Category Archives: Yarn


Take a deep breath, yip you smell that right? The air around here is ripe with the smell of anticipation. The Irish Yarn Club is soon to open memberships on October 24th and last year memberships went pretty fast!
The Irish Yarn Club is now in it’s fourth year and each year brings with it something special. Carol designs 3 items that go with the unique colourway and yarn weight dyed by 3 talented Irish Hand Dyers. This year that will be Hedgehog Fibers, Townhouse Yarns and Dublin Dye Company. There is lots more of the technical information on the Yarn Club page over on and if you would like to hear about how it all started you can read Carol’s Blog Post from our archives here.
I thought I would showcase some of your fine talent and Carol’s patterns from previous years there are no spoilers in this post I’m afraid and each year Carol has mixed it up and kept even myself and those in This is Knit guessing!  First up from 2014’s yarn club is one of my favorites and I’m all about hats at the moment. Tempano is a cabled hat in Hedgehog Fiber’s twist sock.  The choice of cable and twist sock base allows the cables to really pop. The Image here is from a lovely knitter, Polli,  who joined the yarn club all the way from Finland. (Yes they do post worldwide for the club!)
Handknit hat in Hedgehog fibers twist sock Design by Carol Feller

polli’s Tempano in Hedgehog Fiber’s Twist Sock

It was hard to chose a pictures for 2014’s shawl Dunderry but rkavanagh’s Dunderry in  Coolree Silk/Baby Camel fingering snapped it for me. My eye’s just kept going back to it. The silk allows the lace pattern to really open up and it drapes beautifully. You lucky knitters, 2014 was a special year.

rkavanagh's Dunderry in Coolree Silk/Baby Camel fingering

rkavanagh’s Dunderry in Coolree Silk/Baby Camel fingering

The final pattern in 2014 was Talium in Dublin Dye Merino Sock and these are a real treat. The have short rows shaping the heel and toe with an elegant arrow pattern running the length of the sock.

Talium by Carol Feller

Talium by Carol Feller

2015 was a new year and brought new exclusive colourways and they do like to mix things up and Townhouse Yarns joined in. Carol designed the lovely Fortune Green Cowl for the Camden Tweed Base and this is to this day one of my favourite cowls and yarn bases. Cowls are a lovely gift knit but also very handy in have in your bag and pull out when the weather suddenly turns a bit nippy.  This cowl has a slightly wider base to allow you to really snuggle up in it and the lace and cable panels really add a celtic flair to the knit.

Jazzycath's Fortuen Green Cowl

Jazzycath’s Fortuen Green Cowl

The surprise of 2015 was the pattern Dalchini, it’s a fun lace knit in Dublin Dye Company Alpaca Sport. here kkkkate has made the Flapless version suggestion on the forums by Carol. There is a lot of action in the Irish Yarn Club forum and Carol and the staff from This is Knit will be there to help you out.

kkkkate's Dalchini in Dublin Dye Alpaca Sport

kkkkate’s Dalchini in Dublin Dye Alpaca Sport

The final pattern in 2015 was the Feamainn Shawl in Hedgehog Fibres Silk/Merino Lace. I love the stunning colourway and did I mention that these colourways are never to be repeated?

Feamainn Shawl by Carol Feller

Feamainn Shawl by Carol Feller

We are almost all caught up and last year the team behind the IYC shook things up a little. You can read Carol’s blog post for the full background but suffice to say the introduction of yarn from an Irish mill in Donegal was as added to the mix and then dyed by Dublin Dye Company. Carol designed the hat pattern Sheephaven to showcase the beautiful flecks in the Donegal yarn. Yvonne from Dublin Dye chose a lovely subtle colour to bring out these flecks too. That was really something special.  This is secretly (or not so secretly) a favourite of so many knitters. The yarn is lofty and just asks you to be cabled (You don’t talk to your yarn? You should, it’s very chatty)

Sheephaven by Carol Feller in Dublin Dye Company's Donegal WSC base.

Sheephaven by Carol Feller in Dublin Dye Company’s Donegal WSC base.

If that wasn’t enough of a shocker, everyone thought that the patterns would just be for accessories right? Oh no Carol designed Kompeito in Hedgehog Fibres Merino Lace  which has a very generous 1200M and allowed this beautiful shawl / vest to really shine. There was many an excited squeal when those packages where open, I don’t quite know how the serves of Twitter held up to the tweets and excitement!

Konpeito by Carol Feller in Hedgehog Fiber's Merino Lace

Konpeito by Carol Feller in Hedgehog Fiber’s Merino Lace

The final pattern is one that I can’t believe I missed out on (gasp! I know I missed last year sniffle) Probys is made with Townhouse Yarns gradient mini skeins. The pattern has also popped up later in Knitting with Rainbows because it was loved so much! The mitts below are by the wonderful filidhruadh on ravelry who joined in all the way from Switzerland!

filidhruadh's Probys mitts in Townhouse Yarns Mini Skeins

filidhruadh’s Probys mitts in Townhouse Yarns Mini Skeins

So what surprises are in store for you this year? Well your going to have to head on over to the Irish Yarn Club page to find out!

See you next week




Choosing Your Yarn

Yarn substitution can be a very tricky thing. On the surface it seems like just picking a yarn with the same gauge should do the job but that is just the starting point!

I’ve had a few requests for substitutions for the Luwan KAL so I thought I’d do a little swatching and put my thoughts and some general information together for knitters.

Yarn varies is several different ways but the three most significant are; weight, construction and fiber blend. If you want to substitute a yarn within a pattern ideally all 3 of these items should be as close as possible to the original yarn used for the sample. Now if that’s not possible you can pick the items that are most important to you and swatch in the stitch pattern used.

This swatch will tell you a few different things:

  • Do you get close to the original gauge?
  • How does the fabric feel and move?
  • Does the yarn do the stitch pattern justice/does it look good?

Lets break down these yarn characteristics and discuss each one separately.


It seems like this should be an easy one – pick a yarn that is either named the same or has the same weight, right?

However yarn names are very, very confusing! For Luwan we used a yarn that is technically a ‘dk’ weight yarn but if you look at dk (double knit) yarns they can range from 20 to 24 stitches per 4″ / 10 cm. Due to this I’d suggest watching the gauge rather than the name of the yarn, this will be the best indicator.

With this yarn you can see that using 4.5mm (US size 7) needles I get a gauge of 18 stitches per 4″ / 10 cm in pattern. This is obviously a bigger gauge than dk yarn but yet the stitches don’t appear to be loose? There are a couple of reasons for this; firstly the pattern stitch naturally creates a bigger gauge than stockinette stitch. But also this ‘dk’ yarn is both a heavy dk and a single ply yarn. When you hold the yarn it ‘fluffs out’ and takes up much more space than it seems like it should! This means that it looks great knit more loosely than it’s name would indicate. I’ll talk a bit more about the construction in the next section. So when looking at yarn weight look for either a heavy DK weight yarn or a light worsted yarn for best results.


There are several different ways to make yarn. I’m definitely not a spinning expert but I’ve got enough working knowledge to get started and know how a yarn will behave.

The 2 main ways yarn is spun is either Woollen spun or Worsted spun.

With Woollen spun when the fibre is carded it’s allowed to remain scattered in different directions. This creates a yarn that will have loose hairs poking out but it makes a much lighter fluffier yarn. When you knit with Woollen spun yarn after blocking the yarn ‘blooms’, which means that it really fills in and softens the stitches.

Worsted spun has all the fibres lined up in the same direction. This creates a smoother but heavier yarn. You will have better stitch definition but you won’t get the ‘blooming’ effect after the yarn is blocked.

The yarn used in the Luwan KAL (Silky Single Targhee) is spun in a different way again. Both Woollen and Worsted spinning refer to yarns that are plied. This means that several strands of fibre are twisted together to form a strong stable yarn. This yarn however is a single yarn. This means that there is only a single strand of yarn twisting on itself. To give it a bit of stability and strength it is lightly felted which gives it a little firmness and durability. Often single yarns can be unbalanced, wanting to curl up on itself as you work. Fortunately the felting seems to help with this and this yarn didn’t have that issue. Due to the yarn being a single yarn it blooms very nicely when washed to create a nice full fabric.


Silky Single Targhee is made from 70% Targhee wool and 30% silk. Wool is the dominant fibre in the yarn and you can feel that when you are working with it. Silk adds softness and a bit more weight as it is a heavy fibre.

For substituting you could comfortable use a yarn that is 100% wool. I think it would behave well enough to hold the stitch pattern. Silk does add a little bit extra though!

Lets take a look at a few swatches now to figure out how all the factors influence our final swatches.

The swatch below shows from top to bottom SHELTER, Dovestone DK, and the KAL yarn Silky Single Targhee. Both of the substituted swatches I did here are woollen spun which means that they have a hairier look. This creates a totally different looking stitch pattern! The Shelter ended up being too heavy and gave me much too big a gauge. The Dovestone DK however was spot on for both stitch and row gauge. It does look really different though! I suspect that woollen spun is a little too hairy to allow the stitch pattern to show through enough.

Below is another Blue Moon Fiber Arts yarn – Targhee Worsted in colour Gourdy. This is a plied yarn so the texture is a little different but I got both stitch and row gauge with it for Luwan so it could be a potential substitute if you didn’t want to use a singles yarn.

So now it’s in your court! What yarn will you use? Come chat with other knitters on the ravelry board here, it can be very helpful to get advice from other knitters!

I’ve just discovered Bloginlovin – seems like a great way to to keep up with multiple blogs!
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More Manos Pretties!

Well I’ve had a busy week adding new patterns! Until the end of September all of these 3 patterns (whether you purchase on my site or ravelry) have an automatic 15% discount.

Earlier this week I shared the first of my Manos Del Uruguay patterns, Clypea which is a striped hat using a slip stitch pattern between the stripes.
The next day I released a fun shawl, Mylio.

This shawl is knit from the top down and uses extra increases along the edges to create a wide wing effect. The central increases work along each side of the lace panel, stepping out a full repeat every time you’ve completed a lace repeat for an interesting stepped effect. Outside the lace panel this shawl is worked in garter stitch and has a delicate, fun ruffle at the bottom edge.

The final one of this pattern trio is Strombus.

This is a top down cardigan that uses short row set in sleeves and has a double-breasted front panel that buttons across itself. This cardigan is knit more loosely to allow it to flow and swing, the side panels are in garter stitch and widen as you go down the body to create a swinging a-line. I’ve show this cardigan with several inches of positive ease but it will also work well a little more closely fitted if that’s how you like to wear your cardigans!

Manos patterns

A few months ago Rooster Yarns (who distribute Manos Del Uruguay yarns) asked if I’d like to do a few patterns in their yarn. I really enjoy working with these yarns so I jumped at the chance!
I opted to work with Serena yarn which is a lightweight blend of alpaca and cotton. It’s an unusual yarn blend and can easily be worked in a wide range of gauges. The three patterns I designed give a pretty good idea of the different ways it can be knit up.

The first pattern I want to share with you is Clypea.

This is knit using smaller 3mm needles to keep the gauge of the yarn a bit tighter so it will hold the shape of the hat. It creates a super soft and fluffy fabric that is very stretchy. The hat is pictured here on my brother-in-law but due to the slouchy style and stretchy fit this hat also very comfortably fits my head also.
The colour range of this yarn is very subtle which really makes combining colours very easy – just pick your favourites and start knitting!
The hat starts with a folded brim, I used the brighter yellow colour for the inner layer so the edge just peaks through at the fold. Then each time you change the colour a simple slip stitch pattern worked for a few rows creates a very interesting colourwork pattern with no stranding! I love slip stitch patterns for colour blending, it’s simple to do and works really well.

The hat is knit nice and long as the light fabric makes it slouch really nicely. The crown decreases are all done in the brighter yellow colour again to tie the whole hat together. Overall I’m pretty fond of this one!

Knitting With Rainbows – KAL

Shanakiel 4
Well everyone Knitting With Rainbows is now out in the world. You can get it either in print (with a download code) or digitally. The first few projects are starting to appear on ravlery so why don’t you join in the fun and potentially win some prizes?

This KAL (knitalong) will start on Friday and run until Monday the 10th of October. The general thread about the KAL is here. I will run it through my group on ravlery, as you progress you can post progress photos and chat in the WIP (work in progress) thread here every Friday until it’s over I’ll pick a random photo from the progress photos that week who’ll receive a code to download a pattern! When the KAL is complete on the 10th of October I’ll pick a winner from the finished photos here – so make sure you get your photos up!

To keep track of it all please tag your projects on Ravelry, and hashtag across social media, with #knittingwithrainbows

Have fun!

Knitting With Rainbows presale!

Some of you may have spotted the pre-sale of my newest book, Knitting With Rainbows.
This is a project that I’ve been thinking about for a long time. Several years ago I got a gradient kit from Fiber Optics…
It looks just beautiful in the little plastic display box but I felt very intimidated. The skeins were so small, and I wasn’t sure how best to use the yarn so that it looks as beautiful in the finished knit as it did in the box. So it sat there for quite a while. However somewhere in the back of my head the idea for a book on gradients was germinating; a book that would explore the gradient types available (there are a lot!), figure out how ways that use them well and offered pattern choices and future suggestions for making the most of gradient yarns (both individual single skeins as well as mini-skein sets).
That was how this book was born. It’s grown in size from what I though it would be but it’s turned out just as I hoped. My son’s girlfriend, Eimear O’Callaghan, has created some very beautiful gradient graphics to illustrate the book, my husband has done an amazing job laying out the book and my son had done a lovely editing job with my rough videos from the photo shoot :-)

The book will be released on the 1st of September but you can now pre-order your print (with complementary digital download code from ravelry) copy before then. All books will be shipped from the 1st of September and you’ll receive your digital download code on the same day. As a pre-sale bonus use code PRERAINBOW to get free shipping before 1st of September :-)

To keep you excited I’m releasing the pattern details of a new pattern on ravelry every day until the launch.

Here are the first 3 patterns that are up:


Probys armwarmers
Half Moon Street
Half Moon Street

Working on those gradients

So last weekend we had a wonderful photo shoot for the gradient book – I think it’s going to be called ‘Knitting with Rainbows’. Very fittingly we found some fantastic graffiti downtown in Cork that makes the perfect backdrop for the book. We also found this spot behind the disused Beamish & Crawford brewery. It was across the river so we couldn’t reach it, but so beautiful!
IMG_5921I’ve been working like a crazy person for the last few weeks putting tutorials together and reviewing pattern edits. In my head up to this point I keep saying ‘it’s just going to be a small book‘, just a few patterns and tutorials. Well apparently I can’t do anything small! I’ve got 11 patterns, additional stitch patterns and tutorials and at the very minimum I think this book will be around 80 pages long. It would explain why feeling somewhat overwhelmed, a little bit panicked and exhaused. I haven’t acknowledged what a substantial project I was taking on. It is however going to be an information packed and very pretty book. My son’s girlfriend is a very talented illustrator and next week she is getting started on book illustrations and I can’t wait to see them. I’ll share some with you as she works along.

Just to give you a flavour of the book, 2 patterns have already been produced and are out in the world. The first is Probys Armwarmers which was the last pattern from the Irish Yarn Club 2016. (All patterns are also on ravlery now from that club). This pattern is a great example of how a slip stitch pattern can be used to blend a gradient kit that has big jumps between the colours.

The first version was in Townhouse Yarns:

I’ve also had a sample made using a second yarn to give an idea of what another set of colours would look like.
The second version uses Fyberspates yarn:


The second pattern that you’ve seen before is Stave Hat. I’ve previously published the child’s sweater version of this chart and the hat has been used in my Textured Colourwork classes. This hat uses textured colourwork (purls worked into a stranded pattern) to blend the colours together. It works really well for either a gradient set that has big colour jumps or for a collection of colours you have put together yourself that you want to blend smoothly.
(Yes, that really is a giant cockerel mural behind her….)

So if we keep working at this pace I think the book will be ready to go by the autumn. I hope you’re all getting as excited about this as I am – it’s getting real now :-)

New pattern & KAL almost here!!

Anyone out there who has been following me on Instagram or Twitter will have spotted my newest pattern – Dusty Road!

A few months ago Anzula told me that they were releasing a brand new yarn, Ava, and would love me to design something for the TNNA fashion show. In May we got the yarn and my sample knitter knit like the wind :-) The end result, Dusty Road, is both stunning and wearable. It’s a top down raglan sweater with lace details on the sleeves. The body has a side panel of lace running down each side with gentle waist shaping.

Anyone with a sharp eye will spot that I’ve used the same lace pattern on the sleeves of Dusty Road that appears in my newest KAL, Santa Rosa Plum. Sometimes as a designer your fall for a stitch pattern and just want to see it used in a few different ways; once just isn’t enough :-) I’ve just added a new tutorial here showing how to work a yarnover between knit and purl stitches (which is used both of these patterns).

AND…are you all ready? The Santa Rosa Plum KAL is starting this Saturday! First clue will go up then and everyone is ready to go!

Making Lists

So it would appear I’ve got a lot going on. Between family commitments, travel (both me and my husband), teaching, book, magazine and yarn company projects I’m stretched pretty thin.

However, I do appear to be just about holding it together. Certain things (such as regular housework!) aren’t always getting done but I’m staying on top of everything.

The only reason I’m actually still sane is lists and reminders. Every day I write and rewrite lists. I break projects into short lists and cross them off as I go. At the end of the day all unfinished business gets scooped up and rewritten into the next day’s list. That’s the theory at least. Some weeks my head is much more in the game and I go charging through lists, other weeks the list looks the same at the end as it did at the start.

Combining that with calendar/reminder apps means that I don’t forget stuff. If I get a text from school that someone is finished early – pop it into the calendar with a reminder far enough in advance that I can deal with it. Putting all these little things in as automatic reminders has saved me so much mental space. It’s such a relief to not have the worry of forgetting about something hanging over me!

My lists extend into projects as well – my Gradient book list is getting shorter by the minute… just take a look at my growing pile of finished samples. Just a few more left to go and we’re ready for photography :-)


My biggest job now is expanding on the book text and getting the remainder of the illustrations done. My ‘Painting with Rainbows’ class from the Edinburgh Yarn Festival class has formed the backbone of the book structure. The divisions I’ve used for different types of gradients in the class will form each section of the book with pattern examples of each type. It looks like it’s shaping up to be a really useful, pretty little book!

In other work, I’ve got 2 new published patterns to share with you!

© Nicole Mlakar

The first is from Pom-Pom magazine, issue 17. I was so proud to be part of this magazine, and very flattered to have my pattern, Nouri, on the front cover. It’s a simple but effective design; the great linen yarn is just perfect to get the drape and heaviness that it needed. Knit in the round from the bottom up there is a large lace detail up one side. At the armholes you divide for the front and back, each side is knit separately and short rows shape the sleeves and shoulders before they’re rejoined. The yarn used is Quince & Co, Kertrel – watch out for a giveaway here for some yarn to make your own Nouri sweater very shortly!

The second pattern I’ve had published recently is Parcel.

© Crissy Jarvis

This is a pattern that was first published in the Twist Collective in Winter 2010 using Classic Elite Magnolia yarn.
They have reknit it in Black Trillium Fibre studio Sublime for a completely different look that gives it a great update. This yarn really makes the delicate twisting cables in this sweater pop, plus that scooped neckline is so flattering to wear. To get some inspiration on different yarns and shapes in this sweater take a look at some of the projects that knitters have added to ravelry.

Just in case you think that’s not enough check back here on Thursday for some very exciting news I’ve got to share with you :-)