A little different

We’ve talked here before about the fun of diverging a little from the written pattern, and of the loveliness that can result. Well, here’s another example. This is an Ashton Shawlette – a pattern by Irish designer Dee O’Keefe and a free download on Ravelry.

Our version has a little variation, and we love it as much as the beautiful original. It’s made from Fyberspates Scrumptious 4-ply, and to ensure that it took only one skein, the edging was shortened a little by a few rows. But in compensation, beads! Just look at the effect from adding a sprinkling of beads to the lace pattern on the body of the shawl, and from placing lines of them on the points of the edging scallops. The lace simply glitters!

The Ashton Shawlette is an ideal first shawl project, too. Indeed, if you’re intrigued by lace, we’ve got both an introductory and a “next steps” class coming up in the next couple of months – you can find details of both and book your place at this link. You’ll be making beautiful things like this shawl in no time at all!

It’s magic!

What a snug little centre that crochet circle has! It’s far tighter than you could ever get by making the familiar few chain and slipstitching to the first of them, and sometimes you want the gap in the middle of your circle or square just to disappear. It’s called a Magic Circle, and here’s how you do it.

As well as beginning squares and circles, it’s also used as the very beginning of some of AoibheNí‘s beautiful Tunisian lace shawls, like Bel and Venus, so it’s a very versatile technique.

So, to start, just wind a loop of yarn around your finger…

…and slip the hook in under the loop, between the yarn and your finger.

Wrap the yarn around the hook, and bring the ensuing loop back towards you out of the loop.

Wrap the yarn around the hook once more, and pull a second loop through the first.

Once you’ve made this stitch, you’re ready to work whatever your pattern tells you for your first round, using the long end of the yarn (the one that goes to the ball). You’ll notice that the original loop that you wound round your finger is still all loose and floppy; this is entirely as intended, and it’s what you work your first round into.

This picture shows the work a little later – we’ve worked a series of double crochet stitches into the loop, which is still all floppy. You can see its single strand just below and to the left of the live stitch.

Now the Magic happens. Take a firm hold of the short end of the yarn in one hand, and hold the live stitch that’s on the hook with the other. And pull…!

Because you made your stitches around the strand of yarn, it’ll pull up through them, turning your loose association of stitches into a firm little circle!

And the result is what you can see in the top picture. Until you finish off the yarn, the circle might try to relax, but just give it a wee tug and it’ll smarten up promptly if needed.

Speaking of AoibheNí’s amazing work, we’re delighted to announce another date for her inspiring Tunisian lace workshop, on Saturday September 21st. This full-day workshop is bound to fill up as fast as ever, so you can book online at this link.

Today’s the first day of summer, so may we wish you a happy, sunny, craft-filled one!

Complementary colours

Don’t you love when you find a pattern that ticks every box? One that’s fun to do, pretty as a picture, with interesting use of colour, and an easy-as-pie stitch pattern?

Meet Elowen!

This delicious project is knitted in Hedgehog Fibres Sock – so much softness and such glorious intensity of colour! Elowen takes 300m of the main colour and much, much less of the contrast, so if you have two skeins of contrasting sock yarn, you can get two complementary shawls, where the main colour of the first is the contrast of the second, and vice versa! One for you and one for a friend, perhaps?

The pretty stitch pattern in the border is simply achieved by slipping stitches, so you’re never using more than one colour on a row. This is the least stressful colourwork you could imagine, and isn’t the result lovely?

A gentle, portable project which gives you a beautiful accessory in no time at all? Perfect!

Would you like to knit your very own Elowen? We’re offering 10% off Hedgehog Fibres Sock Yarn until next Wednesday the 26th of June!

Simply use the code Elowen2013 in our online shop, quote it over the phone or in person, and the discount will be applied.*

While we don’t list all the shades of Hedgehog Sock yarn in our online shop (the colour range changes so frequently) we are very happy to email you a picture of the shades that are currently in stock.

*This discount cannot be combined with any other offer…sorry!

Drumroll, please…!

Four months ago, a mild flirtation round here with Veera Välimäki’s Color Affection shawl pattern blossomed into a full-scale Knit-Along, and then there really was no stopping you! That image above is the rollcall of images that were posted in the Knit-Along thread, and at a conservative estimate there’s more than thirty two kilometres of gorgeousness there! (And the thing is, we’re absolutely certain that there are others, many others…)

We shared tips and triumphs and colour combination ideas, and there was sympathy when things went wrong and whoops of glee when they went right (many more of the latter than the former!). Our Knit-Along even inspired others around the world!

It was by the generosity of Alex Mcleod of Coolree Yarns, himself a Knitter-Along, that we were able to announce a prize draw for one lucky participant, with this stunning skein of silk and baby camel as the prize:

So we asked the Random Number Generator to pick a Color Affection to win, and it came up with…

…number 1! And that’s Mary L! Congratulations, Mary – we can’t wait to see what your prize turns into!

Beautiful yarn, an inventive and interesting pattern, wonderful colours, you lovely talented knitters and an huge amount of fun: that’s a This Is Knit Knit-Along. We can’t wait for the next one!

And a very big Thank You to Veera Välimäki, without whom this wouldn’t have been possible at all!

In pattern

“Cast off in pattern.” It’s a fairly common instruction, but one that often causes confusion, so we thought a tutorial would be useful.

First of all, the reason why. Different stitch patterns have different properties – stocking stitch is flat, moss stitch ripples gently from one stitch to another, rib pulls in. If your cast off mimics the stitch pattern that’s gone before, you end up with a cast-off edge with matching properties. If you don’t, then it won’t, and you may end up with a cast-off edge that pulls in more than the rest of the fabric, or splays out more.

In what follows, we’re using the example of 2×2 rib. In our wee swatch, there’s 20 stitches, which is a multiple of 4 (two knits and two purls), so it’s easy to know what we’re up to: every row begins with two knits.

In order to stay in pattern, the first two stitches need to be worked knitwise, so here we are knitting the first of them. And the second one gets worked knitwise too:

And then the first gets hopped over the second as usual to cast it off:

To stay in pattern, the next two stitches need to be worked purlwise – you can see the bump on the front of the first stitch on the left hand needle here:

So the yarn needs to come to the front of the work, and that stitch is purled. When it comes time to hop the previous stitch over this purled one, the yarn’s at the front.

You may find it quite comfortable to do the hop-over with the yarn at the front (it’ll need to be there for the next stitch, because that’s going to be purled too). On the other hand, a lot of people find it less cumbersome to bring the yarn to the back out of the way before the hop-over. Try them both out, and see which you prefer.

If you do choose to slip the yarn backwards, just remember to bring it back to the front for the next purled stitch:

That’s the procedure for this whole cast off – each time, check how the pattern would want the stitch to be worked if you weren’t casting off but working a normal row in pattern, and then do it that way.

For our wee rib sample the result is a cast off edge which pulls in the same amount as the fabric below it – you can see it in the picture at the top of the post. When you look at the top edge, you can see the stitches waving happily from side to side, following the rib and giving you snug elasticity.

On a different note, our Color Affection Knit-Along is coming to a triumphant end, and there’s a gorgeous Coolree Yarns prize up for grabs. So if you knitted one (or two, or many!), make sure you post a Finished Object picture in the Ravelry thread! And the best of luck!

It’s prize time!

This time of the year is rather special around here, because it’s World Wide Knit in Public time! So to celebrate, we’re having not one but two prize draws!

Prize Draw One works like this: any time that you spend €20 either in the shop or online between Saturday the 8th of June and Saturday the 15th of June inclusive, you’ll be entered in the draw.

To enter Prize Draw Two, all you need to do is get a picture of yourself knitting in public – at the bus stop, on the beach, at work, wherever takes your fancy! Then tweet the picture to us (@ThisIsKnit), or post it to our facebook page, or email it to us before the 15th of June, and that’s your entry.

Can you enter both draws? Of course you can! The more the merrier!

And what will the lucky winners receive? Why, thank you for asking. First of all, each prize includes the gorgeous brooch at the top of this post! It’s Eimear Earley’s newest shawl pin design, exclusive to This Is Knit.

Just like her first design for us, it’s hand-crafted from stainless steel by NovaSteel, and it draws its inspiration from historical penannular brooches like these.

And that’s not all. Each winner will receive a skein of Fyberspates Laceweight (that’s 1000 metres of merino/silk delight)…

… and a pack of our new Boye Knit or Crochet Labels (what a lovely way to personalise your gifts!):

And the very best of luck to all of you!

Ysolda’s coming back!

We’re simply thrilled to announce that the wonderful Ysolda Teague is coming back to This Is Knit! She’s giving us her excellent Perfect Sweater workshop once more, a repeat of the one that sold out so fast and was so well received back in September. It’ll be on Saturday 31st August, and it lasts the whole day.

She’s the designer of beautiful garments like Vivian and Lauriel, as well as gorgeous accessories like Ishbel and Rose Red.

In the workshop she’ll take us through choosing the ideal yarn for your pattern, the importance of measuring and swatching, and then putting all that together to get the perfect fit for you. It’s sure to be very popular and you can secure your place by clicking this booking link.

We can’t wait!