It's an odd blog title, but it's true all the same. I worry about the sizes of the Hats I make.

 
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I'll try and avoid veering into my usual rant about how one size doesn't fit all, or even most. If it's a gradable pattern, I just think taking this road is lazy when it comes to Hat design. Even my patterns that can't be graded by the stitch count or pattern repeat are still graded by gauge.

There - I've got that out of the way!

Dancette (right, above) is one Hat I always use in my sideways knit classes to demonstrate not only how fun garter stitch can be on it's side, but also how stretchy it is. I haven't found a head yet in one of my classes that it won't go on.

But just because a Hat goes on doesn't mean it fits.

As a knitted fabric stretches widthways, it'll take up in length. It's not rocket science really; garter stitch is daftly yarn thirsty and in turn is daftly stretchy. But even garter stitch will get shorter as it gets wider - it can't magic yarn or stitches out of thin air.

And because I get myself all worked up about this, I spend a lot of time trying to decide which sample size I should make in the pattern. It's especially tricky because I don't usually know who will be modelling, and few of my models will have the same head size.

I usually end up erring on the side of caution, and making a slightly larger size than I expect. If there's a 22in size, that's the one I go for. Because if my model turns out to be smaller, then the Hat's a little big - whilst it won't be ideal for braving the elements, it'll not look too awful in a shoot. But if a Hat is too small for a model then you can bet it'll look pretty crap.

When I was working on Painted Woolly Toppers, I reknit Dancette 3 times. It's a skinny fit beanie so it wants to have a fair amount of negative ease, but not too much. And I spent ages deliberating over differences that really didn't amount to more than half an inch, which in hindsight is unnecessary and I really should have words with myself. But it's a habit I can't seem to break. Yet I must, else I'll pay with my shoulders.

The sample above left is the first design from the new book, and it's folded and compared to Dancette. It's exactly the same size. However, the gauge has actually run smaller than I was expecting and the Arroyo looks very happy at this gauge, so I think I'm going to knit another sample in DK. Because yes, Dancette fits but the new one won't, because stretching out all of those short rows will look a mess; you don't want quite as much negative ease with these kiddies.

But - at least I've only done this once. I can happily knit the rest of the Hats in DK and only worry, say 4 times a day instead of 50, that I'm knitting the right size. (because I will worry right up until the moment that I pop the sample on the model's head)

One day I'll learn to trust myself...

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AuthorWoolly Wormhead

We're putting a lot of work into getting me better, into reducing the pain and improving my range of movement.

As much as I didn't want to go anywhere near the Amitriptyline again, I'm on twice the dose this time and it's doing it's thing - it's getting me to sleep, and along with all the other pain management methods, the pain is now liveable.

We've bought ourselves a hand-held ultrasound unit, and that's making a difference (yes, we've done our research and we're using it conservatively). I'm having two massages a week, one specifically to focus on all the scar tissue from inflammation around all the muscles (there's a heck of a lot of it) and we're mighty grateful to be good friends with a talented masseur who's friends' rates means I can get two long, deep massages for less than the price of one in London. And of course, if the damp/cold weather kicks in or I've somehow pushed things too far, I've the TENS machine at hand. For the last 10 days or so, I've not needed to use that everyday, so I'm definitely on the right side of this now! And of course I'm doing physio at least 5 times a day (I'm a pro at the pendulum exercises these days).

And all of this means I can knit again! Not constantly, I need regular breaks and days off in between, but I can knit. My tension isn't a mess, either.

And so I'm diving straight into the designs that I've been working on for what feels like forever. There's only so much work on paper I can do before I get bored and move on, so I'm relieved not to have lost enthusiasm for this idea.

I started by making myself a prototype for the construction.

 
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This construction method is something I started working on a good 4 or 5 years ago, when I was planning all of the Turning Heads Hats. I was wanting to use this construction with a stitch pattern that could then be rotated for the brim, so I'd got all the maths done for that (it was just a matter of finishing knitting the thing!)

BTW, the Turning Heads collection is still something I hope to see published, but it's in a kinda weird limbo - that's what happens when you have a breakdown during a project; that project becomes associated with the breakdown, or at least it's very hard to revisit it at a later date. Given that my brain is very much back on track in terms of puzzle solving and pattern maths and construction, the concept behind Turning Heads feels within my grasp again. But that's somewhere in the future.

 
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So here's a look at how the crown shaping works with this construction method. It's a sideways knit Hat without short row shaping. 

 
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And this is how it looks from the side. It is still very much a sideways Hat; garter stitch sideways is essentially 1x1 rib, except with loads more possibilities design wise, and better properties stitch wise.

 
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Recalculating the maths of this construction method for garter stitch was easy enough - the gauge properties of garter stitch sit so well with that of sideways knitting - if you've ever taken one of my sideways knitting workshops with me you'll know I wax lyrical about this!

 
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After a false start and a ripping out (it's how I work best!) I'm fully underway with the pattern.

Although there's no short rows involved in the construction, I wanted to throw in some short row colourwork, because I wanted to see how the two play together. It's making for some mind boggling charts and rather fascinating problem solving, as increases/decreases are working at 90 degrees to the short rows, and they don't always play when when they don't intersect at the right points. But I'm thoroughly enjoying myself working it all out!

 
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It's absolutely been worth all the effort, I'm mighty chuffed with how this first design is taking shape!

The collection will be called 'Lateralis'. If you follow me on Instagram you'll know I've spent some time trying to decide between laterale and Lateralis... the Latin does have a medical usage and I do try and use a word that doesn't have alternative meanings, but it is absolutely the best word for the idea behind this collection. Lateralis literally means 'belonging to the side' and is the original of the words and usages of 'Lateral', as well as the origin behind some of the pattern names, too. The Italian sounds good following on from Elemental and Circled, but it doesn't strike me as quite as sophisticated as the Latin, and these patterns (and the photography I have planned for them) are definitely more sophisticated than anything I've done (in my opinion, at least!). So Lateralis it is. I'll get a webpage built for the collection as soon as I have some good photos of the finished Hats to share.

Release date wise, it'll be in autumn. I'm not going to be more specific than that as my shoulders are dictating my pace right now, and I want to be free to indulge myself in the designs so that I produce the best stuff, rather than feel committed to a deadline, which usually results in my not best stuff. Likewise, it'll be 4 or 5 designs, but I'm not committing to that either.

Yarn wise:
To knit the prototype I used Bloomsbury DK from The Yarn Collective, the same yarn that I used for the Elemental collection.

As for the pattern sample shown above, I've used Malabrigo Arroyo. These Hats will be graded by gauge, and I'm writing in 3 sizes that cross sport weight and DK. Chances are I'll be reknitting this one in DK for the photoshoot, as the Arroyo does make a smallish size... I tend to find Arroyo is on the skinnier side of the sport weight scale. I'll publish the gauges vs sizes in the near future, but for now I'd say if you're knitting adult size Hats, DK is what you wanna be stocking up on.

Right, onwards! I've a weekend of chart wrangling ahead. Hope you like the new stuff!

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AuthorWoolly Wormhead
2 CommentsPost a comment

A few questions have come up, so I'll take the opportunity to explain things further.

Firstly, print = hard copies - I absolutely will continue to publish PDFs for as long as I'm in business!

Should a future relationship with a distributor or publisher develop, whereby they handled printing and stock and it was stated clearly in my contract that I only receive royalties, then I should think that would be OK. The problem with Magcloud is that it's a 3rd party that essentially makes me the publisher, and although it's not used that way, it could be, and that's the concern. Being a business that manages tangible stock would move me into a different business bracket and I can't justify the extra work and cost involved with that.

I used to have a nice little set-up for print wholesale that allowed shops and dyers to buy directly from Magcloud at wholesale prices, and I only receive the royalties. When sterling crashed after the referendum the print wholesale side of my business was basically killed off, as many of my customers were in the UK and everything on Magcloud is set in US dollars - everything became too expensive for them. 

Digital sales remains strong through Ravelry In-store sales, so you can still support your LYS that way. I'm sad to no longer be able to support them with print, but more and more shops are moving away from print to digital, and increasingly I think you'll find less options for print unless it's for something very niche like the big books Susan Crawford likes to produce.

I am hoping to continue to have sample copies of my eBooks in print format, as they'll belong to the business and not be for sale, but I'll need to double check that with the accountant. They're really useful for Hat clinics, trunk shows and workshops, as you can see quite clearly what's inside the eBook which you can't do with digital in any other way.

And having checked, I can't sell eBooks via Magcloud without first selling a print option, so that platform will be closing entirely. It will take a little while to set up the new company and move all the accounts and I will try to keep that shop open as long as possible for you to get your last minute purchases.

There are some more important changes I need to talk about but I'll finish up here now and write the rest during the week!

Posted
AuthorWoolly Wormhead
CategoriesIndie Biz

You'll know that over the years my relationship with print hasn't always been straightforward. I've never wanted to hold tangibles - the idea of having boxes of dead trees around fills me with dread, and I've never wanted to have money tied up in those boxes. That's not a criticism of anyone else's business model, as we all do things the way that suits us best and I know that if I was a big book person myself I would probably push the print side more. But I'm not - I prefer digital books and am never keen to have too much stuff.

Despite this, I've always tried to keep print options open. POD (print on demand) has served that area, as have print distributors of my patterns. But slowly, those areas have slipped away for various reasons, the biggest of which is the low level of sales compared to the amount of work preparing items for print takes.

And now, for a slightly different reason, I'll be closing that last remaining print option.

 
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As I'm sure many of you are aware, Brexit leaves us in a very difficult position... one that will cost us a lot and see us jumping through too many hoops just to try and hold onto what we have here. Yesterday the stress of it all broke me but today I picked myself up and carried on, because I have to.

One of the most important things I need to do is separate me and my business. In the UK I'm a sole-trader, which means me and my business are the same thing. It's the simplest way to do things (it should surprise no-one that I like to keep admin simple!) and it means I'm not officially a registered business. Truth be told I never wanted to be, and one of the few original aims I had was to not be enough of a business to get VAT registered!

But that all has to change. I'm also not very far away turnover wise from the UK VAT threshold so I know the time to change is here whichever way you look at it.

I did think to get incorporated in the UK, as it would make sense to not have to learn a whole set of new tax laws, but we have to do the latter anyway if we're to move our residency to Italy (and nope, I'm not moving my business there - the tax laws are eye watering).  And it's daft to keep my business in a currency that we're not using daily - the drop in the value of Sterling has made the cost of our daily living much more expensive.

There are fortunately options for micro businesses to incorporate abroad, and Estonia is leading the way on this with it's e-residency program. And the companies that offer accountancy services also help set up the business and get you through the process quickly and efficiently for a very reasonable fee (you see why I went this route, yes?). The whole set up is progressive and streamlined and has been very popular with freelancers, digital nomads and the like.

Having done some research and talked to a few companies, I think I've found a company (agency?) to work with who sits well with me. The downside is no tangibles in terms of sales. Having discussed how the Magcloud set up works they're still not keen to support that and rather than lose the opportunity, I've decided to close the POD door for good.

What I earn through Magcloud - both on eBook and print book sales combined - comes to less than 1% of my turnover. So POD sales would be about 0.5%-0.6% of my turnover. And considering how much time and extra effort it takes to prepare for print, and how much I need to reduce and streamline admin, it doesn't make sense to try and fight to keep POD on the table going forward. I closed POD wholesale last month and had been toying with the idea of shutting POD across the board, and this move of business has been the deciding factor.

I know I have a few customers that prefer print and I hope you can appreciate that I've tried to keep that option open but do need to move with my needs and my business.

I'll leave the print option open for as long as I can but I suspect it'll be shut within about a week. If you'd like to get a print copy of any of the books I offer on Magcloud, you may wish to do that sooner rather than later! (I will though try to keep the eBooks on Magcloud, though I'm not sure that's an option without the print side...)

Thanks for your understanding :)

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AuthorWoolly Wormhead
6 CommentsPost a comment

It's fair to say that I've too many projects on the go. All in various stages, they're sat there waiting for me to either get my brain in gear, or my body.

One such project is the Absolute Range. I can't remember whether I've talked about it here or not, I know I've mentioned it to quite a few people in person. Anyhows, the point of the project was to create an alternative line of Woolly Wormhead Hats, one that was aimed at absolute beginners.

I worked on quite a few Hats for this, and they sat there waiting for me to have the time to sit and write them in non-knitting pattern speak. What I wanted to do was to write a pattern without the usual knitting pattern code, something that someone who knows nothing about knitting could pick up and make a Hat from. And I wanted to design things a little more interesting than scarfs - get clever with a bit of folding kinda thing.

Now, writing a pattern that is suitable for non-knitters AND that would be suitable for teaching new knitters takes a whole other set of skills to writing a regular knitting pattern. If you ever fancy giving it a try, it's quite a useful exercise to undo your learning and think in terms of someone who knows nothing of which you speak. And it really does require a change in mindset.

I know exactly how I want to write these patterns and what I want to say, but I haven't had the headspace to give them.

And if I'm totally honest, they're not creatively fulfilling.

The whole range would make good business sense, as the knitter that learns with you stays with you, but I've had to admit defeat on this one. Well, more that in my head I've moved on and I'm having loads more fun with more complex construction methods.

So... as most of these are already written in standard pattern writing for basic Hats, I figured I might as well make use of the work I've already done and offer them as free patterns. Free patterns are still there to help beginners who've already got the gist of the pattern code, and they help me as I can reach folks who don't have much spare cash, and they also bring (lots!) of extra traffic to this website. It's win-win all round, really.

The first one is called G-cubed...

 
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New free patterns would usually go to The Woolly Hat Society first for an exclusive period but this one is so basic and pretty much the same as the IG Beanie only in downloadable form, so it's gone straight to the Free Patterns page. Enjoy!

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This last week I've knitted another new Hat; sent 4 new patterns to my test knitters and finished writing a handful of free patterns for the coming season. I've closed doors on some projects and frogged a bunch of patterns in progress and reskeined/washed the yarn.

It feels SO good to tidy up this way. I'm not very good at having loose ends, they eat away at my brain and I'd sooner have that brain space to focus on the projects that I'm looking forward to, not back. And all this tidying up is helping to keep me busy, pottering, while I wait for my shoulders to be ready to dive into the thing that I've been working on for what feels like too long. The maths is all done, I just need to be able to knit at a decent rate!

Posted
AuthorWoolly Wormhead