At Woolyknit, we love to see your amazing yarn creations on social media, and each month we like to get to know a small business owner and celebrate their amazing talent. This week we chatted to the lovely Holly Woodward about her crochet patterns and the values behind her incredible brand.
Holly designed her first cardigan pattern whilst on furlough during lockdown and has since taken the crochet community by storm with her beautiful size inclusive wearable patterns. In our interview with Holly, we chatted about why crafting can be so beneficial for mental health, the importance of size inclusivity in pattern design, and her Six Square Method.
Tell us a bit about yourself and how YOU STARTED HOLLY WOODWARD DESIGNS
Hi, I’m Holly! I’m a full-time crochet designer (that always feels so weird to say) living in South Yorkshire with my lovely partner and my house rabbit, Betty.
I’ve always been a very creative person and have dabbled in watercolour painting, pottery throwing and modern calligraphy, but my longest creative love affair is with yarn. I love everything about yarn, and I could happily spend all day in a LYS, or frantically browsing online. My oldest memory is receiving a Knit Your Own scarf kit from a family friend one Christmas and I still have the needles. I don’t know where the scarf is, but it probably didn’t resemble much as I was only 11 and learnt solely from YouTube videos! From then, I remember dragging my poor parents around every yarn shop in sight.
Like many others, I lost my job during the Covid-19 lockdown. It was a couple of weeks of pure panic and I really used my crochet as a crutch not only for my mental health, but as something to keep me busy. I designed my first cardigan whilst on furlough, and it was pretty much ready to get tested, so I just went for it. I was incredibly lucky to have a great response from my first pattern release and it gave me the confidence to keep designing. I do believe things happen for a reason and now I couldn’t be happier doing what I love the most!
Describe YOUR WORK in 3 words
Inclusive, fun and distinctive.
WHAT INSPIRES YOUR PATTERNS?
I always find this question so hard to answer as I find inspiration absolutely EVERYWHERE. I try to make my designs relevant to current popular styles but some of my ideas are just a bit bizarre, such as my Brie Jumper! I stalk Pinterest daily for great colour combinations, but I am mostly inspired by the crochet and knit community.
WHAT’S YOUR BEST CROCHET HACK/TOP TIP?
My most favourite hack in the world is one my partner helped me come up with. I have made hundreds of granny squares in the last 12 months and I needed a way to make the process as efficient as possible. My Gigi Cardigan and Gigi Jumper patterns do require a lot of squares, so we devised the Six Square Method to help make the process feel a lot less daunting. It’s honestly my favourite hack ever and I can’t make a granny square normally now!
WHAT ADVICE DO YOU HAVE FOR ANYONE THAT WOULD LIKE TO START WRITING THEIR OWN PATTERNS?
My honest advice is to just to go for it!! It sounds cheesy, but if anyone needs that final nudge of confidence, I am more than happy to provide it.
Read other patterns. By no means copy their works or maths but see what you like and dislike in another’s pattern and take that feedback back to your own work. Connect with the community, find likeminded makers online (and in person, if you can) and look for people to test out your pattern before you release it.
AT WOOLYKNIT, WE’RE BIG BELIEVERS IN THE POSITIVE EFFECT THAT CRAFTING CAN HAVE ON MENTAL HEALTH. WHY DO YOU THINK CRAFTING IS SO BENEFICIAL?
I think there is something incredibly therapeutic about craft, especially needlework. Crochet, knitting, sewing – they all involve repetitive movements that are proven to be good for reducing anxiety and stress in people. Patience is not a characteristic that I am blessed with but practicing crafts on a regular basis has really taught me to slow down, both in and out of work.
As a designer I can forget to enjoy the process of making and often focus mainly on the finished product (often for a deadline). However, I try to ensure that I always have an “out of hours” project on the go that is just for me. I’m currently knitting the Alone Together Sweater by Lærke Bagger as it’s an experiment in letting go and letting the yarn do all the hard work for you.
COULD YOU TELL US MORE ABOUT THE IMPORTANCE OF SIZE INCLUSIVITY IN PATTERN DESIGN AND WHY IT IS SUCH A VALUABLE PART OF YOUR BRAND?
It’s hard to put into words how important size inclusivity is to me. I pride myself on being a warm and inclusive person and designing clothing that ranges from 71cm – 158cm bust makes me feel in control of a small fraction of inclusivity in the world. I have a 118cm bust and would be characterised as Small Fat, but I do struggle to find clothing on the high street that isn’t too tight or doesn’t fit how I’d like. In my own designs, I sit right in the middle of the Craft Yarn Council standard sizing scale as a size XL so it’s easier for me to imagine the fit on both larger and smaller bodies.
There are so many beautiful designs currently available but unfortunately many designers only grade from XS to XL. It’s simply not good enough. The crochet community is incredibly diverse, and everyone deserves to feel welcome and appreciated in this community. Making non-size inclusive clothes singles out a significant proportion of makers and I don’t believe it’s right. Fat bodies are beautiful and absolutely worthy of stunning, comfortable and fun clothes, and I do question the message other non-inclusive designers are sending out. If my designs can make one other person feel a bit more at home in their own body, I will be ecstatic!
WHAT DO YOU WATCH/LISTEN TO WHILE YOU WORK?
I love to listen a good podcast whilst I’m making, especially something fun, informative or just silly. I also really enjoy listing to work-out playlists on Spotify to get me “pumped” for a day with the hook!
If I’m having a more chill working day, I’ll stick my latest Netflix binge on, but I often end up watching the telly more than my stitches – whoops!
WHAT DO YOU LIKE TO DO WHEN YOU’RE NOT CROCHETING?
The lockdown has really proven that crochet is my main hobby, so I was a little lost of what to do with myself to relax “after work”. I recently acquired a stand mixer from my mum and can’t seem to stop making my sister’s famous focaccia recipe! It’s been so lovely to have my family and friends over for socially distanced evenings in the garden and, whilst I’ve not been in a rush to get to the pubs, I can’t wait until I can get my hands on a nice cold pint of draught Guinness!