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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.