Musings

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2014 was quite a year, wasn’t it? As usual, we’ve been looking back at what we got up to at This Is Knit, and it was a bumper year. We’ve got some highlights to share with you, so why not pop the kettle on and join us for a spot of nostalgia.

A very happy event happened early in the year. Keen-eyed blog readers had noticed that a lot of baby items had been appearing in these pages. Of course: we were getting ready to welcome a splendid little chap called Oisín, born to Lisa and Ronan in February.


(Image courtesy of Emmylie Cruz Photography)

He slotted right in to the This Is Knit team, turning up to greet you all at events like the Yarn Dating and at the Knitting and Stitching Show. Welcome once more, Oisín!

And there was knitting – oh, so much knitting! In fact, this year we had two Knit-Alongs. After the success of Color Affection, we chose another striped shawl for the first: Stephen West’s Daybreak. Here’s just a few of the lovely FOs that resulted!

The second Knit-Along was the Hap-Along – following Kate Davies’ lead, we dived straight in to the world of Shetland shawls. So much garter stitch and feather-and-fan – oh my!

We had lots of giveaways and competitions, and had the most fun with our WWKIP Photo Scavenger Hunt. We had workshops, too, from inspiring teachers and designers like Carol Feller, Ysolda Teague and Woolly Wormhead. We’ll be having more this year, of course, so make sure you keep up with our news. Sometimes events book out in an hour or so, but you can find out fast, on Facebook and twitter (we’re @ThisIsKnit) and through our newsletter.

Back in August, our hopelessly romantic side came out when we invited you all to our Yarn Dating! Up in the Powerscourt Theatre, we hosted a night of unabashed glee over the new stock we’d chosen for Fall/Winter 2014.

There were lovehearts and cheesy music to accompany the yarn and patterns, and so many new fibery offerings to choose from.

Indeed, lots of lovely new products appeared on the shelves during the year. Townhouse Yarn, dyed by our very own Jenny, was an immediate success (that’s Chatham Lace in the very first picture above). Woolly Wormhead gave Grafton 4ply a terrific boost when she used it in her annual mystery knit-along (the pattern turned out to be Sophora).

S-Twist Yarns is as local and distinctive as you possibly wish: handspun a couple of miles from This Is Knit from native Irish fleece, it’s a unique product.

Late in the year, after its debut at the Yarn Dating, we piled the shelves with Juniper Moon Findley and Herriot. And there’s so much more too, new offerings from established producers and exciting newcomers! It’s no wonder we had to rearrange all the storage in the shop to fit it all in!

Speaking of shelves full of yarn, we returned to the Knitting and Stitching Show in the RDS in October as the exclusive partner of Malabrigo Yarns. As well as old favourites, we got to show you new goodies like Mecha, chunky, superwash and purest merino.

And in the midst of all this excitement, you gave us an award! Nominated by some of you, and then voted for by more of you, we were named Best Local Independent Yarn Store in the Ireland category of the British Knitting Awards. Thank you so much – lots of things made 2014 for us, and that was one of the best!

Well, here’s to you, 2014! It’s time to cast you off, fold you up and put you away. 2015 is ready to get onto our hooks and needles, and who knows what it’ll turn out to be….

Good done!

Saturday’s HandmAid Craft Day was a terrific experience – up in the Damer Hall on the Green, there was yarn and cake and tea and classes from morning till evening, and at the end of it all a wonderful amount had been raised for the Laura Lynn Hospice.

You can read about the day over on HandmAid’s news blog, and see the enormous list of people who gave their time and their skills to help. The final total isn’t in yet, but it’ll be posted over there. ‘

Yarn people are good people.

Last weekend, the winners of the Irish Times Best Shops
for 2014 were announced, voted for by the public and carefully judged by secret shoppers. The list covers the entire country, so we were very proud to learn that two of the winners are our neighbours: Article in the Best Gifts, Design and Interiors section and The Garden for Best Shop Window.

So imagine our delight when we discovered that Article currently stocks the most beautiful knitting- and crochet-themed platters at the moment. The image above shows the knitted version: the striking design is made by pressing a piece of knitted lace onto the surface of the plate before the coloured glaze goes on.

This is the crochet version – again, a delicate lace doily is preserved forever on the surface. They’re made in Italy by Ceramiche Bucci. They’re so characteristic of what Article offers: unique, practical and beautiful design. And what a special occasion gift for a knitter or crocheter!

So if you’re visiting us, schedule a wee detour into Article – you’ll be very glad you did, and you never know what you might find.

And you’ll be only steps away from the most beautiful shop window in Ireland – Mark Grehan’s astoundingly lovely flower shop in the front hall of Powerscourt townhouse….

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!

It’s hard to believe, but this coming weekend, This Is Knit is eight years old!

So we’ve got a birthday present for you! This Thursday, Friday and Saturday (May 29th, 30th and 31st), if you buy eight balls of yarn, you’ll get a ninth for free!

This offer applies right across all our current stock.* You can get different colours, different yarns, different qualities, and even the discounted stock in our sale basket qualifies. So whether you’re looking for that ninth ball for a summer cardigan or a ninth skein of luxury Hedgehog Fibres sock yarn, it’s on us!

Of course, this offer’s also available for online purchases, so the discount will be given back to you as a refund when you buy through the website.

And thank you, our lovely customers, for the past eight years. You’re the best present ever!

Was it really only eight years ago?

* The lowest-priced ball will attract the discount.

It gives us terrific pleasure to introduce Oisín, the youngest member of the This Is Knit family. He was born nearly eight weeks ago, and he’s the dotiest wee person imaginable. And up above he’s posing in the Owlie sleepsack knitted for him by his Auntie Jen.

That beautiful picture is one of a series taken by Emmylie Cruz, a terrifically talented portrait photographer and a very good friend of This Is Knit. Her facebook page is at Emmylie Cruz Fotographia, and it’s such a treat to visit. Her images of children are particularly lovely, and the pictures of Oisín are amazing!

And here’s another picture, this time of Lisa bringing Oisín on his very first visit to the shop.

So welcome, Oisín, and the very biggest congratulations to Lisa and Ronan, your amazing parents!

Doing some good

With St Patrick’s Day just peeping over the horizon, Age Action Ireland Ireland launched a sweet Knitted Shamrock campaign earlier this week, and we’re delighted to tell you about it.

Here’s how it works: there’s a pretty shamrock pattern to download at this link. A shamrock takes just minutes to make, and we’ve all got oddments of yarn that can be put to good use.

Age Action Ireland is aiming for 20,000 shamrocks, which will be sold at a cost of €2 each from retail outlets throughout the country from March 1st, so every single one is precious. The deadline is February 25th, and you can find the address to send them to at that link as well.

Over the years, our customers have shown staggering generosity and ingenuity in Innocent’s Big Knit, which also benefits Age Action. Seasonal knitting, a fast-as-lightning pattern and a good cause – what could be better?

With the New Year just cast on, it’s a good time to remind ourselves of what 2013 brought us – and didn’t it do well?

Early in the year, we blogged about Veera Välimäki’s Color Affection shawl, and someone suggested a Knit-Along, and from then on, it was one glorious striped shawl after another! There was so much fun to be had in choosing colours and exchanging tips, and while the image above captures the range of gorgeousness well, it’s not even the full tally. The real total is probably more than one hundred, because we lost count around seventy five with, happily, no end in sight! It was our biggest Knit-Along so far, and who knows what will follow it in 2014?

Apart from being wonderfully talented and inspiring designers, what did Ysolda Teague, Aoibhe Ní, Carol Feller, Mary Jane Mucklestone, Gudrun Johnston and Woolly Wormhead have in common this past year? They all led workshops at This Is Knit, and the result was delighted crocheters and knitters with new skills and finished objects. There’s nothing quite like the happy buzz from the teaching area upstairs when there’s a workshop in progress, and it’s something we’re looking forward to hearing more of!

Aoibhe Ní and Carol Feller were guests of ours right here on the blog, too when they wrote guest posts for us. Aoibhe’s was a fascinating insight into how her flourishing design career has developed, and Carol’s was a field report on her visit to TNNA, the US trade fair for yarn stores (and it’s as exciting as you’d imagine).

And in August, a little earlier than previous years, we had the Yarn Tasting. What a night, with both Louisa Harding and Debbie Bliss there to present their new designs and yarn. So many samples to try out, so many garments to try on, so many friends old and new – it’s the best night of the year, and we can’t wait for the next one!

Very very special thanks to Louisa and Debbie! Over the years they’ve become valued friends of This Is Knit’s. We’d like to wish them both a very happy new year, and hope that it brings them back to see us again.

Over the year, we’ve seen so many beautiful finished objects, too. Babies were characteristically well provided for – there was Jenny O’s wonderful colourful blanket, for example (and the same post featured a beautiful blanket of Lisa’s too)…

…and we can’t resist showing you the Candy Floss booties again, because they’re probably the year’s most cooed-over sample in the shop.

There was also a very special This Is Knit wedding this year, so once again, our very best wishes to Nadia and John.

As the year drew to a close, we had the excitement of the Irish Yarn Club 2014, which led us neatly into thoughts of this new year and what it’ll bring yarnwise. There’s no doubt that there will be beautiful things to show you right through the year, and that most of them will be made by you, our talented and inventive customers. Seeing the yarn come back in through our doors, its final destiny all fulfilled, is truly the best part of running a yarn shop.

So from all of us at This Is Knit, may we wish you a very happy New Year! We can’t wait to see what it brings, can you?

Group think

Knitting group, stitch and bitch, craft night – whatever you call it, if you like crochet or knitting or tatting or embroidery and the idea of doing it in good company appeals, this is for you!

There are groups all over the city and the country – indeed, they’re all over the world! From beginner to expert, everyone’s welcome and you’ll soon see proof that everyone messes up sometimes. What’s more, you’ll get to know lovely people that you’d probably not meet otherwise. There’s no better place to find admiration for your finished object or commiseration when your work in progress doesn’t cooperate.

Dublin has a terrific resource in the Dublin Knit Collective – both on that site and in the related Ravelry group, you’ll find details of what’s convenient for you. For the rest of Ireland, the Irish Knitters group is a good place to look, and to ask if you can’t see anything. Then just come along with your project – and something simple’s perfect here, because all the laughter and chat can distract from the complicated stuff.

If you can’t find a group that suits you, then why not start one yourself? All you need is a venue with good light and some people to come along. Cafés and bars are good places, and community centres and public libraries are popular too. It’s a good idea to have a couple of core people who’ll show up every time until the group gets a head of steam. If there’s a sign on the table to announce that you’re a group and that people are welcome to join, you don’t just look like a few friends knitting while you chat.

Then tell the world! If you’re in Dublin, let the Dublin Knit Collective know, and post in Irish Knitters. Notices on noticeboards (especially in your venue) will bring people in too. Setting up a group of your own on Ravelry will mean that you’re findable there – and if you’re going away on holidays or for work, why not search if there’s a local group where you’re going and join them for an evening? They’ll be delighted you found them.

Yarn, skills, new friends – all that’s missing is you!

In other news, we’re over the moon about making the Irish Times shortlist for the Best Shop in Ireland. Thank you so much to all our lovely customers who nominated us! Voting has closed, with over three thousand nominations whittled down to just fifty, and we’re very proud to be in such wonderful company. You can see all the other nominees at that link, and the ten favourites will be announced on September 7th. We’re very excited!

Local

Descending into Glenmalure, Co. Wicklow (JP) / CC BY-SA 2.0

This past weekend, we got very excited about a grey woollen coat. This article in Irish Times Life and Style section tells of how Aisling Clancy, a graduate in textiles from NCAD, set out to make a glorious winter coat from home-grown Irish fibre, keeping the entire process as close to home as possible.

Starting with Wicklow Cheviot wool and alpaca from Kildare, the entire process happened in Ireland, with long-established mills and weavers contributing to the finished project culminating with Aisling’s tailored and elegant design. You can watch a video of the entire project here. It’s a really inspiring insight into the entire supply chain, as well as being beautifully directed and shot.

The renaissance of heritage breeds of sheep has been such a success in recent years, with Shetland (now with EU protected status) and Blue-faced Leicester leading the way. What if Wicklow Cheviot was next?

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