Chatting with Woolly Wormhead

We chat with hat architect Woolly Wormhead and find out more about her obsession with hats, her design process and her knitting history. 

Can you tell us a little bit about yourself?

I’m a nomadic sort who likes to spend time in different places, especially with other creative sorts. I’m not very good at being pinned down, and like to do things my own way. With my partner we have a son (he’s one of my best models) and we’ve being spend time off late in our converted double decker bus.

Do you come from a creative family?

My mum taught me to knit and sew, and one of her sister’s was also crafty. So yes, I’d say I come from a fairly crafty family but not everyone was creative.

When did you first learn to knit and who taught you?

My Mum taught me to knit when I was 3 years old! She showed me the basic stitches, then how to cast on and off, and from there I quickly dived into knitting clothes for my dolls.

Why hats, what do you like about them?

Oh, there’s so much about Hats! They’re portable, and there’s only one of them. This makes them ideal for travel knitting, quick gift knits, short attention spans or learning new techniques. What I love most about them though are their sculptural qualities – they are the most 3-dimensional item that we wear, and that offers so much creative play! They only have to fit at the brim, and beyond that, they can go in any direction.

You currently have 266 hat designs on Ravelry, how do you keep coming up with new deigns?

It’s that 3D thinking thing again. Hat design is endless, we’ll never design everything. When you combine structure with technique or a bit of surface design, the possibilities are endless.

Can you tell us a little about your design process – Yarn or design first, do you keep note/sketch books, do you have set working hours?

I have a little black book that I carry everywhere with me for keeping notes and rough sketches. Everything goes in that book. I don’t have a separate sketchbook; sitting and sketching feels like a luxury I don’t have time for, but it’s also a very 2D way of working, and I prefer to flesh things out on the needles with the yarn and stitches. I nearly always have a draft or plan to work from before I cast on, but I cannot get behind the idea of having everything mapped out and written before starting the sample – I find that a dry way to work, and what I produce that way is never as successful.

Which of your designs are your current favourites?

My current favourite is Tucked. I don’t always end up liking my Hats for being Hats, rather what process I went through to create them, and whether I’m pleased or not with the refinement and structure.

Are there any of your designs, that you would change now?

There are probably loads if I thought about it! But I tend not to look back too much, creativity and skill development isn’t always a linear path, but looking back to see what you could have done better isn’t always encouraging.

Do you wear hats yourself, if so what style do you favour?

I don’t wear too many Hats these days, and I generally don’t wear ones I’ve designed or knit myself. That’s mostly because my wardrobe is pretty minimal, and my favourite Hat is a hand knit lined woolly thing that I’ve had for many, many years.

Your enthusiasm for knitting was obvious when we met you at your workshop, why do you think knitting is so good and what do you love about it?

That’d be hard to sum up! It’s really only a combination of knits and purls, and clever things that you can do with them. I like the binary and engineering aspects of it because of that. It can also be so very tactile and sculptural, combining amazing fibres with structure. I really am very much a technique person, and I love how techniques can change a project so much in subtle ways, especially when using a method in a different context. And from there, how knowing this gives such a great sense of achievement.

What’s your favourite weight of yarn to work with and what type of needles do you prefer to use?

My comfort zone is between sport and aran weight, although I’m enjoying working with a lot of 4ply and fingering lately. As for favourite needles – Karbonz! I’ve got the Zings too, and they’re not as slippery as most metal needles but as a rule I prefer a needle with a bit of warmth. The Royales are lovely, too.

Is there anything exciting in the pipeline for 2017?

Oooh, lots! Several small collections based around techniques, and one based on circles. All Hats, naturally.

Woolly is currently running a knit-a-long for her latest design Muratura.  Knitted in aran weight yarn, Muratura is knit sideways, with a garter stitch band and textured stitch pattern that is a variation on Brioche.

The KAl runs until the 31st December so you’ve plenty of time to join in and possibly even win a prize/  Pop along to read the blog post Woolly wrote about the KAL, prizes and the discount code available on her design.

There is a discussion thread open on the Woolly Wormhead Ravelry Group Page here where you can find more information and meet other KAL folk.


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