Jolly

Is there a young person of your acquaintance who could use a cheery, practical, easy to knit jumper? We’ve got the perfect garment in the perfect yarn!

This is Frankie, from the Debbie Bliss Rialto Print book, and we’ve just put it in display in the shop. Rialto Print is an easy-care superwash DK, so it knits up quickly. The pattern’s size options span a huge range (from four to twelve years), and it’ll work equally well for boys and girls.

As well as these gorgeous striped Rialto Print colourways, you could of course make it in any plain Rialto DK, but wouldn’t it be a pity to miss out on all this cheery fun, especially when the yarn does all the work?

Smart, easy to care for and bright as a button? That’s Frankie!

Perfect pairing

We still can’t get enough of those delightful striped shawls. There’s still Color Affections underway, and we can now report a surge in Pauline Popiolek’s Cameo.

It’s a lovely knit – mostly garter stitch, with a lovely garter lace border and a little flirtatious picot edge. We’ve got two in the shop at the moment, the first in Hedgehog Fibres Sock, and it reminds us of marshmallows:

The other, made with Fyberspates Scrumptious 4ply, is a shade more sober – a well-made caffe latte, perhaps.

And we’re fairly certain that there’ll more like these on the way, so we’ll keep you posted. We’d recommend that you keep an eye on the FO Parade thread in our Ravelry group (and don’t forget to post your own finished objects there – there’s prizes!).

Giddy up, summer!

As of the time of writing, the sun’s shining over Dublin out of a cloudless sky, there’s a Bank Holiday weekend within hailing distance, and people are talking of cooling drinks after work. So we’re thinking of airy summer garments in bright colours, and as ever, Louisa Harding’s come up with the goods.

That’s Oakley up above, one of thirteen patterns in her new Jesse pattern book. It’s quick and satisfying, with just enough interest in the lacy yoke to spice up the knitting and enough soothing stocking stitch to speed you along.

It’s made in Louisa’s new Jesse cotton yarn, which comes in a torrent of summery colours and which has a lovely firm ply. It’s a DK weight, so it’s versatile as anything.

And if Jesse and Oakley suggest a theme, then you’ve guessed right: there’s a distinct Wild West air to this collection, with Miss Kitty and Annie also starring in the line-up. So why not hit the trail and cast on?

A combination made in heaven

We’ve had this beautiful shawl on display in the shop for a little while, and it’s attracting a huge amount of admiration. It’s AoibheNí’s Bel, the final shawl in her Legendary Shawls series (our Crochet-A-Long pattern, Venus, came from there too). Made with her signature Tunisian lace crochet technique, it’s clever and charming.

The yarn’s Coolree Yarns Alpaca/Silk/Cashmere 4-ply, and the combination of Aoibhe’s crochet design with Alex McLeod’s amazing eye for colour make it something really special indeed. Did we mention that we got a new delivery from Coolree Yarns last week? Oh, it just makes you smile to look at it.

Aoibhe’s Tunisian lace workshop on May 25th has been sold out for a while, but there’s still a couple of places available for the July 6th workshop (but they probably won’t be for long!). Her day-long workshops are fascinating and so much much fun – why not have a go this summer? You’ll find the booking page at this link.

As such a delightful collaboration between two talented Irish craftspeople, of course Bel is attracting admiration. Drop by and see it in person if you can!

This is a keeper

When you’re following a pattern, it saves so much time to be able to read it at a glance and know exactly where you are in it. So a tool like this Knitpro Magma Chart Keeper is invaluable. If you’re off on your travels, or just heading out to your knit and crochet group, it’s a smart folder which holds your pages safely, with room for a pen and a few notions.

But when you’ve settled down to follow your pattern, it comes into its own. It flips open and fastens securely to stand upright. Then you can hold your pattern page in place with the three little magnets that come with the Chart Keeper.

But there’s another magnet too: a long strip of it, which you can place across your page marking the line of the chart you’re working on. No losing your place now. By the way, we recommend that you place the strip above the chart line you’re working, so you can see how your current row or round relates to what’s below it, both in your knitting and on paper. (That’s the chart for the Braidheart cowl or scarf, the pattern that we use in our Knitting Cables class – there’s a glimpse of the finished article in the top image.)

It’s the handiest thing, and it makes following charts even simpler.

Pointypointy

Just look at those lovely tips! They’re the business end of our new needle offerings, ChiaoGoo Red Lace. We’ve got them both in fixed circulars and as an interchangeable set.

The fixed needles are 100cm long, and they have lovely smooth nylon-coated steel cables in a distinctive red. They’re an ideal length for any size of project, including anything done by Magic Loop.

We also have the Small interchangeable set, and it’s ever so clever. You get seven pairs of tips all the way from 2.75mm to 5.00mm, and three cables (60cm, 80cm and 100cm).

In addition to the well-designed case (it zips and it’s got handy compartments for bits and pieces), you get a pair of end caps to keep your stitches safe if you need to use the tips for another project, two cord keys for making secure connections, a handy needle gauge with a ruler, and a generous selection of colourful stitch markers. It’s a perfect gift for yourself or someone dear to you, and we’re eyeing it rather avidly ourselves.

And oh! those pointypointy stainless steel tips!

Three come along at once

A while ago, we blogged about SSK and K2tog, decreases which turn two stitches into one. We promised to get back to you with double decreases, the ones that turn three stitches into one.

Because they involve two stitches, SSK and K2tog can point in two different ways: leftwards and rightwards respectively. Once you toss another stitch in there, you get a third possibility. So we have three double decreases to show you, a leftwards one, a rightwards one, and one that points straight up.

Let’s look at the leftwards one first. Its name, SSSK, gives a big clue to how it’s done – just like SSK, but more so. To work it, put the tip of your right hand needle into the first stitch on your left as if you were going to knit it:

Instead of knitting it, just slip it over to the right hand needle. Then do exactly the same thing with the next stitch – slip it knitwise.

And then slip a third stitch knitwise as well in the same way.

At this point, you have three unworked stitches on your right hand needle, and all of them have turned to face the other way to their companions. This orientation is what the knitwise slipping achieves, and it’s important for the finished result, as we’ll see.

Now poke the tip of the left hand needle through the fronts of the three stitches, as in the following picture, and knit all three together through their back legs:

When you’ve done this, you’ll see that you’ve reduced the three stitches to one, and that the rightmost of the three is lying on top of the other two, so that the entire edifice leans over to the left. What’s more, the legs of the three stitches aren’t twisted, because the knitwise slipping reoriented them. That’s SSSK.

K3tog, our next demonstration, is also just like its k2tog relation. It’s even simpler than SSSK: just put your right hand needle through three stitches at the same time:

Then you just wrap the yarn exactly as you would with any other knit stitch, and pull the new stitch through:

When you look at the result, you’ll see that you’ve reduced your three stitches to one again, but this time the leftmost stitch is the one lying on top of the others, and the decrease is pointing over to the right.

The last of our three double decreases is the one that points neither to left nor to right, but straight up like a little knitted arrow. It’s a wee bit more fiddly to work, but it’s well worth it. We’ll call it CDD here, for centred double decrease.

The first step is to slip two stitches knitwise from the left to the right needle. Put the tip of your right needle through the first two stitches, working from the left:

Nothing happens to the third of the three stitches at this point, and to be honest the two that you’ve slipped look a little odd. Bear with this for a moment.

Moving right along, though, you now just knit the third stitch.

Then put the tip of the left hand needle through the fronts of the two stitches that you slipped…

…and hoosh them up and over the stitch you just knitted. The motion’s rather as if you were working a cast off, except that you’re manipulating two stitches over one.

And that’s your CDD done. When you look at the result, you’ll see that the middle stitch of the three is lying on top of the other two, pointing straight up.

When you compare all three of them side by side, the differences are obvious: K3tog on the left, CDD in the middle, and SSSK on the right:

And when you combine all three directional double decreases, you can work wondrous things like the flowers in the shawl at the top of this post (we blogged about this gorgeous thing here). They’re fun and they’re easy, and the finished results are ever so satisfying.

Comfort and joy

We’ve shown you the amazing work of clareblove here before, most notably when we featured Speziale, her wonderful Latvian Garden Baby Blanket last year.

Well, she’s done it again. This time we’re in awe of her Tír Chonaill, which is a combination of several of our favourite things: Clare’s knitting, Studio Donegal’s delicious Soft Merino and Kate Davies’ clever and beautiful design.

Unlike Speziale, this blanket is unlined, and that means that you can see the admirable evenness of the stranding on the reverse of the knitting. This sort of work is less complicated than it looks, because no row uses more than two colours at a time. What’s more, all of the work is knit and there’s no purling involved.

The lack of purling comes from knitting the blanket in the round as a large tube. When it’s done, the tube is cut open vertically and opened out. It’s a process called steeking, and it’s much less complicated than you’d think. A bit of careful preparation and a deep breath, and it’s triumphantly done before you know it.

The exact technique used for Tír Chonaill is Kate Davies’ Steek Sandwich, and it results in the lovely plump borders that you can see in the picture above. (You’ll remember that Kate gave us a workshop on this technique last year.)

If you’re interested in learning to steek, then get in touch with us. Lovely colourwork cardigans and jumpers done completely in the round, with the front and sleeve openings snipped confidently open? It’s huge fun, and once you start it’s very hard to stop, as Clare has happily shown us.