Karie’s This Thing of Paper

I’ve always loved Karie Westermann’s designs. I was first attracted to her lace shawls such as Karise and Elsinore. I liked that the lace looked more geometric and architectural than frilly. Since these early designs, Karie’s portfolio has grown into a beautiful collection of lace and stranded colourwork knits that are sometimes quite minimal or sometimes intricate and detailed, but always stylish and wearable.

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All images are copyright Karie Westermann

Karie’s Doggerland e-book stands out as great achievement; a cohesive collection with a clear and well-explained inspiration source. The ebook contains eight designs along with short essays on the Doggerland area; the landscape and the people who lived at the time when this now-lost land existed. It’s wonderful reading about the specific inspiration sources of each design, reminding me of reading essays or descriptions in an art book or at a gallery. When the links between the inspiration and the finished piece of art (or knitted design) are made clear, a new understanding of the piece develops, thereby increasing the appreciation for it. I think that this is particularly wonderful for knitters to experience as the process is simmilar to the unravelling of understanding that occurs on a technical level when knitting a design.

Now Karie is taking her thoughtful approach to a whole new level. It’s a whole new project – and quite a big one! This Thing of Paper is inspired by Johannes Gutenberg and his invention of the printing press. Karie has drawn inspiration from a variety of sources ranging from 14th century illuminated manuscripts to 16th century embroidery manuals. Such a fantastic idea! The designs will include three garments and seven accessories and are divided into three distinct sections with accompanying essays:

  • the story of handmade manuscripts and the people who worked on making them
  • the story of the period in which Johannes Gutenberg transformed book production
  • the story of when printed matter became more commonplace and helped spread information across Europe.

There will be a variety of techniques covered in the book. I can’t wait to see the colourwork!

Teaser_image TTOP

What a beautiful palette!

Of course I’m also excited about seeing more lace from Karie, as I adore her approach to lace design.

Teaser_image TTOP2

I love the gentle natural shades pictured above.

There will also be gorgeous cosy-looking cables.

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These swatches are small bookmark-sized glimpses of the goodness that will be contained in the full book. And this will be an actual printed book. I’m quite delighted that the book will be a printed book, as although I loved reading the essays in Doggerland, I still prefer to read from paper rather than on-screen. Yes, I know I could have printed them off, but it’s still not the same as reading from a book! Karie explains the feeling well;

“As both a knitter and a bibliophile, I have been yearning to do a project that combines my two loves. Knitting and books share several characteristics and I particularly love the materiality of them both. Yarn flows through my fingers – and some yarns just feel right in my hands which means I keep returning to them. Books give me that feeling too. It simply makes sense that I produce and print a book that is as stunning to hold and look at as the patterns will be to knit and wear.”

Karie’s book has been crowdfunded on Kickstarter. The project has already been fully funded – and then some. In fact the project was fully funded within two days of being open to pledges. As I write this blog post, the goal of £9,700 has been very nearly doubled. But it’s not too late to add your pledge and grab some great rewards, which now include book launch party invitations!

I’m delighted that the concept of the book has been so well-received. It’s a real treat to see knitting being explored in new and different ways. I also love what this means to Karie personally. After reaching and exceeding the goal for This Thing of Paper, Karie wrote:

“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.”

It’s wonderful to embrace the things that make us different – some may sneer (and I pity them) – but if you keep on being true to yourself you will find others that appreciate you. It feels like such a lovely story that this book is happening and I can’t wait for the happy ending of This Thing in Paper in print in April 2017.

This post is written as part of a blog tour. All dates are:

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