Archive for June, 2010

GCC: Putting Your Mind To It

Monday, June 28th, 2010


Knitters are a pretty amazing community. As part of this community you probably already know this, but it never hurts to throw out a reminder. I’m thinking of two pretty fabulous knitters in particular here: Anina and Jan. You’ve seen them around the shop I’m sure, maybe even at a few of the Friday night soirees we’ve had lately. They are always cheery and happy to help. Starting new projects and ordering up the yarn we love. This past year they’ve been up to  more than that though, they have been working their little buns off to raise money for the Ride to Conquer Cancer, and they have done a really amazing job!


There are some moments in life that are worth noting because they seem small at first, but then they grow. This moment belongs to Anina, and it’s the moment she decided to join the Ride. Anina is the kind of person that goes all in. There is no halfway with Anina and it’s what we love about her. She wasn’t just going to do the ride, she was going to raise a lot of money! Jan embraced this idea whole heartedly and the two of them were off. They gathered their families, friends, aquaintances, anyone they thought might like to hop on a bike or give some money to the cause. They worked their contacts, manned the phones, fundraised in their community, and held a really fun silent auction. All said and done these two devoted women (with a little help from their friends) raised over $90,000. This number to me is amazing. I’m so impressed by their hard work and dedication, these two are ones to follow!


There wasn’t just fun and games though (laugh) there was riding too. The ladies had to get their already in shape selves into even better shape for the ride! They rode all around our fair town getting ready for the big day. It was a 2 day ride through the Pacific Northwest and the 23 members of the Urban Yarns team had a blast. So, let this be a reminder, knitters are amazing and you can really do anything you put your mind to.


What’s New?

Friday, June 25th, 2010


I always love it when new things start coming into UY, getting ready for knitting season. While it’s only June for a little longer, September and cooler weather is only a few months away! That being said, we’ve had some great new colours and yarns piling into the shop.

First up are new colours in Spud and Chloe and Blue Sky Alpacas, as well as patterns to match. There are some new colours in all 3 weights, I was particularly smitten with a pretty plummy purple in Sweater, and a very nice green in the Outer. What to do with these new colours? Here are a couple of new patterns that have popped up in the shop:

The Uplander Pullover is a bulky men’s sweater, perfect for the rugged outdoorsman. It takes 11-15 skeins of SnC Outer and will knit up in a jiffy at that weight. If you’re in the mood for a smaller project there is always the Little Man Vest, 3 skeins of outer and oh so cute. For Sweater we’ve got the new Flower Power Throw pattern. It’s a beautiful groovy blanket and with all the colours, there is sure to be a combination for you.

If you’re in the mood for some luxurious alpaca, we have also received new colours in Blue Sky Alpaca Sport and Melange, one of my very favorite yarns. I’ll be starting on Olga’s Mittens tonight! As you may know, I have quite a penchant for Fair Isle mittens and these beauties fit the bill to a T.

Blue Sky has also come out with a couple of new patterns for their Brushed Suri. It’s a pretty fuzzy yarn that is super soft but I’ve been at a bit of a loss for what to do with the lovely yarn. Not to worry, there are 2 cute new patterns for the Brushed Suri, the lacy Brushed Suri Wrap and the Brushed Suri Tunic.


So stop by and check out the new Blue Sky and Spud and Chloe yarns as well as others that have been flowing into the shop!

GCC: Baby Yarn

Monday, June 21st, 2010
Baby Nat in a cute little Sprout Hat

Baby Nat in a cute little Sprout Hat

This is sort of a rant, rather than a regular post. You’ve been warned. There are often people who come in looking for ‘baby yarn’. At first this request seems pretty normal, lots of people knit baby things. Lots of people actually get their knitting start with baby things. They are quick and satisfying without the fitting worries of adult garments. Hand knit baby things are often destined for the keepsake chest or passed on where possible. It’s a great thing. The term baby yarn, however, is not.

The first time someone asked me for this baby yarn I racked my brain and pointed them in the direction of the Snuggly yarn, a washable acrylic in soft shades. Perfect for baby things right? Mistake. This was not what they were looking for at all and I looked kind of dumb. The term baby yarn is kind of a weird one, it has a couple of different meanings, just to complicate things. It’s an older term (no offence intended) and from what I can gather it means an acrylic yarn that is a 4 ply gauge, and usually in pastels. To further complicate things the term 4 ply isn’t really that accurate either, in this case it means a 28 stitch gauge. So, should the term throw you, I think you are best off looking for a 28 stitch gauge of any kind. Which brings me to my next rant: what is baby yarn really?

There is no such thing as baby yarn, any yarn is perfectly fine for baby! Of course, you will want something soft, that’s a no brainer but although some think wool is off limits, I say no way! Why deny babies the lovely sensation of a super soft merino wool against the skin? Or, if you have a particularly pampered baby, some cashmere, or alpaca! The real question is to go washable or non washable. This usually depends on Mummy. Is she a knitter? She will probably hand wash your precious knit. If not, use your judgement (if you’re not sure, go washable, don’t be disappointed). There are of course, lots of nice washables and a few of my current faves are Rialto (4ply, DK, and Aran) by Debbie Bliss, Classy (aran weight) by Dream in Colour, and all the Spud and Chloe family (new colours just came in too, check out the nice plummy purple).

So, in conclusion, Baby Yarn does not (in my humble opinion) really exist, so just choose something soft and pretty that fits your adorable pattern!

To make a Sprout Hat as pictured above you will need

The pattern by Cheryl Niameth (we’ve got ‘em at UY)

5mm needles

1 ball Cashmerino Aran (this is Chartreuse)

I might add that our sale this week is Cashmerino Aran, colours 12, 21, 6, 5, 20, 24, and 19.  Regular $8.95, now 25% off at $6.71, so you can whip up one of these cuties today!


Some World Cup Knitting

Tuesday, June 15th, 2010


I don’t think I’ve watched a full soccer match since I was a U17 Defenceman, more than a few years ago…..but the international ferver over the FIFA World Cup has been contagious! It seems that people I have never heard speak of the sport are suddenly swept up and excited about it. It also brings up some serious rivalries!

So, of course, it’s time to do some World Cup Knitting. I’m a fan of the team scarf but that might not be too practical, as it’s June (a cold June here, but June none the less). For somethings a little simpler, you can add a soccer ball to anything you might be knitting. There is a great chart here (scroll down, it’s on the right).If your an England fan there’s a waving flag chart here. There is a team Germany hat here (easily adaptable to any striped flag).

The funniest World Cup knitting I’ve seen is definitely the soccer playing monkey! Check him out here.

Knitting brings more than fan fun to South Africa, it also brings jobs to knitting women. Anina shared this great article with me and I thought I would pass it on. Gogos Spread their 2010 Knitting Magic

And, of course, there is a Ravelry Group that are working on a Knitting Olympics-esque knit along for the games. You can check that out here.

Some shop news: Urban Yarns is on Facebook! You can check us out here to keep up with all our shop updates, share pattern ideas, and get some quick advice.

Our sale this week is Alessandra Super Kid Seta, regulat $14.95, now 25% off at $11.21. It’s a yarn that’s comparable to Rowan Kidsilk Haze so there are tons of patterns!

GCC: Stalled

Friday, June 11th, 2010


Although I really love knitting (hard to tell isn’t it?) sometimes I find myself stalled. There are just so many beautiful things to knit and so little knitting time. To be fair, I think I would always feel there wasn’t enough knitting time, even if I knit all day every day.

Anyhow, I find myself a little stalled in my tracks as to what to get knitting next. There are definitely things I SHOULD be knitting. Like a certain couple of sweaters that shall remain nameless. Or perhaps I should pick out one of my lovely boxes of stashed yarn and just get crackin’! But instead I have chosen to clear my head with some garter stitch. The theraputic qualities of garter stitch are endless. I have often heard knitting referred to as yoga-esque and I think garter stitch supports this theory. What I can never figure out is why stockinette doesn’t have the same effect for me. It’s not as if purling is somehow more stressful than knitting. It’s weird that way.


I figured as long as I was creating a great swath of garter stitch, it might as well be working towards a purpose. I’m working on Brooklyn Tweed’s Tweed Baby Blanket. Normally I frown upon knitting something up in the exact same colours as the pattern. Not always, but it somehow feels less creative to me. There are, however, certain patterns that are just so fantastic in their original colour combos, they are just begging to be copied. The soft greys in this pattern are so lovely and neutral without being too boring. I’m using Debbie Bliss Rialto Aran in a light and dark grey. The pattern calls for a lighter weight yarn (DK or 22 stitches per 4 inches) the original is a bit lighter and airier but I like the squishy quality of mine. Garter stitch is inherantly squishy but the aran weight yarn gives is a little something extra. Till next time, when I get myself a little un-stalled!


GCC: Colour Pooling?

Monday, June 7th, 2010


Working in a knitting shop has inspired/forced me to learn the answers to all kinds of random knitting questions and since I’m feeling kind of random this Monday I thought I would answer one I hear a fair bit: What is colour pooling and how can I avoid it?

When you hear those in the knitting know speak of colour pooling you may be picturing a swimming pool full of paint but this is not quite what they are talking about. Colour pooling is something that happens sometimes when you knit with hand painted yarns. Let’s say you have a skein of hand dyed yarn that is purple, blue, and yellow. This yarn might do a number of things depending on the width or circumference of your knitted piece. If the width or circumference of this knitted piece changes, so too might the pooling pattern. Sometimes the yarn appears to stripe a bit. Usually short repeats of colour will have this kind of effect. Pooling is what happens when these stripes of colour start to line up. This can create a patch or pool of one colour. You might have a purple and blue sock with a yellow pool at the back. This is colour pooling.

crw_7788This piece has no pooling, just flashes of each colour.

I have sometimes heard people saying things like ‘oh, that yarn pools terribly!’ but I say not so! The colour pooling is dependent on the length of colour repeats in the yarn and the width or circumference of your knitted item. If the yarn pools terribly in one project, it does not mean it will pool in a different project. Colour pooling is not a feature inherent in the yarn, it depends. If you have a yarn with 4 inch colour repeats and your sock is 4 inches around, you won’t have pooling, you’ll have more of a stripe. If you are  using a yarn and you don’t like the way the colours are lining up, it might be wise to adjust the size of your project or to pick one with different dimensions.

Sometimes, as in the case of a sweater for example, different parts will have different widths so colours might pool in some areas and blend or stripe in others. For me, this is part of the beauty of knitting. I embrace these shifts in colours and move on. I don’t think this is a particularly common notion though so many of you are probably looking to avoid colour pooling! The best way I know of is to either use 2 balls or wind one ball into two and alternate every other row. You are much less likely to get colour pooling this way because you are mixing up the 2 balls. It can be a real pain but if you hate colour pooling it’s totally worth it. Some people cut their yarn every once in a while and start up at a different point. This seems like a lot of ends and no gaurantees so I don’t particularly recommend it.


The other options is to love colour pooling! Sometimes it works beautifully in a project. So beautifully in fact, it’s nearly impossible to replicate… like the Simple Yet Effective cowl featured above. I don’t think I’ll ever have anything colour so idealy again. That’s just the beauty of knitting though!