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The menagerie just keeps getting bigger! To the great delight of our child customers (and a lot of the adult ones too), Big Ted has recently arrived in the shop.

His two bear relations have been here for a while – they’re the teaching project for Colette’s toy-making class. So, in fact, is Big Ted. You see, this splendid trio have a message for us all: be adventurous with yarn choice!

All three bears are knitted with exactly the same pattern. The difference between them comes from using different weights of yarn, with needle size chosen to fit. The littlest Ted is made with Debbie Bliss Rialto Lace, and he comes out small enough to put in your pocket. Middle-sized Ted is more portly, made in Debbie Bliss Baby Cashmerino. And our magnificent Big Ted is made from superbulky Debbie Bliss Roma!

The easiest way of sizing a pattern up or down is to change your yarn. Have you seen a baby cardigan that you’d love to make for a toddler, but the pattern doesn’t come in larger sizes? Try a thicker yarn. Matching hats for parent and child are adorable, and two different yarns can get you there without having to change anything else.

You can swatch and do the sums to work it all out in advance if you like, but most of the time it doesn’t matter. Colette knew when she started with Big Ted that he would be Big, and that was good enough! He’s an epic bear, and along with his friends, would love you to come and visit.

It’s a glorious summer’s day in Dublin, so what better than to announce the winner of our Chicane Knit-Along! As you can see, Lisa’s already rocking hers!

Before we do, though, we want to thank Jimenez Joseph, the very clever designer of Chicane, both for the pattern and for her amazing input in the KAL thread on Ravelry (she’s JimiKnits there). Jimi, you made this a very special KAL indeed!

The lucky winner gets two prizes – first of all, a free pattern from JimiKnits, and second, ten balls of gorgeous Juniper Moon Findley DK!

Now..drumroll, please! Congratulations to ludivine77! To claim your prizes, just get in touch with us and with JimiKnits!

Thank you to everyone who took part in the KAL, and here’s to wearing your gorgeous Chicanes all summer long!

In the shop right now, we’ve got beautiful things on display. You see, we’re hosting Tin Can Knits’ trunk show, leading up to Emily Wessel’s classes next weekend. So we thought we’d showcase some of the gorgeousness here.

First up, that’s I heart rainbows above. Made in fingering weight and sized from newborn to four years old, this is simply the dotiest thing we’ve seen in ages!

Right beside it is a child-sized Clayoquot cardigan. It’s a fast knit in DK, and that lovely colourwork yoke works for people of all sizes – literally. It’s sized from newborn to 58 inches, so everyone can have one! (And hidden in the pocket of this one is a sweet little matching hat!)

And then there’s Thistle, a delightful lace stole which is really straightforward to knit. This is lace easy enough for TV knitting and it’s easy to customize the size any way you like.

And we’ve got the most gorgeous Vivid blanket on show as well. Just look at this beauty…

This is why we’re looking forward so much to Emily’s workshops on June 27th – clever design and wonderful knits! You can be part of the fun too – there’s a couple of places left for both the Lush cardigan workshop and the Vivid blanket session.

And if you get the chance, drop by to admire these beautiful Tin Can Knits – and this isn’t even all the show! There’s lots and lots of others too. Tt’s going to be so, so hard to send them back!

Hot off Jacqui’s needles is this beautiful shawl, just in time for summer! Like much of her lacework, this is a pattern by Boo Knits. This one is called Wintersweet, and it’s a triumph of lace and beads.

When a knitter knits pattern after pattern by the same designer, it’s a very good sign. Sure enough, Jacqui really recommends all of Boo Knits’ work – beautiful, clearly written and much, much easier to knit than they look.

As for the yarn, the boat got pushed out a bit here. This Wintersweet is made from Lotus Silky Cashmere, 366 metres of luxury. The blend is 55% silk and 45% cashmere, and its softness has to be felt to be believed.

What a summer accessory this would make! Perfect for a elegant wedding (your own or someone else’s!), and easy to pack for a holiday trip, it would really make Summer 2015 shine. (And at the moment, Summer 2015 needs all the help it can get!)

We love hand-dyed yarns, but there’s no doubt that they can vary a bit, even if you buy them together and check them carefully. Working a larger project with slightly different shades can mean that one half of your shawl doesn’t match the other, or that one sleeve is strikingly unlike the rest of the jumper. What’s more, if your yarn is a semi-solid, the variation can give you pooling, and that’s a prime example up above.

There’s a really easy fix for this. Instead of working all of one skein before changing to the next, alternate the two. After working two rows or rounds with your first skein, drop it and take up the second. Work two rows with that, then drop it and work two with skein one. That’s it. There’s no need to cut the yarn – just carry it loosely up the back of the work. We promise, no-one will ever notice the variation.

In fact, you can use this trick with non-hand-dyes as well. We featured a project a couple of months ago that used it, and we’d bet quite a lot that you didn’t spot it!

This is Little Apple, a modification of our Cute as One Button baby cardigan. By accident, the knitter who made it had three (yes, three!) different dyelots of Rico Essentials Soft Merino Aran in Light Grey lurking in stash, so it was alternate all the way. The yoke and sleeves were worked with the first and second ball, so they match each other.

The third skein wasn’t introduced until the body, alternating first with the remnants of the first, and when that ran out, with the second. If you look closely, you can see that there’s something going on. But it looks intentional, rather than having a crashing contrast halfway down one sleeve.

So those single non-matching balls can play happily together after all, and you can work big projects in delicious hand-dyes and keep the colour consistent all the way.

Oh, and the unhappy hand-dye in the top picture? The top was frogged and the yarn is much, much happier as a completely different project, so that story has a happy ending too!

We’ve found a wonderful pairing – Tin Can Knit’s Vivid blanket and Townhouse Yarns’ “Saoirse” colourway!

Vivid is the teaching pattern for one of Emily Wessel’s workshops on Saturday June 27th. We can’t wait to host Emily – she’s a wonderfully inventive designer and such a good teacher.

Vivid is the most versatile pattern – made in easy bite-sized squares like the ones above, it’s a great baby blanket. And it’s surprisingly easy, especially when Emily’s showing you how. You’ll learn the pinhole cast on method, how to read a lace chart, how to knit in the round using the magic loop method (if you want – you can use double-pointed needles if you prefer), how to block your individual lace squares and finally how to seam your pieces together with an overhand stitch. And best of all, it’ll be enormous fun!

The Vivid workshop is from 2.00pm to 5.00pm in the afternoon. You’ll find the booking page for it at this link. There’s still a few places left, both for Vivid and for Emily’s Lush cardigan workshop in the morning. It’s hard to think of a better way to spend a Saturday!

This is ours, and it’s given us an idea for a give-away! It’s the adorable Chevron Baby Blanket made in lovely Debbie Bliss Mia. The pattern’s a free download on Ravelry, and it’s the easiest knit. It takes just five balls of yarn and it’s one of our customers’ most popular choices for new babies.

There’s a wonderful twenty two colours in the Mia range, and so many possible combinations. Which would you choose? Let us know, and you can win the yarn to make it!

From now until midnight on Sunday May 17th, tell us in the comments section below what colours you’d use in your five-ball blanket, using the colour names from our online shop page. On Monday May 18th we’ll draw a lucky winner at random, so you could be making your custom-coloured blanket in no time at all!

Gentle pastels or vibrant primaries? Funky or subtle? We can’t wait to see!

Our Chicane Summer Knit-A-Long is well underway, and over in our very active Ravelry KAL thread there’s a stream of tempting pictures and reports.

Chicane is made with a lovely lacy stitch pattern, starting straight and then decreasing for the sleeves and body while continuing the lace. We’ve had requests for help on doing the decreases while in pattern, so that’s today’s blog topic: decreasing in a lace pattern.

So here’s our little swatch, with two repeats of the pattern across the row. We’re at the end of the second set of pattern rows, though you can reach the decrease point at any row of the lace. We’ve marked the centre, unmoving stitch of the pattern repeat closest to the edge with a stitch marker, following Jimi’s excellent suggestion in the pattern.

We want to work a decrease on both sides of every right side row. There’s two ways of integrating the decreases with the lace which each look a little different, so we’ll deal with them in turn.

For the first way, let’s go back to the very basics of lace. Lace knitting is made up of yarn overs which make the pretty holes, and decreases which compensate for the additional stitches made by the yarn overs. If you want to make a straight piece of lace, you need each yarn over to be balanced by a decrease. When you add a shaping decrease in there, you need to be sure that it’s in addition to your lace decreases.

It’s always a good idea to make your decreases a stitch or two in from the edge – it gives a smoother result and your seaming will be much neater. So your first ssk decrease happens after the first two stitches of the row, and neither of the stitches involved in the ssk are near any lace yarn overs or decreases, so you make your decrease and then work the lace bit when you come to it later in the row.

In this picture, we’ve made the shaping decrease and worked over to the lace yarn overs and decreases. At this point, nothing has happened near the lace, so there’s nothing interesting here at all.

But a few rows on, we reach this situation:

After the first two edge stitches, we’re due to make the shaping decrease. But now we’re right up against the lace, and the lace decrease would be using the same two stitches. Simply, the shaping decrease is more important, so we make a shaping ssk and ignore the lace decrease.

But remember, lace is yarn overs and decreases balancing each other. So here, where we can’t make the lace decrease, we leave out its yarn over too. Otherwise, we’d be adding a stitch with the yarn over and not taking it away with a decrease. The net result would be an extra stitch from the yarn over that we don’t want.

So that’s the trick to this way of shaping lace. If you can make both the decrease and its yarn over independent of the shaping decrease, then make all of them. But if you can’t, then make only the shaping decrease. Any other lace decreases and yarn overs in the middle of the row get made as usual, until you reach the far side and work the other part of the shaping:

This way of decreasing will give you lace that carries up as far as it can towards the edge of the knitted fabric – here we have our little swatch a bit further on, with the shaping well established.

You can clearly see where the shaping has nibbled progressively into the lace.

The second way of combining lace and shaping gives you larger sections of stocking stitch near your edges. In this method, you declare everything between the edge and the stitch marker that marks the centre of the lace pattern a No Lace Zone, and you just work it in stocking stitch. In other words, until you get to the marker, you ignore any lace instructions in the chart or the written instructions.

This gives you a result like this:

Both of these will give identically shaped pieces of fabric, so which you use really is knitter’s choice. Why not try out both on a small swatch like ours and see which you prefer?

Thank you for asking us to clarify how to do the shaping! And if you can think of any other techniques you’d like us to help with here, please ask!

Lush

What’s that in the background there, behind the tissue paper pompom? It’s the newest edition to our garment display in the shop: Jacqui’s Lush cardigan (boy, she’s a fast knitter)!

Lush is Tin Can Knit’s beautiful design, and it’s the pattern Emily Wessel will be using for her cardigan workshop at the end of June. (There’s still places left for that, and for her baby blanket workshop as well – you’ll find details at our booking page).

Jacqui used Juniper Moon Farm’s gorgeous Findley DK for hers – it’s a beautifully plied silk and merino blend, and it’s delicious to work with. Just look at the stitch definition on the Lush lace….

And the pompom? We can’t stop making them, you see, using this tutorial, and we’re having a tremendous amount of fun doing it! It’s properly spring now, so why not celebrate with some tissue paper frivolity!

With the start date of our Knit-A-Long getting closer, we’re delighted to feature a guest post today from the designer of Chicane. She’s an incredibly talented designer living in Surrey in England – you can find the rest of her designs at this page, and she has a an active and friendly Ravelry group over at Jimi Knits and Other Bits. So with no more ado, it’s over to her!

I’m a graphic designer by trade and being creative was part of my training. Knitting is just an extension of that, I suppose. However, I’ve been knitting since Christmas 2008 – aged 40! A little late in the game you would say, but what I lacked in experience, I made up for in enthusiasm for the craft and a willingness to take risks. I would never have thought that in less than 2 years I would be designing knitting patterns!

I’ve always wanted to design something to wear that didn’t look “high street”. For me, it always had to have something unique about it – plus it had to be wearable so that I wouldn’t get laughed out of town!

Chicane was my first published sweater. My aim was to design a top that had a unique style, was economical with yarn, flattering to the body and can be custom-fit for the intended wearer. I am a visual knitter, meaning that I knit by eye, so in this case there would be very little reliance on numbers. Being made from the top down and flat, Chicane gives the knitter control and this allows them to make decisions on length and fit – and even construction.

Chicane can be modified in lots of ways:
Lace patterning: swap zigzag lace for something from a stitch dictionary (be mindful of the side decreases – some maths required).
No patterning: plain stockinette in a single colour.
Fastenings: instead of braided ties, try buttons. Work button holes into the top ribbing, or crochet some button loops instead.
No fastenings: sew up the ribbing for the sleeves, leaving a large opening for the neck (boatneck).
Colours: use contrast colour for ribbings, or as stripes.

Enjoy! Jx

Jimenez Joseph • www.jimiknits.com

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