Friday, August 8, 2014

How Stanley and the Hot Air Balloon was Made.

This is a long story so feel free to make yourself a cup of tea before relaxing into the tale! 
Stanley came into being about five years ago. I was visiting my sister in Melbourne and started making this funny little rabbit who was wearing a red and white striped jumper with blue pants. His legs were stumpy and his arms a little short (see the first rabbit on the left) but I liked him straight away and thought to myself, "Now there's a rabbit with dash.  And so, I immediately set to work on the next one (as you do). This chap (2nd from left) was a bit further down the evolutionary line but still wasn't quite there. For one thing, his paws were plunged slightly too far down his pants, giving him a 'Harry high pants' air. His legs were a too straight and with those colours, looked as though he could work in fast food outlet.
The middle rabbit was where it all began to come together - the colours were right, the posture pretty good and the proportions almost there. Just some tweaking with the stuffing and lengthening of legs meant the Stanley we know and love peered out!
  Hugo was four at the time of all of this rabbitty crochet and going through a very similar stage to Stanley (you will have to read the book to discover just what that is...). Ideas began to form for a story, but it wasn't until Hugo began school the following year that I had the time to sit down and write it out. Then it flowed. Wherever I was, I would have to run to the kitchen table whenever a line, thought or word popped into my head. I think the boys probably thought I was a completely mad as I was constantly muttering the verses under my breath. And just like Stanley himself, the story slowly evolved over time, at least two years were spent polishing it until a friend forced me to put it aside lest it become thread bare. I have to say, that was an extremely difficult thing to do... important though as it allowed me concentrate on building sets.
Another day I will show you how the sets came to be but that is an even longer story - very crafty too, so shouldn't be rushed. For the time being, I will just give you a couple of behind the scene photos to look at.
Awwww - sleeping Stanley and his little teddy rabbit.... sadly the ric-rac didn't stay as it interfered with a couple of the scenes.
The photography stage was my favourite part - I've always had such joy from taking photos and capturing Stanley and his adventures was so much fun - he is so photogenic but once again, I will save this for another day as there is so much to write about with it.
Then came the pattern writing part. Thankfully, I already had lots of practise from writing up various tutorials for the blog and the added bonus of writing patterns for magazines. That part of it was probably the most fast and I was very lucky to have wonderful pattern testers with Rachel, Dominique and another lovely friend. Their contribution cannot be underestimated as it is sooooooo important that the patterns not only work, but make sense.
Next came a whole new skill set. Learning how to use Photoshop. This was a great challenge and saw me reading through huge manuals as though they were thrillers and spending hours watching youtube clips. The boys were fascinated by this stage and often peered over my shoulder as I explained the ins and outs of what was going on. I have to admit that they were only allowed to watch if they weren't eating... do you find it a little off-putting - working on the computer with somebody crunching an apple in your ear????? 
Learning photoshop was a lengthy process but also one of the most valuable skills I have learnt. I use it most days now and usually for good rather than evil.
So this is just the beginning. As I mentioned earlier in the post, over the next few weeks I am going to share with you all sorts of stories from the Stanley book including how I published it AND tutorials that were not featured in the book (starting with the stool above). 
I hope you enjoy it and I can't wait to start getting more tutorials up for you!!!!!
Lots and lots of love,
Kate xxooxx.


  1. Thanks for the look behind the scenes! It's very cool to see how the book came to be!

    I really like the book btw - will write about it on my blog soonish (as soon as I wrote about my Canada adventures that ist). :-)

    Hm, I am thinking about buying Photoshop. Do you use the "normal" version or the Lightroom one? Can't decide which was is better!

    Take care

  2. What a great idea to make a "making of" reportage ! I can't wait to see and read more !

  3. People shouldn't underestimate the immense skill and work involved in producing the *whole* of this book. Phenomenal amount of work done to a fantastically high standard. Everything is amazing. From the characters which you invented and created literally from nothing, to the backgrounds, the story and then the photographing it all and editing it together to make a professional looking book. Actually self publishing can be more worth while, but a publisher would be silly not to at least try to persuade you over to their dark side. Well done, for overseeing and finishing such a big project.
    I would love to use Photoshop but it is so prohibitively expensive it's not possible. Even more I have need of illustrator. Am having to explore other options instead.

  4. This is going to be fun! Looking forward to future posts in this series. Your sets are amazing!

  5. Fascinating to glimpse into your creative process!

  6. I can't wait to find out how you went about all the crafting and production side. I can crochet but when it comes to crafting 3D things and have them stand up by themselves, that's something else!
    I have been challenged trying to make a combination display housing and travel container for some amigurumi. I can't imagine the consitent patience and care required to construct your different sets. I haven't really done any glueing/cutting/folding/joining/construction craft since primary school and I am hoping you might have some new crafing techniques to divulge from your examples too to help those of us who are craft-challenged! ;-)

  7. Supercute rabbits!!

  8. I am fairly new to your blog and boy do I need to look at some older posts and really, really take a good look at your blog! I am fascinated at the fact that you published a book, but mostly by the hows and the whens and whys this came to be. A mom being creative...and tahdah a book! Very interesting, I am going to stay tuned for the rest of the story telling.

    -Birgitta xx

  9. Hi Kate,

    Thank you very much for the "Stanley & the Hot Air Balloon" book which arrived safely. I am amazed and in awe of your skills, even more so than before. A superb achievement and high quality presentation.
    I show it to everyone who visits me and will put an acknowledgment on my blog very soon. Thanks again.

    Jodie xx

  10. Acknowledgment, book review and links added to my blog today; post entitled "Parcel of Pure Joy"
    BIG THANK YOU again.

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