The Edinburgh Yarn Festival

The knitting internet has been abuzz with reports from the Edinburgh Yarn Festival these past two weeks. You may well already have read about the amazing atmosphere, the inspiring classes and the wonderful products on offer.  But we just had to add our own voices to the chiming chorus of praise for a truly spectacular event and, of course, to let you all know a little bit about some exciting new things that will be coming to TIK as a result of our research trip!

Jenny overwhelmed by pretty yarn at EYF

While we took lots of photos of the stands and pretty knits, this one of Jenny seems to sum up the weekend the best… Walking in to the marketplace on Friday was literally a jaw dropping experience. It’s difficult to describe in words the impact of so many beautiful yarns in one place, alongside the buzz of the (massive) crowds of knitters and the energy of the many enthusiastic stallholders.

Self Striping Sock Yarn at EYF

We dove right in to the melee and spent a wonderful afternoon immersed in colour, texture and creativity.  Frequently our eyes were caught by a stunning garment or accessory passing by. Many hardy knitters disregarded the rising heat levels among the crowds and continued to proudly display their wares. My own Cameo was packed away after the first hour, but those wonderful knitters have placed “Breathing Space“, “Enchanted Mesa“, “Epistrophy” firmly at the top of my queue. This gorgeous Carpino also made me delighted about my choice of project for our Spring KAL!

Carol Feller at EYF

Speaking of Carpino, Carol Feller was just one of the many familiar faces we spotted. She was at EYF to exhibit her own exclusive yarn line, called “Nua“.  If you haven’t had a chance to check it out yet then pop on in to the shop for a peek when you can!  We also got the chance to catch up with some of our previous guest tutors, including Woolly Wormhead and Justnya Lorkowska. Justnya will be back at TIK this coming July (details very soon) and we’re hoping to nab Woolly for a return trip to Dublin later in the year too.

Lisa wearing Tsumuzikaze at The Fibre Co stand at EYF

So back to the pretties then. If you’ve been following our social media these last few days you will know we have already had a delivery of yarns from The Fibre Co. Their stand was really special, filled with truly stunning yarns, fresh flowers and fabulous samples. Among them was Tsumuzikaze, which I had been eyeing since it’s release and just had to try on. It is wrong to order a whole line of yarn based on a love for one project? If so, I don’t want to be right… 😉

Tilly Flop cards at EYF

Keep an eye out for more fabulous new lines coming to our shelves in the coming months, and not just yarns either. How about these quirky cards from Tilly Flop? Top picks from her range for me were: “Casting on Means You Believe in Tomorrow” and “Congratulations on your new yarn storage facility home”.   These will be in stock very soon, so you’ll be sorted the next time there’s a special occasion for the other knitters in your life.

Spin City Drop Spindles displayed in tea pots at EYF

Beyond the research and the networking, EYF was also a really fun weekend away. Edinburgh is a stunning city, and somewhere I’d very much like to go back and explore further some day.  There was knitting, prosecco, dancing, selfies, silliness and lots and lots of wonderful people under one roof.

Thanks to Jo and Mica for making it all possible, and congratulations to you both on an absolutely stellar event.

Postcard style collage of snap shots from Edinburgh Yarn Festival

EYF Photobooth with Yvonne of Dublin Dye Company, Kersti of Knitmastery and Lisa and Jenny from This is Knit

 

Interview: Kate from A Playful Day and her journey in the online sphere

It’s an exciting time to be part of the independent, creative world. There has been a worldwide resurgence in the appreciation of craft and we’re seeing a growing recognition of the power of collaboration and support within the creative industries. This sense of community and collective momentum was evident in spades at the recent Edinburgh Yarn Festival, where Kate from A Playful Day took a few minutes out to tell us more about her own journey in the online sphere.

Blogging planning in progress. A still life with coffee, iPad, Journal, Yarn and Camera. Image by Kate from A Playful Day.
(c) Kate O’Sullivan, A Playful Day

When and why did you start the “A Playful Day” podcast and blog?

A Playful Day began as a blog in 2010 when I was struggling with my job. I felt suffocated and was ill a lot of the time. I used to commute for hours a day and while I did, I listened to knitting podcasts. At the weekends I devoured blogs and I felt like I wanted to be a part of that world. I began A Playful Day as a reminder to find a playful moment in everyday and it kind of grew from there. People responded to my photography and writing as I documented simple pleasures like curling up with a knitting project or my new favourite soup recipe. The idea of dwelling on life’s little moments is something we all need to remember from time to time I think.

What doors have been opened for you as a result of the “A Playful Day”?

My whole life changed because of A Playful Day! At first, the blog and podcast were something I did alongside a job I desperately wanted to escape from but soon it began to lead me to new spaces. Magazines, designers and yarn companies began to take notice of my writing and the community I was creating. I started freelancing, helping these businesses put their best foot forward online by managing their social media accounts, developing campaign plans or helping with press releases. I didn’t really know what I was doing at first but realised I was developing skills every day that online businesses desperately needed to excel at to stand out. I’m a curious person so I stuck with it to see where it would lead me.

Over the years, the blog and podcast became a place brands wanted to collaborate meaning it began to support my daughter and I financially. APD was a portfolio and I began taking bookings as a photographer, writer and content creator. One day, I travelled to Dorset for an interview and fell head over heels in love with the landscape. When I stumbled across a sweet little thatched cottage, I jumped. Packing my daughter, myself and what possessions I could move in a van, we switched city life for the country. Now I am a regular contributor at Project Calm magazine and am the Brand Marketing Manager for The Fibre Co. All this happened because of a blog that began with a cookie recipe for friends; I am constantly grateful!

Knitting and an iPhone on a distressed wood table. Still life by Kate from A Playful Day.
(c) Kate O’Sullivan, A Playful Day

Have there been any key milestones along the way – when you felt you were taking your online presence to the “next level”? What led to these developments?

Having been doing this online thing for 7 years, I often say that when you start building an online presence, there are milestones in growth. At first, you just share and are amazed people find you. Just putting it out there feels like a big step. Soon you start to realise you might need to find a more strategic way of sharing if you want to grow an audience or community, especially if you’re doing it for business. This is the stage that often leads a lot of people to do more: more tweets, more blog posts, launching a new challenge….. it can get a bit much and burn out isn’t uncommon.

I think for me, the moment I realised I was ‘doing it’ was when I did less, more strategically. I slowed down and looked at what my audience consistently responded to and then I used that to shape what I did. Increasingly, press requests came without any effort on my part- my content was out there and being shared in ways I wasn’t controlling anymore. I looked at my website and thought about what it said to a new visitor. Could people find what they needed? I shared from the heart and I spoke directly to people and then I carefully went about putting myself out there in such an unguarded way. This is a tricky balance and defining my boundaries so I could be myself was a big personal milestone.

Simple coffee and knitting plans by Kate from A Playful Day
(c) Kate O’Sullivan, A Playful Day

2016 was the year everything came together. I was flying to international events, speaking in front of rooms full of creative people and collaborating with some of the most inspiring businesses I know. My work was been shared on so many prestigious platforms that I sometimes have to hide a bit or I get overwhelmed! At the core though, I was a single parent who worked freelance and those things were what I needed for my daughter and I to have the beautiful life we now have here in Dorset. You know you’re doing it right when you’re living your life and your heart sings. If you’re too tired and strung out to enjoy it? It’s time to regroup. I

What can your workshops offer to people who are sharing their creativity online for purely personal reasons?

I’ve called myself a story teller for years. When I write, photograph or shoot a video I start with a simple question, “What is the story here?” For me, chasing a story has led to a complete life change- the possibilities are endless! You can escape into a creative life, or you can heal. You can find yourself or you can explore the idea of a business you didn’t imagine months before. Unleashing that creativity will wrap you in a community that responds to what you are creating. Even if you’re doing it just for fun- how good does owning your identity feel?

A knitter holding an iPad with Ravelry home page on the screen with a cup of tea in the background. Image by Kate from A Playful Day
(c) Kate O’Sullivan, A Playful Day

You have written recently about the importance of slowing down and taking a step back sometimes. How do you think people can approach their online presence more thoughtfully?

The online world gets a lot of stick for being fake, too fast, too critical, too much. I am a strong believer that you can find your place online and use it to nurture your sense of self and your creativity. You can try on an identity that you might not be brave enough to in your everyday life. Women aren’t restricted by childcare or glass ceilings online. Yes, these issues exist but there are so many women forging paths online and they’re doing it as they hold hands with others around them. You can choose the path you want online because the possibilities really are endless. I’ve made friends for life thanks to our worlds colliding online. Without this creative world, I’d be a much less developed person, I’m sure of it.

Would you like to know more? You can catch Kate here at This is Knit over the weekend of the 13th and 14th of May, as she teaches a series of workshops on writing, smart phone photography & social media skills.  Pop on over to those links and book now – this creative community is going great places, and we’re going there together!

Top Tips from the KAL Cast On

We had a fantastic afternoon in the shop on Saturday, when we officially kicked off our Spring KAL with a bunch of lovely knitters and a healthy dose of sugar and caffeine!

Lots of enthusiastic knitters at the This is Knit Spring KAL Cast On Party

For many of us swatching was the order of the day, and there was some cajoling, coaxing and convincing to be done about the merits of the task. My own swatch showed just how crucial an exercise it is – on the recommended 3.5mm needles I was no where close to hitting the 23 st tension required. My own version of Carpino will now be knit on 4mm needles.

Measuring a swatch at the This is Knit Spring KAL Cast On Party

There were a number of other techniques discussed and demonstrated during the afternoon so, for the benefit of those who couldn’t be there, here are some helpful links to tutorials on the topics that were raised.

Swatching

The SSK Decrease.

Short Row Shaping

Blocking (this post is about lace knitting, but the principles are the same: soak, squeeze, shape and leave to dry)

Joining to knit in round, being careful not to twist (an example on DPNs, but equally applicable to circular needles)

Spit splicing (it’s magic – really).

 

Close up of a knitter swatching for their chosen sweater at the This is Knit Spring KAL Cast On Party

By the way, it’s not too late to join in the KAL antics. Anyone who completes their KAL Sweater in TIK Yarn before Saturday 13th of May will be in with the chance to win some of our fabulous prizes.  Thanks again to everyone who came along and we hope to see you at our next meet up on Saturday 1st April, if not before!

Two knitters getting to know each other at the This is Knit Spring KAL Cast On Party

It’s KAL Cast On Day!

Today at 3pm we’ll be hosting the official TIK Spring KAL Cast On Party! We’ve a lovely afternoon of tea, cake and knitting planned. We’re looking forward to welcoming our KAL knitters in to the shop for a few tips and tricks on their chosen pattern and for a bit of a general natter too.

A welcoming image of the exterior of This is Knit on a sunny morning.

If you’re just learning about the KAL today, or if you’ve been following our posts and are still undecided about joining, then rest assured you don’t have to be casting on today.  We’ll be delighted to welcome new members over the course of the Knitalong and everyone who completes their project in TIK yarn before Saturday 13th of May will be in the running for our fabulous prizes.

We posted a fun graphic during the week, showing the relative popularity of the four sweater designs. Here’s the very latest update:

A pie chart showing the relative popularity of the four KAL sweater designs.

As you can see “Ravello” is proving the most popular so far, and we’ve been putting together some lovely colour combinations for this design over the past while.  We thought we’d share a few suggestions today, just in case there are a few of you still seeking inspiration…

Colour Suggestions for the This is Knit Spring KAL 2017 in Clarendon Sock
L-R: Clarendon Sock in Velvet, Toffee Pop and Mustard Seeds

 

Colour Suggestions for the This is Knit Spring KAL 2017 in Malabrigo Sock
L-R: Malabrigo Sock in Alcuacil, Natural and Tiziano Red

 

Colour Suggestions for the This is Knit Spring KAL 2017 in Mechita
L-R: Malabrigo Mechita in Teal Feather, Pearl and Light of Love

 

Colour Suggestions for the This is Knit Spring KAL 2017 in Mechita
L-R: Malabrigo Mechita in Frank Ochre, Water Green and Polar Morn

Can you tell that we got a lovely delivery of Malabrigo Yarns during the week??? Don’t forget that you’ll receive 10% off your KAL yarn, using the code SKAL17 …

So, have we tempted you to join us?

The Townhouse Doodler

We have another gorgeous finished shawl to share with you today – Jenny’s version of Stephen West’s “The Doodler“.  This design has been getting a lot of attention in the shop, and it’s easy to see why. The unique construction and clever use of colour both draw the eye, and the beautiful drape and butter-soft texture of Clarendon Sock create a wrap that you would never want to take off.

The Doodler by Stephen West in Townhouse Yarns Clarendon Sock

Jenny used “Toffee Pop”, “Mustard Seeds” and “Velvet” for her version and the effect is really striking.  There are so many stunning versions on Ravelry for colour inspiration too. We’re particularly in love with bronze, teal and grey  but there’s no limit to the options really!

It’s fair to say that Stephen West is a truly unique knitting pattern designer. He embraces colour and texture wholeheartedly and his designs are created with a true sense of fun and adventure.  He frequently encourages knitters to push their boundaries and to see yarn as something to be played with. And if you love this approach then his latest music video is sure to make you smile!

The Doodler in Townhouse Yarns Clarendon Sock Close Up

If all that pop is a little too much for you though, then we would still encourage you to look at some of Stephen’s designs in a more pared back light. A case in point is Enchanted Mesa – a stash busting sweater design, with short rows and funky eyelets that draw attention to the changes in colour and texture.

Image of the original Enchanted Mesa Design by Stephen West, featuring colourful yarns in an autumnal palette
Enchanted Mesa Image (c) Westknits

Then look again at versions by MelleChou and KatiWoolF, and suddenly we are using words like “refined” and “elegant”, rather than “wild” and “eye-catching”. One approach may suit you more as a knitter, or you might love both. Either way, you can’t argue that Stephen’s designs are clever and versatile and more than worth paying attention to…

Golden Yellow Solid Colour Version of Stephen West's Enchanted Mesa Knitting Pattern
Enchanted Mesa (c) MelleChou (on Ravelry)

Have you knit any of Stephen West’s designs? Check out Stephen’s latest Mystery Knitalong here. (If you’re not too busy with our Spring KAL, that is!)