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Blackrock

Isn’t this a gorgeous little slipover? It’s a brand new pattern called Blackrock from Yvonne McSwiney, who also hand-dyes that glorious Dublin Dye Company yarn, and it’s perfect for any smart little person from six months to six years.

Blackrock is worked in fingering weight and the amount needed starts at just 300 metres for the littlest size. The pattern knits up so easily: worked in the round with no seaming at all, in simple stocking stitch with that lovely cable to keep you interested. You can purchase the pattern from Ravelry, either online or in the shop, and it comes free when you purchase Dublin Dye Company Merino Sock or Swing Sock to make it!

You might have noticed Yvonne’s Stepaside sock pattern making waves on Ravelry a couple of weeks back. We have such enormous talent round these parts, you know – there’s so many excellent Irish designers working at the moment. There’s a Ravelry thread about them in the Irish Knitters forum right here.

Doesn’t the idea of a small person heading off on the first day of school wearing Blackrock just melt your heart? It melts ours!

It’s the August Bank Holiday on Monday, so This Is Knit is closed. But we’ve got a special offer to ease you towards the end of this amazing summer.

Sublime Superfine Alpaca DK is just the type of yarn you would want to snuggle up with of an evening, whether you’re knitting a simple boatneck in soothing stockinette or a stylish cushion cover with nifty cable details. The days are getting that little bit shorter, and the colder nights are not too far away (however hard that is to imagine in this glorious weather) but at least yarns like this are here to make that transition a little easier!

There are six natural shades to choose from and if you buy 7 balls you will receive the accompanying pattern book (worth €10.95!) absolutely free. This offer is valid until the 10th of August 2014 and cannot be redeemed in conjunction with any other offer.

To redeem this offer online simply purchase the yarn in the usual way – we will include the pattern book when packing up your order.

And have a wonderful weekend!

Our favourite night of the year will be happening again on Friday August 29th. Believe it or not, this is the sixth year that we’ve asked you to join us for an evening of yarn sampling, so we’ve decided to shake things up a little. This time, instead of Yarn Tasting, we’re going Yarn Dating!

Gone are the tiny sample balls but they’re being replaced by a fun new format that will ensure you are introduced to all your potential yarn suitors, while enjoying a bit more chat and possibly even a small dose of mayhem!

Refreshments, raffle prizes and excellent special offers will still be part of the night, so click here to reserve a place to join us and find the yarn of your dreams….

Meet Korrigan, a sweet cardigan which Lisa recently made as a gift for a brand new little girl. It ticks so many of our favourite boxes: one skein of luscious handdyed sock yarn? Lisa used Hedgehog Fibres Sock in the exclusive Irish Yarn Club January colourway. Top down for no-fuss seam-free construction? Naturally! A simple cable used to lovely effect? Of course!

We’ve talked about this cable before. Back in February, we showed you Jacqui’s Quadrature for Korrigan, a pattern by the same designer, Solenn Couix-Loarer, which uses exactly that cable, mixed with the simplest garter stitch and stocking stitch. What clever, versatile design work!

To underline the point, Maria recently finished a Quadrature for Korrigan of her own, in Soft Donegal, and it’s huge! The weather’s warm right now, but come cooler days and this wrap will be perfect to snuggle up in.

You might very well suspect that we’re not done with these designs, and you’ll probably be proved right. There’s a matching hat, you see, in sizes from newborn to adult and in three weights of yarn, and we love a cabled hat round these parts!

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!

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