A in Manchester.

Isn’t that incredible? When I launched the campaign, I hoped we could achieve the first two action points, but we’ve managed seven!

Answers to a few queries:

  • LYS owners will be able to preorder This Thing of Paper approximately one month before publication.
  • I already have a small army of sample knitters assembled, but thank you for thinking of me!
  • I already have a technical editor and a copy editor onboard, but (again) thank you for thinking of me!
  • You will see me less over the next six months or so, as I have a book to make! I am currently fully booked in terms of events and workshops until April 2017.
  • If you weren’t able to pledge support for This Thing of Paper, the book will be in print next year (estimated date: April 2017).
  • Unfortunately I am not able to accept pledges outside of Kickstarter.

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So, how do I feel? I keep going back to that word: overwhelming, but it fits. The whole experience has been very overwhelming. People have been so kind, so supportive, so generous, and so lovely.

The financial side of things is obviously fantastic (as you can see above!) but the emotional support has been equally amazing. And I think that’s what you get from a crowdfunding effort: you get the emotional support too. And the emotional support is equally important to creatives like me who forget sometimes that we are not working in a vacuum. We are connected to a community of extraordinary people who like what we do – and something like this campaign has really brought that home.

Thank you so, so much. It means a lot as you will be able to tell by the next section.

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One night last week I sat up late reflecting. The world has been a terribly bleak place of late, and my thoughts were swirling around the fact that my tiny, tiny corner is filled with the most extraordinary people: you are makers, knitters, writers, artists, lovers, dancers, thinkers & doers. And so I asked myself : how can we spread the goodness and kindness I experience in my everyday life? I don’t pretend to have any answers, but I believe that we need to carry on being good, kind and open-hearted people. We need to challenge hate and fear when we see it – and to do so with love and compassion.

And then I went off to make myself a dress because I needed to create a space where I could refocus and recharge. Making stuff means that to me.

dressaThe dress is New Look 6262 – pardon the awful photo! It’s a very straight-forward make, and I added pockets plus lengthened the sleeves. I used cotton lawn I had purchased from Abakhan when they had an excellent post-Christmas sale. I had three yards  but despite longer sleeves and pockets, I found I only used around 2.5 yards – with the fabric costing me around £3 per yard (I’ve seen it for sale elsewhere at triple the price!), that must be said to be quite a bargain!

Having said that, I don’t find my lifestyle lends itself particularly well to cotton lawn dresses. Scotland is probably a bit too cold for this dress to be entirely practical and I nearly had a tear in the fabric when the brooch in the photo caught the fabric. I tend to get caught on stuff, so I’ll be wanting to use slightly heavier fabric in the future.

The dress itself is fine, though I’m not crazy about gathered skirts. It was a quick make and it went together without a hitch. I opted to make fancy-pants facings, but that only took about fifteen minutes extra.

Would I make this pattern again? Probably – it is easy to wear, easy to make, and doesn’t take much fabric. It is not the most exciting project ever, but that’s okay. Sometimes you just want to make stuff and lose yourself in the process.

Cardigan is Hetty by Andi Satterlund knitted in Cascade 220. Everyday wardrobe for the win.

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Busy Times: the Final Stretch Goal & Meet the Hand-Dyers of This Thing of Paper

Much of the past week (or so) has been spent “steering home” the proverbial Kickstarter ship. I have limited some levels of rewards as I’m starting to manage that side of things. So, if you are yet to pledge, make sure your preferred reward level is still available to you! Today I’m also going to reveal the final stretch goal and talk about the hand dyers who are supporting This Thing of Paper

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I find stretch goals (a target beyond the initial funding goal) tough because This Thing of Paper is already a complex project and adding extras simply means things will take longer. However, I love that with your help and enthusiasm we are now throwing two book launch parties – one in Central Scotland and one in London. If you are a £30+ pledger, you will receive an invitation to either (and if you cannot make it, we are hosting a Periscope video feed).

With the first two stretch goals achieved I am now able to:

  • shoot photos on location
  • improve the quality of the paper
  • get sample knitters onboard to help me make the items in the book

Thank you so, so much!

So, the final stretch goal is £19,400 – or reaching 200% of initial target, if you like. The extra funds will enable me to do the following:

  • apply to be a vendor at UK knitting shows (come & meet me! see the samples in real life!)
  • get a second photographer onboard
  • do a slightly larger print run

In return, I am going to add two This Thing of Paper book plates to each £30+ pledge – they will feature artwork designed especially for This Thing of Paper. I will also be doing a trunk show/Q&A in Manchester, UK – again with a Periscope video feed. This trunk show/Q&A will be slightly different from a book launch party, but still totally awesome. Can we make this happen? I hope so!

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Samples from DyeNinja

 I have already introduced you to the exquisite yarns of Blacker Yarns – now I want you to meet the hand-dyers who are involved with This Thing of Paper. They are quite a special bunch – I spent a lot of time looking at dyeing processes and colour palettes before I found three hand-dyers whose colours are not just exquisite but whose dyeing processes also align with my interest in ‘hand-made’ (for more on my thoughts about that,  please read Tom’s interview with me).

First, meet Sheila of DyeNinja. I first encountered her colours at this year’s Edinburgh Yarn Festival and, quite frankly, they blew me away. Sheila dyes semi-solid colours inspired by the rich, saturated colours of The Silk Road – colour names like Byzantium, Samarkand, and Tashkent bear witness to this. What I particularly loved was that Sheila had peppered her colour palette with near-neutrals – Dromendary and Arabica, in particular – which work beautifully with all her jewel-like colours. It speaks of thoughtfulness and as a designer, it gives me great scope to work with.

Second dyer is Helen of Ripples Crafts. Helen lives and work in the Highlands of Scotland and her colour palette is inspired by the colours in her everyday environment. I have previously collaborated with Helen on the Frances Herself shawl, and I absolutely love her yarns. They are produced in a tiny dye shed off the grid and are dyed in very small batches. There is a real attention to detail in Helen’s colourways and I love how rooted they are to Helen’s landscape and lifestyle – that ethos is so very appealing. Again, I found my interest in small-batch, site-specific production mirrored in Helen’s work and I’m so excited she’s onboard with some very, very gorgeous yarns.

The third and final dyer is Larissa of Travelknitter. I have known Larissa for years and been in absolute awe of her multi-layered, saturated colours for as long as I can remember. When I first asked her if she would be interested in collaborating with me on This Thing of Paper, I received an email which was one long shriek of YES, ARE YOU KIDDING ME. Larissa dyes really fabulous semi-solids that have such an air of warmth to them – even her teals and blues radiate warmth and character (a bit like the lady herself, actually). I am very thankful to have Larissa as a collaborator – one of the key projects in This Thing of Paper would have had a very different feel without her involvement.

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Shout-outs to Woolly Wormhead, Tom of Holland, and Ella Austin who have all written lovely, thoughtful blog posts about This Thing of Paper. I admire all three so much and having them write about my work feels very special. They also cover very different angles (as they should – all three have very specific points-of-view). And I did a video interview with Leona of Fluph fame!

Big shout-out to everybody I met at the Indieburgh Yarn Crawl – too many to mention but I loved getting so many hugs! I had to leave early with a persistent headache, but I had a great time. Special thank you to lovely lady Ginger Twist Jess, who had organised the yarn crawl.

I am back in Glasgow for a workshop next week at The Queen of Purls before heading out west. As previously stated, I’m rolling back my workshop commitments going forward (I have a book to write) so catch me when you can.

Love from my tiny corner of the world and knit on, my friends, knit on.

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This Thing of Paper: Yarns! Party! Revised Budget!

Glasgow is experiencing unusually hot weather, so I am hiding indoors with work. I recently cast on a very chunky, woolly jumper so I am sure I’m to blame for the extraordinary weather. The jumper is working up really well but sadly it is a commission, so I cannot share any pictures of it. I was allowed to work the sample in my size, so when I get it back (18 months from now?) I shall enjoy wearing it.

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Good news: we are going to have a book launch party in Scotland! I continue to be overwhelmed – within a day of announcing my not-a-stretch-goal, we reached that magic number! I have a couple of suitable Central Scotland locations in mind – once I know when the book will launch, I will start to arrange things and issue invites to those of you who have pledged £30 or more. I will keep you posted regarding the potential London book launch party.

My dear friend Jacqui interviewed me for her blog & I spill a few beans about the designs in the book! I also appear briefly on the KnitBritish podcast with one of my favourite humans, Louise Scollay.

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_SMM2185One of the really exciting aspects of This Thing of Paper is definitely which yarns I am using. The book is implicitly about how things feel in our hands and how we have moved from handmade to machine-made items. For this book I am collaborating with one yarn company and a very small number of carefully selected hand-dyers.

So, I can exclusively reveal that Blacker Yarns is collaborating with me on key pieces in my book.

Blacker Yarns are situated in Cornwall and is part of the Natural Fibre Company. They specialise in wool sourced from The British Isles and the Falkland Islands including rare sheep breeds.

I felt their yarns embodied so many of the ideas within my book: Blacker Yarns take a keen interest in sourcing the raw materials for their yarns in an ethical, sustainable way; they are open about the making and manufacturing process; and their yarns are beautiful (and occasionally rare) objects in themselves. I have admired their yarns for many years and have previously collaborated with them on a magazine commission. It is a huge thrill to have them onboard.

As for the hand-dyers, I shall be revealing them shortly. Again, I have chosen these yarns carefully and given much thought to colours and textures.

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Anyway, I said I was going to post an updated budget. Before starting my crowdfunding ventures, I read a lot about how to run a campaign and there are some excellent resources out there. One of the recurrent pieces of advice was that projects can easily become more complex than you anticipate. If you think about it, it makes sense. Doing something for three people is easy; doing something for 30 people requires a bit more planning; doing something for 30,000 people requires staff.

I’ve had to revise my budget as a result of the overwhelming support.

Feel free to skip the next bit if your eyes glaze over – I just feel full transparency is the way forward!

The original budget of £9,700 looked like this:

The material costs include physical rewards, postage, packaging and printing. They come in at £3575.

Intangible costs include hiring a professional graphic designer, a proof-reader and a technical editor. I will also pay myself a small amount each month to offset time to work on the book. Combined these costs come in at £5250.

The remaining £875 go towards various fees.

The revised budget is now £15,760.

The material costs now come in at £6150.

Intangible costs now come in at £8180 .

The remaining £1430 go towards various fees.

Why the difference? Everything has been scaled that little bit larger. The print run is larger and operational costs are higher (i.e. I need to hire helping hands to do stuff like data entry & filling envelopes).

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I am going to be teaching at Leeds Wool Festival this weekend (all my classes are fully booked, sorry). The following weekend is the very exciting Indieburgh Yarn Crawl – I’ll probably be popping up somewhere, although I’m not sure about the details yet (I’m taking one day at a time, at the moment!). Then towards the end I’m back at my local yarn shop, The Queen of Purls, before heading out west for Jinty’s in Dunoon. Just heads up that I will be teaching less going forward (because I have a book to write, among other things!), so do grab a ticket for a workshop if I’m in your vicinity.

This Thing of Paper: What Just Happened?!

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A week ago I launched This Thing of Paper. 25 hours later my project had met its target of £9,700. I sat in a state of shock as the total climbed – this was not what I had planned! It was supposed to take much longer! My head was spinning and I was lost for words. The craft community had rallied around my project in a most kind and loving way. Thank you so, so much.

I’ll post an updated budget this Wednesday, so you can see how I’m balancing the budget. The blog tour also continues. Naomi and Meg blogged last week. Natalie posted today.  You can also hear an interview with me on the Yarn in the City podcast.

So what now?

Many people have asked if I am going to implement stretch goals (a target beyond the initial funding goal). Well, yes and no.

In light of the response to This Thing of Paper, I have had to adjust my budget: the print run will be larger and some things will be a bit more complex – most of the extra funds already raised will be put towards the making and distribution of my book less complicated. It is perhaps not the sexiest response you will have ever seen to a crowd-funding effort, but I believe it is a very practical and sensible one.

… but here is the Thing.

While I am not going to add any extra content to This Thing of Paper (it is a complete work as it stands), there are still things that would be really awesome.

  • Getting certain images licensed
  • Sample knitters to make the garments in two sizes for trunk shows & festivals
  • Improving the quality of the paper used in the book
  • Shooting photos on location (I’ve been researching options this past weekend)

So, with all that in mind, I have been pondering what would be an awesome extra treat for everybody. I want something I can give back to the community, so I have settled on something I think could be very special: a book launch party for This Thing of Paper with a periscope stream for those not able to join us. Let’s make this happen, folks.

Let’s decide to have a book launch party at £15,500.

If we reach £16,500 we can even do two book launches – one in Scotland* and one in London!

If we reach the magical £15,500 number, I’ll be adding book launch party invites to reward levels at £30 and beyond. If we reach £16,500, those invites will be valid for a London party too.

Imagine that – a party with cake where everybody expects you to knit and read! I do like the sound of that – and it means that we can join together and celebrate what we have accomplished as a community.

Because I would not be doing all this if it were not for your help and support. That’s the truth.

*ETA: In Scotland, this party would take place in the Central Belt – either Glasgow or Edinburgh. I have three potential venues, all within easy reach of public transport.

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On a Personal Note

The success of This Thing of Paper has felt incredible. I was shell-shocked for most of Monday and Tuesday last week.

At school, I was bullied quite badly for being a bookish, arty, and geeky kid. That was a long time ago, but these sort of scars never seem to fade. I have spent most of my life trying to hide away all those things the playground targeted. It is only within the last decade that I have learned to accept myself. It’s okay to be different and I can not be anybody but me.

So, having so many people support my bookish, arty, and geeky product feels very significant and even had me in tears.

Many people have also been in touch to urge me to be kinder to myself. I’m not going to lie: knowing that bills will be covered until April 2017 is a massive weight off my shoulders. That is a kindness in itself. Being able to pay others to do some of the work I usually do myself is also an utter pleasure.

As I am writing this, I am still not quite sure of what has happened but I know this: I am so thankful that life has led me to knitting and the wonderful community. Thank you. Thank you.

This Thing of Paper – Hey, It Is Live!

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Gosh, it feels like yesterday I finally made the leap from having This Thing of Paper in my head to sharing the project with you all. And yet today I can finally share the Kickstarter page with you. Yes, it is now live and will run for the next thirty days (until June 22 at 9.40am GMT).

To summarise, This Thing of Paper is a knitting book with ten patterns and accompanying essays – all inspired by the age of Johan Gutenberg and the invention of the printing press. I have chosen to do this book as a Kickstarter because I want to produce a quality book; a book that is as beautiful to hold and read as the patterns will be to knit and wear.

You can read my full introduction here. I have also blogged about my design considerations as well as being transparent about how my budget works.

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All the patterns inside This Thing of Paper form parts of a book, both figuratively and literally. They are divided into three distinct stories:

Story 1: Manuscript. The story of handmade manuscripts and the people who worked on making them. This story features one garment and two accessories. The colour palette is rich and sumptuous.

Story 2: Invention. The story of the period in which Johannes Gutenberg transformed book production. This story features one garment and three accessories. The colour palette is more restrained but still features saturated colours.

Story 3: Printed. The story of when printed matter became more commonplace and helped spread information across Europe. This story features one garment and two accessories. The colour palette veers towards naturals with accent colours.

The three garments will come in seven sizes, whilst the accessories will come in two or more. All patterns cater to a range of difficulties. Unfamiliar techniques will be explained. All patterns (bar one lace project) will be both charted and written out.

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I have a marvellous blog tour coming up filled with people whose work I admire so very much. It is a such huge thrill to have them write about This Thing of Paper.

May 26: Naomi Parkhurst

May 27: Meg Roper

May 30: Natalie Servant

June 1: Jacqui Harding

June 6: Woolly Wormhead

June 8: Tom of Holland / Tom van Deijnen

June 10: Ella Austin

June 13: Leona Jayne Kelly of Fluph

June 15: JacquelineM

June 16: Felix Ford/KNITSONIK

June 17: Clare Devine

June 20: Dianna Walla

Yowza! I have tried to come up with an interesting combination of people who would each approach the project in their own way.

And there you have it. From an idea back in 2012 to a Kickstarter that launches today. I really hope you like it.

This Thing of Paper: Thoughts on Crowdfunding & Rewards

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So, I have introduced you to This Thing of Papermy book-sized project about knitting, making and printing. I have also written about my design considerations. Now, the details about the Kickstarter campaign which launches on May 23 2016.

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It was a long, hard decision to start a Kickstarter campaign for This Thing of Paper. I learned a lot of lessons doing Doggerland: I learned about graphic design, editing to a style sheet, defining design vocabularies, and photography. Most importantly, I learned that I cannot do a project like that on my own (or it will take a very long time). I need a team to support me, so I have time to create the content that is so central to my project.

But hiring good people costs money. Blocking out my calendar with creative time also costs money.

And so when I costed This Thing of Paper, I thought it would remain a passion project. One of those projects I’d work on when I had small pockets of time and maybe, just maybe, it’d see the light sometime next decade. Then several knitters (independently of each other!) asked if I had considered crowdfunding. You know what? I hadn’t, but one year later here we are just a few days away from a campaign launching.

Making the decision to crowd fund has meant that a) This Thing of Paper can become what I want it to be rather than an ongoing series of compromises and b) working with the knowledge that I am not alone – I have people backing me and supporting me all throughout the journey.

Crowdfunding means more than just financing a book project; it is also about feeling part of a loving, supportive and cheerleading community. Both things are really awesome and I am so grateful to the people who suggested I travel down that route. Fingers crossed that we get to set off on this adventure.

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The Kickstarter for This Thing of Paper aims to raise £9,700 in 30 days. Because I am a big believer in transparency, this is how that sum breaks down:

The material costs include physical rewards, postage, packaging and printing. They come in at £3575.

Intangible costs include hiring a professional graphic designer, a proof-reader and a technical editor. I will also pay myself a small amount each month to offset time to work on the book. Combined these costs come in at £5250.

The remaining £875 go towards various fees.

The book is scheduled for publication in April 2017 – I know from experience working both on my own and on various collaborations how long knitting publications take to make. Instead of making rash promises, I am working to a realistic timeline – especially considering I will still be teaching throughout the period.

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Now for the sweet part – the Kickstarter rewards. My partner David has supported a number of Kickstarters over the years and it’s always so joyful to see all the little extras that arrive. It’s been a lot of fun thinking of rewards and goodies, I can tell you! So, here are the seven reward levels.

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Pledging £5 or more gives you a whole lot of gratitude & a big thank you in the book!

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Pledging £10 or more gets you a big thank you in the book as well as two single digital patterns
from either the Doggerland or Hygge collections sent to your email.

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Pledging £20 or more gets you a printed copy of This Thing of Paper (plus a digital download code for the ebook) and a big thank you in the book!

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Pledging £30 or more gets you a printed, signed copy of This Thing of Paper (plus a digital download code for the ebook), two This Thing of Paper bookmarks and a big thank you in the book! You also get an exclusive Early Backer digital pattern. This pattern will be sent to your email and won’t become available anywhere else.

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Pledging £50 or more gets you a printed, signed copy of This Thing of Paper (plus a digital download code for the ebook), two This Thing of Paper bookmarks & badges, a This Thing of Paper tote/book bag, access to exclusive Facebook group, and a big thank you in the book! You also get an exclusive Early Backer digital pattern. This pattern will be sent to your email and won’t become available anywhere else.

ttop100Pledging £100 or more gets you a printed, signed copy of This Thing of Paper (plus a digital download code for the ebook), two This Thing of Paper bookmarks & badges, a This Thing of Paper tote/book bag, access to exclusive Facebook group, and a big thank you in the book! You also get an exclusive Early Backer digital pattern. This pattern will be sent to your email and won’t become available anywhere else.

Oh, and an hour long Skype chat with me!

It’s up to you what you want to talk about: do you want to talk about a specific knitting technique? do you want me to give you feedback on your portfolio? or do you simply want to hang out, chat & knit over Skype? It’s all up to you! Let’s have fun!

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Pledging £500 or more gets you a printed, signed copy of This Thing of Paper (plus a digital download code for the ebook), two This Thing of Paper bookmarks & badges, a This Thing of Paper tote/book bag, access to exclusive Facebook group, and a big thank you in the book! You also get an exclusive Early Backer digital pattern. This pattern will be sent to your email and won’t become available anywhere else.

Oh, and a weekend with me in Glasgow, Scotland!

Let me show you around my adopted home city of Glasgow, Scotland. See it through my eyes: tenement tiles, art nouveau and contemporary street art, irresistible vintage bookshops, Victorian museums, fabric and yarn shop visits, artisan coffee shops, or (weather permitting) maybe even a dash to the picturesque West Coast? (Please note that travel, accommodation, and food are not included).

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I hope the rewards tickle your fancy. I wanted all the extra goodies to have a flavour of bibliophilia, so there are bookmarks and a book bag tucked in there along the exclusive Early Backer pattern and the very, very big thank yous.

Any questions? I’m currently collating any and all queries, so I can answer them in the next blog post (which takes us up to the launch and the amazing blog tour of people I just admire so darn much).

(Have you noticed the little bar or scroll I’ve used in these This Thing of Paper posts, by the way? It’s hand-drawn by me and should give you an idea of the sort of details I am adding into the book (alongside awesome patterns and essays, of course))

This Thing of Paper: Design Considerations

I introduced This Thing of Paper last week. This week I am writing about the work that went into the design process and how I defined the design vocabulary. If you like reading about how designers’ brains work, this post will definitely give you a glimpse into my way of working!

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Work on This Thing of Paper started some time in 2012. I began talking to friends and colleagues about this mad notion I had: I wanted to make a knitting collection by hand like a medieval scribe. The practicalities made me abandon this idea: I am a semi-competent calligrapher, but making a whole book by hand* would have taken me years. Also, pattern support would have been interesting (“Let me send you a handwritten letter about row 97”) and the idea of inserting errata was daunting.

*) manuscript literally translates as something ‘written by hand’!

As it happens, though, I have a background in book history and as the idea of making a book by hand left me, I began thinking about the shift from manuscript to printed book. I knew I’d have enough material to write about but I had to find out if I had design material.

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I set up a moodboard. I browsed digitalised archives of books from the period. I visited art galleries & museums (and one of my local museums was even kind enough to have a relevant exhibition!). I sketched and examined sources from 14th century Book of Hours manuscripts to 16th century embroidery manuals.

Keywords emerged as did a distinct colour palette and design vocabulary.

The colour palette was fairly easy to conceptualise: parchment and paper with ink and decoration. Soft natural shades with rich, deep mineral-derived pigments. Below you can see some fairly typical details from 14th century illuminated manuscripts and how they translate into colour palettes. Contrary to what many people believe, though, most manuscripts were not highly decorated. As time progressed, technology allowed for woodcuts to be inserted into printed pages – some were tinted by hand afterwards.

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Related: here is an  an excellent article about why it is impossible to replicate the colours of medieval stained glass.

The design vocabulary was harder to capture. I had worked with such a sparse design vocabulary for Doggerland that I was overwhelmed by the visual possibilities in This Thing of Paper. Dragons! Devils! Stars! Acanthus leaves! Overwhelmed.

Instead I began to fall in love with the concept of negative space. Paper being much cheaper than vellum meant that you did not need to cram as much information as possible into a page; margins became wider and spaces between words appeared! I’ll be writing much more about this in the actual book – but how things relate to one another in a confined visual space definitely became a thing for me. I also fell for small geometric motifs and how things are visually repeated in different ways.

So, the design vocabulary is much more exuberant than it ever was for Doggerland, but it does not mean I have not edited it ruthlessly. I am placing the visual cues in a 21st century context with wearability at the forefront. Less rustic garterstitch and pared-down lace; more play with colour and delicate, ornamental motifs.

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Further design considerations: I wanted items that would appeal to a range of knitters. The projects are aimed at advanced beginner knitters to advanced knitters. Some projects will be achievable in a weekend or over a week; others will demand more involvement. The items cover texture, colour and lace. Needing to include such a variety of things in a relatively small collection meant editing what I needed to design.

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For structure, I divided This Thing of Paper into three sections (or three main stories, if you like) and each section includes a garment as well as accessories. Each of the three garments will be graded across seven sizes (XS to 3X) and will have notes on how to modify fit. The accessories are a mixtures of shawls, hats and gloves. I’ll be including sizing options here as well. Most patterns will be both charted and written out, because I know many people prefer to work from both (the jury’s out on one shawl pattern, but I will keep you updated on that).

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Thank you so, so much for all the enthusiasm and excitement so far. This is already a long entry but I want to tell you how much your reaction has meant to me. At the risk of sounding corny, I genuinely feel like I’m not alone on this whole This Thing of Paper journey because you are all sharing this adventure with me. I know this may sound like one of Those Inspirational Quotes I usually wince at – but I genuinely mean it. It is so nice to have you along.

Next week I will be writing about all the practical stuff (but there will still be pretty colours & images).

Introducing This Thing of Paper

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It is time to announce a project that has been a long time coming.  It is a project dear to my heart and one that I hope you will love as much as I do.

May I introduce you to This Thing of Paper? As both a knitter and a bibliophile, I have been yearning to do a project that combines my two loves. So many of you have been asking for a physical book, and I’m afraid I really took that concept and ran with it. On May 23, 2016 I will launch a Kickstarter for the publication of the book. I have chosen to do this as I want to produce a book that is as beautiful to hold and read as the patterns themselves will be to knit and wear.

This Thing of Paper is a a book of ten knitting projects with accompanying essays. The project is inspired by the age of Johan Gutenberg and his invention of the printing press. Gutenberg’s work meant that books changed from being rare objects reserved for the elite to something that ordinary folk could access. I have always been fascinated by how one invention could change the course of history.

But there is more to this story.

I have been working with primary sources ranging from 14th century illuminated manuscripts to 16th century embroidery manuals. I have cast my own type* and printed a facsimile page of Gutenberg’s 42-line bible on a replica 15th century printing press (once used by Stephen Fry, no less!). This Thing of Paper is steeped in one woman’s love of vellum, marginalia, woodcuts and rubrication.

*(which won’t be used in the book, though. I’m not inflicting pre-1500 typefaces on you!)

And I am doing all of this firmly focused on knitting.

Knitting and books share several characteristics and I particularly love the materiality of them both. Yarn flows through my fingers – and some yarns just feel right in my hands which means I keep returning to them. Books give me that feeling too. Some books are perennial favourites simply because they rest in my hands just so. One recurrent theme throughout This Thing of Paper will be the materiality of things and how we interact with those – just like inhabiting physical and imaginary landscapes was a core part of my Doggerland collection.

As for the knitting patterns, they will not be replica 15th century fashion. All the patterns inside This Thing of Paper are parts of a book, both figuratively and literally. In reality this means three garments (in seven sizes because that is how I roll) and seven accessories. I will later share a Pinterest board, so you can see exactly what inspired me. The patterns are contemporary and come in a range of difficulties.

Oh, and why This Thing of Paper? The title is taken from a 15th century treatise raging against the terrible, terrible modernity of the printing press called De laude scriptorum (In Praise of Scribes – I’ve read this treatise, so you don’t have to). The full quote reads:

Who is ignorant of the difference between writing [scriptura] and printing [impressura]? A manuscript, written on parchment, can last a thousand years. How long will print, this thing of paper [res papirea] last?

I just couldn’t resist.

Stay tuned for more blog posts about the designs, the Kickstarter details (there are some truly ace rewards) and I even have a blog tour lined up with some really amazing, talented people.