More Yarn Will Do The Trick

Tuesday, 25 September 2012

Classic Woolly Toppers Q&A & Giveaway

I'm posting this late at night in my hotel room in Galway, as tomorrow we leave at the crack of dawn with our 25 lovely guests for a day of knit delights on Inisheer, Aran. So sad to leave Galway -  a wonderful city of friendly people and great music (Mike Harding walked into the pub where we were having a lunchtime glass of the black stuff!), simply oozing with all things knitterly.
Outside one of the many music shops in Galway
But I digress, the object of this post is to bring to your attention Woolly Wormhead's latest collection of hats. First of all I've got to say how much I like the design of the book.  Clean and spare, from fonts to photographs this volume is well ordered and a joy to read. Techniques are explained and illustrated at the start of the book and there are interesting and helpful notes on Sizing, Style & Fit and Independent Publishing in the end matter. And that's just for starters, before I even begin to focus on the knit interest! 
So moving on to the main course... Classic Woolly Toppers is a fun and funky collection of heavenly headgear.  Woolly likes to walk on the quirky side of life and this is reflected in the ten hats, each with its own unique appeal. Here are my faves:
Imirago
Photo © Woolly Wormhead
Unusual construction methods always intrigue me and this Erte-style wrap immediately caught my eye, bringing to mind his fantasmogorical headwear...
Ravine
Photo © Woolly Wormhead
... and this lovely asymmetrical hat is just begging to be on my needles.
Sumner
Photo © Woolly Wormhead
Sumner
Photo © Woolly Wormhead
I've been working with tucks and pleats a lot recently - I love how they add graphic texture, so this sculptural design scores a bullseye.

To see the whole collection, just click onto the gallery below. But first I've got a treat in store for you - Woolly agreed to answer a few questions to give us a glimpse into her world of hat design.

OK so lets kick off with the obvious question: why Hats?

I've always loved Hats! In terms of knitting, I love their 3D element – I think in 3D. Sculpture, Textiles Sculpture to be more precise, is my thing. How to create forms and installations with the challenges that the many different fabrics bring fascinates me. This all translates very nicely into Hat design, where my focus would be on the structure of the Hat itself. When you consider a Hat as a 3D object, which fits on a head which is almost spherical, you can start to appreciate just how infinite Hat design is.

Then add in the portability – I've always got my Hat knitting with me – they're perfect for short attention spans like mine! And you don't have to knit two of them, and they're a perfect project for learning (and teaching) new techniques.

Mostly though, I them for their versatility as an accessory – they can make a mood or change an outfit so quickly and perfectly. I've always loved to wear bright or unusual Hats, even though I'm known for wearing mostly black clothes.

Can you tell us a little about your design (or life) philosophy - how you manage to juggle life as a Hat architect and mother?
I like things to be organic. Business has to fit in around my family and how we live. We live simply and we're always close, physically, and that plays a big part in how and when things get done. I've never been a great one for writing business plans or setting targets; I find that sort of thing too clinical. We're always moving; becoming static is one of my deepest fears, and that comes through in business as well as life. Previously I talked about my love of Hats and why I like to design them – working with Hats as my focus allows me to explore so many different construction methods and forms, and I see the parallels with our bus dwelling, where we can roam and explore so many different places yet always have the comfort of our own beds.
If you were putting on a catwalk show of your Hats, where would you stage it, what would be the theme and what music would be playing?
Ooh – that's an interesting question! The stage would have to be round, definitely circular/spherical in nature, possibly moving... something everyday, maybe? Like a carousel, but not in a traditional fairground style; something more contemporary and architectural. Something made of metal, maybe. Everything would be changing..the music, the lighting, the theme. I like the idea of using something like a hugely scaled Anish Kapoor hollow half sphere, where the light and perspective changes as you move; I love how Kapoor plays with space in his work.
Anish Kapoor's Bean in Chicago
I’m a big fan of indie publishing, it must be so liberating to take your vision through from initial idea to end product. What advice would you give to designers who may be thinking of taking the leap?
Indie publishing is forever changing; it's a fast moving business, and it's worth keeping up to date with technologies and expectations. That's not to say that you have to have the best equipment/software on the market, but knowing the capabilities of your tools and your own limitations are key.

It's not for everyone – as well as the marathon designing, it's a huge project to manage too. There's the photography, the layout, the editing, the marketing. There's the budget to manage. It can be pretty daunting, but the upside is that it's all yours. You can see your vision through to the very end. A self published book is a more personal book; and that to me is why indie publishing is so successful – a knitter is working directly from the designers' vision.

Yarn selection is very important. What are the qualities you look for in choosing a yarn for a specific Hat? Do you have particular yarns you like to work with and, if so, what makes them special for you?
It has to be woolly, really! I've always loved wool, ever since I was a child, and there's something so intrinsic and reassuring about the properties of it. I tend to lean towards 2 or 3 plied yarns; multi strands can be a little springy and single plies tend not to have the strength and resilience of plied yarns. That said, I have used these yarns as well, as finding the right yarn for the project is important, and if that's what the design needs then that's what the design gets! Stitch definition and handle (drape, or the lack of) are the two most important things I look for. I don't wander into cellulose fibre yarns; they just don't work for me; I'm a loose knitter and my tension in a cotton yarn looks awful!

Your Hats are very distinctive and all carry the Woolly signature. How has your style evolved and has it changed over the years?
Construction drives my design process, so my style has changed with that. I still adore quirky pixie style Hats – you just can't beat having a point or three on a Hat! I feel as if I've become more refined in how I use and combine the elements of the Hat – how a construction method works with a stitch pattern for instance. I've also moved away from chunkier yarns, as the finer gauges provide more scope. That said, I can feel my rebellious self needing to design something more... grungy, more raw, so it becomes a matter of maintaining balance between my need to explore and develop and my desire to challenge myself.

Taboosh
Photo © Woolly Wormhead
Woolly has generously donated a hard copy and an ebook, so for a chance to win one of these, just leave a comment below, saying which hat you'd knit first from the CWT gallery. I'll be randomly selecting the two lucky winners on the 2nd October.

Classic Woolly Toppers is authored, photographed and published by Woolly Wormhead.
PDF 46 pages, full colour, 150 dpi, 5mb, product no WW204BClassicWoollyToppers 
PRINT 44 pages, full colour, 7.75 x 7.75, 120g, ISBN/EAN13 1477610952 / 978177610954
Combined print & PDF £16.50  Ebook £9






Next stop on the tour is The Knit Girllls, Laura and Leslie - don't miss their podcast!
9th September 2012  The Electric Sheep Podcast hosted by Hoxton Handmade
13th September 2012  Subway Knits Podcast hosted by Maria MN
17th September 2012  Stolen Stitches Blog hosted by Carol Feller
21st September 2012  Tot Toppers Blog hosted by Kate Oates
25th September 2012  More Yarn Will Do the Trick Blog hosted by Jean Moss
29th September 2012  TheKnitgirllls Videocast hosted by Laura and Leslie
3rd October 2012    Sand And Sky Creations Blog hosted by Simone Van Iderstine
7th October 2012    Susan B Anderson Blog hosted by Susan B Anderson
11th October 2012  Dull Roar Blog hosted by Alex Tinsley
15th October 2012  rock+purl Blog hosted by Ruth Garcia-Alcantud
19th October 2012  Sheep to Shawl Blog hosted by Donna Druchanas
23rd October 2012  do stuff! leethal Blog hosted by Lee Meredith
27th October 2012  Bricoleur Knits blog hosted by Cirilia Rose
31st October 2012  Just call me Ruby Blog hosted by Susan Crawford

42 comments:

  1. I can't get into the CWT gallery but from the photos above I would knit Sumner first though I'm tempted by Imirago as well.

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  2. I would knit Camden. So cool!

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  3. I do like Ravine, but I'd start with the cap from the cover - perfect color and texture.

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  4. I'd make Ravine - it really caught my eye.

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  5. Oooh, you can never have enough hats!
    I absolutely adore the Camden cap, so that's the first thing that would jump onto my needles..

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  6. It's a tough choice but I'd make Sumner first because I think it would look fabulous knitted from handspun.

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  7. I would totally knit Sumner first! It's beautiful!

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  8. Oh, it would have to be Imirago - in a lovely handspun yarn with just a bit of variation in the colour, I have a grey heathery one to hand that would be perfect!

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  9. I would love to tackle Sumner first - I think it's a very versatile hat that could go with a lot of things. Lovely interview.

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  10. Hi folks!

    I'm so sorry some readers are having trouble accessing my website this morning - a transfer kicked in today ahead of schedule and that's sent things a little wonky. I've got things straightened out this morning and it will take a few hours for the changes to filter through, but in the meantime, these links will work if the ones above haven't updated yet:

    http://woollywormhead.squarespace.com/portfolio/classic-woolly-toppers/

    http://woollywormhead.squarespace.com/classic-woolly-toppers/

    Thank you so much Jean for the interview and being part of the blog tour, and to all your readers for joining the Hatterly fun. Again I apologise for the technical gremlins this morning!

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  11. I love love love the Summer one in grey! Beautiful!!

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  12. I would knit Imirago first. I love the shape of the hat and it looks unusual. I love knitting Woolly Wormhead patterns as they are all a little bit unique which makes the finished project that much more satisfying:)

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  13. Aren't Woolly's designs so great? Annular would be my first choice, but certainly not the last! Love the slouchiness of it so much.

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  14. I like summer. Not that I'd wear it during summer in Nebraska. : )

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  15. I love to knit Woolly's hat they are always so interesting and the names are always great. I think that I would start with Camden Cap and then Taboosh

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  16. I would knit Camden first. I love it!

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  17. I would start with Annular.

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  18. I like the lines of Taboush

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  19. Sumner could be knit so many ways.

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  20. I would knit Imirago because of the asymmetrical and chic design.
    Marrie

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  21. I would knit Imirago first, but I like all of them. Very nice book.

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  22. So many of these lovely hats call out to me to knit - but the first would be Sumner - I love it!

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  23. I would knit Sumner first!! Winter is coming!!! Jo-Anne

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  24. Sumner will be my first choice - in the same blue! Inge

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  25. I definitely want to knit up the Camden hat! Would love to win a copy!

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  26. The first one I would do would be the Camden Cap. It is so out of my usual style but has called to me since the first time I saw it.

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  27. So difficult to choose, but I would probably knit the Camden Cap first. Great patterns!

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  28. Ravine because it is unusual. First. Then, many others!

    Philhellene on Ravelry

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  29. I think I'd do the Ravine first, but really, they're all wonderful. She really knows how to make the most interesting hats!

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  30. Ravine is so chic, definitely first on my list.

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  31. I think Ravine is lovely. I would knit that first, and if it doesn't suit me it can become a Christmas present for someone with a different face shape and hairstyle.

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  32. I've been wanting a hat with ear flaps, so I would probably start with Karenin.

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  33. So many wonderful hats! I think I would start with Camden, but would definitely knit others, as well!
    Barbie

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  34. They are all lovely but I would.start off with Sumner.

    Sue K

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  35. Ravine
    Ann Cook

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  36. Summer, no question! Although they are all fun! Sara

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  37. I think Ravine is adorable. That would be the one I'd knit first.

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  39. The Camden Cap is my very favorite.

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  40. Karenin....perfect for me in New Hampshire!

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