Friday, February 18, 2011

Oh for the love of letterpress

at Kingswood Press

That's Whitney of Gus and Ruby Letterpress standing in front of the Chandler & Price press, circa 1896, that she does letterpress printing on. Doesn't she look great in her cute frilly apron covered with printers' ink? The place smelled wonderful, it was like stepping into an artist's studio soaked in years of oil paint. Yesterday I visited  Kingswood Press in Wolfeboro, NH. They're printing wedding invitations that I designed for a friend and they were kind enough to give me the tour.

The press has been around since 1863 and has been run by the Swaffield family since 1948. Whitney Swaffield is one half of the fabulous paper goods store Gus and Ruby Letterpress and they do their printing at Kingswood Press. Gus and Ruby specializes in letterpress which is one of the earliest form of printing. The type is etched on to a metal plate and the paper is squashed on to the plate and ink as it is pushed through the press. With letterpress you'll see the indentation of the letters on the paper which is really special unlike contemporary printing where the ink just rests on the paper.

at Kingswood Press

The drawers where they store all the old wood type are irresistible. I'm not sure what's better the drawers or all the great old letters.

at Kingswood Press

Look at that tiny letter! There were even tinier ones, so small I couldn't make out what they were. Hard to imagine how they would set whole books this way. Today they etch the letters into plastic to do letterpress so they are much lighter and easier to handle and each letter does not have to be individually lined up.

at Kingswood Press

Another drawer full of letters, they were incredibly heavy. I could have handled those letters all day.

my business card

They printed my business card. I tried to capture the indentation of the letters on the paper without a great macro on my camera, hope you can make it out. There's really nothing quite as lovely as letterpress printing. Even someone who doesn't know the difference between offset and letterpress printing will immediately feel the difference since there's this luscious tactile quality about letterpress. Letterpress obviously costs a lot more but for a special occasion it's totally worth it.

Below is a piece about Gus and Ruby Letterpress that appeared on TV on the NH Chronicle that shows the press in action and how the type is set.

Thursday February 10th: Gus and Ruby Letterpress - Chronicle News Story - WMUR Manchester

Knitting content in next post I promise. I'll be going up to The Spa in Freeport next Saturday with Michelle, hope to see you there!

Monday, February 7, 2011

peak knitting season

Yes, there has been knitting. The doldrums of winter are peak knitting season, so game on. The Huz and I blew through four seasons of Friday Night Lights during the month of January and knitted (me, not him). I never thought a show about football in Texas would be so compelling but it was and it was the perfect show to hibernate to. We took night nightly trips to Dillon, TX.


Neep heid is done. This is a lovely pattern, I particularly liked the centered double decrease. I changed the brim to a 1x1 rib for a little more slouch and cast on 160 with 2.5 mm needles, knit for 4 inches and then followed pattern exactly.


Trista asked me a question about using Bugga for colorwork since it is smooth yarn and won't stick to itself the way a toothy Shetland type yarn would. I love colorwork knitting with a nice toothy shetland yarn, there's really nothing better. There are so many lovely hand dyed sock yarns out there, very inspiring, and many people who can't take having itchier against their skin, so why not knit colorwork with sock yarn?  My experience is that the superwash yarn tends to grow and get slouchier when blocked whereas shetland type toothy wool tends to knit togther. To account for this I would go down a needle size or even reduce stitches in the pattern. As always the mantra is swatch, swatch, swatch.

reworking my Chevron Mitts

I've started reworking my Chevron Mitts to include a thumb gusset and I'm using Bugga this time, the skeins that keep on giving and giving. Most colorwork fingerless mitts seem to use a sore thumb or invisible thumb but these also mostly use an allover pattern. With the centered directional pattern that I chose I found that the sore thumb spiraled the pattern around the wrist during wear and that bothered me, so I'm trying again with a gusset.

some big ol stockinette

And then there's some big ass knitting with Thaki Montana, a super bulky but lovely, fluffy and light yarn, with size 17 needles. I kept thinking about some sort of pattern to knit with this yarn, lace or colorwork, and decided to let stockinette and bold stripes inspired by Hudson Bay blankets to stand for themselves. The kids keep asking me what I'm knitting and I all I can come up with is giant scarf?