I introduced Howler here on the blog when we adopted him as a stray, and it only seems fitting to say goodbye to him here too.

Howler passed away last night.

 a very recent photo of Howler

a very recent photo of Howler


After a pretty nasty bite a few months ago, we learnt that Howler was both FeLV+ and FIV+, and this combination is always terminal. How long he had we didn't know, but given the environment on the Yard we decided it wasn't the best place for a cat with his needs, and aimed to re-home him once he'd recovered from the infection.

Except he didn't recover from the infection.

He's been on constant antibitiotics for the last 10 weeks or so. Each jab lasted 15 days and towards the end of the dose, he'd start to get scraggy looking again and abscesses would form for no reason, and the next antibiotic jab would clear things up. The vet suggested that the infection from the original bite had spread, and given his lack of immune system, his body couldn't fight it itself. The antibiotics were keeping him alive.

Not that long ago, just before xmas maybe, we really thought we were going to lose him. He was losing weight rapidly, was in terrible condition and so lethargic, yet he picked up with the next dose of antibiotics and we were hopeful that he'd recover enough to get a home he deserved, with no other cats around.

But it seems it was all too much, and he died very quickly after what appeared to be a seizure and one last howl. We're all a bit lost and tearful today; even the Princess seems affected.

He was the friendliest, kindest, most docile thing, and the stupidest too. Where the Princess would chase dogs away, he would try and make friends with them. He just wanted company and to be loved, and we made sure to give him that. He had a spot next to the woodstove and plenty of food nearby, and there was always space on a lap when he wanted it.

I was going to say that I don't cope with these things well, but that's the wrong thing to say. It's what I've learnt to say. But emotions aren't wrong.

There's something about my relationship with cats that tears me up inside, that cuts me so much deeper when I lose a feline friend than any other pain I've endured. My deepest darkest demon that does me the most harm is the one that comes to tell me I could have done more for them, that I didn't do enough. It torments me constantly but especially likes to be present at times like this, when I want to say goodbye with fond memories. Even after years of therapy, years of visits with psychologists and psychiatrists, I still cant actually put into words the fear and guilt that haunts me.

I've been criticised for my grief over the loss of a cat many times before; that it isn't normal, that I should move on; that it's only a cat after all. I learnt that my emotions were abnormal, and it took many years to understand that those were insensitive, almost cruel words muttered by others for reasons I'll never know, and they only served to bury the pain deeper. There's nothing wrong whatsoever about being sensitive. I'm mindful of this with Aran, and will allow him all the time he needs to come to terms with this loss, and will share in his tears and memories. Aran shares my ultra sensitivity, as does Tom, and together we're letting Aran know that grief is normal and is different for everyone, and that it doesn't need guilt as a companion.

 Howler and the Princess

Howler and the Princess


Howler was a content cat. We did everything we could to make him comfortable and keep him well, and he knew he was in a good place. Every cat that ever comes into our care gets the same treatment, and they always will. Howler was special because he shared that love around. His legacy is that he taught a cat-chasing dog that cats rule, and that they can be a dog's friend.

 Howler with Kai

Howler with Kai


I'm very raw today, and we need to bury our friend. I'll be switching off some corners of the internet for a short while.

Goodbye gentle soul. I'm grateful for the chance to get to know you, and to have given you that little bit longer. Much love x

AuthorWoolly Wormhead
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As of a few hours ago, the Circled collection is now on pre-sale!

And the first pattern, Circled #1, is also now published.

All four Hats in the collection use 4ply/sock/fingering weight yarns, and they all use the same gauge. Sizing within the patterns is determined by gauge; they're quite complex in themselves, and grading with numbers made the patterns even more complicated. I included two example sizes for you, and you can adjust your gauge to achieve sizes outside of the range given.

So then, what's the Circled collection all about?

Circles! But not just circles. It's a double whammy of concept and technique.

It started with my exploration into methods of showing concentric circles within knitting. I've worked with this idea a few times within a few patterns, but I wanted something more prominent, and less obvious. In vertical knitting isn't not too difficult to add in circular features, as you are knitting in the round and the crown of a Hat is essentially (most of the time, at least) a circle.

But turn things sideways and things get pretty difficult, because of how you finish a sideways Hat. I could've taken a slightly easier route of a 3-needle bind-off or something, but you know that that seam would bug me for eternity! So I set about working on a grafting method that would allow slipped stitches to continuously flow around the surface of the Hat without interruption. I went with slipped stitches as they provide such brilliant definition against garter stitch, and garter stitch is rather kind with the maths and also short rows, and that seemed the best ground fabric to work with.

There is a *lot* of support for these patterns, to help you graft the slipped stitches. I've never seen any method before do this before and it's pretty exciting to be letting this method out into the wild!

To start with, the support tutorials are only available with the single patterns and/or eBook, until after the eBook is fully published. I want to share the methods, but I also want to give the folks buying into this early a little something that isn't available anywhere else.

The patterns are reasonably priced - £3.75/$6 per single pattern, or £7.50/$12 for the eBook. That includes all of the tutorials, all of the extra bits, and all the support via the Ravelry forum (we're already gearing up for the first KAL!). Zabet of Anti-Craft fame is working on the layout and we've got some great ideas brewing, and the collection will be available in print too, for wholesale. The single patterns will be available via Ravelry In-Store sales but will likely not be going into print wholesale, given the level of support the grafting method needs (i.e it doesn't neatly fit onto 4 pages & the cost to print is more than my wholesale rate)

So what of the four Hats and their concept?

 the four Circled Hats, not necessarily in publication order!

the four Circled Hats, not necessarily in publication order!

Circled #1:
This Hat features offset arcs. An arc is a section of the circumference, and in this case, the arcs are two-thirds of the circumference. Each arc is offset by one-third of the circumference, and each arc is at equal spacing from each other, all the way from the centre of the crown. What these arcs create is a maze like pattern throughout the Hats, and it's quite compelling to follow the lines and see where they lead you.

Circled #2:
This Hat features concentric rings in a fibonacci sequence. Starting at the crown, the rings form a 5, 3, 2, 1 sequence ending at the brim. This is possibly the one Hat where the circles, and their grafting, are most prominent. It's also the easiest to knit, as there are no breaks in the lines!

Circled #3:
Here we see negative semi circles. Where one half of the Hat sees line, the other sees space, and on it goes, alternating all the way from the centre of the crown to the brim. It's not quite a Hat of two halves, but I think you get the idea.

Circled #4:
The last piece, and worth the wait. It's a top down corkscrew spiral and it's so very satisfying! I'll kid you not, it's a challenge. Each panel is ever so slightly different from the one before or the one after, so it takes a bit of concentrating. There are also some manoeuvres that may cause you to pause, as you may not see something like this anywhere else. It also makes for a bit of a monster, pattern writing/chart wise, and so the single pattern will only features the written instructions (we're working on space/layout to make sure the 12 charts are included, too)

Each of the Hats features on of your favourite indie yarnies, too. Let me introduce them:

Circled #1: Skeinny Dipping Mericash Sock
Circled #2: Malabrigo Sock
Circled #3: Countess Ablaze Lady Persephone Sock
Circled #4: Townhouse Yarns Clarendon Sock

So how does the pre-sale work?

Once a week, starting today, the next single pattern in the collection will be released. Once all 4 patterns are live, the final eBook will follow.

I've set up a bundle promotion, so that if you by the eBook, either here or on Ravelry, you'll also get the single patterns too. If you buy one of the singles, the system will automatically give you a discount towards buying the eBook at a later date should you so wish (it's based on value, so if you got a single pattern at a sale price, what you paid is the value of the discount). You are advised to stick to the same store (so if you buy once on Ravelry, buy again on Ravelry) to make the most of this feature, but it means that for the price of 2 single patterns, you can have the whole eBook in all it's glory. No excuse really, eh?

I really hope they make you as happy as they do me :)

AuthorTom Paterson
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I've been plagued recently by panic attacks again. I even dreamt about having a panic attack last night (caused by my inability to communicate with words in the dream setting) and it wasn't the best way to wake up.

So I'm taking stock, and quietly knitting on swatches that please rather than challenge today.

Trying to get to the bottom of why the panic attacks have been triggered again can be helpful.

I've committed to give a talk next month, and it's taken me a little further out of my comfort zone than I'd normally dare tread. But I used to represent my school in public speaking competitions as a child/teen. I've been the teacher and lecturer that stands in front of groups of people (admittedly, normally <18) and talk as a specialist on my subject. I don't think it's this commitment that's causing the attacks, but I guess it might be a trigger.

What I'm fairly certain of is that it's life events that are causing the panic attacks.

We've lived through years of uncertainty with Aran's health, my health, and the stupidly lengthy legal battle to save our small artistic community. Regular readers know all this, but it doesn't hurt to be reminded. And thanks to Brexit, we have more years of it to face.

We hit the road because we wanted a different life for ourselves, a hopefully better life for Aran; one where we felt we might belong rather than be the outsiders. We've worked hard for this. I work bloody hard to keep us in the black. I don't get any financial support from a partner or family or elsewhere to help me house, clothe and feed our family of 3. And quite honestly I could do with a break from all of it, but I'm not going to get one; that's not a luxury I can be afforded.

It doesn't help that I haven't found it within myself to forgive people for voting to put us in this situation. I'm sure that's not what people were thinking when they voted; I very much doubt anyone thought about us at all. But here we are, facing an unknown future as bartering chips in a stupid political game, and this is what it's doing to me.

I won't apologise for how I feel. Given our uncertain future, my current poor physical health and mental health, being a mixed bag of very strong feelings is perfectly bloody normal. But rather than sit here and "wait and see" as "the worst might not happen" I need to be pro-active in carving out the path we end up follow. We're not sure yet what that means, but we'll work it out.

When I sat down to type this I didn't intend for it to be political. But I'm sat here asking myself, why not? The sheer act of making, of following your own path, are political statements in and of themselves. I've had enough of folk telling me, us, crafters and knitters, to cut the political stuff, to play a neutral game. My answer to that is no: I won't be silenced or compromised any longer.

And now back to my knitting, and planning. I'm starting to feel better already, having exercised my freedom to speak my mind.

AuthorTom Paterson
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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)

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?

AuthorTom Paterson