Vicuña

What is Vicuña? Perhaps you’re familiar with the word, or maybe you’ve only heard it in whispers at your local yarn shop, and have just been too afraid to ask. The best way to summarise it? Vicuña is, what we would call in the fibre community, our unicorn. Vicuña is synonymous with Royalty, luxury, and the highest level of exclusivity, and we feel humbled to have it in our shop.

Vicuna

So, why is Vicuña the pinnacle of all wool? Let’s begin with it’s origin: The Vicuña is a llama/alpaca like “camelid” that is native to the Andes. Their wool is extremely fine and unbelievably soft (micron count of just 12, compared to Cashmere which is 14-16, and Merino which is 18-24), they are only shorn once every three years to produce a mere half kilogram of wool, and are caught from an expansive nature reserve where they roam free. Considered sacred to the Incas, they were once endangered due to poaching; now, after the admirable efforts of the Peruvian and Argentinian people, they are a protected species.

Vicuna

The fibre is so rare and admired, it was once prohibited by law to wear a Vicuña garment, unless you were of course Royalty. This spun gold has been called the “Fibre of the Gods,” and was exclusively worn by the Incan emperor. Thankfully it is now available to us mere mortals! The wool is produced humanely, and via a completely traceable process which ensures the protection of the sacred Vicuña.

This limited edition, Vicuna Presentation Box includes: two balls of 100% Pure Peruvian Vicuña, 125 yards/25 grams each, in it’s natural, golden brown shade, a stunning lace shawl pattern, a set of size 4.5mm circular bamboo knitting needles, an accompanying booklet telling the Vicuña story, and a certificate of authenticity. This is one of only 10 sets to be released in Europe; talk about a rare gem! Maybe it’s time to treat yourself?

The Advent of Something Very Special…

Advent Calendar

This box of pure fun and delight has taken pride of place on the shop floor recently… It’s a preview of a very special product that we are currently accepting pre-orders for: the Opal Advent Calendar 2015!

As you would expect, this box has 24 tantalising little windows and each side is adorned with a fun Christmas cartoon. Behind each window lies a special mini 15g ball of Opal Sock yarn and each one has its own festive ball band too!

24 fun days of knitting and the ideal early Christmas gift (to yourself, or a special knitter in your life)!

The Calendar retails for €74.95 and if you would like to pre-order please contact us before the 16th of October .

Solo & Strife

Solo

Around this time every year a touch of strife visits This is Knit. It comes in the form of oodles of delicious new-season yarns, in all their glorious colours and textures. The reason for the trouble? There’s usually a scuffle among staff over who gets to knit with what yarn for our shop samples!

This time around I pulled rank and nabbed a truly spectacular teal shade of Silk Garden Solo. Once it was mine all mine I had to tackle the next question… just what to make?

This is where our trusty friends over Ravelry come in to play. A quick search for aran and worsted weight garments yielded inspiration by the bucket-load! I was particularly taken by Nanook (having seen a recent version “in the flesh”) and these beautiful projects just pushed me over the edge…

Nanook1

Cln’s Nanook in Malabrigo Rios

Nanook2

Metalandcloth’s version shows the versatility of the pattern – Nanook works just as well as a maternity cardigan (and will still look good long after baby is born).

My own version is very much a WIP right now but stay tuned for progress pics on our Instagram account, and hopefully the “big reveal” on this blog in the not too distant future…

What would you knit from Silk Garden Solo? Have you ever knit Nanook or any of Heidi Kirrmaier’s other patterns?

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This post by Lisa is the first part of a staff series all about our Autumn/Winter projects. Stay tuned for updates from Jacqui, Jenny and all the rest of the crew!

I want that wrap!

This gorgeous knit was one of the stars of Yarn Dating 2015, and no wonder: it’s a combination of a simple, elegant pattern, a little buttony magic and a lovely new yarn.

The pattern is I Want That Wrap, and it’s a joy to knit. It’s a very wide simple rib, so it’s a terrific beginner’s pattern. And it’s TV knitting at its best – no chart to follow or shaping to work, and the result is cozy and smart. Even better, the pattern is a free download on Ravelry!

The yarn is a new offering from Studio Donegal, called Donegal Wool Spinning Company, and this project used 2.5 skeins (knit on 6mm needles). It’s a lighter version of Donegal Aran Tweed, with a new plied construction and a lovely range of colours. It’ll work for any aranweight pattern, and we think it’s going to be a firm favorite.

And the final touch to this project is an orderly row of buttons, and they really make it, don’t they? In short, we all want this wrap!

Zing!

With our Yarn Dating event happening at the end of the week, we’re getting all excited about new stock. Some of it is embargoed till Friday night, but there’s a few things we can share, and here’s one: Zing needles!

Zing is the newest offering from KnitPro, and they’re just beautiful. They come in rich jewel colours, one colour to each size, and they’re made from aluminium for lightness. The silver-coloured tips look terribly smart, and encourage neat stitches by reminding you to knit near the tips too!

There are Zing DPNs in sizes up to 4.00mm and Zing straights too, in pairs and in a gorgeous presentation set.

And we have Zing circulars, which are fixed rather than interchangeable right through the range, in the same beautiful colours. They’re smooth and light to work with, with lovely flexible cables.

Yarn Dating 2015 sold out fast, but it’s always possible that we’ll have a cancellation or two, so if you’re on the waiting list, watch your email like a hawk! If a space opens up, then it’s fastest finger first to book it! It’s going to be such fun, and we’re looking forward to it like anything!

Winning colours

Well, we wound up the Random Number Generator and asked it to choose the winner of our S Twist Single Ply competition, and it chose…

…Mairin! Your rainbow-striped blanket sounds beautiful! And we want pictures!

Mind you, there were so many other wonderful ideas in the entries. Catherine’s Snakes and Ladders picnic blanket made us bounce with excitement, especially now that it’s properly picnic season! And we loved Helen Mc’s suggestion of a huge Vivid blanket, which tied right in with Emily Wessel’s terrific workshop last weekend.

There’s so much great inspiration over there – we really do have the cleverest and most imaginative readers! Thank you so much to everyone who entered, and congratulations again to Mairin!

Now in colour!

Aren’t these gorgeous? They’re the new colourways in S Twist Single Ply, and we asked their clever producer Diarmuid Commins to introduce them. So with news of an anniversary and a chance to win all the colours, it’s over to him!

I got a call last week from a farmer wanting to know when I would go to pick up this year’s wool. I couldn’t believe that shearing time had come around already. Following on that was the realisation that S Twist Wool is now a year old!

What a year it has been. At the start I was able to offer one yarn type. Over the year, that range has grown to three different yarn weights in different dyed options. It’s no exaggeration to say that this would not have been possible without This Is Knit.

Because of this, I’m delighted to team up with This Is Knit to celebrate my first year and to launch my latest line of yarns. These are the first of my repeatable colourways: six colours specially blended to complement the underlying gray yarn.

So to celebrate, here’s a chance to win a full set of six 100g skeins – one of every new colour! – simply tell us in the comments below how you’d use the prize. Several projects? One many-coloured one? Something for yourself? The closing date is midnight on Friday 26th June, so you’ve got two weeks to plan!

From sheep to sock

In the last couple of weeks, we’ve had a completely new 100% Irish offering in the shop: S Twist’s gorgeous new Hiking Sock Yarn in lovely colours. When Diarmuid Commins introduced his handspun yarn in undyed colourways last May, he wrote a guest post about it for us. We’re very happy that he’s done the same for his new range!

The wool comes from Castlecomer, Kilkenny and is from Cheviot sheep, a breed with a centuries-long history. They’re a reliable producer of dense, firm wool that is durable without being harsh, with a long staple length and lovely bouncy crimp.


(Cheviot ewe and lamb © Donald Macleod and licensed for reuse under this Creative Commons BY licence.)

In other words, it’s perfect sock wool. I add 10% nylon for extra strength, and then the wool is blended and spun for S Twist Wool. Each skein is then dyed individually. After the skeins have dried, I go through them to see which are finished as they are and which need to go back for another dyeing. Each round of dyeing adds another layer of complexity and depth to the colours of the skein. This, of course, is the part which is the most fun. It also means that every single skein is unique!

One of the main things that I love about this line of yarn is that it is like the knitter and I are doing it together. As I am dyeing up the different families of colour, I have an image in my mind of how the different skeins would work together and I use the techniques and tools of a dyer to make my image happen. As at least two skeins are needed to make a pair of socks, the knitter goes through a similar process while choosing which skeins to get. They then use the techniques and tools of the knitter to make their vision happen. At the end of it, the knitter and I have worked together to create something truly unique and special. I find that idea very exciting and a lot of fun.

I’d love to see pictures of your finished Hiking Sock Yarn projects – you can email them to thespinner@stwistwool.com, or post them in the S Twist group over on Ravelry!

Great stuff

Theere’s something about that weather outside that’s calling for quick knits in comforting fibres. We’ve got just the yarn, and it’s called Herriot Great! It’s from Juniper Moon Farm and it’s 120 metres of the cosiest, softest baby alpaca you can imagine.

The sample hat we have on show at the moment is called, simply, the Herriot Hat, and it takes just a single skein. As you can see, it’s a fast knit with a clever smocked brim, and the pattern is free on Ravelry. It’s a quick weekend project, and the result is so warm and smart. And just look at the colour range!

Yes, that’s another fun fur pompom. It’s great, too!

A brighter January

As we write, it’s proper January weather out there: high wind, grey skies and rain. But we’ve got the antidote to all of that grimness. We’ve got bright pink silk lace, the combination of very special new yarn and a lovely pattern!

This is Heaven Scent, a stunning crescent shawl by Boo Knits. It’s got a simple stocking stitch basis before the stunning lace border. And as with all of her patterns, it’s extremely clearly written. If you’re looking for something that’s straightforward to knit and very impressive indeed, this is it.

The beading is optional, but Jacqui couldn’t resist (she used about 220 beads). Isn’t the result spectacular?

And the yarn? The yarn is Townhouse Yarns newest offering, Pembroke Silk! It’s simply beautiful to touch, to knit with and to wear, and it comes in the brightest lustrous colours!

It’s fingering weight, and a skein is a generous 400 metres long. Townhouse Yarns is our inhouse hand-dyed offering, so we’re very happy to introduce you to Pembroke.

See? The day seems brighter already!