This was something I planned to write about earlier in the year, that 2015 sees the 10th anniversary of so many things. Yet the words weren't there and I struggled to write, as I have on many occasions this year. 

January saw the 10th anniversary of mine and Tom's first meeting, and the beginning of our relationship. September 21st is the 10th anniversary of this blog, where Woolly Wormhead first came to be online, and November sees the 10th anniversary of my first self published pattern (Tri-Peak, Nov 14th).

That's quite a lot of anniversaries for one year, don't you think?! Tom and I had a pizza and a few glasses of wine, we're content with a quiet do. For my Woolly Wormhead anniversaries, I felt that a new pattern release, for something special, and a unique KAL to support the pattern would be the perfect way to celebrate.



Tucked has been waiting for the right moment to be published. Ever since I first blogged about it last year, and then shared photos on Instagram from the photoshoot we had with this Hat earlier in the year, Tucked has received an incredible amount of interest. When I take it to trunk shows and workshops, it is *the* most tried on and adored Hat. I get emails on a regular basis asking when it will be published, and I've not wanted to rush it and have it be lost amongst the book release.

On the 14th September, you'll be able to purchase the Tucked pattern.

On the 21st September, the KAL will start in my Ravelry group, and it'll be a KAL with a difference. And with prizes! (because I can't have a 10th anniversary pattern release and KAL without prizes, right?)

Due to the construction of the Hat, it's pretty much ungradable with numbers. After a lot of thought and feedback, I decided to push ahead with it as a pattern that is graded with gauge alone.

The KAL will not only cover all the techniques included in the pattern - provisional cast-on, joining live sts, tucks (welts), short rows and grafting - we'll also record our gauge and how that has affected size of the finished Hat. It'll be a kind of techni-KAL! I will provide everything you need to know, including row gauge and how the short rows affect length at the back and the front, and how you could alter the length for a better fit, at the start of the KAL. And I'll be there throughout (except for the weekend I'm teaching at the Swiss Wool Festival) to guide you through it.

On the yarn front, Tucked is knit in Wollmeise DK, which is incredibly sproingy and has great yardage. The pattern is thirsty on the yardage front with all those tucks, and you'll be looking at wanting around 279yd/255m. The sample size is generous and fits even larger heads, so I don't think you'll be wanting more than that (and that figure does also include 10% tolerance as usual).

I'm really excited to have reached 10 years of Woolly Wormhead, and to be publishing Tucked as a celebration of that. I do hope you'll join us and knit this intriguing Hat! Don't forget to join the mailing list, as details of the publication (including any special offers) will go out there, first.

Do hope you'll join us!

ps/ comments haven't been working of late, and SquareSpace are looking into it - in the meantime I've switched the Captcha off, as that seemed to be the culprit, so you can post comments again :) (just don't all spam me, K?)

AuthorWoolly Wormhead
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... as to what's been on my needles recently, and as to what's prompted thoughts of a different route for grading, here's a few images for you.

I only finished the grafting about an hour ago. It's a wonderful hybrid of short rows, tucks, decreases and grafting. It's not been blocked yet... I'm not so sure it needs it; it stands up by itself, the stitches are firm and settled.




It's not that it's impossible to grade, but that it doesn't lend itself well to it. There are formulas in place but they change with throughout the Hat, as it bends smoothly and effortlessly around the shape of the head, and they in turn aren't necessarily related in terms of the numbers.




I'm really rather chuffed with my short rows. 

I love short rows. However in the round they're a heck of a lot trickier to get neat and even, as our gauge naturally changes between knit and purl stitches, especially for any loose knitters like myself. Having spent a bit of time experimenting, I've a few tricks that help even things up.




The yarn is Wollmeise DK, a very springy, multi-plied yarn. The Hat is knit at a very firm gauge to support the shape, yet it's still comfy and has enough stretch. It's also really rather warm!

The feedback on grading by gauge is unanimous, so that's that sorted! I know it's do-able, but I guess I wanted to hear from my regular knitters/customers whether they'd be happy with that. It will need extra explaining and naturally it'll all be made clear, but I am pleased to have the green light on that.

This Hat let's me feel like a Hat architect again. I love it when my engineering and creative sides work it out together like this.

AuthorWoolly Wormhead
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One-size-fits-all or one-size-fits-most patterns for Hats are common, but I guess other folks whose heads are larger or smaller than average share my pain when it comes to finding Hats that fit. Shop bought Hats are the worst, the mens section rarely has anything to my taste. And yes, a knitted fabric does stretch (within reason; dependant on the stitch pattern) but if it's over stretched it just looks pants. Admittedly now that I'm dreadless and have a lot less hair it's not quite the issue that it used to be (having shrunk from 25in/63.5cm to 23in/58.5cm) but still. I want a Hat that fits and looks like it's meant to fit and look, y'know?

Hence I do what I do; it stops that bee buzzing under my bonnet.

Now here's a thing: I've started work on the sculptural and structural Hats that I've been doodling and dreaming about for an age. The collection is called 'Turning Heads' and I am absolutely indulging every bit of creative whim and every need to calculate and engineer and it's making me very, very happy. It's slow going but who cares when it feels like you're touching base with yourself again?

Except that some of the ideas I'm wanting to pursue are going to be rather tricky to grade through no. of stitches and repeats. And it's making me feel a little compromised. Even though I don't expect many folk to make, let alone wear, many of these new Hats, I want to make it possible, and that includes making them knittable in more than one size.

(and I'm even thinking of adding a few notes here and there on how to tone the Hat(s) down and make them a little more everyday and wearable. But that's still a maybe)

So I got thinking... if I included a section on how to change the size of a Hat through gauge, would that be acceptable? Most of the Hats are knit with a firm fabric so I'll be including ball band gauge to give an idea of how the density affects the form, and similarly, notes on dealing with that will be included in the 'grading by gauge' section.**

Would that do the trick?

Would schematics help? Hats don't always need them but these might, given the nature of them. A schematic showing how the Hat should fit the average sized head would be rather useful too, methinks?

**grading by stitch repeats and structure is my preferred method, but quite often there will be rather subtle differences between the sizes, which is generally unavoidable. When looking at it from another perspective, grading by gauge is a good method as it's simply a matter of scaling up and scaling down, rather than juggling the structural maths...though of course it has it's limits. It's impossible to get the larger sizes and smaller sizes to look the same whichever way you go about it, and quite often you wouldn't want to anyway...

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I've been reading lately about depression, and how it affects the brain. One chapter struck a chord when it described how parts of the brain shrink, and certain functions, such as memory, become impaired. Depression changes the brain, and it isn't just negativity that kicks in. This particular book then goes on to say that these functions normally repair and everything gets back to normal once the depression is beaten.

After what I refer to as my major breakdown (about 9 and a half years ago), my memory was shot to pieces. I was living on my own at the time and even now it surprises me that I didn't burn the flat down; I lost count of amount of times I put something on to grill/boil/roast and then forget about it, only to be reminded when I smelt the burning.

But it wasn't just memory that suffered. I wasn't able to problem solve as easily, calculations took longer and my judgement had gone. My mental arithmetic had been pretty good up to that point and that went, too. Sentences would be left unfinished as I struggled to express myself verbally; words were lost. Thinking of anything other than the negative thoughts that circulated in my head was almost impossible... try and the result was what is best described as a dull white noise that brings stress and a headache.

Pattern writing and blogging started as an exercise for me. Firstly, blogging served as a record of what I was doing; mostly creatively but creativity doesn't exist in a vacuum. Whilst off work I had too much time on my hands and experimenting with wool and structures and textiles for my own pleasure (rather than work; I was still the Art & Textiles teacher then) was the way out of that rut. The blog helped me remember what I was making, and allowed me to build upon that, creatively.

Alongside that, having found creating Hats ticked all the necessary boxes (and actually made me feel content, useful) pattern writing became a way to keep the other side of my brain happy. Prior to doing my Textiles Ba and then becoming an Art & Textiles teacher, I'd been an Electronics engineer. I'd had a pretty good balance of left & right side brain function. I've a tendency to want to analyse anything I create, to find out why; to understand it's structure, and how to repeat it. Pattern writing did just that for me. However my post breakdown brain was slow and struggled, and starting at the beginning was the exercise my brain needed.

(and in short, that's how I got into this game, but that's not the reason for this blether)

My brain never fully recovered, though. Mental arithmetic never really returned. I also found myself reading more things literally, written or verbal - anything that isn't logical and tends to be more representative becomes a problem. This is particularly apparent with chart symbols for instance - a blank square to many is a knit stitch but to me it's a blank square, a non-stitch, and it short circuits my brain to try and tell myself that it's anything other than that (hence I use the dash family of symbols for charts). And my memory has remained pretty poor.

Despite this though I consider myself lucky. I met many people during that time who never recovered from their breakdowns. At least I'm still up and about and functioning. But maybe I never fully recovered because I never really beat the depression... aside a period of a few months a couple of years ago, I can't recall not dealing with the black dog on some level. And the memories that aren't drowned out in a haze are those of when I wasn't depressed.

And so I'm back at that point again, where I was 9 and a half years ago. I've been here a few months, really. I struggle to articulate and long conversations lose me. Creative ideas are occurring, but they're hazy, and I struggle to bring them to reality. Grading calculations or construction elements are proving challenging, even those aspects that I've done so many times before and used to be habit. Trying to think or problem solve is like trying to wade knee deep through quick sand. There are days when I can't handle talking to anyone. And there are days when the noise and dark thoughts are so strong that it takes every ounce of energy to resist them.

And it terrifies me.

Losing the things that make you feel like you is frightening. Feeling unable to fulfill ideas or make your materials bend in the way you always have, or not being able to calculate in the same way, always meeting a hurdle in your head. None of us want to feel less clever, or as if we've lost a huge chunk of ourselves to the abyss.

The problem this time though is that my previous recovery aid has now become my job. I don't have the luxury of experimenting and following tangents. We can't afford for me to take the necessary months off and indulge myself in whatever it is that I need to do to make things work again.

This added pressure is the real problem. In my worry to keep our heads above water and keep us fed, and to try and earn enough spare pennies to work towards a dream, I've put business before creativity. And this is where I've been going wrong. This may be a natural order for some, but it isn't for me. And trying to make things that people like or that will sell, or trying to work to a design brief or simply worrying about someone else's time frame or rules is slowly killing me.

I can't stop the wheel and jump off for a while, but I can make some much needed changes.

This time around I'm indulging every creative need through my work, through my job. It'll be me digging my heels in, and not allowing myself to get swamped or drowned out by what the industry or anyone thinks you should be doing. Confidence and contentment don't come from peer approval. Although it may not seem like it on the surface, I've been compromising for too long. I'm having words with myself about time and reminding myself that there isn't a rush. I'm trying to assure myself that despite hardly publishing anything over the last 8 months, we haven't starved. For too long now I've been saying that things need to change but I've been hesitant, mostly through fear of either losing income, or failing creatively.

I don't expect the journey to be an easy one but I don't really see that I have a choice any more. It's do or die time.

A blank canvas awaits. Let the fun begin!

AuthorWoolly Wormhead
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There's almost almost enough room in life to start working on a few of the designs that have been developing in the far reaches of my brain over the last few years. It feels a good place to be; time to indulge in this kind of experimentation is a luxury, indeed.

Today I started colour planning.  

It's a little scary to be making a commitment to the ideas in my head; there are *so* many structures and designs that I want to explore. So I'm taking it slowly.



Tom had to take Aran back to hospital this morning :(

He woke up with a sore throat and difficulty swallowing, and the doctors suspect Strep throat. Thankfully we've caught it early and with an 8-day course of antibiotics, he'll be back on the road to recovery soon enough. He's still not allowed back to school or to anywhere where the risk of infection is high - the slightest thing can knock him down and he can't really afford another Strep infection right now.

Thankfully the next few weeks will bring several adventures. Spring is around the corner, too :)

AuthorWoolly Wormhead
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