Archive for March, 2010

GCC: Granny Square Obsession

Monday, March 29th, 2010


I’m not really a crocheter. I can crochet in a pinch and I’m fairly competant at pattern reading but I’m limited in my experience. With a refresher I can single, double, triple, half-double, etc. and I remain confident that if I applied myself I could pick it up but as it stands I remain a knitter with limited crochet abilities. I had never even been drawn to crochet (except for a brief encounter in university) until I saw a most beautiful granny square blanket on the Purlbee here. Joelle Hoverson is one of my knitting heroes and she has a real eye for colour. I loved the geometric shapes and I decided I would apply myself and make a crochet blanket of my own.


I dug around my bookshelves and pulled out a copy of the Happy Hooker by Debbie Stoller (excellent pictures and funny explanations, what’s not to love in an instructional book?). I was ready to go. The first one I made with Spud and Chloe Sweater. It’s a washable wool/cotton blend that comes in nice bright colours.


Once I had completed 3 or 4 rounds I was into the swing of things and it was easy as pie! I had a good rhythm and I took it with me on vacation. One of the things I love about crochet is how fast it is. I was done in no time (it didn’t hurt that it was a baby blanket either) with beautiful results (if I do say so myself).


I then had to make another one because I was hooked (pun intended). This colourway was inspired by Neopolitan Ice Cream. I have intentions of passing this one off to the next baby girl I know. I love the way crochet looks so retro and something friends and I would call granny-chic. It’s kind of old fashioned but a more modern colour palette can really bring it up to date. Once I finished that one I move on to a different colour palette. One for the baby of unknown gender. Bright and colourful!


Last but not least (I said it was an obsession, believe me yet?!) I started one in Debbie Bliss Rialto DK. It’s a washable yarn as well and I am enjoying the way the thinner yarn makes kind of a delicate blanket.


To make a granny square blanket of your very own you will need:

4 skeins of Spud and Chloe Sweater (I used 5 colours for the third blanket but there were leftovers)

5.5mm hook

The pattern: granny-square1 (this pattern is pretty bare bones. I recommend some crochet knowledge or a copy of Happy Hooker by Debbie Stoller)

Blanket 1: Spud and Chloe Sweater 2 Rootbeer, 1 Moonlight, 1 Grass

Blanket 2: Spud and Chloe Sweater 2 Ice Cream, 1 Watermelon, 1 Rootbeer

Blanket 3: Spud and Chloe Sweater 1 Rootbeer, 1 Pollen, 1 Grass, 1 Splash, 1 Popsicle

For a Debbie Bliss Rialto DK blanket you will need about 6 balls of Debbie Bliss Rialto DK and a 4.5mm hook.


Making a difference

Saturday, March 27th, 2010

“So many people are affected by cancer, if not directly, then through our friends and family. It touches us no matter who we are, our age, gender, race or faith. I wanted to do something for the ones I love (and that’s a pretty inclusive everyone!). I hope others will help me with this goal.”

That was written by our very own Erica McLean who works in the Edgemont village location. It’s with her kind and caring personality that she wants to make a difference. How? By shaving her head with “Balding for Dollars” in support of children with cancer and blood disorders at the BC Children’s Hospital. The event will be taking place on May 8th.

Here’s Erica’s “before” photo with her lovely locks, and once the event is done, we’ll show you the “after” photo!


For more information and updates, you can visit Erica’s blog. And if you’d like to donate, you can just go to her donation site. Erica also let me know she’s willing to knit a beanie for anyone willing to join her in Balding for Dollars!

Great job Erica – we’re behind you all the way!

More Shibui!

Wednesday, March 24th, 2010

We promised you that more Shibui was on the way… well here it is! This time we received Baby Alpaca Dk, a super soft 100% Alpaca. This yarn knits up to a 22 stitch gauge on a 4mm needle.  Take a look at some of the colours we brought in…


We have tons of great patterns for both our Shibui yarns including the Boxy Pullover. This is a nice and warm sweater, with a cozy, loose fit.


The Baby Alpaca Dk is currently only at the Point Grey location, but will be delivered to Edgemont on Thursday.

This week’s special is Debbie Bliss Pure Cotton at 25% off. This is a fabulous cotton at a great price! I’ve personally knit with this yarn in the past, and absolutely love it! Pure cotton is an aran weight yarn knit on 5mm needles, and we have 14 great spring colours to choose from.

GCC: Subbing

Monday, March 22nd, 2010

crw_7914(random Zauberball picture. I am obsessed with this yarn. I made 2 pairs of socks already and I’m itching to start my 3rd!)

Two of the most common questions we get at UY are ‘what yarn should I use for this project’ and ‘are there any patterns that go with this yarn?’.  There are many answers to these questions and that is what we are here for at UY! There are so many yarns and patterns out there, it’s sometimes hard to know which one goes with which. Hopefully this post will get you started, especially is you are the kind of person who likes to do their own research.

There are a few different things to consider when subbing yarns.

1. Gauge: To me, this is the most important. If you are substituting yarns the first thing you want to look for is the gauge of the original yarn in the pattern. One of the most common mistakes people make is following the gauge on the pattern, not the yarn. This might not seem to make any sense but here’s why this is: sometimes patterns use needles that are much larger than the yarn would usually call for or much smaller.

If I were designing a lace pattern, for example, I might call for big needles and very fine yarn. This will give it a nice open and lacy look. Or perhaps my goal is a very dense fabric, then I would use small needles and thick yarn. The last example would give you a small gauge but really you would want a thick yarn. See the trouble? If you had checked the gauge on the yarn, you would see that you needed a thick yarn.

The other problem is that sometimes gauges are written ‘over pattern’. This means you are measuring over the pattern (maybe cables or lace), not in stockinette stitch. If you are getting 22 stitches per 4 inches over pattern, it might be more like 16 stitches per 4 inches over stockinette stitch. Because of all this we always check the gauge of the yarn, not the pattern. If it calls for a yarn that is 22 stitches per 4 inches in stockinette, that’s the yarn you will look for! Just to be sure, always check that the gauge is over 4 inches, not 1 or 2. Stay consistent.

2. Fiber: Different fibers have different qualities and will effect your knitting in different ways. You want to look at the fiber called for in the pattern and think about how your substitution will work.

Silk, for example, has a lot of drape. This is great for clothing items but it may not be what you want for a complicated lace pattern because silk won’t block into shape the way a wool or alpaca will. Different fibers are also warmer than others. While alpaca is delightfully soft it is also very warm, this might not work in a sweater for Vancouver weather (most of the time) but it would be lovely in a scarf or mittens. Fibers like mohair or angora have a nice halo which can be an important part of a pattern. Smooth yarns are sometimes more desirable for cables while fuzzy yarns add a little spice to stockinette stitch. There are lots of fibers to choose from, just keep in mind the different qualities of them when substituting.

3. Spin: The spin of a yarn is something to consider, especially when you are knitting a garment. Yarns with less spin to them are often quite soft but they can shed or pill more than others. That being said ALL YARN PILLS. This is a fact. A few have tried to tell me that it is the quality of the yarn or that Merino doesn’t pill, it’s not true. Some yarns certainly pill more than others but all yarns pill. This isn’t too big a deal in a hat (not a lot of friction putting it on and off the head) but you might want to steer clear of loosely spun yarn for a sweater (pilling in the under arm is the worst). For a sweater I would look for a yarn with a good tight spin to it, or don’t worry about it, pilling is a fact of life.

4. Washability: One thing you might want to ask yourself is how important washability is for you. All yarns can be hand washed but only some can be machine washed or dryed. I don’t mind doing a load of hand washing every so often, but I have a lot of knitted items. Be realistic but also remember how much time and effort you are putting into your knitting, it won’t kill you (or anyone you gift knitting to) to hand wash. That being said there are some very nice superwash wools out there these days, no need to go acrylic!

5. Alterations: Ask yourself whether or not you are will to make alterations to a pattern. If not, be more exacting with your substitutions. If the pattern calls for a 22 stitch gauge yarn and you are really grooving on a particular 18 stitch gauge, you have to be ready to do some math and make some changes. Only you can decide on this one!

It might seem like there is a lot to subbing yarn but really these are just a few tips and tricks. Knitting isn’t a science so don’t forget to be creative. Each knitted item is unique, partially because of the yarn substitutions you make. Enjoy!


Scrumptious silk!

Friday, March 19th, 2010

On Wednesday, we showed you Sahara in the moss green that Anina made. Here are a few of the other colour combinations that you could knit that top in…


Tilli Tomas Pure and Simple is a gorgeous yarn made from 100% silk. It’s subtle variation in colour really shows off the lovely sheen of this yarn.


Rock Star is a really fun, yet elegant yarn. With European glass beads throughout, it really catches the light nicely! Rock Star has the same composition as Pure and Simple, just with the added glitz of the glass beads.


One of the many projects that is in the Vogue Spring/Summer edition, is this beautiful lace flower scarf. It’s knit with two skeins of Tilli Tomas Pure and Simple on 4.5mm needles. Come by either store and pick up a copy of the magazine today!


Newsflash: Urban Yarns Edgemont Village location will be holding a “Sahara” class starting on Tuesday April 27th with Donna. Donna is an extremely accomplished knitter and a wonderful teacher who works in Edgemont on Saturdays . For more information on this class, please visit or call the Edgemont store at 604-984-2214. Sign up quickly, as this class is going to fill up fast!

On another note, we will be open tonight for Stitch and Bitch until 9pm. Alexa will not be here this evening, so be forewarned that any advanced questions (especially to do with her classes), will have to wait until next week. Kathleen will be hosting tonight, but not instructing.

If you love Shibui, make sure you read next Wednesday’s post!

Sahara and Smiley

Wednesday, March 17th, 2010

Two skeins of Tilli Tomas Pure and Simple, and one skein of Tilli Tomas Rock Star went home with Anina one day… The next week, a masterpiece appeared in the store! “Sahara” was designed by Wendy Bernard for Stitch Diva Studios. This top has an exquisite and elegant fit. Along with being knit top-down, sizing tips are placed throughout the pattern to help achieve the custom fit that you want. And best yet… no seaming required! Bring on the cheers!


Stitch Diva patterns are extremely well laid out. Almost all of the patterns have pictures of project stitches that you will use in your pattern. In this pattern it shows you how to do a provisional cast on, and also shows you different increases that you’ll need to use.


The rich silks that are used for this top are so sumptuous against the skin. The accent embellishment of Rock Star on the neck-line, cuffs and hem really add to the elegant feeling that this top exudes.


Anina made the short-sleeved version, but the pattern also gives you the option to make it sleeveless, or with a long dramatic sleeve. This pattern also accommodates for all sizes, ranging from a 31″ to a 53″ bust.For more photos, take a look at Anina’s ravelry page. We’re hoping to have a Sahara class in North Vancouver soon, so be sure to check our class schedule in the next few weeks! Anina’s top is in the front window of our Point Grey store, and Donna’s blue version is now in the North Vancouver store. Drop by and take a look!

Another project that Anina has just completed is Smiley the Leprechaun. Very appropriate for St. Patrick’s Day today!


What a fun project! Smiley is made from Cascade 220. We have loads of great colours in stock! And for all the little bits of colour, come in a take a look at the “Small Balls” from Pick Up Sicks. Made of 100% worsted weight wool, each ball is 65 yards which makes them great for little projects like this one.  For more pictures, take  a look here.

GCC: A Comical Knit

Monday, March 15th, 2010


There are so many things to love about knitting. I like to think of my various creations as wearable art. While this may seem a bit conceited, I think you should all think of your knitting the same way!

Even if two knitters have the same needles, yarn, and pattern, there are no two knitted items alike. Knitting is unique. Sometimes this drives people crazy, they often ask me why their knitting doesn’t look like the picture on the pattern, like their friends knitting, like my knitting, etc. There is no one answer to this questions. Knitters are as unique as their knitting, love it or hate it, it’s true.

Knitting is not only unique and practical (we do need knitwear, weather or not we need hand knitted garments is a debate for another day, I would obviously argue we do) but it is also beautiful. Knitting is art.


That was quite the lofty look at knitting….. perhaps there is a lighter side? Rest assured you don’t need to stew over the artistic integrity of your knitting at all times. Sometimes you need a comical knit! I once knit my brother an electric orange acrylic ribbed toque for his ‘Life Aquatic’ obsession. It makes me laugh every time I see it, he looks terrible in orange. Actually, anyone would look terrible in that particular shade of orange….Knitting ‘The Dude’ was also a little comical to me at least. I often see knits that make me laugh and the mustache cowl fits the bill. It’s even called Incognito, who could resist a chuckle? Who can resist poking a little fun at a mustachio? Especially one as hilarious as the ‘Buckaroo’!


I knit this little joy out of Louet Worsted for the main and contrast colours with the mustache done in a little Blue Sky Alpacas Worsted Hand Dyes I had left over from a mitten project. The Louet Worsted is a machine washable yarn that has just come into the shop in some cute springy colours. I used a Robin Egg blue and Minty green. The mustache is done in a double stitch technique (NO FAIR ISLE!): for this I used a great tutorial I found here. I knit the medium size.

Here you can see the inside of the cowl. I knit the ‘tangy’ version of the cowl which has a nice little detail in the hint of green showing at the top and bottom. The double thickness at the top and bottom is nice as well, keeping everything cozy.


To make an Incognito of your own you will need:

2 skeins Louet worsted (1 main colour, 1 contrast colour)

A little yarn for the mustache

5mm 16″ circular needles

The pattern: free from Knitty



Show and Tell

Friday, March 12th, 2010

Linda is one of our wonderful customers who always amazes us with her exquisite creations. Every time she visits us, we know we’re in for a treat to find out what her latest projects are. We’ll I thought we could show you a few that she’s recently brought in to show us…


This Moss Stitch Jacket is featured in the Debbie Bliss Fall/Winter 2009 magazine.  The pattern uses Debbie Bliss Donegal Luxury Tweed Aran – a gorgeous, soft tweed. I think the button that Linda chose is a perfect finishing touch to the jacket!

linda-0011 linda-0041

Flora is the cutest little doll made from a kit by Pick Up Sticks. Linda said she was really fun to make! If you love Flora, make sure you get her gear! Floras Furnishings comes with everything she’ll need for an outing; a hat, sweater, bloomers, and a knitting bag with needles.



Ok, so I may be a little biased about this next one because of my love for bunnies, but isn’t he so cute!? Linda made this adorable bunny from the Debbie Bliss Spring Summer ’09 magazine. The bunny takes 2 balls of Debbie Bliss Rialto Dk and  is knit on 3.25mm needles. The pattern suggests Debbie Bliss Donegal Aran Tweed for the sweater, but Linda used something from her yarn stash as you don’t need too much yardage.


Thanks so much for all the inspiration Linda… that bunny is certainly on my “to-do” list!

This week’s special is Mission Falls 1824 Cotton at 25% off. Why not knit up some of these little baby hats. You can find the pattern in Last Minute Knitted Gifts and it only uses one ball per hat! This sale yarn is only available at the Point Grey location, but can easily be transferred to Edgemont.

GCC: The Queen of Lace

Monday, March 8th, 2010


I just got off the ferry ending a wonderful weekend with the Queen of Lace. Who? You might ask. Miss Emily (the Queen herself) once worked at Urban Yarns but has moved to the island and we all miss her terribly. She is an expert at lace, both knitting and designing. This is her:


With summer on the way (I know it’s only March but the weather this weekend proved that it’s true) I am trying to think of some lighter projects to work on. I have worked in some cotton but lovely lace really seems like a great project. Here are some reasons you might want to give it a whirl:

1. It’s light to carry, you can get a lot of lace in 50 grams.

2. It’s light to knit, no heavy wool half finished blankets draped on you while you knit away.

3. Colour! You can kind of go nuts since shawls are an accessory.

4. Fashion. While I am admittedly not the most fashionable individual I love a small colourful lacey shawl around the neck.

Emily and I headed to the coast and chilled in Tofino for the weekend. While we were there we managed to get in some knitting at the cafe and at the beach. I thought I would take advantage of her wisdom and work on a couple of lacey items.


This is the Multnomah shawl (by the way, I love the Shalom sweater featured on the front page of her blog, nice) started during the Olympics. It was quick and easy and only 1 skein of sock yarn. Simple, yet effective. The bottom of the shawl is some feather and fan lace which is perfect conversational knitting because there are 3 rows of stockinette for every one row of lace pattern. I knit this up during catch up time and it’s blocking while I type.


The next project I started was the beautiful Brandywine Shawl. This one is worked from the tip to top which makes the bottom the hardest part. As the shawl grows there is more and more garter stitch in the middle (relaxing) but to kick it off it is all lace all the time. I am over the hump now so it is smooth sailing from here on in!


Instead of working away dilligently on my Brandywine I also cast on for a Sunflower shawl. What could I do, I had to take advantage of her expertise while I could! This one was designed by Emily herself and I love it. The pattern looks complicated but the repeats are easy to memorize, something I quite like in a shawl. It’s worked from the middle of the top outwards and the lace stitch patterns are reminiscent of sunflower seeds and petals. Beautiful. I’m knitting both shawls in the exquisite SweetGeorgia Cashsilk Lace.

On another note, the new Twist Collective just came out and there is a lovely lace shawl in it I have my eye on here! It’s called Dryad and it’s by the lovely Sivia Harding who is as nice as she is talented.


A success!

Saturday, March 6th, 2010

Thank you so much to everyone who came out yesterday and made our “Luxury Yarn Tasting” a huge success! We’re glad everyone had the opportunity to knit with these luscious fibres. Take a look at some of the fun we had yesterday…





If you couldn’t make it out yesterday, don’t panic! We still have all the yarns out for you to try. We also still have the gorgeous samples, but they will sadly be leaving after this weekend.