I'm feeling very privileged to be interviewing this month's guest on my blog. I've been in love with her work for years and am in awe of her fabulous creative skills, especially her ability to work with one idea in so many different and exciting ways.
Of course I'm talking about the very wonderful Woolly Wormhead! Woolly Wormhead designs hats. Many fantastic hats. She is inventive and creative and single-handedly has managed to completely revolutionise knitted hat construction. If there's a new way to knit a hat - Woolly will find it. Her hats are stunning, her photography is gorgeous and I'm a huge fan of her work.
I was lucky enough to meet Woolly in real life a year or so ago and take part in a class with her about decreases and increases. It was fascinating and I learnt heaps, bought her beautiful book Playful Woolly Toppers, but the part I especially enjoyed was when we tried on all her hats to work out which shapes and styles suited us best. Woolly regularly runs "Hat Clinics" where she brings a suitcase of hats and everyone gets to try them on and figure out the perfect shape for them. I was very impressed when she managed to find a hat that flattered every single head in the room and so when I released my recent hat design and heard from lots of you that you "didn't suit hats", I knew that simply couldn't be true and immediately thought of Woolly and my experience with her.
I wasn't sure if she would also remember me when I wrote asking if she'd be willing to do an interview on my blog and so I was super pleased when she said that she did and that she'd be happy to answer my questions. Yay!
Are you ready for this month's interview? I sure am. Without further ado, I'm thrilled to introduce: Woolly Wormhead! If you don't think you suit hats - or even if you do. Read on!
You're one of the first designers that I discovered when I joined Ravelry and the online knitting community. You've been designing beautiful hats for a long time. What do you love best about hat design?
This years sees 10 years of Woolly Wormhead... which is kinda crazy.
What do I love best about Hats? Lots of things! I've a pretty short attention span, so Hats satisfy that well; they're small and there's only one of them. I also travel a *lot* and they're incredibly portable. They're brilliant for learning (teaching) new techniques, encouraging confidence with our knitting. Best of all, they combine my structural/creative/engineering sides. I can create a 3-dimensional structure from numbers and repeats and systems and it's such a wonderful thing to be able to do.
You haven't always been a knitwear designer; what did you do before and what led you to knitwear design?
Prior to being a knit Hat designer, I was an art and textiles teacher for 11-19 year olds, and prior to that I was an electronics engineer for GEC! My Mum taught me to knit at age 3 and I've always had something on the needles. When I left teaching I picked up my needles with a vengeance and it helped me through a very difficult time. That path led me to where I am now.
Many people tell me that they don't suit hats. I know you take a different view - what don't these people know that they should?
Most of the time picking the right Hat is about framing the face, providing balance.... and knowing how to wear it! That fashion trend of wearing berets to the back, off the forehead? Hardly the best look for most people. And despite how popular beanies are, they really don't suit most faces. One thing you'll often hear me say is "don't be afraid to let a Hat hug your head" - let a beret come forward around your ears - it's a Hat, let it keep you warm! Always allow a little hair to peep out, even if it's just that little bit around the ears. Glasses look brilliant with Hats - they just like a little bit of room.
I'm currently working on a bunch of resources for yarn shop owners, to help them when I can't get there for a trunk show. In the meantime, this link might be helpful: http://www.woollywormhead.com/blog/2013/4/22/get-ahead-get-a-hat-pt1.html
I enjoy wearing lots of hats, summer and winter. What do you recommend people for if they like hats and want to wear them but aren't feeling confident to take the leap?
The best thing to do is to get along to a trunk show and try on as many Hats as you can! Your local yarn store should have plenty of samples for you to try out. Hats are small and relatively quick knitting projects, and whilst it might feel like a waste to knit one and not like it, or not have it fit right, they're very giftable.. I say pick your yarn and cast on :)
You sound like you enjoy the challenge of creating something unique and beautiful. Do you have a favourite style of hat? Is there a hat style that suits most heads?
I think my favourite type of Hat to design is a pointy one, something that sticks up from the head somewhere, but they don't tend to sell well ;) Something with a bit room or slouch is a good thing to aim for - a beret or slouchy beanie - they don't grab the face or squash the hair and are far more flattering to wear. And even though they don't hug the head like a beanie, if you're wearing the right size it will still stay on!
You seem to have a steady stream of new patterns being published using new and different constructions - what can we look forward to in 2015 from Woolly Wormhead?
My latest collection has just gone on pre-release, with a publication date of the beginning of June! Painted Woolly Toppers is a collection of Hats designed specifically for hand-dyed, painted and variegated yarns. We're literally just working on the final edits for it and I'm rather excited! You can expect all the usual Wormhead details - use of technique, multi-directional knitting, structure, multiple sizes - with the added bonus of being able to use those beautiful and seductive skeins that often sit there in the stash, looking a bit lost.
Beyond that, I'm launching a new wholesale venture for my books and patterns, and a complete restructuring behind the scenes. That's almost finished, and I'm very much looking forward to indulging myself in the next collection, 'Turning Heads', which are all exploratory, sculptural pieces.
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Thank you so much Woolly!
Do check out the link she suggested about finding a hat to suit you. It's really interesting and I think you'll find it very useful.