In case of festive emergency

A week or so ago, we showed you the Rivendell cowl, just designed by Jacqui, and intimated that she was working on a matching hat. True to our word, here it is: this is the Rivendell hat.

It’s a lovely slouchy tam made with a simple lacy stitch, and it’s a really fast knit – in fact, you could easily have one finished before Christmas, so it makes a perfect emergency present.

Indeed, it’s our present to you, with our very best wishes for Christmas and for the coming New Year. We do hope you like it – if you make one, we’d love to see a picture in our Ravelry group.

Rivendell Hat

Yarn:
2 x skeins of Mirasol Kutama (61m per 50g) (this is a bulky weight yarn, knitting up at 14-16 st to 10cm)

Needles & Notions:
5mm 40cm circular needles
6mm 60cm circular needles
6mm DPNs or 6mm 100cm circular needles for magic loop (depending on your preference for small diameter circular knitting)
1 stitch marker

Abbreviations:
PM: Place marker
Yrn: Yarn Around Needle: bring the working yarn back over the top of the right hand needle (to the back of the
work) and then forward again between the needles to the front. This creates one stitch and leaves a
decorative eyelet.
K3tog: Knit 3 stitches together.
P3tog: Purl 3 stitches together.

Instructions:
Brim:
Cast on 90 sts with the 5mm 40cms circular needle.
Join for working in the round, being careful not to twist. PM to indicate beginning of the round.

Rnd 1: [K3, P1, k1, p1], rep to end of rnd.
Repeat Rnd 1 for a further 9 rnds

Main Pattern Repeat:
Change to 6mm 60cms circular needle and begin Rib Lace Pattern as follows:
Rnd 1 : [Yrn, P3tog, Yrn, K1, p1, k1], rep to end of rnd.
Rnds 2, 3 & 4 : [K3, p1, k1, p1], rep to end of rnd.

Repeat the last 4 rounds 5 more times.

Work Rnd 1 – 3 once more.

Crown Decreases:
(Change to 6mm DPNs or the Magic Loop Method as soon as you no longer have enough stitches to comfortably fit around your 60cm circular needle)

Dec Rnd 1: [K3tog, p1, k1, p1], rep to end of rnd (60 sts rem)
Dec Rnd 2: [K1, p1], rep to end of rnd
Dec Rnd 3: [K1, p1, k1, p3tog, k1, p1], rep to within 2sts of the end of rnd, then k1, p1.
Dec Rnd 4: [K1, p1], rep to within 1 st of the end of the rnd. You will incorporate the last purl st of this rnd into the first instruction for the next rnd.
Dec Rnd 5: P3tog (using last st of Dec Round 4), k1, p1, k1 then [P3tog, k1, p1, k1], rep to end of rnd.
Dec Rnd 6: [P1, k3tog], rep to end of rnd.

Cut a 6 inch tail of yarn and run this through the remaining stitches on the needle to close up the top of the hat.

Weave in all yarn tails and wear with pride!

A PDF file for this pattern will be shortly be available via Ravelry too :)

And finally, some of us have been wondering how we’re going to manage without frequent recourse to the Pepperpot Café right outside our front door. They’re open on Christmas Eve and then reopening on January 3rd. During the break, you could still have a taste of their fantastic cooking at home, because they’ve just started selling jars of their handmade chutney and jam. What an excellent gift idea, too!

Outside the box

Choosing a gift for a yarn lover can be fraught. Is he allergic to that fibre? Does she already have the new Alice Starmore book? Is the vibrant purple sock yarn the perfect colour, or will it just make the recipient look ill? We’re happy to report that we’ve found unusual and charming gifts and tokens for yarny people which neatly avoid all these quandaries.

First of all, we’re stocking Christmas cards specially photographed and printed by Julie of halfadreamaway.com. We’ve previously blogged about her greeting cards, and now she’s come up with some beautiful Christmas cards too.

Next, we’ve found ideal gifts for knitters and crocheters in Article, our neighbours in the Powerscourt Centre. What about a plump yarn ball candle, or one wearing a perfect waxy cable? Or a versatile glass cylinder wrapped in a smart cabled jacket – it would look equally elegant with flowers or a candle inside? Or a sweet Ladybird Book-themed craft box for keeping tools and notions tidy?

Article were the previous occupants of our new premises, and we still get the odd perplexed person wondering where they’ve gone. Well, they’ve gone to a truly beautiful unit in the old house, just thirty three steps from our front door. We recommend a visit – original and beautiful objects in a completely unique space.

We have a winner!

We’ve been amazed at the creativity of the tree decorations we’ve received for our Christmas tree – actually, we were awfully glad we were drawing a winner at random, because it would have been near impossible to pick a winner otherwise.

But we have a winner, and it’s Ruth from Cork, who sent us that delightful little ornament, complete with sparkly sequin baubles and a bell at the top. A Christmas tree to decorate a Christmas tree – how meta is that!

Ruth wins a rather handsome prize – a copy of Debbie Bliss’s Knits to Give, a pair of Peace Fleece needles with little Christmas trees on the ends, and a tidy tool case from Knitpro (which can either be a hook case or a circular needle case).

This is also a good time to announce our opening hours over the Christmas/New Year season. We’re closing at 6.00pm on Friday December 23rd and re-opening on Tuesday January 3rd at 11.00am.

And now we’ve got to plan what we’re making over the break. There’s a very snuggly and enormous Swallowtail in Louisa Harding Thistle in the works, and a Wispy cardigan in Hedgehog Fibres Cashmere is underway. There’s also been swatching for the cardigan like that one that Cameron Diaz wore in “Holiday”. What about you? We’d love to hear what you’ve planned in the comments!

Picot practice

The Glenties Cowl is one of our most popular shop patterns, and we suspect that the pretty cast off is a good part of the reason for this. It’s a picot cast off and it’s very simple to work. It’ll give all sorts of things a neat touch – check out the Miss Potter mitts for another really effective implementation.

We often get asked at the counter how to do it, so here’s a tutorial. As usual, we’ve cast on thirty stitches or so and then worked ten(-ish) rows, so if you want to work along with this, that’s all the preparation you’ll need.

The exact number of stitches involved in picot cast offs can vary, but we’re working here with an instruction that reads:

Cast off 2 stitches, *slip the stitch that remains on the right needle back to the left hand needle.
Cable cast on 3 stitches.
Cast off 5 stitches.* Repeat from * to * until all stitches have been cast off.

In other words, the picots will be three stitches tall, and each of them will be two stitches away from its bobbly little neighbours. So to start with, cast off two stitches using the usual cast off:

You’ll have lots of stitches on the left hand needle and only one one on the right. Pop that single right hand stitch back onto the left hand needle, leaving your right hand needle empty.

Now you’re going to cast on three new stitches, using the cable cast on (it gives you a firmer cast on). Put the tip of the right hand needle behind the first stitch on the left hand needle, between that stitch and its immediate neightbour:

Wrap the yarn in a normal knitting motion around the tip of the right hand needle:

Pull a new loop towards you between the two stitches – this is your new stitch:

Pop that new stitch up on your left hand needle:

Repeat this procedure, casting on a total of three new stitches…

… and immediately start to cast off, casting off five stitches in total (your three newly cast on stitches, and then two of the original ones):

When you’ve cast off the five, stop and have a look at what’s happened – you’ve got a little protruberance of yarn:

At this point, slip the single stitch from the right hand needle back to the left hand needle, ready to cable-cast-on three new stitches for the next picot:

When you’ve completed these steps a few times, take a moment to admire the result – and try not to put picot cast offs on everything you knit. You’ll want to, you know.

There’s a matching picot cast on as well, which we’ll do a tutorial for soon.

And here’s a Christmas decoration to admire as well – we’ve just been awestruck with the ingenuity of you all:

Ok, it’s winter…

… it’s dark early, it’s getting colder, the Toy Show’s been on the Late Late. But we’ve got lovely new things to keep you warm as toast, with the yarn and the pattern all packaged up in a kit ready to cast on.

We’re very proud to say that the three cozy accessories we have to show you today are all original This Is Knit designs. The first is a hat which commemorates Jacqui’s visit to the Ray D’Arcy Show back in June.

This is the Bobblehead Ray hat, and it’s made from one skein of Noro Kogarashi, a bulky mix of silk and wool. It’s suitable for men or women, it’s slouchy and it’s warm.

Next up, we’ve got a dream of a cowl. We debuted this at the Knitting and Stitching Show, and it’s a yarn combination made in heaven: Debbie Bliss Party Angel, which has a subtle little sparkle, and a luxurious DK yarn like Mirasol Tuhu, Louisa Harding Grace or Debble Bliss Andes:

Finally, we’ve got Jacqui’s new pattern, the Rivendell cowl. This is a very simple and satisfying lace pattern, knitted in snuggly Malabrigo Rios. It’ll take you no time at all to make:

(Sources close to Jacqui have exclusively revealed that there is a matching hat pattern in progress.)

All of these patterns are free with the purchase of the yarn, and their kits are all neatly packaged up for you to take away as a gift for someone deserving – or for yourself, the most deserving one of all.

At the same time

Those four little words induce dread in a lot of knitters. You find them in pattern shaping instructions like this:

Shape front
Inc 2 sts at end of next and following 6th row, then on following 0 (2; 2; 3; 4; 5) 4th rows, then on 2 (2; 1; 2; 0; 2) alternate rows, then on foll 6th row and at the same time dec 2 sts at beg of 9th (5th; 5th; 9th; 5th) rows, and at beg of following 3 (4; 4; 5; 5; 6) alternate rows.

We’ve made up the numbers in this particular example, but it’s not hard to find plenty of published patterns with this sort of instruction. We get a lot of furrowed brows asking for help with this, so here’s a way of making life easier for yourself.

First of all, there’s a lot of numbers in there that aren’t really relevant – the numbers for the sizes you’re not making. So start by using a pencil or a highlighter to mark the numbers that do pertain to you. Right away, the pattern will start to look less cumbersome. In fact, it’s always a good idea to wield the pencil for this right at the very start, before you even cast on, and mark up the whole pattern. We’re going to assume here that we’re knitting the second size (the first one inside the brackets).

The first thing to do is to get a sheet of paper and number the lines. Each line is going to correspond to a row.

Looking at the instructions above, there’s one set of instructions for the beginning of even-numbered rows and another for the beginning of odd-numbered rows. This tells you that the piece will be changing shape at both sides at once. But marking up your sheet of paper, it’s easier to concentrate on one of these at a time, so we’ll illustrate with the odd numbered rows first.

The first line on the page is Row 1, so it gets the very first bit of shaping. Then you count 6 rows on from there on your paper, and that’s where you put the second increase. We’ve found that you don’t need to write down anything more fancy than “Inc 2”.

Inc 2 sts at end of next and following 6th row

Carry on like this, putting in each odd row instruction, and your sheet of paper will look like this:

That’s the shaping for one side of the piece sorted, so you can move on to the shaping on the other side, which you work at the same time (that’s that phrase again!)

and at the same time dec 2 sts at beg of 9th (5th; 5th; 9th; 5th) rows, and at beg of following 3 (4; 4; 5; 5; 6) alternate rows

Starting back down at the first row, mark the rows where you decrease on the even-numbered rows. In our sample, that’s on the 5th row and then on every second row 3 times, which is four decreases in all.

When you’ve added in the even-numbered row shaping, you’ll have a sheet of paper which tells you for every row whether you increase or decrease on it. Even though there’s two sets of shaping going on, you never have to worry about any row other than the one you’re on, and your chart tells you whether you need to do anything on it or not. Having only one row to think about makes the whole thing much easier.

As you work up the piece, you can tick off the rows you’ve worked as you go, so you always know where exactly you are. That way, you can even chat or watch TV … at the same time!

Ring in the new

We’ve got lots of new yarn to show you today (including one that’s very exciting indeed!), but first, isn’t that a splendid bell? It’s one of the tree decorations that have been handed in for our competition. For once, it’s a pity that this blog doesn’t come with an audio track, because that’s a proper cat bell that rings! It’s fantastic! But keep them coming: the deadline is December 13th, so there’s plenty of time, and a jolly little decoration is fast to do!

On to our new arrivals! The first is actually two – we’re now stocking Handmaiden sock yarn and laceweight.

That’s some of the Casbah sock yarn – 325 metres of merino and cashmere with a little nylon for strength. It’s machine-washable and hand-dyed. It would make amazing socks – or baby clothes, or lace, or anything you wish.

Then there’s Handmaiden Sea Silk laceweight. Again, it’s hand-dyed so each skein is unique…

…and the colours and the softness have to be experienced up close. It’s made of silk and Seacell, a man-made fibre partly made from seaweed. It’s a relatively heavy laceweight and it knits up beautifully.

Our final new arrival is something local and innovative. We’re very proud to be stocking Studio Donegal’s Merino Soft, a two-ply worsted weight yarn, which we debuted at the Knitting and Stitching Show. It’s just the right combination of nubbly and soft, and it comes in a wide range of colours from quiet earth tones to vibrant brights, just like its big sibling Aran Tweed.

A little plumper than DK and a little slimmer than Aran, it will work beautifully in all those North American worsted weight patterns you’ve been mulling over. The colour palette lends itself to stripes or stranded colourwork, and it comes in generous 100g hanks, each giving you 190 metres of knitting pleasure. There are several cardigans being planned in the shop, and a couple of hat-and-mitten sets too.

So if you’re passing, drop in and give these lovelies a look – your letter to Santa might need a postscript.