“Work stitches as they appear” is an instruction that we get asked about at the counter a lot, so here’s a picture tutorial to help.

The key to this (and to much else in knitting) is the fact that knit and purl are just mirror images of each other. When you’re shown a stitch in isolation, you can’t tell whether it was knitted or purled on the previous round or row. This’ll illustrate: take a look at the picture at the top of this post. The first three stitches on the left hand needle have their smooth faces facing us. Now we’ll turn the work around:

This is the back of the same three stitches, and their bumpy sides are facing us. Smooth on one side, bumpy on the other. Were they knitted or purled?

Here’s two more pictures. That first stitch on the left hand needle has its bumpy side facing us…

…but when the work is turned around, there’s the familiar smooth V-shaped face (the needle it’s on is in the right hand of the knitter):

Bumpy one side, smooth on the other – knitted or purled?

When a pattern tells you to “work stitches as they appear”, it’s telling you to put a bump above a bump and a smooth face on top of a smooth face. That’s all: look at the row below and keep the sequence going. In practice, this means if you want a bump facing you, purl the stitch like this:

If you want a smooth face facing you, knit the stitch.

It’s as simple as that. The brilliant thing about this reversability of knitting is that you don’t need to know what you did on the row before. You can just look at the stitch in front of you, and that tells you what to do. It’s called “reading your knitting”, and it makes everything simpler! Don’t you just love the simple things?

We often get asked if there’s a clever way of knowing when you’re halfway through your yarn. It turns out that there’s a couple of ways, so we thought it would be useful to share them with you here.

First of all, when might you need to know such a thing? If you’re making toe-up socks and you know the mid point of your yarn, then you can just work till you approach that point and cast off. Result: matching socks with no leftovers!

Making a stunning scarf like Baktus or any of its lovely crochet variants is simple if you know the midpoint of your skein. The Heart to Heart Beaded Scarf in the picture above (and blogged about here) is another example: start at one side, increase until you’re half way through, then start to decrease. You can’t run out of yarn this way!

There’s two ways of finding out your midpoint. One takes longer than the other, but you don’t need any special equipment. The other just needs a digital scale and takes only as long as winding the yarn.

For the first method, take the two ends of your yarn, hold them together, and starting winding with the yarn held double. When you can’t wind any more, you’ll come to a loop right in the middle. That’s your mid point. Snip right there, and then start winding each end into its own ball (this is best done slowly, possibly in front of some good TV – wind a bit on one ball, wind a bit on the other to avoid tangling). This method has the advantage of finding the exact centre of the length.

The second method needs a digital scale. First of all, wind your yarn into a ball and weigh it. Now take one of the ends and start winding a new ball with it, leaving the first ball on the scales as it gets lighter. Keep an eye on the number as it goes down, and stop when you reach 50% of the original weight. That’s halfway. Snip the yarn there if you want two separate balls, or just tie a slip knot in the yarn and keep winding if you want just one ball.

The second method can easily give you thirds or quarters too. It works equally well whether you’re winding by hand or with a yarn winder

Blackrock

Isn’t this a gorgeous little slipover? It’s a brand new pattern called Blackrock from Yvonne McSwiney, who also hand-dyes that glorious Dublin Dye Company yarn, and it’s perfect for any smart little person from six months to six years.

Blackrock is worked in fingering weight and the amount needed starts at just 300 metres for the littlest size. The pattern knits up so easily: worked in the round with no seaming at all, in simple stocking stitch with that lovely cable to keep you interested. You can purchase the pattern from Ravelry, either online or in the shop, and it comes free when you purchase Dublin Dye Company Merino Sock or Swing Sock to make it!

You might have noticed Yvonne’s Stepaside sock pattern making waves on Ravelry a couple of weeks back. We have such enormous talent round these parts, you know – there’s so many excellent Irish designers working at the moment. There’s a Ravelry thread about them in the Irish Knitters forum right here.

Doesn’t the idea of a small person heading off on the first day of school wearing Blackrock just melt your heart? It melts ours!

It’s the August Bank Holiday on Monday, so This Is Knit is closed. But we’ve got a special offer to ease you towards the end of this amazing summer.

Sublime Superfine Alpaca DK is just the type of yarn you would want to snuggle up with of an evening, whether you’re knitting a simple boatneck in soothing stockinette or a stylish cushion cover with nifty cable details. The days are getting that little bit shorter, and the colder nights are not too far away (however hard that is to imagine in this glorious weather) but at least yarns like this are here to make that transition a little easier!

There are six natural shades to choose from and if you buy 7 balls you will receive the accompanying pattern book (worth €10.95!) absolutely free. This offer is valid until the 10th of August 2014 and cannot be redeemed in conjunction with any other offer.

To redeem this offer online simply purchase the yarn in the usual way – we will include the pattern book when packing up your order.

And have a wonderful weekend!

Our favourite night of the year will be happening again on Friday August 29th. Believe it or not, this is the sixth year that we’ve asked you to join us for an evening of yarn sampling, so we’ve decided to shake things up a little. This time, instead of Yarn Tasting, we’re going Yarn Dating!

Gone are the tiny sample balls but they’re being replaced by a fun new format that will ensure you are introduced to all your potential yarn suitors, while enjoying a bit more chat and possibly even a small dose of mayhem!

Refreshments, raffle prizes and excellent special offers will still be part of the night, so click here to reserve a place to join us and find the yarn of your dreams….

Meet Korrigan, a sweet cardigan which Lisa recently made as a gift for a brand new little girl. It ticks so many of our favourite boxes: one skein of luscious handdyed sock yarn? Lisa used Hedgehog Fibres Sock in the exclusive Irish Yarn Club January colourway. Top down for no-fuss seam-free construction? Naturally! A simple cable used to lovely effect? Of course!

We’ve talked about this cable before. Back in February, we showed you Jacqui’s Quadrature for Korrigan, a pattern by the same designer, Solenn Couix-Loarer, which uses exactly that cable, mixed with the simplest garter stitch and stocking stitch. What clever, versatile design work!

To underline the point, Maria recently finished a Quadrature for Korrigan of her own, in Soft Donegal, and it’s huge! The weather’s warm right now, but come cooler days and this wrap will be perfect to snuggle up in.

You might very well suspect that we’re not done with these designs, and you’ll probably be proved right. There’s a matching hat, you see, in sizes from newborn to adult and in three weights of yarn, and we love a cabled hat round these parts!

We’re big fans of simple baby garments, the ones that you can make as your first project, and then make over and over again! Here’s one that fits the bill: it’s Debbie Bliss’s Shawl-collared Baby Jacket from her Baby Knits for Beginners, and we love it.

Debbie’s book is terrific. It’s one of the best books for beginners out there, taking you from casting on through garter stitch and stocking stitch to shaping with short rows, all with clear explanation and diagrams and the dotiest collection imaginable of little knits. There’s scarves and hats and blankets and jumpers and the sweetest wee dress.

For our little jacket, we used Rico Soft Merino Aran, soft for baby skin and machine-washable to boot – and it comes in a gorgeous colour range.

The jacket comes in three sizes to fit from six months to two years, and the largest takes just four balls of the yarn, so it’s an economical little garment too.

But best of all, babies and knitted things just go together so well!

Welcome to the next technique post for our summer HAP-Along! This is a trick that works in lots of other places too – picking up stitches is a common task and very straightforward.

The first thing to get out of the way is the terminology: there is, as far as anyone can tell, no difference between “pick up” and “pick up and knit”. Patterns use both expressions to mean exactly the same thing, and So whichever words are used, this procedure is what is meant.

Holding the work in your left hand and the needle in your right, poke the needle through the edge of the work where you want to make the new stitch, knitwise. “Knitwise” means that the needle is going from front to back, and from left to right, exactly like a knit stitch.

Since we’re using the loopy edge that you get from the yarn over increase, our needle is going through one of those loops, but if your edge is different, the path of the needle remains the same: front to back, and left to right.

Wrap the yarn around the tip of the needle…

… and pull the loop back to the front of the work.

Then simply repeat this procedure until you’ve amassed all the stitches you need, gaining new stitches one at a time. If you’re going round a corner, you’ll probably need to pick up a couple extra to mitre around the bend. And here’s our little garter stitch square with stitches picked neatly up from two sides, ready to go round the next corner and head for the other two sides:

It’s a nifty technique, and one that you’ll use for button bands and collars over and over again. Knitting a hap with a garter stitch centre is the easy way to start picking up stitches. If you’re picking up from stocking stitch or another stitch pattern, there’s a wee bit more to consider, but we’ll come back to that in another post.

Things are really hotting up over in the Ravelry HAP-Along thread, and we’ve got a tag for your Ravelry project pages: tagging with TIKHAPALONG will make it much easier to follow each other’s progress! See you over there!

There’s a lot of ways of increasing a stitch when you’re knitting. Different methods have different effects on the fabric you’re producing, and your choice depends on the results you want and on your own personal choice.

This post is about one way of increasing right at the very edge of a row when you’ll be picking up stitches from the edge later on. It’s a traditional Shetland technique and Gudrun Johnston uses it in her Hansel.

It involves making a yarn over right at the very start of the row, and it gives a set of little loops that are very easy to pick up from. What’s more, it gives a very elastic edging, which is what you want in a stretchy squishy hap shawl. You can see the edge it gives in the picture above: the triangle starts at the bottom right and grows with those loops on each edge. What’s more, it’s uninterrupted garter stitch right to the edge, with no increase line a few stitches in.

You work it right at the beginning of a row, before you knit the first stitch. Put the right hand needle behind the working yarn…

…and making sure that you have a strand of yarn crossing the right hand needle, put the tip into the first stitch of the row.

Wrap the yarn around the tip of the right hand needle and work the stitch as usual.

The yarn over will make a loop of yarn around the needle to the right of that first knit stitch. That loop is your increase.

You want your edge to be nicely stretchy but not sloppy, so when you come to the end of the row and it’s time to work the yarn over that started the previous row, work its back leg:

And that’s it – a stretchy edge with a set of loops just begging to be picked up and knit as a border, as you can see in the very first picture. If you’re not going to pick up from it, though, then it’s probably not the best increase, and that loopy border wouldn’t be much fun to seam. It’s certainly not the only way of doing these increases – Jared Flood uses knit-front-and-back in his Tweed baby blanket. It’s fun to work, though, and you could substitue

Very soon, we’ll be blogging here about how to pick up stitches for the shawl border. But we don’t need to worry about that yet – knitting the centre will take a wee while!

Part of the fun of a KAL is finding out new ways of doing things. Our HapKAL means that we’re all hearing about different techniques, because there’s lots of different patterns being used. Over the next couple of weeks we’ll feature picture tutorials for several of the techniques involved, and today’s the first of these.

Hap patterns often have the centre made on the bias, starting with a very tiny number of stitches in one corner, increasing until the full width of the diagonal is reached, and then decreasing back down to the opposite corner. This gives a very elastic and stretchy fabric for snuggling into. And the smallest number you can start with is just one. So that’s what we’re going to show you here: how to cast on only stitch and increase from it.

The picture up above shows where to start: make a slip knot and pop it onto the left hand needle, and take up the other needle in your right hand, just as if you were going to knit.

Put the tip of the right hand needle into the single loop, again just like a knit stitch.

Wrap the yarn around the tip of the right hand needle (again, just like a knit stitch):

Pull a new loop of yarn out of the stitch on the left hand needle (yes, just like when you’re half way through a knit stitch!). But then, don’t let the old stitch drop the left hand needle. You want to keep it on the needle because you’re not finished with it yet.

Move the tip of the right hand needle towards the back of the stitch on the left. You’ll see a little gap between the back leg of that stitch and the needle.

Poke the tip of your right hand needle into that gap…

…and wrap the yarn around the tip of the right hand needle, pulling a new stitch out in the usual way.

And there you are – you’ve made two stitches from a cast on of just one. When you increase by just one stitch at the beginning of every row, you end up with a right-angled triangle, so your increase rate is bang on from the very first row.

The next thing is to work those increases on subsequent rows. There’s more than one way of doing that, and there’s advantages and disadvantages to all of them. You’ll find details of one of them, with yarn overs right at the beginning of the row, in our next blog post.

Of course, if you’ve got a technique question that we can help you with, leave a comment below and we’ll do out best to help!

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