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We have winners!

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!

A parade of lace

On Tuesday we mentioned how much delight we get from seeing your finished objects. Well, you can imagine our glee when one of our customers came into the shop with a bag full of these beauties. We thought you’d like to see them too, so we begged her for pictures to show you.

Above, you can see her Life Cycle Baby Blanket. By now it’s been sent off to fulfil its purpose, keeping a tiny person all snug, so we were lucky to get to see it. The knitting is beautiful, and the combination of Malabrigo Sock in Ochre and Laura Nelkin‘s pattern is perfect – what an heirloom to keep generations of babies cozy.

Next to appear was a Clarus Shawl, in Coolree Yarns Merino/Silk fingering (the colour’s Ocean Green). It’s another Laura Nelkin pattern, too.

And finally, we got to admire Catherine’s first lace shawl, Skywalker, and what a début it is.

By now, you won’t be surprised that Laura Nelkin designed this too – that’s some recommendation for her work! This is also made in Coolree Yarns Merino/Silk, in This Is Knit’s exclusive Inkwell colourway.

Catherine, thank you so much for letting us feature your gorgeous lace. It’s a real treat, and we can’t wait to see what you make next!

All grown up!

Here’s a spectacular finished object, knitted by Jaclyn Allen, a good friend of This Is Knit. It’s from Boo Knits’ gorgeous Wintersweet pattern, which comes as no surprise: stunning lace, lots of beading!

This example is made from Juniper Moon Findley laceweight, and the colour is Hyacinth. At a generous 730 metres a ball, there’s more than enough to knit Wintersweet, which takes just 550.

Our very favourite thing is seeing the yarn come back to visit when it’s become your projects. Thank you, Jaclyn!

Our customers have been busy sharing their finished knits with us over in our Ravelry Group. You can browse through the “FO Parades” there and be inspired! If you share pictures of your own finished project too then you’ll in with a chance to win a fabulous prize.

Two for joy

Babies need blankets, and we’re convinced that the best blankets are handmade. We’ve two to show you, both beautiful, both practical and each completely different.

First of all, our wonderful customer Jenny recently made the brightly coloured treasure in the picture above and allowed us to share the project and her picture with you. It’s the Chevron Baby Blanket by Espace Tricot (a free pattern on Ravelry), and she made it in five vibrant colours of Katia Mali. You can see her project page for it over at this link. It’s the most cheerful thing we seen in ages – thank you, Jenny! (You can see more of her photography and read about her crafty life on her blog Crafty Tails.)

Isn’t this lovely? It’s Lisa’s latest finished object, an Undercover blanket from Beata Jezek’s pattern. It’s the softest fabric imaginable, knitted with a doubled strand of Hedgehog Fibres Sock. It starts in the centre and works outward, with the regular increases at the corners giving that pretty diagonal line of eyelets.

These are blankets to build forts out of, and to carry as a trusted friend when exploring the world, and to fall asleep in. Their owners will be very lucky babies.

Fast and fun!

One of the star attractions of the Yarn Tasting was Louisa Harding’s amazing new yarn Luzia, and the gorgeous sample garments she showed us made up in it.

Well, you can imagine how impressed we were when one of our talented customers, Karen, came in just five days later with the lovely cardigan in the picture above. It’s the Cora cropped cardigan from the Luzia pattern collection. She’d cast on the very night of the Yarn Tasting, and it was already finished!

Luzia’s a tremendously fun yarn. It knits up into a fabric that looks like fur and it comes in the most beautiful jewel tones. And on 7mm or 8mm needles, you can see your work grow before your very eyes! This is the very best kind of instant gratification!

And now we’re wondering if you have any other finished objects that grew of the Yarn Tasting. Do tell us in the comments below!

Comfort and joy

We’ve shown you the amazing work of clareblove here before, most notably when we featured Speziale, her wonderful Latvian Garden Baby Blanket last year.

Well, she’s done it again. This time we’re in awe of her Tír Chonaill, which is a combination of several of our favourite things: Clare’s knitting, Studio Donegal’s delicious Soft Merino and Kate Davies’ clever and beautiful design.

Unlike Speziale, this blanket is unlined, and that means that you can see the admirable evenness of the stranding on the reverse of the knitting. This sort of work is less complicated than it looks, because no row uses more than two colours at a time. What’s more, all of the work is knit and there’s no purling involved.

The lack of purling comes from knitting the blanket in the round as a large tube. When it’s done, the tube is cut open vertically and opened out. It’s a process called steeking, and it’s much less complicated than you’d think. A bit of careful preparation and a deep breath, and it’s triumphantly done before you know it.

The exact technique used for Tír Chonaill is Kate Davies’ Steek Sandwich, and it results in the lovely plump borders that you can see in the picture above. (You’ll remember that Kate gave us a workshop on this technique last year.)

If you’re interested in learning to steek, then get in touch with us. Lovely colourwork cardigans and jumpers done completely in the round, with the front and sleeve openings snipped confidently open? It’s huge fun, and once you start it’s very hard to stop, as Clare has happily shown us.

Finishing touches

There’s something rather nice about the very final stages of a project – the last few ends to weave in, the buttons to sew on, a waft of the steam iron, and then it’s done, ready to take its place beside the other finished objects. Years are like that: the planning, the execution, the modification on the fly, and then the accomplishment after.

So before we get started on a fresh and shiny 2013, let’s have a look at what we’ve just finished. You might, as with the best projects, want to sit down with a cup of something while we look back.

The big news early in the year was the launch of the new online shop. This involved a lot of lists and a lot of pictures of yarn and a lot of computer code, and the result was a huge improvement on what it replaced. So we have happy memories of shooting beautiful yarn (that’s definitely Noro in the foreground, and isn’t that Studio Donegal Soft Merino ready for its close up?).

Judging from what you’ve been saying, you like it too (and we still want your feedback if we can make it better for you).

But really soon, it was spring, and our thoughts turned to garments that would be useful right through the summer. The Spring Knit Along kicked off in February, with a choice of two cardigans – it was enormous fun, with new skills learned and new yarn tried out and a wonderful supportive Ravelry thread. The result, in Lisa’s case, was this: a Fan Jacket that’s pretty and vibrant:

So keep an eye out for our next KAL – and spring can’t be far away now.

Over the course of the year we had the privilege of welcoming a lot of illustrious visitors to teach at This Is Knit, some old friends and some new. Carol Feller gave an excellent workshop on seamless garment construction, and one result of that was several of Carol’s pattern centenary cardigan, Ravi.

Kate Davies came back to This Is Knit in April and gave us the world premiere of her Steek Sandwich workshop. There was a lot of trepidation, and then a lot of triumph, as the steeks were cut and the stitches behaved:

We love Kate. We hope she comes back soon.

We were also very proud to host Aoibhe Ní to give a number of her clever Tunisian Lace crochet workshops – it’s been an amazing year for her, and we can’t wait to see what she does next.

Woolly Wormhead came to give a fabulous class on making the perfect hat in August, and goodness, there were so many to be inspired by: an entire table covered with clever, flattering headwear:

In September, we took over the theatre upstairs in the Powerscourt Centre for the annual Yarn Tasting. It was a lovely night, and Ysolda Teague and Carol Feller were our special guests for the evening.

There were exciting garments to try on…

…there were piles and piles of samples to rummage gleefully through…

and there was tempting new yarn to go home with. What more could you want as the evenings drew in?

Carol’s coming back in February to give us some more workshops, this time on short rows and on cables and charts – you’ll find details here.

In fact, that’s something else that was new in 2012: we started using a new booking system, the one that we blogged about back in April. It makes finding out what’s coming up and then seizing your place very convenient. A word of advice, though: events can book out very fast indeed when they’re announced (Woolly Wormhead and Ysolda’s workshops were full in a day or so), so the sooner you hear about them the better. The best way to keep up to date is to follow us on twitter – we’re @Thisisknit, and we announce sales, events and all sorts of things there, so keep an eye on our feed.

Indeed, if you were following us back in October, you’ll have found us live tweeting from the Blog Awards – we’re very happy to have been finalists, and we’d like to say a big thank you to everyone who nominated us, as well as a big Congratulations! to the winners. It was a fabulous night, and thank you to everyone who worked so hard to organise it.

Right in the middle of the year, we had the worldwide spectacle of the Ravellenic Games, with Team This Is Knit marching proudly into the stadium behind a small but appealing alpaca. Impressive feats of skill and daring were on display, new techniques mastered, new patterns deciphered, and in one case, a cardigan finished and then entirely frogged during the Olympic Closing Ceremony (it didn’t fit, and both the knitter and the yarn are much happier with something else). To everyone who took part, or cheered, or provided tea, salutation, and to our tireless Team Captains Jacqui and Nadia, thank you!

We’ve said many times that our favourite thing ever is when the yarn comes back into the shop, all made up into your finished object, so we can admire both it and your skill. This was a particularly good year for us, then.

Back in May, Clare, who’s clareblove on Ravelry, brought in her outrageously lovely steeked Latvian Garden Baby Blanket. Knitted in the round and then cut open before being backed with cotton fabric, this is a knitting tour de force.

It’s still on display in the shop, and not a day goes by without someone exclaiming over it in wonder. It’s all of that and more. Come see it.

Sometimes we get to see beautiful things that aren’t knitted, too. Late in the year, we made two new friends, Catherine and Annabel, who are visiting Dublin from Mauritius. It turns out that although knitting isn’t that big there (one can easily imagine why not!), other crafts certainly are. One day, Catherine brought in some of her ribbon embroidery to show us, and we gasped:

That’s the house where Catherine grew up. Such three-dimensional beauty, with the flowers spilling out of the frame, and every one of those flowers a little yellow ribbon French knot. And there’s more.

This one’s still in the embroidery frame, and it’s a riot of exuberant flowers in all the colours. We were simply charmed by it – thank you, Katherine, for showing us your lovely, inspiring work.

For all-round knitted delight, though, one event stood out this year. In April, Jenny, one of our customers, married Rossa. The wedding was one of the most beautiful and original we’ve ever encountered – a lavender theme, hand-made stationary, a wee knitted bride and groom on the top of the cake, and the loveliest Echo Beach shawl, all alight with Swarowski crystals.

The wedding photographer was Julie Matkin of halfadreamaway.com, and a very good friend of ours. All of these wedding pictures are her work (used with permission, of course), and if you want to see more, then go over there and look through the gallery, or click through to onefabday, which this week featured Jenny and Rossa’s day as one of their highlights of the year.

A lavender theme, you see! There’s more, much more, on the crafting of this delightful and touching wedding on Jenny’s own blog Crafty Tails. Go have a look – you’ll be glad you did. Jenny and Rossa, our very best wishes for a long and happy life together!

Finally, there was yarn! Boxes and boxes of it arriving through the door and leaving in smart paper bags – new brands, new ranges, new colours to show you. This year we added Coolree Yarns to the mix, hand-dyed in County Wexford by the very talented Alex McLeod:

And if you want to see it knitted up, here’s a shawl of Jacqui’s (looking back over these pages, she made a staggering number of shawls this year, including the Cladonia right at the top of this post) – doesn’t the colour work beautifully with the stitch pattern?

Also new this year were Jamieson and Smith Shetland wool in jumperweight and laceweight (we’re avidly awaiting Kate Davies’ new book), lovely soft Aran merino by Rico, MillaMia sportweight in those lovely bright shades and soft and colourful yarns from Katia. So much to crochet and knit, so much to plan….

Well, we’ve come to the end of the year – that’s the last end woven in, the last blocking wire removed. Time to fold up that project and cast on a new one. Knitting? Crochet? Spinning? Earthy cabled Aran or delicate lace (from the Irish Indie Dyers’ Lace Club, perhaps)? Oh, why choose – let’s do all of it!

Happy new year!

Boo!

We get to see a lot of lovely knitted and crocheted objects, but it’s not often that we meet one as charming, clever and downright dotey as this. When we saw it, we begged for the details to share with you, so here goes.

First of all, this is not a giant hat photographed with an average pumpkin. It’s a hat for a baby who hasn’t been born yet, with a very tiny pumpkin. Sara, the very clever knitter who concocted it, went searching through the Ravelry database and, when she didn’t find exactly the right pattern, combined and modified two different ones.

The hat itself is the Kürbis Baby Hat, but made with a shorter and perkier stem. But stems need leaves, so Sara used a bit of the Ivy Leaf Cord for the foliage.

The yarn is Debbie Bliss Baby Cashmerino, which means that the hat’s not only soft and snuggly enough for a brand new baby, but it’s machine washable so it’s easy to care for too.

We’ve said before that pretty much our favourite thing is seeing what the yarn turns into after it goes out the door. This wee treasure is a perfect example of what we mean. Sara, thank you so much for letting us share it.

And Happy Hallowe’en to you all!

Going off road

We’ve talked in the past about how to substitute yarns, concentrating on keeping the qualities as close as possible – DK for DK, Aran for Aran, and so on. But there are, as they say, no knitting police, and very often you can get the most gorgeous results by using a yarn very differently to how it was intended.

For example, that majestic-looking Swallowtail shawl above is knitted in Debbie Bliss Baby Cashmerino. We’re familiar with this for beautiful babies’ and children’s garments, but here it’s used in a vivid colour (and the colour range is stunning) to make the most glorious lace. Knitted on 5.5mm needles and taking just four skeins of yarn, this is the cosiest shawl you can imagine.

Here’s another example of unexpected but amazing lace: this is a Luna Moth shawl (like Swallowtail, this pattern’s a free download). It’s knitted in Lamb’s Pride Worsted, a wool and mohair single-ply yarn which is easy to work and wear. On 6.00mm needles, this knits up like lightning – just the thing to have in the drawer for a possible cold snap or for a last-minute warming gift.

Both of the examples so far have been shawls, where exact size isn’t really a consideration. If your stitches come out a little (or a lot) bigger or smaller than the original in the pattern, that’s ok – knit a bit more for a bigger thing, do fewer repeats for a smaller one. But we’ve recently met a project where fit did matter, but where working the yarn at a much tighter tension than suggested worked superbly well.

That’s a pair of Bella’s Mittens (yes, this one’s free as well), worked in Debbie Bliss Paloma. Paloma is a delicious chained yarn that was introduced last winter and which has proved very popular, with its pattern book full of lovely relaxed garments.

But earlier this year, a student in one of our beginners’ classes made a hat in Paloma on much smaller needles than the 10.00mm recommended on the ball band and the resultant fabric was so delicious that we began to wonder what else you could do by dropping needle size…. This pair of mittens was the result, knitted on 5.5mm needles, and taking three skeins of yarn. The fit is perfect and the fabric is firm and supple, with cables that pop beautifully.

These mittens have left for cold-weather service off the east coast of North America; we feel very confident that they’ll keep their new owner warm as toast.

We’re sure that our readers and customers have lots and lots of projects like this, where going off-road resulted in delightful finished objects. Why not tell us about yours in the comments below? We’d love to hear about them!