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We’re big fans of simple baby garments, the ones that you can make as your first project, and then make over and over again! Here’s one that fits the bill: it’s Debbie Bliss’s Shawl-collared Baby Jacket from her Baby Knits for Beginners, and we love it.

Debbie’s book is terrific. It’s one of the best books for beginners out there, taking you from casting on through garter stitch and stocking stitch to shaping with short rows, all with clear explanation and diagrams and the dotiest collection imaginable of little knits. There’s scarves and hats and blankets and jumpers and the sweetest wee dress.

For our little jacket, we used Rico Soft Merino Aran, soft for baby skin and machine-washable to boot – and it comes in a gorgeous colour range.

The jacket comes in three sizes to fit from six months to two years, and the largest takes just four balls of the yarn, so it’s an economical little garment too.

But best of all, babies and knitted things just go together so well!

Welcome to the next technique post for our summer HAP-Along! This is a trick that works in lots of other places too – picking up stitches is a common task and very straightforward.

The first thing to get out of the way is the terminology: there is, as far as anyone can tell, no difference between “pick up” and “pick up and knit”. Patterns use both expressions to mean exactly the same thing, and So whichever words are used, this procedure is what is meant.

Holding the work in your left hand and the needle in your right, poke the needle through the edge of the work where you want to make the new stitch, knitwise. “Knitwise” means that the needle is going from front to back, and from left to right, exactly like a knit stitch.

Since we’re using the loopy edge that you get from the yarn over increase, our needle is going through one of those loops, but if your edge is different, the path of the needle remains the same: front to back, and left to right.

Wrap the yarn around the tip of the needle…

… and pull the loop back to the front of the work.

Then simply repeat this procedure until you’ve amassed all the stitches you need, gaining new stitches one at a time. If you’re going round a corner, you’ll probably need to pick up a couple extra to mitre around the bend. And here’s our little garter stitch square with stitches picked neatly up from two sides, ready to go round the next corner and head for the other two sides:

It’s a nifty technique, and one that you’ll use for button bands and collars over and over again. Knitting a hap with a garter stitch centre is the easy way to start picking up stitches. If you’re picking up from stocking stitch or another stitch pattern, there’s a wee bit more to consider, but we’ll come back to that in another post.

Things are really hotting up over in the Ravelry HAP-Along thread, and we’ve got a tag for your Ravelry project pages: tagging with TIKHAPALONG will make it much easier to follow each other’s progress! See you over there!

There’s a lot of ways of increasing a stitch when you’re knitting. Different methods have different effects on the fabric you’re producing, and your choice depends on the results you want and on your own personal choice.

This post is about one way of increasing right at the very edge of a row when you’ll be picking up stitches from the edge later on. It’s a traditional Shetland technique and Gudrun Johnston uses it in her Hansel.

It involves making a yarn over right at the very start of the row, and it gives a set of little loops that are very easy to pick up from. What’s more, it gives a very elastic edging, which is what you want in a stretchy squishy hap shawl. You can see the edge it gives in the picture above: the triangle starts at the bottom right and grows with those loops on each edge. What’s more, it’s uninterrupted garter stitch right to the edge, with no increase line a few stitches in.

You work it right at the beginning of a row, before you knit the first stitch. Put the right hand needle behind the working yarn…

…and making sure that you have a strand of yarn crossing the right hand needle, put the tip into the first stitch of the row.

Wrap the yarn around the tip of the right hand needle and work the stitch as usual.

The yarn over will make a loop of yarn around the needle to the right of that first knit stitch. That loop is your increase.

You want your edge to be nicely stretchy but not sloppy, so when you come to the end of the row and it’s time to work the yarn over that started the previous row, work its back leg:

And that’s it – a stretchy edge with a set of loops just begging to be picked up and knit as a border, as you can see in the very first picture. If you’re not going to pick up from it, though, then it’s probably not the best increase, and that loopy border wouldn’t be much fun to seam. It’s certainly not the only way of doing these increases – Jared Flood uses knit-front-and-back in his Tweed baby blanket. It’s fun to work, though, and you could substitue

Very soon, we’ll be blogging here about how to pick up stitches for the shawl border. But we don’t need to worry about that yet – knitting the centre will take a wee while!

Part of the fun of a KAL is finding out new ways of doing things. Our HapKAL means that we’re all hearing about different techniques, because there’s lots of different patterns being used. Over the next couple of weeks we’ll feature picture tutorials for several of the techniques involved, and today’s the first of these.

Hap patterns often have the centre made on the bias, starting with a very tiny number of stitches in one corner, increasing until the full width of the diagonal is reached, and then decreasing back down to the opposite corner. This gives a very elastic and stretchy fabric for snuggling into. And the smallest number you can start with is just one. So that’s what we’re going to show you here: how to cast on only stitch and increase from it.

The picture up above shows where to start: make a slip knot and pop it onto the left hand needle, and take up the other needle in your right hand, just as if you were going to knit.

Put the tip of the right hand needle into the single loop, again just like a knit stitch.

Wrap the yarn around the tip of the right hand needle (again, just like a knit stitch):

Pull a new loop of yarn out of the stitch on the left hand needle (yes, just like when you’re half way through a knit stitch!). But then, don’t let the old stitch drop the left hand needle. You want to keep it on the needle because you’re not finished with it yet.

Move the tip of the right hand needle towards the back of the stitch on the left. You’ll see a little gap between the back leg of that stitch and the needle.

Poke the tip of your right hand needle into that gap…

…and wrap the yarn around the tip of the right hand needle, pulling a new stitch out in the usual way.

And there you are – you’ve made two stitches from a cast on of just one. When you increase by just one stitch at the beginning of every row, you end up with a right-angled triangle, so your increase rate is bang on from the very first row.

The next thing is to work those increases on subsequent rows. There’s more than one way of doing that, and there’s advantages and disadvantages to all of them. You’ll find details of one of them, with yarn overs right at the beginning of the row, in our next blog post.

Of course, if you’ve got a technique question that we can help you with, leave a comment below and we’ll do out best to help!

Jacqui came back from holiday last week, with a stunning new FO to show for the extra knitting time. It’s on display in the shop, and we thought you might like a look.

It’s Gudrun Johnston’s Halligarth, from Wool People 7, and available to download from Ravelry. We’re enormous fans of Gudrun’s – she gave us a fantastic workshop last year, and we’ve knitted many of her patterns (Aestlight and Flukra, just to name two).

Halligarth is knitted entirely in one piece, beginning with a single stitch at the apex of the triangle. This grows into the most beautiful leaf pattern, so it’s named for a woodland on Unst, the largest of the Shetland islands. When the body’s completed, you work the knitted-on border, and finally there’s a garter stitch band along the top edge.

As for the yarn, Jacqui chose Mirasol Sulka Legato, which comes in a range of lovely muted colours. There’s two sizes, and Jacqui knitted the large. It came out deliciously huge – she says that next time, she’ll knit the medium (she’s definitely making another). The large just squeaked into a fourth skein of the yarn, so three would be plenty for the medium.

You can read a Wool People interview with Gudrun Johnston about Halligarth at this link. What’s more, if you’re thinking about joining in our HapKAL, her Hansel is one of the nicest hap patterns around – Lisa’s lovely blue and cream FO can attest to that!

Fancy using your crochet or knitting to help someone tiny and precious? Here’s just the thing: the Neonatal Centre & Special Care Baby Unit at Coombe Womens’ and Infants University Hospital are looking for teeny hats and blankets. Can you help?

One of our loveliest customers, Clare, who’s clareblove on Ravelry, recently started a thread in the Dublin Knit Collective forum over on Ravelry asking for wee hand-crafted contributions. There’s a good bit of discussion over there, but here’s the main points.

The Unit has an ongoing need for very small hats and blankets to keep their little patients warm. They don’t reuse articles from one baby to another because of the risk of cross-infection. They’re specifically asking for 30cm square blankets (that’s 12″ in old money) or a wee bit larger, but the Unit’s patients include larger babies too, so if your blanket is a bit bigger than that it’ll still be most useful.

Hats are needed in a range of sizes too – from the very tiny (13cm/5″ in circumference, 8cm/3″long) right up to a newborn size of 35cm/14″ around and 15cm/6″ long. We’ve all got small amounts of yarn left over from other projects, and this is the best imaginable use for it – the Unit has no preference as long as it’s machine washable (this makes life much easier for hassled parents doing the patients’ laundry at home). Your finished hat or blanket should be washed and each one put in a ziploc bag before donation.

If you’re looking for a hat pattern to follow, then Ravelry has more than you could ever imagine.

You know how swatching advice is always to make a good big square? A good big square sounds like a tiny blanket, doesn’t it? What about making a 30cm swatch the next time you’re making a garment, and once it’s done its tension-measuring work, it can go on to have a useful life as a blanket. And if your pattern needs a swatch in the round? That’s a hat right there!

We’ve got another drop-off option too – if you want to drop your hat or blanket into us here at This Is Knit, we’ll make sure it gets to its rightful destination.

And thank you!

With our Hap KAL underway, there’s a lot of discussion in the shop and in the Ravelry thread about pattern ad yarn choice. Sometimes the best ideas come from looking at other people’s projects, so here’s how to go looking for it!

We’re starting on the Ravelry home page, where you’ll find the patterns link in the green banner along the top of the page. Click on that and you’re brought to the main patterns page, the one that you use for finding a pattern. We’re going to use it for something a little different, though.

The default pattern page gives you the most recent patterns, but we’re interested in something else – we want to look into the thousands of projects that have been uploaded through the years. So we’re clicking on “pattern browser and advanced search”.

When you get there, ignore “patterns” and click on “projects”. This search is going to look at Ravellers’ project pages.

There’s several ways to sort projects: you can look at the most recent ones first, or you can find those with the most helpful notes, or that are rated easiest. How many times a pattern has been favourited is a reliable indication of how gorgeous it is, so let’s look at that, by selecting “most favourites” under “sort. And since we’re looking for Hap KAL inspiration, let’s put “hap” in the search box.

When you click on the search button, this is what you get: sixty pages of gorgeous inspiration, with thousands of projects to enchant you! Click on one, and you’ll find what pattern and what yarn was used, and the project notes can be absolutely invaluable.

Since you’re just searching for the word “hap”, you might get a couple of false positives – for example, there’s (a completely adorable) scarf that comes up because it was made in memory of an Uncle Hap. This is why tagging your own projects carefully is a good thing, because it makes your cherished work easier for other people to find and admire.

Have fun! Browsing favourited projects is one of the best ways of spending time on Ravelry!

On Tuesday, we announced the winner of our Spring Knit-Along (congratulations again, poppylillious!), and gave you a clue about our next KAL. You see, part of the prize was Kate Davies new shawl pattern, A Hap For Harriet.

Our KALs so far have had us all working on the same pattern. This time is a bit different, because we’re focussing on a style rather than a pattern. A hap is a traditional type of Shetland shawl, originally intended for warm everyday wear and worked in relatively substantial yarn.

Haps are traditionally square in shape, with a centre panel in a simple stitch pattern (very often lovely squishy garter stitch). Around the square centre there’s a lacy border, often in feather and fan pattern. Our two samples are like this – Jacqui’s cream version is Jared Flood’s Tweed baby blanket and Lisa’s calm blue and neutral one is Gudrun Johnson’s Hansel. The original Hansel pattern features a third section, a pretty toothed edging, that was omitted in favour of an i-cord cast off in this case (this is one of the techniques that we’ll post a tutorial on during the course of the KAL).

But nowadays there’s many, many variations on the theme – Kate Davies’ A Hap For Harriet is crescent-shaped, for instance, and Veera Välimäki’s ¾ Hap is three quarters of a square. You can use a hap as a wrap yourself, or a baby blanket, or a sofa throw, simply depending on the size you make. And there’s crochet versions too. Endless variation, and every single one gorgeous!

So our Hap KAL works like this: choose a hap pattern (you’ll find dozens of patterns at this Ravelry link) and join in the fun! When you’re purchasing the yarn for it, you’ll get a 10% discount. Just mention the Hap KAL in the shop or on the phone, and if you’re ordering online, use the code HAPKAL.

We’ll have a stickied thread in the This Is Knit Ravelry group for support and for chatting about patterns and yarns, and we’ll be blogging tutorials and regular updates about our progress. Every KAL member that posts a picture of a finished Hap in the Ravelry thread before September 7th will be entered in to a Prize Draw too.

It’s going to be enormous fun, so jump in!

We’re up for an award! Let’s Knit and Let’s Get Crafting magazines are asking their readers to vote on the British Knitting Awards 2014, and a couple of days ago we heard that we’ve been nominated in the Best Local Independent Yarn Store (Ireland) category!

As the only store in the Republic Of Ireland to have been nominated, we’re thrilled! And since all the nominations come from readers of Let’s Knit and Let’s Get Crafting, we’re very grateful to our customers for putting our name forward.

You can read more about the awards at this link (including your chance to win £500 worth of knitting delights from the winning companies). There’s categories like Best Designer, Best Sock Yarn and Best Knitting Blog too, so you can show your appreciation for yarnies right across the board, and make your own suggestions too. Clicking on the Vote For Us! button below will take you straight to the voting site.

Online voting for the Awards opens on 4th July and you’ll also find forms in the August issue of Let’s Knit and Issue 63 of Let’s Get Crafting – Knitting & Crochet magazines. Voting closes on 14th September and the results will be published online and in the November issue of Let’s Knit (it’ll be in the shops at the end of October).

And can we wish all our fellow nominees the very best of luck? It’s an honour to be included in such company!

What a gorgeous set of Daybreak shawls! Our spring Knit-ALong was an awful lot of fun (they’re the ones that were posted in the thread, though we’re sure there’s lots of others that got made too!).

And as promised, we’ve picked a prize winner using the Random Number Generator, and we’re very happy to announce that the lucky knitter is Gill (who’s Poppylillious on Ravelry). Her prize comes in two parts. The first is a skein of lovely Fyberspates Scrumptious Lace

…and the second is a copy of Kate Davies’ pattern, A Hap For Harriet.

We’re delighted that you enjoy our KALs so much. In fact, we’re planning a new one right now, so keep an eye here for an announcement very soon. (And you might be able to discern a clue to what it’ll be in this very post….)

Congratulations, Gill, and also to everyone who worked on those lovely Daybreaks!

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