Out & About

We love nothing more than trying out new crafts. It may be the case that we never end up pursuing it much further, but the chances are we’ll have learnt something useful for the rest of our making.

Woolly Wormhead: Turning sideways workshop

Bright and early on an autumnal Saturday morning we took to the open road again. Our destination? This is Knit in the Powerscourt Shopping Centre in Dublin for a workshop with Woolly Wormhead called Turning Sideways.

As the title suggests, the workshop was all about turning our knitting sideways and looking at what that does to stitch patterns and particularly increases and decreases. We were intrigued – both with the idea of the workshop and meeting Woolly.

Woolly Wormhead herself

The workshop was held in a bright and airy room in the Powerscourt Centre. Our goal for the class was to make a start on a sideways knit hat. Woolly had several sideways knitted hats to show us so we could understand the construction, which is made up of a series of wedges (similar to right-angled triangles). It was fascinating to see how these wedges, whether you decided on six or 12 (you typically work in multiples of six), combine to make a circle.

Now for the science bit (or maths to be more specific): Woolly showed us in great detail how to create a hat for our heads. Using our head circumference as a starting point we worked out how many stitches we would need to cast on. The great thing about learning this particular skill was we now know how to create a hat for any size head – great knowledge for any would-be designers in the group.

A selection of Woolly Wormhead hats

There were some techniques to learn – how to increase and decrease while knitting sideways – and Woolly explained these very well, using practical demonstrations and illustrating on a flip board, which was very useful to understand the overall construction.

Woolly was keen to make sure everyone understood the process and looked over everyone’s progress individually to make sure we were on the right track. Her knowledge is extensive and we could listen to her all day talking about hat construction! Her handouts were so well written that you simply couldn’t make a mistake. And she sent us all away with a generous voucher for one of her designs. All in all, an excellent day.

We couldn't resist trying on some Woolly Wormhead hats

Yarn – The Movie – A Film by Una Lorenzen

I was very lucky to be able to attend a special preview screening of Yarn – The Movie, which had been organised by Cork Textile Network as part of the Cork Film Festival.

The film looks at knitting and crochet (mostly crochet) as an art form and features several artists and their work. The film is 76 minutes long and the different artists’ stories are all stitched together, with a narrative from Barbara Kingsolver.

Toshiko Horiuchi MacAdam, creates giant, sculpted nets for children to play on out of yarn. These installations are temporary and my breath was taken away when Toshiko and friends begin to dismantle one of her creations.

Olek from Poland uses yarn to crochet statement graffiti and bodysuits for performance art. Tina Thorudottir Thorvaladar uses yarn to create thought provoking street art, while Tilde Bjorfors constructs installations for Coppenhagen’s Cirkus Cirkor.

The film was a piece of art in itself, as we jumped from country to country, listening to the harmonious narration like a piece of poetry.  I enjoyed the colours and the work of the artists featured, but was left wanting more.

While all the artists we met were women, the film didn’t explore how feminine yarn is. Yarn craft is, in the main, worked by women and while I’m not a staunch feminist, I did feel this side of things could have been explored more. It was touched on briefly, but it would have been interesting to know more, certainly, there was a lack of male fibre artists in the film.

The ongoing debate of whether something that is a craft can become art and if so at what point, fascinates me.  It was interesting to learn more about how the women in the film perceive their own work and often challenge what is thought of as art. The majority of us may not be interested in labelling what we do, but there is some discussion needed when it comes to charging for the items we create and what is a fair and reasonable price for them.

Yarn – The Movie was a piece of art about art created with yarn.

Applique workshop with

We attended a hand applique workshop run by Aine of Lismore Quilts Co. in Lismore, Co Waterford on 1st October. The workshop was held in a fabulously renovated barn that was bright and airy, perfect for the close work we were doing.

Aine showed us what we would be creating – a beautiful cushion cover with a gardening theme. The piece showcased several different hand applique techniques. She had put together a pack comprising of all the material, threads, needles and accessories we would need to create our piece.


Before we got started Aine talked us through all the different elements and the techniques we would be learning. She told us the cutting out of the material would be the most tedious part of the piece, and she wasn’t lying. It took time and an attention to detail to cut the pieces out to the correct sizes, but it’s vital to get it right at this stage. We used a few different types of pens to draw out the outlines on the fabric and Aine made sure we knew what each one did and where we could buy them.

Once we had the fabric cut out we set to work sewing the shapes onto the base fabric. For the gardening boots we used a finicky, but extremely neat and effective technique, which meant the stitches were all but invisible. This took time, but it was well worth it.

Lunch came at a welcome time. Aine had made a beautiful homemade vegetable loaf with salads and topped it off with a fabulous pavlova and a cup of tea. Appetites satisfied we got back to work.

As we moved through the different phases Aine made sure we were all following the process and getting the techniques right. It was a nice small group so we all benefitted from that one-on-one attention. Though we didn’t get to finish the piece in the workshop, we went home confident that we had learned enough to finish it unsupervised.

The workshop was a first step into the world of applique for us and we thoroughly enjoyed it. Aine does quilting classes too, which is something we’re eyeing up for a future issue.