Growing your Common Library – creating maker instructions and kits

Growing Your Common Library – creating maker instructions and kits

MakerBoxes and MakerKitsThis resource will introduce Maker Instructions and Kits and help you work with your newly established community of hackers and makers to produce your first ones for lending / sale.

Why is this step important?

In simple terms, Maker Instructions and Kits include the following elements in a branded template format to provide a sense of genuine value – such that people will be willing to pay for the latter:

  1. A personal profile of a local Hacker or Maker;
  2. A recommended reading list comprising books, links and resources available from within your library system and externally;
  3. Some easy-to-follow instructions for an activity that provides a snippet of the hacker or maker’s own practice and some handy hints and tips;
  4. A shopping list and recommended supplier of any addition equipment you might need to complete/repeat this task;
  5. Some/all of the equipment you need to undertake the activity; and
  6. A labelled/branding box/packaging.

Within the Common Libraries suggested framework, items 1-4 should be made freely available to borrow from your Common library in the form of Maker Instructions. However, when packaged with items 5 and 6, the boxes should become chargeable with prices being determined by the equipment included within the box and a suggested minimum mark-up of 50% + P&P – at which point, we refer to them here as MakerKits.

Crucially, the value of MakerKits does not flow from the materials themselves but, instead, from that added by the individual Hacker or Maker – that is, the intention here is to harness the unique knowledge and know-how of your community in such a way as to position you to market a value added product.

Members of the public who purchase the box should be invited to attend and work on the activities at your new ‘Maker’ events where support can be on hand should the need it.


  • Find your authors to create your first box – candidate hackers and makers should be sourced from your desk-based research and newly formed community. Your collection should naturally reflect any theme, specialism or identity that begins to emerge from taking your previous steps.
  • Download and send a template questionnaire to your candidate.
  • Find a friendly editor to improve any incoming copy.
  • Find a friendly designer to drop the final text into your template; a starter template from St Botolph’s is available (below) should you require it.
  • Source the parts/equipment with your maker and consider at this stage the potential for local businesses to also contribute/derive value from the micro-enterprise.
  • Assemble your box.
  • Label and price you box, place on display and market accordingly.

You should find the more boxes you create, the easier it becomes to attract new self-publishers, as peoples’ interest is stimulated by what others have made.

MakerKit – Template Contents

About Me:

  • Name
  • Photo
  • 3 materials I use (inc. photos)
  • 3 tools I use (inc. photos if available)
  • How do I describe what I do in no more than 3 words
  • My Craft
  • My studio/workshop
  • My experience and background

What I Offer: 

  • BORROW: free resources to borrow (books, reference materials and instructions I have donated to the library)
  • BARTER: free/bartered workshops I am running
  • BUY: things you can buy from me including workshops, ‘kits’ & products (including stockist information)
  • BESPOKE: commission me details (if they take custom commission)

Follow me: 

  • Twitter
  • Facebook
  • Instagram
  • Blog
  • Website
  • Email
  • Telephone


  • Kit Activity Summary
  • What’s in the Kit
  • Shopping List (included recommended suppliers)
  • Step-by-Step Instructions (with photographs)

Extra reading & resources:

  • Augmented Reality/ QR Link to Film Interview with Maker (if exists)
  • Recommended Reading List (including info about how to obtain from Essex Libraries)
  • Inspirational Designer/Makers/Artists

Other information:

  • Standard text about Maker Wednesday
  • The Reading Room
  • Waiting Room information
  • Funder/Partner Logos
  • Sponsor Information

EXAMPLE: Clare Sams – MakerKit #1

Name: Clare Sams

What’s in the kit?

The opportunity to create 3 cross-stitch works of art that celebrate the great and good of our town – St Botolph’s priory, FirstSite and The Waiting Room.

3 Materials I Use

  • Fabrics
  • Yarn
  • Graph paper

3 Tools I Use

  • Sewing Machines
  • Knitting machines
  • An array of felt tip pens
  • An assortment of needles

How do I describe what I do in 3 words: stitching and sewing

Defining My Craft

My work as a textile artist documents people and places on the fringes of society, generally focusing on urban environments. I use knit to tell gritty tales because it conjures up feelings of warmth and security, probably because it’s one of the first textiles we come into contact with as babies. It  brings to mind unthreatening and familiar qualities, prompting us to think of home and domesticity. When I use knit, I utilise these emotions and juxtapose them with the tragic or uncomfortable elements of my narratives to cause an unnerving collision.

What Lights My Creative Fire?

My interest and inspirations lie in life’s journeys, and how the choices a person makes, or  events that occur, can have dramatic consequences on where and how people live. The first knitted tapestry I created was ‘Hackney Siege” which documented the two week siege in which Eli Hall took a hostage and the police attempted to contain the situation.  Using knit to portray this story drew people in, encouraging them initially to believe it was a quirky, friendly homespun tale. In fact, the grim reality incorporated violence and urban desperation, fire, guns and death.

Soundtrack to my Creativity: I mostly switch between Radio 4 and Radio 6. Radio 4 is a fantastic way to keep up with current affairs. Radio 6 is the Radio 2 for the Indie generation; it encourages that teenage enthusiasm for music  and is great for discovering unusual new sounds too.

My Studio/Workshop: I have a designated work space, but always end up working in the house anyway. It’s a complete mess which, at times, overtakes the whole house! It is uncontainable.

My Experience and Background: I trained as a tailor at the London College of Fashion. I then worked freelance as a pattern cutter for both High Street brands and designers. Now I split my time between working as a stitch technician at Central St Martins and as a textile artist.

Who inspires me? Tracy Emin because I admire the way she is unafraid to be herself as a woman, and yet not feel confined by the socially expected parameters of femininity.

What do I do to get over any creative blocks? Time is my biggest block to creativity. In an attempt to conquer this, I stay up far too late and neglect the housework.


  • 10cm embroidery hoop
  • Embroidery scissors
  • Stranded embroidery cotton
  • Instruction Sheet
  • 3 design charts
  • Plain Grid paper

Shopping List and Suppliers

  • Larger embroidery hoop
  • Aida Fabric, available in a range of 12 – 18 ,holes per inch
  • Binca embroidery fabric for junior embroiderers
  • Stranded embroidery cotton
  • Thread storage box

Franklins, 13-15 St Botolph’s Street, Colchester CO2 7DU Tel: 01206 563955/574758 Open Monday – Saturday 9:00am until 5:30pm

Fabric8, 12-14 Head Street, Colchester CO1 1NY Tel: 01206 763432 Hours Mon – Sat 9am until 5.30pm

Further / Recommended Reading

  • The cross stitch book_ – Mary Gostelow 1982 Batsford
  • Manga cross-stitch – Helen McCarthy, Steve Kyte 2009 Ilex
  • Picture it in cross stitch today  – Jo Verso, 2008 David & Charle

BARTER: come and get crafty with me as I will be running a stitching St Botolph’s project workshop at The Waiting Room on a monthly basis from February until May.

Where to Find Fellow Embroiderers: Colne and Colchester Embroideries Guild hold regular meetings and exhibitions in the area, website:

You can find me at:

Find Out More About My Work:

Box Activity Summary: Cross stitch is an embroidery style where each stitch forms a letter “X”. The embroidery canvas is an open weave and the stitches are formed by stitching over the mesh to create designs. Patterns are drawn on squared paper and this is used as a chart to guide the stitching.Stranded embroidery cotton is used to embroider the design, and a blunt ended tapestry needle is best. The cotton has six strands, which are cut to about 50cm, then thread three strands through the needle. If the fabric is a very open weave all six strands are used, if the fabric is very fine, just one thread would be used.

Step-by-Step Instructions

  1. To begin, thread the needle with cotton and knot the end. Pass the needle up through the fabric and pull the tread through.
  2. Pass the needle into the hole to the right and below, then push the needle up through the hole above.
  3. This forms a back slash stitch “\”. Build up a line of these following the chart carefully to get the stitches in the right place.
  4. Now work back the other way, bringing the needle to the left and up to form the “X”. All the stitches should cross over in the same direction to create a smooth professional finish.
  5. Build up one colour at a time following the chart carefully. Thread through the back of a few stitches to secure the ends of each colour.
  6. Once you have mastered this following my charts, why not try designing your own piece of Colchester inspired embroidery.

Makers Wednesdays

Maker Wednesdays are weekly, free and informal workshop sessions held at the St Botolph’s Waiting Room. They are open to everyone of all ages, backgrounds and skills. For those who have caught the ‘making’ bug, Maker Wednesdays provide a flavour of what’s on offer at our Hack/Maker/Library/Space. A shared workshop environment accessed via a pay what you can membership scheme. From wiring your own circuit to learning how to use a knitting machine, with access to new tools, knowledge and resources, we want to encourage local people to share or learn new creative skills. Maker Wednesdays will rotate on a four week programme. You can check our online calendar or Facebook group to find what’s coming up.

Attendees should be aware, as a participants of an interactive lesson, you will need to bring materials from the pre-published list in order to join the workshop. Where ever possible we will have tools and materials for people to borrow, but please consult the event details before attending to be sure. Visitors to Maker Wednesdays do not have to participate in the structured events and are always free bring their own project along and work in a shared environment.

We are also interested in hearing from people who have something to teach.

Our format makes it easy to participate and allows for peer-to-peer knowledge exchange in a fun light hearted environment.


  1. […] governance and community development, and even spoke to Parisian business students about our MakerKit prototyping […]

  2. […] has identified a library which will soon host both Maker Instruction Sets (for lending) and full Maker Kits (for sale). These libraries will be supported by our team to promote them to library users during […]

  3. Christopher Hatton-Wood

    The whole concept is wonderful – and much needed.

  4. […] Waiting Room, we invited 5 local makers (Jack, Alex, Clare, Phil and Emma) to devise a prototype Maker Box. These now contain a profile, contact details (should you need some specialist one-to-one support) […]

  5. […] to promote learning and share common knowledge. We are off to a good start with the promotion of Maker Kits – lovingly crafted by members of Colchester’s creative community. They offer a real opportunity […]

  6. […] introduction of Maker Instruction Sets and Kits was quite exciting – we sold 3 of the 10 kits provided and loaned 10 instruction sets over a […]

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