Butter. The very first thing that came to mind when I picked up my first skein of Swans Island (I distinctly remember it was from their 100% organic merino line), was ‘Butter’. I mean, this yarn was just *so* *incredibly* *soft*. Not to put down any of my favourite luxury yarn producers (you know who you are), but this yarn blew them all away as far as pure hand-feel goes. I knew immediately that I wanted to knit with it.

Fast forward a few years, and we have been stocking it for a couple of months now. Above you can see some of the Swans Island that we stock. From left to right, Worsted (100% organic merino), Worsted (85% organic merino, 15% alpaca), Sport (superwash, 100% merino), Fingering (100% organic merino), and Lace (50% merino, 50% tussah silk).

The two different Worsted base yarns – Merino on the left, Merino/Alpaca on the right.

Left to right: Sport, Fingering, Lace

For the ultimate in smoosh, sqoosh, squish, or smush, you want the 100% organic merino (worsted).

For something with just a little more fuzz, fluff, or fondle, check out the merino/alpaca.

The Sport and Fingering have all the goodness of the Worsted, just in a lighter, thinner, more tightly spun package. Hats, warmers, mitts, oh my! Personally, the Lace with it’s 50/50 merino/tussah blend really called to me. I’ve nabbed several skeins of it for a really exciting new project. If you ask really nicely, maybe I’ll even blog about it.

To me, Swans Island really represents the new luxe. Natural, complimentary colours, forgiving, decadent base yarn. It all just silently screams elegance, taste, comfort. Simply divine.

Have you tried Swans Island? What would you like to knit with it? Tell us if you’d like to see more of their products in store.


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Thank you to every one who came out to meet Alex Winslow of Graphic Knits on Sunday. Have you got your favorite sweater picked out?

Then why not come and knit it in Karen’s Sunday Intarsia class starting, Nov. 9th from
12:00 to 2:00.
You can learn how to knit one of Alex’s fun but functional sweaters, or you can pick a different sweater pattern, just make sure you email Karen the pattern before the start of class.
(cables2lace@gmail.com )

If colour work isn’t your cup of tea we have a ton of new classes starting in November,
just check out our class schedule.


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Urban Yarns is pleased to announce and super stoked to host a book signing and trunk show for  Alexis Winslow’s new book “Graphic Knits”. These events are few and far between so we get very excited when we have the opportunity to have an out of town “knit-designista” come to our shop, this is an event you won’t want to miss!!!

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You may know Alexis already or recognize this popular ravelry pattern of hers, the Reine cardigan from Wool People Vol. 3 by Brooklyn Tweed:

Reine1

But if not here is a little background info on the very talented, Alexis Winslow- “she is a knitwear and textile designer living in Brooklyn New York. Her knitwear designs have a bold graphic aesthetic and often utilize interesting construction techniques. Alexis is the creative force behind KnitDarling.com and author of the book Graphic Knits (Interweave Press). Her designs have also been published in print magazines including Interweave Knits and Knitscene as well as on the web through Brooklyn Tweed Yarn Company and KnitPicks.com. She has also contributed many designs to books and anthologies including Ann Budd’s Scarf Style 2 and Lisa Shroyer’s Free Spirit Shawls.

Alexis splits her time working as a textile print designer by day, the Creative Director/ Cofounder of CharitySub.org by night, and running things around KnitDarling.com in every moment between. Her hobbies include painting, sewing, and embroidery. In addition to numerous gallery shows, her artwork has also been featured on the television show Broad City (Comedy Central) and commissioned by Van’s Shoes for their company archives.

Alexis is originally from Norman, Oklahoma. She attended the University of Oklahoma and received her BFA in 2005, focusing on painting and pottery. After moving to New York City in 2007, she studied textile design at the Fashion Institute of Technology (FIT). Alexis now works as a printed textile and product designer, creating children’s bedding and bath products for a large firm in New York City. She established KnitDarling.com in 2010, and cofounded CharitySub.org in 2011. Alexis began self-publishing her independant knitting patterns in 2009, and by 2012 landed her first full length book deal for Graphic Knits (Interweave Press).

Alexis’ eclectic experiences and prolific career gives her a unique perspective in her design work. Creativity, high craft, and mindful design are a thread throughout everything she does. You can see more of her work at www.knitdarling.com and www.alexiswinslow.com.”

And now about her newly released book-

Graphic_Knits-jacket_art

graphic-knits-homepage

GRAPHIC KNITS, INTERWEAVE PRESS 2014
Go bold with gorgeous, graphic color!
“Graphic Knits is a must-have for the fashion-forward modern knitter. Enjoy knitting 20 bold and colorful designs!
Graphic Knits is a collection of 20 patterns featuring modern colorwork inspired by geometric motifs. Fresh and bold, the projects are created by an up-and-coming design star for the Knitscene set. Author Alexis Winslow makes use of color-knitting techniques such as stripes, Fair Isle, intarsia, and slipped stitches to create visually appealing garments.
Shape and pattern engage in a playful and mutually flattering relationship across the 20 projects in this book. Many patterns have unexpected, modern details. An oversized, chunky cable scarf is given vivid personality through color blocking. A shapely sweater sports a pretty pattern around the collar—but instead of a traditional Scandinavian motif, bright polka dots create something fresh and new.
The color designs are truly eye-popping in this trendy and fashion-forward knitting book on bold, high-impact knits!”

Print

Print

Now can’t you see why we are thrilled to host this event and why you don’t want to miss it?!! So clear your calendar for next Sunday, Oct. 26th from 2-4pm and come join us at our Point Grey store to try on and gush over all of the designs, meet Alexis and have your book signed, enjoy some refreshments and mingle with friends. Help us kick off Alexis’s westcoast tour with a bang!!

Graphic-Knits-Trunk-Show

FYI-We have the books already in stock (PG store only….sorry NV folks) if you can’t wait until the 26th….or if you are anything like me and just can’t resist:)!!

Again here are the details:

Date: Sunday, October 26th
Time: 2-4pm
Location: Urban Yarns Point Grey store
Refreshments served :)

Hope to see you there!!

 

 

 

 


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Hey all,

Did you make it to Knit City over the weekend? If you missed it or haven’t heard about it yet, it is time to get in the loop because you definitely don’t want to miss out again! Knit City was created by young mom’s, Fiona and Amanda who met in a local knit group and desired to unite all knitters and fibre enthusiasts in our local community.  Their mandate is “to help this community of crafters and artisans grow and become even more closely tight-knit”.  This they definitely have accomplished and even so much so that they had to change venues this year to accommodate its growing success at becoming Vancouver’s best knitting event!  As a result it was held at the PNE Forum instead of the Croatian Cultural Centre.  The change in venue allowed for more vendors, a larger class selection and more space to just hang out and knit. In classic Knit City style there was a long line up of eager knitters waiting at the door well before the 10am open on Saturday and the traditional hand dyed colour way yarn, special for the event was sold out by the end of the day!!  We look forward to this event every year, to be part of such a fun knitting extravaganza in our own community.  This year Urban Yarns staff were very busy teaching arm knitting to all ages, it was packed with enthusiastic people getting all tangled up in yarn.

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What did you think of the new venue? Were you one of the lucky ones that got into the sold out Steph Pearl Mcphee’s Knitting For Speed and Efficiency class or did you hang out with Kate Atherley, Holli Yeoh, Amy Singer, just to name a few.  Did you get a skein of the 2014 colour way yarn?  What are you going to make with it? and what were your highlights and fine finds from the market place?  We would love to hear all about it, what  you couldn’t resist and what you have now casted on those needles.  Let’s see those arm knitting pictures!!

It was so wonderful to see so many enthusiastic knitters, thank you all who came to say hi to us and those who took the plunge at arm knitting….it was a blast to get all tangled up with you!!  Don’t forget to use your special coupon from the show, we look forward to seeing you again soon:)

 

 


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As you’ve probably heard by now, we’re celebrating our tenth anniversary this year, and we’d love for you to celebrate with us.

Some of you have been with us from the beginning, and some of you are newer additions to our family. One thing that we all have in common (other than an insatiable love for all things yarn), is that we have some great stories about  our experiences at Urban Yarns. To that end, we are collecting stories (urban… ‘yarns’, if you will) from friends, neighbours, customers, staff… pretty much anyone who will share them!

Not only are we collecting these stories, but we want to share them with everyone. Select stories may appear in our upcoming 10th anniversary book (shh, it’s still a bit of a secret), our monthly newsletter, this blog, and on our website. We are so proud of all of you, and so thankful that you’ve been part of our community!

Spread the word, tell us your favourite story, help us celebrate, and enter to win a prize!

 

Contest details are as follows:

Tell us your best Urban Yarns story! Did someone go above and beyond helping you? Did we find that unfindable skein of yarn? Did you learn something invaluable from one of our teachers? Tell us about it!

250 word limit

Deadline is Friday, October 10th, 2014 (yes it’s a tight deadline, but we know you can do it!)

Send your submissions* to knitting@urbanyarns.com

There are prizes to be won for the top stories (as chosen by  a select team of Urban Yarn aficionados).

1st place: one copy of the upcoming Urban Yarns 10th anniversary book and a $50 gift certificate to Urban Yarns

2nd place: one copy of the upcoming Urban Yarns 10th anniversary book and $25.00 gift certificate to Urban Yarns

3rd place: one copy of the upcoming Urban Yarns 10th anniversary book

 

* By entering, you are giving permission for your story to be published in the upcoming Urban Yarns 10th anniversary book, and online for promotional purposes. Please include your full name and contact information so we can contact the winners once chosen. If you would like your submission to be published anonymously, under your given name, under a pseudonym, only with your initials, or with some other identifier, please include your preference in the submission email.


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Hello all,

I am so excited to be joining Michael in creating the Urban Yarns blog posts and most of all thrilled to be connecting with you to talk everything knitting!!

So let me introduce myself and share a little bit about how passionate I am about all aspects of fibre. I started off crafting at an early age, beads, fimo, friendly plastic and then took sewing all through high school. I had a short break at University where I studied Biology but was reconnected with my passion of textiles when I spent a year travelling SE Asia and Australia. When I returned home I enrolled in fashion design, took every textile type workshop I could find in the city, did the Textile Arts Certificate at UFV all the while falling more and more in love with fibre, yarn and….KNITTING!! I joined the Urban Yarns team and found another passion of mine-teaching and sharing the craft of knitting. My love of design, texture and creativity eventually led me to the Nihon vogue program. This is an intense 4 year Japanese fine finishing and design, knit wear program. I am currently finishing up the second year (the most detailed and time consuming year), where I have had to design and knit a puffed sleeve cardie, a dolman sweater, an aran sweater, traditional Gansey, fair isle yoke sweater and capelet (just to name a few). Needless to say it has been an intense design process and a knitting frenzy!! Here are a few pictures to show you what I mean.

Gansey Swatches
Gansey Swatches

Gansey
Gansey

Aran Sweater
Aran Sweater

Little did I know that Gansey and Aran patterns were going to be so HOT this Fall!!

That’s enough history, now lets talk knitting!


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Today we’re going to chat a bit about yarn construction, specifically the significance and meaning of different types of plied yarn.

First off, I want to put to rest a common misunderstanding: the number of plies in a particular yarn has no inherent bearing on its gauge. That is to say, you can have a single-ply laceweight yarn, a single-ply bulky yarn, a 6-ply fingering weight yarn, an unplied worsted weight yarn, etc…

The concept of plies corresponding to gauge was at one point something of an industry standard, but modern manufacturers have since moved away from this. Historically, there was a standard-ish base, unplied weight for a single strand of yarn, so that (for example) a 4-ply yarn (made from four individual strands spun together) would be roughly the same from mill to mill to mill. This can be still be seen in some manufacturers labelling yarns as 4-ply (which corresponds to fingering or sock weight) or 6-ply (comparable to sportweight), but that is about as far as it goes.

So! For modern yarns, plies are independent of gauge. This really isn’t a big deal, as pretty much every manufacturer lists the gauge straight on the yarn label.

For todays discussion I grabbed a few yarns out of stash to take a look at. We have some single-ply, 2-ply, 3-ply, 4-ply, and…. other. Yeah, some yarns are a bit more special – we’ll talk about them later.

The single-ply yarns we have here are Schoppel Wolle Zauberball (lace weight) and Noro Kureyon (worsted weight). You can see that they are both constructed of a single strand of yarn, which is composed of many individual wool fibres that run parallel to each other. Both of these yarns have a light to moderate twist and are relatively soft in the hand, but you can see that the red Kureyon is much hairier and less densely spun than the smoother, tighter Zauberball.

The two-ply yarns I chose are Harrisville Designs Highland (Aran weight), Koigu KPPPM (fingering weight), and Rowan Kidsilk Haze (fingering/laceweight). These three yarns are composed of two plies of yarn spun around and around each other. The Highland and the KPPPM are both 100% wool and have a relatively smooth surface compared to the Kidsilk Haze which is mohair and silk, and in which each ply is composed of a silk core, with the mohair spun more loosely into and around it, giving the unique “haze”. You can also see that the KPPPM has a very tight twist compared to the more relaxed Highland and Kidsilk – I’ll talk more about that later.

Next up, the three-ply yarns are a mystery acrylic yarn from deep in my stash, and Habu A-21 Silk Stainless Steel. This really shows the possible range of gauges available from the same number of plies. It’s a bit tough to see, but the Habu has two plies of silk, and one of an ultra-fine stainless steel all spun together.

Four-ply yarns! We have Cascade 220 (worsted weight) and Madelinteosh Merino DK (DK weight). These are actually quite similar, but a distinguishing factor is the tightness of the spin – you can see that the plies of the Madelinetosh spiral around each other much more tightly than the Cascade. You might also be able to tell that the Madelinetosh looks smoother – it is a superwash yarn and has been treated to smooth the surface of the individual yarn fibres to prevent felting.

Finally, we have some unique constructions. First up is a mystery novelty yarn. It seems to have five or six plies, all made of a different fibre. Next is Habu Merino 4P. The Habu is really interesting, as it is four plies of merino (and each ‘ply ‘ is actually a 2-ply strand unto itself!), which are not spun together, but are wrapped with a very fine two-ply silk thread. So this is technically a 10-strand yarn that is a light fingering weight!

There are several other unique constructions, and if there is enough interest, I might take a closer look at some of them for you!

So, what does all this mean, other than numbers are kind of meaningless? Well, as a general rule, the greater the number of plies, the more durable the yarn. This means plied yarns will pill less than unplied yarns, and generally wear better. So socks or other high-wear items are best worked in a plied yarn. Similarly, the tighter the twist in a yarn, the more durable the fabric will be. The flipside is that a looser plied (or unplied) yarn fabric is often a bit softer in feel (and in wear). Now, I haven’t tested this, but it also stands to reason that a loosely, or unplied yarn will felt easier than a tight, high-ply yarn.

A more tightly plied yarn will also produce a fabric with different drape and gauge than an unplied yarn, and a really tightly plied yarn might start to twist and loop back on itself while you work with it. Also, smooth plied yarns tend to have better stitch definitely than unplied hairy yarns – so choose wisely when working something with a lot of detail…

These are all simply factors to consider. There is no perfect yarn, only yarns that are more or less suitable to a specific project. This information is best absorbed through experimentation, so it’s great if you can learn to identify different types of yarn construction, and play with using them in different ways in your work.

Now, I know this is a lot of information to take in, which is why we would love to help you pick out the best yarn for your next project!


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Sometime this past Fall, we brought in a few yarn lines from Juniper Moon. One of these lines is their 100%, worsted weight baby alpaca, Herriot. Herriot comes in a range of natural, neutral colours and is just divinely buttery to the touch (and I don’t even like working with alpaca, as you may know.

Well, Juniper Moon also offers patterns along with their yarns and we got Jan’s Mom to work up a sample of Ida Mae, an indulgently large, ombre wrap. And it turned out FANTASTIC. I don’t wanna ruin all her lovely handiwork by talking on and on, but this pattern is just stunning. It *is* heavy, which makes for a perfect winter wrap/blanket, and would look awesome with a belt. For now, take a looksie at the photos, and come on down to check out the yarn. Yarn and pattern are both available in-store and online. And if you ask really nice, I think the sample is still hidden away in the back room at Point Grey…


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Shawls, wraps, wrap-front sweaters, big cowls, scarves… the list of knitwear that can be improved (or that necessitates) by a shawl pin or some other form of closure goes on and on! Here’s a quick overview of a couple of my favourite designs that we have in stock right now.

Talking Pins
Made by local artist Nancy Walker, these unique pins are crafted out of clay and will bring just a little bit of delight to your day. Pins are available in store.

Jul Designs
Working in a mix of wood, silver, bronze, precious stones and other materials, Jul offers a wide range of styles of shawl pins. I think my favourites here are the twig and Inca designs. Jul pins are available in store.


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If you follow us on Facebook, you may have noticed that we just got in a new product that we are beyond ecstatic about: Harrisville Designs brand new WATERshed. WATERshed is a 100% wool, worsted weight yarn that comes in 16 of the most incredible heathered colours you can imagine. Yardage is 110 yards/50 grams.

Above, left to right: Penstock, Stonewall, Granite, Birchbark

From their website: “The inspiration for this yarn came from canoeing through the watershed in Harrisville, New Hampshire. The water bubbles up from natural springs, flowing from the top at Spoonwood Pond down to the bottom at Lake Skatutakee. The names for each color were derived from various things I observed along the rivers, lakes, and stream as I paddled along. The color blends were designed to replicate the essence of the objects for which they are named. Water is the reason our village was established here. Every day the river brings more water, power, and life through our mill. Our watershed is an endless source of life and natural beauty. I hope you enjoy the yarn as much as we enjoyed spinning it.”

Above, left to right: Gatehouse, Elm, Barn Door, Monarch, Eastview

This yarn has an incredible degree of loft and the colours are beautiful and warm (and, as I love to see in a well-designed collection, all of the colours look great together. Seriously, it’s impossible to put together a single bad combination).
Most excitingly, we are currently the only yarn store in Canada that is carrying WATERshed, as this is a limited-scale production.

Above, left to right: Nelson, Cheshire, Bancroft, Silver Lake

Above, left to right: Canal, Mallard, Spoonwood

Most of us at the store are already swatching. I’ve chosen Cheshire (911) and Eastview (931) to play around with some new colourwork ideas, and it is a dream to work with.

We also have the full collection of WATERshed designs from Harrisville: Ambit, Antrim, Brando, Henniker, Hillsboro, Stoddard, and Surry. Patterns are available in store, and the yarn is available instore and online.


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