April 2010

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Have you heard about the Bealtaine Festival happening this month? This festival is the national arts festival celebrating creativity in older age. Over 55,000 people all over the country will be taking part in events involving music, art, dance, cinema, writing, theatre, heritage and most importantly – knitting!

Oxfam Ireland and Age & Opportunity have teamed up for the knitting part of the festival – and they have launched the In Stitches initiative. If you knit, either on you own or as a part of a group, you can be part of a global project that will make a real difference.

Knit a scarf, hat or blanket and drop it into your local Oxfam shop. You can individualise your item using a special gift tag with your name on it. Each item sold will help Oxfam’s work in fighting poverty, suffering and injustice around the world. Need some inspiration? Bealtaine has commissioned two special scarf patterns for Bealtaine knitters – you can find them here. You could also choose a pattern from the Oxfam range – find them here.

The sale of your knitted scarf for €15 could buy an innovative clay cooking stove that uses less wood than conventional cooking methods, meaning that women living in high-risk places (such as Darfur) spend less time searching in remote areas for firewood where they are vulnerable to attack.

For more details, visit the Bealtaine Festival website!

We’re gearing up for a busy Bank Holiday weekend here at TIK… There’s lots of fun to be had between the free knitting & crochet lessons this Friday as part of the SoGo Festival in the City, the Roscommon Lamb Festival on Sunday and also Annie Modesitt’s workshop on the same day!

We wanted to share a little of the fun and games with our online customers and so we have a special offer on Rowan Revive, Debbie Bliss Eco Aran and Brown Sheep Cotton Fleece Yarns. Simply enter the discount code “MayatTIK” during the checkout process and receive a 10% discount on these yarns up to Tuesday 4th May :D

Want to know what Jacqui has been working away on secretly over the past month? It’s finished – the beautiful Opal Tunic/Dress from Louisa Harding’s latest book Bijoux:

Jacqui made this sensational seasonal dress in Merletto yarn, shade 14. It takes between 9 and 15 balls to make this garment, depending on size and the length you choose to go for (€50-€82 – not bad for a fun and challenging knit that looks a million dollars!).

As you can see, it’s worked in a feather-and-fan lace pattern, with a flattering neckline and the shimmer of the yarn – all tying together to make this a perfect evening-wear piece suitable for the upcoming good weather (fingers crossed).

You can see more pictures on Ravelry – we look forward to seeing your finished Opal!

Have you heard of Elizabeth Zimmermann, (or EZ as she is known among the knitting community)?

She revolutionised knitting during her lifetime (1910-1999) through her innovative patterns and books. We are big fans of EZ here at This Is Knit – our favourite project is her well-loved Baby Surprise Jacket, a baby cardigan that is truly a surprise in its construction! Here is Dixie’s latest one, made with Dublin Dye Company yarn:

BSJ

You can make the jacket in a wide variety of yarns – it is small, portable, interesting to knit and useful as a gift – the perfect summer project according to us. Be sure to check out some of EZ’s other innovative patterns next time you are visiting us!

Zimmermann

Carol Feller Lace Workshop

Carol will be one of our special guest designer workshop teachers in May. We find a out a little more about what makes her knitting click…

When did you first start designing knitwear and how did that come about?

If someone had told me 5 years ago that I would be designing knitwear I’m not sure I would have believed them! When I left school I spend a year doing a foundation art course. I wanted to do graphic design in college but during the year I found textile design very compelling. However the complete immersion in art left me missing more formal study so I went on to do my degree in engineering (Structural Engineering). After that I moved to Florida for a few years with my husband, have since had 4 boys and done many different jobs. I enjoy working by myself so I have always worked from home so that my schedule is more flexible.

I first began designing in 2007 and my first published pattern was in Winter Knitty (Doddy). I don’t think I really felt like a designer then, just a knitter who preferred to work from their own head rather than a pattern. Within a few months I found myself obsessively knitting and designing. It eventually reached a point where I was unhappy doing anything else! I think that this is common for knitwear designers, they are so miserable when they aren’t designing that they essentially have no choice. From there I kept writing patterns, first getting designs accepted for the book ‘Knitting in the Sun’ and then Yarn Forward magazine. Working with others as a designer really helped me on the road to becoming a professional. I had a clearer sense of what was expected of me and how to produce it. As with any other job you only get better with practice.

Last Autumn I had my first pattern published in Interweave and have had a design accepted for almost every issue since then. I have to keep pinching myself that this is actually happening to me, it all feels a bit like a fairytale!

I now regularly self-publish patterns through my website Stolen Stitches and will have a book coming out in 2011.

What is your favourite fibre or fibre blend to design with and why?

I actually enjoy working with a large variety of fibres and yarn weight. Every fibre behaves differently, creates a different texture and responses differently to stitch patterns so keeping a big variety in my work keeps me on my toes! For pure enjoyment when working with the yarn I love merino/silk blends. There are so many great variations of this blend out at the moment. It is so soft running though your fingers you just don’t want to stop knitting! The most recent yarns with this blend that I’ve worked with and loved are Fyberspates ‘Scrumptious’, Manos del Uruguay ‘Silk Blend’ and Sundara ‘Silky Merino’.

When I am knitting for myself I like my finished garment to keep looking well after months (or years) of use so Irish yarns such as Kilcarra ‘Aran Tweed’ would be one of my first choices. This yarn is both beautiful to work with and wears so well (and has some really wonderful colour blends).

The weight of the yarn is also as important a choice as the fibre. I’ve worked in all yarn weights but I think that my favourite weight would be dk to a light Aran. It knits up nice and quickly and I like the material of the finished garment. I find it easy to get into a nice knitting ‘rhythm’ with this weight yarn.

What is the most complicated technique you have ever used in one of your designs?

I don’t think that I use techniques in my designs that would be considered very complicated. I think that probably the most complex part of my patterns for knitters is the combination of several different things happening at once. An example of this would be in Azami that was just published in the Twist Collective. There is a lace pattern worked at the hem, which is decreased as you move up the garment. At the same time you are working waist/bust shaping and neckline shaping. I use chart/lists to keep track of the different parts of the patterns and wrote a little about it in my blog a few months ago.

Knitting is very logical and with patience I don’t think that any technique or style is beyond any knitter. It is just a question of whether you want to learn it (you may not really like the end result so the effort of learning it is just not worth it for you!).

How long does a design usually take to complete, from concept to submission?

There are so many answers to this question! There have been times (as with Centrique) where I picked up a hank of yarn to do a small swatch. It felt so good to knit with it that I wasn’t able to put it down! I knit, ripped, knit ripped and about 5 days later I had the smaller shawlette version finished. I spend 2-3 days working on the chart, writing the pattern from my notes and putting a pdf together for my test knitter, Sue, to work the larger version. When Sue had finished the larger version (it took a few weeks for the yarn to arrive) I sent it off to my tech editor and 2 weeks later she came back with some suggestions. I redid the chart sent it back to the tech editor and got final approval. Next we found a suitable location for our photo shoot (Kinsale for the shawlette version, our garden for the larger one) and put the photos together. The final step is laying out the pdf. My husband does both the photography and the layout for me. I am very grateful for this as he does a wonderful job and it means that I have more time to design! The first shawlette version was knitted at the end of July and by the time all the steps were finished the pattern was released in October. To produce a professional level self-published pattern there are an awful lot of steps involved.
The process is different with work published in magazines. They send out a call for submissions 6-9 months before the magazine publication date. You put sketches, swatches and descriptions together and send them off. Around 6-8 weeks later you hear yes or no and if you have a design accepted the yarn and contract is sent to you. Most of the magazines I work with are based in the States so I have a little less time to work on the knitting than American based designers. It takes 1-2 weeks for the yarn to arrive to me and then I have 4-5 weeks to finish the design, knit it and get it back to the States. Believe it or not I quite like the pressure – it is such a feeling of satisfaction when you are finished!

What is the strangest/most unusual/funniest source of inspiration you have ever had for a design?

I don’t know if this really qualifies, but the inspiration that stands out in my head is for the Necco Wafer Hoodie. I was walking through a shopping centre in Cork and looking at the window displays. In one window there was a little girl’s long sleeved t-short layered with a shorter top over it. I started thinking about how little boy’s knitted patterns seemed to be stuck back 50 years ago and had little to do with what we buy for our children to wear. Almost all of my boy’s long sleeve t-shirts are styled with a double layer to look like a short sleeve t-shirt on top. I decide to rise to the design challenge and figure out how to make a 2-layered knitted jumper for a boy in one piece. Figuring out the i-cord separation at the hems and sleeves was my ‘eureka’ moment!

What is your favourite thing about being a knitwear designer?

I get a great deal of enjoyment from knitwear design on many different levels. Possibly the number one satisfaction comes from that moment when the garment is finished and you realize that the idea that lived only in your head is now right in front of you, finished and just as you envisioned it. That is a hard feeling to describe, a sense of ‘I created this!’ Something where there was nothing.

Hankering for a new hank of something special to knit up? Well, we have the perfect surprise for you – Manos del Uruguay Laceweight is here, in 12 scrumptious shades! Check out our picture of the collection below and see if anything catches your eye. Kudos to anyone who can guess the shade that Jacqui and Charlene love the most!

Manos Lace

There are some great prizes to be won in a fun knitting competition launched on “The Business” show on RTE Radio this morning.

We are looking for photographs of projects that are designed to help Ireland get out of the recession – anything funny, imaginative, off-the-wall and downright silly is welcomed!

On the show today we had a crocheted life bouy to keep us afloat and some slipper socks to cushion the rocky road ahead. These are just some of the ideas but anything goes really!

The official competition link is here and the prizes include:

A €150 voucher for This is Knit
Passes to 3 knitting/crochet/spinning workshops of your choice at the shop.
A group ticket for 4 people to attend the Knitting & Stitching Show in October
A Cashmere Scarf donated by Lainey Keogh.

Get those thinking caps on people! :D

The shelves in the shop are undergoing a transformation under the sun like the flowerbeds outside – a whole new rainbow of spring and summer shades is taking over! After the grim weather we have had lately, it’s lovely to be surrounded by sun and colour again both inside and out. We can bring this warmth into our crafting too – knitting and crocheting don’t have to be only about creating warm garments to keep us alive in the winter!

Why not try to crochet a pretty flower or knit some leaves to add to the natural beauty around us at the moment? You could create an indoor yarn garden to keep your spirits high when the weather turns again. Shawls are also a great spring/summer knit, with plenty of new and popular (and free!) patterns in this issue of Knitty to choose from.

Spring is also a time when knitting for babies seems to pick up speed! We have a new yarn, Noro Taiyo, that looks just scrumptious when knit up in a Cute as One Button cardigan (free with yarn purchase) as you can see above.

A Modesitt Visit

IT STARTED with an excited quick-fire email from D… “Annie Modesitt is coming to Dublin, email her!!!”

THE FIRE was fuelled by another D on Twitter… “Annie, want to meet Dublin knitters?”

THE ORGANISATION was nearly thwarted by strange email issues that were circumvented by Ravelry… “Did you get my email? I would *love* to come and teach at your shop!”

And now it’s happening! Annie Modesitt will teach a two-hour workshop on Combination Knitting on Sunday 2nd May at TIK. The cost is €40 per person and bookings can be made by contacting the shop on 01-6709981.

So, what’s this Combination Knitting then?

Christened “Combination Knitting” by Priscilla Gibson-Roberts (Fall 2000 Interweave Knits magazine), this combination of Western and Eastern style knitting can be faster, creates a nicer tension with less “rowing out” and less wrist strain. Established knitters may enjoy this different method, new knitters can mistress this right away!

Even if you don’t decide to continue in the Combination Method after class, you’ll learn new ways to think about your own knitting, ways to make your knitting more intuitive, and therefore more JOYFUL! Remember, we don’t knit only to make things, we knit to make ourselves happy!

Student should bring: Light colored worsted weight yarn, needles to work well with yarn

And who’s Annie?

Annie taught herself to knit at age 25 before a move from NYC to Texas. The Texas tenure
didn’t last, but knitting did, and upon her return to the NY area Annie began knitting for other designers and designing for major knitting magazines. Her work has appeared in Interweave Knits, Vogue Knitting, Knitters Magazine, Cast On, Family Circle Easy Knitting, McCalls Needlework and several family oriented magazines.

Author of Confessions of a Knitting Heretic, Knitting Millinery and editor of the 2006 Accord Crochet Pattern A Day Calendar and the collection of fiber essays, Cheaper Than Therapy, Annie has contributed to many knitting books including Stich N’ Bitch, Scarf Style, Wrap Style, the Vogue Knitting Book, and Weekend Knitting and Holiday Handknits. Twist & Loop (Potter Craft, 2006) and Men Who Knit And The Dogs Who Love Them (Lark, Jan 2007) Annie’s the inventor of the astoundingly clever Flip Knit, a low tech, portable alternative to knitting videos.

Annie knits using the Combination Method and believes that there truly is no wrong way to knit. She lives in St Paul, MN with her husband, kids and assorted pets.

Booksigning:
Annie will also give a brief talk on her collection of books at 3.30pm She will be happy to sign any books or patterns participants bring. Copies of some of Annie’s self-published books (Confessions of a Knitting Heretic, Knit with Courage Live with Hope & others) may be purchased directly from the author at a reduced rate while they last!

What would we do without Ravelry? From checking yarn weights to pattern errata to chatting online, it is the most useful online resource for knitters today. We’ve gone Ravelry-mad here at This Is Knit, and we want you to join in with the fun!

Firstly, if you don’t have an account – get one! Then, you can join our This Is Knit group, where we chat about all kinds of excitement. Other great groups to join are Irish Knitters and (if you live in Dublin) the Dublin Knit Collective.

If you are not as up to speed with Ravelry as you’d like to be, our resident Ravelry whiz Elana will be teaching how to get the most out of this great resource soon. We have two classes on Ravelry as a Resource - the first is on Thursday April 15th from 6-7.15pm, and if you can’t make that we have another one on Saturday May 1st from 12-1.15pm. The cost to attend either class is just €15, and you can find out more about them from our Ravelry Classes page.

Also, next time you’re in town, why not check out our all-new Ravelry corner in the shop – sporting the special-edition Ravelry Unleash! fragranced Soak and the Ravelry Red shade of Malabrigo.

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