Alternating skeins

We love hand-dyed yarns, but there’s no doubt that they can vary a bit, even if you buy them together and check them carefully. Working a larger project with slightly different shades can mean that one half of your shawl doesn’t match the other, or that one sleeve is strikingly unlike the rest of the jumper. What’s more, if your yarn is a semi-solid, the variation can give you pooling, and that’s a prime example up above.

There’s a really easy fix for this. Instead of working all of one skein before changing to the next, alternate the two. After working two rows or rounds with your first skein, drop it and take up the second. Work two rows with that, then drop it and work two with skein one. That’s it. There’s no need to cut the yarn – just carry it loosely up the back of the work. We promise, no-one will ever notice the variation.

In fact, you can use this trick with non-hand-dyes as well. We featured a project a couple of months ago that used it, and we’d bet quite a lot that you didn’t spot it!

This is Little Apple, a modification of our Cute as One Button baby cardigan. By accident, the knitter who made it had three (yes, three!) different dyelots of Rico Essentials Soft Merino Aran in Light Grey lurking in stash, so it was alternate all the way. The yoke and sleeves were worked with the first and second ball, so they match each other.

The third skein wasn’t introduced until the body, alternating first with the remnants of the first, and when that ran out, with the second. If you look closely, you can see that there’s something going on. But it looks intentional, rather than having a crashing contrast halfway down one sleeve.

So those single non-matching balls can play happily together after all, and you can work big projects in delicious hand-dyes and keep the colour consistent all the way.

Oh, and the unhappy hand-dye in the top picture? The top was frogged and the yarn is much, much happier as a completely different project, so that story has a happy ending too!

From sheep to sock

In the last couple of weeks, we’ve had a completely new 100% Irish offering in the shop: S Twist’s gorgeous new Hiking Sock Yarn in lovely colours. When Diarmuid Commins introduced his handspun yarn in undyed colourways last May, he wrote a guest post about it for us. We’re very happy that he’s done the same for his new range!

The wool comes from Castlecomer, Kilkenny and is from Cheviot sheep, a breed with a centuries-long history. They’re a reliable producer of dense, firm wool that is durable without being harsh, with a long staple length and lovely bouncy crimp.


(Cheviot ewe and lamb © Donald Macleod and licensed for reuse under this Creative Commons BY licence.)

In other words, it’s perfect sock wool. I add 10% nylon for extra strength, and then the wool is blended and spun for S Twist Wool. Each skein is then dyed individually. After the skeins have dried, I go through them to see which are finished as they are and which need to go back for another dyeing. Each round of dyeing adds another layer of complexity and depth to the colours of the skein. This, of course, is the part which is the most fun. It also means that every single skein is unique!

One of the main things that I love about this line of yarn is that it is like the knitter and I are doing it together. As I am dyeing up the different families of colour, I have an image in my mind of how the different skeins would work together and I use the techniques and tools of a dyer to make my image happen. As at least two skeins are needed to make a pair of socks, the knitter goes through a similar process while choosing which skeins to get. They then use the techniques and tools of the knitter to make their vision happen. At the end of it, the knitter and I have worked together to create something truly unique and special. I find that idea very exciting and a lot of fun.

I’d love to see pictures of your finished Hiking Sock Yarn projects – you can email them to thespinner@stwistwool.com, or post them in the S Twist group over on Ravelry!

We have winners!

Well, we were bowled over by the response to our Mia Chevron Blanket competition! You really are the most creative people imaginable, with the best colour sense! In fact, there were so many beautiful colour combinations suggested that we decided to have two prizes!

So we fired up the Random Number Generator (we were very glad we didn’t have to choose a favourite ourselves!) and the first winner it gave us was Elizabeth’s gorgeous “garden afternoon” selection: Sky, Rose, Citrus, Buttermilk, Stone:

And the second winner it chose was Jaele’s elegant combination of Marine, Ecru, Duck, Peach, and Corn.

Get in touch with us, ladies, and we’ll arrange for you to get your lovely Mia prizes!

The other entries were all so inspiring, though, that we really want to share a few more with you. Here’s Aqua, Corn, Fuchsia, Cinnamon and Marine. We suggested funky, and this certainly is:

And when it comes to combining subtle and fresh, what about White, Corn, Ecru, Citrus and Buttermilk?

And if you’re looking for uncompromisingly pink, then here’s Fuchsia, Rose, Light Pink, Buttermilk and Petal!

We could go on and on, because all the entries were as gorgeous as these. So if you’re looking for inspiration, then do what we’ll be doing: look through the suggestions and get knitting!

Congratulations again, Jaele and Elizabeth – we can’t wait to see your blankets!

Starting at square one!

We’ve found a wonderful pairing – Tin Can Knit’s Vivid blanket and Townhouse Yarns’ “Saoirse” colourway!

Vivid is the teaching pattern for one of Emily Wessel’s workshops on Saturday June 27th. We can’t wait to host Emily – she’s a wonderfully inventive designer and such a good teacher.

Vivid is the most versatile pattern – made in easy bite-sized squares like the ones above, it’s a great baby blanket. And it’s surprisingly easy, especially when Emily’s showing you how. You’ll learn the pinhole cast on method, how to read a lace chart, how to knit in the round using the magic loop method (if you want – you can use double-pointed needles if you prefer), how to block your individual lace squares and finally how to seam your pieces together with an overhand stitch. And best of all, it’ll be enormous fun!

The Vivid workshop is from 2.00pm to 5.00pm in the afternoon. You’ll find the booking page for it at this link. There’s still a few places left, both for Vivid and for Emily’s Lush cardigan workshop in the morning. It’s hard to think of a better way to spend a Saturday!

What a Yarn Shop Day!

Our Yarn Shop Day last Saturday week was enormous fun, and we’d like to say thank you to everyone who shared it with us!

The shop was buzzing right from the moment we opened – a queue had formed outside our front door, so we knew it was going to be good crack! The shop was looking very festive, with jolly bunting and giant pompoms all over the place.

There were prizes and cupcakes and in the afternoon our knitting and crochet experts were put to the test with your most challenging queries.

And all day, our lovely customers dropping in – that’s what made it such a very special day, so here’s to all of you! Very special congratulations, too, to Margaret Connally, who won our super prize of a place at Tin Can Knits’ workshops at the end of June.

It was such fun that we’re already planning next year’s Yarn Shop Day, so we can do it all over again, and we hope to see you there!

What’s your Mia Chevron blanket?

This is ours, and it’s given us an idea for a give-away! It’s the adorable Chevron Baby Blanket made in lovely Debbie Bliss Mia. The pattern’s a free download on Ravelry, and it’s the easiest knit. It takes just five balls of yarn and it’s one of our customers’ most popular choices for new babies.

There’s a wonderful twenty two colours in the Mia range, and so many possible combinations. Which would you choose? Let us know, and you can win the yarn to make it!

From now until midnight on Sunday May 17th, tell us in the comments section below what colours you’d use in your five-ball blanket, using the colour names from our online shop page. On Monday May 18th we’ll draw a lucky winner at random, so you could be making your custom-coloured blanket in no time at all!

Gentle pastels or vibrant primaries? Funky or subtle? We can’t wait to see!

Yarn Shop Day for all!

Tomorrow is Yarn Shop Day in the store, with goodie bags and special offers and all sorts of gleeful goings on all day!

But if you can’t make it in to visit us in person, we still have something special for you in the online shop. How about free shipping to any address in Ireland all this Bank Holiday weekend? Just enter the code TIKYSD15 when you’re placing your order, and then keep an eye out for the postie!

Here’s a screen shot of what to click. When you’ve selected your Shopping Cart, just click the “Use Coupon Code” button, enter the code and carry on with your order.

Then carry right on to the end of the ordering process and you’ll see the cost of the postage being discounted at the end!

Since it’s a Bank Holiday weekend, we’ll be open on Saturday and then closed on Sunday and Bank Holiday Monday. It’s the summer, you see, so we’re closed on Sundays from now until September (more knitting time – hurray! Less time with our lovely customers – boo!)