June 20, 2012

Guest post: Wearwithall

Today we’ve got a guest post by Theresa Gaffey, one of the authors behind Wearwithall, a beautiful new independently-published knitting book. Buy your copy here! There’s going to be a signing for the book at TNNA this weekend, and I’ve known Mary Lou Egan (one of the five contributors) for some time now. Super-exciting!
Something I love about this book is that the website lists the yarns used in the projects (sorry, Wearwithall-ers, I might have to steal that idea for Cooperative Press!) — so useful!
To use a photo from the book (and the photos were shot by the lovely Gale Zucker), here’s my overall review…

Now here’s Theresa…
It doesn’t seem likely that five colleagues could get together, produce a knitting book and come out friends at the end of the process, does it? Five knitters, five opinions—on everything?
The key, I think, is that we all came into the project with the same clear vision of what we wanted our book to be—the look, the color palette, the number and type of projects, what the photos would look like, what our models would look like—and we never lost sight of that vision, even on the days it seemed a bit blurry.
I remember the first meeting around my dining room table in St. Paul, Minnesota. Each of us talked about the skills and experience we brought to the table. We all had publishing experience, but beyond that we each brought special expertise. Scott Rohr had years of book production experience. Shelly Sheehan is a business and accounting wiz. Sarah K. Walker is a graphic designer with a flair for creating clean, appealing layouts. Mary Lou Egan is a talented designer with public relations experience. And I, (Theresa Gaffey) have been designing and editing knitting and crochet patterns for years. The roles each of us would take on just seemed to fall into place.

Next, we talked about timelines. A couple of big events were coming up in the spring of 2012—a city-wide shop hop, the Minnesota knitting guild’s big conference, the shop’s annual sale. We wanted to take advantage of those opportunities to promote the book, which meant we had to have printed copies of the book by March 2012. We knew from the start that this was an aggressive timeline, but we agreed—or at least hoped—that we could pull it off.
I look back at that crazy timeline and think about all the things we didn’t foresee, and my first instinct is to say that we were lucky. Luck wasn’t all of it, though, because we each had a critical piece of what we needed to do a book.
There were lots of long discussions—what yarns did we want to use? which projects were going to make the final cut? what variations did we want to add? But generally we ended up agreeing on almost everything. Really!

And yes, sometimes we changed our minds. At the beginning, we decided we didn’t need a shawl in the book. What could we add to the hundreds of beautiful shawls already out there? Then later, as we were doing a preliminary layout of the book, we decided—almost literally at the last minute (at least in knitting time) —that the book really needed a stole or shawl. I ended up knitting 116,000 stitches—more or less—in about a week. It was pretty insane. But the stole is one of the most popular projects in the book.
And yes again, we were lucky. Gale Zucker, an extraordinary photographer, came to the Twin Cities for an incredibly exhausting but productive photo shoot. Friends and family and customers’ kids modeled for us. The kids all behaved, and the models looked beautiful. Gale helped up find a skilled and patient stylist, Malika Sadi Goodman, who took us all in stride. Mary Lou not only contributed three beautiful designs and but also us connected with yarn companies for their support pre- and post publication. Sarah came up with the perfect name and a great layout. Shelly kept us on schedule and sane. Scott found a great, local printer and then shepherded the book through production.

(editorial comment-caption from Shannon: who would like to knit one of these for me, like, NOW?)
That last part about the local printer is important. At the beginning, and all through the process, we wanted to keep it local. OK, Gale was a bit of a ringer, but she went to the University of Minnesota and comes to town frequently to visit family. That’s local enough. We may not keep such a local focus in a second book, but for the first, it felt right. Keeping business in your community is a good thing to do when you can. It also made the press checks much simpler!
So after all the late nights, and long days, we’re still colleagues, but even more, now, we are friends ready to start the next book.

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  • Mary Lou

    Thanks, Shannon. But I am not offering to knit you that sweater!

    Reply to Mary Lou
  • gale (she shoots sheep shots)

    Thanks for the kind words about me–working with you all on this was a joy. I love that I am local enough. Uff da!
    ps Shannon, get in line, I want one, too.

    Reply to gale (she shoots sheep shots)

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