New blue

Round this time of year, we start to receive the goodies that we’ll be stocking over the coming autumn and winter, and it’s always exciting. We’ll be showcasing lots of them at the Yarn Tasting, of course, but honestly, we can’t wait that long to share them with you! So here, with some fanfare, is the first: Debbie Bliss Blue Faced Leicester DK.

We were very impressed last year with the aranweight version of this heritage breed yarn (we blogged about it here). So we’re awfully pleased to have this DK weight in stock, and there’s more than one cozy cardigan being planned around it. We’re entranced by the sprightly twist of the ply and the way that Blue Faced Leicester yarns work up soft and comforting when you knit them up. And oh! the colours!

It’s going to be a lovely Autumn/Winter 2013/2014!

Hats off!

Woolly Workshop

We’re delighted to say that last Saturday’s Hat Design Workshop with Woolly Wormhead was a huge success!

Her guiding principle is that everyone has a hat that suits them, even if they haven’t found it yet, so in spite of the heat, we had great fun trying on the hats she’d brought with her. And that was more than thirty hats!

The workshop involved plenty of maths (that calculator got a real workout), so everyone left with new-found confidence in designing knitwear from first principles. Since it lasted all day, there was even time for some speedy knitters to go home with completed hats, and we’re looking forward to seeing the others in all their glory! (If you’re the proud maker of one, we’ve got a Ravelry thread here for you to post pictures for us to admire, or tell us about it in the comments below.)

So huge thanks to Woolly – we’re hoping to have her back to give another workshop next year!

But that’s not all – we’ve got other special guest workshops coming this Autumn. First of all, we’re looking forward to the arrival of Ysolda at the end of August. Her workshop is currently full, but you can add your name to the waiting list at this link It works on a “fastest finger first” basis, so register your interest and if a space comes free, you’ll get an email to alert you.

And for news of our other upcoming events, keep an eye on our facebook page at This Is Knit and on twitter at @ThisIsKnit, as well as right here!

Guest Post: So, you wanna be a designer?

One of the many lovely things about running a yarn shop is seeing our customers and friends progress in their crafts, gaining more confidence and developing new skills all the time. Aoibhe Ni was already a highly skilled craftsperson when we first met her, but in the last few years she has become an incredibly talented designer, with a huge following on Ravelry, and a highly sought-after workshop teacher.

In this guest post she shares her thoughts on the process of becoming a designer and offers some advice for others who would like to follow a similar course. Thanks Aoibhe!


I think at this stage it’s safe enough to call myself a professional crochet designer.

I design, and I make a living out of it, so the definition fits. But I have to admit that I still feel like I have a lot to learn. Around every crochet-laden corner, I find a new knot I have never encountered before, and I suspect I’ll never run out of mathematical muddles to resolve.

But there are many things I wish I had known earlier, and that’s what this post is about. This is my attempt to give a hand up to anyone thinking of taking a similar path to mine. If I can help you avoid some of the pitfalls I encountered, then my work here is done.

So, let’s launch into a list of 5 things I wish I could tell younger me.


1. Starting out, keep it simple.

Ambition is a great thing, but you have to keep a handle on it. Baby steps, folks. Don’t try to run before you can walk. Design a simple glove that you’d like to wear yourself. Then write it up. Show it to some friends, ask them to give the pattern a go. If you’re not half bad at writing, bravo! That’s your first challenge overcome.

If, on the other hand, your writing makes about as much sense as sanskrit to a monkey, then read some patterns by the pros, learn the flow that good pattern text requires. It’ll stand to you.

Really, really simple

Really, really simple.

2. Free Patterns, Yea or Nay?

I have mixed feelings about free patterns. I actively warn my beginner crochet students against them, mostly because I fear they will contain mistakes or will be badly written, leaving those new to crochet feeling like it’s their fault, and that they’ll never “get it”. But, I also offer free patterns, myself.
“What’s up with that, you hypocrite?!”, I hear you bawling. Well, I reply above the din, I think a well-written free pattern that proves you can write well, and that your diagrams are clear and your style is legible, is the best thing a new designer can do. It will ensure people trust your ability to write. This may lead them to buy a paid pattern.

But don’t undervalue your work! Offer one or two choice patterns for free, but ensure they are on the simpler end of the spectrum. The key here is to whet the appetite, not allow people to satisfy their curiosity completely.

The right free pattern can bring a lot of good attention your way

The right free pattern can bring a lot of good attention your way.

3. A good editor not within your budget right now?

Never fear, Ravelry has several very well regulated, and extremely active tester groups. Search them out, follow their guidelines for offering your pattern for testing, be up front about what you want to get out of the test (do you need your testers to calculate duration of project? Yardage used? Do you need them to use a specific yarn?) and listen to your tester’s feedback. They will be the best resource you could ever hope for when it comes to honing your skills.

The Testing Pool

This group is my favourite; The Testing Pool

4. Remember that mistakes happen.

You will release patterns with errors in them, deadlines will come and go with a whoosh, everything takes longer than you expect it to (even this blog post… sorry, This Is Knit!), but own up to the error and you will find most people will understand. Stay silent, and any good feeling you may have built up will likely start to fade.

5. Most importantly, Be You.

Design for yourself above all else. Your taste will come out in your work whether you want it to or not, so go with it. Don’t try to design something that is fashionable right now. By the time you get your version out, it’ll be 6 months forgotten.
If you design to your own taste, for your own aesthetic, it’ll always look good on you and that is why it’ll sell. But even better, you will start to gather fans around you who like that style, and will stay around to see what you produce next, confident that they will like that too. And that really, from this designer’s perspective, is the key.

Be Yourself

Your own unique view on design is your greatest asset.

So, I wish you luck, and inspiration, and lots of yarn support from your favourite yarn makers. It’s more than a full time job; you’ll never stop working and planning and promoting … but if you catch it at the right angle, and are blessed with a smile from the yarn gods, it’s worth every ounce of effort you can give it.


Aoibhe’s next workshop at This is Knit is on Saturday the 21st of September and you book a place right here.

So, are you a budding designer? Have you been inspired? Tell us about your work in the comments – we love to hear what you’re all up to!

Woolly weekend

Here in the shop, we’re gearing up for a fantastic weekend, because Woolly Wormhead‘s coming back to This Is Knit to give us her Hat Design Workshop! Her class on Saturday has been sold out for ages, but we’ve been inspired of late to make some of her lovely hats. Worked flat, in the round, lacy, cables, funky, elegant, for all genders and ages, her designs are fast, clever and fun. And if you’d like to leap in along with us, we’ve got a special offer below!

The hats that we’ve been working on are Everglade and Ravine. Ravine, on the right and in silver grey above, took just two balls of Grace Silk and Wool, and Nadia found the perfect embellishment in A. Rubanesque downstairs: a beautiful silvery beaded tulle piece (we really do have the very best neighbours!).

Lisa’s Everglade, on the left in purple, is made from Rooster Almerino, a delicious blend of merino and alpaca in lots of glorious colours. It took just two balls as well. If you turn up that deep ribbing, you get a snug fit, and leaving it unturned up gives you the most fashionable slouchy look – your choice!

And until Sunday July 28th, we’re offering you a 10% discount on Rooster Almerino. Mention the discount code Everglade when you buy in the shop or over the phone, or pop it in the coupon code box when you order online.*

What’s more, in warm weather, small projects make much more sense than big weighty pieces. As Elizabeth Zimmermann used to say, summer is the time for stocking up with warm accessories. We’re hoping for a long warm spell, so we’re planning lots of accessories – how about you? Do you have small project plans to share? We’d love to hear about them in the comments!

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

Helpful

Last Tuesday, we showed you Lisa’s Watershed (it’s on display in the shop, and it’s getting a lot of attention, probably because it’s simply ideal for this lovely weather). Lisa made a number of modifications which are detailed on her project page, so it’s perfect for showing you one of Ravelry’s very best features: how to find helpful projects. This will save you more time and money than you can imagine!

We’ll start out at the pattern page (this one here), which shows that there are currently 624 Watershed projects. You can view them all by clicking on the “projects” tab, where the big pink arrow is pointing:

That’s quite a number to sift through looking for the useful ones, but the good news is that it’s easy to find them.

This time, the big pink arrow is showing you where you’ll find a drop down menu at the top left hand corner of the pattern page. Clicking on it brings up a number of choices.

That “helpful notes (164 projects)” is the option we’re interested in. It’s the set of projects with notes that other people have found useful. When you choose that option, you’re brought to a page with only those projects, which you can investigate at your leisure. So instead of reading through all 624 projects, you can select only the ones most likely to be useful. That’s where the time saving comes in.

And when you’ve found a set of project notes useful, you’ve got the chance to improve the selection even more. Right down at the bottom of the notes, you’ll find a little button to press, beside the question “are these notes helpful?”. Click that button if you’ve been helped, and Ravelry’s service will get a little better!

There’s also a visual symbol of helpfulness, and the arrow’s pointing at it here:

That little lifebuoy signals a “helpful” vote, and when you’re browsing project pages, it’s a handy thing to watch out for.

There’s another sort of very useful information that you can glean from a pattern page: for a given pattern, how many completed projects a pattern it has. If you look back at the third screenshot above, you’ll see that “finished” is one of the choices in the dropdown menu.

A large proportion of finished projects is a sure sign of a successful pattern, and the reverse is also true. If you come across a pattern with lots and lots of started projects but very few successfully completed ones, then maybe it’s a good one to steer clear of. And between the cost of the pattern and the cost of the yarn, that can save you a lot of money – not to mention both irritation and chocolate!

Yarn Tasting 2013

Yarn Tasting 2013

Join us on Thursday the 15th of August for the *fifth* annual Yarn Tasting event at This is Knit…

We have another incredible night of yarn-based fun planned for you all with not one but two special guests – Debbie Bliss and Louisa Harding. They will be presenting their new Autumn/Winter collections and will have oodles of sample garments to show us.

We’ll be running raffles for some fantastic prizes over the course of the night, and everyone who attends will be entered in to the draws.

There will also be an extra-special discount offer of 15% off all new-season yarns on the evening! This includes any purchases made on the night and any special orders placed.

Never been to a Yarn Tasting event before? You can read all about our previous evenings of fun and fibre frolics here, here, here and here.

Want to join in the fun? You can find out more and book your place right here.

Guest Post: TNNA by Carol Feller

We’re delighted to welcome the words of world-famous Irish designer Carol Feller to our wee blog today. Carol recently travelled to the yarn industry’s biggest trade show, called “TNNA”, in Columbus Ohio. The June show (that Lisa and Jacqui attended back in 2009, and hope to make it back to some *year* soon!) previews all that the yarn world has to offer for the upcoming Autumn/Winter season. We’re thrilled to be sharing Carol’s experiences with you all…

_____

At the end of June I went over to Columbus, Ohio for a trade show, TNNA Unlike most knitting shows in Ireland and the UK this show is aimed entirely at yarn stores which makes it very different. It means that buyers are there on behalf their businesses and it also means that it’s not going to be as crowded as a show that sells directly to the customer.

As a knitwear designer there are multiple layers of benefit. The most obvious one is that I get to promote my new book, Among Stones, to yarn stores.

Among Stones

Even though this is my second time going to the show it was my first time exhibiting. I have a US distributor, Deep South Fibers who has a block of booths that we can reserve. I opted to share a booth this year and I was paired with Stephen West who is always lots of fun! It is rare as a knitwear designer to meet up with other designers, so events like TNNA are a huge mental overload…but in a good way. Every year I get to meet up with old friends and meet a whole host of new faces.

Carol's Booth

This is where the next layer of TNNA comes in for me, networking. Not only do I get to spend every evening with designers I love, I also get to meet and talk with magazine and book editors that I’ve only known virtually. It’s good to have a face to put with the name and it does make emails easier when you have a personal knowledge of the person on the other end.

Irish Yarn

Last year I began doing some teaching on knitting tours for Tourism Ireland and they put together a great hamper for me to give away at my stand this year. It made me feel extra Irish to have a big basket of Irish yarn at my feet! I was astonished at how much interest there was from yarn stores about the tours. Seems like everyone wants to come to Ireland knitting.

So what about the yarn I hear you say….

There was much yarn, needle, button and knitting goodness. Interestingly there seemed to be tons of bright neon yarn, there was even a very cool yarn with light reflector material spun through it to make reflective accessories. Who doesn’t need a hat that glows in the dark right?

Swag

I discovered that I am very focused on greens at the moment, every shade from lime through to olive. The only yarns I actually brought home with me this year were Phydeaux Designs ‘Caresse’ and Anzula Yarns ‘Cricket’. You may notice they are both green…

A couple of booths, Sweet Georgia Yarns, Shalimar Yarns and Shibui Yarns really caught my eye – especially the Silk Cloud yarn…in green of course!

I forgot to go back and order some but Moving Mud had the cutest buttons and accessories. The small, flat buttons they were displaying were just beautiful.

Hopefully this post will give you a little flavour of what my extended weekend was like, now add in enough talking that your voice was gone when you got home, lots of cocktails and 17 hours of travel each way and you’ll be right there with me!

___

Wow, that’s a lot of yarny goodness right there! We hope you enjoyed the round up. And, we’re curious… if you could choose one of the featured brands for TIK to stock, which one would it be? Tell us in the comments and, you never know, wishes just might come true! :)

Watershed

This pretty summer cover-up has just gone on display in the shop. Knitted by Lisa in Katia Mali, it’s Watershed by Amy Swenson. It’s a delightful little knit, and it produces a very versatile garment.

In fact we’re so happy with how Watershed turned out that we’re giving you 10% off the yarn! Until Sunday 14th July, use the code 07Mali2013 in our online shop or quote it over the phone or in person, and the discount will be applied.* And just look at those gorgeous colours!

You can find Lisa’s Ravelry page for her Watershed at this link. It’s an interesting read, with suggestions of modifications she’s thinking of for the next one (and she’s already decided there will be a next one, in something woollier for cooler weather).

A fast, elegant knit in stunning colours, using just a few balls of yarn, made even more economical by a discount? What more could one ask for?

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