Boo!

We get to see a lot of lovely knitted and crocheted objects, but it’s not often that we meet one as charming, clever and downright dotey as this. When we saw it, we begged for the details to share with you, so here goes.

First of all, this is not a giant hat photographed with an average pumpkin. It’s a hat for a baby who hasn’t been born yet, with a very tiny pumpkin. Sara, the very clever knitter who concocted it, went searching through the Ravelry database and, when she didn’t find exactly the right pattern, combined and modified two different ones.

The hat itself is the Kürbis Baby Hat, but made with a shorter and perkier stem. But stems need leaves, so Sara used a bit of the Ivy Leaf Cord for the foliage.

The yarn is Debbie Bliss Baby Cashmerino, which means that the hat’s not only soft and snuggly enough for a brand new baby, but it’s machine washable so it’s easy to care for too.

We’ve said before that pretty much our favourite thing is seeing what the yarn turns into after it goes out the door. This wee treasure is a perfect example of what we mean. Sara, thank you so much for letting us share it.

And Happy Hallowe’en to you all!

Bowled over!

This morning, we took excited delivery of some very special new things: lovely yarn bowls, exclusively hand-thrown for us by a very talented craftsman. They come in two colours of glaze, the gentle blue in the picture and a pale green, and they’re all individual, as you’d expect in something handmade.

They all have a handy notch in the side to guide your yarn and stop it careening all over the floor. Of course, you could also use them to hold any number of other things (though not, we would suggest, soup). They’d make an ideal gift for any crocheter or knitter, and the perfect souvenir of a visit to Dublin.

Since this is a Bank Holiday weekend, the shop will be closed on Sunday 28th and Monday 29th Octobber. But in the coming week, we’ve got some special offers for you between the 1st and the 4th of November. First of all, if you spend €60 either instore or online on Paloma, Winter Garden, Rialto Chunky, Orielle, Blue Faced Leicester Aran or Amitola, we will give you the pattern book for the yarn for free. And second, if you spend €30 between the same dates, you’ll be entered for a draw to win one of the lovely Soak gift boxes, containing a bottle of Soak yarn wash, another of delicious hand cream, 200 yards of Lorna’s Laces hand-dyed yarn, an gorgeous mitts pattern and nail varnish that matches the colour of the yarn.

This year, we’re not exhibiting at the Knitting and Stitching Show at the RDS, but you don’t have to miss out on This Is Knit if you’re travelling to Dublin. The shop in the Powerscourt Centre will be open until 8.00pm on Thursday November 1st – you’ll find details on how to find us at this link, and you know, we’d really love to see you.

Throw me a lifeline

That’s a picture of some contented knitting which knows that whatever goes wrong later, it won’t need to be ripped out. You see, it’s got a lifeline through it.

We’ve talked about lifelines before – how grateful we are to the clever knitter who worked out how to save your work as you go. That line of non-sticky yarn lying quietly through your stitches makes you a more relaxed knitter, even if you never have to rip back to your lifeline.

But there’s more than one way of lifelining your work. As well as using a yarn needle, as we showed you last year, you can use your Knitpro interchangeable needle to do all the work as you knit with it. You see, the needle tips have a little hole in them so you can tighten the join (there’s details in this post). All you have to do is thread your lifeline strand through that wee hole in the needle you’re going to knit onto…

…and then start to knit your row. As you work your way along it, your righthand needle will effortlessly pull the lifeline through every stitch. After a few stitches, you can stop if you like and admire what’s going on:

If you’re using stitch markers, then the lifeline will get threaded through them as you go. They’ll be fixed in place till you take the lifeline out, but that’s not a bad thing at all. Just insert another set of markers on your next row and then, should you need to retrieve the stitches from the lifeline, your rescued row will have its stitch markers still in place and ready to go.

When your knitting is finished, your lifelines will pull out as if they’d never been there (if they’re holding stitch markers, remember when you pull, so you can catch them!). That knitter who invented lifelines did us all an enormous favour, don’t you think?

If you’re curious about what’s being knitted in these pictures, it’s the early stages of Pogona, a lovely Stephen West pattern in Louisa Harding Amitola. We’ll be sure to show you the finished article – it looks like it will be a lovely combination of yarn and design.

One last thing: we got two much anticipated deliveries into the shop today. First there was lots and lots of amazing new Coolree hand-dyed yarn, including a chunky-weight pure alpaca and a superbly sheeny silk/baby camel laceweight. Then there was a large box from Knitpro with plenty of new tips and cables and such, but also a very special limited-edition Dreamz set in a presentation case (if you know someone who deserves a very special present, then…).

We’ve been tweeting about these from @ThisIsKnit, as you would imagine, so you can see pictures here and here and here. They look even nicer in person, though….

Hoodwinked!

This is one of the most impressive début projects we’ve ever seen. It’s the Hoodwink hooded scarf, knitted by a new and rather talented knitter.

It’s made in Debbie Bliss Paloma, that delicious blend of baby alpaca and merino that makes the warmest and softest cold weather garments and accessories. It works up really fast, too – the cables keep you interested so the knitting goes fast, and they’re so simple to work. Indeed, if you’ve never cabled at all, this would be a perfect introduction to the skill.

And don’t cables look lovely in this yarn…

A couple of modifications were made to the pattern: an extra cable pattern repeat on the hood made for a drapier, more comfortable look, and working a bit of extra length on each end meant those lovely snuggly pockets could be added. This scarf is simply a hug given solid form.

It’s always exciting to see new knitters at work, choosing projects and winning new skills. We get to see this often, happily, because we’ve got regular beginner classes. So if learning a new skill this winter appeals, why not take a look at our class schedule to see what takes your fancy?

The other way out

Most of the time, stocking stitch is worn with the smooth, unbumpy side out – the side that you can see facing you in the picture above.

The picture shows the construction of a wee baby sock. The smooth side is intended to be the right side, and that’s the side that’s facing the knitter.

Very often, though, your little tube of knitting can flip itself inside out. When it does, you’ll notice that the bumpy “purl” side of the work is facing outwards. In the picture below, you can see how the bumps are on the outside.

At this point, it’s easy to think you’ve done something wrong. You haven’t. All that’s happened is that the tube’s turned itself the other way out. You’re still doing it right, and you don’t even have to change anything. Just keep knitting! You’ll notice that your hands are now working on the other side of the tube – in other words, the tube is now between your face and your hands.

All you have to do to get the smooth side facing outwards – at any point – is turn the work the other way out. If you want to wait until you’ve completed your sock or hat or sleeve, that’s grand.

If you want to turn it while you’re still working on it, that’s grand too – and when you do, you’ll notice that your hands are now working on the near side of the tube. In other words, your hands are between your face and the tube. Just keep knitting!

Most knitters choose one way or the other simply because it’s the way they learned, or it’s what comes most naturally. There’s one circumstance in which it’s a very good idea to choose, though. If you’re working stranded colourwork in the round, it’s very easy to pull your strands a little too tight. A good way of avoiding this is to knit with the bumpy side out (hands on the far side of the tube). This puts your stranding on the outside of the work and forces the strands to be a little longer and a little looser, which helps to stop your work from puckering. More proof, if we needed any, that everything in knitting has a useful purpose!

Finally, we had such a good time at the Blog Awards on Saturday night. The evening was very well organised, and our hosts at the Osprey Hotel in Naas provided lovely food in impressive surroundings. A very big thank you from us to everyone who organised the awards, and a very big cheer for Molly Moo, who not only won the Best Craft Blog category, but also the awards for Best Designed Blog and Best Personal Blog too. It’s definitely one for the desktop feed! We were honoured to be in such company.

Boingy boingy!

That’s not really the name of this cowl – it’s actually called the Willow Cowl, but it’s got that nickname in here because it’s the most delightfully elastic, tactile object. It snuggles round your neck and gives you the gentlest, warmest hug.

It’s such an easy knit too, with rounds of stocking stitch alternating with a very very simple eyelet pattern, so that you get that clever concertina effect. It takes just a single skein of Araucania Botany Lace, and this sample was knitted on 3.25mm needles.

We’ve been talking about the boingy boingy all afternoon, probably because there’s a teeny little bit of a chill in the air the last couple of days – that, and we’ve just got some new colours of Botany Lace into stock. Just imagine a cowl made in one of these…

This cowl is so elastic that it’s good to use a nice stretchy cast off: we recommend Elizabeth Zimmermann’s sewn one, which we blogged last year at this link. It’s easy and it stretches beautifully.

You know, the general level of excitement’s quite high here, because tomorrow night we’re attending the Grafton Media Blog Awards. If you follow us on twitter (we’re @ThisIsKnit), we’ll be tweeting the evening’s proceedings from the Osprey Hotel in Naas, so you can follow along with us. We can’t wait!

Going off road

We’ve talked in the past about how to substitute yarns, concentrating on keeping the qualities as close as possible – DK for DK, Aran for Aran, and so on. But there are, as they say, no knitting police, and very often you can get the most gorgeous results by using a yarn very differently to how it was intended.

For example, that majestic-looking Swallowtail shawl above is knitted in Debbie Bliss Baby Cashmerino. We’re familiar with this for beautiful babies’ and children’s garments, but here it’s used in a vivid colour (and the colour range is stunning) to make the most glorious lace. Knitted on 5.5mm needles and taking just four skeins of yarn, this is the cosiest shawl you can imagine.

Here’s another example of unexpected but amazing lace: this is a Luna Moth shawl (like Swallowtail, this pattern’s a free download). It’s knitted in Lamb’s Pride Worsted, a wool and mohair single-ply yarn which is easy to work and wear. On 6.00mm needles, this knits up like lightning – just the thing to have in the drawer for a possible cold snap or for a last-minute warming gift.

Both of the examples so far have been shawls, where exact size isn’t really a consideration. If your stitches come out a little (or a lot) bigger or smaller than the original in the pattern, that’s ok – knit a bit more for a bigger thing, do fewer repeats for a smaller one. But we’ve recently met a project where fit did matter, but where working the yarn at a much tighter tension than suggested worked superbly well.

That’s a pair of Bella’s Mittens (yes, this one’s free as well), worked in Debbie Bliss Paloma. Paloma is a delicious chained yarn that was introduced last winter and which has proved very popular, with its pattern book full of lovely relaxed garments.

But earlier this year, a student in one of our beginners’ classes made a hat in Paloma on much smaller needles than the 10.00mm recommended on the ball band and the resultant fabric was so delicious that we began to wonder what else you could do by dropping needle size…. This pair of mittens was the result, knitted on 5.5mm needles, and taking three skeins of yarn. The fit is perfect and the fabric is firm and supple, with cables that pop beautifully.

These mittens have left for cold-weather service off the east coast of North America; we feel very confident that they’ll keep their new owner warm as toast.

We’re sure that our readers and customers have lots and lots of projects like this, where going off-road resulted in delightful finished objects. Why not tell us about yours in the comments below? We’d love to hear about them!

This just in!

A couple of weeks ago, we showed you some of the new Louisa Harding yarns and patterns, and they’ve been proving very popular. We’re happy to tell you that we’ve got the Amitola and Orielle pattern books back into stock this week. That’s not all, though – we’ve also got two other collections from Louisa.

The first, called Sorella, uses beautiful yarns like Grace, Nerissa and Sari Ribbon, and it features thirteen lovely garments. For example, this gorgeous sleeveless top, in Grace, is Heron:

Firecrest is a spectacular little cardigan, shown in a luxurious mix of Grace, Grace Hand-dyed and Grace Hand-beaded (since the three yarns are interchangeable, you could make it in just one or two of these if you liked).

The second new collection is a book of accessory patterns. There’s lacy scarves here, and pretty hats, and delectable shrugs like this one, Grebe:

Wagtail is a versatile little hat (and it’s definitely getting into cosy hat season), and it can be made in any of the Grace family.

So as you can see, Autumn-Winter 2012 is going to be both warm and elegant. Thank you, Louisa!

Book the limo!

blog awards ireland

A couple of weeks ago, we were beside ourselves with glee to have been shortlisted in the Grafton Media Blog Awards. Well, now we’re even more thrilled: we are a finalist in the Best Craft Blog category, sponsored by Belleek Living.

We’re in wonderful company too – the other finalists are La creature and you, Molly Moo, Nice Day Designs and Stitchlily. Click over to them – you’ll be amazed and delighted at what you find.

We’ve just booked our tickets for the Awards Ceremony in the Osprey Hotel in Naas on October 13th, so you’ll have to excuse us, as we go figure out what to wear!

Wasting away

You know that part of a pattern where you’re instructed to “put the next (however many) stitches on waste yarn”, putting them aside to be worked later? The part where you have to put down the knitting and find the yarn needle, only to find it’s disappeared down the sofa cushions? Well, we’ve come across a way to simplify the process, and here’s how.

This technique works if you’re using Knitpro interchangeable needles, which have the little tightening hole in the metal join. (It’s the hole that you use the little allen key in – see our blog post here for details). You’ll also need some fairly fine waste yarn; crochet cotton or dental floss will work beautifully.

First, thread your waste yarn through the little hole.

Then just work the stitches that you’re told to put aside in a completely unremarkable fashion.

When you reach the end of the waste-yarn stitches, your work will look rather like this:

Slip the stitches you’ve just worked back onto the cable a little and pull the waste yarn free on the left hand side of the work. At this point, it’s going right through the stitches you just worked, running alongside the cable.

Unthread the waste yarn from the wee hole in the needle, leaving the stitches sitting happily on the cable and the waste yarn.

Now just slip the needle rightwards out of the stitches, leaving the waste yarn behind.

For safety’s sake, tie the two ends of the waste yarn together so it can’t try to work out of the stitches later.

And that’s it! That’s your stitches on waste yarn without a yarn needle. If you have more stitches to put aside for later, then repeat the process.

The knitting being worked on here is a Garter Yoke Baby Cardigan, a terribly doty pattern which is free on Ravelry, and the yarn is Debbie Bliss Rialto DK – machine washable and cosy. The recipient isn’t born yet, but there’s a knitted snuggle waiting for him.