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We’ve talked here before about the fun of diverging a little from the written pattern, and of the loveliness that can result. Well, here’s another example. This is an Ashton Shawlette – a pattern by Irish designer Dee O’Keefe and a free download on Ravelry.

Our version has a little variation, and we love it as much as the beautiful original. It’s made from Fyberspates Scrumptious 4-ply, and to ensure that it took only one skein, the edging was shortened a little by a few rows. But in compensation, beads! Just look at the effect from adding a sprinkling of beads to the lace pattern on the body of the shawl, and from placing lines of them on the points of the edging scallops. The lace simply glitters!

The Ashton Shawlette is an ideal first shawl project, too. Indeed, if you’re intrigued by lace, we’ve got both an introductory and a “next steps” class coming up in the next couple of months – you can find details of both and book your place at this link. You’ll be making beautiful things like this shawl in no time at all!

What a snug little centre that crochet circle has! It’s far tighter than you could ever get by making the familiar few chain and slipstitching to the first of them, and sometimes you want the gap in the middle of your circle or square just to disappear. It’s called a Magic Circle, and here’s how you do it.

As well as beginning squares and circles, it’s also used as the very beginning of some of AoibheNí‘s beautiful Tunisian lace shawls, like Bel and Venus, so it’s a very versatile technique.

So, to start, just wind a loop of yarn around your finger…

…and slip the hook in under the loop, between the yarn and your finger.

Wrap the yarn around the hook, and bring the ensuing loop back towards you out of the loop.

Wrap the yarn around the hook once more, and pull a second loop through the first.

Once you’ve made this stitch, you’re ready to work whatever your pattern tells you for your first round, using the long end of the yarn (the one that goes to the ball). You’ll notice that the original loop that you wound round your finger is still all loose and floppy; this is entirely as intended, and it’s what you work your first round into.

This picture shows the work a little later – we’ve worked a series of double crochet stitches into the loop, which is still all floppy. You can see its single strand just below and to the left of the live stitch.

Now the Magic happens. Take a firm hold of the short end of the yarn in one hand, and hold the live stitch that’s on the hook with the other. And pull…!

Because you made your stitches around the strand of yarn, it’ll pull up through them, turning your loose association of stitches into a firm little circle!

And the result is what you can see in the top picture. Until you finish off the yarn, the circle might try to relax, but just give it a wee tug and it’ll smarten up promptly if needed.

Speaking of AoibheNí’s amazing work, we’re delighted to announce another date for her inspiring Tunisian lace workshop, on Saturday September 21st. This full-day workshop is bound to fill up as fast as ever, so you can book online at this link.

Today’s the first day of summer, so may we wish you a happy, sunny, craft-filled one!

We’ve had this beautiful shawl on display in the shop for a little while, and it’s attracting a huge amount of admiration. It’s AoibheNí’s Bel, the final shawl in her Legendary Shawls series (our Crochet-A-Long pattern, Venus, came from there too). Made with her signature Tunisian lace crochet technique, it’s clever and charming.

The yarn’s Coolree Yarns Alpaca/Silk/Cashmere 4-ply, and the combination of Aoibhe’s crochet design with Alex McLeod’s amazing eye for colour make it something really special indeed. Did we mention that we got a new delivery from Coolree Yarns last week? Oh, it just makes you smile to look at it.

Aoibhe’s Tunisian lace workshop on May 25th has been sold out for a while, but there’s still a couple of places available for the July 6th workshop (but they probably won’t be for long!). Her day-long workshops are fascinating and so much much fun – why not have a go this summer? You’ll find the booking page at this link.

As such a delightful collaboration between two talented Irish craftspeople, of course Bel is attracting admiration. Drop by and see it in person if you can!

Spring

Spring officially started on Friday last, and it’s really beginning to feel like it. There’s light in the sky after five, there’s daffodil leaves poking insistently up from the soil, and we’re starting to think of new season colours and yarns.

So the timing of yesterday’s delivery from Hedgehog Fibres couldn’t have been better timed. It was a big box filled with the most gorgeous yarn in colours that lit up the day.

That’s some of the pure cashmere lace – 400 metres of the softest, lightest fibre imaginable.

And there’s new Hedgehog Fibres sock yarn in stock too – 350 metres of vibrant, smoothly plied knitting or crocheting delight.

And up at the top of this post you’ll see something that we’re very very proud of indeed: the “Powerscourt” colourway in sock yarn. This is a collaboration between Beata Jezek, the very talented dyer behind Hedgehog Fibres, and This Is Knit. It’s exclusive to us, and we think it’s rather special.

Carol Feller’s workshops went down an absolute treat on Saturday, and we can now report an upsurge in both charted cable and short row knitting as a result. People came from all over Ireland to attend and they went away with lots of neat new tips and tricks under their belts!

We’re also very happy to be able to tell you that Aoibhe Ní will be giving a full day workshop in This Is Knit on Saturday April 6th on her marvellous Tunisian Lace techniques. Aoibhe designs stunning crocheted shawls in the some of finest yarns available. Places at the workshop are limited, but you can nab yours at this link.

So onwards into spring! (Pay no attention to the falling snow.)

In short

Knitting can be a little square. Working rows and rows one above the other tends to give you a two-dimensional fabric, and sometimes it would be nice to have a bit of a curve. That’s where short rows come in.

Short rowing is what makes the lovely curve on Carol Feller’s Maenad shawl in the picture above. It means that your knitting can be curved or three dimensional, and it’s a technique that’s useful in so many places.

The reason we’re thinking about short rows is that Carol is coming to give us a workshop on them on February 2nd, and we can’t wait. She’s bringing a brand new mini cardigan pattern for the class, so here’s a chance to learn a cool skill with a new pattern from an internationally renowned designer. As well as Maenad, you can see the magic she works with short rows in Ravi – such clever and interesting shaping.

So where else does short rowing come in useful? In short row heel and toe socks, for one, or when you want to add bust shaping to a jumper, or raise the neckline of a cardigan a touch at the nape of the neck…. Once you start putting them in, you’ll be using them everywhere.

Here’s a couple of examples: the terrifically popular Color Affection shawl uses them to give beautiful swoops of colour and texture – we’ve been making quite a few of these recently (we’ll talk about them in an upcoming post) but here’s a quick preview of Lisa’s. The rows meet each other at unexpected and delightful angles, as you can see:

And where you want to get a smoother fitting cardigan or shrug, reach for the short rows. Lisa did in her Winterberry Shrug, where the lower back curves around the ribcage in the most flattering way:

You’ll find the booking page for Carol’s class at this link. It could be the best thing you do for your knitting this year.

One of the best things about the Autumn/Winter season here at This Is Knit is discovering how well the new yarns work with well-loved existing patterns. So imagine how delighted we were to make this connection: our Glenties möbius cowl and brand-new Mirasol Api. We’ve added a few stitches to the pattern (it’s free with the purchase of the yarn) for even more snuggle, and it’s so soft and cosy. And just look at the colours…

Api is a lovely blend of alpaca and Highland wool, and this cowl takes just two skeins. Cowls make splendid and rather economical gifts, too, if you’re pondering Christmas knitting.

The pattern’s a true möbius, starting at the centre with Cat Bordhi’s clever cast on, and it’s free with the purchase of the yarn. If you’d like to take a class on this method of construction, then we’ve got one coming up at the end of the month, and you can make a booking at this link.

Yarnography

If you’ve ever wondered why the pictures of your lovely finished objects come out too dark, too bright, or weirdly orange, then we can help! Julie and Siobhán, respectively elven and jewelandarlin on Ravelry, are giving a photography workshop on Saturday June 30th.

We’ll start by looking at the “ingredients” that go to make up a successful photograph – lighting, background and composition, then how to use the right settings on your camera to get the best results. We’ll have a hands-on session to put it all into practice, then some questions and answers back in the classroom.

You won’t need fancy equipment – a point-and-shoot camera and a yarny finished object is all that’s required. And you’ll find that what you learn makes all your photography better, not just your project pictures.

Julie’s photoblog is at halfadreamaway.com and Siobhán’s is jewelandarlin.com.

You can book a place for this workshop online at this link, or give us a call – your finished objects will thank you!

We’re happy to report that we had a terrific Sunday. Carol Feller was here to give a workshop called “Moving Beyond the Raglan”, revealing her techniques for working cunning shoulders and yokes in top-down jumpers and cardigans.

The workshop was marvellously hands-on. There was careful measuring…

…and then there was calculation…

…and then it was time to cast on:

And there was excellent knitting craic:

We’re really hoping that the participants will share their finished projects with us in time, but until then, we’re fascinated by the garments that Carol brought along to show us. There was her Azami, from the Twist Collective:

There was Knockmore, from Contemporary Irish Knits.

And there was the wonderful cardigan pictured at the top of this post. It’s Ravi, Carol’s 100th pattern. In celebration, she’s releasing it in stages from the middle of June. It’s such a clever and elegant pattern – several of us are eyeing it avidly, and thinking about using Malabrigo Finito, or Sublime Cashmere Merino Silk or…oh, choices!

On Saturday, AoibheNí gave a stunning Tunisian lace workshop which was an equally big success. We’re planning a special blog feature on her work, so make sure to check back for that.

We’ve got all sorts of special workshops and events planned over the next few months, so keep an eye on our Classes and Events page for details. We’d love to see you.

Classes at This is Knit

Are you passionate about fibre crafts and enthusiastic about sharing your skills with others? Here at This is Knit we’re on the lookout for new teachers and workshop leaders to host classes with us this coming Autumn/Winter.

If you’d like to join us then please contact us with the following details:

Which crafts would you like to teach?

How would you rate your skill level in these crafts?

Do you have teaching experience?

Are you available to teach on evenings and weekends?

Why do you knit / crochet / felt / spin…?

All applications will be reviewed in the next few weeks and we’ll get back in touch with you as soon as possible. Thanks for your interest!

We must have some of the fastest keyboardists on Earth, you know – no sooner was Woolly Wormhead’s Hat Design Workshop announced than it was booked out. It’s on Sunday August 12th, which is some time away, and a lot can happen in four months. So we’re talking a little about it here, and encouraging those of you who weren’t lucky enough to nab a place to put your names on the waiting list (this worked out very well for Kate Davies’ workshop – a few spaces came free and were made available to the entire waiting list on a “fastest finger first” basis!).

Woolly Wormhead is a terrific designer, specialising in hats: traditional, quirky, show-stopping (often all three together), and all cleverly designed and a delight to knit. But rather than tell you all about her in our words, we thought it would be better to read her own. So here’s our interview with her:

TIK: When did you start designing and why?

WW: I started self publishing my designs in 2005 through my old blog, as a way to not only record what I was doing, but also to see if there was any interest in what I was doing. At the time I was a full time Art/Textiles teacher and was struggling with health issues, and found that writing my designs in pattern form helped keep my brain active, as well as provide another creative outlet for me to explore. I’d always made and designed my own clothes, whether sewn or knitted, that’s something I’ve done since I was a child, but writing them down to share, and grading them for different sizes, made everything more real. The response to those first designs provided the encouragement I needed to continue.

TIK: Why do you design hats?

WW: There are many reasons why I like to design Hats!

They are portable, and as we travel a lot and live in a relatively small space, portable is a must. They are perfect for learning and practising new techniques, as they don’t need the same commitment that a larger project does, and they’re relatively quick to make and reknit. I have a short attention span and get bored very quickly knitting larger projects, so Hats make perfect instant satisfaction projects. Let’s not forget circles and spheres; a Hat builds on these shapes and allows for some pretty amazing patterns and structures. Hats are expressive and fun to wear – they can dress up or dress down a mood, the most versatile of accessories. Finally, to me, Hats are little wearable sculptures. My specialism is 3D Textiles, and Hats are as good as it gets when it comes to mixing fashion and sculpture.

I did say there were many reasons, right?

TIK: What’s the most important characteristic for a hat to have?

WW: Good fit is pretty important – one size doesn’t fit all – sure, knitting stretches, but stretch it too much and it distorts. In my mind, it also needs continuity between the brim and the body and the crown – that’s pretty important for a good design.

TIK: What’s your favourite knitting technique?

WW: Hmm… not sure I have a favourite technique! There are several I like to use, such as kitchener, provisional cast-on, short rows. I’m especially loving short rows at the moment! I think any technique that allows me to create a seamless 3-dimensional construction is going to be a winner with me. I don’t like seams or picking up stitches, and would much rather graft something or find another way around the construction that, while it may seem a little challenging at times, will overall produce a neater finish and provide continuity in the design.

TIK: What do you say to people who claim that hats don’t suit them?
WW: There’s a Hat out there for everyone, they just haven’t found the right Hat yet.

You can read more from Woolly Wormhead and browse her designs at her website at this link. We can’t wait till August, when we get to find the right hat, and design it, and make it!

(All images in this post are (c) Woolly Wormhead)

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