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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!

Finding inspiration

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!

Morning has broken!

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!

Our World Wide Knit in Public Scavenger Hunt was great fun, and the points have been counted!

First of all, thank you so much to everyone – we couldn’t stop refreshing the thread to see the latest postings, and your pictures were amazing! There were frogs and tigers and famous musicians and ever so many unicycles, and the standard of the photography was stunning!

And would you believe it: one extra knitter in the group photo decided first and second place! So without further ado, and in ascending order…

Third prize goes to JenBear! It was lovely to see knitting so prominently displayed in our oldest university, and we’re delighted to see our neighbours A Rubanesque featured!

Second prize goes to Neavis, who melted our hearts with Bó the Cow and proved that Marty Morrissey is a terrific sport!

And in first place, let’s hear it for PrettyandPink! With help from a very small Erica, a Eurovision winner and ten fantastic weekly knitters, she’s a worthy winner!

Congratulations to you all for making this a wonderful competition! You know when people say “you all deserve to win”? Well, we really mean it! We’ve been so impressed at all the entries that we’ve decided to give a prize to all the entrants! So here’s to you, Cathliin, eistear, LouiseSaoirse and snailishk! Get in touch with us – we have some delicious Studio Donegal Soft prizes for you!

Thank you all again, and let’s keep spreading the Knit in Public word!

Next up in our continuing series of staff posts, Maria tells us about a gorgeous jumper, the power of persuasion and the joy of knitting garments that fit!

When it comes to knitting, I have a tendency to go for shawl patterns involving a single skein of sock yarn and a very loose interpretation of gauge. This approach has generally yielded more pretty neck pieces than I can reasonably expect to get around to wearing. But hey, they’re fun to knit, and that’s the point! Right?

Okay, confession time… years ago, after a few disastrous attempts to construct a garment that actually fit (tension square? what tension square?), I gave up. I decided handknit sweaters were not in my repertoire. I became a knitter of shawls, (and the occasional pair of socks), and that was that. However, it turns out you’re never too old to be susceptible to peer pressure, and when Jen and I came across this pretty little pattern, we decided that we would do it. Both of us. At the same time. So I couldn’t chicken out!

The pattern is called Snowflake, from TinCanKnits, and it’s just lovely. Jen used a beautiful combination of Louisa Harding Orielle and Malabrigo Arroyo (she has a thing for the hand-dyes!), and I plumped for Debbie Bliss Baby Cashmerino (because I already owned some. Okay, a lot. And I wanted an excuse to buy some of the purple. Cuz it’s pretty).

A top-down knit, try on as you go, pretty lace yoke for a bit of interest and detail. Using a finer yarn on slightly larger needles, it knit up surprisingly quickly! (Even more quickly when you’ve Jen in your ear constantly nagging. I mean encouraging. Yeah. Encouraging).

The end result? A finished garment. And it fits me! I am ridiculously happy with this FO! It turns out I know how to knit stuff that fits, who knew?

Of course, given the temperatures at the moment, it’ll probably be a while before either of us get to wear our sweaters in the shop! But we’re okay with the sunshine… we’re just a little better prepared for the autumn now, too.

And sure if we start to feel chilly, I think there might be a shawl or two hanging around that we could use…

The glorious weather that’s arrived in Ireland for World Wide Knit in Public Week has us in joyful mood, so we’re having an impromptu Prize Draw!

If you spend €20 in the shop or online today, Friday or Saturday (that’s the 19th to the 21st of June), you’ll be automatically entered into a draw for a whole ten-ball pack of lovely Debbie Bliss Mia and the gorgeous Mia pattern book. With twelve classic patterns for the whole family, including this smart child’s jumper, what more could you want for a quick summer knit?

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