Archive for September, 2010

Knitting Notes

Thursday, September 30th, 2010


This is a lesson I’ve had to learn many many times. I’m often inspired to get moving on a new project. I fall in love with a pattern, yarn, and I’m off to the races. I move along either until it’s done, or until I get distracted by something new. Then my formerly inspiring knit gets put away for a while, sometimes a long while. Now, I don’t necessarily think this is a big problem, it happens pretty often and I usually get back to projects and they eventually get finished. Do I have moments of knitterly guilt? Of course, that’s what eventually gets things finished! All of that being said, there are some pretty annoying things that often occur when I return to a project.

I don’t take good notes. I have no idea where I left off (having not really known I would be leaving the project for any length of times, I suppose I should just know myself better than that by now). How many decrease rows have I completed? How many inches was I supposed to work in stocking stitch? Or even worse, what size was I making? What needles was I using? What colourway was that? I can usually figure out what the yarn is just by looking, but it certainly wouldn’t kill me to write it down. Second socks are terrible for this, let me tell you. How many heel flap rows was I working? What shoe size is the person I’m making this for? And so on and so on……

So here are a few things you might want to make a note  of when you are working on a project, whether you intend to put it down or not. You may even find this kind of information helpful if you decide to knit something again, or if you need to make a repair etc. Ravelry is a great place to make such notes as well. In the interest of the knitting community you might not be the only one who wants to know how many decreases you made or what size etc.

Items of Note:

1. Yarn: colourway, dyelot, and yardage

2. Pattern source: where did you get this pattern? Book, website, magazine, etc.

3. Needles: size and any important information like whether lace needles were helpful, length of circular etc.

4. What size you are making

5. How many decreases or increases you have made or inches/rows you have knit, I might make a note of this every so often, you never know when you might be inspired by something new!

6. Any alterations you might be making to the pattern. This is particularly important. If you are knitting a large size, but you are making it shorter or longer, you will definitely want to know this and by how much.

If anyone can think of anything else of note let me know!


All in a Weekend’s Work!

Tuesday, September 28th, 2010


This weekend I broke the rules and cast on the cutest little sweater. Friday night was a super busy knit night and one of our charming knitters had the pattern for the Baby Sophisticate Sweater and she was casting on. I couldn’t resist, I went home and cast on too. I don’t know if it was the shawl collar that got me, or perhaps the promise of using toggle buttons but I was a bad little knitter who went to her box of needles and pulled some out. I used some Dream in Colour Classy I had on hand in the colour Happy Forsest.


Now, the problem came about 3 inches in when I realized it was coming out rather tiny. I know babies are small but the sweater was coming out REALLY small. So I took a gander at the pattern, recommended needle size, yarn gauge, pattern gauge. It just didn’t quite add up. The yarn is an 18, the needles are a 5mm, that makes perfect sense. Normally i would get 18 stitches per 4 inches no problem. I measured out my gauge and I sure did have 18 stitches, the problem is that the pattern gauge is 15 stitches per 4 inches. The pattern designer must be a VERY loose knitter to get that gauge.

I had a couple of options, I could go up a couple of needle sizes or I can use a bulkier yarn or both. I decided that I really loved the colour of this yarn and a slightly looser fabric would be okay so I went to some 6.5 mm needles and started over. I had everything but the last sleeve done by Monday morning, what a great quick knit. Now I just need some adorable buttons…..

To make a Baby Sophisticate of your very own:

1 Skein of Dream in Colour Classy

6.5mm needles (I used 24″ circulars)

2 stitch holders

the pattern, which can be found here.


Mmmmm Bunny!

Friday, September 24th, 2010


We just got in some beautiful new colours in the ever popular Peter Rabbit. This is an aptly named Angora yarn (70% Angora, 20% Nylon, 10% Wool) from Handmaiden. What might Angora be you ask? It’s bunny hair! It is a super soft and charming fiber that is fuzzy (maybe hair is a better word for it) and oh so warm. Nothing traps heat like Angora, it’s even warmer than Alpaca.


It always sort of reminds me of capelets or mitten cuffs someone might wear in the fifties or sixties. Perhaps a sweater set with a combination of angora and wool. Something you might see in a period movie anyway. That image sort of makes the yarn seem sophistacated but it’s also really fun. The fuzzy softness is perfect to add a bit of whimsy to any knit. A whole garment in Peter Rabbit might feel like a bit much (although I’m certainly not ruling it out) but I am thinking I will head in the accesories direction. This little hat is so cute and fuzzy, it’s a free pattern with purchase of yarn. Whip one up this weekend!


Pear Tree Scrumptiousness

Monday, September 20th, 2010

Mmmmmm, new yarn. It’s pretty exciting when we get in new colours. It’s way more exciting when we get a new yarn from an old friend. It’s the MOST exciting when we get an entirely new line of yarn! We are all pretty knitting nerdy around the shop (do I really need to tell you that?!) and nothing creates a buzz like a whole new yarn. When we got Shibui there were emails and texts flying about what we would make with the lovely new yarn, would we revamp some old favorite patterns? Try the new patterns we got with the yarn? What colour combos would be best?! It can be a little crazy and pretty funny when you take a step back from the situation.


These are just a few of our colours.

That being said, I’d like to share the new Pear Tree yarns! The ladies at Friday night stitch and bitch were convinced there must be something other than pure merino in it. No, they exclaimed, it can’t be ONLY merino, it’s just too soft. It is the softest merino I personally have ever come across. Sometimes yarns without much spin can be pretty soft but that’s the other surprising thing about this yarn, it has a spin to it and it’s still super soft. Anina had some crazy idea about knitting a sweater for her nephew in this stunning new yarn on Friday night but don’t worry, we talked her out of it.  She’s working on a gorgeous turtleneck sweater for herself instead!

We’ve got 2 weights of this yarn. Drop in and check out the lovely colours and give this yarn a pet!

Needles 101: Double Points

Saturday, September 18th, 2010


I know this opinion isn’t too popular but I quite like my double points. They can knit so many interesting things, and once you have tamed the porcupine and found your prefered method of holding the 3 or 4 needles at once, it’s really a breeze. The beauty is that they are so versatile. Depending on the length of your dpn’s you can make a whole hat with no need for circulars all. You can also knit the very smallest possible items with ease on dpn’s, like toys, or socks, or sweater sleaves in the round.  There are those out there, however, who can’t stand double points at all! They hate the porcupine of 3 needles or more and would much rather suffer through the cord tangles of magic loop. To each their own!

The down side to double points is that you can really only knit items that are smaller in circumference. For sweater bodies, for example, you will need larger circulars so double points often duplicate needle sizes you might already have. This isn’t so bad once you have accumulated some needles but it can be a bit of a pain to need 2 sets of needles for a hat.

The benefits of dpn’s are that they are, as I said, versatile in knitting the little things. Aside from magic loop, there is really no way to knit the tippy top of a hat or tiny little toy parts. Dpn’s come in several different materials including, metal, bamboo, and rosewood or ebony. Personally, I love the warmth of the wood and prefer the strong ebony or rosewood, they are more expensive but in the smaller sizes (3mm and under) they are much less likely to bend under the pressure. Bamboo are a nice price vs. material compromise. Metal needles are often the least expensive (Aero’s) and some people would rather the cool feel of metal needles. When I’m in the mood for a treat, I LOVE the Blue Sky Alpaca rosewood double points. Cute tin and all!


Let the Boxes Keep Coming

Monday, September 13th, 2010

There are just so many new things and large boxes coming into Urban Yarns every day now! It must be fall too because I am totally looking to knit up a scarf in something new. What we haven’t got new, we’ve got new colours. If you want to knit pretty much anything come on down and we can hook you up with something you might not have worked with before.


A couple of our new yarns are well matched to one of my favorite designers, Jared Flood of Brooklyn Tweed designs. The first is a return to the lace obsessoin: Juneberry Triangle. It’s knit up in the new St Denis Nordique yarns and we’ve got the pattern in the fantastic new St Denis Nordique books.


The other pattern/yarn combination I am most excited about is the new Blackstone Tweed from Berocco. This yarn is delicious, it combines the beauty and rusticness of tweed with a super soft combination of wool, mohair, and angora. It’s so yummy. The pattern I am definitely knitting with it is Dryad, from Jared again. It’s a cabley scarf with tons of intricate twists and turns. I picture it at home on the moors of Scotland, bit of an imagination. We’ve got some really beautiful colours in both of these yarns. I’m having a hard time deciding which colour to whip up the Dryad in. This combo will definitely quench my scarf knitting thirst!


Needles 101: Circulars

Thursday, September 9th, 2010


So I had this great idea for fall: I will finish all projects that are on the needles. Period. No ifs ands or buts. The problem I have discovered is that I have a slightly obscene number of needles. Needles of all shapes and sizes too: circulars (mostly), double points, and straights. I even found some needle duplicates which was a little annoying. I long ago found organizational solutions for my needles so that’s all well and good and I even downloaded an i-phone app to avoid purchasing duplicate needles in the future. What got me thinking was the sheer number of types of knitting needles and the variety of materials they are made of.

This had me wondering how do people know what needles are best for them and their project? It often comes down to personal preferance or budget as far as materials go, but I have a few needle thoughts that might help those who are trying to decide which needles are the ones for them. There are so many, I think I will start with my personal fave: circulars.

Circulars: Some people use circulars and circulars only. You might be wondering how they can make something like a sock on circulars but there is in fact 2 different ways of doing that. You can use the Magic Loop method and make a sock on one needle, or you can use 2 circulars. This goes for sleeves or hats or anything with a small circumference.

What are the benfits of the circular needle? The weight distribution is a big one for me. I like that the bulk of your knitting is in the middle of the cord, as opposed to straight needles which have you moving the weight from side to side. It’s not really a big deal for smaller items, like hats, but for a sweater this can be a major issue. Carrying a lot of sweater weight from side to side can not only impede your knitting, but it can give you tension issues as well. The other benefits include the large number of stitches you can carry (an entire blanket’s worth if necessary), and the avoidance of double points. If you are like the many people who either hate using or are a little scared of double points (I am, for the record, not one of these individuals, I love dpn’s), circulars are a lovely solution. You don’t get ladders like you might with dpn’s either, another plus.

The down side? There are what seem like a million permutations of needle size and cord size. I personally own about 4 pairs of 4.5mm circulars in various lengths. If you are an Addi Turbo addict like myself this can start to add up and cut into your yarn budget! It can also get annoying if you decide that you will use your 47″ 4.5mm circular to make something that is really only 24 inches across. You end up with a rather obnoxious amount of cord in your way at all times.

The solution to this is really a click or interchangeable set of circulars. It’s a larger one time expense but I think it’s really the way to go. You get almost every needle you will need in one shot and you always have the right size cord and needle for the job. We have a plastic interchangeable set in the Denise kits and we’ve got the Addi Turbo Set and the Hiya Hiya set. We are still awaiting the Addi Lace interchangeable set (some, like me, are waiting with baited breath). Come on down and we would be happy to walk you through which set is the one for you!

A Charming Little Bonnet

Tuesday, September 7th, 2010

This is my first completed project in quite some time! Some friends of mine are having a baby girl in a few months so I thought I would whip up this little bonnet for them. I suppose you can guess which book this pattern is from…..More Last Minute Knitted Gifts! The nice thing about something like a bonnet is that you don’t have to worry too much about washability or pilling. I knit mine up in the super soft Malabrigo Worsted in a variegated red.


This bonnet is knit up on straight needles from one side to the other, no seaming! While I haven’t knit anything on straight needles in quite some time, it was kind of nice, it kind of brought me back to when I first started knitting. I knit almost everything on circulars these days! This bonnet knit up super quick, just an evening and it was done. It also involves one of my favorite knit wear accessories: a fun button. It’s always nice to finish off a project all in one go, then you can focus on picking out the perfect button.

What you’ll need to make a cute little bonnet of your very own:

Needles: 5.5mm

Yarn: 1 skein Malabrigo Worsted will make at least 2 bonnets

Pattern: More Last Minute Knitted Gifts

Extras: 1 charming button



Book Report: More Last Minute Knitted Gifts

Thursday, September 2nd, 2010

When I first started knitting in a really serious way (not just as an amateur?) I aquired a couple of books that really inspired me to create knitted items that were modern and beautiful. The first book I picked up was Debbie Stoller’s Stitch and Bitch. This book is an excellent reference book (I still use it regularly enough to keep it handy at all times). It has some great patterns in it too, and I’ve since knit some cool guy patterns from her Son of Stitch and Bitch. The other book I picked up was Joelle Hoverson’s Last Minute Knitted Gifts. While Stitch and Bitch was excellent as a reference book, Last Minute Knitted Gifts was really all about inspiration.


The photography, colours, textures, and fibres are amazing in this book. It really got me inspired to knit with better yarn (I gave up the acrylics) and to knit some really beautiful things. Knitting is really a combination of art and craft and what draws me to it is that it combines beauty and utility. After reading and knitting from Last Minute Knitted Gifts I began to think about knitting in a more artful way. It also made me want to take better pictures of my lovely knitted things.


Well, now there is a sequel to this inspiring book. More Last Minute Knitted Gifts is on the shelves at UY and we couldn’t be more excited! This book is everything the first book was, but more. There are projects small and large:from some adorable little  drawer sachets to 3 stunning blankets. There are sweaters, baby items, housewares and more. I’m so excited to keep knitting my way through this book! I’ll be happy to share some of the knitting I’ve already started on from this book soon!