Tuesday, 16 January 2018

Lace Knitting

1ply Cobweb Yarn

This month, I’ve been working flat out on a 1 ply lace shawl (using beautiful 1 ply cobweb lace yarn from Jamieson & Smith, very similar to the 1 Ply Cobweb Weight), so I thought I’d share some of my top tips for lace knitting on the blog.

Metal tipped needles like Zing or Karbonz are best

When working with fine yarns, knitting needles with sharp points will be much easier to insert into the delicate stitches. I started out with KnitPro Zings, but have switched to Karbonz as they have a pointier tip. While there is a join between the metal tips and the carbon fibre shaft of these needles, I’ve not had any issues with the yarn snagging or getting caught. If you think that could be a problem for you, the Zings might be a better option. I’ve avoided wooden needles as they tend to be a bit blunter and can wear down slightly over time. With yarn that’s 4 ply weight or heavier, that wouldn’t be a problem, but with these tiny stitches I wanted the smoothest, most slippery needles I could get.

Stitch markers (specifically the Clover Locking Stitch Markers) have been invaluable. By placing a marker between each repeat across the row, they act as a handy checkpoint for making sure that everything is coming out right. If I get to a marker one stitch too early or too late, I can isolate the problem to that section within the row, which makes troubleshooting a lot easier! The locking markers are more useful than the closed ring ones as they can be unclipped and repositioned if I merrily knit right over them, and there is no risk of them working themselves loose and making a bid for freedom (as has been known to happen with split ring markers…).

Finding the right tension for lacework has taken a little bit of practice. My initial feeling was that I wanted to keep it loose so that I didn’t risk snapping the ultra fine yarn. I also wanted to maintain an even look to my knitting, avoiding big sloppy stitches. I’ve settled on a tension I feel happy with and I find that after a row or so, I can really pick up the pace and get a good rhythm going. It’s a little looser than I would normally knit (which makes p3tog or p2togtbl a LOT easier), but not so loose that I have to knit in slow motion to achieve it.

Finally, please do take the time to block/dress your lacework after you’ve cast it off! It will make your knitting lie beautifully flat, and will open up all the lacework to show off your knitting at its best.

Wednesday, 13 December 2017

Last Minute Christmas Projects

It’s definitely beginning to look a lot like Christmas! Don’t worry if you’ve not had time to start your Christmas knitting though: we’ve compiled a selection of quick knits (and crochet projects) for everyone on your list.

For fashionable friends and family members:

Pompom hats seem to be everywhere this year. They’re cosy, stylish, and - importantly - very quick and easy to knit. 

Budget Version
The Wendy Duo Hat & Scarf Set has an easy-to-follow pattern inside the band, and contains enough wool to make a wintry hat and scarf. This would also be a great gift for novice knitters. (£8.50 per ball)

Luxury Version
The Rowan Mohair Beanie Kit features two pairs of knitting needles and two balls of Kidsilk Haze (a beautifully soft blend of mohair and silk); enough to make the stylish, quick-knit beanie found in the Quail Studio: Mohair pattern booklet which is also included in the kit. (£25.00 per kit)

Rowan Mohair Beanie Kit

Rowan Mohair Beanie Kit

For Outdoorsy Friends and Family

You can never go wrong with the gift of handknitted socks. For a personal touch, choose a colourway that matches the recipient's favourite outfit or football team colours.

Budget Version 
Norwegian knit and crochet designers Arne & Carlos have a fantastic range of colours available in their sock yarn (£10.00 per ball). For identical socks, choose a shade from their ‘Pairfect’ range or for cosier (and quick to knit!) socks, choose a 6 ply yarn from the same range. (£12.95 per ball)


Luxury Version
We absolutely love the smooth texture and vivid colours of Rowan’s hand-painted Fine Art sock yarn. The yarn is blended from 45% wool, 25% polyamide (for strength), 20% mohair and 10% silk, making it a truly luxury sock yarn. (£15.95 per skein)

For Little Ones:

Knitted toys are a lovely, personal gift. We have plenty of different toy and animal patterns to choose from on our website.

Budget Version

Sirdar Ophelia is a wonderfully fluffy yarn that’s perfect for making teddy bears and other creatures. It’s also chunky and knits and crochets up quickly, so is perfect for last-minute gift-making! (patterns £2.80 each, yarn £3.00 per ball)

 Ophelia Patterns left to right: 2470, 2457, 2452
Luxury Version
Wendy Eider is a luxuriously tactile faux fur yarn. Soft and fluffy to the touch, toys made from Eider are beautifully warm and comforting and also knit and crochet up very quickly. (patterns £2.80 each, yarn £5.30 per ball)

Eider Patterns left to right: 6012, 5970, 5969

Post by Emily in our Edinburgh shop

Thursday, 9 November 2017

Yarns We Love: Rowan

We have some exciting news! This Friday (November 10th), we are going to be joined in our Edinburgh shop by Rowan’s own Addy Osborne.  Addy is bringing all sorts of garments, goodies, books, and yarn with her and will be doing a trunk show here in the shop to allow all of our Edinburgh customers to try out yarns from Rowan’s stunning Autumn Winter 2017/18 range.  To celebrate, we’ve got some lovely Rowan yarn and booklets to give away!

Our top prize is a pack of 10 balls of beautiful Rowan Brushed Fleece shade 260 Nook and a copy of Brushed Fleece Knits.  Two runners up will also receive a copy of the booklet.  All you need to do to take part is to get in touch and tell us what you like best about Rowan.  Send us your entry to sales@mcadirect.com before midnight on Friday 17th November, 2017.  Winners will be selected by Rowan.

In anticipation of the event, we chatted to staff at our Edinburgh shop and office about what they like best about Rowan.  Here’s what they said...

The quality of Rowan’s yarns is what stands out for me. As a Design Consultant, I spend a lot of my day advising people on their knitting and crochet projects. I know that the high content of natural fibres in Rowan's yarns will always give a beautiful finish to a project.

What's good about Rowan? They make me want to live in a lighthouse with a sheepdog and wear cable knit jumpers all the time.

Cookie by Sarah Hatton, Rowan Magazine 60

I like the huge range of shades and textures available in Rowan yarns, and the timeless nature of the beautiful, cosy patterns in the Rowan Magazines.

Drop in to our Edinburgh shop (19 Howe Street, Edinburgh) between 2.30pm and 3.30pm on Friday 10th November to sample some beautiful winter yarns and be inspired for your next knit or crochet project.