On your marks!

We’re approaching peak fitness for the Ravellenic Games, and the fun begins tomorrow evening.

If you’d like to join us in the shop, then the doors of the South William Street entrance to the Powercourt Centre will be open until 6.30 – the security men know we’re expecting you and will let you in.

If you want to show your proud Team This Is Knit allegiance, then you can save the image above and upload it to Ravelry as your avatar. There’s a very good walkthough of how to change avatars at this link.

As your projects get completed, remember to take pictures! We’re planning a big display of photos of team achievements, so if you send us your pictures, we’ll be delighted to add them to the display.

Get set….

Dreaming in colour

Aren’t those hooks just lovely? They’re the new Knitpro Dreamz set, and we haven’t been able to stop admiring them since they arrived last week. They range from 3.5mm to 8.00mm, and they’re made of sturdy wood – warm to the touch and gentle on your yarn. The perfect gift for the crocheter in your life, especially if that’s you.

But if you don’t crochet (yet), there’s a matching set of interchangeable knitting needles:

Knitpro Dreamz interchangeables cover a range of sizes from 3.5mm to 8.00mm. There’s four cables in the set, together with end caps and tightening keys (we blogged here with hints and tips for using these). The colours glow like jewels and make it pretty much impossible to mix up the needles in your projects. What’s more, the cables are a smart matt black, and the whole kit comes in a black brocade case, just like its crochet counterpart.

But that’s not all – although they haven’t arrived yet, we’ll be receiving the Dreamz sock needle set in a month or so. If you’d like us to put a set aside for you when they come in, just get in touch!

Friday and the Ravellenics Opening Ceremony are fast approaching. Training’s going well and we can’t wait to see you at our Mass Cast On – you can still get a place on our booking page. We’ll post a special Ravellenics blog post later in the week, but in the meantime, click on over to the Team This Is Knit thread on Ravelry for news as it breaks. Go Team This Is Knit!

Household hints

Last week on Twitter, we got talking about how common household objects can help with crochet and knitting. We were delighted at the ingenuity of the suggestions. So we thought that it would be a good idea to mention some of them here.

It all started with trying to measure without a ruler. It turns out that we all carry a ruler with us all the time: the top of your thumb from knuckle to tip. Yes, the length of this varies from person to person, but once you know that yours is an inch or three centimetres or whatever, you’ll never be stuck for a way to measure again (thanks to Sweensie for this).

You know how one of the best things about crochet is how there’s really only one live stitch to worry about? Well, the image at the top of the page shows how to keep that stitch safe from unravelling: use a hair clip! The springiness holds the stitch secure, and when you’re not wearing it, you can park it in your hair! (This is what AoibheNí uses, and she should know.)

Then there’s paper clips. They’re terrific little multitaskers, as wyvernfriend pointed out. You can use them as stitch markers, or as emergency cable needles, or as a quick substitute for the little Allen key tightener that comes with Knitpro interchangeables. You can also use toothpicks as cable needles, or even as knitting needles themselves!

Then there’s cork (from bottles, not from Munster). You can use a bit of cork on the end of a needle as a point protector while your work’s at rest, and you can turn a pair of double-pointed needles into short straights in similar fashion. Instantly, you remove the risk of the stitches slithering off the far end of the needle. Rubber bands wrapped round your needles work very well for both of these uses too.

There were lots of other suggestions – dental floss as a lifeline and using the ruler in Word for measuring. We’re absolutely certain, though, that you have other favourite tricks and hacks, and we’d love if you shared them with us in the comments below. If you’re on Twitter, we’re @ThisIsKnit, so keep an eye out for us there too.

Let’s play Tag!

With just under two weeks to go before the start of the Ravellenic Games 2012, excitement is building and projects are being chosen. So we thought it would be a good idea to talk about how to tag your Games projects so that they get counted for the glory of the Team!

Each Games project that you participate with needs a Ravelry project page, and needs to be tagged in the way we’re about to explain. Tagging your projects is always an option on a project page, but it’s usually up to you whether to use it. For the Games, though, tagging is required if your project is to qualify.

As you set up a project page for your item, you’ll see a little icon just where the arrow is pointing in the image above. That’s the Ravellenics2012 tagging option, and you just click on it with your mouse.

When you’ve clicked on it, your screen will look like this (minus the arrows, of course!):

There’s a green “ravellenic2012” button – clicking on that will add that tag to your project and mark it as a Games project. Next, you want to specify what event your project is entering.

The hypothetical project in these images is a colourwork cowl. That means it can take part in more than one event, because there’s a colourwork category (Colourwork Crosscountry) as well as a cowl event (Cowl Jump). The complete list of events is listed in the box under “event tags”, and each has a button. All you have to do to enter your project for an event is click on the appropriate buttons in the list.

Many projects are going to be eligible like this for more than one event. Above the list of events is a key for the event tags: if an event has a green tag button (like the Frogging Trampoline), then it’s the only event a project can be entered for. But if it has a red tag button (like the Cowl Jump), it can also be entered for as many blue tagged events as it fits in. So by choosing your projects carefully, you can get your work counted more than once for the team!

And to ensure that your project gets counted for Team This Is Knit, you need to type in the tag “teamtik2012” into the tag box. If you’re participating for more than one team, then a given project can only be counted for one of them, so remember to enter the team name you want to count!

You can enter as many different projects as you have time and resources for, of course, but each one will need to have its own project page with its own set of tags. When you’ve clicked on an event tag button, the tag will show up in the box, and when you’re happy with it, you can just click on the “use these tags” button to save your choices. Your project is thereby entered in the Games!

When you return to your project page, you’ll find that your tags have appeared in the details.

One other thing about setting up your project page: since we can’t start our projects until the Mass Cast On the night the Games open, you can either leave the start date blank or put in July 27th 2012.

Which brings us to our final point: Team This Is Knit is having an Official Ravellenic Games Opening Ceremony on July 27th, from 6.00pm to 7.00pm. We’d love to see you all there, and it’s completely free! To keep the Health and Safety people happy, though, we need to know how many people are coming, so please book a place at this link.

So keep up the training, and if you have any questions about events or tags or anything at all about the Games, please ask us, either in the comments below or in the Team This Is Knit Ravellenics thread over on Ravelry!

Very new indeed

This week, we took delivery of a brand new range of yarn, and we’re rather excited about it. Hand-dyed by Coolree Yarns in a few miles outside of Wexford town in an 18th century farmhouse, this is a really beautiful product.

Alex is the talent behind this stunning new line, and says:

“I do produce some quite lively, contrasting colourways but personally I prefer the more subtle tonal variations that you get from combining analogous colours. They may not be quite so striking in the skein, but they knit up more beautifully. The colours enhance each other, rather than competing.”

We’ve got three different blends of luxurious fibre. Two of them are fingering weight, one merino and silk (the gleam on this must be seen to be believed) and one alpaca, silk and cashmere. These both come in 400m skeins, which would give you a very generous pair of gloves, luxurious socks or a shawl like Swallowtail or a single-colour Cladonia.

There’s one sportweight, which is an alpaca and silk blend, and there’s 262m in a skein. It would work for accessories too, but we’re thinking about the softest cardigans and jumpers imaginable. Carol Feller’s Ravi would work splendidly.

A real point of interest about these Coolree yarns is how the different bases take dye differently. The image above shows the three bases, merino/silk, alpaca/silk and alpaca/silk/cashmere, all in the same colourway, Hokusai’s Wave. The subtle variation of shade and saturation is lovely to look at.

We’re expecting great things from this line, as Alex says:

“I use the old barn here for dyeing and drip-drying my skeins…I am enthusiastic about the whole process of yarn production from keeping the animals themselves, to shearing, carding, spinning, dyeing and knitting. And, with an unused paddock at the back of the house, who’s to say that I won’t eventually have my own little herd of breeding alpacas out there?”

We’re very proud to offer such a delightful Irish product, and we can’t wait to show it to you in person.

Coming soon

A couple of posts back, we promised you that we’d show you some more of Louisa Harding’s new yarns for the coming season. Well, here’s two of them: Orielle and Amitola.

Orielle is a DK yarn, made from baby alpaca with a whisper of polyester for strength. It comes in a range of pastel and jewel tones, as you can see from the image above and from this lovely sweater:

The second yarn, Amitola, is also DK weight. It’s a luxurious wool and silk blend, and it’s got beautiful long colour changes:

What’s more, it’s got truly impressive yardage: a 50g ball boasts an amazing 230 metres of yarn. We love long colour change yarns – they’re so versatile, either used by themselves or combined with each other. They produce finished objects that look complicated to make but are really very very simple.

As you can see, both of these yarns work for both accessories and garments, and we’re waiting avidly for our first delivery. Rest assured that as soon as they arrive, we’ll shout it from the rooftops.

And you know, there’s lots more new things in the offing to tell you about. The Yarn Tasting’s going to be so much fun.

Training days

We’re in the midst of gearing up for the (renamed) Ravellenic Games here. After all, there’s only 21 days to go before the Mass Cast On!

Across the world, there’s a staggering 532 teams registered to take part. It’s still possible to join the Team This Is Knit high jinks, of course, so if you haven’t already done so, head over to our thread in the Ravellenics forum.

Choice of events will be both crucial and strategic. You’ll find a chart detailing what events your project can be entered for at this Ravelry link – it’s a good idea to check this out carefully, because some projects can be entered for more than one event. Of course, you can enter more than one event, with multiple projects, if you like!

What projects you choose is entirely up to you, of course, but the general idea is to embark on something which is a bit of a challenge. There are first Tunisian crochet shawls and first pieces of beaded lace in our team’s sights, as well as entire cardigans from start to finish and several languishing WIPs that will be proud FOs by the end of the Games.

If you have questions relating to events, then you may very well find the answers in the Events FAQ page. The official starting time is 9.00pm GMT on July 27th, so if you’re one of our overseas team members, you can synchronize with us with this time zone calculator.

And as with any endeavour of this sort, preparation is key, utterly key. Your own training regimen is entirely up to you, but these are some of the things that qualify:

  • choosing your event
  • choosing your pattern
  • doing any needful arithmetic
  • buying your yarn
  • buying your pattern
  • reading your pattern through to the end
  • marking your pattern for sizes
  • charting cables or lace
  • swatching
  • Some dedicated participants are even going so far as to cook and freeze meals in advance so as to minimize the amount of time they spend away from their projects.

    In other words, at Mass Cast On time, you can be wholly focussed on starting, secure in the knowledge that you could not be better prepared. And on having a ton of fun during the seventeen days of the Games, which is, after all, the entire point.

    Finery

    We’ve talked about Louisa Harding Mulberry Pure Silk here before – it’s been used to astounding effect in FOs like Nikki’s wedding dress and KittyKahBoom’s Aeolian shawl, and we think it’s one of the loveliest yarns we stock.

    It just got even lovelier. Mulberry now has a hand-beaded counterpart, available in colours to match the original. The beads are subtly gold- and silver-coloured, and they add a gentle touch of even further luxury.

    Like its unbeaded companion, Mulberry Hand-Beaded is a multi-plied DK weight yarn, so it’s strong and versatile. You could use it by itself, of course, or you could choose a striking constrast colour as Louisa does in this pattern from her Aster booklet:

    But what’s really exciting is that you could choose identical colours in Mulberry Pure Silk and in Mulberry Hand-beaded and combine them in stunning fashion like this, also from Aster:

    Or you could use the beaded yarn just for the cast off of a shawl or stole, adding a little gleaming touch to the edge. There’s no end to the possibilities, and we can’t wait to see what you devise.

    We have more new Louisa Harding yarn to tell you about in the next couple of weeks, too. In fact, we’ll fairly soon have an awful lot of new yarn to show you at the Yarn Tasting. The date’s confirmed as September 14th (a Friday this time, rather than a Thursday as in previous years), so keep an eye on our Upcoming Events page for more details closer to the date. In fact, if you register for our newsletter, we’ll tell you when booking opens – go to our home page and scroll down to sign up.