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Category Archives: This Thing Of Paper

This Thing of Paper – An Update

The manuscript has been handed in.

I began working on This Thing of Paper around two years ago. The first concept work, the colour palette and the initial research fell into place around then. Then late spring 2016 I took a deep breath and announced to the world what I was planning. More than 700 people decided to back me via Kickstarter. The work really began a year ago.

In the past year I have learned a lot.

I already knew how to do my job: sketching, swatching, grading, pattern-writing, technical editing, copy editing, styling, organising a photo shoot (and modelling), researching, and sample-knitting (I out-sourced three samples, but the rest was in-house!). However, my job seemed a lot more complex when I had to do all of those things for twelve patterns  — eleven of which are in the book and one which is an exclusive Kickstarter extra. I also had to write essays, press releases, design book extras, and some other extra bits yet to be unveiled. I always enjoy pulling a collection together, but it has been hard work.

In the past year I have learned about the importance of saying no, how important your team is, the art of compromise (and when to do it), and just how stubborn I can be. I have also learned that unkind people will ask me “how’s the book coming along” when I post about being out for my birthday dinner or visiting a very sick relative in hospital (!!). I have learned that good preparation will save a bunch of time, but other things will come along and throw you off. I have learned that I can do more than I thought myself capable of doing.

The manuscript is now with my graphic designer. The book team will then review the proof one last time before This Thing of Paper is printed. I am currently working on all those extra bits that you’ll learn about soon.

I’ll be updating workshop dates this week. Book release date is yet to be confirmed but I should know more a fortnight from now.

Thanks for sticking around, folks! We are nearly there.

This Thing of Paper – March & April 2017

Earlier this year I had the great pleasure of meeting many knitters at both Joeli’s Retreat in Manchester and at Edinburgh Yarn Festival. Many of them backed my This Thing of Paper Kickstarter whilst others had just learned about the project. This update is for backers and non-backers alike.

First, An Important Housekeeping Note:

If you need to get in touch with me for any reason, please contact me via email (hello @kariebookish.net) or via the contact form on my website (this goes directly into my email). When you email me, please use a descriptive subject header. Please.

Thank you so, so, so much!

This ensures I see your message as quickly as possible and that your query will get resolved that much quicker.

The Book – or, what has Karie done with her life this month?

The book is coming on in leaps and bounds. All the patterns are finished. I have been working closely with my technical editor Amelia Hodsdon on getting them ready for publication (more on that later). My focus has now shifted to three other things:

  1. Essays. All my notes have been collated; the essays now exist in keyword form; and the narrative structure of the book is mapped out with post-it notes. I am not sure how other writers do this, but I like to have my book outlined like a ghost on the page before I start fleshing things out. I am working with a copy editor, the marvellous Kate Gregory, on this part of the project. I am very aware that I only have a finite amount of words inside of me, so you will see less of me online as I save my words for the book.
  2. Perks & Rewards. All the Kickstarter backers signed up for sweet, sweet rewards and, whilst I sourced all the goodies very early on in the process, all the lovely stuff is now going to start arriving in Casa Bookish and will be sent out with the book itself. I’ll be getting an assistant to help me with the admin load.
  3. Making It Happen. Shops and non-backers have asked how they can buy the book once it is released. I’ll be setting up a small shop section on this website. Just like the Perks & Rewards section, I’ll have some help doing this.

 

The Book  –  or, what goes into making a pattern ready.

I thought I’d write a bit about what work goes into making a pattern ready for publication. Amelia and I work from a house style sheet – a document I have written that covers all style standards and practices involved in writing a knitting pattern. Here are some examples of what a good style sheet covers:

  • a set way of writing phrases like the beginning of the round – the style sheet determines if you write BORbeg of rndbeg of round, or even Beg of Rnd (or something else!).
  • how abbreviations are styled – k2tog or K2TOG; if you capitalise KYOK, should you then also capitalise SKYK?
  • the narrative flow of a pattern: does the garment start with the back or the front? is it important that the sleeves are worked first? When do you write about the extra cast-on stitches – do they belong to the body section or the buttonband section?
  • standard sections: NAME; MATERIALS; NEEDLES; ACCESSORIES; GAUGE; PATTERN NOTES; INSTRUCTIONS.
  • standard sub-sections: how materials are listed and which order; line breaks or no line breaks?
  • how repeats within repeats are written. Round or square brackets? How do we deal with really complicated stuff like a repeat within a repeat within a repeat within a repeat? Ah, look at page 5 where there is a guide on how to write this.

(An aside: When I teach pattern writing, I’m often asked if I can share my style sheet. Unfortunately there are no real short cuts to a good style sheet. It is one that designers build up themselves based upon their own experience and their thoughts on what a good pattern reads like.)

So, Amelia and I have double- and triple-checked the maths in the patterns, but we have also worked very hard on ensuring consistent style across all patterns and making sure the patterns have good narrative flow. One of our longest discussions was over whether one line of instructions needed to be in one section or another.

This Thing of Paper contains 11 patterns (and one exclusive pattern for high-level backers), so it has been quite a lot of work getting to this stage. I started out designing the patterns last spring, knowing that I needed a cohesive collection with a broad selection of project types aimed at different types of knitters, then I began writing the patterns and, finally, they have been edited.

 

Hiccups – or, what has Karie learned along the way?

Oh dear.

I am currently unravelling a large sample I had commissioned for the book. Not only did the sample arrive very late, but it also arrived in a completely unusable condition. Why don’t I just crocodile clip it and fake my way through the photo shoot? Because a) that is not how I roll, b) the book samples will be shown at trunk shows, and c) I actually want to be able to wear my samples. So, I am having to reknit the piece which means delays are cascading down the entire production line: photo shoots, layout, writing time etc.

This has proven one of my biggest lessons of the last year: outsourcing work does mean I can focus on my core tasks, but it also means that I rely on other people to work to deadlines and an agreed standard. I have been incredibly lucky to have good people step up to the plate when I needed them (and you will learn about them in the book), but it has not been a smooth process.

I have also learned about perfectionism. This is always my curse. Back in the day I designed nearly 25 patterns for my 8-piece Doggerland collection. This time I have curbed my tendencies a bit better but the early days of This Thing of Paper definitely saw me design an excess of patterns. I think I need to accept that is how I work and allow myself time to do so.

Timeline – or, Karie accepts she cannot control the universe!

I can finally see the light at the end of the tunnel. There are still issues that need to be solved, but that’s part of my job description. We also have a metric tonne of work to do between now and the publication of This Thing of Paper – but we have a clear road map with a full tank of gas. All the deadlines are locked in place and This Thing of Paper will be with you by the end of the summer (or winter if you live in the Southern Hemisphere).

2016: Let’s Make This Very Brief & With Some Good News

I am not going to write a long post rehashing 2016. I usually write these retrospective posts every year, but this year is different. You know this too. You don’t need me to remind you.

Instead I am going to share some very good news with you. I learned this a few weeks ago and shared it with my Kickstarter pals yesterday. Recently I have been travelling a lot for work. I have been to London, Northern Ireland, and off the Scottish coast. This month took me to Mainland Europe where I spent a lot of time in medieval town centres and museums as well as talking to textile people in Denmark, Germany and Belgium.

The highlight of my Mainland Europe trip was a visit to the Gutenberg Museum in Mainz, Germany. Johannes Gutenberg was born and worked in Mainz and the museum is a real treat for anybody interested in book history and print culture. I was given special permission to work with their collections (which includes two Gutenberg bibles) and the staff were all incredibly generous with their knowledge of early printed books. The museum also contains extensive material on book-binding, paper-making, and print ephemera. I can heartily recommend it. Currently the museum is also hosting an exhibition on the Futura font which sent this early 20th C loving gal into rapture (I contain multitudes).

Now for my very, very good news:

I am exceptionally pleased to announce that the Gutenberg Museum has requested a copy of This Thing of Paper for their archives.

Obviously they have a great deal of material in their archives, but I believe this will be the first knitting book to be included! I am very excited about this – it shows that the scope of what a knitting book can be and do is endless. Felicity Ford has written eloquently about knitting’s potential, and I’m so proud to make a small contribution to this breaking down of barriers.

And I cannot thank my Kickstarter supporters enough to helping me do this. I love knowing that your names will be in the Gutenberg Museum Archives too. Thank you.

I am slowly winding up all work for this year. Today will be my last rugby match with the inbox but I will continue to knit until 2016 runs out of breath. You might be amused to know that my word for 2017 is nope and that my resolutions are to swear more, say hell no a lot more, and spread a lot of love in the darkness.

Peace x

P.S. If you are looking for a gift for a knitting friend, I have decided to do a 20% discount off the Frances Herself shawl with the rav code courage. Code is valid December 20-21, 2016.

Frances Herself was inspired by Frances Macdonald McNair – a wonderful artist whose work was derailed by her husband. I designed this shawl for women everywhere – we are makers, lovers, fighters, and human. I chose the word courage as the code because we are facing a world where we need all the courage we have buried inside us.

Yarnporium & A Trip to Yorkshire

Last week I went on a research trip to Yorkshire for my book, This Thing of Paper. It was the first of two research trips and I am glad that I scheduled it while we are still working on the patterns. The second trip will take place later this year and be less visually intensive but perfect for the essays. Thank you to everyone who has made this work possible.

I had a profound experience when I travelled south to York, and I’m going to write more about that in a second. First, though, a very exciting announcement.

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I’ll be teaching two workshops at the Yarnporium show in London this November. First, I’m running a half-day class on knitting hap shawls which covers the classic Shetland hap constructions, how to deal with lace charts, and how to work applied edges. I will also cover any questions on how to customise & design hap shawls. Then, I have developed a class especially for Yarnporium called Knitting the Landscape. This class is an exploration of psychogeography and knitting. We’ll talk flaneuring, urban exploration, inner/outer landscapes, and how to express your own paths in knitted pieces that’ll keep you warm on your journeys.

I’m so honoured to be asked to teach a class like Knitting the Landscape – it’s really a step outside what you’d expect from a knitting workshop and it gets us all thinking about what we can do with our everyday making. I like that.

Now, back to my research trip.

I spent part of my trip in York itself. The city was founded by the Romans, then became a major settlement for the Vikings, before growing into a significant religious site and wool trading centre in the 13th and 14th centuries. Much of York’s city centre is well-preserved within the city walls (of which some date back to 300AD, but most to the 12th and 13th centuries) and the famous Shambles is a well-preserved medieval street. Between my appointments, I enjoyed walking around discovering small details here and there.

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We spent two days at the York Minster itself – one of the largest Gothic cathedrals in the world with various secondary buildings like a library and stonemason’s court. The level of detail is astonishing: little mice carved into the stonework, gargoyles peeking out, statues with changed faces, elaborate cope chests,  and the awe-inspiring architecture of the Chapter House (and its tiled floor). It was easy to spend hours here and we did.

But what I did not expect was to have one profound moment that reduced me to tears.

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I don’t know about you, but I’ve always loved stained glass. The deep, rich colours and the layers of allegorical imagery with so much religious and historical significance .. so when I saw York’s Five Sisters window, I was taken aback.

However, there was something different about the Five Sisters window. It is mostly composed of grisaille (grey) glass with just a few coloured pieces inserted here and there. Grisaille was made by painting patterns on pieces of silvery grey glass. The pieces were then arranged into intricate geometric patterns using lead to hold the pieces together. I speculated that the geometric patterns may have been influenced by crusaders seeing Islamic tiles on their travels (the timeline would be right, I believe).

So I sat there beneath dark windows with strong geometric patterns and I had a strong emotional reaction. The window reminded me of the first time I read TS Eliot’s The Waste Land which was also formed of ‘fragments shored against these ruins’. Something about the small, insignificant pieces that swirled together in highly complex patterns to create something bigger than themselves. Small glimpses of colour and light to break the dark complexity .. the more I looked at the window, the more I cried.

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I later learned that Five Sister was last restored in the 1920s and dedicated as a memorial to the women who died during the First Word War. Mrs Little, a local woman, had a vision of long-lost sisters guiding her towards the window and as she approached, her sisters faded away to be replaced by five women sitting in a garden sewing needlework. I am moved by Mrs little’s words: “After the war was over, when memorials on all sides were being erected to our brothers, I often thought that our sisters who also made the same sacrifice appeared to have been forgotten.” Names of more than 1400 women are inscribed on oak panels nearby.

I sat there for nearly an hour underneath that window and I could have stayed much longer. Great art is what changes us and the way we look at the world. I never thought a 13th century grisaille window would affect me so but it did.

Life is so much greater than just our own tiny selves. We combine to make sense of it all.

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.