Tag Archives: woolly wormhead

The Art of Simple

Today we’ve got a lovely treat on the blog, a guest post from my friend Woolly Wormhead (and I’ve got a matching blog post up on her blog today as well!)

Circled #2

A few weeks ago Carol and I were chatting about the idea of doing a blog post swap, which seems such a good idea, considering our shared interests in engineering and construction. After chatting through a few ideas, we settled on refinement and simplicity, something we’ve often talked about before.


In my former life as an art teacher, I taught design to exam students, and one of the important discussions that used to come up time and time again was the need to refine. To reduce. To know what to take out. One of the key things I remember from my foundation course was exactly this – it’s a mantra within design school that gets passed down.

Putting that into practice though isn’t necessarily a conscious thing – it’s something that progresses; refinement develops with experience. Even knowing what I do and teaching what I did, I’m still evolving and developing, and that’s always a good thing.


It’s too easy to over-design. To get excited and put everything into something. There’s also another aspect that crops up from time to time – the idea that a complicated design is cleverer. That by making something challenging, it’s a better design. From my experience I think it’s something a lot those new to design are faced with, yet all it serves is to, well, complicate things.

Armley Beanie

‘Simple’ gets a bad press sometimes. But it’s not the same as basic. Simple is refined. It’s considered. It’s thoughtful. It says that it can stand alone by itself and stand tall. Simple isn’t necessarily easy; it too can be pretty challenging, both in it’s design process, and in it’s execution. A simple knit design can look easy yet have taken an awful lot of work to make it so. A simple knit design can look complicated, but the designer has cleverly worked out how to make it easy to make.


Knowing what to take it really is the key, and having a theme helps greatly. Having been designing for variegated yarns for a while and thoroughly enjoying the process, many of my recent designs have become yet more refined. Something as simple as a line can take on a new meaning when that’s all the design is about; taking the rest of the stuff out allows that element to take the stage.


Designing is a never ending journey; ideas follow through and develop and we follow tangents – that’s the joy of being able to design for ourselves. Pattern writing continually develops and changes as styles change, but also as we grow. We learn, we develop, we explore and we refine. It’s a continual journey, and by embracing the art of the simple, we allow ourselves that much more creative freedom.

Thank you so much Woolly for sharing your thoughts, definitely something to strive for!






10 years of Woolly Wormhead!

I can’t quite believe that Woolly has been publishing for 10 years; that’s a very impressive time span!
I’ve got huge respect for Woolly on multiple levels; both as a friend and as a designer. We first met many years ago in Sterling, Scotland. We were teaching at an event for a week and as it was a rather depressing affair we cheered ourselves up nightly :-) It did mean that we cemented our friendship very firmly.
As a friend Woolly is upfront and generous. She always has time to help and support. When I’ve got personal or business issues I need to work out she’s one of the first places I’ll look for advice.
As a designer Woolly is very unique and focused. She only designs hat. At first I wondered why that was but after knowing her for a while and talking about it this makes sense. They’re not hats, they’re sculptures for the head. She has trained in several areas (engineering, sculpture and teaching) but creatively sculpture is where her focus is. Each hat is a well engineered sculpture.
The teaching side comes through very clearly in the pattern writing as well. All patterns (where necessary) are both written and charted. In addition to this any unusual technique has got a full tutorial in the pattern; again with both written and illustrated directions.
To celebrate Woolly’s design talents it made sense to me that I’d knit through one of her patterns. We both share a love of side-to-side hats so I opted to knit Marina.

Copyright Woolly Wormhead

Ideally a striped yarn would have been great but I used what I had to hand (Navia Traditional). This hat uses the stitch pattern and short rows to full advantage. The dropped stitch pattern opens out and creates a fuller hat but the garter stitch edging keeps the brim snug.

Each wedge of the hat is knit with short rows at the crown for shaping and is repeated all the way around to get the size you need.


At the very end the provisional cast-on is undone and the stitches are grafted together for a seamless hat. The tutorials on the pattern for both these techniques are just perfect and easy to understand.

Of course also being a knitwear designer I had to do my own little tweaking :-) Instead of doing wrap & turn short rows for the crown I added German Short rows and I put a slip stitch edging on the first stitch of the brim. Quite frankly though that was pretty much the only tweaking I wanted to do!


And the final hat happily blocking on it’s balloon form.


So what Woolly Wormhead pattern are you going to knit next?

Thank you Woolly for being you :-)

Classic Woolly Toppers blog tour & giveaway

Over the summer my eldest son began knitting again. This was primarily prompted by his love for hats so it seemed a fairly natural extension that he would love Woolly Wormhead’s designs. In fact it was only a few weeks ago that I blogged about Aeonium that he had just knit for a friend!

During August he was looking around at hat patterns online and came across the Camden Cap and loved it. Then, almost as though it was meant to be, I got an invitation to the Classic Woolly Toppers blog tour. Blogging about my son’s hat knitting progress seemed like a perfect blog tour stop for us – I even got him to write his own thoughts on the knitting progress.

(c) Woolly Wormhead

Before I start talking about specifics of the Camden Cap I’d like to tell you a little about the book. Classic Woolly Toppers is a book of classic hats  with a Wormhead twist! There are 44 pages with 10 designs and the start of the book also includes multiple pages of illustrated tutorials for techniques you may not have previously used.

(c) Woolly Wormhead

Woolly is really a designer after my own heart, she likes to design hats that are just a little quirky, with elements that make sense from a construction point of view. It is an interesting process working through a pattern with my son. We found some Cushendale DK wool in my stash that he liked the colour of and got started.  He hasn’t come across a lot of the techniques before but I’m just teaching him each one as we reach it. We’ve now done the provisional cast on, short rows, picking up wraps and undoing the provisional cast on. We’re currently working on the blocking and moving on to the joining of the hem. The patterns are all so well written that once the technique has been explained he’s well able to go from there to working through the remainder of the hat.  I’m afraid thanks to the imposition of school he hasn’t finished the hat yet but that will be another blog post :-)

Now here, in Caelen’s own words was his experience knitting Camden:

“I discovered this hat when investigating the website of wooly wormhead. I was intrigued by the peak of this hat, as I had never encountered such a design in a piece of knitware before. After expressing this interest to my Mum, I discovered how it worked. As the blog tour of C.W.T. was taking place, I decided to give it a go and show my results. The hat has a very interesting design, I have just moved on from the peak to the brim, and should finish it soon. Knitting together two pieces of wool around a piece of constantly slipping plastic was a first for me, I can confidently say. This hat is by far one of the more challenging knits I’ve done, and I’ve enjoyed and learned a lot knitting it so far. I look forward to seeing how it turns out!”

Knitting in the plastic

Close up of plastic in peek

Finished peek

Starting the brim in the round

For any of you out there who would like to join my son knitting Camden it’s actually Woolly Wormhead’s September KAL!

If you want to check out some of the blog tour stops before me, Subway Knits was the previous stop and the next stop on the tour will be on the 21st of September with Tot Toppers.

And now for the giveaway!! If you’d like a chance to get your hands on a digital copy of this book just put your ravelry name in the comments below with your favourite hat from the book.  I’ll pick a winner on Saturday 22nd of September so get your comment in by then!

Book details:

Classic Woolly Toppers is authored and published by Woolly Wormhead Published July 2012
Print edition:44 pages, full colour, 7.75in x 7.75in, 120g ISBN/EAN13: 1477610952 / 9781477610954 RRP: £12/$17/€15
Digital edition:PDF: 46 pages, full colour, 150DPI, 5MB Product no.: WW204BClassicWoollyToppers RRP: £9/$15/€12

My son’s knitting

Over the last few years 3 of my 4 boys have learned to knit.  The first knit a hat and some swatches, the next knit himself a pullover and half a bag and the third one knit a chicken and started a scarf.

After coming back from summer camp in Dublin my oldest got much admiration for the hat he both knit and dyed with Kool Aid.  Knitting suddenly became desirable again :-)  So this blog post is to share his second ever knit – have to say I’m mighty proud of him!  A big thanks to Woolly Wormhead who’s hat design Aeonium he knit.

He used some Brown Sheep Lamb’s Pride I had in my stash for a few years, glad to see it put to good use! He knit it for a friend’s birthday but is sad to be saying goodbye to it now.

Also, on a recent trip to Killarney he brought me a poor injured sheep for my office.

Scrumptious Blog Tour

A couple of months ago I launched my Scrumptious Knits booklet.  The intervening months have been rather hectic so a little belatedly I’m bringing you the blog tour!  If you’re interested in the origin of the book, how some of the designs came about and perhaps just learning a little about the design process please follow along.  Many of the blog tour stops will also have the added chance of winning a copy of the booklet.

So for your viewing pleasure I bring you our first stop on the tour – Woolly Wormhead.

Recently Lantern Moon began distributing Fyberspates yarn in the US.  As Scrumptious Knits uses Fyberspates yarn they are also distributing my Scrumptious Knits book.  You all probably know that they sell an amazing range of needles, which I’m now really excited to try out.  They sent me some samples of their needles (circular are my favorite as you may have noticed!) I think the first I’m going to try out will be the Ebony Destiny needles, nice tip and super smooth.  As an added bonus their needle tips rotate freely on the wire which should make for very comfortable knitting….or maybe the rosewood will get the first try, decisions decisions!

Trunk shows and blog tours!

On Saturday I got to get my Contemporary Irish Knit trunk show out on my home ground at Cork.  There is a knitting and craft shop here called Vibes and Scribes that has a great selection of wool, books, and general crafty goodness.  It is packed to the rafters with goodies so there was much shifting of stock to fit me in for the morning!  I had a steady stream of knitters calling by and we got to chat about tension/gauge squares, cables and reading charts.  With a few hints on magic loop and tightening up your cable stitches thrown in along the way!  I am very grateful to the very talented Evin O’Keeffe who took all the photos in today’s post.  I’ve got a link down further if you’d like to see more of her photos.  It was extra impressive as she was busy leaning over the table photographing while 7 months pregnant!

You can see my full set up here, complete with my trusty I-pad that is invaluable when doing trunk shows, knitters can’s miss the photos!

This was Evin’s favorite of the Ardara tunic.  If anyone want to see all the photos Evin took when she came to visit you can view them here.  You can see some from fiber Feis as well as an added bonus….and pretend that it’s still summer!

Knitters are making great progress with The Ultimate Contemporary Irish Knits KAL.  There are already some beautiful finished pieces starting to appear.  This is running until the first of December so join right in.  We are pulling together some great prizes for this so don’t miss out!

Later on today the final stop on my blog tour will be up – Ilga Leja.  If you’ve missed any of the tour stops you can view them all below.  Thank you everyone who has taken part, I appreciate your support and kindness so much.  And a big thank you to all the readers as well, I hope you found the tour interesting and discovered some new facts along the way!

Tour details:
15/9/2011 Stephen West
17/9/2011 Hoxton Handmade
21/9/2011 Shannon Okey
23/9/2011 Rosemary Hill
25/9/2011 Ann Kingstone
27/9/2011 Marly Bird
29/9/2011 JC Briar
1/10/2011 Woolly Wormhead
3/10/2011 Anne Hanson
7/10/2011 Stephannie Tallent
11/10/2011 Alice Yu
13/10/2011 Michelle Miller
15/10/2011 Deirdre Thornton
17/10/2011 Ilga Leja

Speaking of blog tours, tomorrow it’ll be my turn for a stop in the blog tour of one of my favorite designer’s Woolly Wormhead.  I’ll be taking a look at her newest book ‘Bambeanies‘ which is full of cuteness for little ones!

I’m getting so excited about heading to Glasgow this week, can’t wait to meet all you lovely knitters!

Lots of visits

I’ve had a busy day of people visiting today..all knitting related! Sue who I am doing the Knitting Workshop with in November came over for some knitting and breakfast in the morning and I had a lovely visit from Woolly Wormhead in the afternoon.  It’s not too often that you have a fellow designer passing right by your doorstep (especially in West Cork!).  We had lot of fun talking design and here little boy is so very cute!