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  • Writer's pictureJustyna

From tattoos to short rows

Updated: Feb 28

I've been knitting almost every day since I gave birth to my son. Well, that would be almost 14 years! Time flies so fast... During that time I've not only created my own designs but I also, quite successfully, knit following patterns by other talented knitters. One of them has been Woolly Wormhead.

I think the first time our paths crossed (quite unconsciously, for me at least!) was when both of us published hat designs for Petite Purls. That was back in 2012, I knit "I Heart Cables" and Woolly published a cute sideways beanie, Bóithrín. One look at her design and I knew that lady is super talented!

Over the many years I've knit several hats for me and my kids following Woolly's instructions. They have always taught me something new - like Kitchener in Garter stitch in the aforementioned Bóithrín, which I later made for my son. Álfur (pictured below) is probably my most loved hat for kids designed by Woolly - it looks super cute, works really well with all yarns and it's so fun to make. I also knit hats for me, like Rubbish Mohitos that I sadly need to reknit as I lost it somewhere (yep, I lose hats all the time!)

From Woolly's website, we can read:

"Hats are fascinating. They are relatively quick to knit, but they are also endlessly versatile. I think of my Hat designs as sculptures and 3D objects. I build them in my head, then construct them with my hands.

My educational background is in textiles and engineering. I’m an Electronics Engineer and Teacher by trade; I hold a BA in Textiles and a postgrad PGCE in Art & design from Goldsmiths, London. I have always been curious about how textiles were made – this sense of curiosity continues to fuel both my work and my life. As a child I would experiment with hand-dyeing, dress-making, and designing my own clothes. Later I explored silversmithing and pattern-cutting. While my background informs my work as a Hat architect, I do not let it define me. Instead I use my skill set to push against the boundaries of my craft. I want to keep inventing new methods of knitting Hats."

In 2016, I think, maybe 2015, we have finally met in person. That was the time when I traveled a lot to various yarn festivals and made friends with fellow designers. We talked, laughed, knit together and shared experiences. I learned that Woolly is not only a talented hat architect but a witty and genuine human being as well, so when she invited me to make a design in her latest book I immediately said "yes!"

Photo taken during Edinburgh Yarn Festival 2016, from left: me, Kirsten Kapur, Thea Coleman, Melanie Berg, Felicity Ford and Woolly Wormhead.

Edinburgh Yarn Festival 2019, from left: Isabell Kraemer, Asia Janeczek, Woolly Wormhead, me and Jonna Helin.

"Short Row Cololorwork" is a must have for anyone who loves to play with short rows. It's quite common to learn short rows to shape back neck or bust darts but Woolly's take on this technique is a completely new thing. These short rows make colors undulate, ripple and weave through garter stitch like you've never seen before. It contains 50 stitch patterns, which can be knit flat or in the round and 10 projects by Woolly and guest designers.

Here's a sneak peek of "Wavelength Cowl" - a perfect design from the book to learn how short row colorwork works in the round.

Finally, why tattoos you might ask? It's a funny story actually. The fact I love colorful tattoos is not a secret. I have covered parts of my body with fabulous work by various talented Polish tattoo artists. Some time ago I asked Karolina Nowicka-Matacz to tattoo my older kids on my forearms. I didn't want any "almost real" portraits just colorful cartoons resembling them. Wojtek picked to be a hedgehog, Agnieszka a tortoise and Karolina drew them from photos I provided. Well, in one of them Aga was wearing a hat I knit for her. Take a look! That's Aga wearing "Kilbride" hat...

...and my "Woolly Wormhead" tattoo. How about that?

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