January 2012

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A few posts ago, we talked about Valentine’s Day knitting for men. But many of you are looking for romantic knitting or gifts for women too. So we thought we’d showcase a few ideas today.

First of all, this romantic piece is the Poetry cape from Louisa Harding’s Three Graces pattern book, made from luscious Grace Wool and Silk. A lovely thing to receive, whether as the raw materials or a finished article.

If you’re looking for something pretty and practical, then the Whither mitt kit would be an excellent choice – a quick knit in Mirasol Tuhu, the softest blend of llama, merino and angora. And since knitters and crocheters can never have too many project bags, this Pretty Cheep bag will be welcome (while this one has a theme-perfect bluebird, other birds are available):

It’s been colder the last few days (which gives us a chance to wear cosy yarny things), but we’ve got very warm hearts.

The print in the first image above is another lovely exclusive from Article, where you will also find dainty little cupcake cases with hearts on. No, we couldn’t resist them.

May we introduce Bessie, who oversees the shop from the wall above the counter. (Please excuse the ceiling fan blade in that picture – she gets quite hot up there, what with the fleece and all, so she appreciates the air current.)

Bessie’s with us because of one of those typical This Is Knit bits of serendipity. Last year, at one of the spinning events on the balcony, Lisa noticed one of our awfully talented customers called Eimear drawing a doodle. The idea of having a mural of a large and affable sheep was born, and Bessie came into being during the shop move (there’s a picture of her appearance here).

But we’re happy to report that we’ve recently started selling more of Eimear’s work, in the form of these beautiful shawl pins:

We’re very proud of these. They’re a This Is Knit exclusive – Eimear’s simple and stunning design, commissioned from Novasteel, the brother and sister team based near Agen in south-western France. They make the other pins and brooches that we stock (the ones we blogged here) as well as our blocking wires.

So if you’re looking for an original gift for yourself or someone else, one of these shawl pins would be perfect. And Bessie would approve.

We’ve had a few requests about how to make nice neat colour transitions in crochet, and it’s a question that comes up often in class, so we thought it would be a good idea to post about it here.

This is one of those places where the obvious thing to do isn’t optimal. You’d think that you’d take up the new colour right at the beginning of – complete the last stitch of the previous round and then join in the new colour. But this gives you an uneven, raggedy transition.

Instead, try working the very final pull through of the last stitch of the previous round with the new colour, essentially joining in the new yarn a step before you think you need. In the picture below, the second two-loop pull through of the last treble is being worked with the yellow yarn:

And here’s that last stitch of the row completed, with the new colour peeking up through to form the new row:

When you do this, you end up with the colour changing neatly at the start of the new row, like this. See how one row is completely in the pink and the next completely in the yellow, with no messy overlap?

There’s a lot of stripy things under way here, so we’ll very shortly be looking at working neat little knitted stripes too.

Grá

Knitting a gift for someone you love takes time and some planning, so we hope you’ll pardon our haste in mentioning St Valentine’s Day (though it is less than a month now).

Today we’ve decided to talk about gifts for men. These are all tried and tested This Is Knit patterns which have appealed to knitters and their menfolk over the last year or so. They’re fast and fun to knit, they’re very wearable and they’re warm when February is cold and damp.

First, there’s our Bobblehead Ray hat pattern, which will work up in a few hours in lovely chunky Noro Kogarashi.

One skein of Mirasol Ushya (and a few buttons) is all you need for Lisa’s Squshya Cowl – again, this is an evening’s work, so it’s ideal for the time-pressed:

And if you have a little more time, our two-colour brioche scarf will provide subtle colour variation, warmth and elegance in the softest yarn:

As for that divine print in the top photograph, we found it in Article. Isn’t it beautiful?

Oh, and did you see the article in the Irish Times last Saturday about knitting? It was very nice to see This Is Knit get special mention, and so exciting to hear about the yarny groundswell going on all over the country. If you missed it in the print version, you can read it online at this link.

The new year always brings on thoughts of resolutions and fresh starts, and so it’s proved here at This Is Knit. With the new unit all up and running, it’s time to devote a bit of loving attention to the online shop.

It will benefit from a bit of dusting and a bit of hoovering and a bit of renovation. So we’re closing it down for a month or so while we make it all shiny and new. We hope this doesn’t cause you any inconvenience at all – in fact, it’s only the online shop that’s affected. We’re still delighted to take your orders by phone or by email – just get in touch and we can help you choose anything we stock. Since we post out orders every afternoon, in most cases you’ll have your squishy parcel the day after ordering.

We’re rather excited about the changes that we’ve got planned, but we’d like to ask for your input too. If you’ve used the online shop in the past, do you have any thoughts on how your experience could have been improved? If you haven’t, what features would tempt you to do so? We’d really like to hear from you in the comments about this.

Now, where’s that mop?

Conspicuous frugality is big these days. Up-cycled clothes, soothing casseroles of less popular cuts of meat, holidaying at home – the press is full of these.

Yarn crafts are no exception. We’re all wondering how to maintain our craft with smaller budgets. Well, we can share the secret with you – work finer.

The economics of this is simple: the wholesale yarn industry works by weight. 50g of yarn is going to be a similar price, regardless of whether it’s spun as laceweight or 4-ply or DK or Aran. But the difference in the spinning spells an enormous difference in the amount of enjoyment you get from that 50g – the Aran will be around 80 metres long, the DK around 100 metres, but the laceweight can go as high as 400 metres, which means five times more knitting or crochet for you.

To put this in concrete terms, the lovely piece of lace at the top of this post (the Cold Mountain that’s on display in the shop) used 56g out of a 100g skein of Dublin Dye Company Alpaca Lace. That’s less than twenty euro for three months’ worth of knitting pleasure.

So if you want to make the budget stretch a little further, use finer yarn. But this doesn’t mean that you’re stuck making only shawls. One skein of sockweight yarn will make the All Seasons Cardi, which is also less than twenty euro for most yarn options.

And ten euro will provide all the yarn you need to make a lovely Swallowtail shawl like Jacqui’s, if you choose Rowan Fine Lace:

With fine weights and beautiful projects, you can have luxurious yarn in generous amounts, without breaking the bank.

Start here

Now that we’re into a new year, we’re noticing increased interest in learning to knit and crochet. With the January and February classes up for booking on the class page, we thought it would be useful to talk a little about our beginner classes.

We have regular beginner courses in both knitting and crochet, and they last over three weeks, at which time you’ll be well-equipped to branch out in any direction you like. If you’ve never knitted or crocheted at all or dimly remember primary school craft classes, this would be a good place to start.

The classes happen in the shop, where we’ve now got a dedicated teaching space. There’s room for four people in each class, which means that you get lots of personal attention from the teacher.

Over the three weeks of the knitting course, you’ll be working on a couple of projects, which introduce you smoothly to the basic skills. Typically, you’ll be working on this Mistake Rib scarf a couple of minutes into the first class:

In the second week, you’ll move on to knitting in the round, working on a simple (and rather stylish) hat.

After that, the knitting world is your oyster. Once you can knit and purl, working flat and in the round, you can embark on anything – and our students do! Popular next steps are the Cute As One Button baby cardigan and the All Seasons cardigan – though the choice is entirely up to you, and students often come to the course with a dream project which starts at this point.

The beginning crochet course also starts from zero. The first week typically covers holding the yarn and the hook and working the most basic stitches, with suggestions of suitable patterns – by the end of the course you’ll be working both flat and in the round, so you’ll be able to tackle anything. And our students do – again, the dream project takes shape.

After that, it’s up to you. You could move on to specific skills (Irish crochet or finishing techniques or stranded colourwork, for example) – our intermediate classes can help there. If you want assistance with one specific aspect of your craft, our project help sessions can be useful. And now that we have the teaching space, we can provide any class you want – why not gather a few friends and learn something new together? We’d love to help.

And the very best testimonial we can offer is the work of our students – and you can see it on this Ravelry thread. It makes us proud.

The Christmas knitting over, the mince pies eaten, we thought we’d take a deep breath and recall some of what we’ve been up to for the last year. There was an awful lot of it!

We had visitors! In a summer and autumn stuffed with special events – one-off visits, workshops, our fifth birthday party, the yarn tasting – we were lucky enough to welcome Laura Chau…

…Debbie Bliss (and our Chicago friend Skippy)…

…Aoibhe Ní…

…Carole Feller (launching Contemporary Irish Knits)…

…Kate Davies, here with Yvonne of the Dublin Dye Company…

…Amy Singer… (this picture demonstrates how lucky we are to have our own resident “yarnographer” and also how unorganised we are when said yarnographer is actually taking part in one of our events… Incredibly, we completely forgot to get a snapshot of Amy in the shop! If you attended this workshop and have one you’d like to share then we’d be eternally grateful.)

Amy Singer

and this was Louisa Harding when she came for our official opening at the end of November:

What an impressive roll-call! We’re so happy they came, and we can’t wait to see them again.

While we’re on the topic of the new shop, what huge excitement the move was:

Even better than all of this was the projects that you made with yarn from This Is Knit. We were delighted at frog blankets…

…and christening shawls…

and contented little polar bears:

…and right at the very end of the year, the most elegant cardigan from the Spring Knit ALong:

In a particularly lovely piece of timing, roseofskye posted her finished Clam this very week. She took that picture to show one of the cleverest things we’ve seen all year: to echo the cabled cuff of the cardigan, she made a beaded bracelet with twisted lines. Isn’t it lovely? It’s a Wendy Turri design called “Over and Under”.

From Nikki’s crocheted wedding dress to a a treeful of decorations, we’ve been delighted and astonished all year with the beauty, ingenuity and fun that you all conjure with bits of yarn.

So we’d like to wish you all a very happy 2012 – we can’t wait to see what happens next!