An Interview with Debbie Bliss

We were so thrilled to have Debbie Bliss join us recently for our 10 year anniversary party at This Is Knit. We got to hear about her creative process, her most recent yarns and patterns, and what we can expect in the coming new year. She was kind enough to sit down and answer some questions in this interview, for all of those who weren’t at the event, and want to know a bit more about this icon in the craft community!

Debbie Bliss and Louisa Harding Special Guests at the This is Knit 10th Anniversary Party

Firstly, we’d like to thank you so much for taking a few moments for an interview with us, it was such a pleasure hearing you speak at the This Is Knit Anniversary party!

It was an absolute pleasure to be invited to be part of your celebrations!

Q: What would you say is your main source of inspiration when designing a new yarn?

A: Normally I will see a yarn at Pitti Filatti, the trade show in Florence that I go to twice a year . If it is already perfect as with Lhasa, it will go into the ranges as it is but I may feel after swatching that a yarn can be improved by altering the blend. Or sometimes I will be approached by a company such as Laxtons, who introduced me to Falkland Aran, a beautiful pure wool from the Falkland Islands which is spun in Yorkshire.

Debbie Bliss holding her Falkland Aran Mood Board at the This is Knit 10th Anniversary Party

Q: Does your creative process often start with colourway or fibre choices?

A: When it is a book of designs rather single leaflets I will be looking at a collection that includes a variety of styles, different skill levels and a harmonizing colour palette.

Q: How much does modern fashion trends influence your design choices? Do you look more to current trends, or to the past for inspiration?

A: I love to research trends and keep up to date with current and future looks. This doesn’t mean that I will follow slavishly what is appearing on the catwalks but it interests me to see what shapes or textures are coming through and how I may want to interpret this in my own collections.

Q: Currently, what is your favourite trend in knitwear?

A: I love the way that ready to wear knits have adopted a very strong hand knit look, with textures traveling in different directions, vertical and horizontal cables for example, or a patchwork of texture.

Q: Your favourite fibre to work with?

A: At the moment I am really enjoying working with Lhasa, a cashmere/yak blend which is part of my Pure Bliss Collection. It is incredibly soft but still has great stitch definition.

Mixed Shades of Debbie Bliss Lhasa Yarn

Q: What would you say is the biggest challenge you face when designing a new pattern?

A: I think it is trying to balance and incorporate all the elements that I think are important, style combined with wearability, creating silhouettes that are flattering to women, thinking about how the yarn behaves. All of this and then making sure that the design/pattern still works in all the sizes!

Q: What is your creative process for choosing colourways for a new yarn?

A: When it is a new yarn I am always lead by the “story” it tells me, a silk blend may call for bright vivid colours, or a soft cotton ice cream pastels.

Q: Which pattern would you say is an essential knit for babies/children?

A: A simple, classic cardigan.

Q: What is your earliest memory of knitting, and did you feel in that moment that you had found your calling?

A: My mother knitting me a school cardigan in a virulent bright blue. It came out before the start of every Autumn term and went straight back in the bag again after a few knitting sessions.

Q: If you were stranded on an island and you could only choose one yarn to take with you, which would it be? (If weather weren’t a factor)

A: My new Spring 2017 yarn Sita.

Q: If your dogs could speak, what would they divulge about your yarn stash and/or knitting habits?

A: They wouldn’t, they are very loyal!

Q: Currently, what is your favourite TV show to knit to?

A: The Vikings ( Netflix)

Q: And finally: do you have any hints as to what we can expect from Debbie Bliss in the coming year?

A: New downloadable toy patterns are launched this week in time for Xmas! A beautiful mako cotton/silk Spring yarn will arrive in shops in January and if knitters follow us on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter I will keep them up to date on all our news!

Many thanks again to the lovely Debbie!

Warmth without the Weight

Oh Chunky Sweaters, how we yearn for them on days like these. So satisfying to knit, so cosy to snuggle in to, but so often such a drag (literally). You see, there has traditionally been a trade off for these quick-knitting beauties: weight.

We have seen Super Chunky sweater patterns that call for upwards of 2kg of yarn. And while those all-over cabled tunic-length garments are beautiful creations, they often sag and grow with time, turning into shadows of their former selves.

But fret not – we have two solutions for you today! Both sweaters are still quick to knit, and warm to wear, yet they each took less than 400 g of yarn. So you can have the best of both worlds: warmth without the weight and without the wait

Coda Sweater in Woolfolk Får Chunky Knitted Sweater

The Coda Sweater

While this is technically a worsted weight pattern, it falls in to this quick-knitting-and-cosy category due both to the fitted finish (less knitting) and to the incredibly warm yarn we chose for our shop sample: the simply divine Woolfolk Får. This sweater was worked up in less than 7 skeins (under 350g), so it’s very lightweight to wear, but the “chainette” construction of the yarn lends extra insulation to the garment. Rather than being spun in the traditional sense, chainette yarns are very fine knitted tubes in themselves.  These tubes or chains have lots of tiny air pockets that trap the wearer’s own body heat proving that, when it comes to wool and warmth, bigger is not always better. Very clever stuff indeed.

The pattern from is from Brooklyn Tweed and it has all the signature style and smart detailing that you would expect from this respected design collective.  We opted to stick with the three-quarter length sleeves as provided for in the pattern, but they could easily be lengthened for added warmth.

Il Grande Favorito in Rico Alpaca Blend Chunky Knitted Sweater

Il Grande Favorito

Aptly named, this pattern is a firm favourite among us all at This is Knit.  “Il Grande Favorito” is a top-down sweater with optional short row shaping at the lower back to create a flattering dipped hem.  The original pattern called for holding two strands of yarn together to get the correct tension, but we have happily discovered that Rico’s  Alpaca Blend Chunky is perfect for this design, just as it is.

While the chainette construction of Får kept things light in our first example, this time around it is blended nature of the yarn creating a “best of both worlds” scenario.  Alpaca Blend Chunky contains 50% natural fibres (alpaca & wool) and 50% acrylic, and this allows for a full sweater to be made with just 8 balls (400g for the 38 inch size).  So we get all the cosiness of natural fleece fibres, with the dash of practicality from a lighter weight synthetic and it all adds up to a stylish winter “must-have”.

Do you have a favourite Chunky Sweater pattern?

Or have we inspired you to make one of these two?

Don’t forget you can pop in to see these garments (and all our shop samples) any time!

15 Knitted Gift Ideas

Are you in need of some knitted gift inspiration? Then this post is for you! We have compiled a list of our favourites along with some yarn suggestions so that you can whip up a gorgeous handmade gift in no time at all…

 

15 Knitted Gift Ideas from This is Knit 2016

 

15 Knitted Gift Ideas Zuzus Petals
The best thing about this quick  lace cowl pattern is that you can chose to knit it in either a sock weight or a worsted weight. This cowl is knit from the top down starting straight and then moving to working in the round for the lace chart section.  Jenny and myself have both made beaded versions for that extra bling and Maria has made a worsted version in Malabrigo Rios.

 

Willow Cowl 15 Knitted Gift Ideas
Do you have a skein of sock yarn that is just screaming to be a certain person’s gift? Then, this is the pattern for you. This is an easy relaxing knit that swaps between a simple eyelet pattern and stocking stitch to give it a springy concertina effect. Our sample was knit in Malabrigo Finito and I’m dreaming of one of these in Clarendon Sock.

 

15 Knitted Gift Ideas Antler Mittens
In case you missed it, Maureen knitted the above mittens in one skein of Malabrigo Rios in no time at all. A spark of an idea and some DART journeys later and she had these ready to go for the cold snap. The sizing on these goes from toddler to adult, so you can make a matching set for all the family.

 

Garter Ear Flap Hat 15 Knitted Gift Ideas
This is a firm favourite for the tiny humans among us but the sizing does go all the way to an adult large. This simple aran weight pattern is on and off the needles almost overnight so it’s my go to pattern for the grab and go gift. I’m excited to try this in the new Falkland Aran by Debbie Bliss and a new set of Zing tips.

 

The Graham Hat 15 Knitted Gift Ideas
We are always asked about knitting patterns for men and this is a popular suggestion here in the shop. It’s a simple broken rib pattern worked on 5mm needles and sized for an adult medium and large. The hat is completely reversible with the decreases worked seamlessly into the pattern.  The Ella Rae Classic range and Malabrigo Rios would look great in this pattern.

 

Tea Sympathy Tea Cosy 15 Knitted Gift Ideas
You would be surprised the number of requests we get for a tea cosy pattern. This is a simple garter stitch pattern in Studio Donegal Aran worked flat and seamed. This means it can fit any teapot and I know a lot of people have been choosing their colours to match their dishes. The blue and white Denby combination is very popular and topped off with a luscious pom pom, what’s not to love!

 

15 Knitted Gift Ideas Barley Hat
Another worsted weight hat pattern sized from baby to adult. This is perfect for a relaxed weekend knit. I have also knit this pattern in Hedgehog Fibers Sock held double on a 5mm needle as an alternative to using aran weight yarn and ended up with a super soft hat that just begs to be worn.

 

15 Knitted Gift Ideas Probys Armwarmers
One of our favourite patterns from Carol’s wonderful book, Knitting with Rainbows. If you picked up any mini skeins during 2016 then this is the perfect way to showcase them. This pattern would be a great way to use up any 4ply leftovers that you might have from shawls or socks – what a wonderful way to wrap up the year, with a trip down your very own knitting memory lane..

 

Rye Socks 15 Knitted Gift Ideas
Sock patterns usually take a lot of time but these Rye Socks knit up rapidly using worsted weight yarn on 3.75mm needles. The pattern goes from baby to adult large and is adorned with a garter stitch panel from cuff to toe. Perfect for toasty toes in front of the fire at Christmas.

 

Iceling Jacket 15 Knitted Gift Ideas
This two piece aran weight cardigan and hat set is ideal for wrapping those winter baby arrivals in snuggles. This timeless piece has a broad size range from 3 months to 10 years old. This is also a great introduction to a top down raglan knitting with a beautiful i-cord edging. The double row of buttons allows this garment to grow with the child making this a perfect gift knit that might even still fit next winter too.

 

Blackrock Vest 15 Knitted Gift Ideas
This is a beautiful little cable pattern worked in fingering weight yarn for added warmth without excess bulk. The yarn of choice is of course the Dublin Dye merino sock for softness and durability. Firstly, the vest is worked in the round from the bottom up then the stitches are picked up around the arms and neckline to form the collar and arm ribbing.

 

Composite Tunic 15 Knitted Gift Ideas
This is a beautiful DK pattern with lace sleeves and  a gorgeous button side panel. This newborn size is free but you can get the child version called Quaintly which has sizes to 10 years old . This is a perfect pattern for any double knit yarn. How about Rialto DK by Debbie Bliss?

 

15 Knitted Gift Ideas Herriot Hat
Made with 1 skein of Herriot Great on 5mm needles, this is a hat filled with Alpaca-y, Pom-Pom-y Goodness! This has been a firm favourite for teens with a choosy, hard to knit for attitude. The largest size in this hat, has less than 60 rows so this hat is easily achieved in a weekend.

 

Quilted Lattice Cowl 15 Knitted Gift Ideas

A sumptuously soft cowl (our version was worked in the truly exceptional yarn that is Woolfolk Får), featuring an easy repeat of an interesting stitch pattern. This gift knit is guaranteed to be enjoyable to work up, and quite difficult to give away!  Our sample used three skeins of Får but you can customise the length to suit your time frame and budget…

 

15 Knitted Gift Ideas Powder Snow Cosy

What knitted gift list wouldn’t be complete without a hot water bottle cosy. This is a quick and interesting knit in Malabrigo but you can of course choose any cosy aran to snuggle up to. This elegant knit is worked in the round from the bottom up with a charted cable pattern with written instructions provided.

And there you have it folks. Is your favourite gift knit missing from the list? Let us know in the comments!

We’ve got the blues…

… but in the very best way!

Anyone who has stepped foot in our shop (and many of you that have followed us from afar) will know that we’re addicted to knitted shawls, wraps and scarves.  We have so many samples in the shop, and so many pretty hand-dyed yarns to play with – it’s can be hard to keep up with the many wonderful creations that fly off the needles of our talented staff!

Watering the Garden knit from a Burlington Sock Blank by Townhouse Yarns
Watering the Garden

With that in mind we have a mini shawl round-up here on the blog today, with two true-blue creations, both of which play with colour in a different way.

Burlington Blank in "Myst" Gradient
Burlington Blank in “Myst” Gradient

First up is “Watering in the Garden” by Giddy Davies, which was knit using one of Townhouse Yarns’ “Burlington Blanks”, to achieve this beautiful gradient effect. The pattern is available to purchase and download on Ravelry, and the instructions are given in both written and charted form.

Also, if you have never come across a sock blank before, then you might want to know a little more about how they are used.  They may be a little odd to use, at first, but the effect is certainly worth it! These blanks are limited editions, but there are still a few available in the Townhouse Yarns Etsy Shop.

Bryum Shawl in Hedgehog Sock
Bryum Shawl in Hedgehog Sock

 

Our second shawl takes a more traditional route when combining colours – this time using stripes and slipped stitches to produce a beautifully textured scarf.

This sample is the “Bryum Shawl“, again available for purchase on Ravelry, where there are (currently) 518 stunning projects to browse for colour inspiration.  We opted for the Hedgehog Fibres Sock for our version, and it is just a dream to be wrapped up in.

Byrum Shawl Detail
Byrum Shawl Detail

 

 

We don’t currently list Hedgehog Fibres on our website, but we do get regular deliveries… so if you’d like to get some shipped to you just contact us today for the latest picture of what we have in stock.

Don’t forget to follow us over on Instagram for further project inspiration and yarns to drool over!

So what colour are you knitting with right now? Winter blues and icy greys? Or warming reds and rich jewel tones?

Do you have a colour “comfort zone”?