This Thing of Paper: Introducing the Letterpress Cowl

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Welcome to the sixth of ten posts introducing the patterns in This Thing of Paper. We are close to launching, so I want to take you through the patterns and their stories.

The Letterpress cowl is a cabled cowl knitted in the round with an intuitive cable pattern set on a garter stitch background. It is worked in Blacker Yarns Classic Aran — the heaviest of the yarns featured in the book. 

This was one of the last pieces to be designed for the book (and I designed more than what I'm publishing). I remember spreading all the samples out on the floor and realising that the collection had a few gaps. I could talk about design processes all day long, but suffice to say that 'designing into gaps' is oddly satisfying. You know you have almost solved the jigsaw when you can see the gaps that need to be filled. Letterpress needed to be a squishy, textured piece in a neutral colour - and it was a joy to really knuckle down to design something so relatively straightforward-yet-interesting. 

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Much of This Thing of Paper would not exist without other people. The Letterpress sample was expertly knit by my good friend Katherine Lymer who is quite the cable expert. I had a family emergency at the time and, whenever I look at the sample, I can hear Katherine's calm voice telling me that a) everything was going to be fine and b) the sample wouldn't be a problem. 

Knitting is about friendship and making memories - either explicitly or implicitly. 

The pattern itself was inspired by letterpress printing - imprinting some thing on a lightly textured piece of paper. I obviously decided to have the sample worked in a paper-like colour and in a yarn that would lend an extra dimension to the texture. The essay itself was partly written while I was in Mainz, Germany working in the Gutenberg Museum. It reflects upon the name of This Thing of Paper, various modes of communication, and contains more than one reference to TS Eliot. 

Photos were taken outside the Innerpeffray Library chapel. 

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This Thing of Paper: Introducing the Majuscule & Minuscule Hat & Fingerless Mitts Set

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Welcome to the fifth of ten posts introducing the patterns in This Thing of Paper. We are close to launching, so I want to take you through the patterns and their stories.

Majuscule & Minuscule are colourwork hat and fingerless mitts, respectively. Both are knitted in the round and the colourwork pattern uses standard stranded knitting techniques. The hat has an optional pompom (although, in my head, pompoms are never optional) and the fingerless mitts have integrated thumb shaping. Both the hat and mitts are worked in Blacker Yarns Swan 4ply, a beautifully plump yarn that comes in a saturated colour range. 

This hat & fingerless mitts set was among the first patterns I ever sketched for This Thing of Paper. I have an entire sketchbook filled with drawings, watercolours, and words. When I first got the idea for a knitting book about knitting and books, I sat down to look at illuminated manuscripts and early printed books. I would sketch interesting patterns and make notes on colours. This was .. 2012? Later as I began to grow certain that I wanted to do this book, I revisited my sketchbook and found it overflowing with ideas. Ideas that were obviously perfect for colourwork. 

I really love designing colourwork. Figuring out where to change colours so they hit-just-so, trying to get all the colours balanced within the design, and thinking about a pattern working across a 3D object. It is good fun. I took patterns from my sketchbook — all decorative elements in early printed books — and messed about with them until I was happy. 

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The names Majuscule and Minuscule were suggested by Amelia Hodsdon after a long editing session. I had first wanted to call the set Upper Case and Lower Case - did you know that those names are derived from how THE BIG LETTERS and the small letters were sorted by type-setters? THE BIG LETTERS went in the upper case and so forth. However, I felt that Upper Case and Lower Case felt somewhat prosaic next to Incunabula and Rubrication. When you looked at the pattern names on the page, they just stood out for the wrong reasons. Amelia understood what I was worried about, and suggested Majuscule and Minuscule. They mean the same thing, but work better within the context of the book. Thank you, Amelia

Finally, I look at this shoot and I cannot help but think of the day I bought the coat I'm wearing. It is a woollen tweed cape/coat I picked up in one of my favourite vintage shops the day after the Kickstarter campaign finished. I saw it and thought it looked almost like a monk's robe. It was perfect for the photo shoot — you will see it in the next pattern preview too — and whenever I see it or wear it, I think of that summer's day I dragged a big, brown woollen coat across Glasgow whilst being excited about the book I was about to start writing. 

That was a good day.  

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