Almost Time: This Thing of Paper Wraps Up & An Everyday Make


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.


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.


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.



Making & Doing: Shawl, Skirt & Teaching

pshawl Happier times ahead. We had a photo shoot yesterday for this asymmetrical shawl knitted in three colours of Ripples Crafts BFL 4ply. I'll be writing much more about this shawl later (including my source of inspiration, why it's the next instalment of Authors & Artists, and how it is constructed) but for now let's glance downwards..


Hello skirt! This is one of the first things I've whipped up since I started dress-making again. I made this skirt in just a few hours and it worked perfectly for the photo shoot.

I use the super-simple Burda 6682 and made View B. The fabric is a slightly stretchy cotton poplin I found in a remnant bin in Glasgow's Mandors. I had around 0.75m and still managed to eke out a knee-length skirt. The construction couldn't be simpler: darts front & back, side & back seams, zipper, waistband, hem, done. I had never inserted a regular zipper before (it's always been invisible zips until now) but even that went without a hitch. I'm not entirely happy with how the waistband was attached - it was easy but looks a bit sloppy on the inside - so I'm going to try a slightly more fiddly waistband next time. I think my perfectionist tendencies are rearing their heads again..

.. but the skirt is super-comfortable and fits well. Its no-nonsense style makes it a good, basic pattern that I can see myself making again and again. Well, I am trying to make an everyday wardrobe, after all! The next skirt will be made of a medium weight denim that I picked up at the same time as the pattern. I have a bit more fabric to play with this time, so I might add a bit more length.


I'm off to Manchester this weekend for the Joeli's Kitchen retreat. There are going to be all sorts of amazing people there and I cannot wait to see everybody.

Next Wednesday I am going to be at Kendal's finest wool establishment, Williams Wools. I'm teaching a class on colourwork and how to design it yourself. I know people have lots of ideas in their heads, but it can be difficult translating those ideas into a project. I'll also talk about how to find the right colour combinations because that is probably one of the questions I get asked the most!

Then Saturday the 6th I am back up in Dundee's Fluph Shop doing c-c-cables in the morning (sorting out those C2R, CNB, and T3R abbreviations!) and Shetland lace shawls in the afternoon. It's never dull teaching at Fluph and I expect a fair amount of difficult questions flung at me!

I'm late updating my workshop page due to Life Happening, but hopefully that'll whet everybody's appetite! I'll return with more details about the new pattern and some Edinburgh Yarn Festival lowdown!

The Joy Of Making Stuff

September 2014 012 Oh, but the joy of making.

Recently I have begun dressmaking again. I had previous forays into dressmaking around 2011, but I have not been seriously sewing clothes since I was a teenager. This time around I have discovered how relaxing I find the rituals and processes of dressmaking. Casa Bookish is fairly petite, so I do my sewing on the dining table which presents its own challenges. Despite a pressed schedule and lack of space, I am really enjoying myself.

Which brings me to this outburst:

LET'S MAKE STUFF and make the world a more creative, imaginative, happier, more colourful, and enjoyable place.

Some times I worry we overthink the act of making.

We swathe it in mystique (all those "15 Things You Need To Know To Unlock Your Creativity" pieces).

We become consumers rather than creators ("You cannot do origami unless you buy authentic unicorn paper from this off-shore Japanese monastery").

We are tourists rather than inhabitants of MakingLand (spending more time browsing Pinterest and blogs rather than make all the things we pin and queue).

LET'S MAKE STUFF and make the world a more creative, imaginative, happier, more colourful, and enjoyable place.

I know that a full-time job and family life leaves us with precious little time. I know it'd be amazing to have a whole weekend just making stuff. I know time is a scarce resource.

But if you have 30 minutes free every Sunday, you too can make stuff! Don't feel you need to have tonnes of free time. Make when you can! Make when you are on the train! Make in your lunch break! Make whilst the pasta is boiling! Make whilst watching TV!

LET'S MAKE STUFF and make the world a more creative, imaginative, happier, more colourful, and enjoyable place.

July 2014 845

So, I'm dress-making.

A) I feel really happy when I wear something I have made.

B) I have become increasingly aware of my making needing to reflect my everyday wardrobe.

C) I want sewn clothes that fit me as well as my knitted items do.

My main reason for dress-making is wardrobe, so my main focus is to find a basic dress pattern that I can make over & over with a few tweaks. I wear dresses all the time - occasionally skirts - so I am not to bothered about keeping up with what's the latest trendy pattern to make in the sewing world.

I spent a bit of time on a disastrous pattern which I nicknamed The Apron Dress. I had seen some pretty versions of the dress on various people I know, but the fit was so, so awful. The lack of any actual structure (i.e. darts, supportive seams and shaping within the pattern itself) means that I was wearing a cutesy apron dress in which my bust looked to be extending outwards! The overall effect was not good. Fortunately I was just making a toile using cheap charity shop fabric - lessons gained and no beautiful fabric lost.

Moving on, I have been playing around with the Emery dress pattern by Christine Haynes which comes with beautifully clear instructions and structure. I've really hacked'n'slashed the Emery bodice. I've added extra coverage for my bust, moved the darts, and I'm about to alter the waist a tiny bit too. The first toile was almost spot on - I just had to move the bust apex a bit, lower the waist darts and .. well, I am having fun. when I was dressmaking as a teenager, I had no notion of fit but this time around I'm geeking out.

And there is knitting too, but I am in the midst of 'stuff' that will be unveiled at a later date. There is nothing more frustrating than some very pleasing things I cannot discuss. Fortunately there is always, always making stuff.

April 2011 018aa

QALong 2014 - What Is It?

John Lennon once said that life is what happens when you are busy making other plans. As a teenager I thought the quote so mind-blowing that I wrote it in everybody's yearbook when we graduated from secondary school. Nowadays I'd change it slightly: life is what happens when you are busy looking in other directions. To wit: I have apparently started a quilt-along in 2014 without meaning to do so. Amazing.

Some back-story, first. A close family member of mine announced over the holidays that she is expecting a baby. It was an unexpected announcement but one that was incredibly cheering.My mind immediately went to "what can I make?" - a knitting project was decided upon and some yarn was bought (this happens occasionally).

Then, I found a metre of kids' fabric on sale. The colour was pleasingly gender neutral and it had a lot of happy zoo animals on it. Oooh! Educational and non-nauseatingly cute! I knew the fabric would be perfect for a baby quilt but when I came home, I realised I have only made one quilt in my entire life and I would not have the amazing Bronwen at my side to lend moral support during the making of the quilt.

March 2011 289

Bronwen used to run quilting classes at my local craft shop. I went on her beginners' course a few years back and she was the best. She was patient, fun, and incredibly knowledgeable about patchwork and quilting. I knew that if I stood any chance of making a second quilt ( for lo! I have made but one in my entire life), I'd need Bronwen to be there. I am not incompetent nor am I bad at sewing - I just panic easily whenever a rotary cutter is involved!

Thankfully Bronwen is on Twitter, heard my lament and she suggested a casual quilt-along starting this spring. Bronwen wanted to finish a couple of WIPs and would I care to join her? Before I knew what happened about ten or eleven people had joined us.

Would you like to join us too?

#QAlong is mainly going to run on Twitter. Starting March, we'll have a monthly* informal show & tell/chat/support group night on Twitter.(*possibly more often depending on how it goes!)

There is NO set pattern, NO set fabric, NO set timeline (other than it'll really kick off in March), and NO skill level required. 

We have experienced people on-board and we have complete beginners (like me) on-board. #QALong is about having fun with no pressure and no rules. You work at your own pace with your own chosen project - but with the added bonus of having a virtual quilting group at your disposal!

Bronwen has agreed to answer a few of my questions here on Fourth Edition. We'll talk fabric choices, how to deal with rotary cutters, and how to choose a pattern that suits your skill level.

There is NO sign-up for #QALong either - that's all part of the whole idea. However, if you do have questions for Bronwen (or anybody else - I can help with colour selection, for instance), do leave a comment and your question will be included in one of the help posts here and we'll also discuss on Twitter. 

I am personally a bit daunted by the thought of doing a quilt but I cannot wait to get started.

March 2011 294

Yes She Said

YarnI bought myself two Christmas presents. First of all, I finally became a member of MetaFilter - still the best community weblog the internet has to offer. I have been lurking on MetaFilter for almost ten years, so it was definitely time to take the plunge and cough up those five bucks. My second gift to myself has also been a long-time coming. For years I have been circling Garthenor Yarns and their organic, sheepy goods. Their yarns are produced from sheep kept on organic lands and the yarn is spun with minimal processing and no dyeing. I finally cracked earlier this week and now my Shetland single ply laceweight in 'light oatmeal' has arrived.

Oh, but it is beautiful. It reminds me of the Faroese laceweights I have been using: the same self-assured simplicity and honesty that says 'this has worked for centuries, so why change anything?'. This yarn is as far away from novelty yarns or instant gratification yarns as you can get - and for my money it is all the better for it. Although I'd love to see Karise knitted up in this sort of rustic yarn, I think I'll end up writing an entirely new pattern for it.

FabricsOkay, I have also bought fabric but it is less an indulgence than a response to 'oh dear, I have just thrown out half my wardrobe'. I did try to find tops I liked on the high street, but eventually I just went to Mandors and bought several yards of pretty polycotton in their January sale.

I intend to make several Art Teacher tunics - I'll be tweaking the pattern, though. The original Art Teacher tunic had a zip which I confess never using as the tunic easily slips over my head. I'll also lengthen it a tiny bit, make it slightly more A-line and I'll try very hard not to have ironing mishaps during construction. Scout's honour (I was never a Girl Scout).

Finally, I'm going to read James Joyce's The Dead tonight. Why? The story takes place on January 6.

Joyce is one of those authors with whom I have not really made peace (having said that, I think that is everyone's relationship with Joyce). I have read Dubliners from which The Dead is taken. I have made headway into Ulysses and Portrait but never attempted Finnegans Wake. I could happily drown in a sea of Joyce's words - Listen, a fourworded wavespeech: seesoo, hrss, rsseeiss, ooos - but I never connected with him the way I connected with TS Eliot.

Having said that, if you have not read any James Joyce and you recoil at the very idea, sit down and read The Dead. It is a fairly quick read, you won't need a spreadsheet to help you understand it and - best of all - it is wonderful.

Well Still Pretty Good Year

First task of the year: sort out the wardrobe. I should probably not use the word 'wardrobe' as that word implies system, thoughtfulness, and coherence. Most of my clothes stem from the frantic days of arriving in the UK with a suitcase of clothes and needing workplace-suitable attire. As a consequence, most of my wardrobe consists of cheap clothes bought in a state of panic.

Nowadays I lead the charmed life of a freelancer working within a creative industry with ties to fashion. Interestingly this means two things: 1) I have a great collection of pyjamas because I spend a lot of time working in my jammies, and 2) I have discovered that while I do not care much for fashion I do care a lot about style.

So I went through my wardrobe and threw out everything that did not fit, that needed a degree of mending that was at great odds with the intrinsic value of the item itself, or which had been too fashionable when I bought it and thus no longer stylish (I think of style as something which cannot pinned down to a particular time nor place - rather it transcends time and place).

Verdict: I need tops and trousers somewhat badly. I need basic cardigans. And I am not allowed to knit myself any scarves or shawls because I have a lot (note the phrasing: ..knit myself.. which means I can knit for others or for design purposes). I can sew some of the things myself, but what I really need is a focused shopping spree.

I hate clothes shopping.

My neighbourhood made national news yesterday after the recent hurricane felled a few trees, made several chimney pots collapse, and ripped roof tiles off. The police have closed off one street due to unstable masonry. I was safely ensconced at work but was troubled by the amounts of roof tiles I encountered on the way from work. One of the big trees in our back garden has fallen too. It is still blustery out there, but the worst has passed. In case you are curious, I live very close to where the fourth photo in this series was taken.

Knitting-wise: I'm swatching for a few designs. Reading-wise: I have finished two books so far this year, although the less said about the second book the better (it was not my idea).