A little colour

The weather’s been pretty dismal over the last few days, so what better to cheer us up than some really, really bright yarn? These are some of the more vivid shades of MillaMia. We’ve been stocking this yarn since spring, and it’s been one of our most popular offerings. This is no surprise – it’s a sportweight superwash pure merino yarn, which is perfect for children’s garments.

Unlike many children’s patterns, MillaMia typically offers several years’ worth of sizing – from birth to five years, for example. We’ve all had the experience of finding the perfect baby cardigan, except the intended wearer is four rather than two, so a broad range of sizing is a very good idea.

We’ve had some lovely sample garments in the shop for the last week or so, and we thought you’d like to see them too.

This is Gabrielle, from the Close Knit Gang book. In this colour, it’s a gorgeous eyecatching jumper, with a practical buttoned shoulder and a simple all-over cable pattern, but it would also work beautifully in a subler colour.

Hanna, from Little Rascals, is one of the happiest cardigans we’ve ever seen – hot contrasty colours and those jolly bows! You could use softer colours, or even just one (but it would be a shame to leave out the bows, don’t you think?)

If a vibrant palette isn’t to your taste or the lucky wearer’s, then here are some of the cooler colours in the MillaMia range.

This dress is elegant as well as practical. It would be great over a t-shirt if the weather’s chilly or by itself when it’s warmer, and with that charming ribbon detail it’s smart enough for parties. It’s called Lina, and you’ll find it in the Wonderland book.

Is this what they call a grandad cardigan? It’s comfy and warm and just like the grandad of one’s dreams would wear, except that it’s sized from one to seven years. This one’s also from Little Rascals, and it’s called Magnum. (It’s got a very high ahhh! factor, we think.)

We’ve just ordered fresh copies of all these books today – if you’d like, we can keep you a copy when they come in. Just call us or email us and we’ll do the rest (our contact details are here).

Of course, there’s plenty of adult garments that call for sportweight yarn too. We know for a fact that there’s a Ravi (Carol Feller’s lovely garter stitch cardigan) in progress in Millamia. So it’s not just a yarn for children – happily, the rest of us can enjoy it too!

Ahhhh!

One of the biggest stars of last week’s Yarn Tasting was this little poncho, the Little Emilia Poncho from Sublime Book 663. When we displayed it, it received such oohs and ahhs that we thought we should share the details with you today.

It’s the simplest garment imaginable: just two rectangles joined together. One of the pieces is a lovely swooping cable with some bobble accents. The other is an easy-as-pie four-row lace pattern (and two of those are just purled).

It’s made with just two balls of Sublime Baby Cashmere Merino Silk, so it will work up in no time at all. If you wanted to have a go at either cables or lace, this would make a fantastic learning project.

Of course, if you wanted you could make both rectangles in the cable pattern or both in the lace, and you’d have designed your own adorable little poncho.

Talking of new skills, we’ll be having a wide range of classes in the coming months: knitting or crochet, beginner or intermediate, or skill-specific sessions on lace or cables or mobius. Keep an eye on our Classes and Events page to see what’s coming up.

Finally, we waited until we had all the new yarn to choose from for the prize, but we’ve got a winner for our Spring KAL 2012. Congratulations, mlb00013 – to claim your prize, get in touch with us! And well done to everyone who took part in the KAL! It was great fun, and we’re already looking forward to the next one!

What a night!

Yarn Tasting 2012 can really be summed up by that picture: lovely new yarn and fibre, and it’s hers, all hers!

We were so excited as 7.30pm approached on Friday – we had so much to share with you and so much to talk about. We gathered in the Powerscourt Townhouse Theatre for the first part of the evening (the same space we’ve used before, though it’s now a rather spiffing performance space used by Jig), and it was on with the show.

We had not one, but two eminent guests – Carol Feller and Ysolda Teague. Carol was at last year’s Yarn Tasting, so she talked about what she’s been up to in the last year. It won’t surprise you to hear that she’s been busy – she launched a new collaborative project with Hedgehog Fibres on Friday (we’ve got kits for the hat pattern all made up for you), and she’s now got a craftsy class for this gorgeous cabled cardigan:

There were also lots of Ravi cardigans in the audience – you’ll remember that Carol had a KnitALong to celebrate her 100th pattern and that we had a chance to see it during her workshop back in May. Lisa was wearing hers, and we kept seeing them walking by:

Our next guest was Ysolda Teague. She’s a true knitting superstar, having built an international reputation with her charming, innovative and colourful patterns. Her talk to us was fascinating: it detailed how she had come to be a knitter in the first place (because of a doll unfortunately named Annabel), and how she’d embarked on a career as a designer.

The only really committed knitter in her family was her grandfather, who learned to knit while serving with the RAF during the Second World War. The picture above shows the two of them, both wearing garments he’d made. He was with us in spirit, I think.

If you’re on twitter, then you may have noticed #yarntasting trending in Dublin on Friday night – we were all encouraged to tweet with that hashtag, and hence there was this sort of thing happening all over the place (and if you’re not following us yet, we’re @ThisIsKnit – it’s a great way of getting our news very fast indeed).

As the samples of yarn were handed out, each member of the audience got a sheet of paper with ready-attached strands, so it was easy to record first impressions as we knit with them.

As the weights of yarn were distributed and eagerly pounced on, we got to see sample garments made up from each. For example, Sublime Baby Cashmere Merino Silk is what was used for this garment. If there’s a sweeter poncho available, we’d be very surprised.

As you arrived, you received a This Is Knit goody bag, with a copy of the Debbie Bliss magazine and a raffle ticket. Then, right through the evening, tickets were drawn for really excellent prizes, ranging from special skeins of Malabrigo to jumper quantities of Studio Donegal Merino 2-ply. (If you won one, we’d really love to see what you make with your well-gotten gains!)

Then we went downstairs for the second part of the evening: hanging out in the shop, knitting at the tables outside, trying on Carol and Ysolda’s lovely garments on the balcony, with refreshments served by RĂ³nan and Liam, our delightful barmen.

In the shop, there were a lot of happy people with wide smiles and arms full of new yarn. It’s going to be a very warm and colourful winter.

On the balcony, there were heaps and heaps of the garments we’ve admired online and in books – lovely sweaters like Ysolda’s Chickadee

…and literally piles of mittens and hats and shawls…

And quietly overseeing it all, James McCullagh’s breathtaking staircase ceiling in the original Powercourt townhouse. It’s one of the world’s great Georgian buildings, and we get to have our friends over to visit.

We’d like to say a very big Thank You! to the Pepper Pot, to Jig, and to the staff and particularly the security personnel of the Powerscourt Centre. It was a wonderful evening, and you all made it easy.

A closer look

Back in July, we mentioned that we were looking forward an awful lot to Louisa Harding’s new Orielle, a luxurious alpaca yarn with the subtlest touch of gold sparkle.

It’s now in the shop, and it’s even lovelier than we imagined. You can see the colour range in the picture above. And because we’ve got a lot of sample garments to show at the Yarn Tasting tonight, we’ve had a chance to see how it looks in a finished garment.

This is our current favourite from the Orielle pattern book. It’s called Zarina. You can make it simply as a rectangular lace scarf, but you can also join it into this elegant little cape – just perfect for layering over an evening frock during the coming party season.

And if you haven’t marked HandmAid Craft Day in your diary yet, it’s on Saturday of next week in the Damer Hall on St Stephens Green. There’s classes, there’s yarn, there’s crafted gifts to buy, there’s tea and cake, and it’s all in aid of the DSPCA. Last year’s Craft Day was a lot of fun and an enormous success, and this year’s bound to live up to the challenge!

Now, if you’ll excuse us, there’s still a bit to do for this evening….

Bouquets

That pretty corsage arrived into the shop on Saturday, and we pounced on it with glee. It, or rather its constituent parts, comes in a neat little box, with several flowers of different shapes and all the notions you need to assemble it.

As it turned out, we were looking for a birthday present for a good friend, so we set to work with the kit. Twenty minutes later, if even that, we were proudly displaying our handiwork.

That’s the contents of the kit – so many flower shapes that your combination will be completely original, more toning buttons that you need, a brooch fixing and even a needle to go with the matching thread. So if you’re looking for a smart and pretty accessory, or for a crafty gift, what better than one of these? They come in a variety of muted colours, perfect for this season’s soft palette.

We’ve been thinking of bouquets for other reasons too.

blog awards ireland

On Friday, the shortlist for the Grafton Media Blog Awards was published. We’re shortlisted twice: for the Best Blog of An SME, sponsored by Sage and on the Best Craft Blog list! We’re over the moon about this – it’s such a compliment to us from you, our readers, and we’re very grateful for your nominations.

We have lovely laurels, but we have no time to rest on them. With the Yarn Tasting on Friday and Ysolda Teague’s workshop on Saturday, we’re a bit busy getting ready. We can’t wait!

Snug

So much yarn! We’ve got so much yarn! Pretty much every day this week, we’ve had a delivery of sumptuous goodies, so much that we can’t tell you about all of it in one post. It’ll all be on parade during the Yarn Tasting, of course, but here’s a sample

Debbie Bliss Winter Garden is new for 2012-2013. It’s a chunky marled yarn made up of merino wool, baby llama, silk and linen, in a cosy palette of jewel colours. You can see the finished effect in this jumper, the Wide Ribbed Sweater from the Winter Garden pattern book.

The pattern book has ten patterns for garments and accessories – they’ll work up fast and keep you toasty all winter (even if you’re not in the garden).

In addition to yarn, we’ve been getting boxes and boxes of sample garments from all our favourite designers for you to admire and try on at the Yarn Tasting – this jumper is just one of them. If you haven’t booked in yet, there’s still some places left. It’s going to be such fun, and there’s so much for you to see.

And there’s more yarn coming next week…!

Bunnies!

May we introduce Animal? Animal is an angora rabbit whom we had the opportunity to meet earlier today – she’s currently on holiday at Shauna’s Pet Shop on Capel Street, and since we don’t often get the chance to meet fibre animals in the city centre, we jumped at the chance.

Angora rabbits (and angora goats and angora cats) are named for the city of Ankara in Turkey, and they’re one of the oldest domestic breeds, though they’ve only been widely known in the West for a century or so. They produce extraordinarily fine hair which can be spun into the softest yarn imaginable.

They moult several times a year, and they need to be groomed several times a week to stop those gorgeous coats from matting. Unlike cats, they can’t get rid of hairballs and can become seriously ill without a good brushing every day or so. Luckily, they enjoy the process hugely – or at least, Animal did. She sat there on her special cushion and clearly loved being groomed with the big red grooming mitt.

And grooming produces quantities of the softest fluff – a couple of passes of the brush yielded this, which disappeared into a bag to be spun and knitted later by a fortunate craftswoman:

We’ll be stocking not only angora blends over the coming season, but also some pure angora, so we’ll all have reason to be thankful to Animal and her relations. Watch this space for details.

And we’re also very grateful to Shauna and her wonderful shop – you’ll find the Facebook page at this link. As well as bunnies and tropical fish, she’s got wonderful exotic creatures like iguanas and pythons and axolotls. You can’t get yarn from an axolotl, though.