TIK Knits

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Well, it’s not actually snowing, but these little hats have the dashing part all wrapped up – if you need a quick project for a baby before Christmas, there’s plenty of time to knit one (or even two)!

This is the Little Scallops hat by Maria Carlander. You’ll find a link to the free pattern at that Ravelry link. This wee hat has all you could want – a little colourwork, a simple stocking stitch fabric, a practical slouchy shape.

Our examples are made in Debble Bliss Baby Cashmerino, so they’ll wash and wear like a dream. They’re the smaller size of the two sizes, and they took about a third of a ball of the main colour and a fifth of the contrast, so they’re perfect for using up those odds and ends.

And best of all, they’re fast! The two of these took a couple of leisurely evenings to make, so they’re the perfect relaxing knit in front of the TV after a day’s rushing about.

We’ve talked about blocking techniques before, and about how magically it transforms your hunched and lumpy work into something smooth and beautifully professional, with practically no effort at all.

That neat and orderly finish is what you want for knitted and crocheted gifts, and since time is getting on and a lot of hats are being made for Christmas, we thought it would be a good idea to talk about how to block them.

The trouble with hats, put simply, is that they’re very rarely flat. You can’t pin just them out like a scarf or a shawl. But help’s at hand, and the picture below shows all you need.

After you’ve soaked your hat well and blotted out most of the moisture in a towel, take a moment to consider: is it flat, like a beret or a tam, or is it round like a beanie? If it’s flat, like this wonderful Neep Heid by Kate Davies, simply pop a plate inside it, one large enough to smooth out the knitting. Since our Neep Heid is adult-sized, we used a dinner plate, but smaller hats would need smaller plates. Let the hat dry, and slip the plate out.

If your hat is curved, like our own Thistle pattern, then you need the balloon. Soak your hat and blot it as before, and then blow up the balloon to the size you need (smaller for a child, larger for an adult. Crown it with the uniformly damp hat.

Wait for it to dry completely and remove the balloon (it can then find a deserving home!).

Ta da! Perfectly blocked hats, with even stitches, smooth fabric and impressed recipients. And another thing crossed off the To Do list!

This is Jen’s latest shawl, just off the blocking mat a few days ago, and it’s a while since we’ve seen so many gorgeous components come together to such effect.

First of all, there’s the two yarns: Katia Airlux and Hedgehog Fibres Sock. It’s an unusual combination for a shawl, but Airlux takes to lace like it was born to it (remember it as a Swallowtail?), and these two colourways work so well together.

And then there’s the pattern. It’s Shaelyn, and it’s perfect for working in two colours. The alternating lace and stocking stitch sections adapt beautifully to striping, and if you’re looking for a very simple and effective shawl pattern, Shaelyn’s perfect. The stocking stitch sections are the easiest thing imaginable and the lace keeps the project interesting.

But that’s not all the prettiness in this project. Jen found perfect matching beads and beaded the scalloped border. The beads add a little touch of sparkle and a bit of weight to the edge. If you haven’t beaded your knitting before, this is a perfect introduction.

We’re always looking for new yarn and pattern combinations, the ones that venture outside the box a bit, and we love seeing your finished objects – why not leave us a comment below sharing your good ideas? We’d all love the inspiration!

Here at This Is Knit, the best part of the Christmas season is the presents! We get such a kick out of helping our customers choose the perfect gift, whether for the yarnlovers in their lives or for themselves.

But what to choose? This year we’ve made that fraught decision much easier with a hand-picked range of kits. From beginner to accomplished knitter, there’s something for everyone.

If you can knit and purl, then our Mistake Rib scarf makes a terrific project. In Debbie Bliss Rialto Chunky, it grows in front of your eyes and will be done in no time at all. What’s more, this is the sort of elegant and understated scarf that makes an excellent gift for a man.

To make our Bread and Buttoned Mitts, the only thing you need to add is garter stitch – speedy to work in Rico Essentials Soft Merino Aran, this kit is very popular as a “first project” gift, and we’ve even included a pair of knitting needles, along with toning buttons.

Everyone needs a jolly hat, and here’s our Thistle kit, with two toning yarns, Louisa Harding’s Akiko and Debbie Bliss’s Milano, to brighten up winter (including enough for the all-important pompom). Knit in the round, this hat’s fast and fun.

And for a touch of unabashed luxury, what could be better than a kit for ysolda’s stunning Marin shawlette, featuring 400 metres of Fyberspates Scrumptious 4-ply? It’s a straightforward knit, and that silk and merino blend complements it beautifully. And the finished object is so beautiful – the sample on display in the shop is breathtaking.

There isn’t even any need for gift wrapping – that’s already done, with a bow for extra pzazz! And that makes the Christmas shopping a little easier!

Versatile

Sometimes you come across a pattern which is a delight to knit, easy on the eye and as comfortable as anything. They’re the ones to treasure, and Ysolda’s Marin is just such a pattern.

Jacqui finished her Marin a week or so ago, and it’s on display in the shop. With its gently curved crescent shape and elegant detail, it’s a perfect partner for the yarn: Debbie Bliss Luxury Silk DK.

Marin is reversible and knitted from end to end, and all that textured garter stitch gives a wonderful supple finish.

The drape of the silk needs to be felt to be believed, but it’s easy to imagine lots of other yarn options too – a worsted weight or Aran weight would make a gorgeous warm winter accessory. Beautiful and versatile – what more could we ask?

This is a particularly dotey cardigan, made for a very new baby indeed. It’s the Puerperium cardigan, a wonderfully simple top-down seamless garment, sized to fit a newborn baby.

Jacqui used Malabrigo Arroyo for this project – it’s as soft as a newborn’s skin and superwash to boot. What’s more, it comes in absolutely lovely colours.

She was delighted to find how far a single skein stretched: not only was there enough for a simple matching hat (because babies need hats!), but after making both hat and cardigan, she had 20 grammes left over. That’s the same weight as the hat, and easily enough for a pair of matching booties. (The baby in question needed the cardigan, though, so there wasn’t time!)

An entire outfit from one skein of yarn – we love it!

In the last couple of days, the weather’s been cooling down a lot, and all of a sudden, a warm hat seems like a good idea, or a snug cowl, or some cozy gloves.

So we’ve been mulling over what to make for the coming season, and the very first finished object that comes to mind is the gorgeous cowl above. It’s a Burberry Inspired Cowl, which Lisa’s just finished in Mirasol Miski. It knits up very fast and it’s ever so stylish, don’t you think?

Inspired by this combination of yarn and pattern, we’ve been looking at the shelves and dreaming of warm and practical accessories. What about a Wurm hat in Malabrigo Arroyo? (That would be the bounciest hat imaginable!) Or for warm and practical hands, perhaps a pair of Susie Roger’s Reading Mitts in Debbie Bliss Blue-faced Leicester DK?

Well-tested patterns that just work, and the warmest of yarn to make them in – that’s what it’s all about. And we’re certain you’ve got lots of ideas too! What pattern are you planning, and what yarn are you going to use? Why not share your ideas in the comments below to inspire us all?

That’s Jacqui’s latest lace shawl, Loren by Gudrun Johnston. It’s made from Malabrigo Baby Silkpaca laceweight in Teal Feather, and as you’d expect from the designer, it’s constructed using traditional Shetland techniques.

Hand-dyed yarns such as Malabrigo can vary quite a bit from dyelot to dyelot, so it’s even more vital than usual to make sure you’ve got enough to finish your project. But it happens to all of us: half a ball of one dyelot and two thirds of a second, languishing in the stash wondering if they’ll ever get another chance to shine. This was Jacqui’s dilemma. Or maybe there’s only ten balls of one dyelot left in stock and you need twelve. What to do?

Just working till one dyelot runs out and then switching to the other risks putting the colour change bang in the middle of your work, across your tummy or halfway up your arm. With a bit of cunning, though, it’s possible to place the switch so it looks entirely planned, or even to make it invisible.

The trick is to put the switch over at a point where there’s another change going on. In Jacqui’s Loren, you notice the pattern difference between the border and the centre section: both the direction of the work and the stitch pattern vary. So the variation in colour looks entirely planned, as indeed it was.

If you want to hide the changeover, then welts and cuffs of jumpers, or the ribbing sections of hats, and borders of all sorts work well. And no-one need ever know. The observer’s eye will be fooled by the difference in stitch pattern and hardly register the colour change at all.

Of course another reason to talk about this beautiful pattern is our excitement about the upcoming weekend: Gudrun Johnston’s lace workshop is on Saturday morning, with Mary Jane Mucklestone’s colourwork one in the afternoon. We can’t wait!

Babies need blankets, and we’re convinced that the best blankets are handmade. We’ve two to show you, both beautiful, both practical and each completely different.

First of all, our wonderful customer Jenny recently made the brightly coloured treasure in the picture above and allowed us to share the project and her picture with you. It’s the Chevron Baby Blanket by Espace Tricot (a free pattern on Ravelry), and she made it in five vibrant colours of Katia Mali. You can see her project page for it over at this link. It’s the most cheerful thing we seen in ages – thank you, Jenny! (You can see more of her photography and read about her crafty life on her blog Crafty Tails.)

Isn’t this lovely? It’s Lisa’s latest finished object, an Undercover blanket from Beata Jezek’s pattern. It’s the softest fabric imaginable, knitted with a doubled strand of Hedgehog Fibres Sock. It starts in the centre and works outward, with the regular increases at the corners giving that pretty diagonal line of eyelets.

These are blankets to build forts out of, and to carry as a trusted friend when exploring the world, and to fall asleep in. Their owners will be very lucky babies.

Thistle

With the weather turning a little autumnal, we’re all about the hats at the moment, and we’ve got one in two versions to show you.

This is the Thistle hat, our latest in-house pattern, warm as toast and easy as anything. It’s made with one ball each of two contrasting Aranweight yarns, and we used Louisa Harding’s new merino/alpaca Akiko with Debbie Bliss’s wool-and-silk-rich Milano.

That’s the other version, with a slightly different stitch pattern. The only difference between the two is one round which is knit in one version and purled in the other, and there’s a good story about how it came about. When Jacqui was test-knitting the pattern, she changed the pattern without meaning to. After realising that, many people would have ripped back. But Jacqui liked the fabric she was getting, and just kept going!

The result was a slightly different but equally lovely version, and the two-option Thistle hat was born. And a moral, too: patterns are only a guideline, and if your variation pleases you, go for it! Then it’s not a mistake, it’s a design feature!

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