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Archived posts from December 2006 to December 2008 are missing their photos. Key posts will be updated as soon as I have time!

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Happy 10 year anniversary!


Ten years ago today I wrote my first blog as Woolly Wormhead and started my journey of Hatterly exploration. It's kinda weird looking back and reading those old posts - my voice has changed a lot and often I miss the more carefree days of blogging. And here I am, 10 years later, running a business that works around my health, supporting my family and still managing to come up with new ideas for Hats!

There are lots of celebrations afoot, the first being the release of the Tucked pattern and the KAL over on Ravelry. And today I'd thought a little thank you was in order to mark today. I've a few more ideas and surprises up my sleeve over the coming weeks (14th November marks the day I let my first Hat pattern into the wild) and I promise to try and keep on top of the blogging!

And while I'm here, today is the last day of the Tucked promotion, so you might want to get that while you can!



I know, I know - it's all about the promotions today ;)


Starting the next chapter

When my Nan died I received a little inheritance and as a family, we wanted to fly off to New Zealand for a while and explore. Yet the amount didn't cover the cost of the flights for the three of us, and although I put feelers out for workshops and trunk shows, the additional costs were beyond our budget and we sadly had to put an end to that plan.

And then this trailer came up for sale on the Yard. And with all the changes under the new contract, we were given a bit of extra space and we thought what the hell, let's buy this beast, restore it, and have somewhere for family and friends to stay when they visit us when we're there.



So my Nan bought us the trailer (thank you Nan!)

And yesterday saw it being towed and parked in our plot.



It's *huge*. I've always loved the idea of living in a railway carriage and this is as close as I'll likely ever get. It's not a railway carriage, and is infact two German army trailers joined together on a flatbed. The flatbed itself is 1.5m off the ground, and the combined length is 10m; overall height is 3.5m.







It does need a lot of work and Tom's feeling a little daunted by that this morning! But it'll happen, and we've time until next spring to get it all done.

The current plan is to have a bedroom at each end, with the living eating/dining/seating area in the middle. The woodburner stove needs moving, and the kitchen is at one end so that's got to be shifted too. It also needs an external paint job (one side was painted with a mural for the Vertigo Truth project but otherwise it's a little rusty in places) and it needs a bit of damp work on the ceiling, which is nothing more than a treatment and sealing paint (the doors get left open over winter one day which created the damp; thankfully there are no leaks). A lot of what we need for the internal build is already in there, which will help our rather limited budget go further.

So yeah, this morning it was incredibly exciting to wake up and know the new trailer was there, and then in no time we both felt overwhelmed by the amount of work that lies ahead! That said, this is the beginning of the next chapter after the Yard's long legal battle and recognition, and I am very much looking forward to cracking on and having a new project to work on and share.



Abalone, solo

Whilst we were up staying with Susan Crawford at Monkley Ghyll farm again this summer, Susan gave me an old, old sample of Abalone that she'd had knitted back when ArbourHouse published Going Straight. Back then, Susan had had a few part knit samples made of GS Hats to demonstrate their unique construction, and how they might look prior to grafting. And so, one of the last samples found it's way out of it's hiding spot and came home with me.

The sample was in surprisingly good condition, considering that the provisional cast on had been removed, and the needles had long since been reclaimed for something else. Despite being on the loose for the best part of 6 or 7 years, few had unravelled or gotten into a mess. And that in turn meant it was relatively easy for me to finish the sample, which has made me rather happy.



I sold all my GS samples to fund our original travels, and having this Hat again feels great - not only have I got something to take to shows but I also have a little piece of history, something that reminds me of work that I'm proud of; it's provided a renewed sense of achievement.

And in turn, it got me thinking that it might now be possible to publish Abalone as a single pattern.



Many of the Hats in Going Straight were never published as single patterns, because they required a combination of too many tutorials. The Hats in themselves aren't necessarily complicated, Abalone being a great example of one of the simpler Hats from the book. It requires two grafting methods, that with the right tutorials isn't daunting - yet a single pattern layout only provides so much room, and the original photo tutorials were pages and pages each.

Now though, now I have a new pattern template and illustrated tutorials, which pack a lot more info into much less space. And it's been possible for me to fit everything comfortably into a 4 page layout!



And here it is. The pattern includes 3 sizes, size specific yardages (which is something new I'm adding to the GS singles), written and charted instructions AND illustrated tutorials for provisional cast-on, short rows, and both stocking stitch and garter stitch grafting. It's all in there!

Abalone is perfect for gradient or variegated yarns, for handspun or self striping. It's a clever little Hat that will showcase your favourite yarns. Gotta love sideways Hats!


La Rivoluzione del Filo


Despite the amount of time I've spent in Italy, I've never really got involved in anyway with the Italian yarn industry. I know a few designers and knitters online and have met a few knitters in person, but my experience is limited. Part of this is the language barrier - I can't speak Italian - and part of this is logistics - my business is very much British based, despite our travels. That said, the internet has made our industry more global, especially from a publishing and community point of view, and I was really excited to be invited to be part of a panel to discuss this very development last week.

The yarn industry in Italy is where say the US was 15 years or so ago, and the UK 10 to 15 years ago, and it felt exciting to be there at the point where the online side of things is starting to develop. And for me, knowing very little about how Italy fares locally and internationally within our global industry, it was absolutely fascinating to hear points of view from so many different corners.

From right to left in the image above, we have:

Sara Maternini (who organised the event), Gaia Segattini (who also knows an old member of the Mutoids and SweaterSpotter - small world!), Maria Cinzia Bellerio (successful Italian online shop owner), Elbert Espeleta (indie dyer, whose yarn I've been sharing this week on Instagram), me (!), and Alice Twain (whom I've met many times at events in the UK, and was my translator for the panel)

Much of the discussion - about sharing skills, connecting with a worldwide community, bridging a generation gap within the craft, access to designs and patterns, relationships between business owners and the customers, digital publishing - won't be news to most of the online English speaking part of the knitting community. But it is news in Italy, and it was wonderful that we all shared that common ground. That it comes back to community - to support, to sharing, to access and relationships. To not feeling isolated and disconnected and the empowerment that brings.



I learnt a LOT. I learnt that although Italy is known as a big yarn producing country, and fine yarns at that, much of it is exported - many of these yarns are not available locally, and the business is dominated by large companies (much like Rowan et al). On the publishing side, there are the main publishing houses (e.g. Mani di Fata) who again dominate. Independent designers, dyers and yarn shop owners are few and far between, and as a culture, there seems to be a greater mistrust towards the internet than I'm familiar with, or lack of awareness beyond Facebook.

But that's changing.

For my input I was able to offer how publishing, and offering patterns, books and tutorials in digital format has helped knitters by increasing their choice. Independent designers would struggle to exist in most of the markets I've encountered (particularly in the UK and continental Europe) and the fact that we are now able to run businesses independently can only be a good thing. I talked about the relationship between a designer and a yarn or publishing company has changed and is slowly becoming more balanced.

And we also talked a lot outside of the panel. I don't think I could express just how amazing I found the evening and being able to talk to other members of the industry! Part of the arrangement for being on the panel was a courtesy hotel room in Rimini, and throughout dinner that evening (Aran stayed with a friend) I think Tom got a tad bored of my verbal processing of it all.

And I'm still processing. I didn't take notes throughout the panel (Alice Twain did a brilliant job at translating and helping me keep up; it would have been too much to ask Tom to take notes as well as take photos) so I'm not able to expand on the finer points of the discussion as much as I'd like, although I'm told there will be a video of the discussion (albeit in Italian). That said, the business tips shared and ideas around language, translation and presence were invaluable, and I hope to develop lots of these further.

Most of all though, I appreciate having made these new connections.


Swiss Wulle Festival


The first weekend in October sees the first Swiss Wulle Festival, and I'll be there teaching!

My workshops will include my now signature Hat design workshop (full day) and Turning Sideways and Cast-on, Cast-off as two half day workshops, both of which have proved pretty popular previously. It'll be two packed full days for me, but it'll be fun too.

I'll be travelling in from Italy, not the UK, which in turn means I get to use the Continental trains! I've not used the trains in Italy or across the European mainland or anywhere really outside of the UK (massive fail, I know)(actually, I fib; I've used the trains in Thailand) and that adventure alone is exciting enough. I'll set off from Rimini, change in Milan then catch the fast train to Zug. The first train is a slow one but that's OK; I set off daftly early in the morning and it'll give me a chance to wake up slowly, relax, and knit some. The faster train for the first leg didn't really gain much anyhows, only an extra change.

There's a whole bunch of great tutors at the festival, and there are a few I haven't met before either, which will add to the fun - the workshop selection is brilliant. Lots of talking to be done! I'm also looking forward to the marketplace as there are several new to me vendors and I can't wait to see what different yarns and goodies are on offer.

There are still some places available on a few workshops so if you're planning on going, I'd head over and book as soon as possible, before everything gets booked up. It's set to be a pretty exciting event - see you there?