Musings

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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!

You know how it is: you’re looking round the web, and you find a picture of the perfect lace edging (or garden bench, or veneer effect), and only later realise that you should have noted it down. But you didn’t. Oh dear.

Did you know there’s a place on the web where you can put all those little bits of information? It’s called Pinterest. It’s mostly used for squirrelling images away, but you can also store any sort of information that comes associated with an image.

When you click on an image stored on Pinterest, you’re brought immediately to the website where the image appeared to start with. This means that if you find, say, an ideal crème brûlée recipe with a picture attached, and you pin the picture, clicking on it later will whisk you straight to the recipe. (Just as if you were using a noticeboard on your wall, storing an image is called “pinning”.) And then it’s roll on with the eggs, the cream and the blowtorch.

Pinterest has enormous usefulness for knitting, crochet and crafts in general. You can store references to techniques, patterns, design ideas and so on, and then find them with a mouseclick. You can also browse through what your friends are pinning and get inspired that way. (If you’re curious, here’s what people have pinned from this very site.)

Organising your pins by category makes them easier to browse – here’s a bit of a board devoted to photography…

…but your categories could be anything at all that’s useful to you.

There’s a little bit of code that you can download to make pinning even easier. It’s called a “Pin It” bookmarklet, and it puts a little button on your browser toolbar. When you come across something you’d like to pin, just click on the button and it does the rest for you. You’ll find information about it under the “About” tab at the top of any Pinterest page.

Talamh on Ravelry

And while we’re on the topic of useful buttons, Ravelry has one too. If you click on the Patterns tab and then scroll all the way down the page, you’ll find a link for getting a “Ravel It” bookmarklet. Then, when you see a lovely crocheted or knitted pattern online, just click on the button and as if by magic, you’ll be brought to the Ravelry page for the pattern (if it has one, but then, over two hundred thousand patterns do).

Review Winner

And we’re very happy to announce that we have a winner to our product review draw! Gillian, who’s Poppylillious on Ravelry, won with her review of Blue Sky Alpaca Silk. Congratulations, Gillian – we’ll be in touch about getting your goodie bag to you (it’s got a skein of each of our newest yarn ranges in it – Shetland 2ply, MillaMia Merino Soft, Petra Crochet Cotton and “Powerscourt“, our exclusive shade of Hedgehog Fibres Sock yarn).

Your reviews are useful to everyone that visits the site, and they help us more than you could imagine. You’re helping us build a resource for crocheters and knitters all over the world, so thank you all. We couldn’t do this without you.

PS: Did you see we were shortlisted in the “Best Blog of a Business” category of the Bord Gais Social Media Awards? We’re delighted!

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)

Traditional

For a bit of novelty for the weekend, we thought we’d pass on a family recipe. This porter cake, made with Guinness (or other stout of your choice), turns out moist and not too sweet – rather grown up, in fact. A generous slice and a cup of tea makes most days better.

The fact that it’s called porter cake might mean that it’s a rather old recipe – Guinness Extra Stout was called Extra Superior Porter prior to 1840, though the word has been colloquially used for stout, especially in Dublin, much later than that. It’s a cake that keeps very well, though in practice this is hard to test empirically.

The recipe’s been passed down through a couple of generations (using lined copybooks, letter paper, obsolete word-processors and now WordPress); due to its provenance it’s unapologetically unmetrificated. If you like it, leave us a comment to tell us, and pass it on.

Porter Cake

½ lb butter or margarine
½ lb brown sugar
1 lb flour
3 eggs
½ pint stout
1 teaspoon mixed spice
4 oz glacé cherries, halved
grated rind of 1 lemon
½ lb currants
½ lb sultanas
½ lb seedless raisins
4 oz mixed peel
1 level teaspoon baking soda

Cream fat and sugar, add flour and well-beaten egg alternately till all the egg is added, then add remaining flour and enough stout to make a soft dropping consistency which shakes easily off spoon. Stir in other dry ingredients and lastly add soda dissolved in a teaspoon of milk. Mix well after adding soda. Put in a lined tin and bake in a moderate oven for 2½ hours.

We’d all like to wish you a very happy St Patrick’s Day weekend. The shop will be closed over the weekend, but we’ll be open again at 10.30 on Tuesday March 20th.

A few posts ago, we talked about Valentine’s Day knitting for men. But many of you are looking for romantic knitting or gifts for women too. So we thought we’d showcase a few ideas today.

First of all, this romantic piece is the Poetry cape from Louisa Harding’s Three Graces pattern book, made from luscious Grace Wool and Silk. A lovely thing to receive, whether as the raw materials or a finished article.

If you’re looking for something pretty and practical, then the Whither mitt kit would be an excellent choice – a quick knit in Mirasol Tuhu, the softest blend of llama, merino and angora. And since knitters and crocheters can never have too many project bags, this Pretty Cheep bag will be welcome (while this one has a theme-perfect bluebird, other birds are available):

It’s been colder the last few days (which gives us a chance to wear cosy yarny things), but we’ve got very warm hearts.

The print in the first image above is another lovely exclusive from Article, where you will also find dainty little cupcake cases with hearts on. No, we couldn’t resist them.

Conspicuous frugality is big these days. Up-cycled clothes, soothing casseroles of less popular cuts of meat, holidaying at home – the press is full of these.

Yarn crafts are no exception. We’re all wondering how to maintain our craft with smaller budgets. Well, we can share the secret with you – work finer.

The economics of this is simple: the wholesale yarn industry works by weight. 50g of yarn is going to be a similar price, regardless of whether it’s spun as laceweight or 4-ply or DK or Aran. But the difference in the spinning spells an enormous difference in the amount of enjoyment you get from that 50g – the Aran will be around 80 metres long, the DK around 100 metres, but the laceweight can go as high as 400 metres, which means five times more knitting or crochet for you.

To put this in concrete terms, the lovely piece of lace at the top of this post (the Cold Mountain that’s on display in the shop) used 56g out of a 100g skein of Dublin Dye Company Alpaca Lace. That’s less than twenty euro for three months’ worth of knitting pleasure.

So if you want to make the budget stretch a little further, use finer yarn. But this doesn’t mean that you’re stuck making only shawls. One skein of sockweight yarn will make the All Seasons Cardi, which is also less than twenty euro for most yarn options.

And ten euro will provide all the yarn you need to make a lovely Swallowtail shawl like Jacqui’s, if you choose Rowan Fine Lace:

With fine weights and beautiful projects, you can have luxurious yarn in generous amounts, without breaking the bank.

The Christmas knitting over, the mince pies eaten, we thought we’d take a deep breath and recall some of what we’ve been up to for the last year. There was an awful lot of it!

We had visitors! In a summer and autumn stuffed with special events – one-off visits, workshops, our fifth birthday party, the yarn tasting – we were lucky enough to welcome Laura Chau…

…Debbie Bliss (and our Chicago friend Skippy)…

…Aoibhe Ní…

…Carole Feller (launching Contemporary Irish Knits)…

…Kate Davies, here with Yvonne of the Dublin Dye Company…

…Amy Singer… (this picture demonstrates how lucky we are to have our own resident “yarnographer” and also how unorganised we are when said yarnographer is actually taking part in one of our events… Incredibly, we completely forgot to get a snapshot of Amy in the shop! If you attended this workshop and have one you’d like to share then we’d be eternally grateful.)

Amy Singer

and this was Louisa Harding when she came for our official opening at the end of November:

What an impressive roll-call! We’re so happy they came, and we can’t wait to see them again.

While we’re on the topic of the new shop, what huge excitement the move was:

Even better than all of this was the projects that you made with yarn from This Is Knit. We were delighted at frog blankets…

…and christening shawls…

and contented little polar bears:

…and right at the very end of the year, the most elegant cardigan from the Spring Knit ALong:

In a particularly lovely piece of timing, roseofskye posted her finished Clam this very week. She took that picture to show one of the cleverest things we’ve seen all year: to echo the cabled cuff of the cardigan, she made a beaded bracelet with twisted lines. Isn’t it lovely? It’s a Wendy Turri design called “Over and Under”.

From Nikki’s crocheted wedding dress to a a treeful of decorations, we’ve been delighted and astonished all year with the beauty, ingenuity and fun that you all conjure with bits of yarn.

So we’d like to wish you all a very happy 2012 – we can’t wait to see what happens next!

This is just a quick post to wish you all a wonderful time over the festive season, and a very happy 2012.

It’s been a busy year here (and it’s not over yet, not until 6.00pm this evening!). We’d like to take the chance to say thank you to all of you – without your support and feedback, This Is Knit wouldn’t be possible. So: thanks..

Show the world!

There are many reasons why working in This Is Knit is exciting, but one of the biggest is the sheer creativity of our customers. You come in through the doors every day and show us what you’ve just done: you’ve devised a new pair of booties, or you’ve combined two yarns that no-one’s thought of combining before, or you’ve invented a new way of making lace. We get to see crochet and knitting design fresh and new, all the time. And there’s so much of it!

Of course, this has always happened. In Ireland we have particular reason to be aware of this, because of the overwhelming evidence that the entire Aran knitting tradition was the invention of a few extraordinarily talented knitters within living memory (and if you believe Alice Starmore, the invention of just one knitter). Tradition is being made by all of us all the time, because that’s what happens when we think “I wonder what would happen if…?” and we take up tools and yarn to find out.

We live in a much more fortunate time than the knitters that developed Aran jumpers or the crocheters that had developed Clones lace a century before. Along with other Irish designers like Carol Feller and Kieran Foley, we can access the world through the medium you’re using to read this. The internet can show your clever idea to millions, and there are millions who want to see it.

There’s several ways of spreading the news about your pattern idea: there’s self-publishing as a designer on Ravelry or through your own website or blog, or in an online magazine like Knitty. This is why we’re looking forward impatiently to Amy Singer’s workshop on getting published – the most important things to do and the most important things to avoid, as well as how to make sure our patterns stand out. There’s still a few places left for it, and you can make a booking here.

Knitty, Amy’s own magazine, is a particularly interesting place to publish, because of the range of patterns it covers. There’s classic cardigans in there, like Tempest, and astoundingly popular sock patterns like Monkey, but there’s also lovely things for the home like the Lizard Ridge afghan and sweet characters like Sheldon the turtle.

What all of these patterns have in common is their popularity – as the project tabs on those pages show, they’ve all been made hundreds or thousands of times. What’s more, when they were published, not all their designers thought of themselves as “designers” – see the short bio at the bottom of the Lizard Ridge page (she was, happily, wrong).

So much beautiful, funny and clever innovation comes through our doors. It would be a shame for it not to get out there. And you know, there’s no feeling on earth like seeing someone’s finished object of your design.

Speaking of our doors, this is a good time to mention that the shop won’t be open on Sunday November 13th, during the Knitting and Stitching Show. (Goodness, is it that time already?)

…what, for you?

We’ve been talking about what we remember of the last five years quite a bit recently, and now it’s your turn! We want to hear what your most memorable TIK moment (and there’s a prize!).

So will it be the old shop in Blackrock, seen here hosting a very early Knit Night (see the walls? Later on, you couldn’t see the walls at all for yarn!)?

Did you meet us at the Knitting and Stitching Show?

Perhaps you learned to knit with us at Electric Picnic?

Or maybe you remember the stall we had at the Maritime Festival back in 2008?

So many stand-out moments – so please tell us yours in the comments below. And the prize? The Random Number Generator will pick out a comment from those left by 1.00am on Tuesday July 5th, and its lucky poster will receive a free place for any TIK intermediate class. You can learn a new skill and make new memories with it!

In other words, This Is Knit memories are made of win!

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