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Reviews for Rags

Rag Manifesto offers an introduction and a call to arms for rethinking the way we view and use textiles, particularly textile waste. ​It encourages us to see rag as a precious material with meaning and potential, rather than as waste. The manifesto promotes the idea of transforming and repurposing textiles, and highlights the importance of creativity, community, and sustainability in this process. Now we’ve had some early reviews for Rags.

Thanks to Crafts Magazine, Alice Ellerby at Juno Magazine and Sarah French from Cumbria Life. Rachael grew up in Cumbria and the landscape shaped her early years until she left to go to art college in London. Much Ado about Books in Afriston put it in their newsletter. ‘Earnest? Maybe, but also fun, funny and charming’.   Read more

 “I want to instigate a change in the way we see our wasted textile landscape.”

Rachael Matthews
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We’ve been shortlisted

Intelligent Hands: Why making is a skill for life has been shortlisted for an award for indie publishers by Book Brunch. The announcement will be at the London Book Fair on 12 March and I’ve already booked my train ticket. It’s a long shot or course, but it’s great to be recognised 😊

Meanwhile, Intelligent Hands will be available in the USA from IPG books from 27 February, that’s tomorrow!

We’ve had some great endorsement’s for Rag Manifesto already, this from Kate Fletcher, author of the Craft of Use.
‘This special book deals with the urgent need to find ways of relating with textiles that, instead of contributing to social injustice and environmental degradation, actively contribute to the world. Stories change the future. The stories in this book are already changing things. They are about caring and repairing our places and communities with imagination, action and each other.’ Professor Kate Fletcher, Royal Danish Academy.

The artwork on the front cover is Shoulder Boulder, by Rachael Matthews, woven almost entirely from waste created in the making of socks at a friendly sock factory, Socko.

Rag Manifesto is Published on 1 March, preorder yours now.

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Happy 2024

Here at Quickthorn we have some great stuff planned for you for 2024.
Our next new book will be Rag Manifesto by artist, rag collector, brother of @artworkersguild and rag-rugger extraordinaire, Rachael Matthews. Rag Manifesto: Making, folklore and community looks at the how, why and wherefore of rag rugs and the people who have made them in the past and those making a stir by recycling fabrics create things now.
👉 We used to think of rags as a rare and valuable asset, handmade clothes and treasured fabrics. Now they are spilling out of our wardrobes and discarded with abandon. You can take a stand against waste and save your rags.

We also have a lovely feature in Resurgence Magazine about Intelligent Hands: Why making is a skill for life. There are more exciting things to come this year, so stay tuned.

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Book reviews make a difference

So often I read a book because it has been recommended to me by a friend. Occasionally, a book review is so good that I buy the book. If you love a book, do gift it or tell a friend. If you are able to write reviews online or share them on social media, that will help lots of people to choose what’s right for them. It also helps small independent publishers like Quickthorn.

Here’s a few that we’ve had recently for Intelligent Hands: Why making is a skill for life. This book really seems to have hit a nerve, with creatives and teachers particularly and is flying off the shelves. We’ve been reviewed in Juno, Embroidery and Quercus magazines, with articles pending in Resurgence and Cotswold Life.

My favourite review has been on the Art Educator’s blog on the National Society for Education in Art and Design (NSEAD) website. Lesley Butterworth, former General Secretary of NSEAD writes:
“This beautifully illustrated and thoughtfully researched book will be of interest and help not only to NSEAD members employed in formal education, but to people working in museums, galleries, and the healthcare sector.
To be clear, Intelligent Hands is not a book that offers practical ideas to teach various craft forms. More importantly, this book clearly explains why these skills are important to many people at different stages of their lives. To be clearer still, this is one of the best texts advocating for the value of craft and making skills that I have read.”

How good is that? You can buy our books on , convenient, quick and not Amazon 😉

Embroidery Magazine Nov/Dec 2023

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Look inside our books

Quickthorn has been going for just over one year and come the launch of Intelligent Hands this week, we’ll have four independently produced books to share with you. If you click on the books below it allows you to have a look inside.
The launch for Intelligent Hands will be at Crafts Alive – The Maker’s Hands, appropriately, at Rodmarton Manor, Gloucestershire. I’ll be there with Paul Harper, Cleo Mussi and Chief Executive of Heritage Crafts, Daniel Carpenter. The even is on Sunday 17 Sept at 2.15, tickets are free for the event, but you do need to book and have a ticket to the fair.

If you’re planning ahead Intelligent Hands authors will also be at the Stroud Book Festival at the Trinity Rooms on 10 November in great company with many other diverse publications.

There are plans afoot for many more, so do follow us on Instagram and sign up to our newsletter for news of events, offers and prizes ;—)

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Intelligent Hands | Why making is a skill for life

Image: Cleo Mussi Mosaics, photo Carmel King

Making is good for us. Using our hands benefits our cognitive development, improves our mental agility and can have a positive impact on our mental health, too. We know this, intuitively and intellectually yet, recent years have seen a decline in craft and creative education in schools (60% fewer young people have taken art and design GCSE over the last 12 years) and a shift from practical to theoretical learning models in higher education. 

The impact on the craft sector is evident. Young people are leaving school with no idea that craft-based careers are even possible, and graduates of craft-based degree courses are entering the workplace with so few hand skills that their employers must train them from scratch. 

But the ripples of this decline are being felt in wider society too. Disruptive behaviour in school, for example, has reached unprecedented levels, with referral units for children who have been excluded from mainstream schools warning they have reached capacity. And as we hurtle into the fourth industrial revolution, we risk losing the craft skills which make humans unique. As Tristram Hunt, Director of the Victoria & Albert Museum wrote in a recent piece for the Observer, “the digital age demands more, not less creativity in schools and families. It is through play and imagination that we can rise above the robots.” (‘Move over, stuffed teddies. Museums today need more to stimulate young minds,’ 24th June 2023).

Intelligent Hands: Why making is a Skill for Life investigates the cognitive benefits of craft in life-long learning and brings together existing research and information in an accessible format to make the case for working with our hands. 
The authors are on a mission to enlighten the uninitiated  and persuade the nay-sayers who dismiss craft as no more than a nice hobby or believe that doing things with your hands is for those who can’t use their heads. And for the converted, they offer ammunition for funding applications, inspiration for those who plan school curricula and further reading for particular specialities. 

Divided into three sections and interwoven with the personal stories of ten makers, the book looks at how physical labouring became separated from academic study, how we became divorced from the materials that surround us and the important role that the crafts and creativity play in education, not just for the lower streams, but for everyone. 

Intelligent Hands | Contents
Foreword by Jay Blades MBE, co-chair of Heritage Crafts and presenter of The Repair Shop on BBC. 

Zoe Collis at Two Rivers Paper, photo: Alison Jane Hoare

Intelligent Hands | Part I – Mind + Body
The nature of work, mind vs body and what constitutes ‘good work.’ Why is the academic valued more than practical work? 
Plus stories from

  • George Siddons– PPE graduate turned apprentice carpenter 
  • Zoe Collis – Journeyman papermaker
  • Daniel Carpenter – CEO Heritage Crafts

Intelligent Hands Part II – Education + Learning
On apprenticeships, sloyd and experiential learning. A brief history of progressive educational theories

Plus Stories from:

  • Jay Patel – architect, alumnus of The Creative Dimension Trust
  • Christian Ovonlen – artist, member of learning disabilities arts organisation IntoArt  
  • Lasmin Salmon – textile artist, member of learning disabilities arts organisation Action Space
  • Horace Lindezey – artist, member of learning disabilities arts organisation Venture Arts 
  • Helen Brown – art teacher at a Pupil Referral Unit 
  • Dr Bryson Gore – ‘Inventor in Residence’ at a Nottingham Primary School
Christian Ovonlen at Intoart, the winner of the Brookfield Properties Craft Award 2022 photo: Alun Callender

Intelligent Hands | Part III – Wellbeing + Activism
Therapeutic craft, touch and flow. How making can help control impulsivity (and change the world).

Plus stories from

  • Sam & Jacob – members of Nailsworth Community Workshop 
  • Sue Brown – print artist. The focus is on her lockdown project Same Sea, Different Boat
  • Ags & Kam – members of London-based maker space Everyone’s Warehouse
  • Sarah Corbett, The Craftivist Collective
  • Betsan Corkhill, Stitchlinks
  • Betsy Greer, ‘Craftivism’

Intelligent Hands | Jay Blades MBE
Jay is dyslexic and, after leaving school at 15 with no qualifications, he found his true vocation in restoration and supporting young and vulnerable people to find their own access to work. 

Known across the UK as the host of BBC One’s extraordinarily successful The Repair Shop, it is perhaps no coincidence that his belief in the restoration of objects stems from a belief that humans too can be repaired, fixed and rejuvenated. His restoration company, Jay & Co, aims to ’save the world’ through craft. Working with recycled, reclaimed and reused materials, accessories, furniture, and fabric, they create pieces that are as good as new, and help develop a more holistic approach to interiors. Jay is currently co-chair of Heritage Crafts.

Intelligent Hands | Authors

Charlotte Abrahams is a writer and curator specialising in design and the applied arts. She trained at Central St Martin’s and since then has written regularly for the national and international press, including Guardian Weekend and the Financial Times. She is the author of several books about pattern and wallpaper and one on the Danish concept of Hygge. She is less good at making than the people she writes about, but she is teaching herself to darn. 

Katy Bevan is a writer and educator specialising in craft and mother of a disabled child. She is the editor of many books on craft and writes for textile and craft magazines such as Selvedge and a trustee of Heritage Crafts. Previously at the Crafts Council she founded the publishing company Quickthorn Ltd in 2022. She blogs at The Crafter , runs workshops in darning, crochet and knitting and is mostly to be found making something.

Intelligent Hands | Launch event Crafts Alive, Rodmarton Manor 13–17 Sept, panel discussion 2.15pm 17 Sept. 

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Book events coming up

We’ve had a busy few weeks with some great book events. It’s been so good to make contact with real people. For the many who couldn’t get tickets to hear Freddie Robins and Celia Pym at Loop, there is a film of the whole thing, so grab a cup of tea and settle in for a listen. If you have any more questions for Celia and Freddie, just drop me a line. There’s lots more planned so sign up to the newsletter and follow on Instagram to be the first to know.

1 December
The authors of When Words are Not Enough: Creative responses to grief, Jane Harris and Jimmy Edmonds, will be in conversation with Sophie Pierce, one of the contributors to the book. Sophie lost her son Felix and talks about how she has managed to carry through cold-water swimming and the letters she writes to him. Dartington Trust Bookshop, Totnes, Devon. 1 Dec, 6pm More information and booking here.

Sophie Pierce Photo: Dan Bolt

2 December
Celia Pym, author of On Mending: Stories of damage and repair, will be online hosted by the lovely Tatter Library in Brooklyn, New York. Discussing individual stories from the book, she will explore mending as small acts of care; mending and the body and why the softening of clothing to take on the shape of its owner can be moving. After the talk Celia and Jordana Martin from Tatter will be in conversation about care and repair in textiles and the body. More information and booking here.

Elizabeth’s Cardigan, mended by Celia Pym
Judith Kleinman at Ink84, North London

4 December
Finding Quiet Strength has been highlighted by Juno Magazine as one of their top picks for Christmas books to gift. It’s such a beautiful hardback object.
Author Judith Kleinman will be at Highbury bookshop Ink84 to give an introduction to Finding Quiet Strength, the philosophy that underpins her new book. Bring your yoga mat to get involved. Sunday 4 Dec, 11am. More information and booking here. Judith will also be hosting a longer residential retreat at Hawkwood College, Stroud, 20–22 January. Something to look forward to. More information and booking here.

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Grief + Memory

The deeply personal stories in When Words are Not Enough are moving and restorative. They tell tales of grief and memory written by those that have survived. The upcoming mini online festival organised by the folk behind The Good Grief Fest is based around these ideas of grief + memory. Authors Jane Harris and Jimmy Edmonds will be featuring online 6.30 Friday 28 October when they will be in conversation with Dr Lesel Dawson, Associate Professor in Literature and Culture at the University of Bristol, specialising in grief, Renaissance literature and the history of the emotions. She’s leading a research project on Creative Grieving that explores how art and the imagination can enable the bereaved to express and process their loss.

Jane will also be joining Julia Samuel and Nadja Ensink-Teich on Sat Oct 29th at 11am to talk about continuing bonds, grief and memory.

“What we understand now is that although the person we love has died, the relationship with them very much continues, and so the love with that person never dies…and we love them in absence rather than presence.” 

Julia Samuel

Much like the Victorians, we now understand that relationships endure – and even evolve – beyond death. The theory of continuing bonds explores our ongoing relationships with loved ones who have died and how the strength of these relationships can impact our experience of grief and memory. In this panel session we will hear from people who have integrated their lost loved ones into the lives of the living, and how these continuing bonds have provided comfort and continuity during times of pain and upheaval.
Register free for any of these events at and you can buy books from the event here. This is a short film about the book.

When Words are Not Enough: Creative responses to grief, by Jane Harris and Jimmy Edmonds
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Tuning into your breath

Juno is one of our favourite magazines that supports a natural approach to family life. Assistant editor, Alice Ellerby, reflects on the need to tune into your breath and gives Finding Quiet Strength a lovely review on the way.

“In this book Kleinman offers a practical philosophy that helps us approach life with a sense of calm and confidence that comes from being centred, in balance and grounded. The aim here isn’t to solve or avoid life’s challenges – they are inevitable – but to give us the capacity to navigate these challenges without intense feelings of stress and anxiety. If we are calm, we can think clearly; if we can think clearly, we can make conscious decisions and avoid acting in fight, flight or freeze mode. The practice draws on the discoveries of F.M. Alexander, and is also influenced by ancient traditions of chi kung, tai chi and yoga. I know from my own yoga practice how beneficial breath, movement and stillness can be for mental equilibrium. When stressed, it’s easy to think you have no time for lying on the floorand tuning into your breath; but then I find that’s exactly what is needed to recalibrate. The book is full of physical exercises and body positions to try to help you find this balance, and is beautifully illustrated with ink line drawings. Kleinman is spot on in her description of the book as ‘a gentle start to building some skills of self-regulation and embodied resilience'”. Alice Ellerby, Juno

Finding Quiet Strength is a beautiful ethically made cloth-bound hardback that would make a thoughtful gift. We all need a little prompting to help us to tune into our breath. Printed in the UK on FSC paper. Order through Hawthorn Press.

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When words are not enough

Everyone grieves for someone at some point in their lives. But how do we deal with the silence that often surrounds grief?  How do we find ways to express painful feelings when words are not enough?  In this deeply personal and beautiful reflection on grief Jane Harris and Jimmy Edmonds draw on their own experience of loss, and how the death of their son Josh has led to a creative response that is more than word bound. It also tells the story of thirteen other bereaved people who have found a creative response to their grief. 

The nature of grief
Here’s author Jane Harris talking with Dr Elaine Kasket, author of All the Ghosts in the Machine: The Digital Afterlife of Your Personal Data, in a lovely down-to-earth way, about the nature of grief and how you don’t think you’ll be able to cope, but usually you don’t have a choice, so you have to get on with it. 

Jane and Jimmy’s new book, When Words are Not Enough: Creative responses to grief, explores the myriad creative ways that the bereaved find to express their loss. With a foreword by Dr Kathryn Mannix and contributions from thirteen other bereaved people. There have been some generous endorsements for the book too, so don’t just take my word for it. Published 5 Oct 22.

‘In the absence of any collective rituals or words with which to express their loss, this wonderful and very personal book offers those who find themselves in an agonising wilderness of grief, a kind of creative map to find a way out of the isolation.’ Juliet Stevenson

When Words are Not Enough shows us that searing loss isn’t necessarily the end, but a possible beginning.’ 
Greg Wise

‘Such an inspiring book – full of moving stories of people who have found active ways to respond to their grief, from photography through to (my favourite) cold-water swimming.  Jane and Jimmy’s ten ‘lessons learned’ about the loss of their child wisely reject any idea of ‘moving on’ or ‘closure’.  Indeed, this beautifully designed creation is itself an example of what the book is all about.  Professor Sir David Spiegelhalter

This is a book about sorrow, yet it is brimming with hopeThis is a book about loss, but it overflows with love and generosity.’  Dr Kathryn Mannix