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A Knitterly Guide to Ireland – Nadia of A Cottage Notebook

I’m currently very busy working on my forthcoming book, so I asked the Irish podcaster and blogger Nadia to guestblog. I know many of you enjoy my knitterly guide to Scotland, so here is Nadia’s fibre-filled guide to Ireland. I hope you enjoy!

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Image 1 © J. Seaver

I know what you’re thinking: most of you dream of Ireland filled with green fields, sheep and lots of fibre related crafts. While in a way, you are right, everything is probably a little more spread out here then you think. So, let me take you on a province by province yarny trip of Ireland and as this is my guide, the sun is shining, birds are singing and you all magically have sparkly wellies for spontaneous field trips!

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To start with a little history, you can visit the Museum of Decorative Arts in Collins Barracks to have a glimpse into Ireland’s textile history before starting on a yarn crawl to the local yarn shops This is Knit in Powerscourt Townhouse, The Constant Knitter on Francis Street and WM Trimmings on Capel Street. Leaving the city center you have Spring Wools in Walkinstown and Winnies Wool Wagon in Blackrock. Starting early in the morning we are off to Co. Wicklow where you can visit the beautiful Powerscourt estate before having an afternoon tea and some baked goods at Avoca HandWeavers. Now further south it’s off to the National Craft Gallery in co. Killkenny before checking out the fabulous Cushendale Woollen Mill.

Munster

Waterford is my personal favourite with Waterford Crystal and the Museum of Treasures in the viking triangle worth a visit. While in Co. Kerry visiting the locations of famous movie sets, you can stop at Kerry Woollen Mills and visit the mill. If weaving is also of interest to you, a visit to Lisbeth Mulcahy  in Dingle is a must. Moving on to Co. Clare to McKernan woollen mills if you want to see some looms in action. A trip in Munster wouldn’t be complete without a trip to the Hedgehog Fibers and Vibes & Scribes while in Co. Cork.

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Connacht

The Museum of Country Life is one to visit while in Castlebar, Co. Mayo if you want to learn more about the different types of Irish traditional lifestyles. The Connacht Textile Crafters meet up here so check to see if you can catch them while you visit. While in Mayo you can pick up some craft supplies in Lunasa and you can watch the looms at work in the beautifully restored Foxford Woollen Mills and popping by Beth Moran of Ballytoughey Loom before heading off in a more northerly direction.  A personal favourite of mine is a trip to the Aran Islands to explore everything they have to offer, before settling in for the joy of Galway city with a yarn top up at the Crafty Stitchers.

 

Ulster

This may be the last section of our journey but it is by far one of the most beautiful and breathtaking in Ireland. I have a deep love for Ulster from spending so much of my childhood there. We have to start out with the Yarn Spinners of Inishowen before continuing the theme of spinning with a trip to Johnny Shiels cottages in Inishowen to have a look at his wonderful wheels. Do drop him a message first through the web or Facebook because he might be off visiting local schools sharing his vast knowledge and inspiring the local youth. While we are on the subject of spinners, you should also have a quick check in with the Ulster Guild of Weavers, Spinners & Dyers you might be in luck and your travel dates coincide with a meet.  For a yarn top up you have Love Wool in Portadown, The Wool box in Lurgan and Lighthouse yarns in Whitehead.

From here I would also recommend a trip to the Ulster American Folk Park. Yes I know it’s on every tourist site out there but during their exhibitions I learned how to basket weave, how to plait straw into dolls and braids and I had an in depth talk about clothes and textiles of the time. No visit to Ireland would be complete with a visit to Donegal Yarns. You can visit the working mill and the surrounding area is one of the most picturesque in Ireland. While here why not pop in to Edel Mc Bride to have a look at some knitwear.  On our way back to Dublin, we cross back in Lenister once more and stop off in Carlingford. Why? Because I spent a day on the mountain with a packed lunch hugging sheep and visiting the derelict buildings of a famine village and seriously who doesn’t want to do that?

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Returning to Dublin for rest and now filled with the knowledge of fiber in Ireland. You can head to both This is Knit in Powerscourt Townhouse and The Constant Knitter in Francis street to squish some final skeins and top up on yarn before heading back to the airport or ferry.

Before your visit why not check out The Dublin Knit Collective for the nights you are in Dublin if you would like to meet up with local knitters. The Irish Guild of Weavers, Spinners and Dyers also have meetings and events and you never know you might even get a glimpse of a Great Wheel made by one of the members!

I hope you all enjoy your trip, prepare for rain… the wellies are not a joke!

Like Karie’s Guide to Scotland, all recommendations are from my own travels, including the hug a sheep part and yes I apologised profusely. I haven’t been bribed to include places in the post with either money, baked goods or promises of yarn. I would love to hear your favourite yarn shops in Ireland and other suggestions as I’m sure there are places I haven’t gotten to visit yet!

Love, Nadia

(Catch up with Nadia’s lovely podcast here.)

All the Things; All the Feels

Today I’m really tired. I spent the weekend in London for the lovely, lovely Yarnporium and while I took yesterday off, I am feeling a bit rough around the edges today.

I spent Friday at the Victoria & Albert museum in London which is dedicated to arts & crafts and design. I took in the Opus Anglicanum: Masterpieces of English Medieval Embroidery with a friend and also lingered with the sections on medieval European art. Saturday I taught two classes at Yarnporium (and managed to get lost on my way to teaching the Knitting the Landscape class which I thought was very on-message and method of me). I caught up with vendors and friends before heading to an evening do thrown by LoveCrafts in Bloomsbury. Sunday I spent the morning at Yarnporium again meeting awesome folks before spending my last hours in London at the near-by National Gallery.

I had been quite nervous about teaching Knitting the Landscape as the class had been commissioned by Yarnporium and thus was brand-new. The class went really well, actually, and I was blown away by people’s willingness to reassess their approach to knitting. I found it so inspirational to hear people’s stories and I loved how individual all the finished pieces looked. Though there are some limitations to the workshop (such as it can only really work with a large number of participants), I will be adding it to my repertoire going forward and I cannot wait to see how people interpret their world through knitting.

I have only just unpacked my bags from Yarnporium and now I’m off to Northern Ireland. I’m teaching Shetland Lace at Glen Gallery – this will be my third year of teaching their November workshops and I always look forward to my visit. So, laundry to do, samples to air and then it is off again..

.. but before that happens, I just want to tell you something that happened yesterday. I learned that I have been nominated as Designer of the Year in the British Craft Awards. This nomination really floored me – particularly because I am nominated along some serious heavyweights like Martin Storey and Marie Wallin. Having begun designing on a whim whilst working for a yarn company to making designing my full-time career just two years ago and now being mentioned alongside people I really admire .. well,  I cannot begin to tell you how much this means to me. I am not quite sure what to make of it all, but I am so pleased to see woolly chums like Tom of Holland, Knit British, and BritYarn nominated in various categories. It feels like we are slowly changing the conversations we are having about knitting. Hooray.

I’m off to continue work on the book and answer questions from my inbox. Please be patient: I won’t have access to internet or mobile data whilst in Northern Ireland!

Looking Forward To… Yarnporium 2016

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I’m currently packing my bags for London. This weekend, November 5 & 6, I’ll be teaching at Yarnporium which is taking place at King’s College on the Strand.

(Let’s just stay with that mental image for a while. If you had told me 20 years ago that one day I’d be teaching at King’s College, London, I would have swooned. It is so exciting for this bookish girl from Nowheresville, Denmark)

I’m teaching two workshops: my popular Introduction to Shetland Haps class and a new workshop called Knitting the Landscape which I have developed by request. Obviously I’m really excited (and a little bit nervous) about these classes and I cannot wait to meet the people taking my classes.

Teaching is really rewarding: I feel I always leave a workshop feeling I’ve learned something – this can be anything from a cast-on someone’s grandma taught them to a better understanding of why one specific thing can feel daunting for a knitter. I take these things and I pour them into the other parts of my working life – I’m particularly focused on demystifying knitting and helping people the best I can.

You cannot talk about an event like Yarnporium without talking vendors. I have several earmarked already: my friends at Blacker Yarns (we are currently collaborating on my book!), Ginger Twist Studio, Midwinter Yarns, Kettle Yarn Co, Travelknitter (also a book collaborator!), The Wool Kitchen, Woollenflower, Triskelion yarns and the awesome ladies of The Crochet Project .. and that is just to start! Also excited to finally catch up with Knit With Attitude and A Yarn Story! There’s also an Indie Focus section which I’m really pleased to see.

And to cap it all off: I have a thing at the V&A on Friday which relates to my book research. It’s going to be a glorious weekend and I really hope to see a lot of friendly & lovely faces there.

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An Autumnal Pattern Launch: the Burnet Hat

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Judging by my inbox, this pattern launch should please a lot of people out there! Say hello to the Burnet hat! This was an Edinburgh Yarn Festival 2016 exclusive pattern, but the copyright has now reverted to me. Burnet is one of my own personal favourite patterns and I am so happy that so many of you agree with me!

You can buy Burnet via Ravelry and Loveknitting (where you can also peruse the Shilasdair yarn!).

I was asked by the EYF folks to design a hat inspired by the tenement tiles I document across Glasgow.

Glasgow’s weather is notoriously ‘dreich’ – a Scots word meaning ‘dreary’ and ‘bleak’ – but the city is so beautiful. Its Victorian heritage is apparent in everything from wrought iron fences to elaborate street lamps. The sandstone tenements (apartment blocks) light up the cityscape with their warm glow.

The tenements were originally an attempt to fight the widespread slum then found throughout Glasgow. The city had begun as a small, rural settlement but had grown into an industrial hotspot. The rapid industrialisation was fuelled by shipping and manufacturing – but housing had not kept up with the boom. Architects began erecting tenements and these buildings were vast improvements upon the squalor found throughout 19th century Glasgow. The entry ways – the so-called closes – were communal spaces where people would meet, children would play, and deals would have been struck. It was important that these entryways would be easy to maintain – and this is where the beautiful tiles come in. When I was approached to design ‘something Glaswegian’, I only had to step outside my front door for inspiration.

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David shot the photos in Partick, Glasgow. I loved the tiles in this entryway and they were in great condition – something which can not always be said for all tenement tiles! I love the stylised, geometric feel of the tenement tiles and I think Burnet really captures that. When I was designing the pattern, I also had the wonderful geometric nature of traditional Sanquhar knitting in mind. While Burnet is not anything like traditional Sanquhar knitting, I think it’s important to acknowledge this debt (this sensibility) to past generations of Scottish knitters.

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Burnet is knitted using two hanks of the exquisite Shilasdair Luxury 4ply which is plant-dyed on the Isle of Skye. The sample is knitted using the natural/undyed shade and the gorgeous Tansy Gold. Judith of Shilasdair is a big believer in dyeing yarns that reflect her natural environment on Skye – but she also knows Glasgow tenements with their tiles very well. In fact, she used to visit family living in my very own close! I greatly enjoyed collaborating with her on this project and I urge you to seek out her yarns. They are beautiful.

This past week I have been away on a research trip for my book. I will write more about my trip later but suffice to say that I was happy I had Burnet tucked into my bag. Autumn is very much here. I hope you’ll enjoy knitting the pattern.

PS. If you have a copy of Wool Tribe where this pattern was first published, I have a tiny piece of errata addressing Chart A.

Review: Painted Woolly Toppers For Kids

If you asked me which designers I really admire and why, Woolly Wormhead would be one of the first names out of my mouth. There are many things to admire: the well-defined aesthetic, the technical know-how, the way she photographs her work, and the fact that Woolly runs a sustainable and ethical business.

For me, personally, I also admire the playfulness and sheer fun she brings to her knitting designs. Knitting can feel so very serious at times with stone-faced models in crumpled linen dresses glaring across a misty forest lake whilst wielding an Estonian lace shawl made from unicorn yarn. Now look at this photo and don’t tell me it doesn’t bring a smile to your face.

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If this photo doesn’t appeal to your sense of mischief, Woolly’s work probably isn’t for you. But you’re missing out on a lot of fun knits!

Painted Woolly Toppers for Kids follows on from Woolly’s 2015 book, Painted Woolly Toppers. Like its parent (huh-huh), the new book explores how to use handpainted yarns in ways that show them at their best. Woolly has designed 10 Hats for kids – and all Hats carry stonking appeal both for the knitters and the kids.

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Chesser (photo above) is one of my favourites. It is knitted in Skein Queen Crush DK (other dyers in the book include Countess Ablaze, OMA, Ripples Crafts, Five Moons, and Yarns From The Plain).

Look at the construction: sideways, up the way, small bits adding decoration. It is a Hat pattern that showcases the colours of the yarn without being overwhelmed by them. And the construction keeps the knitting interesting (yet never difficult).

Now look at this from a kid’s vantage point. Does this look like yet another dull Hat your mum tells you to wear because it’s cold? NOPE. It’s an exploding rocket ship! It’s a crown! It’s an alien fruit! It’s a chicken’s bum! It’s an astronaut’s helmet! It’s AWESOME!

I may be projecting a bit here (I would totally have wanted this Hat as a kid), but I love the combination of knitterly interest and hat mischief.

And Chesser isn’t the only Hat that has that combination – all of them do  – and that is what I admire so much about Woolly’s work.

I learn so much from Woolly’s patterns – whether it is a new way of approaching short rows or a different take on how to construct a Hat – and I often find myself wishing I could knit every one of her hats just to find out how did she do that? But I am also reminded that knitting should be fun and fill me with joy. I look at the kids having fun in front of the camera wearing awesome Hats and I want to knit every one of them for the kids in my extended family.

And that, dear readers, is a sign of a jolly good knitting book.

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Full disclosure: I received a preview copy of Painted Woolly Toppers for Kids. I have done karaoke with Woolly, we share a birthday, and I know that she would want me to share my honest opinion. So, here you go: the book is great fun and it rocks.

The book is launching later this month and will retail at £10 (PDF) or £16.99 (printed). Just in time for you to make some awesome Hats for Christmas (and use up some of those single skeins I know you have in your stash). Sign up to Woolly’s newsletter or follow her on Twitter/IG for more news regarding the launch.

(All photos used here are  © Woolly Wormhead 2016)

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: 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).

A Quick Word About Life & Knitting

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Recently I have been a bit busy and fallen behind on, well, everything. I’ll reveal everything later this week but we are still in the process of getting things right behind the scenes.

In the meantime, I thought I’d share an interview I did with Scottish mental health advocates, Mind Waves. I am a strong believer in the restorative powers of knitting. I am also hugely grateful for all the love and support we share in our knitting community. If you are a regular reader, you will know that rediscovering knitting helped me through some rough patches in my life – and I know I am not the only one. Many of you have been kind and generous enough to share stories about your life with me. Thank you.

Knitting is kind and generous too. When life does not afford us the chance to start things over and correct mistakes, knitting is patient and does not mind when we have to rip back a few rows to untangle a cable. Knitting can be as simple as a cast-on + a knit stitch + a cast-off (a beautiful thing for the uneasy soul); knitting can be as challenging as Estonian lace (equally beautiful for a mind that seeks distraction). We may have uneven stitches, but blocking sorts that out.

Sometimes I wish life could be more like knitting, but then I look around me and I see a life filled with knitters, stitches, yarn, and books. I think it’s as good as it gets.