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

Tuesday, 18 September 2012

Coming up for air!

What with our imminent tour, Knit Ireland, and other pressing work commitments, it's been all systems go around here recently and sadly, no time at all for blogging. With the tour I'm wondering how many more t's can be crossed and i's can be dotted, but then how long is a piece of string? The checklist seems to go on and on forever, while we try to make sure all goes like clockwork so that our visitors will have the best possible time.  We have a capacity group of twenty-five participants, and half are returners - it'll be lovely to see all our old friends again, as well as greeting the first-timers on the tour.

Today the parcel with workshop supplies, yarn, handouts and books went off with Fedex, so at last I feel I'm beginning to sign things off. Still got some checking of patterns for my next book before I can finally concentrate on packing my suitcase, but after the next couple of days hopefully I'll feel everything possible has been done and P and I can have a day of downtime before setting off for Ireland. 
                   
We've got an action-packed schedule in store for our guests with just about as much music as knitting for those interested. Starting off with a lunchtime session on the Aran Islands, then on to the Clifden Arts Festival in Connemara, then traditional music in the Cobblestone bar in Dublin, rounded off by a session with Mazz and Fergus O'Flaherty in Dingle town. We'll  also be visiting Lisdoonvarna when the annual matchmaking festival is in full swing... watch this space, I'll keep you posted on the effect of the vibes on our group!

On the tour I'll be teaching In the Swirl - the basics of medallion knitting; and Peplums & Pleats - nips and tucks to add spice to your knitting. There are also workshops in Killarney with Carol Feller and Anne O'Maille in Galway. I've got an idea for a shawl that's been brewing over the past few weeks and I'm hoping to get it on my needles to take to Ireland. I bought the yarn on our May tour - at the Woolclip Co-op in Caldbeck, Cumbria, spun and hand-dyed in a glorious cornflower blue.  Will post pics as soon as I have something to show.


Woo-hoo, today I've signed the contract to teach at VK Live in January 2013 - Big Apple here I come! I've got a full programme of workshops over the three days and as it's ten years since I last visited New York, I'm absolutely thrilled and can't wait. Also it's a fabulous opportunity to get out there and meet knitters on the other side of the pond, great to get feedback and exchange thoughts on all things knitterly with kindred spirits.


Lastly, I wanted to tell you about the Classic Woolly Toppers blog tour.  I'll be doing a Q&A with Woolly, and reviewing the latest collection from this popular hat architect who's amassing a huge following of discerning hat fanatics.  And of course there'll be a giveaway, so don't forget to drop by on the 25th for a chance to win a copy of the book.


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 - 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
I'll leave you with this pic of Arlo. He's been in the habit recently of hanging with his cohorts all night, so he's fit for nothing in the mornings. Here he is trying to get some shut-eye.  I can totally relate to this - the equivalent of a kitty hangover!