a few favorite video podcasts

Things are still weird in this time of home isolation and I continue to oscillate between gratitude for my situation and anxiety/sadness over the state of the world. Nonetheless, I’m trying to find everyday joys where I can. One of the places I find joy is knitting podcasts on YouTube, and while I haven’t been able to keep up with very many since starting my PhD, I’ve been catching up on some episodes in the past weeks when I have extra time on my hands / want some company / would like something to watch while I’m knitting. So I thought I’d share a few favorites here on the blog, for those who are also interested in these sorts of videos!

Now, narrowing it down to six to share was kind of tough (I just counted in my list of subscriptions, and I’m subscribed to 24 knitting podcast channels in total) but I figured I’d share a few of my perennial favorites, all of which I’ve been enjoying recently. Even if some of these names might be familiar to you, I hope a few are new and you might discover a new podcast you really enjoy.

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Top row left: Inside Number 23

I was always going to have to include Katie here. Inside Number 23 was the first knitting podcast on YouTube I really started watching regularly, after I stumbled into her channel while searching for Edinburgh Yarn Festival vlogs in 2017 (I attended the festival in 2016 and was sad not to be there in 2017, hence seeking out vlogs). Katie relaunched her podcast this past January after taking a break when she had her daughter, and her new format is lovely and comes in the form of a monthly video. She puts a lot of effort into her podcast, which I think always makes a difference – thoughtfully planned episodes, good editing, and her lovely on-screen personal all make for a really lovely viewing experience, and I appreciate it.

Top row right: The Crimson Stitchery

Anushka became a favorite last year, as I really appreciate her approach to crafting. She’s a fellow PhD student, and living in a small flat in London on a budget, she often tends to focus on doing a lot with a little or with what she has on hand (she’s running an initiative this year called Stashless 2020 in which she and others are trying to knit through – or make a dent in – their yarn stashes). Her podcast includes regular segments on mending and keeping a larder of sorts, and I found it really refreshing when I started watching her podcast to see someone who wasn’t constantly sharing new yarn purchases (although that can be fun too). I love the space she’s carved out in the podcasting world. She’s also a designer and I happen to have one of her patterns on my needles at the moment! Her podcast episodes are typically every two weeks (or fortnightly, as she puts it) but there are often bonus videos in the off-weeks.

Middle row left: Hey BrownBerry

Marce is someone I was lucky enough to meet at last year’s Edinburgh Yarn Festival, and she’s a wonderful person and a truly inspiring maker. I always enjoy her videos, whether she’s sharing what she’s knitting, taking us along the ride for some natural dyeing experiments, or giving us a few moments of calm footage of her home environment in Florida. I grew up in North Carolina and my family would visit Florida just about every summer, so I have to admit I’m really partial to the footage of her surroundings because of the nostalgia it brings on. Her more recent episodes have also featured some Norway footage because Marce recently attended the Knitography retreat that Patricia held right here in my corner of Norway, so I was also lucky to get to hang with her in person again (along with a whole bunch of other wonderful folks)! This was right before everything got very serious very quickly with the coronavirus situation, which makes me feel even luckier. And I can’t forget to mention that Marce is also a designer.

Middle row right: Marina Skua

I also met Marina at Edinburgh Yarn Festival last year, and over the past year I’ve come to know what a delightful human she is. I find her podcast really soothing – she shares her makes, both knitting (and she also designs) and sewing, plus she’s another who likes playing with natural dyeing and shares some of those experiments on the podcast. She also has a line of yarn which shares her name and dyes repeatable colorways using acid dyes as well. Her episodes have included all kinds of snippets: spinning, carding batts, mending, garden updates, and pasta-making have all featured and I’ve enjoyed them all. Marina’s podcast always brings a little bit of calm to my day when I sit down to hang out and watch it, which I can really get behind. Her podcast episodes go up once a month!

Bottom row left: SweetGeorgia

SweetGeorgia is one of the first hand-dyed yarn companies I can remember learning about when I started becoming interested in hand-dyed yarn nearly a decade ago. And for good reason! Felicia, the force behind SweetGeorgia, has an incredible sense of color and both in her yarn company and her own makes she creates beautiful things. Her weekly podcast/video series is called Taking Back Friday, and it’s about carving out some time for yourself to be creative in the midst of life. She’s incredibly accomplished in a number of different fiber crafts and you’ll see them all pop up in her videos – knitting, dyeing, spinning, weaving. I appreciate her discussions and I feel like even when she’s just sharing things she’s been making, her videos feel educational and I always come away having learned something.

Bottom row right: Tea & Possibilities

Nikki’s podcast is another I started watching back in 2017, and I find it a real joy. I love Nikki’s personality and her approach not just to her making, but also to life. She shares knitting and crochet projects, but you’ll also always hear about whatever tea she’s drinking that day and occasionally about books she’s reading or movies/films she’s been watching (which I enjoy because I like her taste – and her passion for history). Nikki was also one of the first people I can remember talking about a different kind of approach to self care than the really commercialized version which has become prevalent these days – sure, a bubble bath or a cup of hot chocolate or pampering yourself can be forms of self care, but so are things like paying the bills you’ve been putting off or tidying up a corner of the house or just taking care of yourself and your life in everyday ways. Having someone put it so plainly helped me realize that sometimes buckling down and doing the things I’ve been putting off will make me feel a hundred times better than any comforting treat I give myself in the meantime can do.

What are your favorite podcasts, knitting-related or otherwise?

nordenfjeldske kunstindustrimuseum + hannah ryggen

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This weekend I visited the Nordenfjeldske Kunstindustrimuseum, or the Museum of Decorative Arts and Design here in Trondheim. I really love museums, but for one reason or another when we moved to Tromsø in 2015 it took me around a year before I finally made it to any of Tromsø’s museums. I was determined not to let that happen in Trondheim, so on a rainy Sunday I ventured out to spend a couple of hours at NKIM.

The museum houses a permanent collection of art and artifacts, but I was especially interested in seeing the temporary exhibition they’re currently (co-)hosting, the Hannah Ryggen Triennial 2019: New Land (the other host of New Land is the Hannah Ryggen Center in Ørland). Hannah Ryggen was a textile artist born in Sweden who spent most of her life in Ørland, Norway, about an hour’s boat ride from Trondheim. She predominantly worked with tapestry weaving, and part of why I find her so interesting is that a lot of her work was very overtly political – she was born in 1894 and was coming of age and beginning to work in a time where fascism was on the rise, and much of her work could be considered social commentary against injustice. I had come across Ryggen’s name before but I hadn’t realized quite how political her work was until I went to the exhibition. (She was also trained in painting but was self-taught as a weaver, a fact about her which I enjoyed.)

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NKIM houses the largest collection of Ryggen’s works, but the exhibition itself brings together both works by Ryggen as well as contemporary works by other artists. The curator’s statement is well worth a read. I enjoyed seeing all the pieces, but two artists in particular stood out to me.

The first piece that stopped me in my tracks was Liquid, by Faig Ahmed, an Azerbaijani artist.

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It’s part of a series (you can see the pieces on his website), and there was another piece included in the exhibition, but this one really had an effect on me. The rugs are proper wool rugs, woven by hand and very traditional up until the point that they become incredibly distorted. I’ve never seen anything like it.

The other artist whose work really spoke to me was Alexandra Kehayoglou, an Argentinian artist. A series of pieces titled Prayer Rugs was her main contribution to the exhibition – primarily smaller pieces, as suggested by the name, and like Ahmed’s work, woolen rugs.

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The description provided in the catalogue puts it succinctly: “These tactile works are in memoriam of places that have been altered or destroyed forever. Some of them document environmental destruction, others depict lost landscapes that can never be experienced again.” The tufted rugs represent memories of Kehayoglou’s native landscapes, and to me the tactile nature of the pieces really drives home a sense of what is lost when we alter the landscape, intentionally or otherwise. It comes across in the small size of these pieces, but I imagine it’s even more impactful in one of her larger-scale pieces (just take a peek at this one on her website).

I’d encourage you to check out Kehayoglou’s website because her work is incredibly stunning.

Going back to Ryggen’s work, the piece housed in the museum that had the biggest impact on me was one called Vi lever på en stjerne, or “We live on a star.” The scale of the piece alone is overwhelming, but it was the story behind it that made me emotional. It was originally commissioned for the new government building in Oslo in 1958, the building that was until 2011 the location of the prime minister’s office (among other offices). This building was one of the targets of the terrorist attacks of July 22, 2011, an event that still feels vivid in my memory, though I only experienced it from afar, learning about it while watching the news in an American airport. 77 people died that day because of one right-wing extremist. Eight years on it is still difficult to fathom. The Ryggen tapestry was damaged in the bombing, but it has been stitched back together and now bears a scar, which I was able to examine up close, as it sits in the bottom portion of the tapestry.

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The scale of this piece is difficult to express through a photograph alone (in the museum it’s located in the landing of a large stairway), but this photo of the piece in situ in the government building probably gives a better idea:

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(Photo: Leif Ørnelund / Oslo Museum, via digitaltmuseum.no)

Perhaps this piece hit me the way it did because the 22/7 attacks have been on my mind as we approach the eighth anniversary (which is tomorrow, as it happens) and I had no idea the history of this piece so it caught me unaware. My very first visit to Norway was in November 2011, only months after the attacks, and I remember my friend Camilla walking me by the Government Quarter, where the damage was still visible, with many windows boarded up. The government has plans to demolish some of the existing buildings of the quarter and build new ones, but there will always be some things that bear the scars of the damage caused by that day, just as Norway itself carries them too.

The exhibition has left me wanting to dig deeper into Hannah Ryggen’s work, and I’ll likely go see it again before it closes next month. I’d also like to make the trip to the Hannah Ryggen Center in Ørland. Perhaps I can share more about Ryggen and her work later on. If you’d like to read more in the meantime, I found this piece quite interesting.

inspiration: kristin drysdale / scandiwork

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It’s been a long time since I’ve posted an old-school inspiration post (something I used to do more often years ago), but I was browsing the Ravelry designer page for Kristin Drysdale earlier this week and I was reminded how much I love her work, and how much I adore one pattern in particular:

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I need to think of someone in my life who has a child I can knit one of these for, because it is just. too. perfect. I love it so very much. This is her Little Swedish Dress pattern, and while it’s my favorite of her children’s dress patterns, the Midsommar Dress and the Little Dutch Dress are super adorable as well.

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You may have encountered Kristin’s work on Instagram, either on her own feed (where she is @scandiwork), or perhaps like I did – via the feed of Lori Ann Graham, who has knit a few pairs of Kristin’s Hansdatter slippers. Kristin’s array of beautiful stranded slipper designs is slightly dizzying, and it’s hard not to want to make them all. She uses relatively traditional colors in her stranded patterns but makes them feel very fresh in an incredibly pleasing way, and my favorite pieces of hers are the ones where she uses assorted motifs grouped together to great effect, as in the dresses above or the pillow below, the Swedish Christmas Pillow.

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She recently released a few adult-sized garments as well, which makes me excited to see what else she’ll be coming up with. Dagna is a circular yoke pattern available as a cardigan or as a pullover, and I think it demonstrates really well the traditional-yet-fresh thing that Kristin has going on.

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There are too many beautiful slipper patterns to pick a favorite, so I encourage you to head over to Kristin’s Ravelry page and take a look yourself. All of the ones pictured at the top of this post are available individually or as part of the Norseknits ebook. And if Kristin’s work tugs at your heartstrings the way it does mine, you should check her out on Instagram at @scandiwork as well. (Bonus: she’s also a fan of Scandinavian baking!)

Slipper photo by Scandiwork, Little Swedish Dress and Dagna photos by Ben Lehnardt.

more lofoten goodness

There were several other Lofoten-related things that came to mind as I was putting together the Lofoten Wool post, but I didn’t want the post to get too long and I really wanted the yarn and its relationship with the landscape to be the focus. So I decided to save these little bits for a new post – and I hope you enjoy these too.

First up, there are a few Lofoten-related segments from a TV show called Norge Rundt that I thought some of you might enjoy seeing. I’m pretty sure you should be able to stream these outside Norway, because I have memories of watching Norge Rundt from time to time when I still lived in Seattle. The show’s name means “Around Norway” and the format is made up of relatively short segments from some place or another, meeting a diverse array of people who do all kinds of things – and you usually jump around the country a bunch within a single episode. The show is still on today, but I’m particularly fond of the older episodes found in the show’s archives, and the clips I have to share today are both of that variety. The audio is in Norwegian only, but the visual experience alone is worth it, so don’t let that dissuade you if you don’t speak Norwegian:

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Clip 1: In my last post I mentioned the fishing huts where fishermen would lodge, called rorbuer, and how they mainly cater to tourists now. This clip from 1978, entitled “rorbuferie” (fishing hut holiday) covers that very topic, along with some stunning footage of Lofoten in the summertime. You’ll have to click through to the NRK website to watch it.

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Clip 2: This is a pretty endearing segment from 1979, which starts off with a voiceover about how the number of fishermen and of fishing boats in Kabelvåg is steadily decreasing, just like many other towns in Lofoten – “mange begynner etterhvert å glemme hvordan Lofotlivet i gamle dager var,” he tells us, or “many are beginning to gradually forget what Lofoten life was like in ‘the olden days’.” So the kids and teachers of the local school decided to host a big event about what life used to be like in Lofoten. Their stage performance features a handmade backdrop, adorably goofy singing, and lots of fantastic knitwear – all of which prompted my husband to ask “Wait, are we watching a Belle & Sebastian video?” when the girl in the yellow sou’wester showed up on the screen. (Fun side note: Belle & Sebastian have totally been to northern Norway, actually). But I love a community coming together to take a look back and remember what life was like in the not-so-distant past – with young people stepping up to take care of their traditions. Again, click through to watch the clip on the NRK website.

Given the dates of both of these clips, it’s worth pointing out that just like in Shetland, the 1970s was a decade that transformed sea-based industry in Norway after the discovery of oil on the continental shelf. I feel like both of these clips point to that changing landscape. (It also brought to mind the exhibition Ella Gordon put together for the Shetland Museum back in 2014 about Shetland knitting during the oil boom.)

Artwork was another theme that came up when I was thinking about Lofoten. Some of my favorite Norwegian artwork features scenes of northern Norway, and I thought I’d share a few pieces that to me, really manage to capture the place.

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Winter Morning in Svolvær by Gunnar Berg, 1887. Berg grew up in Svolvær, which is also where the landscape photos in the last post were from. Berg really captures the light, and the brilliance of the white snow against a blue winter sky. The misty clouds and the masterful reflection in the water are so atmospheric.

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From Reine in Lofoten by Otto Sinding in 1883 (courtesy Digitalt Museum). Sinding’s paintings of Lofoten manage to capture the feeling of the size and scale of the mountains in a way that photos can’t seem to do. I love the low winter light in this one, and the way the reflected sky is a steel grey. These are all the things I love to notice in my changing surroundings as the light changes at different times of year.

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And for something completely different, I love this piece by Reidar Aulie. This is Lofoten, tall rock formations, from some time after 1922 (courtesy Digitalt Museum). The first thing this piece brings to mind for me is some of J.R.R. Tolkien’s artwork, and given that they were very nearly contemporaries (Aulie was 12 years younger than Tolkien) that’s not entirely surprising. It’s just pen on paper, but it’s beautiful. The Tolkien pieces this one brings to mind are Caerthilian Cove & Lion Rock and Cove near the Lizard, both scenes from Cornwall which can be seen on this page, as well as in the book J.R.R Tolkien, Artist & Illustrator, which is where I was introduced to them.

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And last but not least, I wanted to mention a book I’ve just finished reading, which was a Christmas gift from my friend Anna: The Unseen by Roy Jacobsen. She gave me a copy in the original Norwegian (De usynlige), and she described it along the lines of being a sort of quintessential northern Norwegian novel. It follows the story of a girl who grows up on a small island, home to her family and her family only. They have a small farm, and her father goes to Lofoten to fish every winter. The content from page to page is very everyday sorts of stuff for much of the book, which makes it an excellent novel for someone interested in what life might have been like on a small Norwegian island in the gamle dager, the old days. It’s available in English as The Unseen (linked above), and I’m incredibly excited that the English translation just made the longlist for the 2017 Man Booker International Prize.

Thanks for indulging a little bit of Lofoten exploration on the blog today.

inspiration: oleana

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I came across the spring 2017 collection for Oleana on social media this week, and not only did the springy pastels that feature heavily in the collection jump out at me, but I also realized that many of my readers and followers outside of Norway may be unfamiliar with Oleana. It seemed like a great opportunity for an inspiration post! That led to me digging into pieces from some of their older collections, too, which is where the first few photos in the post are from (the newest spring pieces are down below).

To me, Oleana is best known for their striking fine-gauge knitwear. They’re celebrating 25 years in business this year, having been founded in 1992 at a time when the textile industry in most wealthy, developed nations was struggling to stay alive. From the beginning, their mission has been to show that high-cost economies can still produce clothing and they can do so responsibly. Oleana is worth talking about for that reason alone – fortunately, the knitwear also happens to be beautiful. Oleana’s designer is named Solveig Hisdal, and she also happens to be the company’s in-house photographer. I love her use of color and gradient to play with and break up repetitive motifs – and the combination of fine gauge and machine knitting allows for more freedom than traditional Norwegian colorwork.

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Oleana’s pieces are produced in their factory near Bergen – located on a fjord in Ytre Arna. The factory is open to the public as an Économusée (much like the Hillesvåg mill), which means you can actually visit and get a glimpse of the production as it happens (I haven’t been, but I would love to go!). One thing that I can’t say about Oleana is that as far as I know, they don’t use domestic wool (most of their wool garments are made from merino/silk blends), but their emphasis on fair and responsible domestic production is hugely important in our modern textile industry, and I’m happy to elevate them for that.

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I think Solveig’s design work really carries her signature. In some ways, I can see through lines with some of the work of the Rowan designers, particularly when it comes to the florals, but Solveig’s pieces have a bit more saturation and flair, with a distinctive modern Scandinavian feeling. It’s a step away from subtle sweeping moors and in the direction of Marimekko, if you will, while very much being its own beautiful thing.

The spring pieces really caught my eye because of the colors used – I’ve been very drawn to bright, saturated spring and summer hues lately, even though it’s still so very wintry outside. The return of the sun has led to a little bit of a winter outside/summer inside vibe (avocado toast with lime and cilantro, anyone?) so I enjoyed poking through the spring 2017 catalogue.

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You can view the spring 2017 catalogue here, or check out the autumn 2016 catalogue here (which the first two pieces pictured at the top of this post are from). Are those spring pastels speaking to you too right now? Particularly you east coasters in North America who just got hit with a snowstorm…

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About half of Oleana’s products are sold abroad (all over Europe, the US, Canada, even Australia and Japan), so you can check out their store locator to see if there’s a stockist anywhere near you. And if you live in Minnesota, Norway House in Minneapolis has an Oleana exhibition up through March 26th. You can read more about that here.

inspiration: miscellany

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It’s been awhile since I’ve done an old-school “inspiration” post, but at the beginning of this darkest week of the year, it’s feeling like a good time to revive it. Here are a few things I’m really digging at the moment, as pictured above:

Row 1: Rauma is selling several different ready-to-wear sweaters at Husfliden at the moment, most of which are recognizeable Norwegian classics like the Fana sweater, Marius, and the Setesdal sweater. I’ve become quite enamored with the cheery yellow Fana (left), which is a machine knit, as well as the Varde sweater (right), a less well-known pattern – but those greens! To be honest, the photos don’t do either of the sweaters justice. If you’re in Norway I suggest popping into a Husfliden store to check them out.

Row 2: today I came across the incredibly detailed embroidery work of Chloe Giordano, whose wee creatures are so lifelike I can hardly believe it. While her original pieces are expensive to own (for good reason), she sells prints and card sets featuring her work as well, which is such a treat. She’s on Instagram at @chloegiordano_embroidery.

Row 3: German indie dyer Welthase has been running a special advent calendar this year with one-off yarns listed for one day only, and the colors have been absolutely slaying me. It’s tough to actually nab any of these skeins, but fortunately for us, Miriam has a lot of beautiful non-advent yarns on offer as well (I used Miriam’s yarns for my Swedish Pancakes pattern and it’s gorgeous stuff). You can follow Miriam (and see all this year’s advent calendar yarns) on Instagram at @welthase.

Row 4: while I’m not sure I could pull it off in my home, these knitting-themed wallpapers from Murals Wallpaper are pretty fun and it’s cool to see what types of fabric they feature. My favorite, unsurprisingly, is the stranded colorwork one, pictured on the left. The oversized stockinette, at right, reminds me of my friend Kathleen’s big knitted rug.

I hope you have a good week this week, and wherever you are, I hope you have more daylight than I do!

inspiration: this thing of paper

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“Who is ignorant of the difference between writing [scriptura] and printing [impressura]? A manuscript, written on parchment, can last a thousand years. How long will print, this thing of paper [res papirea] last?”
— Johannes Trithemius, In Praise of Scribes (De Laude Scriptorum)

When I was in high school, my mom worked in the office for the Women’s and Gender Studies program at one of the local universities. The office was sent copies of Bust Magazine and mom always brought them home for me to read. If memory serves me correctly, it was in one of those copies of Bust that I first stumbled into a tutorial for how to make your own journal using some pretty basic bookbinding techniques. I was hooked after that first tutorial – all my high school journals from that point on were little simple books I’d bound myself (you can see a few of them in the photo above). I went on to make a set of journals in 2006/2007 for my friend, musician John Vanderslice. The books had canvas covers and I painted album artwork from his catalog on them – it was a pretty immense project that to this day I am proud of. And while I’ve always remained a dabbler, my interest in making books has held (the most recent one I made was a birthday gift for my husband for his birthday before last).

I think it’s easy for fiber artists to be interested in books. The physicality of crafts like knitting or crocheting or spinning is central to them. We learn our way around the physical properties of wool and other fibers, the crunch or heft or twist. We learn to follow the feel of the knitting in our hands instead of relying on our eyes alone to see if we’ve dropped a stitch or made a mistake. And we really love beautiful pattern books.

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So perhaps it’s not surprising that we’ve gone a bit mad over Karie Westermann‘s upcoming project, This Thing of PaperYou’ve likely heard about it already, but in case you haven’t: the project is inspired by Gutenberg and the invention of the printing press, and the fascinating era of transition in bookmaking that transpired. This collection is going to be a physical book – a beautiful physical book – with 10 patterns for garments and accessories as well as accompanying essays. Karie’s funding the project via a Kickstarter, and thanks to the intense enthusiasm for this project she was 100% funded in just 25 hours (!!), and at this point she’s raised an incredible sum of £21,641, absolutely blowing her original goal of £9,700 out of the water. If you haven’t yet pledged your support but you’d like to, you can still do so on the Kickstarter page until Wednesday at 10:45AM central European time – just about 42 hours to go at the time this post goes live. I am so happy to help spread the word about this project, because the finished product is going to be something that I’ll be very excited to hold in my hands – and obviously, as just one of Karie’s many backers, I’m not alone in that feeling.

Not shockingly, I’m most looking forward to the colorwork patterns, but this collection will feature more than just colorwork and I can’t wait to see how Karie’s own aesthetic as a designer interacts with her inspiration and source material. I’m also really looking forward to the essays – how can I not love a book that excites the academic in me just as much as the knitter? If you find yourself curious as well, you can back the project, check out Karie’s mood board on Pinterest to get a peek at her visual inspiration, or peruse the stops on the blog tour for This Thing of Paper, of which this is the final stop. Highlights from the tour for me included JacquelineM’s tutorial for binding a booklet to keep notes for projects from This Thing of Paper (not unlike that first journal tutorial I encountered in high school) and Felix’s interview with Karie that went live last Friday, but the whole tour is absolutely worth checking out – the links below will take you directly to the blog posts:

May 26: Naomi Parkhurst

May 27: Meg Roper

May 30: Natalie Servant

June 1: Jacqui Harding

June 6: Woolly Wormhead

June 8: Tom of Holland / Tom van Deijnen

June 10: Ella Austin

June 13: Leona Jayne Kelly of Fluph

June 15: JacquelineM

June 16: Felix Ford/KNITSONIK

June 17: Clare Devine

When you’ve finished with that, be sure to check out Karie’s own wrap-up post, which also has some great practical info regarding when the book will be available and how it can be purchased for wholesale, etc. Congratulations, Karie! We can’t wait to see what you’ve come up with.