February 2012

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Pure luxury

One of the new yarns for Spring/Summer 2012 has made us so happy. It’s Louisa Harding’s Mulberry, which has recently come back into stock. As the name suggests, it’s pure silk. It’s a lovely firmly plied DK weight, and it’s available in lots of vibrant colours.

As a display item for Mulberry, we have had entrusted to us a wonderful piece of lace. We’ve blogged KittyKahBoom‘s work before: A E’s christening shawl back in March of last year. Her Mulberry shawl is an Aeolian, and it’s breathtaking:

Although this is the shoulderette size, this is a very generously sized shawl indeed. It’s a marvellous piece of knitting – here’s a shot of the border, with delicious Estonian nupps and the weighty drape of the silk.

So if you’re intending to make something special for a celebration this year, then Mulberry might be the perfect yarn (you might remember that it was the yarn Nikki used for her wedding dress too). It’ll work for garments as well as accessories and would complement other yarns beautifully if you decided to combine.

We just have one favour to ask: could we please see your finished articles? You know how much we love that!

Adornment

Sometimes, it’s nice to be able to declare oneself to be a knitter, in the subtlest way, even in the absence of yarn and needles. Well, if you’re looking for a little gift for yourself or a fellow knitter, we have just the ticket.

These little pendants are hand made in County Wicklow. They come with a fine sterling silver chain and we have several different styles just in.

And as we were walking through the Green earlier, we noticed happily that the trees are starting to blossom. Longer days, a This Is Knit KAL about to begin…it must be spring.

We’ve recently started stocking Knitpro Cubics interchangeable knitting needle tips. They’re very attractive objects, made from the same rosewood effect birch as the Swarovski crystal crochet hook set or the deluxe interchangeable needles.

You might very well want to try a set of these just for the novelty value. But that’s not the only reason for considering them. Claims have been made that square needles offer distinct benefits over their round counterparts: specifically, that they knit more evenly and that they are much easier on the knitter’s joints.

So when they reached us, we decided to test them. The experiment took the following form: knit a swatch with both round and square needles of the same size with identical yarn, and have both parts of it knitted by the same knitter.

The experiment yielded the following data:

In the image above, the portion on the right was knitted with 5.00mm Knitpro Symphonie round tips. The portion on the left was knitted with 5.00mm Knitpro Cubics square tips. The yarn was Debbie Bliss Cashmerino Aran. 32 stitches were cast on.

It’s fairly clear that tension varies considerably across the two needle types: even without measuring and counting, the stitches in the square-needle portion are smaller than those in the round-needle portion. When the swatch was washed, blocked and measured the differences were properly quantifiable: with round tips, gauge was 18 stitches and 25 rows to 10cm; with square tips, 20 stitches and 28 rows to 10cm.

In other words, to make a jumper 40″ around, you’d need 180 stitches on the round tips but 200 on the square. What’s more, if this knitter used the square tips when the round tip tension was required, the jumper would come out 36″ around (and four inches too tight is a lot too tight). If the round tips were used where the square tension was needed, it would come out more than four inches too loose.

But the swatch has more to tell us than that. The work of this knitter has already appeared on the blog in this post about tension differences between knitting flat and in the round. She rows out when she knits stocking stitch flat, because she purls more loosely than she knits. You can see the ridges caused by the rowing out in the picture above (more prominent by far in the round-tip section). But when the swatch is turned over, the difference becomes even more striking.

This experiment would appear to confirm the hypothesis that there is more than just novelty to square needles. For this knitter, they yield tighter and more even stitches, with a more even fabric. She’ll be using them again. A lot.

It is important to note that this experiment did not address the issue of joint discomfort. Further investigation would be required to reach a conclusion on this matter.

Spring KAL 2012

It’s Knit-a-Long time again! Why not join us?

Spurred on by the success of last year’s garment KAL (when we were simply floored by the number of beautiful finished “Clams” and “Breakers“) we’re leaping in to cardigans and sweaters again. We’ve selected two patterns and one yarn, but the second pattern has instructions for either a cardigan or a sweater so there’s something there for everyone…

Fan Jacket

The “Fan Jacket” from Debbie Bliss has been attracting a lot of attention so far this season. It’s knit in “Bella”, a lustrous Cotton/Silk/Cashmere blend that retails at €5.95. It’s just a touch on the cropped side so we know a lot of you will add a few extra inches to the length, and we’ll be here to help.

Sandrine

The second pattern option, which can also be knit in Bella, is “Sandrine” from Chic Knits. A cross-over sweater (or cardigan) that is knit from the top down with minimal finishing, this is a quick and flattering knit. If you are curious about seamless knitting from the top down then this would be an ideal first project, and we’ll be here with knitting assistance, tips and techniques throughout the KAL.

Here’s how it will work:

The start date for the KAL will be Wednesday 7th of March.

Pop in to the shop (or email/phone us) on or before that date and choose one of the projects and your shade of Bella yarn (you can see the shade card for the yarn at the end of this post). Buy the yarn and get the “Village” pattern book or the “Sandrine” pattern *absolutely free*.

The KAL will run until Weds 6th June and everyone who finishes their cardigan by that date will be entered into a draw for a great prize. Previous winners nabbed themselves this selection of delightful goodies, and the makings of their next garment project!

We will be scheduling knitting assistance sessions at the shop for any specific technique challenges that come up and we’re always happy to lend a hand during quieter times in store. Don’t forget that virtually round-the-clock help will be on hand via this blog and the dedicated thread in our TIK Ravelry group.

The KALs are always *mountains* of fun and there’s oodles of moral support and practical guidance to be had. So jump on in and you’ll be wearing your new warm-weather creation by summer!

Bella Shade Card

Wee treasures

New yarns for spring and summer are starting to appear on our shelves, with new patterns and sample garments to complement them. The children’s garments always induce happy sighs when they come in, so we thought we’d share a couple with you.

The wee cardigan above is called Little Heidi, and it’s a Sublime pattern designed for Baby Silk and Bamboo DK. You’ll find it in Sublime book 659. The yarn’s a delight: it’s soft and luxurious, with a gentle colour palette, and the fibre content makes it ideal for anyone (big or small) who’s sensitive to wool.

What a practical little slipover this is – it’s a quick knit in Baby Cashmere Merino DK (a blend of merino, cashmere and silk). It’s very smart with the contrast edging, but wouldn’t it look lovely knitted all in one colour too?

We’ve got lots more new garments to show you, so if you’re looking for inspiration, drop by often!

We’ve been busy

As you know, the online shop has been offline for a few weeks now while we gussy it up and make it better for you. We’ve been doing a lot of photography for it this week, so we thought it would a good idea to share with you a bit of what’s been going on behind the scenes.

We were able to do much of the shooting in the Powerscourt Centre loft, the lovely space which has hosted special events like the Yarn Tasting and last year’s birthday party. This was just as well – we needed a generous space for the amount of yarn we needed to shoot.

So much of the last few days looked like this:

We’re rather excited about all the new functionality that the improved online shop will have. It’ll be easier to navigate and better integrated with the bricks-and-mortar shop, and we’ve been able to include things you asked for, like wishlists. Here’s a very small preview of the new look:

We think it’ll be a big improvement, and we think you’ll like it a lot. But there’s lots more to do, so we’d better get back to it!

One of our most popular inhouse patterns is the Party Lace Scarf. It’s the pattern that we use in our lace classes, and it’s been made in an amazing variety of weights and fibres (though the original is in luscious mohair and silk).

The little touch of beading at the beginning and end is optional, but it makes the scarf that little bit prettier, and we’ve been asked for help in adding it several times. So we though it would be a good idea to post a tutorial here.

There’s several different ways of adding beads to your work. This one involves threading the beads onto the yarn in advance. For this, a beading needle really helps – it’s essentially all hole, so there’s no difficulty in threading your yarn through it.

So thread your beads onto your yarn, and move them well up away from the end. You’re going to need enough beadless yarn to cast on with before you get to the beading stage.

Cast on the required number of stitches, ignoring the beads entirely.

Then begin to work your beaded row. We shot this part way along the row, so there’s some beads already in place, but each of them is placed in exactly the same way, and here’s how. Bring the yarn to the front as if you were going to purl the next stitch…

… and slip the next stitch purlwise without working it at all.

Hoosh the closest bead up along the yarn until it’s right in front of the stitch you slipped:

Then bring the yarn back to the rear of the work. This snuggles up the bead to the front of the slipped stitch:

When you knit the next stitch, the bead will be held firmly in place.

And this is the result: a bead placed neatly along the edge of the work, just like its neighbours.

We’ve found that a willing helper to do the hooshing up of the beads along the yarn makes the process faster, if you can recruit one. And we’ve learned the hard way (so you don’t have to!) that if you’re placing beads in a specific order – say, in a coloured pattern or using several sizes – the first-placed bead should be the last one threaded.

Now we want to put beads on everything. And we can’t really think of a good reason not to. Can you?

For some time, we’ve known that this yarn was coming into the shop and we’ve been so excited. It’s here now: Debbie Bliss Rialto Lace, in twenty (twenty!) colours, and our excitement turns out to have been entirely justified.

As soon as Jacqui got her hands on some, she started a Swallowtail shawl, and it’s on display in the shop at the moment:

This beauty took just under a single ball, which means it’s economical as well as lovely. (And easy – Evelyn Clark’s pattern is the ideal first shawl pattern, as well as being free.) Close up, you can see the wonderful stitch definition:

It’s the softest 2-ply laceweight, it knits like a dream, and it’s versatile as anything. The first projects that come to mind are lovely open shawls and stoles, of course, but the pattern booklet also features lacy cardigans and shrugs – with larger needles, it will knit up fast into something delightful.

So why not celebrate the end of winter by casting on some lace?