A card to wish you…

…anything lovely, really.

We’ve talked here before about Julie’s stunning photography. So you’ll understand how excited we are to be selling her new range of cards. They have lovely pictures of yarn on them, and they’re blank inside so you can add your own message. They’re quiet and peaceful, like fibery hugs.

And please take a moment to visit her blog here. You deserve a treat.

Do something good

We’ve all seen the news reports and images of the horror that’s going on in the Horn of Africa. There’s many ways to help, but here’s one for crafters.

Next Saturday, September 3rd, there’s a craft day in aid of famine relief in Damer Hall on Stephen’s Green. You can view full details at this page. There’s a wide range of classes all day, from embroidery through origami to felting. There’s a stitch and bitch all day, with coffee, tea and bake-sale cake to sustain you while you stitch. There’s a market stall, offering terrific yarn at extremely reduced prices (made possible by the generosity of many businesses and individuals).

There’s a couple of things that they’ve asked us to ask you.

First of all, there’s a poster and a a flier here. It would be lovely if you could print them out and put them up in your workplace or your community noticeboard or wherever people are likely to spot them.

Second, come along. Bring a friend. Grab some new yarn. Learn a new skill. Sit and stitch. Help.

This is the reason why.

Look! more excitement!

We’re delighted to announce that we will be hosting the official launch of Carol Feller’s new book Contemporary Irish Knits on Thursday 8th September!

This means that there’s now two exciting events happening here that day, because that’s the date of the Yarn Tasting too. Of course, we would be thrilled if you could all come to both events. But that’s not practical for everyone, so we’re asking you to book separately for each.

If you want to come to the book launch, please go here make your booking (it’s free!). If you’d like an autographed copy of the book which you can get on the day, please leave a note in the “Other Information” box to tell us, and we’ll gladly put one aside for you.

If you want to come to the Yarn Tasting as well and haven’t booked already, then you’ll find the page to do so here. (It’s filling up fast, we’re happy to say!)

We need to ask for your help, though. We have to keep the fire officers happy, and that means keeping a strict eye on numbers. So if you’re coming to the book launch but not the Yarn Tasting, could we ask you to attend between 4.30pm and 5.30pm? Thank you in advance!

As for the new book, we can’t really say much about it, but it’s stuffed with lovely patterns for all the family, designed for a wide range of beautiful Irish yarns. You’ll just have to see for yourself, and you can do so on September 8th….

S t r e t c h!

The basic cast off works very well when you want a nice firm edge with little stretch, but sometimes you need a bit more give. The top of a toe-up sock, a neck opening that needs to go over your head – there’s lots of places where you want an edge to stretch comfortably and then spring happily back into shape.

The basic cast off worked loosely with a larger needle size goes some way to helping, but there’s better solutions, and we’ve got one for you today. It’s Elizabeth Zimmermann’s sewn bind off (somehow, “Elizabeth Zimmermann’s sewn cast off” doesn’t sound quite right, so we’ll avoid it). It’s easy, it’s stretchy and it’s neat. All you need is a yarn needle.

Cut the yarn, leaving a long and generous tail (45-60cm is enough for a sock) and thread the yarn needle with the tail. Insert the tip of the yarn needle from right to left through the first two stitches on the knitting needle:

Pull it all the way through both stitches:

Then insert the needle from left to right (note change of direction!) through the rightmost stitch only:

Let that rightmost stitch fall off the tip of the knitting needle – it’s now safely cast off:

Repeat the process: right to left through both stitches, left to right through the rightmost. If you pull the yarn tight, you’ll risk making the cast off tight, so relax and keep a nice loose tension. When you’ve cast off several stitches – say, one needleful of a sock – take a moment to admire your handiwork:

When you’ve cast off all the stitches, just weave in the yarn tail as you usually would. Easy, stretchy and neat!

That’s a sock being cast off in the pictures – a terribly dotey baby sock knit from the toe up, using a technique that can make socks of any size. There’s a class on this coming up in September, so check here for information.

And yes, Elizabeth Zimmermann was a genius.

A very special guest!

Sometimes it’s hard to keep a secret. It’s been awfully hard to keep this one, but now we can announce it: Kate Davies is coming to the Yarn Tasting!

Yes, that Kate Davies! She who designed o w l s, the cabled yoke jumper that engendered the Owl-Along:

She’s a textile historian who has written for Rowan, The Knitter, Twist Collective, Selvedge and on her own exemplary blog, Needled. She’s written widely and with eminent good sense about knitting traditions in these islands, and the current issue of Rowan magazine features her rather marvellous article on the history and innovation of Shetland lace.

She designs beautiful things – cleverly constructed, delightful to knit and a joy to wear:

She’s going to bring some of her samples to the Yarn Tasting, so we’ll have a chance to croon over them and try them on. Some of her patterns will be on sale in paper form, and you can even get them autographed! We’re more pleased than we can say to have such a distinguished visitor, and we hope that she’ll have a terrific time in Dublin.

The forecast for Autumn at This Is Knit continues fair.

All images in this post are © Kate Davies and used with permission.

New skills

The September/October class schedule has been announced, so we thought we’d talk about some of the skills we’re offering. We’ve got new shiny things!

One addition is the new booking system, which has been in operation for a while but which hasn’t been mentioned here yet. All our classes and events are now bookable online at this link. You can see how many places are left in a class, whether you need to do any preparation and so on when you book. Of course, we can still take bookings at the counter or over the phone, but now we can show all our classes and events in one place, including special occasions like the Yarn Tasting and Amy Singer’s lace and design classes.

So what’s available over the next couple of months? We’ve got familiar favourites like the Beginners’ Knitting and Crochet courses, basic and advanced lace, colourwork, Finishing School and so on. But we’ve also got some new classes which give you both a new skill and a lovely new object at the end.

What about the Winterberry Shrug class? It’s designed by Lisa, and it combines clever short-row shaping, top-down construction and a little lace worked in the round. All of those skills are covered in the two-session class, and the result is a versatile cover-up for any season.

Is it possible to learn to make a sock in one class? If the sock is as dotey as this one, then yes, yes it is.

Those are toe-up short-row socks. Because they’re for such a small foot, they grow so fast that you’ll be past the heel in no time at all. A baby bootie is always welcome, but the cunning thing about this pattern is that it can be up-sized to any size of foot, so when you’ve learned to make a sock for baby, you’ll know how to make them for mummy and daddy too.

Our final example of learning a new skill by making a beautiful thing is some very special indeed. We’ve talked about AoibheNí here before – she designs wonderful crochet and teaches in This Is Knit. Over the last few months she’s been innovating a style of crochet lace that’s both beautiful and entirely new.

It’s not often that we get the chance to learn a new technique from the person that developed it, so Aoibhe’s Dublin Bay Shawl class is a very special opportunity.

If we talked about all the classes we have planned for the next two months, this would be the longest blog post ever. We won’t, though – we’ll just suggest that you browse through the list and see what takes your fancy. Autumn’s going to be lovely.

Frogged

Baby blankets are usually made in pastel colours, but there’s no reason why they shouldn’t be bright and colourful. We were vividly reminded of this when Mary, one of our lovely customers, brought in her most recent blanket to show us.

This is the Froggie Blanket from Robin Chacula’s Baby Blueprint Crochet. It’s made from Debbie Bliss Cashmerino Aran, so it’s snuggly and machine-washable.

The central panel is made with a simple Tunisian crochet stitch and the border of trebles is added later. If this blanket takes your fancy and you’d like to freshen up your techniques, we’ve got a Crochet Project Help class coming up on Sunday September 18th.

You might be wondering why it’s called the Froggie Blanket. Well, here’s why:

It’s got a crocheted frog appliquéed onto it! The original had a button for the eye, but Mary’s decision to embroider it instead works as well or better. Mary, thank you for showing us this gorgeous piece of work, and for letting us feature it here.

Ribbit.

Two to the left, two to the right

Some of the most pleasing effects in knitting are made by directional decreases. Armhole decreases that point in mirrored directions look awfully professional, and the beautiful swooping lines of knitted lace depend on them.

Most knitters know of K2tog, or knit-two-stitches-together, which leans to the right. Its left-leaning counterpart SSK (slip-slip-knit) seems, from questions at the counter, to be less well known. So we thought a tutorial would be useful.

We cover both of them here, starting with SSK. If you’d like to work along with the pictures, cast on twenty or twenty five stitches, work a few rows of garter stitch and then change to stocking stitch for a few rows, keeping a border of four(ish) stitches on each side in garter stitch.

With the right side facing, knit across to immediately before the two stitches you’re going to work as the decrease (in our picture, the decrease will involve the sixth and seventh stitches of the row).

Put the tip of the right hand needle into the first of those two stitches as if you were going to knit it…

…and just slip it off the left hand needle onto the right. If you look closely, you’ll see that the stitch has turned so that it’s facing the other direction to all the others. (This is supposed to happen – it sets up the magic for later).

Now do exactly the same thing to the next stitch – slip it knitwise onto the right hand needle.

When you’ve done that, you’ve got two unworked stitches on your right hand needle, and both of them are facing the opposite way to the rest.

Now put the tip of the left hand needle through those stitches from left to right, coming out at the front. This puts you into the right position to work both of them together through their back loops.

Knit the two of them together through their back loops! The yarn wraps round the needle in the usual way…

…and the new stitch is drawn through.

This newly made stitch is the decrease, because you took two stitches and made just this one out of them.

When you inspect what’s happened, this is what you see: two stitches on the row below have turned into one on this one, and the right hand stitch is lying over the left hand one, so that the decrease points to the left.

When you look closely at the two legs of that upper, right hand stitch, you’ll see that its little legs are uncrossed, like the rest of the stitches on the row. The key to that was the reorientation of the stitches by slipping them as if to knit at the outset.

So that’s SSK – slip as if to knit, slip as if to knit, knit the two of them together through their back loops.

K2tog, or knit-two-together, leans in the other direction: to the right. Paired decreases are often found on different sides of a piece of work, like the two armholes of a jumper, so we’ve knitted across the row to a similar point at the other side of the row. When you get to a point six or seven stitches from the end, put the tip of the right hand needle through two stitches at the same time and wrap the yarn around the needle as usual:

Pull the new stitch through, and once again you’ve made one stitch where previously there were two:

When you inspect your work this time, you’ll see that where the two stitches merge into one, the left hand one is lying over the top of the right hand one – the opposite of SSK. This is the clever part: the two decreases face in different directions.

You can see the contrast clearly on our swatch. The picture below was taken after the following purl row, and at each side, a row or so below the needles, you can see the decreases, one on each side and leaning in different directions:

And if you work an SSK immediately followed by a K2tog, you get the paired decreases pointing right at each other, like they are in the centre here:

These aren’t the only ways to make right- and left-leaning decreases. K2tog is by far the commonest right-leaning one. SSK is our favourite left-leaning one here at This Is Knit, though you’ll encounter others at times, especially in older patterns. As long as you preserve the directionality, left for left and right for right, you can substitute your favourites at will. Indeed, there’s a vocal minority who prefer SSK with the second of the two slipped stitches slipped purlwise (slip as if to knit, slip as if to purl, knit both together through their back loops). They claim that the result lies more neatly – try it out and see if you agree with them!

Decreases are usually worked on a right side row, which means that most of them are knitted. But purled decreases exist, and they’re directional too, so we’ll return to that topic in a future post. We’ll also revisit decreases to talk about double decreases – the ones that make three stitches into one.

If you have any technique issues that you’ll like us to cover here, we’re delighted to take requests. Tell us via a comment below, and we’ll do our best to help!

Save the date!

We’re delighted to announce that This Is Knit’s Yarn Tasting will be on Thursday September 8th, from 5.30pm till 8.00pm.

This will be the third Yarn Tasting – the first was in 2009 (you can see Julie’s stunning pictures of the night at that link) and last year’s was bigger and better (Julie’s blog has memories here).

As before, the loft upstairs in the Powerscourt Centre is the venue, and there’ll be lots of new yarns, special guests, raffle prizes and all manner of good things. We’ve already started putting together the yarn samples for this year – there will be delicious things, such as…no, we mustn’t.

To reserve your place you can click on over to the official booking page here or telephone us at 01-6709981.

This picture was made possible by our friends in the Pepperpot.

Learn from Amy Singer!

We’re terribly excited about this one! It’s been in the planning for a good while, and finally we can announce it. Amy Singer’s coming to This Is Knit in October to give not one but two workshops.

Amy’s probably best known as the editor of Knitty, the online knitting and spinning magazine. She’s also written Knit Wit and No Sheep For You, about knitting with fibres other than wool (she’s allergic) and co-authored Big Girl Knits and More Big Girl Knits. She’s a spinner and a talented teacher. And she has rabbits, though they’ll be staying in Toronto in October.

The first workshop is on Sunday 23rd October and it’s a full day (11.00am to 5.00pm). It’s called the Plug & Play Shawl Design Workshop. If you’ve made a lace shawl or two, and you fancy striking out on your own to make something unique and lovely, this class will help you. You can read more about it and book your place here.

The following afternoon, from 2.00pm to 5.00pm, Amy’s giving a workshop called Making the Next “Monkey”, “Mr Greenjeans” or “Mrs Beeton” – or the inside scoop on getting published in Knitty! If you’ve got an idea for a pattern (or indeed, a finished pattern) that you want the world to know about, this workshop will help you maximise your chances of getting it out there – what to do and what absolutely not to do. It’s three hours of expert guidance and advice, and you can find out more and book at this link.

In a year which has featured lots of very exciting events, these ones will definitely stand out. Places are limited, though, so make sure you book yours in good time. We hope to see you there, and we can’t wait to see what new designs you’ll have!