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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!

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!

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!

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!

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!

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!)

Our Chicane Summer Knit-A-Long is well underway, and over in our very active Ravelry KAL thread there’s a stream of tempting pictures and reports.

Chicane is made with a lovely lacy stitch pattern, starting straight and then decreasing for the sleeves and body while continuing the lace. We’ve had requests for help on doing the decreases while in pattern, so that’s today’s blog topic: decreasing in a lace pattern.

So here’s our little swatch, with two repeats of the pattern across the row. We’re at the end of the second set of pattern rows, though you can reach the decrease point at any row of the lace. We’ve marked the centre, unmoving stitch of the pattern repeat closest to the edge with a stitch marker, following Jimi’s excellent suggestion in the pattern.

We want to work a decrease on both sides of every right side row. There’s two ways of integrating the decreases with the lace which each look a little different, so we’ll deal with them in turn.

For the first way, let’s go back to the very basics of lace. Lace knitting is made up of yarn overs which make the pretty holes, and decreases which compensate for the additional stitches made by the yarn overs. If you want to make a straight piece of lace, you need each yarn over to be balanced by a decrease. When you add a shaping decrease in there, you need to be sure that it’s in addition to your lace decreases.

It’s always a good idea to make your decreases a stitch or two in from the edge – it gives a smoother result and your seaming will be much neater. So your first ssk decrease happens after the first two stitches of the row, and neither of the stitches involved in the ssk are near any lace yarn overs or decreases, so you make your decrease and then work the lace bit when you come to it later in the row.

In this picture, we’ve made the shaping decrease and worked over to the lace yarn overs and decreases. At this point, nothing has happened near the lace, so there’s nothing interesting here at all.

But a few rows on, we reach this situation:

After the first two edge stitches, we’re due to make the shaping decrease. But now we’re right up against the lace, and the lace decrease would be using the same two stitches. Simply, the shaping decrease is more important, so we make a shaping ssk and ignore the lace decrease.

But remember, lace is yarn overs and decreases balancing each other. So here, where we can’t make the lace decrease, we leave out its yarn over too. Otherwise, we’d be adding a stitch with the yarn over and not taking it away with a decrease. The net result would be an extra stitch from the yarn over that we don’t want.

So that’s the trick to this way of shaping lace. If you can make both the decrease and its yarn over independent of the shaping decrease, then make all of them. But if you can’t, then make only the shaping decrease. Any other lace decreases and yarn overs in the middle of the row get made as usual, until you reach the far side and work the other part of the shaping:

This way of decreasing will give you lace that carries up as far as it can towards the edge of the knitted fabric – here we have our little swatch a bit further on, with the shaping well established.

You can clearly see where the shaping has nibbled progressively into the lace.

The second way of combining lace and shaping gives you larger sections of stocking stitch near your edges. In this method, you declare everything between the edge and the stitch marker that marks the centre of the lace pattern a No Lace Zone, and you just work it in stocking stitch. In other words, until you get to the marker, you ignore any lace instructions in the chart or the written instructions.

This gives you a result like this:

Both of these will give identically shaped pieces of fabric, so which you use really is knitter’s choice. Why not try out both on a small swatch like ours and see which you prefer?

Thank you for asking us to clarify how to do the shaping! And if you can think of any other techniques you’d like us to help with here, please ask!

It’s Yarn Shop Day on Saturday May 2nd! So we’ll be kicking up our heels with giveaways, competitions, discounts and goodies all day in the shop!

We’ve got so much planned for the day…

  • There’ll be a Goody Bag for each of the first ten people through the door on that Saturday morning (we open at 10.30am)!
  • Everyone who spends over €10 on the day will be entered in a draw for a place at one of Emily Wessel’s upcoming workshops here at This Is Knit (find out more here and here).
  • You can challenge our crochet and knitting experts between 2.00pm and 4.00pm! Bring your knotty knitting problems and your crochet conundrums for *FREE* advice and assistance (on a first come, first served basis). Your project’s return from the naughty step starts here!
  • We’ll be offering discounts on some products and free gifts with others! (Which ones? Ah, you’ll have to wait to find out!)
  • We’ll be offering sweet treats right through the day too!

It’ll be huge fun, so do drop in and see what’s going on, from 10.30am right up to 5.30pm!

Lush

What’s that in the background there, behind the tissue paper pompom? It’s the newest edition to our garment display in the shop: Jacqui’s Lush cardigan (boy, she’s a fast knitter)!

Lush is Tin Can Knit’s beautiful design, and it’s the pattern Emily Wessel will be using for her cardigan workshop at the end of June. (There’s still places left for that, and for her baby blanket workshop as well – you’ll find details at our booking page).

Jacqui used Juniper Moon Farm’s gorgeous Findley DK for hers – it’s a beautifully plied silk and merino blend, and it’s delicious to work with. Just look at the stitch definition on the Lush lace….

And the pompom? We can’t stop making them, you see, using this tutorial, and we’re having a tremendous amount of fun doing it! It’s properly spring now, so why not celebrate with some tissue paper frivolity!

We’re declaring today the first day of summer! It’s Cast On Day for our Summer ’15 Knit-A-Long, and we’ve even got the weather cooperating. So following on from our stitch markers technique post on Tuesday, we’ve got a nifty trick for managing the cast on for Chicane.

The first part of the pattern involves casting on 173 stitches, and then placing markers to divide the row into the lace pattern repeats. So we thought: why not use markers right from the start? It’ll make it easier to make sure there’s the right number of stitches, and then you’re all ready for the lace a few rows down the road.

We’re going to use two different sets of markers to mark different things. First of all, there’ll be two markers to separate out the edge stitches from the lace section, one at each end. We’re using little loops of contrasting coloured yarn for all our markers here, and these two are beige.

There’s two stitches in the edge portion, so we cast on two stitches, then place our first beige marker.

Looking ahead a few rows, the lace will be worked in twelve-stitch sections, and marking each section makes keeping track much easier. So we’ll need a number of markers in another colour, and we’re using purple here. We cast on twelve stitches after the beige marker, and pop on a purple one…

…cast on another twelve stitches, add another purple marker, and so on, right to the end of the cast on.

The last lace repeat has thirteen stitches in it, and right after that comes the second beige edge marker. Cast on the last two stitches, and we’re away to the races!

The very handy thing about casting on with markers like this is that the counting is really easy: twelve-stitch sections between each pair of markers except for that thirteen-stitch stretch at the end, and then all you have to count is the number of sections.

And then we’re off! Why not head on over to the Chicane KAL thread in our Ravelry group for inspiration? It’s going to be a great summer!

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