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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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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))

Haere ra

Earlier this month the great-grandson of Post-impressionist painter Paul Gauguin passed away. It did not make headline news anywhere and I only found out via social media. The news upset me greatly.

I grew up in a very rural part of Denmark. Prime farm country, most of life revolved around agricultural shows, travelling circuses coming to town, and the occasional dance at the local community hall. I was a bookish child and was a regular visitor to the local library. Books became my solace as I felt out of place – I read a lot of historical fiction and I made fanciful, historical outfits for my dolls. I was a lonely child.

When I started 5th grade, Mr Clovis Gauguin was assigned as our art teacher. He had a large, unruly beard and wore colourful scarves. I had never seen anyone like him and his name was hard to pronounce. He began by declaring art classes should have soundtracks and for the next few years he played us everything from 1950s jazz to 1970s prog rock while we painted. Occasionally he’d urge us to bring our own tapes to class.

And he’d show us art.

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Mont Sainte Victoire by Paul Cezanne

His family connections made Post-impressionism the obvious place to start. We sat copying paintings by Georges Seurat, Vincent Van Gogh, and (my favourite) Paul Cezanne as well as Gramps Gauguin. Then Mr Gauguin asked us to paint in the styles of the painters we had studied and the paintings were displayed at school. My mum later told me that Mr Gauguin had pulled her aside to talk to her about me. I was going to stretch my wings one day, he told her.

I did stretch my wings. I left my childhood community when I was 18 and moved to big cities doing things I could not have imagined as a lonely child stuck in the middle of nowhere. Thanks to social media, I reconnected with Mr Clovis Gauguin a few years ago and we had some fantastic conversations about art and music. I told him how much his encouragement had meant to me and he was delighted to hear that he had made a difference.

The difference was this: Mr Gauguin showed me there was a world out there filled with art, beauty and truth. He taught me to express myself, to trust in myself and that life could be very different. While many of my passions can be traced back to the Friday afternoons we spent with Mr Gauguin (late 19th century art and early 20th century culture in particular – but also poetry, abstract art and cool jazz), it is very possible I would have discovered these things in my library books. But I would not have known that I had colours and words inside me. Another way of life was suddenly possible thanks to my art teacher.

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Nave Nave Moe by Paul Gauguin

On the day of his funeral, Mr Gauguin’s Facebook feed was filled with stories shared by people all over the world. Unsurprisingly I was not the only one who had benefited from his joie de vivre, his passion, and his encouragement. Concert videos from a restaurateur in the Southern United States who had once hosted Mr Gauguin’s jazz band; Tahitian relatives sharing memories of drinking beer with Mr Gauguin outside a memorial service for his great-grandfather (“Paul hated the church, so in his honour..”); but mostly stories similar to mine. So many people writing about discovering a big, big world – both within and outwith themselves.

I cried when I heard Mr Gauguin had passed away, but he left his mark on the world by inspiring and nurturing people whenever and wherever. Sometimes you do not need to generate headlines to be a big, important person. And he really was such a person to me.

Workshops & Events Updated

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Many thanks to Tanya for having such photogenic hands

Just a tiny heads-up that I have overhauled the Workshops & Events page, so you can actually see where I am teaching!

Right now my Autumn 2014 schedule looks like this:

August 23: I am teaching a half-day class on Crochet for Beginners at The Queen of Purls, Glasgow.  More information here.

August 30: I am teaching a full day of Knitting Lace Shawls at Fluph, Dundee. More information here.

September 13: It’s a return to Dundee as I’ll be running my two-handed colourwork workshop (Full Day) at Fluph. More information here.

September 27: Learn how to design your own lace projects with me at this half-day workshop at The Queen of Purls, Glasgow. More information here.

October 12: I’m teaching Two-Handed Colourwork (Full Day) at Be Inspired, Edinburgh. More information to come here.

October 25: I’m back at Be Inspired, Edinburgh, for a half-day class on how to tackle short-row shaping in lace. More information to come here.

November 1: An introduction to two-handed colourwork (Half Day) at The Queen of Purls, Glasgow. More information here.

November 9: I’m running a full day workshop on Crochet for Knitters at Be Inspired Fibres, Edinburgh. This class covers the basic crochet techniques before exploring how knitters can use crochet and knitting together. More information to come here.

Several 2015 dates are already in place, so start looking out for those towards the end of this year.

Thanks to an awful knee injury I was unable to teach workshops at the beginning of this year, so I am really looking forward to getting on the road to meet knitters again. It’s slightly unusual for me to teach this much, but it feels really nice too. Invigorating, that’s the right word. Nothing beats seeing people being all happy about a new skill or idea.

(Psst.. If you are a yarn shop, a knitting festival or a retreat, please use the form on this page to get in touch)

Careful With Words

Twitter sometimes gets a reputation for being Celebrity Central, but I frequently manage to have interesting conversations with people despite the 140-character cut-off.

Yesterday we discussed women’s self-image and societal pressure to emphasise external over internal qualities. We covered a lot of ground: eating disorders, women’s self-enforced ignorance as a feminist issue (Ellie‘s line and it’s a great one), patriarchal/matriarchal gender politics and much more. Mooncalf pointed out that we should not conflate ignorance with body obsession. Miss M. wrote eloquently about how body image and a need to take control could collide. Later same night I logged back into Twitter to find a whole other discussion about women’s bodies was taking place. It was a discussion I found downright scary by its very ignorance of how women’s bodies actually work.

I think it is time to quietly take back that whole discussion about women’s rights and women’s bodies. I really enjoyed the thoughtful discussion I had on Twitter with other women (and one man) but I think we should be having that discussion off-line too. It is not a call to arms – I am not the militant sort – but it is a plea that we keep having these discussions, we keep having them in public and that we keep challenging everyday sexism. Odd how it can still be a revelation to some that women are people too.

Phew. It felt good to get that off my chest.

I will now return to my fluffy little world of trying to make stripe patterns align and figuring out why I suddenly cannot make PDF files with my word-processing programmes. Here are a few random links for your everyday perusal:

Biking in Glasgow

BikeI have been biking in Glasgow since mid-March (so, two months). Here are a few observations.

First, though, you should know this about me.

a) I am Danish and have been biking since I was two or three.

b) I grew up biking in a small rural community in Denmark with no cycle paths.

c) I spent the majority of my adult life biking in Copenhagen which is an enormously bike-friendly city.

d) To me, biking is not a sport or leisure activity. Biking is a mode of transport – a way from getting from A to B.

Some background:

I moved to Glasgow in 2006. The six years between moving here and me getting a bike are the longest I have ever gone without a bike. Initially I decided against getting a bike due to traffic running in the left lane rather than the Continental right and then I was unable to bike for a number of health reasons. However, I had been toying with the idea for some time and I eventually bought my bike in March 2012.

What made you decide to get a bike?

We don’t have a car in our household which means I had become reliant upon public transport. Public transport in Glasgow is not great: bus routes are frequently illogical, you cannot transfer from bus to subway without getting a new ticket, and prices have shot up in recent years. Add to that some rather unfortunate incidents on my most-used bus route and I had had enough. Time to get a bike.

So what is it like biking in Glasgow?

It is both better and worse than I expected.

Good bits:

  • Cycle paths are readily available. I really enjoy being able to spot deer, foxes and swans on my daily commute rather than grim bus drivers.
  • Navigating left-side traffic is not terribly difficult and it is far less terrifying than I had expected.
  • Due to the nature of Glasgow, it is easy to find short-cuts and unexpected routes. You don’t need to use heavy traffic roads unless you have a strange desire to do so.
  • People are easily impressed. ‘I bike to work’ is mostly met with dropped jaws and compliments – even if biking to work only takes me 20 minutes. I am now an exotic creature!
  • I feel an enormous sense of freedom. I don’t have to wait for buses or trains. I don’t have to plan my day around timetables. I can run my errands without any hassle.
  • And I am losing weight! A nice side-effect.

Bad bits:

  • Biking provokes people. I have had snack wrappers thrown at me from a passing car with matching verbal abuse. I have also had verbal abuse from random pedestrians. Also, teenagers have jumped in front of me trying to make me swerve into oncoming traffic which was an new and exciting experience.
  • Cycle paths are not always ideal – for my money, cobbled streets are the work of the devil – and occasionally interesting to bike down (there is one part where I’m likely to fall into the canal if someone tries to pass me).
  • Cars will often park right across your cycle path leaving you few options where to bike safely.
  • Cars will also stop and block your way without any indication – and drivers will also open their doors without notice. I have had this in Denmark too although not to same degree.
  • People associate biking with sports, so most of the gear available is decked out in florescent colours and is very over-priced (presumably because it is marketed as ‘high-tech’). I sometimes wear a skirt when biking – this confuses many of the other cyclists who are mostly wearing Lycra.

Any tips?

  • I try to make myself as big as possible when I bike on normal roads. I don’t crawl along the kerb as I believe this’ll make drivers less careful around me. Instead I bike maybe 3 feet away from the kerb and I make sure to exaggerate any arm indications I am making.
  • I do not wear big florescent jackets  for the same reason as above. I believe wearing these jackets will actually make drivers less careful around me as the ‘safety gear’ indicates a certain level of invulnerability. I wear my normal clothes but add florescent strips at night (as well as lights, of course).
  • I wear a bike helmet. I see people without helmet and while I used to be one of them, I wouldn’t do that here in Glasgow.
  • Get in touch with Sustrans who can provide you with info on local cycle routes.
  • Assess your local landscape before buying your bike. I wish I had bought a bike with five or more gears, but I opted for a three-gear bike before I realised just how hilly Glasgow can get on a bike. I love my bike to bits, but it is not as practical as I would have liked.
  • Be prepared to justify your existence on the road. Biking is not as much of an integral part of your average lifestyle (unlike Denmark) so you have to be prepared for some offensive comments and behaviour.

Finally, would you recommend getting a bike?

Yes. It is the best thing that has happened to me in a very long time.

Addendum

I’m going to have nightmares tonight.

However. Some things are more important than lace knitting. Way, way, way more important: speak up and speak out.

The Day Before the Day

Loop At Tramway

Late night stitching effort at Glasgow's Tramway arts centre in preparation for Loop: International Women's Day Centenary.

I’m so excited about tomorrow! The Tramway was heaving with activity today: stitching, story-telling, music , and beautiful people creating beautiful things.

Loop Needs You

At the Tramway You may remember me mentioning Loop: The Centenary of International Women’s Day – an exhibition (and celebration) taking place at Glasgow’s Tramway art gallery. You may even have knitted a square or two for the event. The event takes place on Tuesday and the Tramway is heaving with activity.

I spent most of Friday at the Tramway stitching together blanket squares. It was a hugely inspirational day.

One old lady was busy stitching together crochet squares but found time to sing us old Glasgow songs from her childhood – songs about the old Govan cinema and “oor baldy heided maister”. Women from a choir sang us Matt McGinn songs. Women from a local immigrant group came by to watch us stitch and some ended up wanting to join in despite initial shyness. Later a cellist started playing Bach.

Generations of women showed up – grandmothers with their grandchildren; mothers with their children. Many different nationalities were there. Many different parts of Scotland were represented. Even a few brave men showed up to stitch – my partner was one of them and he proved very adept with a needle and thread! I was rather proud..

At the TramwayHowever, help is still needed.

You do not have to be greatly skilled with a needle of thread. You do not even have to know how to thread a needle as plenty of of volunteers will be on hand to show you the ropes.

If you can spare thirty minutes of your day (or more!), please come down to the Tramway tomorrow between 10am and 11pm.

You won’t regret it. You will meet some truly inspirational people with wonderful stories to tell, you’ll be surrounded by beautiful art, and your help will be hugely appreciated.

I will continue to be busy these next few days, but thankfully I have a few blog posts in hand so stay tuned..

 

Knit Like Fury

Get involved. There is still time for you to knit a square and send it in to Janssen & Jetson. If you are in Glasgow, why not volunteer? You can help stitch the blanket together, you can donate your time and ushering skills, or you can help spread the good word.