The Adventures Of Miss Flitt: Q&A With Designer Beth Hahn

Published on January 30th, 2011 in: All You Need Is Now, Art, Books, Culture Shock, Current Faves, Feminism, Issues, Q&A |

Popshifter: What kind of work goes into putting together the issues of Miss Flitt? Take me through compiling the book, from the idea to the finished product.

Beth Hahn: At the start, I plotted the story line. I knew that each book should have its own bit of mystery and resolution, but that the central mystery, that of Lucy’s disappearance, shouldn’t be resolved until the end. I always knew what had become of her, but I left enough room in each chapter for those interesting, immediate moments that turn up in witing. A pickpocket will suddenly appear or cats might wander into the story. Brother Hammers showed up, and Nadya and Rolie. Of all the unplanned characters, I think Cedric, Mrs. Mandeville’s silent brother, is my personal favorite.

Before I begin writing the next chapter, I like to do some research. For the first book, I read about the late 19th century’s obsession with magic and the occult. I read about New York City and looked at photographs on the New York Public Library’s image database. For the second book, I read about Five Points, and for the third, I revisited the pages of some of my favorite books about 19th century spiritualism.

dangerous ladies flitt
“Dangerous Ladies and Opium Dens”

After the research is finished, I begin writing, drawing, and designing. Each task has its own challenges and rewards, and I tend to work on them simultaneously and depending on my mood. I like to have six designs in each book. It’s fun to name the designs. The Five Points Cloak is divided into five sections and named after the infamous New York neighborhood. The Spirit Sleeves leave one’s hands free to commune with the other world. The Séance Shawl is an important accessory to bring to a communing event, for the spirits do bring a chilly breeze.

After I complete the creative work, I must find test knitters, a model, a proofreader, and a tech editor. My husband reads the story and makes plot and character suggestions. He has that wonderful, creative-yet-analytical lawyer’s mind. Then my mother reads the story. She writes children’s books, and her sense of pacing, plot, and character is phenomenal.

I photograph all the knits and then begin laying the book out in InDesign. I talk to Maxcine at Stitch Therapy about when to launch the book. When the book is ready for press, I proof the colors and layout at the printer’s. After the first book, I learned that I should have it proofed one more time at this stage. It’s so easy to get excited about the finished product and become completely blind to all the typos and misspellings.

It’s definitely a lot of work, and the turnaround for the book has been generally six months. This time, I’m taking it a bit more slowly. With “The Séance,” the third book, I really sort of wiped myself out and needed more of a break between chapters. I plan to have the final book finished by the fall.

Popshifter: In the latest issue of Miss Flitt, you opened it up to some of our fellow designers. How did you decide which designers with whom to collaborate?

Beth Hahn: This was such a joy. I do love bringing designers to Miss Flitt. Maxcine DeGouttes, Rachel Maurer, and Antonio Limuaco are incredible designers. Their work is inventive and beautiful, and I feel so lucky to have the chance to promote them. Maxcine, of course, is the owner of Stitch Therapy. She was a great inspiration to me when I started knitting, and she really encouraged me to bring my watercolors and knitting together. Rachel is very involved in the Brooklyn knitting scene. She runs one of the Park Slope knitting groups and has her own business—Studio Avenue Six—where she sells her hand-dyed yarns and designs. Antonio’s knitwear is original and sculptural. He designs under The Yarn Monkey and for Cascade. Maxcine has an interest in art and illustration, and Rachel, Antonio, and I all went to art school, and I think we appreciate each other’s creativity, curiosity, and cross-genre work.

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