April 2011

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Spin In

We’re just full of announcements lately!

Today’s good news is that, to make up for sundry Spin In delays, we’re having a “Super Special Spin In Sunday” on (you guessed it) Sunday 8th May from 1pm ish onwards :)

With lots of excitement and treats! Including:

* free tea, coffee, and biscuits for spin-refreshment
* a super talk from Aoibhe (who teaches wheelspinning for This Is Knit) on different fibres and how they spin (this will include free little samples of different fibres).
* a special talk from Diane (who teaches spindle-spinning for This Is Knit) on spindle technique. Now is your chance to spin up those different fibres!
* a crazy competition involving (among other things) gravity (!)
* free wheel spinning demos going on in the corner of the balcony all afternoon
* discounts on spinning-related purchases on the day…

It’s guaranteed to be a day full of (caffeine and sugar induced) fun and frolics and we can’t wait to see you all then!

It starts tomorrow (Thursday the 28th of April) and runs until Saturday 7th May and, boy, do we have some bargains for you!

Yarn Bargains at just €4

Debbie Bliss Fez
Louisa Harding Millais
Debbie Bliss Bella
Louisa Harding Rossetti
Debbie Bliss Como
Louisa Harding Sari Ribbon
Debbie Bliss Glen

Huge Reductions on Quality Yarns

Noro Kogarashi reduced from €17.50 to an incredible €12.50

Rowan Cocoon reduced from €10.45 to a spectacular €7.50

Malabrigo Merino Worsted at the amazing price of €8.50 per 100g skein (down from €11.50)

Spud & Chloe Outer is heading out-the-door at just €8.50 (was €13.50)

Brown Sheep Burly Spun is spiralling down in price from €17.95 to €12.00

Malabrigo Rasta (and I’m running out of adjectives!) was €20.95, now €15.00

Mega Deals on Hand Dyeds

Dublin Dye Company Yarns, Gaiety Girl Fibre Arts and a couple of lonely skeins of Madeline Tosh (in need of a good home) are all greatly reduced.

At these prices the yarns won’t be around for long so grab them while you can!

Short rows are a very good way of adding shape to your knitting: the toes of toe-up socks, bust-shaping in jumpers, anywhere that you want your knitting to mould itself to a curve. They’re really easy to do, but pictures work better for explaining them than words, so here’s a photo tutorial.

In the pictures below, we’ve used yarns of two different colours to highlight what’s going on. In practice, the knitting would probably all be one colour, but if you want to follow along, using a different colour can help you understand how the process works. So if you want to knit along with us here, cast on twenty or so stitches and work five or six rows of stocking stitch. At the beginning of a knit round, start knitting with the second colour, and work six or seven stitches.

Bring the yarn to the front of the work as if you were going to purl the next stitch.

Slip the next unworked stitch from the lefthand to the righthand needle.

Bring the yarn in front of the unworked stitch, and back to the rear of the work, wrapping the yarn round the stitch like a little scarf.

That’s the “wrap” part of wrap and turn completed. Now turn the work around completely so that you’re looking at the other side of it (in our example, the side with all the purl bumps).

Without working it, slip the stitch you just wrapped back to the right hand needle, and then work to the end of the row.

When you reach it, turn the work as usual, and inspect what’s in front of you. Note the wrapped stitch, wearing its little scarf, and the way the right hand side of the work is now two rows taller than the left. Those two rows are short rows – they don’t go all the way across the work, and they change the shape of the fabric.

Now you just need to work the wrap, so you don’t get an unsightly hole in your fabric. Work across to the wrapped stitch.

Slip the wrapped stitch to the right hand needle purlwise. Poke the tip of your left hand needle under the wrap…

… and lift the wrap up onto the right hand needle so it’s sitting there beside the unworked stitch.

Now you just knit the two together – the stitch and its wrap. This closes up any potential hole left by the wrap and makes your work all neat and tidy.

Then you just continue along the row as usual.

When you’ve worked on a bit, stop and have a look at what’s happened. The right hand side of the work has got taller than the left by three rows, and the place where you made the magic happen has no gaps or lumpy bits.

If you’re working in garter stitch, short rows are even simpler. Because the bumpy fabric hides a multitude, there’s no need to lift the wrap and work it. Just wrap, turn, and then knit straight past where the wrapped stitch is when you come back.

Cabling without a cable needle is a useful skill to have. Even if you don’t adopt it for all your cabling, it means that you can still keep working when the sofa eats your cable needle or when the little blighter’s made a bid for freedom on the bus. Once you’ve acquired it, it makes cabling faster and less fiddly.

The cables in Clam have made a lot of people curious about working them, so we thought a tutorial would be useful.

So suppose you’ve worked your way across to right before the stitches you need to cable. In our example, we’re going to cable three stitches in front of three other stitches (a pattern would probably call this C6F, meaning “a cable involving six stitches, with the right hand ones going in front of the left hand ones”.)

Work across to just before the six stitches, and slip them purlwise to the right hand needle, so they look like the picture below.

Put the tip of your left hand needle into the front of the rightmost three unworked stitches (in this example, they’re the smooth knit column stitches).

With your left hand, firmly pinch the left hand three stitches, the ones that make up the purl column in the picture, just below the needle.

Still maintaining the pinch, slip the right hand needle out of the six stitches. Nothing bad will happen. Your pinching will stop the leftmost ones from dropping and the rightmost ones are still on the lefthand needle.

Now put the tip of the righthand needle straight back into those leftmost stitches.

At this point, you’ve really completed the cable, since you’ve switched the position of the stitches on the needle. Now you just have to knit those stitches and you’re done.

Slip the three stitches from the left hand needle onto the tip of the right hand needle.

Then you just have to work the stitches, knitting or purling them according to what the pattern tells you (in the case, we’re keeping the purls purled and the knits knitted):

If the cable is to move to the right rather than the left (C6B instead of C6F, for example), just put the left hand needle tip into the back of the rightmost stitches at the stage of the second picture instead of into the front.

That’s it! The first couple of times you do it, it’s a bit slow, but you’ll soon speed up, to the point that it’s much faster than using a cable needle. And then you’ll be as happy as a Clam.

Are there any other techniques that you’d like us to do a tutorial on? Leave us a comment to tell us!

The schedule of classes for May and June (lord, isn’t this millennium going very fast?) will be posted here in a couple of days. We thought you might like a bit of a preview of some of what we’re offering.

If you’re starting out in knitting or returning to it after a break, then our popular beginners’ course might be the very thing. It takes place over three weeks, and the typical progression moves from the Mistake Rib scarf, a snuggly combination of knit and purl, to a stylish hat, knitted in the round in your choice of yarn, and then on to any number of projects – cardigans, jumpers, and even doorstops!

If you’re already comfortable with knit and purl, casting on and off, then why not take a class to acquire a new technique? We’ve got a wide range of intermediate classes to expand your skill set. For example, you could learn stranded colourwork, making a hat in the round which is far, far simpler than you need to tell anyone later.

Fancy adding a bit of sparkle to your knitting? There’s several ways to incorporate beads into your work, and our beaded knitting class covers them all. You can add just a little bling by adding a few subtle beads to the edge of a scarf (though if you want to add thousands to an evening sweater we’re certainly not going to stop you…).

If you’ve been smitten by a love for knitted lace and want to take it further, then why not try our advanced lace class? It covers working a square with a provisional cast on and a knitted-on edging, and talks about the basics of designing your own lace, so it’s an excellent jumping off point for making your very own original lace.

Perhaps you’ve mastered crochet basics and want to move on – why not try Irish crochet? If you’re comfortable with chain, double and treble, you’re ready for our class, which introduces you to Clones lace and working with multiple three-dimensional motifs. Like everything to do with yarn, it’s far easier than it looks, and the results are stunning.

Keep an eye on the classes page of the website for these and more (we’ve got more to tell you about here too over the next few posts), and if you want really advance notification of our class schedule, scroll down here and sign up for the This Is Knit newsletter.

And if you’re interested in a topic that doesn’t appear in the current schedule, post a comment to tell us – we always want to know what you’re interested in and will do our best to provide it.

April 11th 2011 was a very exciting day here at This Is Knit. A few months ago, it was announced that we would be one of only eight shops worldwide (and the only shop outside of North America) to test a new pattern sales feature from Ravelry. In a nutshell we now have access to thousands of patterns that have been made available by Ravelry designers and we can sell these patterns direct to customers in the shop. On Monday, we sold our very first one.

RavpattDownload

This is how it works.

Suppose you come into the shop looking for a cardigan pattern, we can help you search the Ravelry database to find one you love. Our shop log-in to Ravelry now has a filter in the advanced pattern search for “buy in store” patterns. All 4,500 (ish) of them can then be narrowed down by yarn, style, rating etc until the perfect pattern is found for your project.

When you purchase that pattern through This is Knit we have the option to enter your Ravelry name during the checkout process and the pattern will automatically be saved to your library. If you simply can’t wait to get started then we can print a (watermarked) copy for you straight away.

If you are not already a Ravelry user then we can, of course, still print your purchased pattern. The pattern can only be printed once, however, so we would encourage everyone to create a Ravelry account so your digital copy can be stored and you won’t have to worry about losing the original!

So, although it is all very much in the testing stages, we’re very excited about this feature and we would welcome your feedback and questions. Is there anything you would like to know? All queries will be answered in the comments… :)

*This figure is subject to revision sharply upward. Tra la!

Bring on the sparkle!

In this post a couple of weeks back, we promised you sparkling support for the Spring KAL. We’re as good as our word: that’s what we bring you today.

As of now, there’s a good number of people (seventeen, according to the count in the dedicated Ravelry post) taking part in the KAL, with both Clam and Breaker underway. Most people are using the recommended yarn, Ondine, but there’s a couple who are substituting Ianthe, a 50% merino/50% cotton mix in plain colours. The yardage on a ball of Ianthe is a little shorter, so they needed to be careful to buy the yardage required rather than the number of balls.

There has been swatching. The needle sizes recommended in the pattern are a little smaller than usual for DK, but some people are finding that they need to change them (either up or down) to match the specified stitch size.

Once we decided on the size we wanted to make, the next thing was to mark up the pattern to avoid confusion between sizes. Since there’s six sizes given for both patterns, it’s easy for your eye to fall on the wrong number.

You can highlight them with a marker as Jacqui’s doing in that picture, or circle them with a pencil, or even cross out all the ones that don’t apply to you.

Clam is knitted in one piece to the armholes, so you need needles that will accommodate a large number of stitches. You could use long straights and squish the stitches together, but a circular needle is recommended and makes a lot of sense. If this is the first time that you’ve used a circular needle to work a flat piece to and fro, Lisa posted a fantastic tutorial in this Ravelry thread.

In a long cast on like this, using stitch markers to mark off units of 10, 20, or 30 stitches can save your sanity.

In fact, even though Breaker is designed to be knit in pieces, at least two knitters are working it in one piece too. This involves subtracting four stitches from the total for the back and fronts, because they won’t be needed for the seam selvedge. To give the garment back the stability the seam would give it, you could add two stitches back in and work one of Elizabeth Zimmermann’s false seams (before casting off, drop a stitch all the way down at the underarm and then use a crochet hook to hook the stitch up again, alternately hooking one strand and two strands up the ladder).

As long as you buy a little more yarn (and doing this at the start avoids the dyelot problem), lengthening the sleeves is also an option. Sleeves divide people sharply: some people love three quarter length sleeves, others don’t. We suspect that we have representatives of both constituencies in the KAL, and we can’t wait to see how different interpretations turn out.

We’ve all said it. We’ve all lost count in the middle of our work and had to start crossly over. So today’s post is designed to help. We can’t get rid of the need for counting entirely, but we can make it easier.

Let’s tackle rows first. Some people find that a pencil mark made on a piece of paper helps, or there’s the traditional barrel counter which you move up a number at the end of every row.

Barrel counters have some disadvantages, though. They typically don’t fit on all needle sizes and they don’t work if you’re knitting in the round, because they fall off the needle. A modification that avoids both problems is the one in MweaG’s counters, which have a lobster claw attachment which can be clipped either to a jump ring on the needle or to the fabric itself. How clever!

If you’re looking for a counter that attaches to the knitter rather than the knitting, then the Kacha counter might be the thing. You hang it on a cord around your neck, and click it on one number each time, rather as doormen do with nightclub customers. (You could use a Kacha for this too, but it would need to be a very small and select nightclub.)

When it comes to counting stitches and knowing where you are in the row or round, stitch markers rule. You can use plastic markers or loops of yarn, but they all do one of two things: they either sit on the needle, moving along with the stitches and slipping from one needle to the other when you reach them, or they attach to the fabric itself.

If your markers are closed rings or loops, then they’ll sit on the needle. If they open, like the little coiled ones below, you can easily take them out and move them from place to place. This is useful if you’re working on a piece like the Luna Moth Shawl where the stitch pattern moves across the markers.

If you don’t need to move your markers at any point, though, closed rings work just perfectly.

Some of you will remember the monumental cast on for the Annis shawl last summer, all 363 stitches of it. It was much easier if you put a stitch marker in after every ten or twenty stitches, because it’s a lot easier to count units of ten or twenty than to count all those stitches. Long cast ons cry out for stitch markers!

Stitch markers can save your sanity when you’re knitting. But they can also make crochet a lot easier. Closed markers are useless for crochet because there’s no needle for them to sit on, but open ones are ideal for marking places you need to remember – perhaps the place you need to decrease or the beginning of a spiral:

And even when you’ve finished the knitting or crochet and you don’t need to count any more, stitch markers can act like those little black diamonds in dressmaking and tell you how to align your seams, so your piece looks beautifully tailored. Cunning little things, aren’t they?

Stealth

One of the most frequent questions we get asked in the shop is “Can you bring knitting needles on planes?” It’s also a very common query on Ravelry. Official advice is confused, and it varies widely from place to place across the world.

There’s several solutions to our need for yarny calm when flying, or when your flight’s delayed (yes, five hour delay in Luton airport with no knitting, I’m looking at you). One is to crochet, since crochet hooks have never been prohibited. Another is to bring your work lifelined so that you can at least rescue what you’ve done if your needles are confiscated. We’ve even seen pictures of someone knitting with biros while aboard.

But another stratagem has appeared, one which we’re really excited about. We’ve recently been testing a rather special brand of needle called the Hyperknit 250, which is a huge step forward in needle technology. Just as WD-40 was initially developed for the US space programme, these needles are made of the same high-tech composite materials used in the B-2 Spirit stealth bomber and the F-22 Raptor stealth fighter.

The initial attraction of these materials is their strength-to-weight ratio and the even finish that can be achieved. The strength of the composite means that they’re essentially unbreakable, even below 2mm. We’ve been trying them out, and they’re a delight to knit with: as light as air, with the perfect combination of smoothness and grip. The examples we’ve been using have particularly sharp points, making them ideal for lace.

Hyperknits turned out to have an unexpected advantage, though. Just as the little hole in a Knitpro interchangeable needle was intended just for tightening the join but then worked a treat for easy lifelining, the stealth materials in Hyperknits are invisible to X-rays. Travelling with your knitting has just become a lot less stressful.

The downside to these needles is that they’re only available on one day a year: April 1st.