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Let’s do some good

On Saturday week, September 27th, we crafters get a chance to make the world a wee bit better. HandmAid, the Dublin craft charity day, is having its fourth annual outing, from 10.30 am to 4.30pm, and everyone’s welcome!

Every year, HandmAid raises funds for a different charity. This year, the money raised goes to the Laura Lynn children’s hospice, which does astounding work for very ill children and their families. You can learn more about what they do at that link – like the rest of the hospice movement, Laura Lynn provides its services free of charge to families.

If you haven’t been to HandmAid before, it’s a day of craft and good will down the granite steps of the Damer Hall on Stephen’s Green (there’s directions at this link):

At the bottom of the stairs, there’s a big room simply full of delight. You can take a class (there’s a huge range of classes from origami to wheel spinning, and you can book online at this link), you can enjoy tea or coffee and bake-sale cake while you can sit and stitch with friends…

…and there’s a huge heaping market stall: there’s terrific yarn and craft supplies at extremely reduced prices (made possible by the generosity of many businesses and individuals), there’s paper patterns and books, there’s finished objects to buy…

And speaking of the market stall, This Is Knit is delighted to be a collection point for donations for it. If you have a contribution to make – those balls of lovely yarn that never found their true calling, the pattern books that would like a new home, the embroidery silks that languish, those finished objects that will help make a difference – drop it in before Monday and we’ll get it to HandmAid.

Most of all, come along on Saturday week. You’ll be making the world a bit better.

All photos in this post are the work of Julie of halfadreamaway.com, © handmAid, and used with permission.

We won!

Back in July, we were very proud to be nominated as the Best Local Independent Yarn Store in the Ireland category of the British Knitting Awards. Let’s Knit and Let’s Get Crafting magazines have collated the results of the voting, and we’re now even prouder to say that we’ve won!

It was you, our wonderful customers, who gave us this award, and we appreciate it more than we can say! You make us what we are.

Last weekend, the winners of the Irish Times Best Shops
for 2014 were announced, voted for by the public and carefully judged by secret shoppers. The list covers the entire country, so we were very proud to learn that two of the winners are our neighbours: Article in the Best Gifts, Design and Interiors section and The Garden for Best Shop Window.

So imagine our delight when we discovered that Article currently stocks the most beautiful knitting- and crochet-themed platters at the moment. The image above shows the knitted version: the striking design is made by pressing a piece of knitted lace onto the surface of the plate before the coloured glaze goes on.

This is the crochet version – again, a delicate lace doily is preserved forever on the surface. They’re made in Italy by Ceramiche Bucci. They’re so characteristic of what Article offers: unique, practical and beautiful design. And what a special occasion gift for a knitter or crocheter!

So if you’re visiting us, schedule a wee detour into Article – you’ll be very glad you did, and you never know what you might find.

And you’ll be only steps away from the most beautiful shop window in Ireland – Mark Grehan’s astoundingly lovely flower shop in the front hall of Powerscourt townhouse….

Our friend Louisa Harding’s done it again! Just in for the new season, we’ve got her gorgeous new Esquel in stock. It’s a delicious blend of merino, silk and llama, and it comes in a fantastic range of elegant jewel colours.

We’ve currently got the Acacia jumper on display in the shop – that’s it in the image up above. Just look at that heart and rope cable: easy to work and so effective.

Louisa's patterns are always stunning too, and the Esquel pattern book is no exception, with Acacia and thirteen other brand new patterns.

And since it’s Aran weight, Esquel is perfect for accessories this winter – fast to work up, colourful and as warm as toast. It’s almost enough to make us wish for cooler weather….

It’s the time of year when taking up a new skill or perfecting an old one comes to mind, so this month we’re concentrating on equipping you with the best possible expertise!

We’ve revampled our schedule a bit this autumn. In addition to our very popular beginners’ courses, we’re offering a Level 2 course both for knitting and for crochet, so if you’ve got the basics already and are wondering where to go next, we’ve got you covered.

Our Level 1 knitting beginners’ course happens, like before, over three weeks, and you’ll learn right from the ground up with our experienced teachers. If you’ve never touched needles in your life, or if you’re reviving skills from years ago, this is where to start. Through two simple projects, you’ll master casting on, working both flat and in the round, simple decreasing, casting off and assembling your work for that expert finish. What’s more, the cost of the yarn and needles for both projects (a pair of handy fingerless mitts and a dotey child-sized hat) is included in the price, and the classes happen right here in the shop in the most relaxed setting you can imagine!

Our new Level 2 knitting course equips you to make garments, and again there’s two projects: a child’s topdown cardigan and the sweetest wee booties. You’ll learn shaping using increases and decreases and making buttonholes and picking up stitches – in fact, everything you need to embark on adult-sized garments! Before starting this course, you’ll need to know how to cast on, knit, purl, cast off, weave in ends and knit in the round using the Magic Loop technique (if you have already completed Knitting Level 1 with us then you’ll have all this covered, though). And after it, the sky will be the limit!

And we’ve got your crochet desires covered too. The Level 1 crochet beginners’ course will cover how to work a foundation chain, double crochet and seaming up crocheted pieces. You’ll also learn simple increases and decreases, and work half-double crochet and treble crochet stitches on a small motif. So if you’ve never crocheted at all, or have the dimmest memories of working with a hook, this is the place to start.

In the Level 2 crochet course, we’ll build on the Level 1 skillset: pattern and chart reading, working in the round, working trebles, changing colours and working square motifs are all covered, and you’ll make a baby hat with a charming flower decoration and a granny square pattern that can become a cushion cover, or the coziest scarf, or even a blanket.

So click on over to our booking page to find out more about all these classes! Knitting and crochet are fun and easy and waiting for you, so come on in!

So in love

Last Friday evening, a lot of lovely people gathered in the loft in the Powerscourt Centre for our Yarn Dating, and it was an awful lot of fun! And oh! the yarn: new offerings from Juniper Moon, Noro, Townhouse Yarns, Debbie Bliss, Dublin Dye Company, Louisa Harding…the list goes on and on!

There were yarn stations set up for our new offerings, each with yarn to test knit or crochet, sample garments to try on, pattern books to look through and shade cards to plan with…

(and love hearts!)

Each group of hopeful knitters and crocheters got five minutes with a possible dream yarn date, before the timer whisked them on to the next alluring prospect. The oohs! and aahs! had to be heard to be believed!

As the dates proceeded, dance cards were filled up for the coming months, helped by handy little memos for keeping track of desirable candidates.

You’re the One that I Want and Eternal Flame were among the chosen tunes to create an undeniably cheesy yet romantic mood, with The Sultans of Ping’s Where’s Me Jumper? sneaking boldly in right at the end of the speed-dating section. And then it was back down to the shop.

(The shop’s had a bit of a spruce-up recently – we’ll tell you more in a later post.) The yarn dating had focussed mainly on completely new stock, so this was a chance to see new shades of old friends as well as to place orders for what had won our hearts earlier.

(That’s a new and exclusive colour of Dublin Dye Company Swing Sock – we can’t wait to tell you about that too!)

Friday night was exactly what makes us happy at This Is Knit: the chance to help our wonderful customers meet yarn that will make you happy for ages to come. It’s what we love. Thank you for coming along!

If a pattern features rib at a cuff or a welt, chances are it’s to give elasticity and snugness. It would be a pity to take away some of that stretchiness when you cast off, so a very common instruction is to “cast off in pattern”.

We get asked a lot at the counter what that phrase means, so here’s the details. It follows on very nicely from our last technique post on working stitches as they appear, too, because it really just combines that trick with a straightforward cast off.

Just as with a standard cast off, you start by working two stitches. The first two stitches in our row are bumps, so they get purled.

Again just as with a standard cast off, you cast off the first stitch by leapfrogging it over the second one, and the picture shows that happening.

At this point, you’ve purled your stitches and then cast them off. Looking at the next stitch, it needs to be knitted in order to keep the rib pattern:

So the next step is to move the yarn to the back of the work between the needles (because you’re going from purl to knit) and knit the next stitch:

Then pass the previous stitch over the one you’ve just knitted:

And that’s it! If a stitch needs to be knitted to keep the rib sequence, then knit it, and if it needs to be purled, purl it, and leapfrog the older stitch over the newer in the usual way as you cast off.

And finally, a couple of pictures to show the effect. The righthand portion of the stitches in our sample was cast off in pattern, and the lefthand section was cast off by knitting only without purling. It’s very easy to see where the change was made – the knitted edge has nothing to do with the rib below it and splays out, but the cast-off-in-pattern section ripples pleasingly with the rib.

It’s when the cast off is stretched (as it will be when you wear the garment) that the difference is really noticeable. The cast-off-in-pattern section stretches as much as the ribbing below it, avoiding that uncomfortable overtight edge.

So the welt of your topdown cardigan can be as supple as the work above it. It’ll wear better too, because the edge isn’t strained. No more top-down hats with forehead-hurting edges, either!

On show!

We’ve got the most gorgeous collection of knits on show in the shop at the moment: Carol Feller’s Trunk Show is on display upstairs!

There’s garments and accessories galore, and we’ve chosen a few favourites to showcase today. First of all, pictured above is the delicious Bakersville, a hooded cardigan designed for Fyberspates Scrumptious 4-ply. The merino/silk yarn makes it a real treat to work and to wear and the elegant styling makes it a garment you’ll reach for over and over again – and it’s even got a practical side with cunning hidden pockets!

Next up is Dacite, the sort of jacket you snuggle into on chilly days and never want to take off. In the simplest and most effective of stitch patterns and with a smart i-cord edging, it’s fast to make in Soft Donegal. Fastened with just two buttons, it’s versatile and understated.

And here’s a real Carol Feller classic: Killorglin, the garment from the cover of Contemporary Irish Knits. Just look at that lovely cabled back (all the body shaping in Killorglin is achieved by the cables)!

What’s more, all three of these gorgeous garments are knitted from the top down, with no seaming! So when you’re done with the knitting, they’re ready to go!

All of these, and lots more, are available for you to inspect and try on right now. Why not drop by and pay them a visit?

And talking of visiting us, there’s still a few places left for our Yarn Dating next week! It’s going to be enormous fun, and you can nab a place at this booking link. We’re getting ever so excited!

As they appear

“Work stitches as they appear” is an instruction that we get asked about at the counter a lot, so here’s a picture tutorial to help.

The key to this (and to much else in knitting) is the fact that knit and purl are just mirror images of each other. When you’re shown a stitch in isolation, you can’t tell whether it was knitted or purled on the previous round or row. This’ll illustrate: take a look at the picture at the top of this post. The first three stitches on the left hand needle have their smooth faces facing us. Now we’ll turn the work around:

This is the back of the same three stitches, and their bumpy sides are facing us. Smooth on one side, bumpy on the other. Were they knitted or purled?

Here’s two more pictures. That first stitch on the left hand needle has its bumpy side facing us…

…but when the work is turned around, there’s the familiar smooth V-shaped face (the needle it’s on is in the right hand of the knitter):

Bumpy one side, smooth on the other – knitted or purled?

When a pattern tells you to “work stitches as they appear”, it’s telling you to put a bump above a bump and a smooth face on top of a smooth face. That’s all: look at the row below and keep the sequence going. In practice, this means if you want a bump facing you, purl the stitch like this:

If you want a smooth face facing you, knit the stitch.

It’s as simple as that. The brilliant thing about this reversability of knitting is that you don’t need to know what you did on the row before. You can just look at the stitch in front of you, and that tells you what to do. It’s called “reading your knitting”, and it makes everything simpler! Don’t you just love the simple things?

We often get asked if there’s a clever way of knowing when you’re halfway through your yarn. It turns out that there’s a couple of ways, so we thought it would be useful to share them with you here.

First of all, when might you need to know such a thing? If you’re making toe-up socks and you know the mid point of your yarn, then you can just work till you approach that point and cast off. Result: matching socks with no leftovers!

Making a stunning scarf like Baktus or any of its lovely crochet variants is simple if you know the midpoint of your skein. The Heart to Heart Beaded Scarf in the picture above (and blogged about here) is another example: start at one side, increase until you’re half way through, then start to decrease. You can’t run out of yarn this way!

There’s two ways of finding out your midpoint. One takes longer than the other, but you don’t need any special equipment. The other just needs a digital scale and takes only as long as winding the yarn.

For the first method, take the two ends of your yarn, hold them together, and starting winding with the yarn held double. When you can’t wind any more, you’ll come to a loop right in the middle. That’s your mid point. Snip right there, and then start winding each end into its own ball (this is best done slowly, possibly in front of some good TV – wind a bit on one ball, wind a bit on the other to avoid tangling). This method has the advantage of finding the exact centre of the length.

The second method needs a digital scale. First of all, wind your yarn into a ball and weigh it. Now take one of the ends and start winding a new ball with it, leaving the first ball on the scales as it gets lighter. Keep an eye on the number as it goes down, and stop when you reach 50% of the original weight. That’s halfway. Snip the yarn there if you want two separate balls, or just tie a slip knot in the yarn and keep winding if you want just one ball.

The second method can easily give you thirds or quarters too. It works equally well whether you’re winding by hand or with a yarn winder

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