Top Tips from the KAL Cast On

We had a fantastic afternoon in the shop on Saturday, when we officially kicked off our Spring KAL with a bunch of lovely knitters and a healthy dose of sugar and caffeine!

Lots of enthusiastic knitters at the This is Knit Spring KAL Cast On Party

For many of us swatching was the order of the day, and there was some cajoling, coaxing and convincing to be done about the merits of the task. My own swatch showed just how crucial an exercise it is – on the recommended 3.5mm needles I was no where close to hitting the 23 st tension required. My own version of Carpino will now be knit on 4mm needles.

Measuring a swatch at the This is Knit Spring KAL Cast On Party

There were a number of other techniques discussed and demonstrated during the afternoon so, for the benefit of those who couldn’t be there, here are some helpful links to tutorials on the topics that were raised.

Swatching

The SSK Decrease.

Short Row Shaping

Blocking (this post is about lace knitting, but the principles are the same: soak, squeeze, shape and leave to dry)

Joining to knit in round, being careful not to twist (an example on DPNs, but equally applicable to circular needles)

Spit splicing (it’s magic – really).

 

Close up of a knitter swatching for their chosen sweater at the This is Knit Spring KAL Cast On Party

By the way, it’s not too late to join in the KAL antics. Anyone who completes their KAL Sweater in TIK Yarn before Saturday 13th of May will be in with the chance to win some of our fabulous prizes.  Thanks again to everyone who came along and we hope to see you at our next meet up on Saturday 1st April, if not before!

Two knitters getting to know each other at the This is Knit Spring KAL Cast On Party

It’s KAL Cast On Day!

Today at 3pm we’ll be hosting the official TIK Spring KAL Cast On Party! We’ve a lovely afternoon of tea, cake and knitting planned. We’re looking forward to welcoming our KAL knitters in to the shop for a few tips and tricks on their chosen pattern and for a bit of a general natter too.

A welcoming image of the exterior of This is Knit on a sunny morning.

If you’re just learning about the KAL today, or if you’ve been following our posts and are still undecided about joining, then rest assured you don’t have to be casting on today.  We’ll be delighted to welcome new members over the course of the Knitalong and everyone who completes their project in TIK yarn before Saturday 13th of May will be in the running for our fabulous prizes.

We posted a fun graphic during the week, showing the relative popularity of the four sweater designs. Here’s the very latest update:

A pie chart showing the relative popularity of the four KAL sweater designs.

As you can see “Ravello” is proving the most popular so far, and we’ve been putting together some lovely colour combinations for this design over the past while.  We thought we’d share a few suggestions today, just in case there are a few of you still seeking inspiration…

Colour Suggestions for the This is Knit Spring KAL 2017 in Clarendon Sock
L-R: Clarendon Sock in Velvet, Toffee Pop and Mustard Seeds

 

Colour Suggestions for the This is Knit Spring KAL 2017 in Malabrigo Sock
L-R: Malabrigo Sock in Alcuacil, Natural and Tiziano Red

 

Colour Suggestions for the This is Knit Spring KAL 2017 in Mechita
L-R: Malabrigo Mechita in Teal Feather, Pearl and Light of Love

 

Colour Suggestions for the This is Knit Spring KAL 2017 in Mechita
L-R: Malabrigo Mechita in Frank Ochre, Water Green and Polar Morn

Can you tell that we got a lovely delivery of Malabrigo Yarns during the week??? Don’t forget that you’ll receive 10% off your KAL yarn, using the code SKAL17 …

So, have we tempted you to join us?

The Townhouse Doodler

We have another gorgeous finished shawl to share with you today – Jenny’s version of Stephen West’s “The Doodler“.  This design has been getting a lot of attention in the shop, and it’s easy to see why. The unique construction and clever use of colour both draw the eye, and the beautiful drape and butter-soft texture of Clarendon Sock create a wrap that you would never want to take off.

The Doodler by Stephen West in Townhouse Yarns Clarendon Sock

Jenny used “Toffee Pop”, “Mustard Seeds” and “Velvet” for her version and the effect is really striking.  There are so many stunning versions on Ravelry for colour inspiration too. We’re particularly in love with bronze, teal and grey  but there’s no limit to the options really!

It’s fair to say that Stephen West is a truly unique knitting pattern designer. He embraces colour and texture wholeheartedly and his designs are created with a true sense of fun and adventure.  He frequently encourages knitters to push their boundaries and to see yarn as something to be played with. And if you love this approach then his latest music video is sure to make you smile!

The Doodler in Townhouse Yarns Clarendon Sock Close Up

If all that pop is a little too much for you though, then we would still encourage you to look at some of Stephen’s designs in a more pared back light. A case in point is Enchanted Mesa – a stash busting sweater design, with short rows and funky eyelets that draw attention to the changes in colour and texture.

Image of the original Enchanted Mesa Design by Stephen West, featuring colourful yarns in an autumnal palette
Enchanted Mesa Image (c) Westknits

Then look again at versions by MelleChou and KatiWoolF, and suddenly we are using words like “refined” and “elegant”, rather than “wild” and “eye-catching”. One approach may suit you more as a knitter, or you might love both. Either way, you can’t argue that Stephen’s designs are clever and versatile and more than worth paying attention to…

Golden Yellow Solid Colour Version of Stephen West's Enchanted Mesa Knitting Pattern
Enchanted Mesa (c) MelleChou (on Ravelry)

Have you knit any of Stephen West’s designs? Check out Stephen’s latest Mystery Knitalong here. (If you’re not too busy with our Spring KAL, that is!)

Swatching for our Spring KAL

While the official cast on date for our Spring Knit-a-long is this coming Saturday the 4th of March, we know there will be some very diligent knitters out there, swatching away in their chose yarns in preparation.  Others among you might be reluctant, or even uncomfortable, with the concept of swatching. How do you know how big a swatch should be? Or be sure that you are measuring it correctly?

Well, luckily, we have two very informative blog posts from our archives to share with you today. One covers swatching for flat knitting and the other discusses swatches for knitting in the round.

All of our KAL projects are knit on circular needles and so, ideally, your tension should be measured over a piece of fabric that has been knit in the round. You should still have a read over both tutorials though, as there are some basics covered in the first article and they are referred back to in the second post.

A selection of Hedgehog Fibres Sock Yarn. One of the yarns suitable to be used in the This is Knit Spring Knitalong 2017

Getting the tension right is an essential part of successful knitting but it’s also very important to be sure that you like the fabric that is being created by your chosen yarn when it is knitted at that gauge. Do you think it will suit the design well? Do you want your fabric to be structured or flowing? Does the yarn show the stitch pattern well? Taking the time to ask these questions before actually casting on for a project is a really worthwhile exercise.  It’s all about starting well, before you actually start…

We’re on hand to offer advice and opinions if you have queries about any aspect of your swatching experience. If you are attending the Cast On Party then please bring along your tension pieces. Otherwise feel free to post questions here in the comments, over on the Ravelry thread or on social media using the hashtag #TIKKAL17

Our Favourites in Falkland

You know those yarns, right? The ones you pick up just to try, and then they work their subtle charms upon you and your needles? Before you know it, you’re in love, and you find yourself returning to those skeins again and again. It’s a special kind of magic, because we all know there are too many yarns and so little time, but we’ve been captivated and we keep coming back for more…

Debbie Bliss Falkland Aran selection of shades photographed by This is Knit, Dublin

Our latest crush? Debbie Bliss Falkland Aran.

At first glance you might be forgiven for thinking this is just another Merino yarn. However, it stands apart when you learn that the fibres are sourced exclusively from organically-farmed sheep in the Falkland Islands. The fleece of the Falkland sheep is also particularly white, so the resulting dyed shades are pure and lustrous in the skein. This quality really is visible in the finished yarn and it shines through to the knitted fabric too.

We have not one, not two but three shop projects in this yarn to share with you today and we think they demonstrate the versatility and the squishability of this yarn. (Did we mention we’re in love?)

The Curam Hat by Ysolda Teague knit in Debbie Bliss Falkland Aran, Shop Sample at This is Knit Dublin, laid flat and styled with co-ordinating yarn and needles.

Cúram by Ysolda Teague

A deep rib, striking cables and a perfect pom pom topper. Cúram is a hat that will get noticed!  The snug folded brim is optional, but as it’s both practical and stylish it was a winner for us. We love this in the rich Claret shade but it would be stunning in Ecru too.

Barley Hat by TinCanKnits, knit in Debbie Bliss Falkland Aran, modelled at This is Knit, Dublin

The Barley Hat

The Barley Hat from TinCanKnits is an ideal first project if you are learning to knit in the round and the perfect quick-knit if you’re already a whiz with circular needles.  Whether you prefer the beanie or slouchy style there’s plenty of yarn in one skein of Falkland Aran to make your hat of choice. Don’t forget the pattern comes in sizes from baby all the way up to adult large, and that TinCanKnits have wonderful tutorials on their site to walk you through the pattern if this is your first adventure in hat knitting.

The Gothic Lace Cowl by TinCanKnits in Falkland Aran from Debbie Bliss at This is Knit, Dublin

The Gothic Lace Cowl

Another fabulous design from TinCanKnits, the Gothic Lace Cowl features a simple, satisfying and quick stitch pattern. Again this is an ideal project for a new lace knitter and a full tutorial is provided if you’d like to jump in and try something new.

So there you have it. A yarn that shines in stockinette and creates cables with spectacular definition. As you can see, it works up just as well in cushy garter stitch as it does in detailed lace repeats. You can see why we fell for it, can’t you?


Curam Hat by Ysolda Teague knit in Debbie Bliss Falkland Aran modelled in This is Knit, Dublin

Is there any one particular yarn you are head over heels for? We’d love to hear about it in the comments!

Marvellous Mechita

We think all weeks should begin with project inspiration, so we’re sharing two beautiful staff knits today, both knit in “Mechita” from Malabrigo Yarns.

Emiliana by Lisa Hannes knit in Malabrigo Mechita

If you’re already familiar with Malabrigo Yarns then you will know they specialise in semi-solid and variegated shades, dyed on sumptuously soft merino bases. The Mechita line is a superwash merino, single spun, 4ply / fingering weight yarn and we have some stunning deep jewel tones on our shelves right now.

Emiliana by Lisa Hannes is the most popular project on Ravelry for this yarn, and it’s easy to see why. The shawl uses mosaic knitting to striking effect, especially when two highly contrasting shades are used, as is the case with our sample. Jacqui chose two rich, vibrant shades of Mechita that would contrast well to show the pattern clearly.  The result is an eye-catching, generously sized wrap in versatile colours for everyday wear.

We can’t take our eyes off the mosaic effect – it’s hard to believe that it’s achieved using only one colour per row. If you’d like to learn more about the technique (and maybe even design your own mosaic shawl) then check out the upcoming workshop Melanie Berg workshop on this very topic.

Fallston by Dee O'Keefe knit in Malabrigo Mechita

Our second project is a study of garter stitch and lace – Fallston by Dee O’Keefe. This time around there’s a deliberate interplay in the colour choices, with the predominantly purples and blues of “Whales Road”, occasionally lighting on teal and mirroring the lace section’s use of “Teal Feather”.

Maria found working with Mechita a pleasure, and is really pleased with both the drape of her finished shawl and how well the yarn blocked to show off the lace stitch patterns.  Or, in her own words:

“It’s sooo nommy!”

We can’t help but agree.

Do you have a favourite Malabrigo yarn? Or a favourite colourway from the Malabrigo range?

Fireside Knitting

As the gift knitting season draws to a close, it’s traditional for us all to start planning our “selfish knitting” for the Christmas break. It’s finally time to curl up in a comfy chair by the fireside, cast on with some freshly wound yarn, and knit on that indulgent project just for you.

The Om Shawl in Malabrigo Rios worn as an oversized cowl neckwarmer

Personally I’ve been eyeing up Jenny’s Om Shawl since we photographed it a few week’s back. The vibrant colours, the clever design, the generous size and drape – all have been calling to me these past weeks.  Jenny knit her version in Malabrigo Rios, but I’d love to try one in with Debbie Bliss Falkland Aran too.

(c) Andrea Mowry - image shared on Ravelry

(c) Andrea Mowry – image from Ravelry

This versatile pattern can be worn so many ways: a shawl, a poncho, a wrap and a generously oversized cowl.  The designer even models the piece as a boxy cardigan, so the only limit appears to be your creativity (and origami skills!).

This design is also right on trend, mixing subtle stitch texture with striking colourwork. Jenny knit hers up fast, as the patterning at each end kept her interest. But she also appreciated the plain “vanilla” section of knitting in the middle – the ideal accompaniment for those box set binges! Jenny also has two top tips for anyone else planning their own Om Shawl:

  1. Choose lightweight buttons – as you don’t want them to drag on the edges of your piece.
  2. Use a smaller needle size then the pattern recommends. Jenny’s version was knit on 5.5mm needles. The suggested needle size of 6.5mm needles will produce a fabric that is too loose for many people.

I just have to decide now between these three gorgeous combinations.

Malabrigo Rios suggested colour combination for Om Shawl
Bright and Bold in Malabrigo Rios?
Debbie Bliss Falkland Aran suggested colour combination for Om Shawl
Muted and Cosy in Falkland Aran?
Debbie Bliss Falkland Aran suggested colour combination for Om Shawl
Classy with a pop of Teal in Falkland Aran?

Which bundle would you choose?  Whichever skeins end up coming home with me, I’m looking forward to a quick, fun and cosy knit to get me through the dark days of winter still to come.

The Om Shawl in Malabrigo Rios worn as a buttoned wrap.

And in the meantime I’ll just steal Jenny’s!

This is Knit Details of Christmas Holidays 2016

Beginner Beauties

As we had our adventurous knits last week, today is a good time to strike some balance and have a little peek at two of our favourite Beginner Knitting patterns.

You may be a regular reader of our blog, or you might just have stumbled upon this post when searching for a somewhere to start on your knitting journey.  Either way we have some very pretty projects to share with you – and both demonstrate that simple doesn’t have to mean “basic” or “boring” at all.

Bread and Buttoned Mitts in Rico Soft Merino Aran pictured with lots of buttons. Simple Fingerless Gloves pattern for beginner knitters.

Our “Bread and Buttoned” Mitts

It’s a common misconception that a first project for a new knitter should generally be a scarf. Don’t get us wrong – scarves are very good introductions to the world of knits and purls. However the more impatient among us can find them a bit same-y after a while and be eager to try to something new.  That’s where the Bread and Buttoned Mitts come in! They have all the same techniques that you’d learn in a scarf – cast on, knit and cast off – with the added bonus of just being 5-6 inches worth of knitting per mitt.

Bread and Buttoned Mitts in Rico Soft Merino Aran pictured with a Debbie Bliss Mug. Simple Fingerless Gloves pattern for beginner knitters.

You’ll have a pair of these mitts whipped up in no time, and will be an expert at the basics by then, because you will have done them all twice in a short space of time.  So the simplest of stitches is turned sideways, and then a bit of whimsical embellishment is added… the result? One happy new knitter with a funky new pair of fingerless gloves!

The Mistake Rib Scarf

So maybe after that you fancy a scarf after all? And why wouldn’t you, when you can throw in a fun new stitch pattern, and maybe try a new yarn now that you’re confident in your skills?

Mistake Rib Scarf pictured in front of the Powerscourt Townhouse. Knitted in Louisa Harding Trenzar. Simple scarf for beginner knitters.

We’ve been knitting Mistake Rib scarves for over a decade now, and they never fail to please. They are perfect as gift knits for men or women, and the broken rib stitch pattern works well with almost every yarn imaginable. This season we have chosen Louisa Harding Trenzar, for its subtle tweedy finish and for the warmth of its merino and alpaca base.  It’s a winning combination, and the end result certainly looks much more than the sum of its parts.

Mistake Rib Scarf pictured in front of the Powerscourt Townhouse. Knitted in Louisa Harding Trenzar. Simple scarf for beginner knitters.

So have we convinced you to give this knitting lark a try? Let us help you get started – our January knitting courses are booking now.

Or are you one of our regular readers? If so then remember that we offer beginner kits for both of these designs so that you can share your love of the craft this Christmas… Knitting is contagious – so pass the bug around!

Learning Curve – Two Shawls for the Adventurous Knitter

Are you ready for your next knitting adventure? Today we are featuring two elegant knitted shawls from among the fabulous selection on display in store. Both are suitable for the more adventurous knitters among you, and I think we’ll dive right in with the more challenging of our pair…

The Cypri Shawl by Amanda Scheuzgerin Hedgehog Fibres Sock Yarn. Draped over a chair.

The Cypri Shawl

This beauty is the work of Twist Collective designer Amanda Scheuzger, and comes from the needles of our own guru-of-shawls, Jacqui :)  Cypri is cast on at the bottom edge, and shaped with short rows to create a gently flowing crescent.  The travelling stitches are achieved with a slipped stitch technique, over a garter stitch background, with the instructions for these details given in charted form only.

The Cypri Shawl by Amanda Scheuzgerin Hedgehog Fibres Sock Yarn. An elegant knitted shawl.

Jacqui really enjoyed working on this project but she did confess to having to rip back on a few occasions.  Her advice?

“Switch off the television and focus 100% on the pattern. The instructions are very well written but some of the techniques may be unfamiliar, so keep an open mind.  The results are so worth the effort though!”

This version was worked in Hedgehog Fibres Sock Yarn, in colours that mimic the original design, but of course there’s lots colour combination inspiration to be had among the other finished projects on Ravelry.

So what do you think? Are you ready for the challenge? Or perhaps our next shawl, Holyrood, is more your cup of tea?

The Holyrood Shawl by Justyna Lorkowska in Townhouse Yarns Fade St 4ply. An elegant knitted shawl. Modelled.

Holyrood

Chevrons, eyelets, cables, stripes and ribs – Holyrood is a shawl that has it all.  In fact, this is a perfect learning project for someone looking to expand their stitching repertoire.  We’re a big fan of Justyna’s patterns here in the shop, and this design proved to be everything we’ve come to expect from her: clever, stylish and interesting to knit.

The yarn combination this time is two shades of Fade Street 4ply from our own Townhouse Yarns line – Rippleberry and Mustard Seed. And again there are oodles of inspiring combinations to browse through in the gallery of finished projects.

The Holyrood Shawl by Justyna Lorkowska in Fade St 4ply by Townhouse Yarns - Detail

While some patterns would have you plough through miles of garter stitch or stockinette just to get to the fun parts, Holyrood’s frequent change of stitch pattern can, almost counter-intuitively, lead to a faster end result.  It’s similar to knitting with self-striping yarns: you keep going just to see what’s coming next and then, all of a sudden, it’s done!

So there you have it, two elegant knitted shawls for the intermediate knitter, both tried and tested and guaranteed to give you warm fuzzy feelings of accomplishment when complete.  While each may pose their own learning curve, both will definitely provide hours of knitting fun.

Have we tempted you to push your knitting boundaries? Or are you working on your own challenging knits right now? We’d love to hear about them in the comments. :)

Warmth without the Weight

Oh Chunky Sweaters, how we yearn for them on days like these. So satisfying to knit, so cosy to snuggle in to, but so often such a drag (literally). You see, there has traditionally been a trade off for these quick-knitting beauties: weight.

We have seen Super Chunky sweater patterns that call for upwards of 2kg of yarn. And while those all-over cabled tunic-length garments are beautiful creations, they often sag and grow with time, turning into shadows of their former selves.

But fret not – we have two solutions for you today! Both sweaters are still quick to knit, and warm to wear, yet they each took less than 400 g of yarn. So you can have the best of both worlds: warmth without the weight and without the wait

Coda Sweater in Woolfolk Får Chunky Knitted Sweater

The Coda Sweater

While this is technically a worsted weight pattern, it falls in to this quick-knitting-and-cosy category due both to the fitted finish (less knitting) and to the incredibly warm yarn we chose for our shop sample: the simply divine Woolfolk Får. This sweater was worked up in less than 7 skeins (under 350g), so it’s very lightweight to wear, but the “chainette” construction of the yarn lends extra insulation to the garment. Rather than being spun in the traditional sense, chainette yarns are very fine knitted tubes in themselves.  These tubes or chains have lots of tiny air pockets that trap the wearer’s own body heat proving that, when it comes to wool and warmth, bigger is not always better. Very clever stuff indeed.

The pattern from is from Brooklyn Tweed and it has all the signature style and smart detailing that you would expect from this respected design collective.  We opted to stick with the three-quarter length sleeves as provided for in the pattern, but they could easily be lengthened for added warmth.

Il Grande Favorito in Rico Alpaca Blend Chunky Knitted Sweater

Il Grande Favorito

Aptly named, this pattern is a firm favourite among us all at This is Knit.  “Il Grande Favorito” is a top-down sweater with optional short row shaping at the lower back to create a flattering dipped hem.  The original pattern called for holding two strands of yarn together to get the correct tension, but we have happily discovered that Rico’s  Alpaca Blend Chunky is perfect for this design, just as it is.

While the chainette construction of Får kept things light in our first example, this time around it is blended nature of the yarn creating a “best of both worlds” scenario.  Alpaca Blend Chunky contains 50% natural fibres (alpaca & wool) and 50% acrylic, and this allows for a full sweater to be made with just 8 balls (400g for the 38 inch size).  So we get all the cosiness of natural fleece fibres, with the dash of practicality from a lighter weight synthetic and it all adds up to a stylish winter “must-have”.

Do you have a favourite Chunky Sweater pattern?

Or have we inspired you to make one of these two?

Don’t forget you can pop in to see these garments (and all our shop samples) any time!