Our Bluestockings book is published today!
This is a book we are all really proud of producing.
As well as patterns (for blue stockings) there are essays (about bluestockings). . .
. . . .alongside pieces by expert contributors . . .
. . . providing accessible and informative introductions to different aspects of eighteenth-century material and literary culture – while you knit your socks!
As someone who, for a very long time, has enjoyed eighteenth-century art, I am particularly pleased with the book’s satisfyingly rich visual appearance . .
. . .and it has made me truly happy to be able to work with collections around the world – bringing you, in these pages, so many of the wonderful eighteenth-century images that I love!
It has been a huge joy to work with talented contributors like Nicole, Isabella, Susan, Lizzie, Sonja and Kristina – and, of course, to develop a collection of brand new designs inspired by eighteenth-century women.
In short, Bluestockings is a book of which I’m really proud . . . and I suppose I’m feeling a bit like celebrating more generally today, as it is actually the twentieth title I’ve produced since I began designing, writing, and publishing books independently (after leaving academia, following my stroke).
Those books are:
My first independently published book was Colours of Shetland – in which I brought together a collection of designs, with essays about the landscape, history and culture of the Shetland Islands.
This was followed by Yokes in 2014, in which I explored the history of the yoke sweater from the Indigenous nuilarmiut to the work of contemporary designers, interviewing knitting heroes like Meg Swansen, Kirsten Olsson and Hélène Magnusson along the way.
In 2015, I was able to expand the business, develop and produce a brand new Scottish yarn, and bring Tom on board to help me in my endeavours. We made this book to celebrate.
After Mel began working for KDD, we had the capacity to take our creative labours in some really productive new directions.
In The Book of Haps we brought together the story of Shetland lace knitting, and the making and wearing of ordinary shawls, with a collection of contemporary haps from brilliant designers.
. . .while in Shetland Oo, Tom and I brought his documentary photography, my research and writing, and a wide community of creative islanders together to tell the story of wool in Shetland.
I returned to my own design work in 2017, interweaving the landscape and history of the beautiful Hebridean island (where Tom and I were married) with a new collection of garments and accessories.
. . . and gathering some favourite hap, wrap and shawl designs together in Happit.
I also spent much of 2017 hard at work researching and writing this . . .
. . . a book about disability, creativity and accessible design . . . with its starting point in my own instructive and difficult experience of brain injury.
As well as publishing Handywoman, in 2018 we also produced the Shore collection . . .
. . .West Highland Way (exploring the stories that are interwoven in the landscape of Scotland’s best-loved long-distance walking route). . . .
. . . and this fun, collaborative collection of wonderful hats to knit in our new yarn, Milarrochy Tweed.
2019 was another productive year, in which I published two design collections: Bold Beginner Knits and Knitting Season . . .
. . . and researched and wrote a brand new book exploring a range of accessible and inclusive approaches to creative practice – Wheesht.
In 2020, we worked with the brilliant Jeanette Sloan, and a host of talented designers from around the world, to produce this glorious, joyful collection of gloves and mittens – Warm Hands . . .
. . .we also brought the beautiful work of Claudia Fiochetti to a new audience of knitters . . .
…Tom and I returned to our collaborative words-and-pictures documentary interests, interweaving the history of Glasgow’s atelier economy (and its imperial roots) with a contemporary portrait of this diverse, thriving, and supremely creative city. . . .
. . and at the close of 2020, I published a big anniversary collection, celebrating my own decade in design. Whew!
My most recent collection of colourful things to knit (and weave), published earlier this year, makes nineteen titles . .
. . . and Bluestockings – out today – is number twenty!
We’ve produced many different kinds of book over the past decade – none of which fit particularly neatly into traditional categories of publishing: what we do is not simply how-to, or literary history, or memoir, or documentary photography, or knitting patterns, or nature writing, or cultural criticism. Rather, by following our own creative interests, and working with brilliant collaborators, we’ve developed and produced books which combine some or all of these things. We can only do this because (very happily) readers and knitters enjoy the interdisciplinary nature of what we do and because your support means that we are able to retain our independent predilections (which in mainstream industry circles are definitely regarded as idiosyncracies!) The equal value of practical and intellectual forms of knowledge is something about which I, and the rest of the KDD team, feel very strongly, and I’m particularly proud of the wide-ranging nature of these twenty titles, which combine historical research with practical making; critical writing with documentary photography; the story of material culture with the contemporary manufacturing of yarn and books.
On this, the publication day of our twentieth book, I’d like to point out that KDD is named for me, but that what we do has always been a group endeavour, made possible, from the very beginning, by Tom and Mel. I’m more thankful than I can say for both of them, as well as for the rest of our small team, and perhaps most especially for the wider community of knitters and readers – for you, in other words – without whom there would be no KDD books, or clubs, or patterns, or yarns.