Light

In our last post, we promised to show you some more of our latest Coolree Yarns delivery. We’re as good as our word, and here’s the new laceweight.

It’s new in a couple of senses: there’s beautiful colourways that we haven’t seen before, but there’s also new bases. One of the best things of working with talented hand-dyers like Coolree’s Alex McLeod is seeing how different bases take dye differently. It’s like watching alchemy.

The image above is the new merino/silk blend: 800 metres of colour-saturated beauty, enough for a large shawl or stole. The other new arrival is a alpaca/silk/cashmere mix, all 600 metres of it, a little more subdued in tone and oh! so soft to the touch.

It won’t come as as news to you that we’ve been having a Color Affection Knit-Along for the last couple of months. Over in our dedicated Ravelry thread, there’s links to seventy one (seventy one!) projects, with frankly no end in sight. There’s at least one person who’s on her fourth! We’ve even got a #CAFKAL hashtag on twitter.

So it pleases us very much indeed to tell you of the prize that’s being offered at the end of the KAL. Thanks to the generosity of Alex from Coolree (himself a CAFKALer), one of your Color Affections will win this stunning skein of yarn:

It’s a silk and baby camel blend, and the colourway is called “Emerald”. It’s simply beautiful, and it could be yours. The KAL is due to end at Worldwide Knit in Public Day in June, so there’s plenty of time to join us (or make another, or make several others). Thank you, Alex.

Finally, a very happy Easter to you all! Since it’s a Bank Holiday weekend, the shop is closed on Sunday March 31st and Monday March 1st, but we’ll be open again from 10.30am on Tuesday March 2nd.

Bright

Today brought us flurries of snow and unseasonable cold, but we didn’t mind a bit. You see, it also brought us a generous consignment of hand-dyed beauties from Coolree Yarns in County Wexford.

The image above shows just a few colourways of the 50/50 merino/silk fingering. There’s lots more in the shop, though – there’s blues and greens and yellows, in the loveliest saturated tones. It’s so hard to choose.

A single skein is ample to make a shawl like Cladonia, which has become one of our favourites, or Holden, with its simple feather and fan edging.

So if you’re passing, make sure to drop in to see these gorgeous yarns in person, and keep an eye out here for even more Coolree delights.

At some point this year, we’ll be able to put away the thick knitted hats, the mittens and the superbulky jumpers. Honest. Till then, though, stay safe and warm.

Just lovely

If you’re looking for a perfect marriage of yarn and pattern, then may we commend this beauty? It’s Sivia Harding’s Heart to Heart Beaded Scarf knitted in Debbie Bliss Luxury Silk DK, and it’s lovely.

First, the pattern. It’s a very straightforward crescent-shaped shawlish scarf, knitted from one end to the other, with a clever and straightforward lace panel on one side, a garter stitch panel on the other, and the most satisfying selvedge edge we’ve seen in a long time. The lace is lightly beaded (we used a beading technique we hadn’t tried before, with complete success, which we’ll blog very, very soon).

Now, the yarn. It’s simply delicious. It’s like knitting with velvet. It’s got a beautiful sheen, and the gentle ply makes it comfortable to work and fast through the hand. The colours are a joy, and at 100m per ball, the yardage is very good. We can’t wait to work with it again, and we’re thinking of special occasion garments. Lisa’s Winterberry Shrug would seem obvious (but if you’ve got any other ideas, please tell us in the comments). The whole Heart to Heart took just under four balls of the silk (that’s 195g out of 200g) on 4.5mm needles, so it was fast to work too.

A lovely pattern in a beautiful yarn. with a touch of beading? Yes. That’ll do.

A nice cuppa

It’s St Patrick’s Day here in Dublin, and we’d like to wish you a very happy day, wherever you are.

And wherever you are, we hope you get to sit down and have a nice quiet cup of tea and a bit of yarncraft. We’re so fond of tea round here that we make clothes for it – there’s proof in the picture above of the very first outing for our new Celtic Cosy, made from just two balls of Studio Donegal Aran, and now on sale as a kit.

And here’s a shoutout to our lovely neighbours at the Pepper Pot, where we took that picture. They’re open today and tomorrow even when we’re shut, and there’s no nicer place for a big pot of tea (and there’s special Guinness and chocolate cake this weekend).

Picture this!

We’re in a particularly good mood – it’s St Patrick’s Day this weekend, the leaves are coming out on the trees and the days are getting longer. So we’ve decided to celebrate with a competition!

We want photographs of your crochet or knitting in a uniquely Irish setting! It can be a finished object or a work in progress (we love both!), and as for what “uniquely Irish” means, you decide! Baby booties by the Cliffs of Moher, a tea cosy snuggling up to a pot of Barry’s Gold Blend in Edinburgh, a bookmark nestling in a copy of Dubliners in Tokyo…. “Irish”, after all, means lots of things!

Entering this competition is easy: just post your picture in the thread in our Ravelry group. You’ve got until midnight on March 24th 2013 IST to post your entry, so there’s plenty of time to scout a location and get your work in the frame.

If you don’t know how to post a picture on Ravelry, here’s a chance to find out how very simple it is. There’s details on this help page, but we thought a couple of screen shots might be useful.

The easiest way of posting a picture in a forum thread is to upload it to somewhere else on the internet and then link to it from the thread. “Somewhere else” can mean a flickr account, a photobucket account, your blog, or simply a project page on Ravelry. Since everyone that’s entering the competition will already have a Ravelry account, this last is the one we’ll concentrate on here.

When you’ve set up a project page for your chosen object, you can add pictures to it by clicking on the tab that the arrow’s pointing to here:

That will bring you to a screen offering you all the photo upload options – we’re going to concentrate on one here…

…the one that makes it easy to post a project picture in a thread. So when you’ve uploaded your project pictures, go to the thread you want to post in, and click on “reply to thread”, down at the bottom right hand corner of the page. This will open a reply box, with a set of little images running along the top of it. The arrow’s pointing to the one you click on to add a picture:

You’ll be offered a number of choices here. We’re linking straight to the picture on the project page, so select that option:

This will allow you to select the project picture you want to display in your post, and then to add text if you like.

And that’s it! Your picture will appear as if by magic in the thread. What’s more, your readers can hop straight to your project page just by clicking on the picture.

But what, you ask, is the prize? It’s an armful of Irish yarn! Head on over to the competition thread for details, and then show us what we’re made of this St Patrick’s Day!

As for this coming weekend, we’re open as usual on Saturday, but closed on Sunday and on Bank Holiday Monday. We’ll be open again on Tuesday morning at 10.30am

Solid

Well, semi-solid, to be precise.

We’ve often talked here of Araucania Botany Lace in these posts, and it continues to be a favourite. So you can imagine our glee when we found out that it’s now comes in semi-solid colours as well as the variegated shades we fell in love with.

There’s six semi-solid colours, and you can see them all in the picture above. They’re bang on trend for this year’s bright fashions, and they’re great value: you can get a lot of crochet or knitting out of 410 metres. Botany Lace is a beautifully plied yarn with fantastic stitch definition, and we love working with it.

And yes, they really are that bright! They make us think of summer and bright sunshine and holidays….

A la française

It’s always particularly satisfying when a pattern comes together with a yarn in an unexpected way. We were so impressed with this project that we couldn’t wait to show you.

It’s Wrenna, one of the eighteen stylish patterns from French Girl Knits by Kristeen Griffin-Grimes. It’s designed for super bulky yarn, so four skeins of Debbie Bliss Paloma stepped up to the mark beautifully.

What’s more, this is one of the fastest projects ever! It took literally a couple of hours, and the result will see you through an entire season in the best Parisian style.

In the original pattern, the front was closed with a leather lace, but we’ve found an alternative we like even better: This Is Knit’s exclusive Nova steel shawl pin, custom-designed by Eimear Earley. What a lovely Mother’s Day present, too!

New season

A sure sign of the season changing is the arrival of new pattern books and sample garments. We’ve just taken delivery of the latest offerings fromn Sublime, and no sooner were they out of the box than we wanted to share them with you.

First of all, there’s the sweet cardigan pictured above. It’s called Plisse, and it’s from the Fifth Extra Fine Merino Wool Book (there’s nine other patterns for women and girls in there as well). It’s made from Sublime Extra Fine Merino DK, which comes in a gorgeous range of colours. It’s a simple and charming knit, and it’s perfect for those days when you simply can’t predict the weather.

Vivaldi, this cardigan from the Third Cashmere Merino Silk DK book, makes us think of lazy late spring evenings. It’s relaxed and generous, and that draped front is flattering and easy to wear. Cashmere Merino Silk DK is one of the most delicious yarns we have, and there’s a marvellous range of colours. The pattern book’s got seventeen other patterns for women’s garments and accessories too, from coats to mittens. In that yarn…oh my!

Soon it’ll be time to put away the warm jumpers, and then we’ll be looking for easy uncomplicated garments. These fit the bill perfectly.

Venus rising


(Image © Julie Matkin, www.halfadreamaway.com)

The people have spoken, over in the Aoibhe Ní Crochet-Along voting thread, and Venus has been chosen as our pattern!

Our official start date is tomorrow, March 1st, though if you’re not quite ready to leap in, we’ve got two whole months to work through the project, so there’s plenty of time. Right now, we’re eyeing up suitable yarn, so we thought we’d share some of our thoughts with you.

Aoibhe Ní’s original was worked in laceweight, so we have a number of options. We’re taking into account the rather happy fact that many of us will be working Tunisian lace for the first time, so we’re tending towards yarns that are a little grabby. They’ll behave a little better if we need to frog a wee bit. So we’re thinking of Debbie Bliss Rialto Lace, or Malabrigo Baby Silkpaca, or Dublin Dye Company merino and silk in “Valentine”, or Coolree silk and baby camel (these latter two can be admired in the shop). Decisions, decisions….

When it comes to what hook to use, we’re going to take Aoibhe’s advice: while a traditional Tunisian hook isn’t required at all, it’s a good idea to use a straight hook that doesn’t have a bulge in the middle of the shaft. When working Tunisian lace, you’ll have several loops on the hook at one time, many more than in basic crochet doubles or trebles. Using a hook like the Knitpro Symfonie at the top of the image above means they’ll be comfortable rather than cramped; the two lower ones risk unwieldy crowding.

As for hook size, the usual rule of thumb for lace holds: use a much larger size than you’d usually use for the yarn. Aoibhe’s recommended hook size for a laceweight Venus is 5.5mm. The result will be a light and airy fabric that’ll block like a dream.

A lot of people have been concerned that they’re not expert enough at crochet to embark on Venus. You don’t have to be! If you can do the most basic of crochet stitches (chain and double, really), that’s enough foundation to start with, and the pay-off is something really beautiful. Drop by Aoibhe’s youtube channel to see how straightforward the stitches are, practise on a bit of scrap yarn, and join us!

And in further Tunisian lace news, we’re very glad to be able to announce another all-day workshop with Aoibhe Ní here on Saturday May 25th. You can book a place online clicking here or give us a call.

Now, back to choosing yarn for Venus….