After our blog posts asking for suggestions to help us name my new design, Babylonglegs and I decided upon Contoura, which was suggested by Diagon. We had so many great suggestions to choose from - thank you! - and Contoura describes it's construction so well.

upload.jpg

As promised, we hit the dye studio today and dyes up a special skein for the prize!

I got to casa Babylonglegs earlier this week, and it's lovely to stop for a bit and slow down; the last few weeks have been pretty hectic. It was great fun to play with dyes (even if I couldn't do much of the skein lifting and such) and I'm loving today's colour play.  

upload.jpg

Look at that purple and turquoise together!

Thank you again for everyone's suggestions - there's some amazing name ideas there. So many that I'm keen to use a few going forward for entirely different designs and I'll be thanking commenters by gifting copies of those future patterns :) 

upload.jpg

Don't forget that we'll have special kits at Fibre East next weekend, and the pattern will go live on Ravelry 1st August. If you're not able to get to Fibre East you may want to sign up for the newsletter so you can hear about the pattern release as soon as it's available.

The gradient packs are extremely limited so I'd suggest heading to the Babylonglegs stall pronto! There will be extra copies of the printed pattern should you prefer to use a different skein of gorgeousness from Babylonglegs. I'll also have postcards with coupon codes with me, just in case a skein of yarn inspires you to make a different WW Hat.

See you at Fibre East?  

Posted
AuthorWoolly Wormhead
CategoriesHats, Patterns
2 CommentsPost a comment

It's probably common knowledge by now that I'm not a fan of fairisle or stranded knitting, I know, I know, blasphemy and all. But, well, they're rather 2-dimensional. Nothing wrong with that, but I'm not a surface design sort; I never have been.

What I find with colourwork is that it demands the technique bends to create the colours; that the colours are more important than the construction. The colourwork techniques themselves don't manipulate the fabric per se but instead are are designed to ensure the pattern pieces on the surface fall into place (every knitting technique is a construction technique in the traditional sense a of constructed textiles vs surface design, but not every technique pushes construction beyond the surface). You can add other shaping to a stranded piece with increases/decreases/short rows, but the methods for creating the stranded knitting themselves aren't used to create the form. One exception might be where you deliberately pull the floats tight to create a vertical tuck like effect, although I'm not sure how structurally sound that would be.

Short row colourwork on the other handle demands that the colours bend with the technique.  The technique is the dominant factor. Whilst there may be an intended surface design as a result, it's actually a 3D technique that is put to play and that means that it can be taken beyond the surface. And that's why it caught my interest.

 
an initial swatch for the Elemental Hats

an initial swatch for the Elemental Hats

 

When I first chatted with Carol and subsequently LoveKnitting about this project, my MO was to create short row colour patterns, to do in Hats what had been done in shawls. I'd set myself an engineering challenge. 

There are some amazing short row colourwork patterns out there, and short row colourwork is inherently distinctive. But as with a lot of textiles that are 3D in a fabric manipulation sense (as apposed to a sculptural sense) they're invariably found on flat pieces. It's one challenge to manipulate the fabric enough to make it 3-dimensional in and of itself, it's another thing entirely to then form that fabric into a 3-dimensional item whilst still maintaining it's integrity. 

Short rows do provide us with the means, though. And working through these designs I was able to create the 3D shape - crown and brim, but in particular the crown - by using the colourwork itself. The short rows that create the pattern also create the form. 

To ensure a short piece works it wants to be balanced, which means that it wants to have the same amount of rows for each stitch, otherwise it becomes distorted. Once a balanced fabric is mastered, it can then be carefully and deliberately unbalanced. By omitting rows (or by adding more short rows) at any given point, we can ensure that our fabric has form (in a 3-dimensional sense, not in a "what's it been up to this time?" sense).

 
upload.jpg
 

The design above is Toph, one of the 5 Elemental Hats. In this shot of the crown you can see how the short row forms, which represent leaves in this case, are used to create the crown. The entire Hat is knit sideways, consists entirely of short rows, without breaking either of the yarns. All of the Elemental Hats are created the same way.

It was quite an engineering challenge to achieve this, and I'm really pleased with the results. I have so many ideas now that I've got this cracked, so many things I want to create!

Posted
AuthorWoolly Wormhead
10 CommentsPost a comment

You can't go to a yarn and knitting festival without a little something coming home with you, and that's just how it should be. The only time I get to see great hand dyed yarn in the flesh is at shows, and I may as well support the vendors if I can. And I bought a little more than usual at Pomfest, as there were some new to me dyers there!

 
 

I'd not come across Rauwerk before, and they had some amazing eco and ethical yarns and there was no way I could not bring something home with me. Interestingly, through the Friday I found myself drawn to these muted pinks and had to keep myself in check. 

Being woollen spun, it's a lofty yarn with some seriously good yardage - in the skein it looks more like a worsted or aran, yet the label tells you it's a DK. My skein is a 100% organic single farm yarn, hand dyed with natural dyes.

I've been eyeing The Wool Kitchen's greys with colour yarns over on Instagram but not being a huge fan of speckles, I was mighty glad to see a grey with bright solids. It's still a little out of my comfort zone but I don't doubt it'll make a seriously fun Hat!

 
 

Qing is another new to me dyer, and I was rather taken with the top skein, which is essentially the same colour as my henna dyed hair, with splashes of black through it. It's going to make a gorgeous Hat.

The 2nd skein is a single ply DK in a pretty busy colourway.... I don't normally lean towards single plies as there's always a chance of ripping and reknitting when designing, and the plied yarns stand up to that much better. I do think though that design wise, this 2nd skein wants a simple Hat, and it may be my sanity knitting that becomes a free Hat pattern this summer.

I really struggled to get the colours right in these two with my phone.

 
 

I knew of Julie Asselin's yarns, but this was the first time I saw them in the flesh. And that green is stunning! (again, tricky to capture on my phone with the light today... hindsight tells me it may have been better to pick a white background....)

The Hektos is a luscious blend of high twist merino, cashmere and silk in worsted weight. This will definitely become a Hat! (I'm just not promising when)

La Bien Aimee is another dyer I'm familiar with online, but hadn't yet had the chance to see up close. Not being a fan of speckles I thought I'd push myself a little and see what I could do with this one... it's kinda greys and lilacs and there's no white bits, which always helps.

 
 

And there was non-yarn swag!

The little cat tape measure from Pink Hazel was not going to not come home with me. As well as her usual array of gorgeous hand sewn needle cases and knitting cases, she stocks a range of Fair Trade extras, including hand crocheted animal tape measures. Win-win.

And after spying a gorgeous hand knit cardigan being worn at the show, I bought a copy of Pompom. Part of me kinda thinks that maybe I'd got a little carried away with show shopping, as I'm now having doubts about this, but I'll sit on it for a bit. I'm not very good at buying lots of stuff and always find that there's one item that's loved less when I do have a half decent spend (mostly I think 'cos I'm a frugal old sort and well, I don't like having a lot of stuff). It's a nice cardy and I just need to decide if it'll suit me... I have the hand-dyed black DK yarn already.

-------------------------------------

I'm at Fibre East in 2 weeks time with Babylonglegs and if I'm not careful, I'll end up with too much yarn! (yes, that is a thing; remember that storage space isn't in endless supply in my world)

And now I'm starting to feel buyers regret, dammit. 

Posted
AuthorWoolly Wormhead

I'm awake way too early for day 2 of Pomfest and it's the ideal time to chat about a particularly special project I've been working on. Hints have appeared here and on Instagram and I'm itching to share more!

 
upload.jpg
 

I've collaborated with Love Knitting and The Yarn Collective and produced 6 new Hat designs in their Bloomsbury DK, which is curated by Carol Feller. Her colours are gorgeous and were the perfect match for these designs. 

Of the 6 new designs there are 5 in a book/eBook and a single pattern. All 6 Hats feature short row colourwork, which is a method I've not seen used in Hat design. It's incredibly fun and magical and results in some pretty amazing knitting.

The patterns are due to be published in the first week of September and in the coming weeks I'll be sharing more about the designs, the yarn, the concepts behind them and the construction methods used.

In the meantime, here's a quick look at the 6 designs.

These first 5 will be in the Elemental eBook and book (it'll have a similar size and feel to Circled, and be published via POD for print and wholesale) and each design will also be available as a single pattern...

 
upload.jpg
 
upload.jpg
 
upload.jpg
 
upload.jpg
 
upload.jpg
 

And design no.6 will be available as a single pattern separate from the eBook via the Yarn Collective.

 
100x155.1.jpg
 

Pretty exciting, huh?  You can see the Hats in the flesh at Pomfest today on The Yarn Collective stand. There's been a lot of interest in these Hats and so many comments and gasps and even tears (Jen AC, I'm looking at you) and I'm feeling on top of the world this morning. (I confess to being a bit of a show off yesterday at the show - I am so chuffed with these Hats and my brain for creating them). I'll share more soon, I promise!

Posted
AuthorWoolly Wormhead
16 CommentsPost a comment

Those blog posts I write where I open up and bare a little of my soul always, always leave me heavily depleted. I don't have a problem writing them beyond finding the right words to express what I'm trying to say, but I do find responses overwhelming, and I have to move away from the spotlight to recover.

I have read everyone's comments and messages and appreciate them all, even if I haven't been able to respond personally. 

 

yet another Inspirobot quote... 

yet another Inspirobot quote... 

 

I think most of you understood where I was coming from with my post, but I want to follow up on a few things. 

I wasn't suggesting that people shouldn't be allowed to be happy - of course they are. I'll be the first to share when I'm happy about something, just as I would share when I'm unhappy about something. But constant happiness is unattainable, and there's no evidence to suggest that attempting to portray happiness in order to feel happiness works.

Secondly, yup, there are some fantastic quotes to be found, some deep and thoughtful and provoking quotes. I'm not sure they all need to be photoshopped onto a stock photo and shared endlessly, but yes, there's some good ones. There are also some truly terrible and meaningless ones. And I kinda think that quotes are best used appropriately with context, y'know? 

And finally - my post wasn't a dig at optimism. It was a post about realism. There's nothing wrong at all with optimism, but the absence of it doesn't always lead to pessimism.

Yup, I'm feeling a little defensive. Actually, I'm pretty pissed off with those that cry "stop being so negative!" whenever happiness, or the attainment of happiness, is questioned. As if happiness is the only goal to have - if you're not happy you must be sad, and we must avoid sadness at all costs.

Sadness, just like anger and optimism and cynicism and happiness, are all healthy emotions. They become unhealthy when they're out of balance, and happiness is no exception to that. 

Yes, I've issues with happiness industry (because yes, there's a whole industry built around making money by trying to sell you happiness - it's not just my cynicism - Google it). I've issues with the idea that we mustn't talk about other emotions, that we mustn't show other emotions, that we mustn't acknowledge other emotions. When I look at people in that constant pursuit of happiness, all I see underneath it all are people who feel sad or unfulfilled. 

I've spent years in therapy. I've seen many different psychologists and psychiatrists. My earliest memory of feeling depressed was sitting on my bed at night, staring out of the window, feeling bleak, like I didn't belong and that one day I would have to get myself away from here. I was 9 years old.

I didn't have a particularly happy childhood. I lived through abuse and bullying and family break-ups and learnt things that a child shouldn't have to learn. I found my way into adulthood without any support for my depression or for any of the other issues that life threw up. I survived by turning inwards and doing what I could to find my own way and work things out for myself (quite unsuccessfully at first; I never learnt to be confident and was too easily persuaded to do things I didn't want to do by people who thought they knew what was best for me)

It's almost 40 years since the issues that rewired my brain started, and in that time the most valuable thing that I've learnt is to be who I am and not hide how I feel, regardless of how other people feel about it. It's taken a long time and a lot of pain to reach this point, and I won't allow anyone to intimidate me any more into behaving how they feel I should.

I'm pretty content these days - I've put some distance in and eventually found a path of my choosing. That doesn't mean I'm cured of my depression, though. Achieving a cure for depression is to my mind as unattainable as constant happiness. I'm ok with that, really. When the black dog hits and the bleakness kicks in I lose sight of that acceptance but for the most part, I've come to accept that depression is part of my journey, and that I'm just fine even when I'm not happy.

Posted
AuthorWoolly Wormhead
CategoriesHead Zone
7 CommentsPost a comment