We’re on for the pre-release of Lateralis to be available from thursday and everything feels back on track! So many things feel more under control somehow this week, so I’m making the most of it.

The pre-release will work like this:

The cover and an accompanying PDF (explaining the schedule etc) will be available immediately, as will the first single pattern. Then the single patterns will be published once a week until the final collection as the eBook will be available. Everyone who buys the pre-release will receive an update notification via email each time a new single pattern is published, and you can use the link in the email to download the latest instalment. It’s been a while since I put an eBook on pre-release but I think most folk are familiar now with how the system works.

Working this way allows me to start earning, which in turn means I can pay the team promptly. It means you can get your hands on the patterns as soon as they’re ready and start knitting them! And it gives me and the team vital extra time to add the polishing details to the eBook. Should be a win, win, yes?

And so the first hat to be published will be Duality. It’s a very striking Hat with a very simple detail that’s highlighted by the construction.

 
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The stripes are created by short rows, allowing the fabric to remain balanced. As I say, the stripes themselves, beyond being short rows, are simple in and of themselves - it’s the construction and placement of the stripes that makes this Hat so striking.

 
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Because there are a lot less short rows to this Hat, and because the colourwork is easier to manage, Duality is a great introduction to the construction and an ideal first Hat to try. It also gives you a sense about how the yarns and colours work, which should help you make the right yarn choices going forward for the other Hats. Most of the Lateralis Hats have a preference to whether a variegated or semi-solid works as the main yarn, but with this one it doesn’t matter - you can swap them around and see what happens!

 
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The theme behind Lateralis is symmetry, reflection; factors or concepts of two. Unlike other sideways Hats, these consist of two sections, two halves, that are head-shaped and meet at the crown. This in turn means that the Hats can be worn in two distinct ways, and we’ve aimed to show that photographically.

 
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Not all of the Hats are worked as two halves - some are worked entirely as one piece, with the two sections becoming noticeably after turning through the crown, and some are worked as not quite halves to allow for special short row trickery at the crown, yet still result in a Hat of two equal pieces. I suspect the way the construction works may not be apparent until they’re knitted, and I promise they’ll surprise you in the best of ways.

 
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I’ve put time aside today to (slowly) build the individual pattern web pages today, so you get an idea of yardage and yarn weight requirements. They all use DK weight yarn, and these have been kindly sponsored by RiverKnits so do go and check out her yarns! She’ll be at Yarndale this coming weekend where you can grab your yarns in person; failing that she’ll have her full stock up after the weekend. (one day I’ll make it to Yarndale…. maybe next year?)

 
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Talking of yarn, do bear in mind that these are graded by gauge - there’s virtually no room to adjust the pattern for different sizes. A couple of sizes are included in the pattern, but also in the pattern will be notes on exactly how many stitches and rows make up the Hat, so you can adjust the gauge for other sizes. This something we can definitely talk about more in my Ravelry group - we’ll set up a thread for each Hat.

That’s me done here for today! Tomorrow I’ll introduce the 2nd Hat, Undulous.

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AuthorWoolly Wormhead

It's an odd blog title, but it's true all the same. I worry about the sizes of the Hats I make.

 
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I'll try and avoid veering into my usual rant about how one size doesn't fit all, or even most. If it's a gradable pattern, I just think taking this road is lazy when it comes to Hat design. Even my patterns that can't be graded by the stitch count or pattern repeat are still graded by gauge.

There - I've got that out of the way!

Dancette (right, above) is one Hat I always use in my sideways knit classes to demonstrate not only how fun garter stitch can be on it's side, but also how stretchy it is. I haven't found a head yet in one of my classes that it won't go on.

But just because a Hat goes on doesn't mean it fits.

As a knitted fabric stretches widthways, it'll take up in length. It's not rocket science really; garter stitch is daftly yarn thirsty and in turn is daftly stretchy. But even garter stitch will get shorter as it gets wider - it can't magic yarn or stitches out of thin air.

And because I get myself all worked up about this, I spend a lot of time trying to decide which sample size I should make in the pattern. It's especially tricky because I don't usually know who will be modelling, and few of my models will have the same head size.

I usually end up erring on the side of caution, and making a slightly larger size than I expect. If there's a 22in size, that's the one I go for. Because if my model turns out to be smaller, then the Hat's a little big - whilst it won't be ideal for braving the elements, it'll not look too awful in a shoot. But if a Hat is too small for a model then you can bet it'll look pretty crap.

When I was working on Painted Woolly Toppers, I reknit Dancette 3 times. It's a skinny fit beanie so it wants to have a fair amount of negative ease, but not too much. And I spent ages deliberating over differences that really didn't amount to more than half an inch, which in hindsight is unnecessary and I really should have words with myself. But it's a habit I can't seem to break. Yet I must, else I'll pay with my shoulders.

The sample above left is the first design from the new book, and it's folded and compared to Dancette. It's exactly the same size. However, the gauge has actually run smaller than I was expecting and the Arroyo looks very happy at this gauge, so I think I'm going to knit another sample in DK. Because yes, Dancette fits but the new one won't, because stretching out all of those short rows will look a mess; you don't want quite as much negative ease with these kiddies.

But - at least I've only done this once. I can happily knit the rest of the Hats in DK and only worry, say 4 times a day instead of 50, that I'm knitting the right size. (because I will worry right up until the moment that I pop the sample on the model's head)

One day I'll learn to trust myself...

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AuthorWoolly Wormhead

We're putting a lot of work into getting me better, into reducing the pain and improving my range of movement.

As much as I didn't want to go anywhere near the Amitriptyline again, I'm on twice the dose this time and it's doing it's thing - it's getting me to sleep, and along with all the other pain management methods, the pain is now liveable.

We've bought ourselves a hand-held ultrasound unit, and that's making a difference (yes, we've done our research and we're using it conservatively). I'm having two massages a week, one specifically to focus on all the scar tissue from inflammation around all the muscles (there's a heck of a lot of it) and we're mighty grateful to be good friends with a talented masseur who's friends' rates means I can get two long, deep massages for less than the price of one in London. And of course, if the damp/cold weather kicks in or I've somehow pushed things too far, I've the TENS machine at hand. For the last 10 days or so, I've not needed to use that everyday, so I'm definitely on the right side of this now! And of course I'm doing physio at least 5 times a day (I'm a pro at the pendulum exercises these days).

And all of this means I can knit again! Not constantly, I need regular breaks and days off in between, but I can knit. My tension isn't a mess, either.

And so I'm diving straight into the designs that I've been working on for what feels like forever. There's only so much work on paper I can do before I get bored and move on, so I'm relieved not to have lost enthusiasm for this idea.

I started by making myself a prototype for the construction.

 
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This construction method is something I started working on a good 4 or 5 years ago, when I was planning all of the Turning Heads Hats. I was wanting to use this construction with a stitch pattern that could then be rotated for the brim, so I'd got all the maths done for that (it was just a matter of finishing knitting the thing!)

BTW, the Turning Heads collection is still something I hope to see published, but it's in a kinda weird limbo - that's what happens when you have a breakdown during a project; that project becomes associated with the breakdown, or at least it's very hard to revisit it at a later date. Given that my brain is very much back on track in terms of puzzle solving and pattern maths and construction, the concept behind Turning Heads feels within my grasp again. But that's somewhere in the future.

 
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So here's a look at how the crown shaping works with this construction method. It's a sideways knit Hat without short row shaping. 

 
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And this is how it looks from the side. It is still very much a sideways Hat; garter stitch sideways is essentially 1x1 rib, except with loads more possibilities design wise, and better properties stitch wise.

 
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Recalculating the maths of this construction method for garter stitch was easy enough - the gauge properties of garter stitch sit so well with that of sideways knitting - if you've ever taken one of my sideways knitting workshops with me you'll know I wax lyrical about this!

 
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After a false start and a ripping out (it's how I work best!) I'm fully underway with the pattern.

Although there's no short rows involved in the construction, I wanted to throw in some short row colourwork, because I wanted to see how the two play together. It's making for some mind boggling charts and rather fascinating problem solving, as increases/decreases are working at 90 degrees to the short rows, and they don't always play when when they don't intersect at the right points. But I'm thoroughly enjoying myself working it all out!

 
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It's absolutely been worth all the effort, I'm mighty chuffed with how this first design is taking shape!

The collection will be called 'Lateralis'. If you follow me on Instagram you'll know I've spent some time trying to decide between laterale and Lateralis... the Latin does have a medical usage and I do try and use a word that doesn't have alternative meanings, but it is absolutely the best word for the idea behind this collection. Lateralis literally means 'belonging to the side' and is the original of the words and usages of 'Lateral', as well as the origin behind some of the pattern names, too. The Italian sounds good following on from Elemental and Circled, but it doesn't strike me as quite as sophisticated as the Latin, and these patterns (and the photography I have planned for them) are definitely more sophisticated than anything I've done (in my opinion, at least!). So Lateralis it is. I'll get a webpage built for the collection as soon as I have some good photos of the finished Hats to share.

Release date wise, it'll be in autumn. I'm not going to be more specific than that as my shoulders are dictating my pace right now, and I want to be free to indulge myself in the designs so that I produce the best stuff, rather than feel committed to a deadline, which usually results in my not best stuff. Likewise, it'll be 4 or 5 designs, but I'm not committing to that either.

Yarn wise:
To knit the prototype I used Bloomsbury DK from The Yarn Collective, the same yarn that I used for the Elemental collection.

As for the pattern sample shown above, I've used Malabrigo Arroyo. These Hats will be graded by gauge, and I'm writing in 3 sizes that cross sport weight and DK. Chances are I'll be reknitting this one in DK for the photoshoot, as the Arroyo does make a smallish size... I tend to find Arroyo is on the skinnier side of the sport weight scale. I'll publish the gauges vs sizes in the near future, but for now I'd say if you're knitting adult size Hats, DK is what you wanna be stocking up on.

Right, onwards! I've a weekend of chart wrangling ahead. Hope you like the new stuff!

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AuthorWoolly Wormhead
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It's fair to say that I've too many projects on the go. All in various stages, they're sat there waiting for me to either get my brain in gear, or my body.

One such project is the Absolute Range. I can't remember whether I've talked about it here or not, I know I've mentioned it to quite a few people in person. Anyhows, the point of the project was to create an alternative line of Woolly Wormhead Hats, one that was aimed at absolute beginners.

I worked on quite a few Hats for this, and they sat there waiting for me to have the time to sit and write them in non-knitting pattern speak. What I wanted to do was to write a pattern without the usual knitting pattern code, something that someone who knows nothing about knitting could pick up and make a Hat from. And I wanted to design things a little more interesting than scarfs - get clever with a bit of folding kinda thing.

Now, writing a pattern that is suitable for non-knitters AND that would be suitable for teaching new knitters takes a whole other set of skills to writing a regular knitting pattern. If you ever fancy giving it a try, it's quite a useful exercise to undo your learning and think in terms of someone who knows nothing of which you speak. And it really does require a change in mindset.

I know exactly how I want to write these patterns and what I want to say, but I haven't had the headspace to give them.

And if I'm totally honest, they're not creatively fulfilling.

The whole range would make good business sense, as the knitter that learns with you stays with you, but I've had to admit defeat on this one. Well, more that in my head I've moved on and I'm having loads more fun with more complex construction methods.

So... as most of these are already written in standard pattern writing for basic Hats, I figured I might as well make use of the work I've already done and offer them as free patterns. Free patterns are still there to help beginners who've already got the gist of the pattern code, and they help me as I can reach folks who don't have much spare cash, and they also bring (lots!) of extra traffic to this website. It's win-win all round, really.

The first one is called G-cubed...

 
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New free patterns would usually go to The Woolly Hat Society first for an exclusive period but this one is so basic and pretty much the same as the IG Beanie only in downloadable form, so it's gone straight to the Free Patterns page. Enjoy!

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This last week I've knitted another new Hat; sent 4 new patterns to my test knitters and finished writing a handful of free patterns for the coming season. I've closed doors on some projects and frogged a bunch of patterns in progress and reskeined/washed the yarn.

It feels SO good to tidy up this way. I'm not very good at having loose ends, they eat away at my brain and I'd sooner have that brain space to focus on the projects that I'm looking forward to, not back. And all this tidying up is helping to keep me busy, pottering, while I wait for my shoulders to be ready to dive into the thing that I've been working on for what feels like too long. The maths is all done, I just need to be able to knit at a decent rate!

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AuthorWoolly Wormhead

I'm considering myself pretty lucky to have been able to continue to work through the worst of my right shoulder freeze, and throw together both Circled and Elemental, the two collections I'm proudest of.

To do so, I needed to change my knitting style. I'm an English Thrower, and a very sloppy one at that. According to articles I've read my knitting style is meant to be the slowest and the messiest yet it's served me well for 44 years (I am very far from being slow or messy). To make things more comfortable for my right shoulder I changed ever so slightly so that more of the throwing motion was managed by the left hand, or at least, more of the movement was. And thus I could knit pretty easily and still keep my right shoulder from too much repetitive action.

Fast forward to my left shoulder being seriously grumpy and my right shoulder reminding me it's not ready for a return to our old ways, and knitting is difficult. 

I picked up my interest in wanting to learn the Continental method, and also the Combined method, but I very quickly found that the motion required by my left hand, in particular that one finger (that in turn made the wrist grumpy) was too much - knitting this way was actually more painful than trying to throw. So I gave up (the knit stitch is easy but the purl stitch is all kinds of illogical and definitely more work that my hands wanted to do).

And so I was stuck.

My throwing style isn't wild, and I can throw quite easily without finger tensioning and without moving my shoulders all that much. (I literally drop everything - needle and yarn - as I wrap a stitch) That in turn though puts more pressure on the elbow and wrist which my right arm is fine with but my left very much isn't. But because of the way I do it, it doesn't take too much effort to tweak things. I don't need to ask a joint to lean something new, just ask it to do a little more or less.

I'd been hunting for some affordable decent supports (of the splint non-compression variety) and eventually found some, so ordered myself one for each hand and one for the elbow. I only need the elbow one at night, and my right hand doesn't need it most of the time. The left hand one has been crucial - and it has made all the difference.

When I wear the wrist support, I can knit. My right shoulder is still doing as little as possible and my left side is still sharing the load, but my left wrist is supported. I knit a whole Hat in one day on worsted yarn and my arm ached a little the next day, but that was it. No deep nerve pain or screaming joints. And this can only improve.

 
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Today I'm pattern writing, and that feels like such a huge jump from where I've been at these last few months! Finishing these two Hats, and being happy with them, is a turning point.

I'm pretty organic in my designing, in that I always have an idea of what I want to do before I start, but it's very much done on the needles, with an awful lot of tweaking going on. I can design it all up front and then knit, but I find the work I produce that way very dry - as far as I'm concerned, it's those details that I change when it's on the needles that make the difference. Even when I'm knitting sideways, which means I have the whole thing charted before I even cast on, I go back and change things. My Hat is my swatch, it's a live test for my ideas, and I enjoy working this way. But it does mean more knitting.

I think, subconsciously, I've put more effort into getting as much planned as possible before I cast on. That said, I'm very much about the process and even if I did get it all perfect before casting on, I'd have to go and reknit some aspect just to satisfy that part of my brain. I'm not satisfied until I've corrected something, otherwise it seems too easy? But I'm pretty certain that I've streamlined this side of things, too. Because I've had to.

Invariably I find pattern writing the least enjoyable bit of the design and publishing process, but right now I'm feeling lifted by the knowledge that there's something to write down.

I'll reveal more about the yarn and these patterns later in the year - someone's bound to ask so that's all I'm saying for now! I can say that the stitch pattern is very enjoyable to knit and an awful lot simpler than it looks (we like those ones).

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AuthorWoolly Wormhead
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