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My friend Karina Westermann, perhaps better known as Karie Bookish, is planning to release a new collection of knitting patterns. Inspired by the age of Johan Gutenberg and the printing revolution in medieval Europe, ten knitting patterns and accompanying essays will be presented in a beautiful book. Her Kickstarter campaign runs until 22 June 2016, which has already smashed her goal of £9,700 in just 25 hours! Read more on Karie’s blog to find out how she’ll spend the extra money.

Karie "Bookish" Westermann

Karie ” Bookish” Westermann

Meanwhile, I had a chat with Karie about her new book:

Tom: Of course, manuscripts have moved from being written by hand to being printed. The books would be assembled by hand, and that has now also been mechanised. Nowaways, “machine-made” books are the norm. I can see some parallels with knitting, but also some differences. Unlike machine made books, machine knitting is seen by many as “cheating”. I’d love to know whether you’ve found any parallels or differences between creating manuscripts and knitting you’d like to share?

Karie: I was so excited this year when I learned that the Met in New York City had an exhibition called “Manus x Machina” – maybe it is one of those instances when you are obsessed by something and you begin to see it everywhere, but I am really intrigued by the movement from “one of a kind” handmade objects to mass production of objects. While The Met showcases haute couture, I am (obviously?) more preoccupied with the notion of everyday things. Things that were once treasured rarities but that have become disposable through ubiquity.

This Thing of Paper Sample Swatch

You’ll have to wait a while to find out what this mystery bit of knitting will become! This Thing of Paper is due for release Spring 2017

For me, the leap from clothes to books is a natural one. From High Street shops to easy online shopping, both clothes and books are objects that can be easily acquired, consumed and disposed (and then re-acquired through charity shops). The cycle of consumption is remarkably similar. Yet this level of consumption is something relatively recent.

I am really interested in how items like clothes or books became so ubiquitous and why we (general we) treat them with so little care. It did not happen overnight and there have been previous intersections (like William Morris and the Arts & Crafts Movement) that sought to address how mechanisation makes us think of objects in certain ways. I’ve spent quite a lot of time thinking about these intersections (and I believe we are currently in the midst of one) and how we relate to things through their mode of production.

As for This Thing of Paper, each pattern will be accompanied by an essay that looks at an aspect of this overarching hand/machine theme – you might say a quasi-literary way of writing your way around topic in order to examine it. So, yes, I have found stories I can tell about 14th/15th/16th century book productions that are as relevant to us as makers – and maybe, just maybe, also to us as consumers.

Tom: As you may know, I’ve created a series of gloves called The Reading Gloves,  where I took inspiration from classic novels and created gloves to portray some of the main characters. Did you use any specific manuscripts as an inspiration source, and how did they inform the design?

Karie: First of all, I should make clear that This Thing of Paper is divided into three separate sections: 1) Manuscript which covers 14th century manuscripts, 2) Invention which covers 15th century incunabula (early printed books), and 3) Printed which cover 16th century printed books. It is a bit of an artificial divide for a myriad of reasons (as book historians would be happy to discuss about for hours!) but one I have decided is useful for my purpose.

My real love is incunabula – books printed between c1440 and 1501. They are not as visually sumptuous as many manuscripts, but I love them because they combine made-by-hand with made-by-machine to such a degree that you cannot fully argue that they are mass produced objects. I digress – but I have worked quite extensively with the wonderful Glasgow Incunabula Project and was thrilled when they had a special exhibition on this project in 2015. I have also spent time with digitalised collections from the British Library, The Royal Library in Copenhagen, Staatsbibliothek zu Berlin, and others. The internet is a wonderful resource, though nothing beats seeing the books in person.

This Thing of Paper Sample Swatch

Knitting and books, a wonderful combination

As a rule, I have looked more at the material qualities of the source material rather than the content of the books (though the title of my book is actually derived from a 15th century treatise on the evils of printing!). I find the material and visual aspects far more interesting than the specific books themselves – with one notable exception which is a 16th century embroidery manual which has informed a key design. I am definitely more interested in the abstract, conceptual stories than in the very specific, textual ones. When I was in academia, I started out looking at Books as Literature but I gradually shifted towards looking at Books as Objects – I often think about how that dichotomy relates to how I approach designing knitting patterns. I mean, I’m obviously really interested in designing things that are really wearable, but I am also intensely interested in embedding bigger concepts into my work. (I am still really proud of the Ronaes shawl from Doggerland which is a very pretty shawl, but also had the knitter working with the ideas of liminality and inner/our landscapes).

Tom: the inks used in old manuscripts will have been made from natural dyes or pigments. I’m thinking about a project of a friend I worked on, Knitting The Map http://www.knittingthemap.org/ where an old map of Brighton became the inspiration for a community project using local wools, dyed with plant-based dyes, as the inks used for the map used pigments from the same sources.  How have you taken this into consideration for colour choices?

Karie: Yes and no. I have obviously spent time looking at source materials and figuring out the colour palette(s) I will be using. I have an overarching colour palette for the entire book, but each story (or chapter?) will have its own defined colour palette. Many of the pigments used in the original books would have been mineral-derived and made in small quantities (both related & unrelated: here’s a fantastic article talking about why so many of those brilliant colours are unavailable to us today.)

This Thing of Paper Stranded Knitting Colourwork Swatch

A tantalising glimpse at the colour palette for This Thing of Paper

I did consider whether I wanted to hunt down colours that would have been available in the 14th-16th centuries and I also spent time trying to find yarns that gave me that same sense (because This Thing of Paper is implicitly about we experience things) as paper or vellum did. Eventually I decided that I did not want to replicate or offer a representation of 14th, 15th or 16th century life. Much in the same way I wasn’t trying to reconstruct clothing from that time. What I am much more interested in doing is trying to understand 21st century life using 700 year-old items as a magnifying glass.

Having said that, I am collaborating with Blacker Yarns and a small selection of hand dyers – and all my collaborators are working with me on a colour palette that is derived from the colours I see in my source material – both the gloriously rich mineral-derived pigments of 14th century manuscripts and the more subdued hues you find in aged paper and faded ink in later books.

Thank you, Karie, for talking about your new project. I can’t wait to see it materialise, read the esssays, and see the knitting projects!

This Thing of Paper is due to be published in spring 2017, and I’m looking forward to seeing this book falling on my doorstep.. The next stop on the tour is Devon based designer Ella Austin. You can catch the full list of blog tour participants here.

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Welcome to one of the last few stops on Susan Crawford’s Coronation Knits blog tour. Coronation Knits is Susan’s fourth book and it contains 14 delicious patterns. If you have followed this tour, then you will have learnt a lot already about the book, Susan, its inspiration, colour choice, and much more besides. I certainly enjoyed every stop so far! You may also have noticed the odd give-away along the way. You’ll be pleased to hear that not only can you win a copy of Coronation Knits here, but also the yarn needed to knit the Diamond Stole featured on the cover! You will find entry details at the end of this post.

The Diamond stole is based on a pattern Susan found in an early 1950s needlecraft book, in which it featured as a table mat. Luckily for us, Susan recognised its beauty would come out much better when draped over someone’s shoulders. Or my sofa:

I like the slightly regal looking lace border, which uses the trusted razor shell pattern, used frequently in Shetland lace knitting. So are the little diamonds, although in Shetland lace knitting, they are sometimes called spiders. But the two elements that I really like, are firstly the chain columns either side of the small diamonds, with its gently opening and closing of the knit stitch columns:

And secondly, the way that the large diamond grows from a column of two stitches, and especially the top of the diamond. It has perfect symmetry:

This very elegant solution to creating the tip of the diamond is by virtue of a single decrease, but not one as we know it. This decrease makes two stitches out of three! The instructions read as follows:

2 stitches from 3

Slip 1, knit 1 leaving original stitch on left needle, pass slipped stitch on right needle over new stitch now also on right needle, then knit stitch remaining on left needle together with next stitch. This turns 3 stitches into 2 stitches.

Let me take you through this decrease, using some pictures for clarification.

Here we are , on row 45 of the pattern, and you can see the three stitches on the left needle, ready for the decrease:

The first stitch is slipped. Insert your right needle into this stitch as if to knit, and slip it off the left needle onto the right needle. It ends up looking like this:

Then knit the next stitch, leaving the original stitch on the left needle:

You can see the original stitch still on the left needle, somewhat stretched out, and the new stitch on the right needle, somewhat strangled. Now you need to pass the slipped stitch over that new, slightly strangled stitch on the right needle. This is a little bit tricky, as the original stitch on the left needle has a tendency to slip off as well, so keep an eye on it! Here my left needle has been inserted in the slipped stitch and is about to pass it over the new stitch and off the right needle:

This is what it should look like once you’ve passed the slip stitch over. As you can see, the original stitch is STILL on the left needle:

The last step in this decrease, is to knit that remaining stitch on the left needle together with the next stitch on the left needle. This can be a bit fiddly, but it gets easier once you’ve done a few diamonds:

What you end up with, is a very elegant single decrease, which looks like two paired single decreases:

And now, for all those readers who just wanted me to get on with it and get to the give-away part, here is how you can enter to win a copy of Coronation Knits AND enough of the beautiful Juno Belle yarn in the Heart On My Sleeve colourway by Juno Fibre Arts to knit your very own Diamond Stole:

To enter, leave a comment on this blog post and tell me about your favourite decrease. I will select a winner on Saturday, 21 July 2012. Please make sure to enter your email address when asked for it when posting your comment, nobody apart from myself will see it. I will contact you myself to get your delivery details. Please note, the book and yarn will be posted once the blog tour has finished, and it doesn’t matter where in the world you live!

The Coronation Knits blog tour isn’t over yet; please find below a list of all the stops past and future:

Tour Date

Blogger

URL

8th June Susan Crawford http://justcallmeruby.blogspot.co.uk/
12th June 2012 Jean Moss http://jeanmosshandknits.blogspot.co.uk/
16th June 2012 Jen Arnall-Culliford http://jenacknitwear.typepad.com/
18th June 2012 Helene Magnusson http://helenemagnusson.blogspot.co.uk/
20th June 2012 Knitting magazine http://www.knittinginstitute.co.uk/
24th June 2012 Ingrid Murnane http://ingridmurnane.com/
28th June 2012 Felicity Ford http://thedomesticsoundscape.com/wordpress/
29th June 2012 Donna Druchunas http://sheeptoshawl.com/
7th July 2012 Karina Westermann http://www.fourth-edition.co.uk/
2nd July 2012 Simply Knitting magazine http://simplyknitting.themakingspot.com/blog
6th July 2012 Ruth Garcia-Alcantud http://www.rockandpurl.com/blog/
10th July 2012 Tasha Moss http://blog.bygumbygolly.com/
14th July 2012 Tom van Deijnen https://tomofholland.com/
18th July 2012 Woolly http://www.woollywormhead.com/blog/
22nd July 2012 Mim http://www.crinolinerobot.blogspot.co.uk/
25th July 2012 The Sexy Knitter http://thesexyknitter.blogspot.co.uk/

Please note, the copyright of the first image (Coronation Knits Book Cover) belongs to Susan Crawford; of the last picture (Juno Belle Heart on my Sleeve yarn) to Juno Fibre Arts. Copyright of all other pictures belongs to tomofholland.

=-=-=-=-= COMPETITION IS NOW CLOSED =-=-=-=-=

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For all you knitters out there interested in vintage styles, I’m sure you’ll be pleased to know that Susan Crawford, of A Stitch in Time 1 & 2 fame, has released a new collection of knitting patterns: Coronation Knits.

I’m not going to reveal too much about it right now, as Susan has started a blog tour, which will allow you to learn more about the patterns and Susan’s work involved, over the next few weeks. Keep an eye out for all the blogs involved – I have a list at the bottom of this post with links and dates.

There are 14 patterns in total, all around the theme of the Diamond Jubilee and the fashions of the time when Elizabeth II got crowned.

There are even some patterns for men, I’m pleased to report!

Susan did a sterling job on designing these patterns and to celebrate this, there will be give-aways of the book along the way, so keep an eye out for the stops on the tour. When it’s my turn, I shall reveal the ins and outs of knitting the Diamond Stole, which features on the cover. It includes a rarely used decrease (make 2 stitches out of 3), which is pleasingly symmetrical.

Not only will I be able to give away a free copy of Coronation Knits, it will also include the yarn needed to knit the Diamond Stole! So be sure to check back here on 14 July; and have a look at all the other blog stops along the tour.

If your hands are itching to start knitting right now, then you can purchase the book here (available as a hardcopy and an e-book):

 http://www.knitonthenet-shop.com/

CORONATION KNITS TOUR DATES:

Tour Date

Blogger

URL

8th June Susan Crawford http://justcallmeruby.blogspot.co.uk/
12th June 2012 Jean Moss http://jeanmosshandknits.blogspot.co.uk/
16th June 2012 Jen Arnall-Culliford http://jenacknitwear.typepad.com/
18th June 2012 Helene Magnusson http://helenemagnusson.blogspot.co.uk/
20th June 2012 Knitting magazine http://www.knittinginstitute.co.uk/
24th June 2012 Ingrid Murnane http://ingridmurnane.com/
28th June 2012 Felicity Ford http://thedomesticsoundscape.com/wordpress/
29th June 2012 Donna Druchunas http://sheeptoshawl.com/
7th July 2012 Karina Westermann http://www.fourth-edition.co.uk/
2nd July 2012 Simply Knitting magazine http://simplyknitting.themakingspot.com/blog
6th July 2012 Ruth Garcia-Alcantud http://www.rockandpurl.com/blog/
10th July 2012 Tasha Moss http://blog.bygumbygolly.com/
14th July 2012 Tom van Deijnen https://tomofholland.com/
18th July 2012 Woolly http://www.woollywormhead.com/blog/
22nd July 2012 Mim http://www.crinolinerobot.blogspot.co.uk/
25th July 2012 The Sexy Knitter http://thesexyknitter.blogspot.co.uk/

Please note, the copyright of all images in this post belong to Susan Crawford.

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