This Thing of Paper


I’ve knit a bunch of knitting patterns in my time, but the only ones I have conversations with, that make me do research, that make my reading pile grow, that tell me stories and let me tell my own, are ones by Karie Westermann. So you could imagine how over the moon excited I am about her new project, This Thing of Paper, a knitting book with accompanying essays exploring the age of Gutenberg.

To hear more about This Thing of Paper, read interviews with Karie about her design inspiration and research so far, see photos of her swatches, and learn about the yarns she’s using for the project, check out this blog tour, of which I am today’s stop! If you’re here after Leona’s fun interview with Karie — welcome! (And Leona, I love your doggie!)

Monday 23 May Karie Westermann
Thursday 26 May Naomi Parkhurst
Friday 27 May Meg Roper
Monday 30 May Natalie Servant
Wednesday 1 June Jacqui Harding
Monday 6 June Wooly Wormhead
Wednesday 8 June Tom Van Deijnen
Friday 10 June Ella Austin
Monday 13 June Leona Jayne Kelly
Wednesday 15 June ME!
Thursday 16 June Felix Ford
Friday 17 June Clare Devine
Monday 20 June Dianna Walla


I love, love, love making things, stories, history, and books. I see the world through the lens of materiality, and consider myself a New Materialist both philosophically and practically. I believe in thing power. In fact, Jane Bennett is my spirit animal. To say This Thing of Paper ticks ALL of my boxes is an understatement!

What I’d like to contribute to this blog tour is to teach you something that encompasses the spirit of This Thing of Paper and also provides you with something beautiful and useful, as our friend William Morris would recommend. I’d like to encourage you to make your own simple book, which you can use for your notes once you get your very own copy of This Thing of Paper.

Pooja Makijiani has written the world’s clearest tutorial on the five hole pamphlet stitch book, so I won’t reinvent the wheel. But I will give you some tips on how to make it without any specialized tools.

First, read through the tutorial.

Then, gather your materials:

Paper: You can use printer paper or the like for the insides and something heavier for the cover. In book makin’ terms, this translates to text weight and cover weight paper. If you have card stock hanging around, that’s perfect for you cover. You can also use cereal boxes or some other paper box, heavier paper from magazines  — search around your house!

I used French Paper which I got turned on to in my first book making class. Doesn’t their Construction line come in colors that relate to Karie’s palette well?



I also used their Parchtone for the text weight portion of the book.


Bone Folder: use your thumb nail!


The keratin your nail is made out of acts very similarly on paper to bone. Fold paper with the pads of your fingers to make the crease, then fold another piece using your thumbnail in a downward motion to make the crease. See the difference? If you like making books, a bone folder is something you’ll want to invest in. Your thumbnail won’t hold out for lots of creasing!

Awl, binder’s needle, and binder’s thread: use a common sewing needle as your awl, the thinnest yarn needle you have as your binder’s needle, and some fingering or lace weight yarn as your binder’s thread (hey, if it’s good enough for the Brontës it should be good enough for us! Do check out that linked chapter from Deborah Lutz’s materialist study of nine Brontë objects for inspiration. They were master repurposers. Their handmade books were made of rescued household paper, any bit of string they could scrounge, etc). But don’t use sewing thread — it is too thin and will tear the paper. Embroidery floss will work, though!


This yarn was left over from my Frances Herself shawl!

Self-healing mat: use a stack of scrap paper, an old phone book, or any other old book you don’t use (books bought for practicing standardized tests come to mind. Heh.).

Now, follow the tutorial and make your book!


This book has 10 pages, 1 double-sided page for your notes on each of the 10 patterns that will be in This Thing of Paper:

Story 1: Manuscript. The story of handmade manuscripts and the people who worked on making them. This story features one garment and two accessories.

Story 2: Invention. The story of the period in which Johannes Gutenberg transformed book production. This story features one garment and three accessories.

Story 3: Printed. The story of when printed matter became more commonplace and helped spread information across Europe. This story features one garment and two accessories.

Oh my goodness how I can’t wait for this book!

Now you can label your book. Write on the cover, use a label, or take some of your cover weight paper, pens, glue, and photo corners and have some fun. Make your mark.


Karie, I think we have very similar medieval manuscript paper! I got mine in NYC last year. Great minds 😉 and forgive my use of your beautiful border. It’s an homage and meant in honor!).


I remember the first time I made a book; it was an incredibly powerful experience. I was amazed — you mean I can make this thing that I thought only publishers and large machines can make? I thought someone had to give you permission, then make it for you. No. Just like the hats and sweaters you knit, you can make books yourself.  You are filled with agency and know-how and you can create your own clothes, books, world. I hope you will make books with your own content after making this notebook.

Contributing to This Thing of Paper will allow you to make a book in a different way than one you fold and sew with these instructions. Your offering will help create beautiful patterns in a book one can hold, touch the pages of, inhale the paper smell of, and one that will make you do research, tell you stories, and have conversations with you too. I do not have even the tiniest bit of doubt that this book is going to be incredible, and I can’t wait to hold it in my hands.

I hope you will consider supporting This Thing of Paper.

…and don’t forget to check out Felix’s tour post tomorrow!

(images are mine, except the illuminated manuscript/palette and lovely borders which are Karie’s, and the French Paper Construction color card which is from French’s website)


    1. It’s such nice paper. It’s hard to see in the photos but my cover is a rich blue, not black. I also love that they are family owned and use hydropower.

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