Debriefing: Sneachda Tam


verb (used with object)

  1. to interrogate (a soldier, astronaut, diplomat, etc.) on return from a mission in order to assess the conduct and results of the mission.
  2. to question formally and systematically in order to obtain useful intelligence or information.

 (Definition from:

While I’m neither a soldier nor a diplomat (not to mention an astronaut) I feel it might still be useful for both aspiring knitwear designers and myself to take a good look at past (sub)missions – pun intended – and find out what’s been done good and where there’s, ahem, room for improvement.

I’ve borrowed this format from Jennifer at Tinking Turtle Designs, who’s kindly agreed to let me use her idea. You should hop over to her site – not only has she her own  submission briefings to share; you could also check out quite a few very nice crochet and knitting patterns and designer interviews. Also, there’s cats. 🙂


Since the Sneachda Tam has been released now, it’s time for another debriefing…

The beautiful and inspiring moodboard

I responded to a call for submissions by SweetGeorgia Yarns – if you’re interested to see how such a call can look like, click the link or the pic. The general mood was supposed to be:

Into the woods. Crisp air. Shocking colour amidst fading and fragile foliage. Seeking comfort and warmth. Wrapped in cozy layers.


Things Done Well

  • I’ve tweaked the layout a little bit more and think I’ll keep it that way. All relevant information has its place, but I can move around the individual sections and adjust their size according to the space they need.
  • I actually knitted the complete design once before submitting – I like to do that for small projects to get a feel how the idea in my head translates into an actual knitted piece.
  • The design concept is written more concise as before – I’ve started to use bullet point lists to remind myself of keeping things short and to the point. No more rambling “Oh, no’s” for me!

Could Have Been Better

  • Swatch: I went a bit overboard with the different coloured versions of my sample tam. That’s owing to the fact that
    • A: I recently learned how to change the colour of things in Gimp
    • B: There was a lot of space to fill (you can probably tell…)
  • I could have done a little more about the yarn – colour suggestions, small pics of the proposed colourways, a few more words about the qualities than “Any sock yarn will do”

What Have I Been Thinking?

  • This time there’s nothing really abysmal to whine about. Phew!
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New Pattern: Sneachda Tam

Autumn Storm

Autumn Storm (Photo credit: Claus Tom)

For the last two days the first big autumn storm has been sweeping across the land and ended the illusion of summer we had in my little part of the world. Now it’s really time to get wooly sweaters, gloves and mittens, scarves and hats out of summer storage – and a great excuse to cast on new accessory projects in cozy, soft luxury yarns. Because, you know, winter’s right around the corner…

So I’m happy to announce that my “Sneachda Tam” pattern has been released just in time by the great team of SweetGeorgia Yarns.

Picture courtesy of SweetGeorgia Yarns

Picture courtesy of SweetGeorgia Yarns

It features a deceptively simple textured pattern forming into a snowflake-like* shape on the crown. Your Sneachda Tam will be crisp and perky when knit with a springy sock yarn or smooth and slouchy in a soft luxury blend. To knit this tam, you’ll need just one skein of Tough Love Sock or CashLuxe Fine and a set of 2.5 mm DPNs (or circulars, if you do magic loop).

* If you were intrigued by the name, Sneachda is Scottish Gaelic for “snow”.


SGY CashLuxe Fine in Terra Firma

I had a little talk with Felicia Lo, mastermind behind and founder of SGY, in which I answered her questions about my knitting preferences, my inspiration for this design and my designing process in general:

What is your preferred type of yarn to work with?
Regarding yarn, I’m a boring conservative. I prefer smooth texture, solid or semisolid colourways, medium weights, natural fibers. Those are, in my eyes, the most versatile — you can turn them into everything your imagination can come up with.

What is your knitting style? Continental or English or both?
I knit continental. I’d love to be able to do both (so handy for colourwork knitting), but my attempts so far have been less than successful. You know the feeling of suddenly having only thumbs on your hand? That’s me trying to knit English style…

How did you learn to knit?
It started when I was little with garter stitch rectangles. And stayed there for quite a while. Though my mother was a great knitter, she was no knitting teacher! But I returned to knitting time and again after long periods of abstinence, and finally got hooked for good when I discovered all that wealth of patterns, knowledge, teachers and communities of knitters on the internet.

Sneachda Tam

Boy, did I want to keep this hat!

Do you practise any other fibre crafts?
You bet! I’m a fiberholic (though knitting has been taking first place for quite a while now). I do a little crochet, own a small weaving loom and a spinning wheel as well as a few drop spindles. For a few years I’ve been recreating historic textiles with ancient techniques such as tablet-weaving and needle binding from handspun yarns I dyed with plants I gathered or grew myself. Point me in the general direction of a fiber related craft and I’ll go for it!

Are you drawn to any particular textures or attributes of knitted fabric?
I like the versatility — the fascination that with the same yarn and needles you can create such a wealth of different textures and styles, and I love to combine those in a design.

What is the best piece of knitting advice you have ever been given?
I really can’t tell. I’ve learned so much over the years — and I’ve benefitted from all of it. So maybe the best piece of knitting advice I could give you is: Never stop learning. Always try out something new. Be ever on the lookout for a better technique, a different construction method, a new way of doing something that you’ve done hundreds of times before. You might discover a hidden treasure…

What tip(s) would you give to an aspiring designer?
Just do it! Read patterns by many designers to learn about pattern structure and writing style and find your own preferences. Join a designer community (the Ravelry groups for designers and budding designers offer invaluable advice, for example). Submit your ideas to publications — even if you end up self-publishing, I find that immensely useful to help structure my thoughts and ideas on a particular design and give it a good hard look regarding feasibility.

What kind of needles or hooks do you prefer to use? ie Metal, acrylic, or wood? Straight, circular, or DPN? Why?
No general preferences here. I’m glad there’s so many to choose from, so I can always use the best tool for the task at hand.

Snow flake? Or spider web? (Can you tell it's near Halloween?)

Snow flake? Or spider web? (Can you tell it’s near Halloween?)

Did you learn something new writing this pattern?

Oh, definitely! This is my first published tam design — I learned a lot about the different ways of spacing and calculating the decreases and how the chosen decrease technique affects the form and style of the crown.

How did you name this pattern?

The finished crown of the tam reminded me of a snowflake — but a Ravelry pattern search for designs named something with snow or snowflake turned up a whole bunch of patterns. I didn’t want to steal the name, so I turned to other languages. Since I have a particular affinity to the Celtic languages (who wouldn’t love a language that can string dozens of letters together and pronounce them ‘a’?) and found: ‘Sneachda’ (Scottish Gaelic for snow).

Where did you get the inspiration to design this pattern?
I’d been playing around with the ringlet stitch for a while — swatching and considering how and where I could use this stitch. That’s often where I start: I stumble upon a stitch pattern or find a pleasing texture and set out to design something that lets this feature shine. The ringlet stitch, I discovered, looked good combined with decreases. I didn’t feel like making a bottom up shawl out of it, so I turned to the other accessory that features lots of decreases — a tam! I swatched, I liked the look, I wrote a pattern…:-)

Did you encounter any ‘hang ups’ writing this pattern?
Luckily, no. I usually do, but this was smooth sailing all the way through.


Thanks to SGY for providing me with this gorgeous yarn (I had a hard time letting go of it) and to Tara Rafiq who did a great test-knitting job!

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