I’ve very happy to be the next stop on Woolly Wormhead’s Bambeanie‘s blog tour. Woolly Wormhead is probably synonymous in most peoples mind’s with hat design; and rightly so! Her design style is so distinctive that you can usually spot when a design is her’s before you even look at the name.
I met Woolly several years ago when she just happened to be passing my house in west Cork. Her mum was planning on buying a plot of land further west so they kindly dropped in. Since then her mother has moved to Ireland and we’ve had the pleasure of having Woolly and her family over for dinner during the summer when they were in the area again. It is so rare to get a chance to talk in person with fellow designers that we tend to get a bit carried away, I think we bored everyone (but ourselves) to tears talking about designing and publishing.
While we were talking I began asking her about her exclusive design of hats. She described her love of the sculptural/3D quality of hats which means that designing them never loses interest for her. When she picks up yarn she sees hats!
The book that she had just released is ‘Bambeanies’; available both as an ebook for £10 and a print book for $23 both options can be found here. This book has 82 pages and 20 hat designs for kids. Woolly is always good though about providing a wide range of sizing on her patterns. This is very unusual in hat design where frequently 2 sizes would be the norm. Looking through the book I can see that most designs have at lease 4 sizes (a single one, Rocketeer, has 3) but Tricable has 6 and Loops has 5! Being able to grade a wide range of sizes is important to Woolly, she has been know to abandon a project if it’s not gradable. For the knitter this means that you get to have a perfect fitting hat, and even though this book looks like it just has designs for kids, many of the sizes go up to adult sizes (do check though, some would be small adult head)! The designs are not just standard bottom up construction, there are several that are knit from side to side, and one (Bimple) is knit from the top down. Changing the direction that a hat is knit in can really help you look a hats in a whole new way.
I’ve just finished a blog tour for my own book Contemporary Irish Knits and I knew from personal experience how many interviews you end up writing. So I decided to give Woolly a break and instead of an interview on my leg of the tour I’ll talk through my own experience of knitting one of her hats. Now as a fellow designer I rarely get much time to knit designs by others but quick baby knits and unusual construction techniques drew me in!
I needed a quick baby knit for a new baby in Dublin and decided to give the pattern Moochie a go. It was for a little girl and I had some bright pink Cascade Eco + sitting in my stash that would be perfect!
Woolly loves to turn design on it’s side, and that’s how this hat starts. You begin working what looks like a straight strip…but it’s not! Increases on one side and decreases on the other end creates a biased fabric so you end up with a parallelogram. So when you’ve finished the length of knitting you undo your provisional cast on and graft the start and finish together. As the ends are sloping you are grafting on a diagonal which gives you a tube you see below with the rows of eyelets twisting around the tube.
Some of the designs (such as Tipper) finish here with a cute little square hat. This design goes a step further…next you go and add some little I-cord ears to the sides, how cute is that!
So anyone out there who want some cute, fun and unusual takes on your humble hat go give this book a go (might even be able to squeeze my head into the largest size of Nupkin!)