It’s here! Well almost here... my debut book ‘Faux Taxidermy Knits’ is due for release on the 26th of September - hurrah!
Faux Taxidermy Knits features 15 wild knitting patterns split into two sections, wearables and habitat, inspired by animals you’d love to have as trophies but without all that terrible hunting business! Ranging from giant specimens, such as the big moose head and tiger rug, to winter warmers, like the wolf headdress and fox scarf. There are even some tiny projects you’ll be able to knit up in no time, like the lucky rabbit’s foot and bear coasters.
So that’s a little bit of information about the book, but what’s that? You want to hear more? Well you’re in for a treat as the book’s going on tour! Thanks to Stitch Craft Create, I’ve got some amazing bloggers who’ll be reviewing the book leading up its release. There will be giveaways, knitting advice and tutorials, and some have even knitted up their own versions of my patterns.
There’s so much to look forward to, I thought I’d cast on by talking about the process of the book and a little about myself.
For those who don’t know me, I started knitting a few years ago whilst I was at university. I studied commercial photography but always felt something was missing. I caught the bug from my sister who was learning to knit one Christmas. Seeing how immersed she was in her work and the sense of achievement she got from finishing each row, I couldn’t help but be jealous. I was given a set of 4mm needles and some forest green yarn and started learning. I would knit during all my lectures and tutorials. I started with misshapen garter stitch headbands and holey scarves but with lots of practice and some lessons from my friends and family, I got better and better and eventually started designing my own pieces.
I wanted to incorporate my newfound crafty skills into my photography work; my first project was actually all to do with hunting. It was the beginning of my affair with knitted taxidermy and I made several animal scarves, one of which inspired the fox knitting pattern in Faux Taxidermy Knits.
I then went onto create ‘Wooly Head’, the photo series featuring six women in knitted wigs. In January 2013 it worked its way around the internet before being picked up by the national newspapers and TV production companies. I made my debut on screen appearance on the Alan Titchmarsh show; I’d hit the big time! I soon returned to the animal world however, with a commission for faux animal heads for Boden’s A/W press day at Somerset House.
In the following months, I was commissioned to make animal heads for the amazing online children’s shop Molly Meg and exclusive pieces for knitting magazines. The fox knitting pattern was my first published design. I hadn’t really considered myself a pattern designer until I saw my work on the printed page; I was so excited, I knew I wanted to do more. After a few months of designing, an email popped up out of the blue labeled ‘Content Opportunity’. It was to truly change my world…
Several phone calls and emails back and forth resulted in a trip to Torquay for an exciting meeting with the publishers, F+W Media, where the contract was signed. At the meeting we discussed and laid out the projects, choosing each creature carefully from the ideas I’d brought. Throughout all the planning I couldn’t believe what was happening and I still have to pinch myself now and again to see if it’s real.
I couldn’t wait to get home and start working, my head was swimming with possibilities. What weight of yarns should I use, what fibers, what colours? I couldn’t help but enjoy my hours searching the internet to find the perfect wools, I was like a child in a sweet shop! I was so lucky enough receive yarn support from amazing companies such as Erika Knight, Texere, Malabrigo and Brooklyn Tweed (just to name a few). I think the yarn you choose to design a project really determines the outcome and with such beautiful materials to work with I knew the patterns would be really special.
During a trip to the Knitting and Stitching Show, once again indulging in new wools and needles, Mr Sincerely Louise (who I’d dragged along with me) suggested that I should include my own hand dyed wools in the book. We took some dyes and yarn home with us and after purchasing a giant pot and some super precise science scales I began experimenting by mixing the powders to create the perfect colours. I dyed three colours, two Aran weights for the moose head and one DK for the crocodile bag. The range will be available alongside the release of the book, so watch this space.
For my first book deadline I had four pieces to make up, including the raccoon hat and tiny badger head. To my delight the publishers loved them and I continued working on the other patterns with great enthusiasm. I spent months developing patterns, knitting them up, unraveling them and knitting them up again. I remember the look on Mr. Sincerely Louise’s face after sheepishly telling him I’d pulled apart two days of work on the tiger rug so I could knit it chunkier. Leading up to my final deadline I worked harder than ever before in my life, my hands hurt and I was in need of some serious sleep. I can assure you they is very little to watch on TV at 4am.
After all the pieces and text had been sent to my publishers, I had a little rest. I worked on some private commissions and my knitting kits. However, I hadn’t finished with the book yet as I’d agreed to photograph the pieces. By chance, a friend who works as an art director contacted me whilst I was tearing my hair out planning what to do. He was in the area and popped over for a cup of tea and quickly offered to help. We worked together for the next few weeks, drawing up sketches for each shot and visiting prop houses. The shoot took about three days, with a lot of assistance from old and new friends and the results were amazing.
I believe this last year has been one of the best and one of the hardest of my life. I’ve been given the opportunity to achieve something that I’d only dreamed of since first picking up those 4mm needles. The support I’ve received from my friends and family and my online followers has been amazing and I wouldn’t be where I am now without them. I’d like to thank everybody who’s helped and inspired me!
Signed copies of Faux Taxidermy Knits are available to pre-order from the Sincerely Louise website in exclusive goodie bags. Included in the cotton tote bag you’ll find the book, an exclusive bonus pattern, everything you need for the fox knitting pattern and some badges.