May 2011

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“Have nothing in your house that you do not know to be useful, or believe to be beautiful”, William Morris is reputed to have said. We’ve just started stocking haberdashery that illustrates his dictum rather well. These are pretty things; they’re also ideally fit for purpose.

A basic sewing kit is always useful, and here’s ours:

Fitting into that handy little tin is a range of needles, a seam ripper, a sturdy pair of scissors, thread in useful colours, and a variety of safety and straight pins, buttons and snap fasteners (the sort of thing that you need in a garment emergency). Should you be looking for lots of pins, we have an identical tin full of stainless steel pearl-topped beauties – they won’t rust when you use them to block your lace, and the colourful tops make them easy to find on the carpet. The tins come in a number of pretty pastel colours with polka dots on (Jacqui insisted the polka dots get a mention!).

The stork-shaped scissors are designed specifically for needlework. The stork design is a classic, and the points are extremely sharp, allowing very accurate cutting. They also come in several colours. They’re so distinctive that they might even not get pinched from your toolbox for nefarious purposes….

As for the toolbox itself, what about a padded, water-resistant knitting bag? Large enough to carry an entire jumper in progress, light enough to carry anywhere, in a cheerful flowered fabric, what about this one?

The yarn is sadly not included, but it does look rather comfortable in there, doesn’t it? Tucked in there as well is a matching needle case filled with eight pairs of bamboo straights from 3.00mm to 6.00mm. It would make an ideal present for someone who’s just getting into knitting, or just getting back into it. Bamboo is light and strong, and it’s much gentler on your wrists than metal. Here’s another look:

Finally, tape measures! Tape measures that look like fruit gums!

They’ll measure up to 150cm, and then they’ll spring back smartly. They make you grin when you see them, in a big jar in the shop.

Beautiful, useful, with some looking like fruitgums – surely, tools of which Mr Morris would approve.

Some time back, we promised you a look at some adult patterns from Sublime. (It was when we were oohing and aahing over the dotey baby patterns here.)

Since it now looks as if summer’s properly started, here’s a couple of useful summer garments. First, we have a really fun garment – it’s got stripes and flounces. It’s called The Big Frill, and it’s knit in Sublime DK. You’ll find the pattern along with 16 others for adults and children in The Sublime Merino Knit Book #602.

You could leave out the stripes, of course, and knit the entire garment in a single colour, but it would be a pity to lose all those colours, don’t you think?

Another lovely summer knit is Spinnaker, from The Second Sublime Merino DK Book, where you’ll also find eight other patterns for all ages.

Sun, sea, sand and stripes: what more could you want?

It’s turning out to be a splendid summer at This Is Knit, and last Thursday saw the latest part of it. We had a knit night on the balcony at the Powerscourt Centre, with a very special guest: Laura Chau, who designs as cosmicpluto, who has been travelling around Europe for the last couple of weeks.

And boy! does she design lovely things! She had a number of beautiful items with her to show us (and there’s lots more to see on her Ravelry designer page. Here’s a couple of them – the first is Sweet Bunting, the dotiest little baby cardigan, and the second is the Milkweed Shawl, a quick and elegant shawlette which takes a single ball of sock yarn:

We got plenty of opportunity to try things on and marvel at how cleverly they’re designed:

(Those colourwork mittens have a laceweight lining! Laura’s one of the Ravelry designers whose patterns This Is Knit are able to sell, so you can get all these patterns from the shop.

There was a lot of colourful knitting on view, and Roseanne got to work her Top-down Raglan with the designer sitting at her side and knitting a row.

Laura, thank you for coming and for sharing your time, your knitting knowhow and your beautiful patterns with us. Come back soon!

As befitting a special knit night, there were Jaffa Cakes.

One final picture: just a couple of weeks ago, on Super Special Spin-in Sunday, Deirdre gave spinning a go, and got herself a student spindle. Well, look what she was doing by Thursday! Isn’t that lovely even work?

But the fun isn’t slackening a bit – in a couple of weeks it’ll be Worldwide Knit In Public Day, and then This Is Knit’s fifth birthday party is on June 30th. There’ll be lots more information on both posted here soon, so watch out for updates.

Chubby Checker might not agree, but there are times when twist isn’t a good thing.

At the beginning of any pattern knit in the round, you’re likely to see “Join without twisting”. We’ve all done it, though – we’ve all joined and knitted blithely on for a few rounds, only to discover that yes, there was a twist, leaving us with no option but to rip out the entire thing, fuming. So here’s a few ideas to help avoid the whole sorry mess.

The first involves stitch markers. Once you’ve cast on, put a number of markers (or safety pins) through the bottom of the cast on, so that they’re hanging off the very edge of the knitting below the needles.

When you bring the needles around to join into the round, the markers allow you to see if there’s a twist – in the picture above, there’s none, because all the markers are pointing in the same direction. So it’s safe to join and start knitting.

If there’s a twist, some of the markers will be pointing away from the rest as they are below:

Another ruse is to use a cast on which creates a generous amount of knitting under the needle, such as the twisted German we talked about in a post here. Again, you can easily see that there’s no twist when all the stitches are pointing in the same direction:

You can also see when they’re not – the lowest needleworth in the picture below are facing the wrong way, so this would be a twist.

Finally, you can just not join. At least, you can postpone the join a little, and knit a few rows flat. If you have an inch or so of knitting under the needles, it’s very easy indeed to see if there’s a twist. This is probably the best method if you’re dealing with a lot of stitches, such as the cast on for the body of a jumper knit in the round.

We can’t guarantee that you’ll never twist again, but these tips might make it less likely. Even if you did last summer.

Happy Monday!

That’s the name of Aoibhe Ní Suilleabháin’s newest design, on display in the shop right now. It’s a lovely thing, crocheted top down with raglan shaping, and the pattern is free!

Like all top down garments, you can try it on easily as you go, ensuring an absolutely perfect fit. What’s more, the stitch pattern is delightfully simple – it’s just doubles and trebles throughout. It’s fastened with two buttons – Aoibhe found these sweet mother-of-pearl ones in A Rubanesque, our neighbours downstairs in the Powerscourt Centre.

Happy Monday is made with a mix of Noro Kureyon Sock and Debbie Bliss Rialto 4-ply. There are so many gorgeous combinations to choose from, but here’s a couple that caught our eye:

This is an ideal project for you if you’ve mastered basic crochet skills and want to move on to making larger items. We’ve even got a two-part Raglan Crochet class on the 2nd and 9th of June taught by Aoibhe herself. You can reserve a place by calling us or by email.

And whatever day it is, have a happy one!

That, according to the late lamented Douglas Adams, is the sound of a deadline going past. It is our happy task today to declare that the TIK Knit Along deadline has been extended until 1.00am on Tuesday June 7th, so we have an extra Bank Holiday weekend’s worth of knitting time! So no whoosh!

For some of us, this comes as a considerable relief!

For others of us, the TIKAL has been speeding merrily along. Jacqui’s Breaker now has completed back and fronts. You’ll remember that she’s been knitting them in one piece, and that she was using Elizabeth Zimmermann’s false seam to stabilise the sides.

Knitting your back and fronts in one piece is a very convenient way of making a garment, but the sides can be a little unstructured and floppy. The false seam counteracts this, and here’s how to do it.

Separate fronts and backs have a seam allowance of one stitch on each side. You don’t need these if you’re not sewing a seam, so your cast on will be the full number for the fronts and back, minus four stitches (two seams’ worth). If you want to do the false seam, add in one stitch on each side, and mark it with a stitch marker.

Knit your fronts and back all the way to the armholes, working the false seam stitch just like all the others, and stop just before you cast off the armholes. Drop the false seam stitch all the way to the top of the moss stitch border at the waist.

With a crochet hook, rehook that stitch back up the ladder, alternately taking up one strand, then two strands, then one strand, all the way to the armhole:

When you reach the top of the ladder pop the stitch back on your needle, and cast off as directed in the pattern. Easy, fast, and professional looking!

How are your KAL projects going? Are you near completion? Has the extension saved your bacon?

We’re still feeling a bit dizzy after Super Special Spin-in Sunday, which saw skill, frolics and delicious fibre all over the Powerscourt Centre this past weekend.

We started on the balcony. There was both spindle and wheel spinning, and the opportunity for beginners to try both out:

There was a talk from Aoibhe (who gave the wheel-spinning workshop back in February) on different fibres and blends and their properties, and we all got samples to try out. This luscious fluff is a merino/soy blend:

You could even spin several of them one after the other if you wanted:

Diane, who teaches drop-spindling at TIK, gave a presentation on various spindling techniques:

We got to pet the gorgeousness that comes from a silk hankie – even before it’s spun, don’t your fingers itch to crochet and knit this?

And then there was the drop-spindling competition! First, there was an elimination round. You qualified for the later stages by standing on a bench and spinning a continuous strand successfully to the ground:

Just as in the World Cup, the finals took place in a different venue. We went indoors to Article, our neighbours in the Powerscourt Centre. They have a beautiful shop full of carefully chosen articles for your home (remember the little Valentine’s hearts lights?):

They also have a balcony:

The finals of the competition involved spinning off the balcony where the aim was again to spin to the floor in a continuous strand. The spinners were feeling the pressure, and confessed to shaky hands and heightened adrenaline levels. It was a long way up:

You were allowed a “lifeline” in the form of an additional twist from the lower level, kindly provided by some enthusiastic spectators, who also contributed “helpful” commentary.

Key phrases included: “Oh no! Backspin!”; “She’s used up her lifeline!”; “Does she have enough fibre to reach the ground?” and “My money’s on..!”

Clearly, fibre choice, spindle choice and superb technique were all crucial here, and against some extremely stiff competition Laura won gold:

It was an amazing day and spinners are amazing people. There was also cake (which disappeared too fast to be photographed), and there was even a little knitting:

You know, it’s going to be a great summer at This Is Knit.

For starters there are two important dates for your diary in June: Saturday the 11th is WWKIP Day and Thursday 30th June is the date for our 5 Year Birthday Celebrations. Details on the plans for both to come really soon!

And don’t forget that next week Laura Chau is coming along for a Special Knit Night!

Come along and be part of it!

We’ve all got them, those projects that lurk at the bottom of the WIP pile, muttering. Some of them are large, some small; some our own idea, some from a famous designer’s pattern; some are for babies who have done very nicely in the Junior Cert.

It’s easy to think that they’re doomed never to be finished, but that’s just not true. Some projects have a longer gestation than others, and here’s two of them.

First, this is the Tuesday Dress, from Blue Monday by Louisa Harding. It’s made in Willow Tweed, a delicious blend of alpaca, merino and silk, and it’s a terribly versatile piece. You could wear it over jeans or leggings, or by itself as a mini-dress. The booklet also includes instructions for knitting a shorter, hip-length version.

Lisa started knitting this just after Louisa Harding’s visit to This Is Knit last July…and now it’s all finished and lovely and on display in the shop. Tenacity rewarded!

A garment which has taken even longer to come to fruition is Lisa’s latest design, the Winterberry Shrug. The earliest version of this dates from the summer of 2009, and it’s been getting prettier and more cleverly designed ever since.

It’s an ideal cover-up for summer frocks and party dresses. It’s knitted in DK weight yarn, so it’s a fast knit – the suggested yarn is Louisa Harding’s Merletto which has a lovely subtle sheen to it.

This shrug is the ideal introduction to top-down garment knitting (in fact, it’s going to be one of the teaching projects for our top-down classes). It’s got short rows for clever shaping too, so our Short and Sweet blog post might be useful.

So what’s waiting its turn in your WIP basket? Why not tell us in the comment section, and then see if you can’t triumph over it!

Cosmicpluto Collection

The month of May seems to be one for famous visitors to Ireland… And so, not be outdone, we are welcoming one of the stars of the knitting world to TIK on Thursday May 19th!

Laura Chau

We’re very excited to announce that Laura Chau of Cosmicpluto fame will be in the shop from 6pm that evening for a special Knit Night event. Laura’s designs have been published in Twist Collective, Knitty and by Spud and Chloe yarns. She also self publishes patterns via her website and on Ravelry. “Just Enough Ruffles” is her signature scarf and one of the 3,684 versions of it (as listed on Ravelry) is resident in the shop as a sample for Malabrigo Worsted yarn.

Laura will be bringing some small sample projects to share with us on the evening. I’m really looking forward to seeing “Sweet Bunting” as it’s just too cute for words! There will be tea and treats and general knitting natter too so don’t miss this chance to meet a knitting superstar (secret service clearance not required)!