Some time early last year, probably about a year ago now, I started swatching and developing an idea that felt fresh and clean and made me feel, well, as if my brain was fully functioning again. The concept made me feel like I'd broken through the fog, and working out the technical side made me feel clever.

Strong words, huh?

What I was aiming for was a perfect marriage between my love of circles, and my love of sideways knitting and grafting. And I achieved it.

Then the need to work on some other things kicked in, and Painted Woolly Toppers for Kids became a thing and then the trapped nerve and frozen shoulder was a thing, and I wasn't able to work and develop this is much as I wanted to. This is what happens when what you do isn't just about the creativity, but also about keeping the roof over your head and food on the table. And sometimes it's hard, not having the luxury to follow your creative dreams.

Towards the end of last year, once PWT4K was safely published, I finally had some time and brain-space and switched this project on fully. And it's been keeping me busy ever since. (my shoulder hasn't fully appreciated working at such fine gauge....). As I travelled around for my teaching tours during October and November, these swatches and Hats kept me company. It felt so good to be able to focus all of my attention on them again.

 
slipped stitch spiral swatch

slipped stitch spiral swatch

 
grafted slipped stitch spiral swatch!

grafted slipped stitch spiral swatch!

 

Naturally, having developed the grafting method 8 months previously without any practice since, it took a few swatches to get the method right. If I was going to see this through I needed to be absolutely certain that I knew exactly what I was talking about.

And it wasn't just the lack of practice that made me rusty, either. As time went on, and as the project felt further away, my confidence dropped with it. Every opportunity I had to talk to another knitter or designer, I managed to squeeze this into the conversation. I'd talked it up so much that I was at risk of abandoning it and having my failure complex tell me it was right all along.

 
swatching for the new grafting method

swatching for the new grafting method

 
completed graft - slipped stitches over garter stitch

completed graft - slipped stitches over garter stitch

 

But I didn't let myself down.

 
Circled Hat #1, the first to be released from the collection

Circled Hat #1, the first to be released from the collection

 

And so, the Circled collection is a thing. The photo above was one of my favourites from our photoshoot last week. It's unedited and straight off the camera; I'm still unable to manage much photography, so I styled and directed and Tom took the photographs. We don't make a bad team, huh?

Now that I've broken the ice and spoken out loud about this collection, I feel free to talk about it more. I'd gotten myself so anxious about the risk of getting all excited and blogging about it only to have my confidence/health/lack of time let me down that I'd decided not to say all that much publicly until I knew I could pull it off.

The photoshoot is done. The single patterns are through their first round of tech editing. The photos and content are with the layout designer. Circled is very much a thing, and it's coming very soon!

(bonus: all 4 patterns use 4ply/sock/fingering. And they'll be perfect for your handpaints)

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AuthorTom Paterson
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Another year, another dozen Hats or so?

2016 was a strange year, in that health (yet again) knocked me sideways and stopped me from doing a whole bunch of work. Thankfully I'd almost reached an even keel and the set back wasn't too catasrophic. (thank you, frozen shoulder)

collage of Hats designed and published in 2016

collage of Hats designed and published in 2016

On the single pattern front things were *busy*. From top left we have:

Cannetella, Aerial, Armley Beanie, Armley Slouch, Fabales, Pinua, Muratura, Armley Beret, Caterpiller Slouch, Scrapalong, Aileron, Dutrieu, and Adiantum.

And of course, we have Painted Woolly Toppers for Kids!

Painted Woolly Toppers cover

Painted Woolly Toppers cover

 
Painted Woolly Toppers for Kids collage

Painted Woolly Toppers for Kids collage

From top left:

Swinton, Wychavon, Modbury, Mobberley, Chesser, Kelvinside, Hadleigh, Kilbride, Gorton and Allerton.

So, 2016 saw 23 Hats in all - a busy year indeed compared to the previous few! Most of these had been designed the previous year ready to go, or at least written and knitted before my frozen shoulder kicked in.

2015 saw 20 new designs, 2014 saw 14 new designs, 2013 saw 17 new designs,  2012 saw 27 new designs;. 2011 saw 35, 2010 saw 34, 2009 saw 14, 2008 saw 24 and 2007 also saw 35, with 2006 at 30. (2005 saw 4 which was the first year... almost 12 years ago now)

Despite not being able to knit or work at the computer much, I was able to get out and teach, and there was an increase in workshops taught compared to previous years. It's still only a very small percentage of my turnover (less than 10%; closer to 5% methinks.. I'll know for sure when I've finished my 2016/17 accounts ;) and honestly, I don't want to increase the amount I teach by too much. I enjoy it as it is, and if teaching becomes a major part of my income then I know I'm on the path to burnout again (or rather, I'll be accelerating along that path) and that'd be a bad move.

I also wrote several articles about Hats - construction and design - although they haven't all been published yet. The first of those was the Crown Shaping Masterclass.

I didn't attend any trade shows this last year, and since exhibiting at TNNA in 2015 solo, I've taken a long hard look at wholesale. I'm still keeping that door open, and print wholesale is still available, but that side of business isn't what it was. I don't think it is for anyone, and I'm not convinced that it's worth throwing £2,000 upwards to attend & exhibit at TNNA any more... I'd sooner pay that money to Tom to develop more tutorial videos, or invest it in translations.

2016 also saw me delve further in getting patterns translated, although once the frozen shoulder kicked in, it also became the year I pressed the pause button on this side of things. Once I'm back to usual computer work flow, I'll be straight back on it.

2017 sees me entering my 12th year of designing Hats, and that feels somehow like quite a milestone, although I couldn't say why! We sat and worked out last week that I'd passed my 10,000 hours of Hat design a few years ago and now I feel all grown up but also a little older. Meh.

This year will be the year when I hope I finally get to put into place the last of the changes I started to make way back when. Back-end things are smoother, and I've out-sourced a lot of the things I can't do, and that has eased the pressure a lot. I'm starting to feel more in control now and freer headwise, which is most welcome.

Onwards and upwards, right?

Posted
AuthorTom Paterson

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(If you're an Etsy user, use code welcome2017 to get the 40% discount for 72hrs)

Posted
AuthorTom Paterson

I posted a photo today on Instagram of some Hats gently blocking before a photoshoot, and it hadn't occurred to me that this might be something that others might want to know or not already know about! (I know)

They're small beach balls. Sturdy and reusable.

I don't always use these for wet blocking - they don't come in a huge range of sizes, and you can't control the final diameter - balloons offer a much better range, so it would depend on the size of the sample.

These were originally purchased for taking to shows, so that previously blocked Hats that'd been stored in boxes and normally a vacuum bag prior to travel, would have a way of being refreshed and de-decreased and bought back to their beautiful selves ready for the show. And as this is something I do a lot, I didn't want to waste that many balloons (though as you'd imagine, I do have a few black helium balloons just in case)

I ordered two different sizes - and this is where you have to be careful, as the measurements for the beach balls are of the beach balls as if laid flat, which is equivalent to half the circumference, so do take care when ordering. I picked up 10 each of the 9in and 6in balls.... I couldn't find a 10in or 11in in black, but that's kinda OK, as these are better off being the finished size of the Hat, rather than the fit to size, as I don't want to be stretching the Hat each and every time - I just want the creases nudged away. The 6in size is great for small kids Hats, like the samples in Playful Woolly Toppers (which I knit two of each, so the baby sizes could be seen!) and the 9in is pretty good for adult Hats, which often have a finished size in the region of 18in diameter.

And where did I get them from?

beachballs.com of course!

I went with black as I wanted them to match the rest of my exhibit kit, as all my folding wig stands are black, and 'cos I'm like that. If you're less fussy about colour, you can probably find an even better range that you can use for wet blocking (if I can get over my rather strong dislike of beach ball colours, I plan to do just this. IF)

They're sturdy and reusable and far less wasteful than balloons. I guess it depends how much blocking you do, but if you're someone like me that has hundreds of knitted Hats stored away, they're rather a good idea.

 
Posted
AuthorTom Paterson
CategoriesHats
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