Posted in Knitting
September 20, 2011

Woolly Wormhead Bambeanies blog tour stop

Bambeanies is a new hat collection from Woolly Wormhead (Ravelry group) featuring 20 hat designs for children with a sizing range that covers newborns through adults. We all have an inner child, no? Well, now you can keep his or her head warm!
The thing I love about this book is not only that Woolly has created not only another fantastic book of patterns (her previous books Going Straight and Wee Woolly Toppers have a permanent place on my iPad) but that there is a lovely techniques section to help you grow your knit-millinery skills. I adore the illustrations — they make things perfectly clear, even for things I know some knitters find problematic, such as short rows. Happily, each pattern not only includes a schematic but also yardage requirements for each size. Very useful when you don’t want to play mathematician!



And now, a quick interview with Woolly herself, who’s been very successful publishing her own books, a topic that you all no doubt know is dear to my own heart:
What made you decide to self-publish originally?
When I wrote my very first book, ‘Going Straight – A New Generation of Knitted Hats’ – I suspected that it was a project that publishers wouldn’t be especially interested in, as it was quite a defined and niche project. I looked at the types of books being published and realised I had a very clear idea of how I wanted the book, and information to be presented, and I wasn’t prepared to compromise that! I dived in at the deep end, and learnt an awful lot.
The most important thing I learnt was that self publishing works for me; it allows me to work my job around my family and lifestyle, which is just as important as aesthetic control.
How do you think this has affected your design career? Looking back, would you have changed anything?
No, I don’t think I’d change anything. In fact, in some ways I wish I still had that confidence, that naïve stubbornness that I had.
I think now I’m known as a self publisher, to the extent that crossing over into the world of big house publishers would feel like a difficult transition. Not an impossible one, and not a possibility that I should ignore either; you can never say never.
Self publishing has come a long way, and there are many of us (yourself included!) who have worked very hard to get self published work to be appreciated and respected in the same way that work published by a mainstream publisher is. At the same time, it’s very important to understand that self publishing often fills the gaps that mainstream publishers leave, and it fills them very well, and that this is one of its strengths. We do have to work that much harder to be noticed, but it is its own reward. I like working in a niche.
The other strength of self publishing is the ability to choose how to publish. The publishing world is changing rapidly, and this, I think, is where self publishers are leading. I love books and paper, and am very keen to make my work available in print, yet it’s the revenue from digital sales that keeps a roof over our head and food on the table. Customers have the choice of formats; they can have their books instantly to use on their laptops/iPhone/e-book reader. They can cast-on immediately. If an error is found or something needs updating, it can be done with the push of a button. Without the ability to publish digitally, I wouldn’t have a business.
Do you think having greater control over how your work is published helps the work itself be higher quality? i.e. no rushed deadlines, ability to choose your own technical editors and working partners, etc?
Ooooh yes. I do just about everything that I can when I self publish. With the exception of my first book, all of the photography is mine. I do my own layout. I manage the entire project, from start to finish. I feel that it’s important that I learn how to do these things so I can fulfil my vision of how the book should be. By doing all of these things myself, I feel I add a much more personal element to the work.
Obviously things like tech editing and copy editing are outsourced; it’d be daft to think I could do those myself!
And as for deadlines… they stress me too much! I don’t work well under deadlines at all, yet I know many do, and in some ways I do envy them. Working at my pace allows me to ensure that all of the work is as ready and as polished as it could be. It means that if I need to wait for another photoshoot, or for the editor to check it all for the 4th time, then I can.
What’s the hardest part of doing a book like this?
I think the hardest part is the project management. It’s only me doing this, and trying to juggle all the aspects, as well as run a family and keeping the pennies coming in to feed the family, is tricky. I tend to get absorbed in things, which is both good and bad, and I do need reminding that time also needs to be budgeted, not just the funding.
What’s the most fun part, for you?
Definitely the designing. I’ve always loved quirky Hats, and for kids, you get free reign with the quirky!
I always used to say that I wanted to make kid style Hats for adults, because it wasn’t fair that kids should have all the fun and adults should be able to stick something kooky on their heads, too. Which is probably why I tend to include adult sizes in the kids Hats patterns….
That and seeing so knitters not only knit, but wear, my Hats!
HOW did you get all those adorable children to pose so nicely?!
Haha – I didn’t! I had to adopt a ‘machine gun’ method of photography as they moved so quickly! 3 year olds don’t stand still for anyone.
In the end, I think we had about 8 shoots. Some were short & sweet, as my son is nearly always on hand and happy to pose for the camera. We tried group shoots, which failed miserably, and discovered that for kids of this age, and for this project, photo shoots in pairs worked best. One boy (my son) with one doting girlfriend (but only one, as they got rather territorial) worked a treat.
Buy a copy of Bambeanies today!

The next stop on the Woolly tour is in Finland with the lovely Suvi Simola at 50 villapeikkoa! Here on Knitgrrl, we’ll be talking to Carol Feller about her new book Contemporary Irish Knits.

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