So it’s July, and I’m making fluffy winter hats. Maybe it’s a little deranged, it’s certainly a hot business, but there’s method in this madness. You see, the warm, wool-free summer months are the best time to devise and make a new winter collection. Not only do you have the luxury of feeling you have time to play, to experiment and get things wrong (because nobody needs to actually wear this stuff yet, right?, I’m looking at you, English summers!) but it feels exciting to be using a new selection of materials, colour combinations, textures and fibres. In case you are wondering about my process, it starts with a lot of trend research. A little snooping and being a flaneur in the right parts of town. And a degree of gut feeling. Twice a year, I will treat myself to the new issue of Textile View magazine, which I have used for years. It’s a textile nerd’s delight and probably dull as dishwater to anyone looking over my shoulder and seeing photos of squares of fabric and linear fashion doodles. But to me, it’s like breaking news. I love it, and I spend days poring over it, absorbing the new season’s feel so that I really understand it before I go on. Then, I’ll look in edgy stores and I’ll people watch in the East End, Brixton, or wherever a new vibe seems to be going on, and I’ll make notes on any new street trends I can see. Finally, I’ll come back to the studio and start gathering yarns, colour chips, images and swatches. I’ll doodle and sketch before playing about on my needles, hooks and machines to produce some samples. Then tweaking goes on for a bit, before I decide whether to put a design into my shop or not. This coming season, there are 4 main stories, only one of which I don’t think I’ll use much. It’s pale and neutral and doesn’t really suit my work much. There’s a bright story, full of unexpected yarn combinations, like sheer striped with thick and chunky, and with blocky, graphic colours, some of which haven’t been round for a while (I really like that emerald green). So far, my work on this one has yielded thoughts about geometric patterned knitted ties, colour work crochet purses, 80s Memphis-type patterns knitted into socks and bags, and busy patterned scarves. I’m enjoying playing about with these ideas. There’s also a very wearable country-tweed with a twist story, that knits fine yarns together to produce subtly-changing shadowy stripes. I’ve done some pieces like this before, and I’m adding in more texture this time, to keep it fresh. The colours of peacock, grass green and gold are really new and lovely to combine. I’m still at the early stages with this story but it feels like it will inspire some new colour combinations. Finally, my favourite story is season has to be the ‘interesting darks’ theme. Maybe it’s the old Goth in me but I am so happy when colors you can’t quite define come into vogue like this: a plum shot with deep violet, a greeny-black that is as rich as a beetle shell, a dark grey petrol…Within this theme there is the idea of adding a toot of metallic or glitter somewhere. Just a touch, mind, nothing ostentatious. When paired with the fluffy, furry and feathery textures that are also in fashion, this is intriguing, as the glint of metals iridescence peeps out at irregular intervals. I’ve been gathering yarns for this theme, and am leaning towards fluffy hats, snoods and big cosy scarves, all with a hint of shine somewhere. It’s fun combining yarns I wouldnt have paired before, and I am even using some of my archive Italian yarns from the 1990s, which seem to suit this look so well. I’ll add photos of the new finished pieces to my gallery page as they are complete, and they will be in my shops by the start of September. Just in time for the really early bird shoppers! So you see, it’s not so mad after all to be knitting warm hats in July….