Karie Bookish Dot Net

Introducing This Thing of Paper


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.

40 Thoughts on “Introducing This Thing of Paper

  1. Mrs L Thompson on April 28, 2016 at 11:30 am said:

    Sounds totally fabulous! Good luck, I hope you get all the support you need.

  2. Charlotte on April 28, 2016 at 11:40 am said:

    I’m so excited about this! As someone who’s worked in publishing for most of my career I find type exciting, the historian in me can’t wait for the essays and as a knitter I can say that’s one of the most beautiful swatches I’ve ever seen.

    Roll on May 23rd!

  3. This looks so great. Just wondering why you refer to Gutenberg as Johann when his name was Johannes.

  4. Sounds intriguing. I used to work for a publishing company called Primary Source Media and we had a dark room where they microfilmed Incunabula – all the precious manuscripts from the British Library used to be kept in a safe.

    • YES! I was not the first to use the word incunabula! I’ve been working with some of those too – so fascinating to see the shift from manuscripts to printed books.

  5. Laurel Faye Luchsinger on April 28, 2016 at 12:42 pm said:

    That sounds so interesting! can’t wait to hear more and see finished book. Good luck

  6. Freyalyn Close-Hainsworth on April 28, 2016 at 2:00 pm said:

    How exciting! Can’t wait to see what you’ve created. (And I wouldn’t have minded ancient type face…)

    • Karie on April 29, 2016 at 7:10 pm said:

      Somehow I think pattern support would be much more of an issue if I used pre-1500 typefaces ;)

  7. Ooohhh that sounds amazing! I am sure I will love it an this will be a musthave for me!

    • Karie on April 29, 2016 at 7:11 pm said:

      I saw that you work as an archivist! I am sure this will be right up your alley :)

  8. annshayne on April 28, 2016 at 2:48 pm said:

    Wonderful! Can’t wait to see this.

  9. Snorki on April 28, 2016 at 5:02 pm said:

    Sounds wonderful and a really exciting project. Curiously, I was reading a book about the Special Collections of the John Rylands Library yesterday and came across the word ‘incunabula’. I had to go and look it up. And now, less than 24 hours later, I come across it again; this time with a knitting connection. How fab is that :) ?

  10. This is so exciting! Congratulations on taking the leap and I can’t wait to see your plans develop.

  11. Two of my great loves, as well – I can’t wait to see your book and I look forward to seeing what you share of the process.

  12. Fearthainn on April 28, 2016 at 9:13 pm said:

    This sounds amazing! I’m so excited just thinking about it! You’re absolutely right about the materiality of both books and yarn (and in my case spinning fibre). There’s as much pleasure in the look and feel of the objects we use as there is in the utility of them. SO excited!

  13. Well done for following your dream – marking the 23rd May on my calendar so I can help you get there.

    • Karie on April 29, 2016 at 7:21 pm said:

      This may sound trite, but I’m genuinely so happy that people want to join me on this whole adventure :) Thank you!

  14. Sounds most exciting! Looking forward to seeing more!

  15. Sara W on April 28, 2016 at 11:16 pm said:

    This sounds so exciting. What a great way to unite your interests, which so many of us share. Your blog is always so fascinating and attractive, I am really looking forward to seeing This Thing of Paper.

  16. You have totally hooked me on your work! Looking forward to hearing and learning more!

  17. Gosh what a wonderful and intriguing project I am looking forward to hearing more.

  18. Anne A on April 29, 2016 at 8:05 pm said:

    This sounds fascinating. I immediately thought of the other parallel between paper (whether handwritten or printed) and the electronic age – reading from paper is not done by everyone these days. Could we apply the same question: This thing of [tablet, PC, pnone] screens?

  19. Carole Norman on April 29, 2016 at 8:43 pm said:

    Can’t wait to see more! Your research sounds fascinating.

  20. Mairead on May 2, 2016 at 9:08 pm said:

    How exciting! And thrilling! And scary at the same time. Wishing you all the best of luck.

  21. What a wonderful idea ! I am very curious what patterns you came up with. Wishing you all the good luck with the kickstarter campaign !

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