It is my great pleasure to be a host on the ‘blog tour’ for WoollyWormhead’s new book, ‘Bambeanies’. The book is a wonderful collection of 20 patterns for childrens’ Hats designed by Woolly, available for sale from her website, from Amazon, and from all the best yarn shops!
In June Woolly was a fun companion on our trip to the US for TNNA, and I benefitted then from a sneak peek of the lovely photos she took of the Hats, many of which were modelled by her very cute son. The Hats are all in Woolly’s distinctive quirky style, fun to knit and fun to wear. Indeed, when I received my copy of the book I immediately wanted to cast on ‘Nupkin’ a sweet bobbled hat for girls that would be ideal for the lovely multi-coloured Malabrigo sock yarn I was given during that unforgettable trip. I’m going to make it for my new niece, Katie.
One of the things I love about Woolly is her very particular passion for Hat design, wonderfully expressed in her reverential use of an initial capital whenever she writes the word ‘Hat’. When I received her answers to the questions I sent about the book, I was delighted to find that she had edited all my references to Hats accordingly! Here’s what she had to say:
I love the quirky names of the book and the patterns in it. Can you tell us how you chose them?
Some of them are made up names, designed to be playful and fun and reminiscent of the theme. Some we made up based on the patterns – be it a technique or shape – and others were named by blog readers when I ran a playful competition on my blog. Readers were asked to comment with as many silly words as they could think of, and we then matched the Hats without a name to comments, and it worked really well!
Which is your favourite Hat name?
Which is your favourite pattern in Bambeanies, and why?
What funny/interesting stories can you tell us about the making of Bambeanies?
I had a lot of fun designing and knitting the Hats, and throughout the project I kept extending the number of Hats that were to be included – initially it was to be 10 Hats, then 14, then 16 and then I thought I may as well go for it, and include the full 20. Which meant that in the last week of sample knitting I knitted 7 Hats in 3 days, so that I was fully prepared for the photo shoots!
I also have lots of terrible photos of Aran wearing some of the girlier Hats, as I needed a photo to send to my test knitters in the absence of a final modelled shot. When he hits his teenage years, he may not be so impressed by those photos…
I’m very interested in sizing issues. Can you tell us a little about how you grade your Hat patterns for different sizes?
The grading really does depend on the pattern. Some patterns require smaller increments between sizes, whereas some are naturally stretchier and are fine with 2 inches, or even 3, between sizes. It’s no different to grading other, larger garments, in that sense.
Proportion of the elements, is key, too. Quatra and Beamish are good examples of that, as I needed to ensure, as best as I possibly could, that the relationship between the brim and the body remained fairly constant.
How do you get your data for creating a size range?
I started an online survey a number of years ago, and based my data on the measurements I received. Any gaps were filled by ‘standards’ from growth charts and other resources.
My reasons for collecting my own data were pretty simple – the ‘standard’ sizing charts for head sizes and Hats didn’t cover a full range of sizes. They stopped at a 22 inch head which is a bit daft, as I myself have a head size much larger than that! And coming from a family of large-headed people, I knew the ‘one size fits all’ thing was a bit of a myth.
It’s always been a mission of mine to provide a decent range of sizes, and push the boundaries of the ‘standards’ to include those outside of the range, like myself. I know knitters come back to my patterns time and time again because of the size range.
What kind of difficulties do you find arise in grading?
I tend to work out how a Hat can/will be graded before I delve too deeply into the design, so I tend not to hit any major difficulties. If a design isn’t gradable, it ceases before it’s even begun. That may sound drastic, but it saves me a lot of trouble later on!
The only real issue that comes up is long or complex stitch pattern repeats, as a Hat is a relatively small area, and some stitch patterns don’t really grade that well.
What help does Bambeanies include for knitters to select which size to knit?
A detailed chart is included, giving approximate sizes to age groups. There is also a section on how to check gauge, and how this affects fit.
The one thing I didn’t want to do with this book was to size the patterns according to a generic sizing method used by clothing manufacturers. They tend to use age as a sizing factor, and each country presents this information differently. In Europe, for instance, the common method is to use height as an indicator of the age to size aspect, and in the UK they use age in years, similar to the system in the US. Not only does each country present the information differently, making it problematic to include a system that everyone understands, but we all know that those sizes are only a guide and children rarely fit the standard, especially when it comes to head sizes!
And so I felt it was important to teach people how to measure themselves, and their children. All measurements are included in metric and imperial, throughout every aspect of the book, allowing every reader to be able to use the patterns comfortably.
The Hats in Bambeanies are so, so cute! If I wanted to knit one of the Hats for myself, how would I go about adapting it for an adult size?
The simplest way of adjusting the size is to either use a larger needle size than given for subtle changes – this can add an extra inch or so to the circumference – or to use a slightly thicker yarn, which will take a design up an two inches or more, depending on how much thicker the yarn is. Designs like Rocketeer or Damsel, that are dependant on row gauge and stitch gauge would change proportionally with thicker yarn, whereas a design that asks you to knit for a certain length, like Pootle, would need a little more thought.
Finally, what advice would you give to knitters who wish to substitute yarns other than those you used for the samples? How might this affect sizing?
Substituting yarns is a fairly common practice, and provided a knitter substitutes the recommended yarn with one of the same gauge, ply and fibre content, they’re not going to hit any snags. Unless you are confident with different fibres and yarn types, I wouldn’t go too far when subbing yarns – it’s always wisest to stick with something similar.
If a yarn varies even slightly when gauge is checked, then yes, it could affect the sizing. Some Hats are more forgiving than others, but it is important to check your gauge first. And then you can use it to your advantage, because it may mean you need to knit a different size to get the fit you want!
Thank you Woolly!
I’m going to finish up today’s post with a gratuitously large photo of my other top favourite design from Woolly’s book, which I have a feeling will one day adorn at least one of my boys’ heads, ‘Tricable’ (I love it!). The next stop on the Bambeanies blog tour is at the blog of Shannon Okey, owner of US publishing firm Cooperative Press (soon-to-be American publisher/distributor for Novel Knits!) — so please go visit her next week to read more about Woolly’s wonderful book of gloriously quirky childrens’ Hats!
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