The Book is Here!

So…

Yes, there has been a bit of radio silence over the last few months.  Not because I haven’t had lots to tell you about (trust me, I have a list!), but because I haven’t had a moment of brainspace or energy left to tell you about them.  So rather than post a massive blog covering everything, I have started to write up lots of shorter ones that I will start to share with you over the next few weeks until I am back in step with myself.

This one is all about the rollercoaster ride that has been the publication of the Shawl Club Book.  For those of you who are new to the blog, here is the background.

  1. Over the last couple of years I have written the crochet shawl patterns for a shawl club run by unbelievawool.
  2. Increasingly folk were asking when I was going to publish them.
  3. In January I launched a kickstarter campaign to raise funds to cover most of the costs of publishing the book.  This received a really good response, meaning that we hit our target after just three days (also meaning that I had to go ahead and do it).

Now, on one level, getting the book off of the ground was easy, in that all the patterns were already written and well tested. The sticking point was the need for some good photography.  I was lucky enough to find Offshoots Photography who were willing to do the shoots for me, and we had a great time pulling together the pictures and generally goofing around with friends.  Picking the final selection of pictures was the hardest part. There were so many I loved that I couldn’t include in the book, including this one below of my friend playing with one of the models.  But we got there.

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The next job was to consider the typesetting and layout.  On Facebook we had a bit of a discussion about the visual preferences and needs of people.  Like me, many folk experience some form of problem with their vision, and in many cases this is linked to chronic health conditions.  Everyone seemed to prefer a full page width layout to sentences, rather than the column format that is more common in pattern books.  The next issue was to do with visual comfort – no harsh black on white text.  The book looks like it is black on white, but in fact uses a greyscale for the main text so the contrast is softened somewhat. Finally, everyone agreed that big margins and plenty of scribble space was needed.  This is the benefit of self-publishing a book – full editorial control.

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Not all things go to plan.  There were some incidents along the way with couriers and printers which were none’s fault but were a test of nerve at times, especially running up to the launch of the book at Wool@J13.  But we got there.  Just!  I also had the pleasure of running some workshops at the show, teaching folk how to create the Friendship Meditation Shawl.

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Self publishing does have technical and legal hoops to go through.  You need to purchase an ISBN number, register that ISBN, deposit a copy of your book with the British Library and generally act as a professional publisher would.  You feel the responsibility of creating something, and launching it on the world.

I am pleased to say that all the kickstarter supporters have received their copy of the book (as far as I know anyway!), and I have been able to get the book into some local yarn shops already.  Yes, I do have a lot of cardboard boxes at home containing the books, but I am slowly finding places to stash them until they all go.  If you want to buy a copy, drop me an email or message me on my Facebook page and I can arrange to get one out to you.  Alternatively, have a chat with your local yarn shop and ask them to get in touch with me to stock it.

I do have an idea for the next book already but its a wee while off.  What the process has made me do is realise that publishing crochet / knitting books is something that I really could do.  I just need to lie down in a darkened room for a year first…

Possible back cover

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Adventures in thrumming

So this weekend I learned a new skill – thrumming.  Thrumming is the technique of knitting little noodles of roving into something like a glove, sock or hat (or bunny slipper!) which results in little fluffy ‘hearts’ appearing on the outside of the garment, and the inside become a lovely fluffy mass of roving loops.   Over time, with wear and washing, the roving felts to the inside of the thing you have made to create an extra layer of insulation.

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I first saw roving kits on the Lollipop Guild website and couldn’t resist this kit with the lovely deep grey and neon fluff.  Over the last week temperatures have dropped a lot, and the wind has picked up, which has meant that my small person has really started to feel the cold.  So I found this pattern for thrummed children’s mittens and decided to make her a pair of these.  They are quick to make even for a klutz like me who isn’t exactly skilled with DPNs (I knit my socks on mini circulars).

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Anyway, I finished the first mitten, and next morning I presented it to the small child, feeling very proud.  The conversation went something like this:

Me: Look what I made for you yesterday!

Child: Oh.

Me: Put your hand in it.

Child: (Slowly inserts hand into oversized mitten) Its too small.

Me: No its not, it just has fluff inside.

Child: Its got stuff in.

Me: Yes, that’s the point, look.

I opened up the mitten to show her this…

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Child: WOW!  Why is that there?

Me: To keep your hand warm.

Child: Cool.  I’m taking this to Show and Tell on Monday.

So I feel like I have successfully navigated the jeopardy of getting the child’s approval, and I have been authorised to make a hat to go with it.  The next stage is seeing if I can get her to wear it enough that she will felt the wool inside the mitten.  Only time will tell.  I am going to wing making the hat, and assuming it doesn’t go horribly wrong I will post the pattern here.

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Neglect!

Hello folks.  I hope you are all still out there!

Where do I start?  The last two weeks have steamrollered me.  Work has rapidly picked up pace and I have become a glassy-eyed work drone.  Get up, get washed, get child up, dressed and out the door to school, go to work, attend back-to-back meetings (each one generating actions that I am unable to act on because I have another meeting to go to), run from work to car in blind panic, collect child and attempt to be semi-functional parent (or when possible stay late in attempt to be semi-functional work colleague), feed child, put child to bed, make a cuppa, stare at WIP bag, knit two rows of a sock, give up, go to bed.  And repeat.

Child says “Mummy, tomorrow try to sneak out from your meeting a leeettle bit earlier.”

Sigh.

Today I am frozen with guilt.  I have a chapter to write which should take me a month and needs to take me about four hours, as that is all I have available to me.  I am being kind to myself in the hope that the muse will find me if I can relax a bit.  Writer’s guilt stops me from picking up my hook to crack on with things I need to do.  But tomorrow we will see Grandpa, and that will be OK.  I will get some time to hook in the car.  I have been asked by Sam to see if I can come up with a pattern for something other than a shawl for a nice change and I am enjoying the challenge of it.  That will be my treat at the end of all this.  Plus there is a yarn sale online tonight, and I plan to treat myself there too. Not a big splurge.  Just a skein for a specific project I am hoping to knit as the nights draw in.

So, I need a bit of time to reset the head.  I feel I have nothing to show for my labours at work this month so I am going to invest more time making.  Yes, it’s time I don’t have, but it is time I can at least share with the small person.  I can make things for her.  Show her that I love her.

In other news, my great, yarn cataloguing friend, has her baby last weekend and he is beautiful.  Just perfect. It reminds me of when my one was small.  I was learning to crochet at the time and I would spend the quiet hours of nursing and holding her trying to make granny squares.  I feel like I have come a long way, but I often wish I had those quiet, child-cuddling and crocheting hours back.

Doing it for the kids…

Its been a while since my last post.  It has been super hectic at knackeredpsycho HQ, such that I had to take a bit of bed rest at one point to catch up on sleep!  The day job is crazy busy until the end of July, and so my precious hooky time is being sidelined at the moment.  And my obsession with knitting socks as a way of destashing has also meant that the time I have had has been spent with the pointy sticks rather than my hooks.  But come August I plan to bury myself in yarn and work up all the designs I have been scribbling down on bits of paper.  I have some plans for a little set of children’s items which I will share with you as they develop.  All my shawl club bits I have had to keep under wraps, but I am looking forward to sharing some more of my projects with you as they develop.

The other things that are keeping me busy include the need for me to make a special blanket for my daughter’s nursery as a thank you before she leaves this summer, and to make lots of cute baby things as one of my friends is expecting her first baby and its a good excuse to produce lots of very quick makes.  The added bonus is that these makes have to be in a practical yarn, and so I get to use up some of my nicer acrylic yarn as part of Project Destash.

I cannot show you my friend’s gifts as she reads this blog (!), but I thought I would show you some of my favourite baby and small child makes from the last year.  Firstly, I love to make blankets, and these are firm favourites.  This was my first star blanket, which used baby soft merino DK and was for a newborn.  When I had my daughter most of the blankets I was given were too large to tuck around her in her car seat.  This one is the perfect size.  It used up yarn left over from a Peppa Pig jumper I had knitted for my daughter, which is why the colours are a little unusual, but putting them in this order really made each colour pop and I loved the final effect!

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My go-to cot blanket is a shrunk down version of an Attic 24 cosy stripe blanket.  If you begin with a starting chain of 120 it comes up the perfect width.  For baby versions I prefer to use a neutral on the ‘plain’ rows and a variegated yarn in the granny treble rows, like this one I made using left over Ice Yarn:

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At Christmas I was asked to make an owl themed blanket for a friend’s sister-in-law.  I used The Hat and I’s pattern for this one, and added the lettering using the Moogly Alphabet patterns.

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Clothes are always fun for little people.  Last year we were stuck in a traffic jam and I made this circular cardigan for my daughter in the time I was trapped in the car (we missed our ferry to Ireland, so I had extra hooky time).  The yarn was King Cole Riot, but my little one found it a bit too scratchy to wear, so I would make it in a cotton or bamboo for her next time.  But this was so quick and easy to make and I loved the final effect.  The pattern was a free one from Drops yarn, found on Ravelry, but there are lots of similar ones out there too.

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In terms of hats, I like this, the Little Sister hat, without the flower.  This one is worked in some left over merino sock yarn from Fleabubs (the Scientist was the colourway).  It can look girly but in this yarn I think it works for a newborn of either gender.

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You can see that I like to use strong colours with little people – something that will hide the messes but that make a really nice statement piece.  I am toying with making a very special little set in honour of my friend’s baby, and as soon as I have done it I will share it with you here as a free pattern.  I just need to put the socks down long enough to make it!