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
18 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

A recent invention that's taken hold on Twitter is Inspirobot, and if you've not played with it yet, you may wish to lose a few hours and enjoy the marvel that it is.

 

upload.jpg

What's so amusing about this bot is it's play on words, it's nonsense take on well-being memes that are prolific on Facebook and such. 

As someone who's lived through some pretty dark places, I find those "think positive" memes invariably trivialise what's really being felt. As if talking yourself out of suicide was as easy as simply thinking happy thoughts. These memes can be patronising and for the most part, empty. Yes they are usually well intentioned but just because something comes from a good place doesn't make it right, or mean that it has to be accepted. 

By sharing these think-positive memes, online communities are perpetuating the habit of brushing emotions under the carpet.  They're the digital equivalent of a pat on the head with a "there, there".

One aspect of the way emotional and mental health is framed that I find particularly troubling is the way we refer to people as "brave" when they share just how hard it can be. I understand where this comes from; it can and does take an awful lot of energy and courage to speak up, especially when it's something we're used to hiding. But when we accept that it's brave to talk about it, we accept that it's not brave to not talk about it, and that's damaging. We have enough shit in our heads to be dealing with without adding punishment for our silence. Feeling like we need to be brave to break the cycle in our heads simply adds another hurdle. It needs to be normal, not brave. 

When I had my worst nervous breakdown, I ended up taking myself into A&E to report to the duty psychiatrist. I hadn't been able to help myself up until that point, all sorts of barriers stood in the way such as phoning to make an appointment or actually getting myself out of the flat to go and face the prying eyes in the waiting room. Taking yourself into A&E is an acceptable route and is far more discreet and immediate than just about every other route. And it was the best thing I ever did - I got straight into the heart of the local mental health services; no 16 month waiting list for therapy. They told me I was more ill than I was admitting and it probably saved my life.

When I tell people about this they tell me I was brave. I wasn't; it was survival. 

Talking about my depression publicly isn't brave, it's my coping mechanism. I'm aware that it worries some people and others find it difficult to read, but it's not about them, it's about me. For too long I hid my experiences because I didn't want to upset anyone or cause anyone to look too closely; I'd learnt not to talk, that I'd be judged, and in the long run that only did more damage. Would you ask someone with a physical disability to not talk about it or otherwise hide it from you, because it makes you uncomfortable? What sort of person would that make you? 

The reason people may find the truth about depression difficult is because it's not normal enough. It is normal to many, many people, and that's exactly why I won't hide it anymore or be made to feel guilty for imposing my emotions.

When I talk about what's going on in my head, I need to be able to say what needs to be said without judgement or misunderstanding. Empathy is a wonderful thing and helps build support, but sympathy doesn't always sit so well. I need to be able to say that the black dog is descending in the same way someone talks about the onset of a frozen shoulder.

And in my mind, that's what we need to do. Talking about it can be incredibly bloody difficult and we all need support to do it more, not less. I'm not going to judge anyone who chooses not to share because we all make that personal choice and it usually comes from a history of judgement and stigmatisation, and I know all too well how that feels. But if we're going to address mental health properly then we need to change attitudes towards it, and that starts with the language we use.

eta/ once comment I've received privately suggest that being brave and not being brave aren't binary... and I'd tend to agree. Except that's the language we use, and it adds up to why I think the word brave is troubling. Comments I've received elsewhere use this exact language - that they're not brave enough to speak up - and I'd rather hear that it's not their time or not their way, or that they're not ready yet. 

 

Posted
AuthorWoolly Wormhead
CategoriesHead Zone
5 CommentsPost a comment

Fibre East is not that far away now, and it's on my must-visit list every year. Usually I like to go as a punter (but normally end up chatting and making connections!) yet this year it's going to be a little bit different... Babylonglegs and I have hatched something special!

 
 

This Hat  - currently with no name - will be available from Fibre East as a part of exclusive kits with Babylonglegs yarn. There will be a limited edition 20 kits for gradients (shown above) as well as a full range of semi-solids and some rather special sprinkles (have a peek at Babylongleg's Instagram feed to see her take on sprinkles).

 
 

The pattern comes in a full range of 5 sizes; is knit in the round, bottom up and makes clever use of short rows and picking up stitches to create it's unique shape. Fear not, the knitting itself is pretty straight forward and the technique used to create the stripes also helps to hide the short rows themselves and neaten up your work. There'll be specialist illustrated tutorials to help guide you through it, I promise.

 
 

You'll be able to find me on the Babylonglegs stand at Fibre East on both saturday and sunday, at 11.30am - 12 and 2.30pm to 3pm, both days. I'll be there for Hat advice, tips to help with knitting and construction, etc. We'll also have some WW postcards with single use coupon codes in case there's another WW Hat you'd like to purchase with your Babylonglegs yarn! The pattern for this Hat will be printed and signed, so you'll be able to take a full kit home with you and get started straight away.

If you're not able to attend Fibre East, the pattern will go on general release roughly a week after the show, and will be available here, on Ravelry and through my usual outlets. It will have a special price of £3.50 at the show (usually $6/£3.75) and the kit will cost £23 with £1 of every kit sale going to the Fibre East charity.

 
The new design in two different dye finishes... Elisa and Silvia were melting in the heat!

The new design in two different dye finishes... Elisa and Silvia were melting in the heat!

 

And now for the competition - this Hat needs a name!

Leave a comment here between now and midnight GMT friday 7th July with your naming suggestions for the Hat. There'll also be a post on Babylongleg's blog and you can comment there too, then we'll get our heads together and make a decision and select a winner next weekend.

And the prize? The prize will be a little bit special...

During the two weeks running up to Fibre East I'll be staying with Babylonglegs and we've planned a day in her dye studio, and between us we'll dye up some special skeins as limited editions for the show, and one special skein for the prize winner! You'll also receive a digital copy of the pattern, and should you wish we can send a printed signed copy of the pattern, too (please do let us know if you require a hard copy so we can save you one). Please do note though that we won't be able to send the prize skein until the 3rd week in July at the earliest, as we do need to dye it for you first!

So there you have it!

Please leave your Hat name suggestions either here on this post, or on Babylongleg's post - I'm afraid we can't accept suggestions via Twitter, IG, Fb etc as it's tricky to track your suggestions in so many places, especially as I'll be on the move. And don't forget to leave your email address in the relevant field (it'll remain private, I promise) and we'll need your Ravelry name also, if you have one.

Good luck!

Posted
AuthorWoolly Wormhead
86 CommentsPost a comment