Karie Bookish Dot Net

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)

Coming Up For Air

I’ll be posting the third instalment in my Working with Creativity series next week, but I thought I’d  post a personal blog post first. It is very unusual for me to go several weeks without posting anything to my blog, but I’ve discovered that I have a finite word count inside me – and right now that word count is being used elsewhere. I’m enjoying working on my book!

I have just updated the workshop dates page. I still have a couple of announcements (including a big one) to make, but I won’t be teaching as much this autumn as I have done in previous years. It was a tough decision as I love meeting knitters and being on train journeys, but I think it was a right one. I am currently booking summer 2017 onwards, so do get in touch if you want to be part of next year’s (slightly more packed?) workshop schedule.

August has been an interesting month. It’s really been a month of personal heartbreaks and delights. I’ve tried to be as present to friends and family as possible, but also mindful of my own finite resources. I’ve squeezed in some dress-making and I’ve played around with lino-cutting, but mostly I have been focused on knitting. With autumn just around the corner, we’ve begun picking brambles with a mind to preserving them for the winter months ahead. I may live in a large city, but we have pockets of nature everywhere. I’m certainly enjoying my handfuls of brambles on my breakfast porridge!

Word count: 265. I think that’ll do for now. Look. Pretty flowers.

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Working With Creativity: 6 Tips From My Inbox

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The second post in an accidental series on working with your creativity. Thank you for your feedback! The first post was about finding inspiration and taking hold of your own ideas. This post is derived from numerous email conversations I have had over the years. Grab a cuppa and let’s go!

1) I am not creative but would love to know how I become one.

I believe that we are all born creative beings but somewhere along the way, some of us lose confidence in our own creativity. One of the defining things about us humans is that we make stuff. Look at us! We made fire and flint tools; now we land tiny machines on comets!

Do you cook? Do you bake? Do you garden? You are creative.

So, your job is actually to allow yourself to play and make stuff just for the sake of making. Get in touch with your younger self who told herself stories whilst playing. Make time to faff about.

2) I am really creative but things never look like they are supposed to. What am I doing wrong?

This is a really big question.

First of all, I hear you: I have all these ideas in my head and they rarely come out looking like what I expect. That is a perfectly normal phenomenon – so normal that it was discussed many thousand years ago by the famous Greek philosopher Plato in his Allegory of the Cave. So, be kind to yourself and look at your creative project with an objective eye. So, it doesn’t look like it’s supposed to but does it look like something else that is just as great?

Secondly, there is something to be said about practising your skills and knowing the tools of your craft. It is pretty straightforward: if you are an excellent cellist, you will find it easier to write a great piece for cellos; If you are a skilled lace knitter, you will find it easier to design a lace pattern; If you are a writer, having a good vocabulary helps you write characters who sound like actual individuals.

In summary: be kind to yourself but also acknowledge when you need to brush up on skills.

3) I’m a writer & designer, but I’m yet to write & design anything. Can you help me get started?

Some tough love: if you don’t write or design, you are not a writer or a designer. Simple as that. I used to date someone who called himself a writer but he had never written anything. It was all in his head. Unless you get the words out of your head and on to paper (or screen), it doesn’t count.

Some less tough love: I am a creative and I know all about fear and how easy it is not to do anything – your brain will give you a tonne of reasons why it’s easier not to create. My personal demon is how nothing I create will ever measure up to the ideal version in my head (see above!). When I get a visit from that particular thought, I sit down and play. I doodle and I play around with scraps of art material. And then I get on with things. Months later I will look back at things I made and wonder why I ever found them troublesome and imperfect.

The best way to get started is to sit down and make some stuff. It doesn’t need to be Pride & PrejudiceMona Lisa, or the most elaborate cabled cardigan ever – you just need to get started. It gets easier.

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Pinterest: sorting out what’s in your head

4) Where do you find inspiration? What books can you recommend?

You need to hunt your own narwhals. Find out what is specific to you and your interests. In the words of a (not very good) 1990s British song: I got to be myself/ I can be no one else..

Try narrowing down who you are as a creative being and what you will mine for inspiration. Essentially, it is not about finding a lot of influences that look great on paper. You need to nail down who you are because it makes creative decisions a lot easier.

I’ll use myself as an example: I like art, music, books, history, culture and films. Pretty generic, huh? I like early 20th century avant-garde art, Antipodean weird pop music, TS Eliot, prehistoric archaeology, print culture (particularly early printing), and the film director Todd Haynes. Looking closer, all these things/people seem to inhabit a place of instability and societal shifts. That’s a pretty rich seam to mine from a creative point of view. It also means that I can easily identify what aligns with my values and my skill set. I’d be so bad at designing a collection of baseball-inspired sock patterns!

The only piece of advice I can give is that you should try to look outside your particularly creative field. If you are into knitting, get really good at knitting but also keep tabs on other creative fields, read about other interests, and listen to podcasts about deep sea exploration (or whatever). The author Vladimir Nabokov was obsessed with butterflies, the poet Emily Dickinson was allegedly a passionate baker, and the actor Vin Diesel loves table-top gaming.

Who are you as a creative? What makes you you as a maker?

5. What tools do I need to get started? What do you use?

Many people love having beautiful, expensive tools and they have elaborate rituals that help them in their creative work. But I am going to give it to you straight: a £50 journal, six types of washi tapes, three expensive pens, and the perfect mug will not make you a writer, designer, or artist. These things may make you feel you are settling into a creative space – which can be very helpful – but the starting point is always your own imagination.

(Having said that, I do love stationery as much as everyone. I even have washi tape in the house, but I mainly use it for taping up sprained fingers.)

I like uni-ball rollerball pens – they are easily available, feel good in my hand, and not so expensive that I’ll cry if I forget one on a train. I use small journals: unlined for sketches and general mindmapping; squared for quick charting and schematics. I use Scrivener for writing, Open Office for spreadsheets and databases, Stitchmastery for knitting charting (Crochet? Google is your friend) and Scribus for general layout. You need to figure out your own configuration and (this is crucial) you need to learn how to use the software programmes, so they become helpful tools rather than something that stops you making.

Remember: Your imagination is the important thing. You cannot buy that.Caspar David Friedrich - Wanderer above the sea of fog

6. Best advice ever for a wanna-be creative?

Butt, meet chair.

Sit down and do it, in other words. Don’t wait for inspiration. Make inspiration come to you. The more you are sitting in that chair working away, the more likely it is that you will have a brilliant idea. The idea of floating about your life waiting for inspiration to hit is a terrible notion brought to you by Romanticists who were mainly aristocratic wastrels floating around high on opium. So, don’t do that.

Do this: Butt, meet chair.

I occasionally teach classes on designing, creativity and how to move from vague ideas to full-blown project. Keep an eye on my workshop schedule if you are interested. Over the next few weeks, I’ll be adding other blog posts on working with creativity and various aspects.

Everything Is About Narwhals: Finding Inspiration & Working with Creativity

This is a long overdue post. I get asked a lot what I am reading, how I work and where to find inspiration. I hope this post will be a road-map for you to discover your own inspiration and finding your own creative path.

First, let us travel back to my childhood in Denmark. I grew up in a small town of roughly 3,000 people and I loved our local library. My favourite section was what the local library classification system (DK5) called the “00-07 section: General Works” – a grab bag of encyclopedia, books about books, interdisciplinary books etc. As a child, I’d walk in, pull down a few books and sit in a chair reading until my mum returned from the shops. It was a scattershot approach but it led me to different sections I never would have discovered otherwise. I learned about Roman slaves, costume history, parapsychology (hey, section 14 was just the next book case along) and so forth.

I’ve spent some time thinking about this in the context of ebooks & digital downloads (which I adore). I love being able to walk over to my book shelves and discover a paragraph about historical knitting, domestic work, or even a technical run-down of various cast-ons. I crave context and knowledge. I relish discovering new ideas simply by picking up a random book.  I am a big fan of owning physical (knitting) books – that chance of discovery is priceless.

All if this is written from the perspective of someone who works with knitting professionally on a full-time basis. I realise I am writing this from a privileged perspective (and as someone who does not mind a cluttered home).

What do you do if this is not your reality? Let’s take a look at the general principles of everything is about narwhals.

  1. Chance: Start by opening a random book,  or typing in a random word into Google Image Search, or walking down a street you don’t know.
  2. Open Your Eyes, Ears & Mind: what is interesting? what captures your imagination? what is different? what is new? what is awesome?
  3. Document. Keep a commonplace book; use Evernote (making sure to tag), take photos, draw and doodle.
  4. Everything is About Narwhals. Suddenly you will notice the same thing everywhere: you’ll see the same motif recurring or the same ideas propping up in all sorts of places. If you get interested in narwhals along the way, suddenly you’ll realise everything is about narwhals.
  5. Begin Your Creative Project. You’ll have your scattershot notes, your own sources, your own documentation and your own story. How does it all fit together?
  6. Make stuff! And hopefully share it with the world because the world needs creative people.

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Narwhal by chibiwolf1005

Obviously not everything is about narwhals, but it is a neat way of explaining how creativity works for me. To couch in more high-brow terms, my creative work is synthetic (derived from Greek “synthesis”:  ‘with’ + ‘placement’ – σύνθεσις). I work my way to a coherent idea by placing many ideas together and then I find out what happens. 

So, while I can tell you what I am reading and I share photos on Instagram of amazing things I see, the really important thing is that you go out and find your narwhals.

Let’s look closer at steps 5 and 6 above.

5. Begin Your Creative Project: you have your narwhal idea, you also have scraps of paper, doodles, and maybe even a Pinterest mood board (here’s a random one of mine). This is the point where you sit down and try to make sense of it all.

  • Do you have a colour scheme?
  • Do you have recurrent motifs?
  • Do you have stories you want to tell?
  • How do you want to communicate your ideas?

This is when you start sketching or writing. Remember you are currently working to put things together and you are working your way towards a project. Do not be afraid of commit ideas to paper because you are not making final decisions. Just play and combine.

6. Make Stuff: you have your big idea ready to go and you know the colour/motifs/story. This is the time to create your beautiful piece.So, sit down and make it. Take ownership of it as well because it could not have come into being without you. You rock.

Addendum: I occasionally teach classes on designing, creativity and how to move from vague ideas to full-blown project. Keep an eye on my workshop schedule if you are interested.

Shake & Shift

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If you backed my This Thing of Paper Kickstarter campaign, you will find a new update for July on the site. If you didn’t back it, the lowdown is this: I’ve been busy making things happen. At this stage I am basically wearing two hats: I’m a creative (designing and writing) and I’m a project manager (doing groundwork for future things). And beautiful yarns are arriving in Casa Bookish!

I have discovered some pretty nifty software to help me with work.

First of all, I have invested in Scrivener. I first heard about it via the science-fiction writer Charles Stross who raved about it on Twitter. Scrivener is a writing software that lets you work with outlines, create order from chaos (because writers don’t tend to work from A->B), and view visual research right next to your writing. I downloaded the free thirty-day trial and discovered a tool that I wish I had had years ago. After spending a few days outlining the entire book, setting up templates, and compiling my bibliography, I knew that Scrivener would make my working life a lot easier. Whilst writing a book is still a big undertaking, the project becomes more manageable when you see it broken down into chunks.

Secondly, I’ve finally embraced Evernote & Mendeley. When I worked on Doggerland, I used an unwieldy combination of physical notebooks, bookmarks, and Pinterest to organise my source material. It never really worked for me and I spent a lot of time searching for things I knew I had already saved.

It feels very apt that I am using 21st technology to write about 15th century technologies that altered how we interacted with writing and reading.

Outside of work, the world has been rocked by shifts and shake. I read this short, smart piece about modernity, time & seismic cultural shifts. Then I read this very depressing opinion piece about the events of 2016 seen from a historian’s point-of-view (I have issues with its narrow geopolitical scope). And I revisited Frank Cottrell Boyce/Danny Boyle’s Opening Ceremony of the Olympic Games in London 2012 – Cottrell Boyce recently wrote an extraordinary article about culture in contemporary Britain.

And I respond to an unsettled world by making stuff. This weekend the delightful Sonya Phillip is ‘hosting’ the Summer Stitch Fest:

During the last weekend of July, makers are invited to participate, using any or all methods of making a stitch, be it sewing, knitting or crocheting and then sharing their handmade clothes on social media.

I have plans already, but I might try to make myself a quick (and awesome) skirt. Join us?

From the Sublime to…

April 2011 018aaWhat an overdue blog post. It feels like I have aged five years in the last nine days. Where to start?

Let’s start with the good bits!

The Kickstarter for This Thing of Paper ended on June 22. In the end an amazing 725 people pledged a staggering £23,637 to help me bring my project to life! Isn’t that incredible? I am still blown away by the experience.

This Thing of Paper: Amnesty

A couple of people have asked if it is too late to pledge support. I know some of you only found out about the project on the day it finished or a few days later. I’m going to open an amnesty: if you are really keen on pledging support, please contact me using the contact form below. This amnesty is open until midnight GMT, July 7, 2016. If you miss this deadline, I’m afraid you will have to wait until the book is published.

We are a very, very small team and we want to get this book out as soon as possible, so we are very keen on avoiding complications at this stage! If we get more than a very small handful of responses, I reserve the right to close this amnesty before the date stated.

June 2016: More Good Bits

I didn’t realise until I looked back how busy June was. I taught in Leeds, travelled to Edinburgh’s Yarn Crawl, had fun at Glasgow’s Queen of Purls, and saw porpoises on my way to a workshop in Dunoon. I ran the Kickstarter campaign which was a lot of work (I had no idea how much energy and hard work it took to keep it running! I plan on doing a big post about that later). I also designed & knitted two garments and made two dresses. And all the normal day-to-day business work too. No wonder I ended up with laryngitis and fever at the end of the month. When work is this much fun, it’s hard to remember it is still work and that I need to take time off.

The porpoise-spotting was really magical. I was on the ferry to Argyll & Bute when I noticed rings in the water. I figured it might be a shoal of fish and strolled over to take a look. No! Two porpoises cheerfully started accompanying the ferry for a minute or so before swimming off in the distance. I was too busy looking to take photos – I find those are actually the best moments!

June 2016: Less Good Bits

I started out by saying I feel like I’ve aged five years in nine days. Nine days ago, it was announced that Great Britain had voted to leave the European Union. As a small business owner, this creates a lot of complications for me (though not on the scale of, say, a yarn shop that imports yarns from overseas). As an Dane who fell in love with a Scotsman many years ago, this creates a lot of uncertainty and heartache. I don’t want to go into details (we are all here for the knitting, right?) but I’ve spilled a lot of tears lately.

My good friend Woolly Wormhead has written an eloquent and important blog post on what the recent vote means to her family and her life. I am afraid there are many, many stories like hers.

Life goes on. Mostly it is filled with wonderful, amazing people and I get to see porpoises on my way to work. And I get to work with equally amazing people on projects I love! And then sometimes life throws a spanner in the work but we carry on.

I’ve updated the workshop page with the workshops I’m teaching this month and August. Do take a look and I hope you can join me for one or more. I feel the urge to spend time with wonderful, talented knitters.

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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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Busy Times: the Final Stretch Goal & Meet the Hand-Dyers of This Thing of Paper

Much of the past week (or so) has been spent “steering home” the proverbial Kickstarter ship. I have limited some levels of rewards as I’m starting to manage that side of things. So, if you are yet to pledge, make sure your preferred reward level is still available to you! Today I’m also going to reveal the final stretch goal and talk about the hand dyers who are supporting This Thing of Paper

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I find stretch goals (a target beyond the initial funding goal) tough because This Thing of Paper is already a complex project and adding extras simply means things will take longer. However, I love that with your help and enthusiasm we are now throwing two book launch parties – one in Central Scotland and one in London. If you are a £30+ pledger, you will receive an invitation to either (and if you cannot make it, we are hosting a Periscope video feed).

With the first two stretch goals achieved I am now able to:

  • shoot photos on location
  • improve the quality of the paper
  • get sample knitters onboard to help me make the items in the book

Thank you so, so much!

So, the final stretch goal is £19,400 – or reaching 200% of initial target, if you like. The extra funds will enable me to do the following:

  • apply to be a vendor at UK knitting shows (come & meet me! see the samples in real life!)
  • get a second photographer onboard
  • do a slightly larger print run

In return, I am going to add two This Thing of Paper book plates to each £30+ pledge – they will feature artwork designed especially for This Thing of Paper. I will also be doing a trunk show/Q&A in Manchester, UK – again with a Periscope video feed. This trunk show/Q&A will be slightly different from a book launch party, but still totally awesome. Can we make this happen? I hope so!

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Samples from DyeNinja

 I have already introduced you to the exquisite yarns of Blacker Yarns – now I want you to meet the hand-dyers who are involved with This Thing of Paper. They are quite a special bunch – I spent a lot of time looking at dyeing processes and colour palettes before I found three hand-dyers whose colours are not just exquisite but whose dyeing processes also align with my interest in ‘hand-made’ (for more on my thoughts about that,  please read Tom’s interview with me).

First, meet Sheila of DyeNinja. I first encountered her colours at this year’s Edinburgh Yarn Festival and, quite frankly, they blew me away. Sheila dyes semi-solid colours inspired by the rich, saturated colours of The Silk Road – colour names like Byzantium, Samarkand, and Tashkent bear witness to this. What I particularly loved was that Sheila had peppered her colour palette with near-neutrals – Dromendary and Arabica, in particular – which work beautifully with all her jewel-like colours. It speaks of thoughtfulness and as a designer, it gives me great scope to work with.

Second dyer is Helen of Ripples Crafts. Helen lives and work in the Highlands of Scotland and her colour palette is inspired by the colours in her everyday environment. I have previously collaborated with Helen on the Frances Herself shawl, and I absolutely love her yarns. They are produced in a tiny dye shed off the grid and are dyed in very small batches. There is a real attention to detail in Helen’s colourways and I love how rooted they are to Helen’s landscape and lifestyle – that ethos is so very appealing. Again, I found my interest in small-batch, site-specific production mirrored in Helen’s work and I’m so excited she’s onboard with some very, very gorgeous yarns.

The third and final dyer is Larissa of Travelknitter. I have known Larissa for years and been in absolute awe of her multi-layered, saturated colours for as long as I can remember. When I first asked her if she would be interested in collaborating with me on This Thing of Paper, I received an email which was one long shriek of YES, ARE YOU KIDDING ME. Larissa dyes really fabulous semi-solids that have such an air of warmth to them – even her teals and blues radiate warmth and character (a bit like the lady herself, actually). I am very thankful to have Larissa as a collaborator – one of the key projects in This Thing of Paper would have had a very different feel without her involvement.

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Shout-outs to Woolly Wormhead, Tom of Holland, and Ella Austin who have all written lovely, thoughtful blog posts about This Thing of Paper. I admire all three so much and having them write about my work feels very special. They also cover very different angles (as they should – all three have very specific points-of-view). And I did a video interview with Leona of Fluph fame!

Big shout-out to everybody I met at the Indieburgh Yarn Crawl – too many to mention but I loved getting so many hugs! I had to leave early with a persistent headache, but I had a great time. Special thank you to lovely lady Ginger Twist Jess, who had organised the yarn crawl.

I am back in Glasgow for a workshop next week at The Queen of Purls before heading out west. As previously stated, I’m rolling back my workshop commitments going forward (I have a book to write) so catch me when you can.

Love from my tiny corner of the world and knit on, my friends, knit on.

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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.