Once upon a time, this pattern of mine was a premium pattern. Designed for sock yarn (Trekking in particular) it's a top-down pattern worked in the round.

 
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A few years ago this pattern was parked and put aside for a side project, along with a few other patterns. Life happened and all that, and these patterns have basically stayed parked, in limbo. I'm not sure whether this side project will or won't be a thing, so I'll leave those patterns as they are.

One day late last year as I was sorting out my hard-drives and the many (many) photos, I stumbled across the original shots for this Hat. Opening them up with me raw editing software that I didn't have at the time, they were quickly edited and upon seeing them in better shape than they had been, I figured it was time to bring this pattern off the back burner.

 
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The Pinwheel Beret then became the free pattern of the month, exclusive to The Woolly Hat Society, where it proved rather popular! And now that that month is up, the pattern is available on the Free Patterns page for one and all.

 
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I'm liking offering free patterns for an exclusive period to The Woolly Hat Society. Not sure I can promise one every month, but it's a nice perk and something to work towards. Given my shoulders as they are, more complex and challenging designs aren't something I can really work on at the moment, whereas simpler designs, especially ones in heavier yarn, are less painful. I'll be working my way through my chunky and bulky stash for the foreseeable, then...

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AuthorWoolly Wormhead
CategoriesHats, Patterns

My Advanced Kitchener workshop had it's first airing at Edinburgh Yarn Festival this March. It wasn't an easy workshop to describe, or deliver for that matter. Whilst some students may have felt daunted and many students would have had the penny drop some time later, there were a number of students who 'clicked' within the 3hrs and absolutely loved it. It isn't an easy subject, but it's not difficult, either.

Let me go into a little more detail, in response to some feedback I received, and to help demystify this oh so favourite subject of mine.

 
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I asked for feedback at the end of my class at EYF, and the one thing that rang through was the wish for an intermediate level. I completely appreciate that a jump from regular Kitchener (or my beginners class) may seem a jump too far. I do see that, I promise. But there isn't an intermediate level.

Once you want to move beyond grafting stocking stitch, reverse stocking stitch, garter stitch and reverse garter stitch (all things I cover in my Kitchener Stitch - an Introduction class) then you have to make the leap - there's no other way to do it. Why? Well, because we have to change how we see grafting. And that's no bad thing.

When I was writing my first book, Going Straight, I knew how difficult it might be for some to get their heads around the sideways construction. Even my tech editor wanted some breathing space around other projects. That 90 degree shift in thinking is subtle, and it seemingly turns everything upside down (which of course, it doesn't... it's a mere shift...) and it can take a little getting used to. But once your brain has adjusted, it's pretty much plain sailing.

It's no different with grafting.

What you know about grafting now - working the two selvedge stitches then launching into a routine of working two stitches on the front needle then two on the back - subtly changes. It's a minor change. And if you think about it, you're still doing the same thing except you're starting the routine at a different point. Instead of working two stitches on the front needle, two on the back.. you start to work one stitch on the front needle, two on the back, then one on the front. In a nutshell, that's it (there's a little bit more, which I explain in the class) but that really is it.

It's all very well for me to say it's not rocket science as the one who's teaching it, so I won't. But it isn't beyond anyone. To some extent it's easier with less understanding of the common Kitchener stitches, mostly because there's less habit to be undone. The class is a fresh perspective on a subject that many find daunting. And that fresh perspective describes the whys and wherefores, the engineering behind your stitches. It's eye opening.

And I'm kinda thinking that maybe calling it an Advanced class needs to change...

I'm teaching this class at Woollinn, Dublin, in a few weeks. As I've mentioned before, due to my health and stuff I'm take a long break from travelling to shows and teaching workshops, so I'd grab this chance while you can to come and pick my brains in person.

This blog post was bought to you from my new studio with the support of a new wrist brace. More about the new studio shortly.

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AuthorWoolly Wormhead

Boredom is kicking in, to add to the frustration at not being able to work. I've barely stepped in the studio in a while, which isn't a bad thing, but I'm starting to feel quite disconnected from everything I do. That's not something I'm used to and in all honesty it's healthy to throw in some distance from time to time, but I'd rather do it under my own steam than feel forced to! I'm going to sit with my notebook today, to work through some maths, to keep the grey matter from rusting.

Fortunately the weather has been kind of late and that means that the new studio build can plough on. I'm desperate to get into this space as the current one feels alien and far from the friendly space it used to be. So seeing the new studio take shape is what's keeping me afloat right now.

The SMT (super mega trailer) came onto our plot some 2 1/2 years ago. We originally planned for it to be a large guest space, akin to a small apartment. We toyed with the idea of holding mini knitting retreats here, for 4 or 5 of my regular knitting customers/workshop attendees at a time to come and learn with me and stay with us. But now that I need to leave my current studio, plans have changed and now the SMT will be mostly mine. The trailer is roughly 10 metres long which is way more space than I need, so there'll still be a guest room at one end, but we've had to put an end to the retreats idea.

A fair bit of restoration work has been needed but thankfully that's mostly superficial and it's still solid underneath. There's been a small team working on getting it into shape and the most noticeable work we're having done is the mural that runs the full length of the trailer!  I've been posting shots over on my Instagram feed and here's a few of the in-progress shots. The mural changes frequently as it grows and develops and it's still some way from being done, so do bear that in mind.

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My only request was for a few stitches to appear. Tom and I had this idea of knitted pipes which Andrea, our graffiti artist, totally got behind. He knows I knit Hats but he doesn't know my pseudonym or much else about my biz, and it's amazing how well he's interpretated it all.

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Is that a woolly wormhead? Are those knitting ideas coming out of the head, or going in?

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And what will these stitches become?

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In this panoramic shot we've got a better sense of scale, even with the distortion. The SMT is 10m by 2.6m roughly. There's a door to the left by the steps, and then another door at either end.  

The steps and everything to the left of them, including the door, will be the guest room. That's just shy of a third of the total length. The rest of it - everything to the right of the steps - will be the new studio space. Loads of space and light! 

My current studio is in my MIL's trailer, which is a WW2 German army trailer. The SMT is two of these joined together, so it's an odd shaped space with its angled walls and curved roof that we're familiar with - once the interior is painted we can pretty much carry everything over. It also means that I'll gain about 35% more space with the way that we're dividing up the SMT. That means more storage space and room for a small silversmithing bench as well as a decent sized permanent table that I can use for sewing and more. 

I'm blogging from the Squarespace app on my phone which is working smoothly again! But it still isn't clever enough to let me add in links and such, so I'll send you to the sidebar to find the link to my Instagram account should you want to see more. I'm using the Stories feature go show the progress, and you can find the Highlights in my profile.

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Along with "IF your second shoulder freezes it's very unlikely that it will freeze at the same time" the "the second freeze is never as bad as the first" is also a false anecdote. Or at least, it is in my case.

I lost 90% of movement in my right shoulder in 12 weeks. In my left shoulder - the second freeze - I've lost 95% of movement in 10 weeks. And considering I was diagnosed as hypermobile in my shoulders last November, that's a lot of movement to lose.

A rapid, severe freeze is incredibly painful, made worse by the fact that the first frozen shoulder is still in recovery and isn't anywhere near strong enough to be the dominant arm again. I've not bothered with cortisone shots this time as they were utterly useless with my right shoulder. Honestly, I delayed pain management with my left shoulder as I believed every GP and physio when they said it won't be as bad. And yet here we are. 

Knowing how well acupuncture worked for stopping the spasms and nerve pain in my right shoulder, I'm two sessions into a course for my left. It's no overnight cure, though; it needs time set aside as initially the pain can get worse before it gets better. And it's absolutely doing that, mostly at night. I know it WILL get better but right now, it's unbearable. Tom's at a loss as to how to help me as I scream and cry and fight my way through the night. 

Reluctantly I've also started back on the Amitriptyline. I know pain meds are a life saver for many and this drug worked when I was desperate with my right shoulder. But the side effects are awful, and I've done everything I can to avoid going back on it. CBD oil helped when my left shoulder was in pre-freeze, and it's also worked wonders for my anxiety, but it's not touching this pain... I've got up to 110mg a day and still nothing - and I can't afford to go up anymore. So amitriptyline it is. I'm less than a week into that; give it another week or so and it should be knocking me out at night. 

Getting dressed isn't easy, I often get stuck in clothes and need help. I need help filling the kettle or cutting food - any sudden jolt, no matter how small, can result in a disproportionate amount of pain. Thankfully the spasms are reducing as the acupuncture takes effect but I still only have one partial working arm. What I can't do greatly outweighs what I can do. 

The freeze isn't going to get any worse as there's no movement left to lose. I simply have to bide my time until the pain treatments take full effect and I can start turning things around through physio and get this shoulder back into recovery. 

And so I'm having a forced break from work.  I can manage maybe a couple of rows of knitting a day. Sitting at the PC causes too much pain so I'm trying to do what I can on my phone, but neck and back problems are a complication of frozen shoulder, so I'm not wanting to spend too much time bent over devices, either.

Unless they're urgent, emails are being left answered. I'm paying others to do as much of my work as I can, and I'm grateful that the Elemental collection has been successful enough for me to be able to afford to outsource. But without the ability to execute my ideas on my needles, my work is going nowhere. My brain is more switched on now than it's been in years and the frustration at my body letting me down can probably be felt through the screen.

All queries or requests for help relating to any of my patterns need to go to my Ravelry group. We've worked hard to build a support database and there's a thread for every single pattern. I don't get enough emails to justify paying someone to answer them for me, so this is how I'm managing it. Please PLEASE respect this - it costs me in pain levels to answer each email.

Pain wise and disability wise, I'm probably at the lowest point. The only way from here is up. It has to be. 

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I'm no doubt committing a great offence to Italian grammar by adding that exclamation mark, but it's a name and that's my excuse. Laccio is Italian for Lasso, and from what I can gather the verb of the word doesn't follow the same rules in English and so I broke the rules and went this way. When it comes to names the rules are meant to be broken, right?

 
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Laccio! is obviously a play on words - firstly, the way the yarn is slipped and wrapped around a group of stitches to create the pattern - the yarn is literally the lasso. It's a relatively simple yet unusual stitch pattern and I discovered it last year when I was thoroughly down my textured stitch pattern rabbit-hole.

 
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But it isn't just about the action of the yarn - the yarn itself is dyed by Cowgirlblues, an indie dyer from South Africa, and it was hard to not the Hat this name! I met this dyer at h&h in Cologne this time last year and it was lovely to see her yarns in the flesh. This pattern calls for a skein of Aran Singles, which is a luscious blend of wool and kid mohair. It has such lustre.

 
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The Laccio! pattern comes in 4 sizes, 17in through to 23in, and comes with all the techniques covered by the illustrated tutorials. The instructions are written only; it was hard to chart this stitch pattern and given it's simplicity, I made the decision to not include a chart.

 
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The photos feature Josie, modelling against one of the darkest (and one of my favourite) murals from the Vertigo Truth project on site. I think the background sets the colours in the yarn off perfectly. It's also got that wonderful wintery moody tone, and you wouldn't know these photos were taken during the baking hot summer!

 
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This is probably my last premium pattern for this season. I'm resting my shoulders for now, and then plan to dive head-first into new projects for the autumn. There will still be some freebies and special offers going through The Woolly Hat Society, so do keep an eye on your inbox, or sign up if you haven't already.

 
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And that's it for today!

I'm still struggling to blog, as it means I need to sit at the PC and my shoulders are none to happy about that. Since we got back from India my left shoulder has deteriorated rapidly. After 10 months of hinting at freezing then doing nothing, it's absolutely gone for it in the last 2 months and it's incredibly painful. I start acupuncture this week, which totally sorted out the nerve pain in my right shoulder at a similar point, and I'm hoping that should be the turn I need to start on the path to recovery. Having both shoulders frozen at the same time is not something I'd wish on anyone, but I'm kinda glad to be getting it out of the way and looking forward to exercise, warm weather and a slow return to (near) normal movement.

Also, with any luck, the SquareSpace will start to work properly again and I can share more than update and release notices in this space!

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