So... this is what I've been up to and why it's been so quiet around here!

I've been meaning to talk more about the Painted Woolly Toppers project, talk a bit about the yarns, and the ideas behind the collection and before I knew it, it was photoshoot time and all Hats were back from their first round of tech editing. It's kinda snuck up on me, I guess.

The premise, as with any of the other Woolly Toppers collections is 10 Hats with a common theme, and as the title suggests, these Hats are designed for hand-dyed/painted and variegated yarns. Those beautiful skeins you buy from your local indie dyer or the ones that come home with you from a fibre festival despite your best efforts to show restrain, and then they look at you, longingly, from a dark corner of your stash, whilst you try and work out what on earth you're going to knit with it.

They're tricky. But there are stitch patterns they work with well, and there are designs that will show them off. And that's what this book is about. 

Of course, there is also a second theme, and it's that each hat has an element of garter stitch. Garter stitch and hand-dyed yarns really are good bed-fellows, and once I'd decided on this as a secondary theme, the design ideas didn't stop flowing. Garter stitch has it's own magical qualities and I really rather enjoyed exploring the stitch again, and bringing together a series of designs that not only were about the many, many colours, but also about structure too.

The book is in it's final stages - I literally have to drop everything into the layout and send it off for it's 2nd round of tech editing, and the first test prints could be here in a couple of weeks. It's gone *that* fast! So over the next few days I want to share the designs with you, talk a little about their yarns, and let the photos do most of the talking.



Giostra is the first Hat, and it's the only one that you will have met already. In fact, it's the Hat that sowed the seeds of this book. Knit in Lorna's laces Bullfrogs and Butterflies, it'll knit up perfectly in any aran weight yarn. Columns of slip stitches (that other stitch that loves hand-paint so much) and bobbles adorn the body, and there's a gentle point to the crown.



What absolutely fascinated me about shooting this Hat on Cheryl was the way in which the crown appeared much more prominent... it isn't really, but it's a combination of head shape and glasses frames. I really rather like the point (I mean, this is me - I always sneak a pixie Hat in when I can) but you can just pull the Hat down a little more snuggly for a beanie fit.

The 2nd Hat I'm going to share is Quoin, and of all of the Hats in the book, it's the quickest to knit.



You'll be forgiven for thinking that the location for this shot is a anywhere but the same as the shot above, but that's the beauty of an urban landscape! The whole shoot was shot in one day, in Manchester (England, UK) and it was the *perfect* place. I loved wandering around with my camera, catching all the details and textures, and matching Hat to background.



As well as pixie Hats, my other love is sideways Hats. And this sideways Hat has no grafting at all! There are a couple of short rows, but literally only two, and the rest is pretty straightforward. Being multi-directional you really get to see the colours play out, and it works beautifully with the softest of colour changes too.



My favourite part of the Hat is the asymmetrical brim. It's so simple and yet so effective. The longer section can be worn wherever you wish, and where the brim is joined is the narrowest part of the short rows. It's a great combination of wedges in different directions. This sample is knit in Manos Wool Clasica, and it'd also be perfect in hand-spun.

The final Hat for today is Jetty (thank you Eskimimi for the name!) 



The model may be familiar to many, and Kate Heppell was a complete star and as well as modelling and showing me the Manchester sights, she also put me up for the weekend. 



Jetty is Marina turned on it's side - the seafoam stitch pattern works beautifully in the round, and the detail is also carried through to the crown shaping. Shown here in Malabrigo Merino Worsted, it's the perfect Hat for that special skein of worsted or aran. 



It goes without saying that all of the patterns have a minimum of 3 sizes included, and the book will have all the relevant techniques included. And before anyone starts to tell me that the most popular hand-dyed yarns are in finer weights, I know! These are the 3 heaviest yarn weights in the book. Tomorrow I'll show some DK and Sports and from the rest is in sock/fingering/4ply weight - and I know how much folk love their hand-dyed sock yarns!

Once I've revealed each of the 10 Hats the eBook will go on pre-release and I'll also reveal the cover. The print edition will take a few more weeks yet, but it'll be done before the end of May, as I'm launching the book at TNNA!

What do you think? Has the silence on this blog been worth it? ;)

ps/ I took the photos. I'm a little bit chuffed with them.

AuthorWoolly Wormhead