We're hosting this on Liz's blog, but it's a joint effort, which seems appropriate given what we do. Being people who like structure, we decided on a few questions and answers...
Q: When did we both meet Woolly?
Heather: If I am remembering correctly I think I met you both at Skip North, in I think 2007. I remember learning how to use Procion dyes with Liz, and teaching Woolly Crochet Provisional Cast-On on a bus trundling round the yarn shops of West Yorkshire. I first started working with Woolly in the middle of 2010 with some individual designs, and then the reprint of Going Straight.
Woolly at the I Knit Weekender in 2009
Liz: I met Woolly at Skip North in 2005, the first "real" one. Woolly was building a freeform crochet hat, and also a Hex hat; the two impressions I came away with were that she was both extraordinarily talented, and also Not A Morning Person. Then we kept bumping into each other at shows (I remember one just-about-silent journey from King's Cross to Ally Pally way too early in the morning, both of us clutching caffeine of choice), and I have good memories of the Going Straight launch party in 2007. Thankfully, we stayed in touch when Woolly and the family started spending much of the year in Italy, and it's been a pleasure to have her to stay over the last couple of years when she's taught at the Sheep Shop in Cambridge.
(Thanks, Sarah from the Sheep Shop, for the photo!)
Q: What do we find most interesting about the way Woolly designs?
Heather: I love that each design has its own internal logic, and I love discovering that as I work through the pattern. She is very good at making each section of the Hat flow into the others, so that while each section is interesting and beautiful in its own right, the whole still manages to be more than the sum of the individual parts. Her Hats have a wonderful sculptural quality, while still being very wearable.
Liz: I'm constantly amazed by the way Woolly thinks in 3D. She seems to know every time exactly what she's trying to achieve, and to be able to picture the whole thing in her head. I suppose part of it is her art and engineering background, and it's always a beautiful thing to watch! I also love the crowns - you never get the feeling they're an afterthought. (This is possibly why I don't actually own any Hats designed by any other designer.)
Tucked. Photo © Woolly Wormhead
Q: What do we each contribute to the editing and production process?
Heather: Mostly I am keeping an eye on the maths when I go through either a single pattern or a book. I check that the tension given combined with the stitch counts will give Hats of the stated sizes, and that each time a stitch count is given for a pattern repeat, or increases or decreases, that it all works out in all of the sizes. I make sure that all of the appropriate information is clearly given so that the knitter can successfully make their Hat in their chosen size. I also check for consistency in use of abbreviations within the pattern and within the whole book, and within Woolly's body of work.
Liz: I'm part of Woolly's small, friendly, test-knitting pool, and we get to see the designs at the just-written-up stage. At that point, I try and shut off my brain and knit to exactly what's written in the pattern. If I have the slightest doubt, I don't do what I'd normally do as a knitter and try and fudge things or work things out myself - I flag it up, because if I don't get it, there's the likelihood that someone else won't either. And then, after Heather's done her tech-editing magic, I copy-edit patterns for the books (and, over the last couple of years, for the Mystery KALs too). That involves a little bit of spelling/grammar work, but mostly consistency - making sure that the style flows between patterns and between books, and that, for example, type/font styles are consistent across the board, that the Table of Contents has the correct pagination once the final order of patterns has been determined, that nothing's been inadvertently cropped in layout, and so on.
Q: Favourite Woolly pattern from the last decade?
Heather: My favourite Hat to knit has been Quynn . I have so far knitted 10 of these! 3 each for my nephew and nieces (luckily they are young enough that they aren't reading this so wont realise that they are each getting one for Christmas!), and one for me. Quynn was the only hat one of my nieces would voluntarily wear last winter. My favourite Hat to edit has probably been Asymloche . That was a fun brain puzzle to see how this one worked! Each segment is different and there are short rows and different stitch counts to keep track of. Good fun :-) And another good example of where Woolly has taken what is a rather difficult concept and created a beautiful Hat with a pattern that is easy to follow.
Quynn. Photo © Woolly Wormhead
Liz: Favourite I've kept for myself - last year's MKAL, Sophora; I love this one both for the lovely 7-point pattern on the crown of the beret, and for the folded brim which makes the knitter feel very clever in the completion of it (and keeps your ears really warm). Favourite I've knitted for someone else - made a Baby I-Cord Beanie for my nephew in November 2007 which he wore from it being way too big, as in this photo, to when it was making ridges in his forehead because it was so much too small!
Q: Favourite Woolly pattern from Painted Woolly Toppers?
Heather: I think this is probably Dancette. I love the way the changes of direction work with the hand painted yarn. And I enjoyed the opportunity to use a bit of Pythagora's Theorem to check the depths of the Hat :-)
Dancette. Photo © Woolly Wormhead
Liz: Knew I shouldn't have let Heather go first! - I test-knitted Dancette and it is so very clever (and I now know what a Dancette is)! I also love Jetty - the use of dropped-stitch waves on a Hat is really unexpected, and the decreases work so beautifully towards the crown. Must get that one out and wear it this winter!
Jetty. Photo © Woolly Wormhead
Finally, in celebration of Woolly's 10 years of publishing and blogging, there's a prize on offer at each stage of the Tour - a project bag made by Woolly herself, and a pattern of your choice. And as it's also my (Liz's) 10th blog anniversary, I've dyed a skein of organic merino in a heavy aran-weight which will also be making its way to the winner!
To enter, please leave a comment below, telling me which of Woolly's Hats is your favourite and why, before midnight (GMT) at the end of next Sunday, December 20. I'll pick a winner first thing on the Monday morning.