I'm never without a little black book.

over 10 years worth of words and ideas are stored within these books

over 10 years worth of words and ideas are stored within these books

I use these notebooks for sketching, scribbling design ideas, pattern writing, adjustments to patterns, plans for exhibition spaces, to-do lists, book budgeting, life budgeting, travel planning, daily scheduling, notes to self, colour planning and more. They hold everything that goes through my head, and without my current book I'd be lost.

There are books with plain paper, but mostly I used the lined ones. They're all the same size (A6), and all black hardback. I've a small store of them in the studio, as I buy them when I see them and especially when they're on offer as they're becoming harder to find. I write in black ink only, and draw in black ink too - I've never been one for sketching in pencil, it allows for too much editing; pen is permanent, it doesn't allow me to erase ideas or self edit. Besides, having a pen and pencil in my pocket isn't very efficient, why carry two things when one tool will do the job?

I'm not one for sketching full stop really - I prefer to make rough sketches and add the extra details in notes. I don't fully sketch each idea and flesh things out - once I know which path I'm on, I work on the needles, and the notes become more critical. I've always worked this way, sketches are limited by their 2D nature and I'm a 3D person, both in practice and in thinking. Besides, fully fleshing out ideas on paper in visual form is a luxury my time schedule doesn't allow for. I have to swatch for each design, and so the Hat itself becomes my swatch. It's quicker for me to do this, to work from notes and develop those notes as I go, rather than plan everything out on paper from an initial, separate swatch. My method is more truthful and more efficient for me, too. I can do this because I only work with Hats, and none of it happens by accident.

These books have been even more critical of late, in other ways. Having relapsed on the depression front and having found myself unable to fully express myself with words, I've taken to writing down the fragments that pass through my head, in the hope that someday I can do something useful with them. Very limited memory function is another side effect of poor mental health, and the notes work on several fronts. Over time I can see the themes developing and the thought process slowly coming together; it helps to feel less fractured. These notebooks become a filing cabinet of words and streams on consciousness, all tangled and distorted, and although the written word doesn't allow for editing and sorting, by writing it all down it allows those words to take on an importance when they would otherwise be lost in the fog. The words won't go unrecorded.

Sometimes these notebooks serve as a frustration. I can see how many great ideas I've had over the years, and how many of them have gone undeveloped due to my breakdowns. I can see the fragments of my functional brain, and see how scattered they are, and see how far I have to go before they become something. They add to those feelings of being inadequate, of being left behind, of failing and of letting down.

On the other hand, they offer hope. As well as being able to see how far I have to go, they're another piece in the picture of how far I've come. I can see that a lot of those ideas have become something, despite the fog. These records are slowly forming into something cohesive, and without them I don't think I'd be able to keep going through so many relapses and come out the other side. It takes time to build on these fragments, and although the passing of time whilst in the fog is one of the most exasperating aspects of depression, I can appreciate the building and rebuilding of knowledge that the pages evidence. I can use the notebooks as word and idea banks; record them after a moment of insight, safe in the knowledge that although they will be forgotten in the morning, that part of me is still there, waiting for when I am ready.

Posted
AuthorWoolly Wormhead
4 CommentsPost a comment

Frustration has set in over these last few weeks, mostly at not being able to do all the things. Trying to dance around sciatica so that I don't end up spending a week or more in bed has meant not doing a lot of the things I want to do, which in turn has meant plans are on hold.

Added to that frustration have been a few head crashes, caused mostly I think by being in limbo. Limbo doesn't suit me. After all the work on this website, portfolio relaunch, gearing up for big teaching events, after finishing all the jobs that have been hanging over my head for the last 3 years or so, I finally now have time to push ahead with all the exciting ideas that I've been sketching and planning and swatching for. My brain was starting to piece itself back together again, and I felt able and confident for the first time in a long time to do all the things.

I've no doubt that I'll pick that up again once my body is in better form, and that taking it easy will no doubt do me some good. But it seems rather cruel to stop me now, just when time is my own again. I guess that's just my body pointing out that I probably need a bit of a break...

garter stitch with slipped stitches pixie Hat - a new design in Bilum Pikinini (a hand-dyed Merino 4ply form Hungary); colourway unknown.

garter stitch with slipped stitches pixie Hat - a new design in Bilum Pikinini (a hand-dyed Merino 4ply form Hungary); colourway unknown.

Enter the quick, simple knits. Well, the quick simple designs.

As much as I want to learn new skills, explore ideas and structures and experience those light bulb moments, there's plenty to be said for gentle design projects that don't push the grey matter (or neck/shoulder/sciatica). We don't have to be constantly pushing ourselves all the time. Simple is just fine.

I've got lots of words stored away about the value of the simple, and I'm slowly putting them all together. So often simple is overlooked or undervalued, yet there's a real skill to getting it right. Simple is understated. It's not showy or fussy, it's refined and considered.

I appreciate the designs I work on through these phases, as invariably they lead the way to new ideas that I hadn't previously considered, and often end up becoming strong patterns in their own right. So I'm going to indulge my need to rest for a while longer, and continue making the happy little things.

(the current theme for the happy little things are Hats for kids in hand-dyed yarn. Of course.)

Posted
AuthorWoolly Wormhead
9 CommentsPost a comment

This month in The Knitter my first article about Hats and Hat design for them has been published!

my latest article, explaining the maths behind crown shaping

my latest article, explaining the maths behind crown shaping

And it's all about crown shaping.

I got talking to the editor a while back, and we discussed the possibility of a Hat design masterclass; It would have been impossible to try and fit everything into one article, and so I'm writing a series of 3! And even then, there's lots more to be said.

In this article I cover the maths for familiar crown shapings such as beanies and berets, and then go on to discuss how row gauge affects shape, and how altering the decrease ratio creates other shapes (e.g. pixie or gathered crown). There is a fair bit of maths, which is kinda essential! And talking through with the editor and tech editor, I think it's broken down well into manageable chunks.

This article goes into much greater depth with the maths for the crown shaping that we cover in my Hat Design workshop - it would be impossible to cover all the maths in a 6hr day AND have everyone complete their Hat! Hence I've developed a method of teaching it that makes it a little easier to manage all in one day. The crown is the most complex part of the Hat, and it undermines the design for the rest of the Hat, so you may wish to consider this alongside my design class. (and I'll try and see if there's any way to incorporate this info in the workshop notes, for those that want to take the maths further... hmm... how many pages is too many for workshop notes?)

The next two articles will be Style and Fit, and all about Sideways Knit Hats. It's going to be hard to contain myself within the word count; you know how much I can go on (and on and on) about Hats....

If you're not able to get your hands on a print copy, then I believe single issues are available through Zinio (I've just looked and yup, issue 97 is listed!) The rights revert back to me a little earlier than usual, as I've asked to republish the article on this blog - it'll probably need to span a couple of blog posts as there's a lot to it - but it's something to look out for late summer/early autumn.

I've had great feedback so far on the article - I do hope you enjoy it!

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

So yeah, I kinda fell into a bit of silence! My neck/shoulder issues post EYF didn't improve and my sciatica started to grumble, so sitting here at my laptop hasn't been easy. I'm getting better but not quick enough, really! I've had too much time to think and more time in the garden, as I try and break my day up so that my posture changes and my back or neck doesn't get stiff. Getting older is no fun.

But I have new knitting and maybe some new designs, so it's not been all bad! It's just that trying to get images from my phone to here without emailing them to myself or sitting here too long hasn't proved easy. Now, if only I could get the SquareSpace app on my table to work, I might find it easier to blog....

Posted
AuthorWoolly Wormhead
3 CommentsPost a comment

I am here, promise!

Since getting back from Edinburgh Yarn Festival I've had to slow things down a bit. I managed to trigger an old injury in my neck and shoulder, and that's causing me a fair few issues. I'm getting treatment, a mix of massages, seeing the chiropractor, resting, heat treatments and so on, and slowly but surely I'm getting movement back AND I'm remembering not to run off out and do something daft to trigger it all again (which was me, last week; felt better, did photoshoot! felt rough again)

One of the main problems I have is using the laptop, as too much time here causes shooting pains in my wrist and upper arm. And that's a nuisance, as there's only so much work I can do without this laptop. Similarly, too much knitting isn't a great help, either. So I'm breaking my time up with a little relaxing in the garden, maybe potting up a few succulents, knitting a little, typing a little, sleeping a little.

And this all means that I'm slow to respond to emails, and slow to get to admin. I ask that you please be patient with me while I recover. (and really, typing this out loud is a massive nudge to me to be patient with myself, too. Which I'm really rather rubbish at.)

ps/ that's a few swatches I've knit for upcoming tutorial PDFs and IG videos, in the photo above. And that project bag was a special treat from Joy at The Knitting Goddess - she has them up in her shop now. Pretty cool, huh?

Posted
AuthorWoolly Wormhead

I head off towards Edinburgh in the wee hours of tomorrow morning for Edinburgh Yarn Festival!

 

And these beauties will make up my travel knitting. Both are commissioned designs, and with airport and bus time I should get them both finished! (famous last words)

The yellower green to the left is Kinlun from Miss Babs Yarn, in shade 'Hops' and the other is Ginger Twist Studio Masham Mayhem DK in shade 'Part of your World' (which ahem came all the way from Edinburgh).

I'm looking forward to catching up with friends this weekend, exploring Edinburgh (I haven't visited in about 20 years) and meeting lots of new knitters, in particular those taking my classes. Reckon we're on for a pretty good weekend :)

If you're around and about at EYF saturday morning, I'm signing copies of Painted Woolly Toppers at The Knitting Goddess stand from 11.30am to 12 - do pop along, try on a few Hats and I'll sign your book for you!

Joy has knitted all of the Hats from the book in her yarns, so you can perfectly match yarn to pattern. I'm on hand to give some Hat wearing advice, too, during the signing and Hat Clinic is always fun!

Before I go offline and spend an evening with my boys, I quickly want to tell you that I'll be donating £180.14 to Kidney Research UK from the sales of Torsione when I get back! This is brilliant, thank you! March is my quietest month of the year pattern sales wise, and that makes it even more special that so many of you offered your support - thank you.

Posted
AuthorWoolly Wormhead
3 CommentsPost a comment