Opal was the final Hat of the collection that I designed, and it was the hardest. The hardest to try and think about how I could represent the concept of air. Air is everywhere yet it has no real tangible essence.
I started by drawing out types of clouds in a very representative way, but they didn't work for me, I didn't like the result. Fire worked that way because it was dramatic and strong, but the clouds didn't really look all that effective, more like blobs of white against blobs of grey. It might be more achievable with a finer gauge yarn, where there's more room to add in that many more short rows and create different forms, but here it wasn't working.
I really liked the idea of working with storms, the angrier side of the air element, but again visually that was hard to do effectively. There wasn't quite the room to create large swirling storms clouds, with or without lightening strikes.
In the end, I figured it was better to move away from trying to hammer this one out literally, and go with a more symbolic angle. The symbol for air is generally 3 wavy lines, representing the invisible movement of air. Throw in some dark swirly forms to represent stormy clouds, and Opal was born.
The background to these photos is an old mural of a large pink butterfly inside a very derelict room at the nearby quarry. I'll talk about the photoshoot location more in another post, but as much as I like the pink against this Hat, it was the hardest Hat to get right. The editing, the shoot itself, so many things proved challenging. Everyone who's written a book, especially a pattern book or design collection, will tell you that there's always one that won't behave.
Series one of the Avatar starts with the story of how the fire tribe have all but wiped out the air tribe. In fact Avatar is commonly known as The Last Airbender, and it seems rather apt that this design should be the most elusive of them all.
Opal is from the second series, and is a distance relative of other characters that have Hats named from them. In this series the air tribe have grown strong and their lost skills returned, although it took Opal some time to come to terms with her skills and heritage. Like many of the air tribe, her nature is on the gentler side, and this Hat is certainly a more tranquil knit.
Yarn wise, you'll need a skein of Bloomsbury DK in Soot, and a small amount in Sand. This Hat tripped me up on my yardage estimations (mostly because I'd planned a more even balance of the colours with clouds and such) and so I had to ask the folks at LoveKnitting for a few extra yards! They came to the rescue and I got it all done it time for the photoshoot, which was a mighty relief.
I mention this as a warning that you will be able to get all 5 Hats from one skein each of the 6 colours except you may need a bit more of the dark grey (depending on your gauge, naturally).
The cover is almost done, and we've started working on the layout! (I say we, as I'm not doing the legwork here - team Woolly is in action). The patterns are all through their first round of tech editing and for the final round, we'll have a small army of editors to make triply sure that these patterns are top notch. Normally, I'd do an extra round of editing with one or two editors - this way, I get the same kind of attention to detail only quicker (at least, that's the plan).
We're still aiming for the first week of September for publication, and it's all coming together well.