Contoura is published today, and a newsletter will be going out a little later today with details of the release and a special offer.

 
 

Contoura works well with variegated yarns as well as gradient packs, self-striping yarns or even oddments from your stash. The modular nature helps break up, and at the same time, accentuate the details in the yarn.

 
 

The pattern comes in 5 sizes, and includes illustrated tutorials for the techniques that you may not have met elsewhere, in particular that detail that outlines each of the short row sections.

 

This sample is shown in a DK yarn from new Italian indie dyer Live or Dye yarn. Lorena very kindly sent me a couple of skeins to play with, and the yarn knits up beautifully!

 
 

Enjoy Contoura - it's a fun knit!

Posted
AuthorWoolly Wormhead

I thought I'd post about this while it's fresh in my head, as it came up over the weekend more than a few times (Fibre East was absolutely brilliant and I'll share my haul shortly!)

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Folks who regularly pop by here or my Ravelry group know that my right shoulder started freezing severely towards the end of last summer. Fast forward to this spring and it's starting to thaw, but my left shoulder is now starting to freeze. Last autumn I put in place a number of systems to help reduce my time at the computer, and now I really have to double down on that... the next year or so isn't going to be easy with two frozen shoulders.

Health aside though, there are many reasons why offering pattern support and general Hat chatter on the forums is beneficial to everyone. It not only helps me make effective use of my time and answer several knitters with one post, it also helps the knitter seeking help. You'll likely get an answer much more quickly - especially if you live in a different time zone to me - but you'll also get the benefit of differing perspectives. 

If there's something about the way I've written a pattern that isn't making sense to you, the very best thing you can do is talk to other knitters who have made the same Hat in a dedicated thread. Just because something isn't understood in a pattern doesn't make it wrong, we all see and learn in different ways and sometimes all you need to get over that hurdle is hearing a different approach to the same issue, or even just different words describing the same approach.  Between us we've built a fantastic support base on the forums and it's there to be used by everyone.

The very best thing about the forums is the community. We are all there to support each other and that reaches out beyond Hats and yarn. This weekend has reminded just how valuable it is to stay in touch with other knitters and yarnies, and how we are all so varied and yet connected. 

Whether you need support with a technique I've used in a pattern or the way something is worded please do make the most of this free resource. If you're not a member of Ravelry it's quick, free and easy to sign up. Whilst it can be overwhelming to try and learn about the site in one go or wade your way through the forums, being able to head straight to the thread you need - they're all linked and labelled - should make that much easier for everyone.

Posted
AuthorWoolly Wormhead

Having introduced the collection and talked a little about their construction and my drive to engineer them, I want to shed some light on the theme.

The name kinda gives it away - they're based on the 4 classic elements - earth, air, fire and water. The 5th element is well, the 5th element. The 5th element is often balance, or aether, and here the 5th Hat features a little something of the other 4 Hats and brings them together as a collection.

I think the beauty of these designs is that you can see which element they refer to, yet if you view them through the lens of a different elemental theory, they still appear relevant and appropriate.

So let me introduce each Hat with it's element, and then I'll explain a little about the naming theory.

 

Fire - Azula

 

Air - Opal

 

Water - Katara

 

Earth - Toph

 

Balance - Korra

 

The astute may have spotted the naming theme already, and if you haven't, the Hats are named after characters in Avatar (The Last Air Bender)

Aran is a huge, huge fan of the animation series (as is Tom, to be fair) and can tell you all the characters, which elements they belong too, and what sort of mischief or mayhem they get up to. It's on our TV a lot, and whilst I can't say that the series directly influenced the designs, I can say that it's played a big part in the naming of the designs.

If you're not familiar with the animation (don't watch the film; it's rubbish) the characters are grouped by, and defined by, their elements, which are essentially nations. Amongst the population are those who can manipulate their element through special powers, and they are known as benders, and the practice as bending. Being able to manipulate air or any of the elements in this way seemed rather fitting to the manipulation of fabric, to the way that the short rows bend and divert the colours through technique. Naming the Hats after Benders was a natural step.

The avatar is a character that can manipulate all 4 elements, and creates peace and balance in the world; and so the 5th element Hat is named after one of the avatars (and, you may notice that they're all named after female characters)

Check the Wikia if you'd like to learn more - Avatar: The Last Airbender

The collection is due for publication on the 6th of September, give or take a day or two. Over the next few weeks I'll talk more about each Hat, it's key features and how it's name was chosen.

Posted
AuthorWoolly Wormhead
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After our blog posts asking for suggestions to help us name my new design, Babylonglegs and I decided upon Contoura, which was suggested by Diagon. We had so many great suggestions to choose from - thank you! - and Contoura describes it's construction so well.

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As promised, we hit the dye studio today and dyes up a special skein for the prize!

I got to casa Babylonglegs earlier this week, and it's lovely to stop for a bit and slow down; the last few weeks have been pretty hectic. It was great fun to play with dyes (even if I couldn't do much of the skein lifting and such) and I'm loving today's colour play.  

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Look at that purple and turquoise together!

Thank you again for everyone's suggestions - there's some amazing name ideas there. So many that I'm keen to use a few going forward for entirely different designs and I'll be thanking commenters by gifting copies of those future patterns :) 

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Don't forget that we'll have special kits at Fibre East next weekend, and the pattern will go live on Ravelry 1st August. If you're not able to get to Fibre East you may want to sign up for the newsletter so you can hear about the pattern release as soon as it's available.

The gradient packs are extremely limited so I'd suggest heading to the Babylonglegs stall pronto! There will be extra copies of the printed pattern should you prefer to use a different skein of gorgeousness from Babylonglegs. I'll also have postcards with coupon codes with me, just in case a skein of yarn inspires you to make a different WW Hat.

See you at Fibre East?  

Posted
AuthorWoolly Wormhead
CategoriesHats, Patterns
3 CommentsPost a comment

It's probably common knowledge by now that I'm not a fan of fairisle or stranded knitting, I know, I know, blasphemy and all. But, well, they're rather 2-dimensional. Nothing wrong with that, but I'm not a surface design sort; I never have been.

What I find with colourwork is that it demands the technique bends to create the colours; that the colours are more important than the construction. The colourwork techniques themselves don't manipulate the fabric per se but instead are are designed to ensure the pattern pieces on the surface fall into place (every knitting technique is a construction technique in the traditional sense a of constructed textiles vs surface design, but not every technique pushes construction beyond the surface). You can add other shaping to a stranded piece with increases/decreases/short rows, but the methods for creating the stranded knitting themselves aren't used to create the form. One exception might be where you deliberately pull the floats tight to create a vertical tuck like effect, although I'm not sure how structurally sound that would be.

Short row colourwork on the other handle demands that the colours bend with the technique.  The technique is the dominant factor. Whilst there may be an intended surface design as a result, it's actually a 3D technique that is put to play and that means that it can be taken beyond the surface. And that's why it caught my interest.

 
an initial swatch for the Elemental Hats

an initial swatch for the Elemental Hats

 

When I first chatted with Carol and subsequently LoveKnitting about this project, my MO was to create short row colour patterns, to do in Hats what had been done in shawls. I'd set myself an engineering challenge. 

There are some amazing short row colourwork patterns out there, and short row colourwork is inherently distinctive. But as with a lot of textiles that are 3D in a fabric manipulation sense (as apposed to a sculptural sense) they're invariably found on flat pieces. It's one challenge to manipulate the fabric enough to make it 3-dimensional in and of itself, it's another thing entirely to then form that fabric into a 3-dimensional item whilst still maintaining it's integrity. 

Short rows do provide us with the means, though. And working through these designs I was able to create the 3D shape - crown and brim, but in particular the crown - by using the colourwork itself. The short rows that create the pattern also create the form. 

To ensure a short piece works it wants to be balanced, which means that it wants to have the same amount of rows for each stitch, otherwise it becomes distorted. Once a balanced fabric is mastered, it can then be carefully and deliberately unbalanced. By omitting rows (or by adding more short rows) at any given point, we can ensure that our fabric has form (in a 3-dimensional sense, not in a "what's it been up to this time?" sense).

 
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The design above is Toph, one of the 5 Elemental Hats. In this shot of the crown you can see how the short row forms, which represent leaves in this case, are used to create the crown. The entire Hat is knit sideways, consists entirely of short rows, without breaking either of the yarns. All of the Elemental Hats are created the same way.

It was quite an engineering challenge to achieve this, and I'm really pleased with the results. I have so many ideas now that I've got this cracked, so many things I want to create!

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AuthorWoolly Wormhead
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