Aren’t these charms the dotiest thing? We’ve just got them into the shop, and we’re still coming up with more things to do with them. You could make stitch markers from them (at 2 centimetres long, they’re an excellent size), of course, but with a bit of ribbon, they’d brighten the wrapping for a small crafted gift, or you could wear them together on a chain at neck or wrist.

And in the same range, we’ve got shiny little labels like this:

They say it quietly, tucked away inside a hem or a cuff, or again, nestling in the wrapping. They come in packets of six and they’re just one centimetre long, so they’re subtle as well as sweet.

We’ve also got similarly sized labels to mark your creation proudly as hand made (you get six of these as well):

We’re sure that there’s many, many uses for these little embellishments that we haven’t noted down, and we’d love to hear your ideas, so leave us a comment to tell us! (Is it too early to talk of stocking fillers? Yes. It probably is.)

Learning curves

The thing we love most here is seeing what our yarn turns into after it leaves us. We’re always delighted. Sometimes, however, we’re simply astounded. And this is one of those times.

A few years ago, Clare (clareblove on Ravelry) decided to add some new skills to her repertoire. She took a colourwork class with us (we were still in Blackrock then). A bit later, she took a steeking class as well, and then look at what she made:

This is the Baby Blanket Latvian Garden. It’s knit in the round, and steeked, and Clare’s example is one of the most beautiful finished objects we’ve ever seen.

It’s made from Debbie Bliss Rialto in four colours. It’s backed and edged with cotton fabric, so her sewing skills got a workout too.

You can read Clare’s project notes over at her Ravelry page. And her beautiful blanket will be on display in the shop for a couple of weeks, so if you’re passing, make sure you get to see it in person.

And if you’re interested in gaining some new skills, have a look at our classes and workshops. We can’t wait to see what’s in your yarny future!

What a day!

We’re happy to report that we had a terrific Sunday. Carol Feller was here to give a workshop called “Moving Beyond the Raglan”, revealing her techniques for working cunning shoulders and yokes in top-down jumpers and cardigans.

The workshop was marvellously hands-on. There was careful measuring…

…and then there was calculation…

…and then it was time to cast on:

And there was excellent knitting craic:

We’re really hoping that the participants will share their finished projects with us in time, but until then, we’re fascinated by the garments that Carol brought along to show us. There was her Azami, from the Twist Collective:

There was Knockmore, from Contemporary Irish Knits.

And there was the wonderful cardigan pictured at the top of this post. It’s Ravi, Carol’s 100th pattern. In celebration, she’s releasing it in stages from the middle of June. It’s such a clever and elegant pattern – several of us are eyeing it avidly, and thinking about using Malabrigo Finito, or Sublime Cashmere Merino Silk or…oh, choices!

On Saturday, AoibheNí gave a stunning Tunisian lace workshop which was an equally big success. We’re planning a special blog feature on her work, so make sure to check back for that.

We’ve got all sorts of special workshops and events planned over the next few months, so keep an eye on our Classes and Events page for details. We’d love to see you.

May lace

We’ve had Araucania’s Botany Lace in stock for a while, and we’ve mentioned it on the blog before. It’s a very popular yarn, with lovely subtle variegation and fantastic meterage. But when, earlier this week, we got to see two really beautiful shawls made from it, we just had to share them with you.

The first is a Luna Moth, designed by Shui Kuen Kozinski.

It’s got over a thousand examples knitted on Ravelry, and it’s both gorgeous and very easy. It’s an ideal beginner’s pattern: it’s both written and charted, and you can modify the size very easily. And just look at how the pattern works with the Botany Lace’s shade variation (this is colourway 1651:

Another very popular shawl for new lace knitters is Kate Ray’s Multnomah. Isn’t this a very handsome specimen? This is shade 1654).

The beginning of this is simple garter stitch, so you’ll have plenty of relaxing practice at triangular shawl construction by the time you get to the gentle Feather and Fan lace border.

Multnomah’s also both written and charted, and again like Luna Moth, the pattern is a free download. Neither pattern takes more than a single skein of Botany Lace, and both make unique and beautiful accessories. The only question, really, is: which pattern, and which shade?

Now, if you’ll excuse us, we’ve got a busy weekend coming up: tomorrow, AoibheNí’s giving a Tunisian Lace Crochet workshop, and on Sunday Carol Feller’s presenting a top-down sweater workshop called “Moving Beyond the Raglan”. Both have been booked out for ages, but we’d love to have both of them back again as soon as we can, so keep a sharp eye both here and on our Classes and Events page.

Welcome, baby E!

A couple of weeks ago, baby E was born to friends of ours, and she’s beautiful. Babies, you will agree, deserve handmade garments more than anyone else in the world, so we looked for the nicest one we could devise.

It had to be Owlet by Kate Davies. This is the baby version of O w l s, from this booklet and as you’d expect from Kate, it’s clever, easy to knit and dotey beyond belief.

We used Debbie Bliss Cashmerino Aran in a sweet dusky pink, so it’s soft as anything and it’ll be easy on Baby E. It washes (even in the machine) and dries fast, so it’ll be easy on Baby E’s parents as well.

We knitted the second size, the one that’s suggested for a nine month old. It has thirteen owls, and that meant…twenty six cute buttony eyes.

Twenty six buttons is a not inconsiderable number, so we started to think: what if there were a way of adding the buttons that didn’t require sewing them in after the fact? It turns out that there is. You can knit the buttons in as you go, and here’s how.

Take a very generous length of your yarn – at least six times the circumference of your Owlet round to be safe – and thread all your buttons onto it, using a yarn needle. (We’re only demonstrating with two, but for the size we knitted, all twenty six were pre-threaded.)

At the beginning of round 14 of the Owls cable chart, drop the working yarn and take up the strand of yarn with the buttons on it. Use that to knit the round.

We placed the buttons on the two eye stitches closest to each other, so there were two stitches between buttons. When you come to an eye stitch, bring the yarn to the front of the work…

…hoosh a button up close to the work…

…slip the next stitch without working it…

…and then bring the yarn back to the rear of the work and work on. You’ll have trapped the button at the front of the work. It’s a good idea to tension the yarn rather firmly here.

Continue all the way around the row, and when you’re finished it, take up the original working yarn again and knit on. You’ll have just four extra ends to weave in, and your owls can watch you contentedly as you finish the jumper.

This technique won’t work for functional buttons, which need to be attached rather more firmly. But any time you want buttons to be a purely decorative element, it will save you a lot of fiddle at the endgame.

So, baby E, you’re only with us a fortnight and already you’re inspiring us to try new things!

We’re likin’ this

In last Tuesday’s post, we mentioned that Jacqui had finished a Cladonia shawl, and we promised to tell you more about it soon. Well, there it is above, and isn’t it lovely? What could be nicer than a little bit of lace in luxury yarn this summer?

Cladonia is designed by Kristin Kapur, and we’re very impressed with it. It’s knitted from the nape of the neck down, using the garter tab cast on that we posted a tutorial for last March. The increases are worked in lines that radiate out from the centre back – you can see them in the picture above, and this gives a lovely semi-circle shape to the shawl.

Most of the pattern is simply stocking stitch: easy to work and a good foil for those lovely increase lines. Then the last 16 rows are lace, so if you’re new to knitting lace shawls, this is a very good pattern to start with. It’s a quick and relaxing knit, with just a sprinkle of spice at the finish. The pattern’s a Ravelry download, and it’s available to purchase instore.

The original pattern is knitted in two colours, but we like Jacqui’s monochrome version just as much. The only other modification was the cast off; like several other knitters, she substituted a picot cast off for the loop cast off in the original.

The yarn for this Cladonia is Skein Queen’s Delectable. It’s a heavy laceweight – almost a sockweight in thickness. It’s got terrific colour saturation, and the silk adds subtle lustre. This shawl used about half a skein, so it’s an economical knit too.

Cladonia, it turns out, is a genus of lichen; hence the post title 😉

The short end

We’re always counselled to leave nice long ends for weaving in safely (15cm is a good guideline most of the time). But sometimes we can’t (or don’t). The yarn breaks, we just squeak it to the end of the cast off – there’s lots of reasons for ending up shorter than ideal. Here’s a cunning little trick for dealing with just that situation. You can weave in like this even if your end is shorter than your yarn needle.

The cunning part? Don’t thread the needle. Weave it through the fabric as normal, unthreaded. When you’ve got as far along as the length of your yarn tail, stop.

Now thread the needle with the little bitty end of yarn.

Finally, just pull the needle so that the yarn tail follows it through the fabric, getting woven in as it goes. Ta da! Then you can clip it close to the fabric, though you’ll remember from our post on blocking lace that we prefer to leave the clipping until after the piece has been blocked.

That lovely piece of knitting in the picture is a shawl that Jacqui’s knitting from Skein Queen Delectable. In fact, it’s the second shawl she’s knitting from the one skein, because 700 metres of yarn gives you quite a lot of knitting. More details of both pieces of lace in the fullness of time, of course, but for now, we can be confident that the ends are safe and snug.

Ready for summer

Though you mightn’t believe it to look out the window in Dublin today, the summer’s upon us. It’s time to put away thick jumpers and woolly mittens until the autumn (at least, we fervently hope it is). Instead, we’re looking at relaxed garments made from cool, easy-care yarn.

So it’s natural to think of Louisa Harding. She does casual elegance like no-one else, and her designs are always interesting to knit. We’ve got two to show you today, in different yarns, but both simple to make and uncomplicated to wear.

First, there’s Hilda, a cardigan to wear all summer, from the Delphine pattern booklet. Delphine‘s a cotton tape yarn which is soft and smooth to the touch and which works up like lightning. The little touches of lace at front and cuffs add interest in that typical Louisa style.

The second garment is one we’ve been admiring for some time. Knitted in 100% cotton Ondine, this is Skipper, from the Ondine booklet.

Just look at how that lovely lazy cable grows out of the ribbing and then moves back into it at the neck – proof, really, that cables are just rib with airs.

Both of these garments would see you through an entire summer of barbecues, days by the lake and evening concerts. That’s how the summer’s going to be. We’ve decided.

Hey, Teach!

Classes at This is Knit

Are you passionate about fibre crafts and enthusiastic about sharing your skills with others? Here at This is Knit we’re on the lookout for new teachers and workshop leaders to host classes with us this coming Autumn/Winter.

If you’d like to join us then please contact us with the following details:

Which crafts would you like to teach?

How would you rate your skill level in these crafts?

Do you have teaching experience?

Are you available to teach on evenings and weekends?

Why do you knit / crochet / felt / spin…?

All applications will be reviewed in the next few weeks and we’ll get back in touch with you as soon as possible. Thanks for your interest!

Pinning and winning

You know how it is: you’re looking round the web, and you find a picture of the perfect lace edging (or garden bench, or veneer effect), and only later realise that you should have noted it down. But you didn’t. Oh dear.

Did you know there’s a place on the web where you can put all those little bits of information? It’s called Pinterest. It’s mostly used for squirrelling images away, but you can also store any sort of information that comes associated with an image.

When you click on an image stored on Pinterest, you’re brought immediately to the website where the image appeared to start with. This means that if you find, say, an ideal crème brûlée recipe with a picture attached, and you pin the picture, clicking on it later will whisk you straight to the recipe. (Just as if you were using a noticeboard on your wall, storing an image is called “pinning”.) And then it’s roll on with the eggs, the cream and the blowtorch.

Pinterest has enormous usefulness for knitting, crochet and crafts in general. You can store references to techniques, patterns, design ideas and so on, and then find them with a mouseclick. You can also browse through what your friends are pinning and get inspired that way. (If you’re curious, here’s what people have pinned from this very site.)

Organising your pins by category makes them easier to browse – here’s a bit of a board devoted to photography…

…but your categories could be anything at all that’s useful to you.

There’s a little bit of code that you can download to make pinning even easier. It’s called a “Pin It” bookmarklet, and it puts a little button on your browser toolbar. When you come across something you’d like to pin, just click on the button and it does the rest for you. You’ll find information about it under the “About” tab at the top of any Pinterest page.

Talamh on Ravelry

And while we’re on the topic of useful buttons, Ravelry has one too. If you click on the Patterns tab and then scroll all the way down the page, you’ll find a link for getting a “Ravel It” bookmarklet. Then, when you see a lovely crocheted or knitted pattern online, just click on the button and as if by magic, you’ll be brought to the Ravelry page for the pattern (if it has one, but then, over two hundred thousand patterns do).

Review Winner

And we’re very happy to announce that we have a winner to our product review draw! Gillian, who’s Poppylillious on Ravelry, won with her review of Blue Sky Alpaca Silk. Congratulations, Gillian – we’ll be in touch about getting your goodie bag to you (it’s got a skein of each of our newest yarn ranges in it – Shetland 2ply, MillaMia Merino Soft, Petra Crochet Cotton and “Powerscourt“, our exclusive shade of Hedgehog Fibres Sock yarn).

Your reviews are useful to everyone that visits the site, and they help us more than you could imagine. You’re helping us build a resource for crocheters and knitters all over the world, so thank you all. We couldn’t do this without you.

PS: Did you see we were shortlisted in the “Best Blog of a Business” category of the Bord Gais Social Media Awards? We’re delighted!