The Festival Survival Guide - the 2018 Edition


A couple of years ago I posted this little survival guide to knitting festivals. With the Edinburgh Yarn Festival just a few days away, I thought it was time to revisit the guide and share some of my favourite tips!

Attending a fibre festival is always a great day (or weekend) out. You are surrounded by people who love the same activities as you do, and you get to do some serious knitwear-spotting too. It can also be a really exhausting time because there are just so many things to see and do - and you might find yourself so overwhelmed that you end up leaving empty-handed and slightly burned out. 

  • Plan ahead. Start by looking through the vendor list and visit their websites, so you know roughly what to expect. Make a short-list of your must-visit vendors and grab the official EYF marketplace map to find out where their stalls are. This stops you from feeling completely overwhelmed by all the squishy yarn goodness on offer!
  • Plan ahead, pt 2. Look through your Ravelry queue and make a note of yarn requirements for those must-knit-next patterns in your queue. Do the same for any needles or hooks you may want to pick up at EYF. You don't want to buy a 3mm needle when you actually wanted a 3.25mm needle! And nothing's worse than picking up a perfect skein of yarn and then realising the pattern calls for two skeins!
  • Plan ahead, pt 3. If you are meeting up with far-flung friends at EYF, make sure you have exchanged phone numbers before heading out! Also make sure to describe yourself ("I'm short with curly brown hair and will be wearing a blue/white/yellow Speckle & Pop shawl ") if you are meeting up with internet friends who may not have met you before.
  • Food. If you have special dietary requirements, always make sure to bring a back-up lunch. Personally I always carry some bottled water to keep myself hydrated and a small bag of mixed nuts to snack on so my blood sugar stays level throughout the day.
  • Bags. Scotland has implemented the carrier bag charge (very good news for the environment!) so remember to bring your own carrier bags. You can also buy gorgeous tote bags at the event, of course.
  • Wear sensible shoes! You will be on your feet most of the day, so leave your high heels at home. I hear the "wear sensible shoes!" advice all the time and yet I keep seeing miserable-looking people in high-heeled boots at events.
  • Budget. Unless you are a multi-millionaire, chances are that you will have to make some tough decisions at EYF. Decide before you leave home how much you are going to spend. Decide how much you'll spend on yarn, how much on notions, and how much on cute accessories like tote bags, mugs etc. Then leave room in your budget for impulse buys. Even the smallest budget should have an impulse buy allowance. You will fall in love with something unexpected.
  • Travel. The EYF website contains everything you need to know about transport, so make sure you know your train times and keep your tickets in a safe spot. Allow yourself plenty of time to get to and from the venue. Make sure you have a perfect travel project on the go - travelling to a fibre festival is part of the festival fun!
  • Be Prepared! If you are taking a class, make sure you know what you need to bring 5 days before you need it. Then you will have time to stash-dive or pop into your nearest LS before the event itself. 
  • Be Social! Say hello to people! Smile and talk knitting while you are waiting in a queue. Let strangers know how awesome their cardigan is. Enjoy the atmosphere. If a vendor or a tutor has been especially incredible, let them know! Take pictures of amazing things and share them on the internet. Use hashtags both during the weekend and afterwards when you share your memories. 
  • Remember to Breathe. Fibre festivals can be exhausting (especially because so many of us are introverts). If you get tired, take a break. If you need some fresh air, go for a short walk. Nothing is more important than you enjoying yourself, so be kind to yourself rather than push through. The perfect buttons will still be there ten minutes later.
  • And just have fun! This is going to be one of the highlights of your year. 

I will be teaching three classes and also floating about before/after the classes. Please do say hello if you see me! This Thing of Paper will be available from selected vendors at the festival, and I'm always very happy to chat about it. 

If you have any good yarn festival tips, please leave them in the comments!

Making Some Changes: Teaching

Later this week I will be updating the workshop & events page with all the details about what's ahead. It's already been announced that I'm teaching at EYF next month, but I'm also teaching at two other events this spring/summer. Dublin's Woollinn has a fantastic line-up and I cannot wait to visit Ireland for the first time. I'll also be at Yarningham for the first time alongside some of my favourite people.

I will be announcing more details (including the marvellous LYSs I'm visiting this spring),  but I want to expand a bit on some decisions we've made at Casa Bookish.


Since 2014 I have been a full-time knitting designer and teacher - and it is a lot of work. I spend a lot of time on the road, I could do admin as a full-time job (and have now hired Penny to help out), I design, I write, I edit, I learn about spreadsheet functions and tax regulations, and occasionally I even knit.

I also have a chronic health condition.

My work is flexible enough to allow for days when my condition flares up, but I do have to factor in extra time to do some things (like photo shoots). And  when I get back to work, I have such a workload that I push myself to get through the things that have piled up. And then I have a flare up etc. 

 Sitting down at the photo shoot.

Sitting down at the photo shoot.

Over the last two months, I have had some major conversations with my assistant Penny and my partner/photographer David. I have to make some changes or both my creativity and my health will suffer. We have concluded that while I love to teach, teaching takes up so much of my time and energy (prep, travel, teaching, travel, recovery) that we need to be very smart about how much I do.

Going forward, you will see me more often at festivals and doing LYS residencies than at one-off classes. I am so appreciative of all the LYS owners and organisers who have all stepped up in support. Thank you thank you thank you! Everybody has been so kind and understanding - this is why the knitting community is so special. 

(As always, if you are a festival organiser or a LYS owner, we'd love to hear from you. We have precious few slots available for the rest of the year - but do get in touch. I've also begun taking the first few bookings for 2019). 


If you are a knitter, I hope you understand why I am not just popping by your LYS every two weeks or so. Please take advantage of when I am teaching at a nearby festival or teaching at a LYS - it will most likely be a while until I will be back. I also know it can be frustrating if everything's already booked by the time you hear about my class - but I'd still love to say hello to you (and please understand if I need to sit down while talking to you). 

Teaching is so magical: I love seeing you flourish and take on new challenges. Thank you for letting me be a tiny part of your making life. Let's make this work together.

The Cardigan Conundrum

A few years ago I wrote a pattern and knitted a cardigan. 


The cardigan was part of my ongoing Authors & Artists series, and I rather loved it. I knitted it in a yarn gifted to me by my grandmother (who would later fall very ill). Granted, the colour was not one I would have chosen but I have grown to love it so much over time that I now consider aqua one of my everyday wardrobe colours. 

Trouble arose, though, when I realised that the gift yarn did not behave very well. It is an alpaca/wool mix which is warm and soft - but also refuses to keep its shape and pills quite a bit. Though we did a photoshoot for the cardigan in York, I never finished the pattern because I did not feel comfortable endorsing the yarn.


Working professionally as a knitwear designer means accepting responsibility. My pattern needs to be error-free, easy to follow, and yet spacious enough for people to add their own modifications if they want to do so. I also need to provide clear photos so people can see the neckline, basic construction, and any particular details. Finally, I am also aware that I am endorsing a yarn when I mention what I have used. 

For this particular cardigan, I am satisfied that I have fulfilled most of my professional duties, but I am uncomfortable recommending a yarn that left me unhappy after a few months of wear. I used the given yarn out of sentimentality (and I think of my grandmother every time I wear the cardigan), but I would not want others to use the same yarn. 


After my first photos of the cardigan (and wearing the cardigan at events), I have been asked for the pattern several times. This is genuinely lovely to hear. I really appreciate that I can design things that other people will want to make. It is truly, truly one of my favourite parts of my job.

However, part one:

Immediately after I finished knitting the cardigan, This Thing of Paper happened. The next 18 months were spent living & breathing TTOP. The aqua cardigan pattern was shoved to one side. I brought the pattern out of hibernation the other day, and it needs some love. Not only did I learn a lot about writing garments from working on my book, but I also need to finish grading the aqua pattern across seven sizes. I need to reknit it in a yarn I am happy to endorse and we need to do another photo shoot.

However, part two:

In recent months I have begun shifting my personal style. I used to wear a lot of 1950s inspired clothes: dresses with full skirts and nipped-in waists, cute retro coats found in vintage shops, and I'd have red lips & dark hair with a short fringe. A cropped cardigan is perfect for that sort of wardrobe. Yet I am moving away from 1950s inspired clothes towards something slightly more .. well, that is a blog post for another time. I don't really wear cropped cardigans anymore. 


The cardigan conundrum. I posted something about this on Instagram and some of the comments stated that "it's okay just to have something that is just for you, Karie". It is a nice sentiment, but sadly that is not how I roll.

I am so lucky to have the job I have and nothing - nothing  - I knit is ever just for me. I design and knit intentionally - and part of that intention is always that knitting is communal. I designed the aqua cardigan because I wanted to make something with my grandmother's gift, because I wanted a cropped cardigan, and because I wanted to share my idea with the world. The inspiration for the cardigan is also pretty amazing, I tell you. 

I think the solution is to start from scratch, rewrite the pattern, grade it, and create a cardigan pattern that can be worked as both a cropped cardigan but also as a cardigan I want to wear now. It might take a while (because I'm busy at work on something else) but that is a definite solution.  

Thank you to Helena who wrote to me about the cardigan (and included photos of her dogs). There is always a way.  

A Return To Regular Life

2017 ended and 2018 began without me writing a single blog post. I even missed marking my great-grandmother Lilly's 102nd birthday. Lilly was the lady who taught me to knit and, although she has not been with us for many years, she is still one of my biggest influences. 

2017 ended with a book launch. I am yet to really write much about the experience of writing This Thing of Paper (now back in the shop) but I can briefly touch upon the post-book launch slump that hit me hard at the end of December 2017. So many things happened in my personal life in 2016 and 2017, but I pushed them aside for work. Once work finally calmed down, all those things (and sheer exhaustion) hit me like a brick. I spent nearly a month piecing myself together. Going forward, we are making a few changes so I can take better care of myself. I'm still not totally fine, and change is necessary. 

More on that in a future blog post. 


We have started a super-fun This Thing of Paper KAL which runs concurrently on Instagram and in my Ravelry group. The KAL runs through to March 10, 2018 and you can knit any of the beautiful patterns from This Thing of Paper - please share photos on Rav & IG etc. We have a number of hashtags for your social media posts: #thisthingofpaper #thisthingofpaperKAL #TTOPknitalong #kariebookish - we also have some truly awesome prizes from yarnies as well as some treasures from my own vault. We hang out every two weeks in my Ravelry group = next hang out will be February 13, 2018 at 8pm UK time. We always have a blast - and if you cannot make it, make sure to post your photos of your own making time on IG.


I am so heartened by the response to This Thing of Paper and if you have reviewed it, please let me know. I'd love to hear what you thought, what you are planning on knitting from the book, and read your responses to my essays. I will be returning to some of these themes later this year in a new project of mine, but I am such a fan of having these discussions about creativity and making. In a world that seems increasingly volatile and unkind, I look to Making Stuff as one way of navigating these murky waters - and I know that I share these sentiments with so many of you. 

Finally, I just want to say thank you to everybody who have reached out over the last few months. Reading your messages have been a source of joy and comfort. I'm very happy that you like my book. Thank you.  


Important Book News!


We interrupt the This Thing of Paper pattern previews with some important news.

Due to overwhelming demand, we are almost sold out of This Thing of Paper. This means that Friday, December 1st, 2017 will be the last day before Christmas that you can order from our website. 

We are currently packing and shipping books as fast as we can. Crowdfunder copies are shipped first, with pre-orders following hard on the heels. We’ve received a number of emails asking if a specific copy has shipped yet or if a specific copy can be shipped ahead of others. Please note that each of these queries take as long to resolve on our end as it takes to pack & ship 4 parcels! We want to get your book to you as quickly as possible — and the best way to ensure that is simply by being patient. Thank you for understanding!

We are working on getting a list of stockists up - we have stockists across the UK and Europe (and we are waiting to hear if US stockists are confirmed). The webshop will reopen on January 8, 2018 with the last remaining copies (and some other stuff), and we are looking into a second print run for 2018. 

Book launch parties will take place in Edinburgh on November 30 and London on December 3. Both places have a signing session with Karie from 3pm to 4.30pm and a special crowdfunder event from 5pm-6.30pm. We hope you can join us. 

Team Bookish — Karie, Dave, and Penny — want to thank you for the incredible response to This Thing of Paper. The interest is far beyond what we imagined and this continues to be an amazing adventure.

Thank you so much x

This Thing of Paper: Introducing the Marginalia Jumper

Marginalia (5).JPG

Welcome to the eighth of ten posts introducing the patterns in This Thing of Paper. We are launching the book on November 30, so I want to take you through the patterns and their stories. We are almost there!

I shouldn't play favourites, but the Marginalia jumper is really one of my favourite patterns in the book. It is a beautiful Everyday Wardrobe jumper that is easy to knit and even easier to wear. It is a top-down raglan jumper with a raised back (which makes it fit even better) and waist shaping. The only real interest is a slip-stitch pattern along the hem and the wrists. I rarely knit my patterns twice due to time constraints, but I've made Marginalia twice. 

The jumper is worked in Blacker Yarns Lyonesse DK - a gorgeous wool/linen blend which relaxes as you wear it. I am fairly obsessed with this yarn as the feel of it against your skin is absolutely amazing, It relaxes as you wear it which the pattern takes into consideration. As written and worked in Lyonesse DK, your finished Marginalia will have some degree of ease, but if you substitute with a less drapey yarn, your garment will be more fitted. 

Marginalia (3).JPG

Marginalia is named after the practise of writing in the margins of books. I know some people hate the idea of writing in books, but I love encountering previous readers in the margins of my secondhand books. I wanted to design a garment that was relatively straightforward but had some "writing in the margins". I have been somewhat obsessed by the idea of the paratext for years and early incarnations of Marginalia had me exploring the idea of making the paratext into text. In knitting terms, that meant thinking about what made a jumper into a jumper - the body, the sleeves, the openings for the head/body/hands, the idea of a front & a back and the ribbing. After deciding that nobody wanted a three-sleeved jumper or an all-over rib garment, I started working on the idea of marginalia (itself a paratextual element) and the notion of 'making marks'. I thought about ink slipping across the surface of a page - and the idea of a slip-stitch pattern around the, ahem, margins of the jumper became obvious. 

Marginalia (6).JPG

Like so many of the other patterns, Marginalia was shot on location at Innerpeffray Library, Scotland. We used the small room off the main reading room for this shoot — the 19th century and 20th century books are kept in there — and I loved curling up in the comfortable reading chair and looking out across the fields dotted with sheep. I could have stayed there forever. 

Marginalia (2).JPG