Archive for July, 2010

Learning to Knit

Thursday, July 29th, 2010


Everyone has a great story it seems about learning to knit. There are more than enough stories to go around of mothers and grandmothers patiently showing small daughters and granddaughters to knit. Not to be sexist of course, Sheryl often tells me that her determination in learning to knit came from the fact her father could knit socks, ‘if he can do it, I certainly can!’ she says. These many hours spent making loops of yarn into something, anything are a wonderful memory to create. Often acrylic and brightly coloured these little swatches are not something to be treasured in and of themselves necessarily but surely the warm thoughts of those times chatting and knitting together remain with us as we grow into our knitterly selves.

I, as I may have mentioned, did not learn to knit this way. That’s probably why I feel it is so special. If my charming and crafty mother had taught me to knit, it probably would have been something like the time we made Bannock bread together for Brownies. While mom (and I suppose I have these dreams as well) always thought about the days she would teach her only daughter to bake, but when it came time it sometimes tended to go a little awry. I think I mentioned we would need this bread for the evening meeting sometime around 3 when I got back from school, leaving little time. As we started our rushed job the phone rang and my mother told me to measure out 4 teaspoons of baking soda. I, on the other hand heard fourteen spoons instead and dilligently began measureing them into the mixture. When mom got off the phone I was at about 10 and needless to say things went further downhill from there! Sometimes life is funny and you don’t quite end up with the idyllic picture you started out with….

Anyhow, I learned to knit from a book from the 70’s when I was about 15. It was a stitchionary with some sparse instructions. Armed with some longish plastic double pointed needles with rubber bands on the ends and some bright purple acrylic I was ready to rock. I’m not really sure what made me request these items in the first place but I didn’t so much learn to knit as attack the subject. After a nice purple garter stitch square and stripey garter scarf I was ready for bigger things. I made 3 or 4 blankets, all acrylic in different colours out of strips of different stitches. I would do a panel with knitting and purling, then one with a little lace, perhaps some cabling (I became immediatly smitten with cabling so the blankets are a little cable heavy). No notion of gauge or anything came into account so I’m pretty lucky that I guessed out some aran weight yarn and some 5mm needles!

So, take the time to teach someone you know how to knit this August. Remember to breathe deep, take the phone off the hook, and enjoy the process!

Knit a Little Love

Tuesday, July 27th, 2010


There are many types of knitters out there with many differing opinions on whether or not knitting should be kept or given, and if given, who should receive such lovingly knit items. Some believe that knitting is a precious and time consuming thing and you should really only knit for the one person who will truly appreciate it: yourself. Every time I gift a piece of knitting that I feel is unappreciated, I think about turning to this knitterly philosophy. But then, some sort of gift giving occasion will roll around and I will inevitably find myself casting on the greatest gift of all time.

This is a bit pessimistic, there are many people in the world who appreciate a wonderful hand knitted item. These people should be loved and cherished and showered with knitted gifts until they are entirely clad from head to toe in beautiful woolies. But today I am thinking about a different kind of gifted knitting. This type of knitting is both giving and awareness raising and while there are many different knitting charities, today I’d like to share one: The Period of Purple Crying Prevent Shaken Baby Syndrome BC.

This charity involves knitting purple caps for newborn babies in an effort to help new parents understand purple crying (when babies cry hard and long) and the damage that can be caused by shaking newborn babies. So, the only rules are that your hats must be delivered to the BC Children’s Hospital by November 5th and they must be purple. If you drop your hats by Urban Yarns by the 4th, we’ll travel them down to the BC Children’s Hospital for you.

If you’re looking for an adorable hat pattern, check out this super adorable Princess Leia Hat by the charming Amanda. It’s done in the soft and washable Rialto Aran, 2 balls, and we just so happen to have 2 different shades of purple on Sale! Hooray! Our Special this week is Luxury Highlander at 40% off, regular $6.95 now $4.17.

GCC: Starting Slowly

Thursday, July 22nd, 2010


So, I’m starting to get somewhat more normal and knitting has begun again. A little. Somertimes. Because it’s little hit and miss I need a certain kind of project, many pieces of criteria to meet. This project has to be easy enough that I can memorize the pattern and really, little or no counting is best. I have a bit of a knack for pattern memorization so that doesn’t rule out a whole lot but it does elimate garments for now. Anything with increases and decreases is out, too much thought and too much possibility for disaster. There is nothing worse than getting to the part of a sleeve or back where the pattern says: decrease/increase 1 stitch at eather side of the next and every 6th row. Then having to put said project down for an extended period of time. I’m not saying I CAN’T pick up a project like that again but it gets a little annoying to pick up and put down multiple times in a week.


So, I decided to pick back up a lovely scarf I started last summer on my trip to Winnipeg. Why I haven’t finished it yet is pretty simple: it’s a 28 stitch gauge, cables every other row, on 2.75mm needles. It’s not the fastest project on earth. At this moment though, I don’t really care, I really just want to keep my hands busy and finish a most sumptuous scarf for winter. This scarf is certainly a little luxurious treat too, the yarn is probably the most soft and stunning yarn I’ve ever seen. It’s so fine, soft like buttah, and comes in lovely soft shades. Even though this scarf is on tiny little needles, I think it’s worth it. The scarf just wouldn’t be the same if it were looser or chunkier. I love it! It’s still a work in progress but I’m taking it with me on my camping trip so hopefully I’ll make some serious progress.


To make a Button Up Cowl of your very own you will need:

1. The pattern

2. 2.75mm needles (I’m using 20″ addi lace, but straights will do just fine)

3. A cable needle

4. 2 skeins Blue Sky Alpaca Royal (mmmmmm)



Something New and Sweet

Tuesday, July 20th, 2010

Well, Urban Yarns just keeps feeding my SweetGeorgia Obsession! We just got a new shipment from the lovely Felicia and I am so excited. Not only a new yarn, CashLuxe, but new colours in the worsted weight as well, hooray!


The CashLuxe is a sumptuous combination of superwash merino, cashmere, and nylon for strength. It’s a sock weight yarn with about 375 yards per skein. One skein makes a a luxurious pair of socks or a small shawl. Small shawls to wear around the neck have been all the rage around UY. A few ladies are working on Ishbel by Ysolda Teague and I’m thinking about casting on for Collonade (based on the lovely one from Kirsten). We’ve got some beautiful colours in the new yarn so pick yourself up a treat!




We’ve also got some new colours in the Superwash worsted. I’m a HUGE fan of this yarn and have knit several projects in it. It’s an 18 stitch gauge, so there are tons of patterns for it. I’m particularly interested in the Mr. Darcy cardigan (starting some Christmas knitting for mummy) and I’m itching to make myself a new hat for winter. I’m thinking about the beautiful Cypress colourway but Blackberry might sway me in the end.


If you are looking for a DK weight this week we’ve got Rialto DK on sale this week in colours: 8, 24, 14, 16, 23, 13, 22, 21, and 11. It’s 25% off, regularly $8.95 now only $6.71

GCC: Vacation Knitting

Friday, July 16th, 2010


Now, I suppose the question of what to bring on vacation with you knittingwise is largely determined by your destination. The different types of knitting projects as well as the quantity. I never want to be short on yarn or find I’ve forgotten the right needles so I often put more thought into my packed up knitting than my wardrobe! (Those who know my might be laughing a little as my wardrobe is almost certainly less extensive than my knitting stash). So, here are a few of my thoughts on vacation knitting.

The Checklist

1. Is there any possibility I will run out of yarn before this project is done? If the answer is yes, pack more. If no, you are all set.

2. Do I have ALL the needles and notions required to finish this project? And, as a follow up, are the notions stored in a bag that is unlikely to break, spill, or lose said notions?

3. Did I remember to bring the pattern and any reference books that may be required to complete my project?

4. Do I have the number of a knitter able to talk me through disasterous problems (if not, just bring the UY phone number, we’ll do our best!)

5. Is there any chance I will run out of knitting before my vacation is over? If yes, pack more, if not you are ready to roll!

If you are headed to your cabin on the lake (or something like that), a large amount of knitting time may be possible and you should be sure to stock yourself up before you go. Quiet evening hours on the patio or on a lawn chair near the lake leave lots of time for perhaps a sweater? Something that’s a bit of a challenge? This may be the perfectly zen state of mind to tackle that project that just didn’t seem to work out on the first few attempts. Depending on length of stay you may even want to bring a blanket project. I’m thinking something with squares so every time you look at the blanket you can say ‘remember when _________ happened at the cabin while I was knitting the green one?’. Fond memories are always best tied to large projects, lest they become dull. I also suggest something you don’t need to look at if possible for car knitting. Not everyone can knit in the car but if you can, this is great!

So, for your relaxing time in the great Canadian wilderness I suggest you pack at least one large project and maybe a few small ones, in case you become less than enthused with the larger scale project. If you will be spending your time out doors (as I will) remember to bring a waterproof bag and for heavens sake store your knitting in the car, not the tent! Moisture and knitting do not always agree lets say.


For a sandy beach think about something a little less critical. Something light (hot sun and thick wool = sweaty knitting) that you don’t mind getting a little beach sand all over. This seems obvious but perhaps a little reminder that you may not want to take your best skein of cashmere/silk with you…..that being said, sand hardly hurts knitting so be brave.

If you are taking a plane I really don’t know what to tell you about needles. You are SUPPOSED to be able to take knitting needles on the plane but you just never know when an uppity security gaurd will decide that you are a menace to society and take them away. I’ve been told a few things that I will pass on. Bamboo needles seem to be prefered, also circular over straights (they seems less weapon-like I suppose). If you have a project ON the needles, it seems to go better. The one piece of advice that makes a lot of sense to me is eto bring a self addressed envelop so if your needles are taken away, you won’t have to shell out for another pair of awesome addi lace needles. It’s making the best of a bad situation.

If you are headed to Disneyland with the family, good luck getting some knitting in! Just have fun and knit when you get home.

If anyone else has any vacation knitting advice, let us know!


Profile of a Knitter

Tuesday, July 13th, 2010

Friday nights at Urban Yarns are always a good time. There are so many lovely ladies who come to knit and gab away their evenings. There can be anywhere from 2 to 20 people in out little shop and topics range from family and friends to movies and books. I have met many fun and fabulous women at SnB night (you know who you are). Since I’m not knitting at this moment I’ve been living vicariously through these ladies and I thought I would profile one such knitter.


Kristen and I met at either knit nights or during a class, I can’t remember which now, but the first things I noticed was her beautiful cabled cowl. Sometimes you come across a knitter and they just have the very same taste as you in yarn and projects, something to be treasured. I’m always interested in what Kirsten is up to and have even copy-catted a project or two! Her lovely cabled cowl is a pattern by Blue Sky Alpacas and the yarn is the lovely Suri Merino. Hers turned out just beautifully.


Next up is the charming little Colonnade shawl. Kirsten knit this baby up in Misti Alpaca Handpainted Sock. Kynna came across this yarn a few Fridays back and the knitting crew went nuts! There was a serious run and at least 3 knitters are working on a pretty rainbow project of their own. Kirsten’s rainbow Colonnade will be a fresh bit of colour against the grey Vancouver skies of fall.


Kirsten has also been finishing sweaters at an alarming rate! My personal favorite is her Felted Tweed Manu. It’s a lot of stockingette stitch but the finished project is fantastic. The pleats make it feminine and the pockets are my favorite part. Manu is another very popular sweater on Ravelry, for good reason!

So, this is a profile of one prolific and talented knitter. Swing by Friday nights and you are sure to meet many more!


GCC: Sock Yarn Possibilities

Thursday, July 8th, 2010


While I like to knit things in all different weights of yarn there is something so nice about sock yarn. Although it’s a triffle thin for some (28 stitches per 4 inches) it’s still thicker than lace, which means it goes a little faster. What I really like about sock yarn is that it so very versatile. I recently finished a couple of lovely socky projects.

The first is my charming little Ishbel by Isolde Teague made with 1 skein of the lovely Fleece Artist Casbah sock yarn. One skein of Casbah is 380 yards which is enough to make a pair of socks or a small shawl. It has a hint of Cashmere in it which makes it super soft and lovely to work with.


The second project is a wee one, some little shoes. These ones are Saartje’s Baby Booties, a popular free Ravelry pattern. They knit up in no time and look super cute! They are also an excellent reason to use adorable buttons. Each bootie gets 2 little buttons to fasten the straps. Unfortunately Nat’s little feet were on the move for this picture!


There are many great benefits to sock yarn and here are just a few:

1. You can add so much detail to all things Fair Isle because you have more stitches to work with, which is great.

2. 1 skein makes a whole project. I love it when this happens but it does make sock yarn dangerously easy to stash….The other benefit to the one skein project is low colour comittment. When considering yarn for a sweater you have to think about what colours the person who will wear the sweater likes, the pattern involoved, etc. With a one skein sock yarn project you can really just go nuts.

3. If you hold a sock yarn doubled you get a 20 stitch gauge, which is pretty close to a DK weight, and also good for lots of things.

4. Sock yarn comes in all kinds of crazy colour combinations but also some lovely subtle hand dyes. There are a lot of small Independant Dyers that do some really funky things with sock yarn, more so than other weights.

5. Socks are a lot of fun, give ‘em a try if you haven’t already!


GCC: The Best Laid Plans

Monday, July 5th, 2010


I started out this summer with a knitting bang. I had plans, patterns, pretty yarns, design ideas, dyes, blank yarns, I was all set to go! Creative juices were flowing, life was good. I was even shown a little knitting gods mercy with some lousy summer weather. You may all hate me for this but I’m loving the cool summer, more time for warm wools and alpacas. I mean, it’s too warm to WEAR such items but not too warm to knit with them. A few months ago I even organized my stash of yarn (more than slightly out of control but that’s a story for another time) and I went trolling on Ravelry to match up my yarns with some great patterns. I was even going to knit the top 10 Ravelry designs before the summer months were out, or at least before December. Such grand ideas and lofty goals.

Then nausea hit. I am too nauseous to knit and the constant sound of clicking needles has gone quiet in my home. It’s a knitters worst nightmare! All the yarn, patterns, and needles are just sitting there, begging to be used. New yarn and patterns are flowing into the shop and I must sit idly by and try to keep my digestive system under control. My husband even asked (in a more than concerned tone) “Is the knitting phase over, because we still have a LOT of yarn…..”. I even tried casting on for these beautiful mittens, trying to power through but to no avail. It’s a knitting disaster. It’s like my knitting life has ground to a halt.


So, over dramatic Alexa aside, I hope you are all ready for some knitting spring/summer cleaning and I have a few suggestions for getting started. I hope you all have better luck with the follow through than I did!

To organize your knitting world start with your stash. Once you know what you have/need you will be better able to go out and start new projects.

1. Pull out those long hibernating projects and get back at it. The best thing about starting here is that the projects feel like they take no time because you are probably already half way done, or more! If you’re stuck on a technique you can swing by the shop for a quick tutorial, or if it’s a bigger problem sign yourself up for a QnA, a private class, or something more substantial like a Beyond Beginner class. Amanda and Sandra are teaching those classes and they are both fantastic, you’ll learn what you need to finish up a project and much more.

2. Re-assess your pattern/yarn match ups. Have you bitten off more than you can chew? Or are you just rethinking a certain cardigan? If you need a new pattern to go with your yarn you can head on over and we will be happy to match up your yarn with a new pattern. It is most helpful if you record the gauge and yardage of your yarn, or bring in a ball and let us know how many you have at home.

3. If you’ve got a pattern that is going to become your summer pet project it’s time to pick out some yarn. As you may know, this is my favorite part of the day working at UY, picking yarn to match a pattern.

Once you have completed these steps, all there is left is knitting! Get to it!

Our Store Special this week is Debbie Bliss Cashmerino DK, colours 30, 26, 10, 5, 25, 20, and 6. 25% off (regular $8.95, now only &6.71)


Summer Classes

Thursday, July 1st, 2010

Is there a long summer stretching out ahead of you? Why not brush up on some knitting or crocheting skills while meeting a few new knitters? There are some fun new classes coming up this summer at UY, for beginners and intermediate, crochet or knit. We even have a kids class on Thursdays with the lovely Amanda, here are the details:


(With Deanna Krushinsky)
Learn the basics of crochet in this mini summer class. Some of you may want to use these techniques to start the ever so popular “Babette Blanket”.

(With Alison H)
Alison, an avid lace knitter, will teach you a number of beginner lace stitches, of progressive difficulty in this class. This is your opportunity to learn how to read charts if you wish, and walk away with a beautiful piece of wearable art, in the form of a Sampler Lace Scarf.


(Alexa Ludeman)
This super fun class will guide you through the making of the “King Kong” of Sock Monkey’s. In three sessions’ you will construct a larger than life sock monkey.

(With Amanda Kaffka)
This is a great class for kids ages 6 – 14 who have never knit before and want to learn and those who want to learn new skills! Amanda will teach either a simple garter stitch scarf, or more advanced fingerless gloves.

If your goal is to finish up a project or resurrect one that is a little stalled (and we all have a couple of those in the closet!) you can sign up for a Friday QnA or just give us a ring and Kathleen will be happy to schedule a private lesson.

Happy Canada Day!

The Country's Biggest Canadian Flag

The Country's Biggest Canadian Flag