I’ve made a book. Penguin: a Knit Collection will arrive back from the printers this week. I know some of you have been waiting for it patiently and that has really helped the process along. The responses I’ve gotten when giving sneak peeks at places like To Gather DTLA, AVFKW, Unravel, Stephen & Penelope, Ja, Wol and Yarndale were totally encouraging. It’s the summation of well over a year of work in collaboration with many amazing people and their skills. I am beyond excited to finally be able to share it with you.
It’s 80 pages of full colour, printed on a proper, huge, Heidelberg press in London. It was great to be able to hop on public transport and go and see it be printed last Monday (and bring my dad and editor, Amelia Hodsdon along). In addition to being local, Park Communications take the environment seriously in their print work, which was important to me. The uncoated paper we decided on for the book has good environmental credentials, making it even coooooler. It also means on you can write on it with pencil (or pen) to keep track of where you are in the pattern, make notes of any personal adjustments or just draw some of your own penguins in the margins. They were so generous about satisfying our curiosity about, well, everything.
Here are my Dad and Amelia having the Heidelberg press explained to them by Michael.
There are 11 knitting patterns in the book, all inspired by penguins – 2 cardigans, a sweater, 2 hats, a beret and cowl set, a shawl, a pair each of socks and mittens and a cuddly penguin called Pinglwin, who wears a removable knitted tuxedo hoodie (because otherwise she is all white and she gets fed up explaining why). The whole collection is tied together by a strong palette of black and white, with a smattering of greys, mustard yellow, soft brown and pale pink. Only Pinglewin and the Fledgling mittens are noticeably penguinish. For the other knits, the inspiration link is much more subtle.
The book is filled with little stories and a long introduction essay explaining how and why it came about: my love of knitting, fun, community and… PENGUINS! It’s crammed with photographs of the 10 garments photographed around my neighbourhood of London Fields in Hackney, East London. I had the most wonderful photoshoot with Elle Benton. Ania Grzymajlo did double duty as model and doing hair and make-up, so it’s not only my face you’ll see in there. Thijs groot Wassink did a great job coaxing a slightly shy Pinglwin into be photographed while knitting. There are photographs of real penguins from Chuck Graham and Lori ann Graham, hand-drawn schematics (by me) and the most glorious watercolour endpapers and illustrations from Narangkar Glover.
I had an amazing tech editing team checking things over and a couple of great general editors keeping an eye on the flow, style and clarity of all the stuff I really wanted to tell you. (One of the hardest things about making the book was limiting it’s size to be manageable to print and post, then read and knit from.) And my test knitters were the BEST. I am not going to go into everyone in detail, because I do it in the book, but I also think it might be a nice idea to tell you about them even more extensively here, at a later date.
This is a small view of the Aptenodytes cardigan, mainly so I can show you the penguin nails.
It has kept me immensely busy and now I’m ready to celebrate. I hope you’ll join me. If you can make it to London, please come say hello at the launch next Saturday, 5 December, at Wild & Woolly from 2pm. Dress like a penguin or at least in black, white, pink and yellow. I’m cooking up a prize for the most penguin-y of you and I’ll give penguin manicures to the first few through the door. I’ll also be at the PomPom Xmas Party on December 11th at Foyles. I have a growing list of LYS who I am thrilled will be stocking it. (Do drop me a line if you are interested in stocking it or have a favourite LYS you’d like to recommend I contact). And of course, you can Get your copy of PENGUIN: A Knit Collection HERE!.
See you soon. I’ll start introducing each pattern over the coming week.