Where did we leave off last time? I think I had shared a bit about my first swatch and then left you with a nice teaser that today we would be talking about motif and design.

You may recall from any conversation with me ever that swatching is kind of important. It is a playground for experimentation through trial and error. I keep most of my swatches, whether successful or disastrous, because they are always learning experiences.

Before I get ahead of myself, here is a coloured sketch of the general sweater idea (this is the back of the sweater). You can more or less make out the waves, trees, and mountains rising from the lower edge of the sweater, and transitioning into… something. I didn’t quite get around to planning every detail yet.

Sweater 14

With that, and after some extensive colour-mapping, I got to work.

Sweater 15

And wound up with a pretty decent swatch!


I did make some changes to the design as I went, but this kind of planning allowed me to re-check my gauge, and helped give me a willingness to modify motifs on the fly, since I had a pretty solid grasp of how the fabric would alter.

I’m going to leave you with a few more photos of my sketches for the time being, because I really do have to get back to work… Next time I promise I will have an actual progress update on the knitting of the sweater itself! (Hint: It’s not done yet… there are rocky seas ahead).

Sweater 16




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I am so pleased to tell you all that we have a new line of project bags in store. What makes them even more special is that it is one of our very own staff that is making them!! For those of you that frequent the North Van shop you already know Valerie Jeffrey, but for those of you that haven’t ventured over there, let me introduce you to her and her new, gorgeous project bag line- Valerie’s Closet.


These are the “Snap” bags. They have a magnetic strip closer, that easily snaps open and closed. As you can see they come in great, fun, funky fabrics, are the perfect size, lightweight and super functional!


Next are the “Humbu” bags. These are smaller than the Snap bags, perfect for socks and knitting accessories and tools. They are made of a heavier, almost quilted like fabric with a zipper closer.


Each one of Valerie’s bags are unique and honestly a work of art. I was so fortunate to have won one in our secret santa Christmas party one year (sorry to whom ever I stole it from ;) ) and I covet it…it actually sits on my fire place mantel it is so gorgeous!

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A few weeks back, I introduced a new project of mine with a little backstory. I left off that post with a picture of my initial sketch and key design elements.

Now, before I get too heavily invested in choosing specific motifs and stitch patterns, I like to work out a few swatches with the yarn. Sometimes I’ll start swatching motifs immediately, if I know I’m going to be working with a yarn with which I am familiar. This begs the question: What yarn am I going to use for this sweater?

I wanted something in the 20-22st/4″ range (DK to worsted), because I didn’t want it to be too bulky (but also not so fine that it takes forevvvvvver). I prefer to work in wool, or wool blends, however the future wearer of this sweater does have moderately sensitive skin, so nothing too “traditional” – that means a superwash or merino wool yarn. I wanted to have a good range of colours to choose from (since I knew I would be working with neutral colours, it was very important to have enough colours to choose from). And finally, I wanted it to be relatively inexpensive, so none of my favourite top-shelf fancy hand-dyed, luxury blends for this project.

My final choice? Rowan Pure Wool Worsted. I’d consider it a light worsted, it is reasonably priced, comes in a huuuuuge number of colours, is superwash, 100% wool, and I kind of just wanted to give it a try.


Choosing colours… Well, you may remember my earlier post on colour theory (note to self: work on part 2 of that series) where I focused on the importance of considering colour value when knitting colourwork. Well, knowing that I was going to be working three yarns that did not differ greatly in hue – paying close attention to value was especially critical for this project!

I basically just pulled out all the neutral options we had, and started by getting rid of the ones that didn’t appeal. I immediately tossed the pure white and dark black, as I was worried they would be too dramatic. None of the greys were really calling to me, and my partner had expressed a desire for warmer tones in the sweater, so I opted to stick to creams and browns. I slowly whittled it down to three – no real rhyme or reason beyond ensuring I had a high, low, and mid valued yarn, and three colours that looked nice together.


For the record, the colours I chose are 102 (cream), 103 (light brown), and 110 (dark heather brown).

Next up was swatching. Well, the first phase of swatching. When I work on a large project, it is often an iterative process. In this case, I had a loose idea of the kinds of motifs I wanted, so I just drew from my mental stockpile of easy patterns and went nuts. I always like to swatch with the yarn in plain stockinette (sometimes in a few needle sizes), and then in each of the stitch patterns to be used in the item. Here, I had examples of low density (the lice motif at the top), high density (the crosses and naughts), and mid density (the chevrons) stranded colourwork motifs. This photo was taken post-blocking, and you can actually see quite clearly just how much firmer the fabric is over a high-density motif – this is clearly going to be a structural concern when planning a multi-patterned sweater (at least 5 or 6 different motifs).


Well, I think I have rambled on sufficiently for today… But as a teaser for next time, I’m breaking out my design arsenal…

Sweater6     Sweater5

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Have you walked past our shop lately? You must come and check out our new window display for February, it is really cool. The Valentines day themed display was created by Kaitlyn Hansen-Boucher, she did an amazing job!! Here is a picture, but really you must come and have a closer look.


I thought that I would stick with the Valentines Day theme for this blog post as who doesn’t like to receive some warm and fuzzy? We all could use some love, pass it on- it spreads fast and makes the world a better place ;) Why not celebrate by showing the people you love with a handmade gift? I pulled these ideas together for you, and don’t worry I know that it is next week but a lot of these ideas are super quick and easy knits (I am talking a couple of hours here, not even).

A homemade card:

heart card

Pattern: http://www.ravelry.com/patterns/library/valentine-hearts-5

Knitted hearts:



Another version….with or without catnip (for your cat, silly):



Mug or cup cozy:



Knitted heart ring:



And I had to include this one, hilarious!


Unfortunately the patterns looks like it is no longer available.


If that is not enough inspiration, here is a link to a long list of some more options:


Have fun and spread the love ;)

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I’ve been asked to share a bit of a story with all of you. Well, a story and a bit of a discussion. I’m going to share my personal design process with you. This is how I work, and maybe the insight will be useful or terrifying…

My partner and I were sitting around the house one day when she turned to me and said “you know that sweater of yours?”
To which I replied “No. Which sweater?”
“Oh, that grey and brown knit one in the bottom drawer that you wear.”
“You mean the one that doesn’t fit, is kind of ratty, and that I really only wear when I’m deathly ill with a fever?”
“Yeah, that one. I want one.”
“You want a ratty, sick-day, ill-fitting knit sweater?”
“No, I want a nice, hand made sweater that looks like that one.”

Well, that was the start of it. But by no means the end.
Here’s the sweater, front and back. It’s based on an Elizabeth Zimmermann seamless sweater, into which I crammed a bunch of different stranded motifs.



Next, we got to planning the new sweater.
We plunked down in front of computer and started trawling Ravelry. Honestly, it wasn’t terribly productive. There were existing designs that had some elements that my partner liked, but really nothing close to what she had in mind. So we let it mull for a few days, and came back to it later.

“So, what do you think you want your sweater to look like?”
“I don’t know! You’re the knitter, I have no idea what will look good.”

D’oh! Design mistake 101. People hire designers (graphic, knitting, software, whatever) because we are supposed to be experts. If people know what they want, why go to a professional in the first place?

This time, I sat down alone and thought about my original sweater and made a list of what were the strongest, most identifiable features. Let’s be honest, I can sit down and pick out the tiniest, most intricate of details, but I bet that those were not what were appealing.

I basically came up with this list:

  • Worsted weight (Cascade 220)
  • Dark grey, dark brown, cream fair isle in pretty broad, clear bands
  • Shawl collar
  • Shirt-yoke (across the back of the neck)
  • Lovely handmade wooden buttons
  • Seamless, classic, Zimmermann construction
  • Worked FLAT. Not in the round. That means there is purl-side stranded colourwork… (this is more of a personal note, not so much a visible design feature)

This was good! Next time we sat down I brought a pad of paper and started sketching. This is what we came up with.


Basically, a more refined version of my sweater:

  • Stranded colourwork, in three neutral colours
  • Shawl collar
  • Not too heavy a weight of yarn
  • Cardigan with buttons
  • Ribbing and the hems and cuffs
  • Hip-length
  • Not excessive bulk over certain areas (upper arms, bust)
  • Maybe pockets and elbow patches

So, that was the start of it. There is of course a lot more involved in making a sweater than just thinking and dreaming! But for now, I think that’s enough for you to mull over. Next time I’ll be back and start talking a bit about the specific design process: measurements, motifs, swatching, yarn selection, oh the list goes on!

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Hello All,

I just got back from NYC where I attended the Vogue Knitting Live conference. Yes I was a lucky one to be fortunate enough to attend this year, so thought that I would share some of my experience with you.

The event was held right downtown time square in 5 floors of the Marriott hotel, the market place alone was two floors! It was a great vibe and very inspiring to be there. If you haven’t heard of VK live or haven’t been to one of their events, I will bring you up to speed-
It is an event that happens every year in a few cities across the US. It brings in teachers from all over to teach their specialties and offers a large selection of classes as well as lectures to choose from. This year they even had machine knitting courses. There is a huge market place packed with vendors from all over the states and one from Canada- you may recognize, lanaknits as it is the hemp yarn that we carry in the shop.
The market place also has fashion shows, demos, a fitting station, a yarn tasting station, a beginner bar, a book nook, and even an area to relax and get a complimentary back and hand massage!

Here are some photos for you to experience the event and to inspire your creativity.


Features from the vogue magazine.


Now those are large needles!


A life size felted wizard.


Everything in this fridge was knit, the detail is amazing.




Yes these are completely all knit as well.


The market place, a dangerous place;)

It was great to hang out with lots of knitter’s, teachers and designers. I always learn a lot and come home very inspired. My highlights were the trend forecasting lecture, the courses I attended, people watching, the market place and definitely the free lecture- a panel of designers talking design. It was a hoot to listen to Stephen West, what a character! http://westknits.com

VK Live NYC was a blast and a big step up from the last two events I attended in Seattle. It was great to see knitting in such a large capacity and popularity in such a fashion forward and trend setting city like NYC. It is too bad that the closer to home location of Seattle was taken off as one of the event venues, lets hope that they will bring it back so that more of us vancouverites can enjoy it too, it is well worth the effort to get there!

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I am sure you have been bombarded with New Years resolution emails about fitness, health, lifestyle etc and now here is another resolution idea to add to your list….your Unfinished Objects. Yes we all have them just like we all have a stash of yarn we want to get through, both seem to stack up and grow with every passing year. I don’t even want to tell you how many are on my list, lots of them so very close to being able to be worn that you would think that that would be enough motivation to finally finish them. For some reason blocking, seaming and finishing gets put aside as it is always more fun to start something new…classic startitis. So lets make a New Years resolution to finish our UFO’s and break the cycle!

I started over the holidays, fished out some of my UFO’s and did some seaming and you know what it felt good, I was excited about the prospect of being able to wear the finished garment. That being said I think that that excitement will wear off quickly (speaking from past attempts) so lets encourage each other to keep the momentum going and get these guys finished!

For a little bit of added motivation why not store your UFO’s in a beautiful, locally handmade project bag? Then every time you see this gorgeous bag, you will be reminded and inspired to stay on track and get the job done.


The bags are made by Kas Designs and all are constructed from 100% reclaimed fabric samples and remnants. The fabrics are nice and thick, beautiful and soft to the touch. They come in two sizes, the larger one with lots of inside pockets for all your notions and goodies.


The smaller travel knitting bag is great for small on the go projects like socks, accessories etc and can be carried on your arm if you are one of those talented sock knitters that can knit a pair while they walk or stand ;)



Here’s to a New Year, 2015, new resolutions, new beginnings and finishing those UFO’s!!

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Well, they’ve gone and done it again…

Alexa and Emily (of the now-infamous Tin Can Knits) have yet another fantastic book coming out, and we’re stoked to be hosting their book launch for Road Trip!


Details first, then the goodies.
This Friday (January 9th, 2015)
Urban Yarns Point Grey

You know the routine, goodies, trunk show, meet and greet with the authors – it’s bound to be a great time!

I think my favourite patterns so far are Stovetop, Old Growth, Clayoquot, and Bonfire, but it’s pretty tough to decide… Clearly, you need to get your hands on the samples this Friday to help you choose which to knit first!


Old Growth



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It is Christmas Eve!!!

Yikes where has the time gone, does anyone else feel like it was just summer? It is the last day for shopping and yes you probably already guessed my gift idea for today. The last but not least, can’t go wrong, quick, easy and always a winner……..GIFT CARD.


You can purchase a gift card for any denomination you choose. Either pick one up from the store or purchase over the phone from the comforts of your own home and we can mail it out to the lucky recipient (but obviously not in time for Christmas day ;)

We are open 10am-3pm, so don’t leave it too late!

Have a wonderful, relaxing, joyous holiday filled with lots of laughter and of course plenty of knitting time.

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If you’re still looking for holiday gifts for a knitter (or a non-knitter), well I hate to say it but, you’re cutting it a bit close. Unless you enjoy hitting the malls in the last two days before Christmas (speak for yourself, but I plan to avoid all shopping spaces until at least mid-January at this point).

So what would make a great last-minute gift? Well, while the tides certainly wait for no man, you can give your knitter the gift of time. Personally, I always prefer to gift experiences rather than things, so I have become quite adept at drawing up gift certificates and other cute redeemables (see an in-process one below).


Some ideas for giving the gift of time:

  • Take the children/pets somewhere for a few hours for quiet knitting time
  • Do dinner/dishes/cleanup one evening (and maybe make a nice cocktail while you’re at it)
  • Take your knitter out for a coffee/drink – bring yourself a book or crossword puzzle while they knit
  • Let your knitter pick the TV show/movie for a few nights (we all have media that we prefer knitting to)

Get creative – I’m sure you can think of chores that your giftee hates, or other ways to give them a bit of breathing room and time to just… knit (and hey, more knitting time, means more knitted gifts for you next year!)

Julia will close out our advent ideas tomorrow, but this is it for me this year. I’ll be back with you all in 2015. Happy and safe holidays!

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