The Edinburgh Yarn Festival

The knitting internet has been abuzz with reports from the Edinburgh Yarn Festival these past two weeks. You may well already have read about the amazing atmosphere, the inspiring classes and the wonderful products on offer.  But we just had to add our own voices to the chiming chorus of praise for a truly spectacular event and, of course, to let you all know a little bit about some exciting new things that will be coming to TIK as a result of our research trip!

Jenny overwhelmed by pretty yarn at EYF

While we took lots of photos of the stands and pretty knits, this one of Jenny seems to sum up the weekend the best… Walking in to the marketplace on Friday was literally a jaw dropping experience. It’s difficult to describe in words the impact of so many beautiful yarns in one place, alongside the buzz of the (massive) crowds of knitters and the energy of the many enthusiastic stallholders.

Self Striping Sock Yarn at EYF

We dove right in to the melee and spent a wonderful afternoon immersed in colour, texture and creativity.  Frequently our eyes were caught by a stunning garment or accessory passing by. Many hardy knitters disregarded the rising heat levels among the crowds and continued to proudly display their wares. My own Cameo was packed away after the first hour, but those wonderful knitters have placed “Breathing Space“, “Enchanted Mesa“, “Epistrophy” firmly at the top of my queue. This gorgeous Carpino also made me delighted about my choice of project for our Spring KAL!

Carol Feller at EYF

Speaking of Carpino, Carol Feller was just one of the many familiar faces we spotted. She was at EYF to exhibit her own exclusive yarn line, called “Nua“.  If you haven’t had a chance to check it out yet then pop on in to the shop for a peek when you can!  We also got the chance to catch up with some of our previous guest tutors, including Woolly Wormhead and Justnya Lorkowska. Justnya will be back at TIK this coming July (details very soon) and we’re hoping to nab Woolly for a return trip to Dublin later in the year too.

Lisa wearing Tsumuzikaze at The Fibre Co stand at EYF

So back to the pretties then. If you’ve been following our social media these last few days you will know we have already had a delivery of yarns from The Fibre Co. Their stand was really special, filled with truly stunning yarns, fresh flowers and fabulous samples. Among them was Tsumuzikaze, which I had been eyeing since it’s release and just had to try on. It is wrong to order a whole line of yarn based on a love for one project? If so, I don’t want to be right… 😉

Tilly Flop cards at EYF

Keep an eye out for more fabulous new lines coming to our shelves in the coming months, and not just yarns either. How about these quirky cards from Tilly Flop? Top picks from her range for me were: “Casting on Means You Believe in Tomorrow” and “Congratulations on your new yarn storage facility home”.   These will be in stock very soon, so you’ll be sorted the next time there’s a special occasion for the other knitters in your life.

Spin City Drop Spindles displayed in tea pots at EYF

Beyond the research and the networking, EYF was also a really fun weekend away. Edinburgh is a stunning city, and somewhere I’d very much like to go back and explore further some day.  There was knitting, prosecco, dancing, selfies, silliness and lots and lots of wonderful people under one roof.

Thanks to Jo and Mica for making it all possible, and congratulations to you both on an absolutely stellar event.

Postcard style collage of snap shots from Edinburgh Yarn Festival

EYF Photobooth with Yvonne of Dublin Dye Company, Kersti of Knitmastery and Lisa and Jenny from This is Knit

 

Interview: Kate from A Playful Day and her journey in the online sphere

It’s an exciting time to be part of the independent, creative world. There has been a worldwide resurgence in the appreciation of craft and we’re seeing a growing recognition of the power of collaboration and support within the creative industries. This sense of community and collective momentum was evident in spades at the recent Edinburgh Yarn Festival, where Kate from A Playful Day took a few minutes out to tell us more about her own journey in the online sphere.

Blogging planning in progress. A still life with coffee, iPad, Journal, Yarn and Camera. Image by Kate from A Playful Day.
(c) Kate O’Sullivan, A Playful Day

When and why did you start the “A Playful Day” podcast and blog?

A Playful Day began as a blog in 2010 when I was struggling with my job. I felt suffocated and was ill a lot of the time. I used to commute for hours a day and while I did, I listened to knitting podcasts. At the weekends I devoured blogs and I felt like I wanted to be a part of that world. I began A Playful Day as a reminder to find a playful moment in everyday and it kind of grew from there. People responded to my photography and writing as I documented simple pleasures like curling up with a knitting project or my new favourite soup recipe. The idea of dwelling on life’s little moments is something we all need to remember from time to time I think.

What doors have been opened for you as a result of the “A Playful Day”?

My whole life changed because of A Playful Day! At first, the blog and podcast were something I did alongside a job I desperately wanted to escape from but soon it began to lead me to new spaces. Magazines, designers and yarn companies began to take notice of my writing and the community I was creating. I started freelancing, helping these businesses put their best foot forward online by managing their social media accounts, developing campaign plans or helping with press releases. I didn’t really know what I was doing at first but realised I was developing skills every day that online businesses desperately needed to excel at to stand out. I’m a curious person so I stuck with it to see where it would lead me.

Over the years, the blog and podcast became a place brands wanted to collaborate meaning it began to support my daughter and I financially. APD was a portfolio and I began taking bookings as a photographer, writer and content creator. One day, I travelled to Dorset for an interview and fell head over heels in love with the landscape. When I stumbled across a sweet little thatched cottage, I jumped. Packing my daughter, myself and what possessions I could move in a van, we switched city life for the country. Now I am a regular contributor at Project Calm magazine and am the Brand Marketing Manager for The Fibre Co. All this happened because of a blog that began with a cookie recipe for friends; I am constantly grateful!

Knitting and an iPhone on a distressed wood table. Still life by Kate from A Playful Day.
(c) Kate O’Sullivan, A Playful Day

Have there been any key milestones along the way – when you felt you were taking your online presence to the “next level”? What led to these developments?

Having been doing this online thing for 7 years, I often say that when you start building an online presence, there are milestones in growth. At first, you just share and are amazed people find you. Just putting it out there feels like a big step. Soon you start to realise you might need to find a more strategic way of sharing if you want to grow an audience or community, especially if you’re doing it for business. This is the stage that often leads a lot of people to do more: more tweets, more blog posts, launching a new challenge….. it can get a bit much and burn out isn’t uncommon.

I think for me, the moment I realised I was ‘doing it’ was when I did less, more strategically. I slowed down and looked at what my audience consistently responded to and then I used that to shape what I did. Increasingly, press requests came without any effort on my part- my content was out there and being shared in ways I wasn’t controlling anymore. I looked at my website and thought about what it said to a new visitor. Could people find what they needed? I shared from the heart and I spoke directly to people and then I carefully went about putting myself out there in such an unguarded way. This is a tricky balance and defining my boundaries so I could be myself was a big personal milestone.

Simple coffee and knitting plans by Kate from A Playful Day
(c) Kate O’Sullivan, A Playful Day

2016 was the year everything came together. I was flying to international events, speaking in front of rooms full of creative people and collaborating with some of the most inspiring businesses I know. My work was been shared on so many prestigious platforms that I sometimes have to hide a bit or I get overwhelmed! At the core though, I was a single parent who worked freelance and those things were what I needed for my daughter and I to have the beautiful life we now have here in Dorset. You know you’re doing it right when you’re living your life and your heart sings. If you’re too tired and strung out to enjoy it? It’s time to regroup. I

What can your workshops offer to people who are sharing their creativity online for purely personal reasons?

I’ve called myself a story teller for years. When I write, photograph or shoot a video I start with a simple question, “What is the story here?” For me, chasing a story has led to a complete life change- the possibilities are endless! You can escape into a creative life, or you can heal. You can find yourself or you can explore the idea of a business you didn’t imagine months before. Unleashing that creativity will wrap you in a community that responds to what you are creating. Even if you’re doing it just for fun- how good does owning your identity feel?

A knitter holding an iPad with Ravelry home page on the screen with a cup of tea in the background. Image by Kate from A Playful Day
(c) Kate O’Sullivan, A Playful Day

You have written recently about the importance of slowing down and taking a step back sometimes. How do you think people can approach their online presence more thoughtfully?

The online world gets a lot of stick for being fake, too fast, too critical, too much. I am a strong believer that you can find your place online and use it to nurture your sense of self and your creativity. You can try on an identity that you might not be brave enough to in your everyday life. Women aren’t restricted by childcare or glass ceilings online. Yes, these issues exist but there are so many women forging paths online and they’re doing it as they hold hands with others around them. You can choose the path you want online because the possibilities really are endless. I’ve made friends for life thanks to our worlds colliding online. Without this creative world, I’d be a much less developed person, I’m sure of it.

Would you like to know more? You can catch Kate here at This is Knit over the weekend of the 13th and 14th of May, as she teaches a series of workshops on writing, smart phone photography & social media skills.  Pop on over to those links and book now – this creative community is going great places, and we’re going there together!

Top Tips from the KAL Cast On

We had a fantastic afternoon in the shop on Saturday, when we officially kicked off our Spring KAL with a bunch of lovely knitters and a healthy dose of sugar and caffeine!

Lots of enthusiastic knitters at the This is Knit Spring KAL Cast On Party

For many of us swatching was the order of the day, and there was some cajoling, coaxing and convincing to be done about the merits of the task. My own swatch showed just how crucial an exercise it is – on the recommended 3.5mm needles I was no where close to hitting the 23 st tension required. My own version of Carpino will now be knit on 4mm needles.

Measuring a swatch at the This is Knit Spring KAL Cast On Party

There were a number of other techniques discussed and demonstrated during the afternoon so, for the benefit of those who couldn’t be there, here are some helpful links to tutorials on the topics that were raised.

Swatching

The SSK Decrease.

Short Row Shaping

Blocking (this post is about lace knitting, but the principles are the same: soak, squeeze, shape and leave to dry)

Joining to knit in round, being careful not to twist (an example on DPNs, but equally applicable to circular needles)

Spit splicing (it’s magic – really).

 

Close up of a knitter swatching for their chosen sweater at the This is Knit Spring KAL Cast On Party

By the way, it’s not too late to join in the KAL antics. Anyone who completes their KAL Sweater in TIK Yarn before Saturday 13th of May will be in with the chance to win some of our fabulous prizes.  Thanks again to everyone who came along and we hope to see you at our next meet up on Saturday 1st April, if not before!

Two knitters getting to know each other at the This is Knit Spring KAL Cast On Party

It’s KAL Cast On Day!

Today at 3pm we’ll be hosting the official TIK Spring KAL Cast On Party! We’ve a lovely afternoon of tea, cake and knitting planned. We’re looking forward to welcoming our KAL knitters in to the shop for a few tips and tricks on their chosen pattern and for a bit of a general natter too.

A welcoming image of the exterior of This is Knit on a sunny morning.

If you’re just learning about the KAL today, or if you’ve been following our posts and are still undecided about joining, then rest assured you don’t have to be casting on today.  We’ll be delighted to welcome new members over the course of the Knitalong and everyone who completes their project in TIK yarn before Saturday 13th of May will be in the running for our fabulous prizes.

We posted a fun graphic during the week, showing the relative popularity of the four sweater designs. Here’s the very latest update:

A pie chart showing the relative popularity of the four KAL sweater designs.

As you can see “Ravello” is proving the most popular so far, and we’ve been putting together some lovely colour combinations for this design over the past while.  We thought we’d share a few suggestions today, just in case there are a few of you still seeking inspiration…

Colour Suggestions for the This is Knit Spring KAL 2017 in Clarendon Sock
L-R: Clarendon Sock in Velvet, Toffee Pop and Mustard Seeds

 

Colour Suggestions for the This is Knit Spring KAL 2017 in Malabrigo Sock
L-R: Malabrigo Sock in Alcuacil, Natural and Tiziano Red

 

Colour Suggestions for the This is Knit Spring KAL 2017 in Mechita
L-R: Malabrigo Mechita in Teal Feather, Pearl and Light of Love

 

Colour Suggestions for the This is Knit Spring KAL 2017 in Mechita
L-R: Malabrigo Mechita in Frank Ochre, Water Green and Polar Morn

Can you tell that we got a lovely delivery of Malabrigo Yarns during the week??? Don’t forget that you’ll receive 10% off your KAL yarn, using the code SKAL17 …

So, have we tempted you to join us?

The Townhouse Doodler

We have another gorgeous finished shawl to share with you today – Jenny’s version of Stephen West’s “The Doodler“.  This design has been getting a lot of attention in the shop, and it’s easy to see why. The unique construction and clever use of colour both draw the eye, and the beautiful drape and butter-soft texture of Clarendon Sock create a wrap that you would never want to take off.

The Doodler by Stephen West in Townhouse Yarns Clarendon Sock

Jenny used “Toffee Pop”, “Mustard Seeds” and “Velvet” for her version and the effect is really striking.  There are so many stunning versions on Ravelry for colour inspiration too. We’re particularly in love with bronze, teal and grey  but there’s no limit to the options really!

It’s fair to say that Stephen West is a truly unique knitting pattern designer. He embraces colour and texture wholeheartedly and his designs are created with a true sense of fun and adventure.  He frequently encourages knitters to push their boundaries and to see yarn as something to be played with. And if you love this approach then his latest music video is sure to make you smile!

The Doodler in Townhouse Yarns Clarendon Sock Close Up

If all that pop is a little too much for you though, then we would still encourage you to look at some of Stephen’s designs in a more pared back light. A case in point is Enchanted Mesa – a stash busting sweater design, with short rows and funky eyelets that draw attention to the changes in colour and texture.

Image of the original Enchanted Mesa Design by Stephen West, featuring colourful yarns in an autumnal palette
Enchanted Mesa Image (c) Westknits

Then look again at versions by MelleChou and KatiWoolF, and suddenly we are using words like “refined” and “elegant”, rather than “wild” and “eye-catching”. One approach may suit you more as a knitter, or you might love both. Either way, you can’t argue that Stephen’s designs are clever and versatile and more than worth paying attention to…

Golden Yellow Solid Colour Version of Stephen West's Enchanted Mesa Knitting Pattern
Enchanted Mesa (c) MelleChou (on Ravelry)

Have you knit any of Stephen West’s designs? Check out Stephen’s latest Mystery Knitalong here. (If you’re not too busy with our Spring KAL, that is!)

Swatching for our Spring KAL

While the official cast on date for our Spring Knit-a-long is this coming Saturday the 4th of March, we know there will be some very diligent knitters out there, swatching away in their chose yarns in preparation.  Others among you might be reluctant, or even uncomfortable, with the concept of swatching. How do you know how big a swatch should be? Or be sure that you are measuring it correctly?

Well, luckily, we have two very informative blog posts from our archives to share with you today. One covers swatching for flat knitting and the other discusses swatches for knitting in the round.

All of our KAL projects are knit on circular needles and so, ideally, your tension should be measured over a piece of fabric that has been knit in the round. You should still have a read over both tutorials though, as there are some basics covered in the first article and they are referred back to in the second post.

A selection of Hedgehog Fibres Sock Yarn. One of the yarns suitable to be used in the This is Knit Spring Knitalong 2017

Getting the tension right is an essential part of successful knitting but it’s also very important to be sure that you like the fabric that is being created by your chosen yarn when it is knitted at that gauge. Do you think it will suit the design well? Do you want your fabric to be structured or flowing? Does the yarn show the stitch pattern well? Taking the time to ask these questions before actually casting on for a project is a really worthwhile exercise.  It’s all about starting well, before you actually start…

We’re on hand to offer advice and opinions if you have queries about any aspect of your swatching experience. If you are attending the Cast On Party then please bring along your tension pieces. Otherwise feel free to post questions here in the comments, over on the Ravelry thread or on social media using the hashtag #TIKKAL17

Join Our Spring KAL 2017

It’s almost time to get knitting! Have you chosen your Spring Knit-a-Long pattern yet? Our official cast on date will be Saturday the 4th of March, so there’s still time to review the pattern options discussed in our blog posts from last week.  We first looked at Carpino and Ravello, and then learned a little more about Timeless Henley and Nogat. It will be tough to choose a favourite!

Join the This is Knit Spring Knit-a-Long with a choice of four light weight sweater patterns from four independent designers, all knit in 4ply yarn.

How to Sign Up:

Choose your pattern and either purchase and download it direct from Ravelry or come in to the shop where we can purchase it for you, and add it to your Ravelry library.

Select your yarn, buy online or in our shop and receive a 10% discount with the code SKAL17

Make sure we have your details by signing up to be a KAL Member here. When signing up you also can let us know if you’ll be coming along to the our Cast On Party at 3pm on Saturday 4th of March.

A Little Help From Your Friends:

At the Cast On party we will be offering short demonstrations and general technique assistance, so be sure to come along armed with questions! We’ll also feature tips and tricks here on the blog, and there will be group support available through our dedicated thread over on Ravelry.

Ad hoc support will also be available in the shop, on the usual basis (5-10 minutes of assistance once a staff member is free) and you can also post questions to any of our social media accounts (using the hashtag #TIKKAL17) and we’ll get right back to you.

All-Important Prizes:

Everyone who completes their project before Saturday the 13th of May will be in with the chance to win some of our fabulous KAL prizes!

Our wonderful featured designers have each sponsored pattern prizes, and there will be TIK Goodie Bags up for grabs too!

So what are you waiting for? Sign up to participate in our Spring KAL today.

Two More Pattern Choices for our Spring KAL

Did you spot our Spring Knit-a-Long announcement earlier this week? In that post we introduced two of the four pattern options for this year’s KAL, so today we’re going to take a quick look at the other two designs – Timeless Henley and Nogat.

Timeless_Henley_2_medium2

TIMELESS HENLEY

A refined, tailored sweater with rib and lace details, Joji Locatelli’s Timeless Henley is the sweater that you would wear to Sunday brunch or tea with friends. The buttons on the henley neckline are carried through the design to the deep cuffs on the sleeves, and the lace motif is an easy-to-memorise repeat that lends further interest to the overall design.

Choosing this pattern would allow those of you who are comfortable with Top Down Raglan construction, to try Top Down Set In Sleeves for the first time.  This method will require close attention to gauge, which means diligent swatching, but again we’re here to help!

Set In Sleeves are generally considered to be the most flattering of sleeve shapes so, if you’re a fan of seamless knitting, it’s certainly worth giving this method a go.  For project inspiration you can click on through to Ravelry here.

A screenshot showing how to select Most Favourites as the sorting method when viewing finished projects on Ravelry

Also, to see the best and brightest versions of each design make sure you have selected “Most Favourites” from the drop down menu toward the top of the page.

Our top yarn picks for this pattern are Malabrigo Mechita and Hedgehog Fibres Sock Yarn (we received shipment from Hedgehog just this week).

Nogat by Justyna Lorkowska

NOGAT

Nogat really has it all going on: cables, lace, garter and rib plus a glamorous scooped neckline – this is one elegant sweater. The designer, Justyna Lorkowska, describes Nogat as a “lively and adventurous sweater”. This is one adventure we’d love to help you embark on!

We’re back to the Top Down Raglan method here, but the non-standard neckline should add an element of interest to the technique. And then the fun really starts, as every row will combine panels of intriguing stitch patterns.

There are many spectacular finished versions on Ravelry, and it would certainly be worth browsing through the projects to decide on the amount of ease and length that would suit your own shape best.  This is one of the many advantages of top-down knitting: you’ll be able to try on the garment and custom fit the project as you go.

As with all the project choices you can work them in any 4ply yarn, but we quite fancy Fade St 4ply and Debbie Bliss Rialto 4ply for this particular design.

Join the This is Knit Spring Knit-a-Long with a choice of four light weight sweater patterns from four independent designers, all knit in 4ply yarn.

Are you ready to join our Spring Knit-a-Long? Check back very soon for all the details on yarn discounts, fabulous prizes and, of course, how to register ahead of the start date of Saturday 4th of March.

Our Favourites in Falkland

You know those yarns, right? The ones you pick up just to try, and then they work their subtle charms upon you and your needles? Before you know it, you’re in love, and you find yourself returning to those skeins again and again. It’s a special kind of magic, because we all know there are too many yarns and so little time, but we’ve been captivated and we keep coming back for more…

Debbie Bliss Falkland Aran selection of shades photographed by This is Knit, Dublin

Our latest crush? Debbie Bliss Falkland Aran.

At first glance you might be forgiven for thinking this is just another Merino yarn. However, it stands apart when you learn that the fibres are sourced exclusively from organically-farmed sheep in the Falkland Islands. The fleece of the Falkland sheep is also particularly white, so the resulting dyed shades are pure and lustrous in the skein. This quality really is visible in the finished yarn and it shines through to the knitted fabric too.

We have not one, not two but three shop projects in this yarn to share with you today and we think they demonstrate the versatility and the squishability of this yarn. (Did we mention we’re in love?)

The Curam Hat by Ysolda Teague knit in Debbie Bliss Falkland Aran, Shop Sample at This is Knit Dublin, laid flat and styled with co-ordinating yarn and needles.

Cúram by Ysolda Teague

A deep rib, striking cables and a perfect pom pom topper. Cúram is a hat that will get noticed!  The snug folded brim is optional, but as it’s both practical and stylish it was a winner for us. We love this in the rich Claret shade but it would be stunning in Ecru too.

Barley Hat by TinCanKnits, knit in Debbie Bliss Falkland Aran, modelled at This is Knit, Dublin

The Barley Hat

The Barley Hat from TinCanKnits is an ideal first project if you are learning to knit in the round and the perfect quick-knit if you’re already a whiz with circular needles.  Whether you prefer the beanie or slouchy style there’s plenty of yarn in one skein of Falkland Aran to make your hat of choice. Don’t forget the pattern comes in sizes from baby all the way up to adult large, and that TinCanKnits have wonderful tutorials on their site to walk you through the pattern if this is your first adventure in hat knitting.

The Gothic Lace Cowl by TinCanKnits in Falkland Aran from Debbie Bliss at This is Knit, Dublin

The Gothic Lace Cowl

Another fabulous design from TinCanKnits, the Gothic Lace Cowl features a simple, satisfying and quick stitch pattern. Again this is an ideal project for a new lace knitter and a full tutorial is provided if you’d like to jump in and try something new.

So there you have it. A yarn that shines in stockinette and creates cables with spectacular definition. As you can see, it works up just as well in cushy garter stitch as it does in detailed lace repeats. You can see why we fell for it, can’t you?


Curam Hat by Ysolda Teague knit in Debbie Bliss Falkland Aran modelled in This is Knit, Dublin

Is there any one particular yarn you are head over heels for? We’d love to hear about it in the comments!

Join our Indie Designer Knit-a-Long this March

It will soon be Knit-a-Long time again here at This is Knit, and this year we’re encouraging you all to dive in to lightweight garment knitting for spring.

Join the This is Knit Spring Knit-a-Long with a choice of four light weight sweater patterns from four independent designers, all knit in 4ply yarn.

This year we’re all about lightweight garments, with a choice of 4 stunning sweaters, all knit in 4-ply yarn and coming from 4 of our favourite Independent Designers.

We’ve selected a range of designs, covering several unique techniques and across a spectrum of skill levels, so there’s something here for everyone. We’d encourage you to choose a pattern that’s just a bit out of your comfort zone though, and then make use of all the support that will be available to make that project a reality. Our aim is to help you learn some new skills along the way and to enjoy the process of knitting along with other members of the extended TIK community.

With four patterns to choose from we’re going to take a closer look today at two of the four designs: Carpino and Ravello.

Check back soon for our post highlighting options three and four for this KAL: “Timeless Henley” and “Nogat”. We’ll wrap everything up in a third blog post, with all the details about the yarn discount, the prizes on offer and the plans for our KAL Cast On Event!

CARPINO

Are you familiar with the top-down raglan technique, but would like to take it to the next level? Then Carpino may be the choice for you.  This refined design from Carol Feller features a simple lace repeat that adds texture and interest to the finished garment.

Carpino by Carol Feller
(c) Brooklyn Tweed / Jared Flood

For colour and styling inspiration have a browse through the beautiful selection of finished versions here on Ravelry.  As you can see, this design works well in many yarn types, but our suggestions are Debbie Bliss Fine Donegal and Townhouse Yarns Camden Tweed.

RAVELLO

Simple and stylish, Ravello by Isabell Kraemer is an ideal easy-going knit for those of you dipping your toes in the 4ply water… This design uses the seamless top-down raglan method too, so there’s no sewing up to worry about. It’s also a perfect choice if you’d like to mix in a bit of stash yarn to your KAL project, as you can base your colour choices around that special skein or two.

Ravello by Isabell Kraemer
(c) grasflecken

Again there’s lots of project inspiration on Ravelry, and we’d be delighted to help you with colour choices in the shop or by email.  We think Malabrigo Sock will be a popular option for this design and Juniper Moon Herriot Fine could be a winner too.

So what do you think of our line up so far? Are you tempted to jump in and knit either of these designs? Check back soon for more KAL info (including how to join in!), ahead of our official cast on date of Saturday 4th March…