Archive for October, 2010

Amanda’s Trapper Hat

Thursday, October 28th, 2010


Amanda is at it again. It’s like everything that girl touches turns to cute and this hat is no exception. I love the fuzzy Peter Rabbit (have I mentioned that about 100 times already?) and the contrast with the more rugged British Sheep Breeds is fabulous. The hat is knit top down too, which is nice for obtaining that perfect fit.


I’ve been all about the rugged knits lately. What is a rugged knit you might ask? It’s a knit that looks like it would belong in the woods, or perhaps in a mountain cabin. Something you might throw on to go chop down some fire wood or for a sleigh ride. A knit that would look right at home in a snowstorm. Living in Vancouver I realize this is a bit of a fantastical image but I like it none the less. This hat would look right at home on a plaid clad dude or perhaps a trendy city bound lady sporting some rainboots.


Of course the icing on the cake is the pair of cute pompoms on i-cord strings attached to the ear flaps. I love earflaps (rugged) and the pompoms, while a little less rugged, are just great in the Peter Rabbit. Like little bunny tails. Fabulous!


Debbie Stoller is Coming to Town!

Monday, October 25th, 2010


There are many books in the world attempting to teach people to knit, some good, some less than so. My very favorite book that I have not only used myself but that I recommend to new knitters and have purchased many times as a gift for a new knitter is Debbie Stolller’s Stitch and Bitch. I like it so much I also bought her Son of Stitch and Bitch (a men’s pattern book) and knit a lovely cardigan for my Dad. I was batting 1000 so when I decided to pick up crochet, I bought the Happy Hooker and away I went. The patterns are good but what I REALLY love about Debbie’s books (aside from the fact they are hip and she has been hip longer than knitting has been hip) are the diagrams. The diagrams are so easy to follow and her witty writing style makes everything seem fun and reassured you that many have made any mistake you are making many times before.

Well, she’s back! Debbie is has come out with a new book AND she’ll be speaking at Urban Yarns on November 10th. I’m pretty giddy about the whole thing myself so I will be there with bells on. If you are interested in attending just give us a call. Debbie’s new book is called Stitch and Bitch: The Superstar Knitter and it takes her classic Stitch and Bitch to the next level. With more advanced patterns and techniques, this book goes a little beyond the basics. Sara, Kynna, and I were scanning the book on Firday and we’ve already picked out a few projects. We have some knitting to do in the next couple of weeks!

When it Rains….

Saturday, October 23rd, 2010


Sometimes it seems that when it rains it pours and nowhere else is that as relevant as it is in Vancouver, the rainy city. In this case I am thinking more about knitting trends than actual precipitation but it works every which way today. Sometimes patterns that wouldn’t normally strike my interest are suddenly very appealing indeed: when I see them knit up in a lovely yarn.


This week at Urban Yarns we had quite a bit of show and tell and I think my favorite is the Pasha Hat by Jane Richmond. Both Amanda and Kynna knit this lacy wonder (apparently they were separately inspired). Just like the toy craze and our somewhat failed reindeer sweater knit along both customers and staff at UY are often inspired by each other to knit up a pleasing pattern. It’s one thing to see a photo of a knitted project or to read through a pattern but you just really never know quite how something is going to turn out. This is especially true when you are making any sort of substitution but even just changing the knitter can alter the way a pattern comes out. This isn’t necessarily a problem, I think it’s a good thing really. Patterns are flexible and unique every time they are knit this way and I think that’s wonderful.


Both Kynna and Amanda knit up a beautiful hat with really different results, just using different yarns. Amanda’s hat has a kind of vintage quality and the 70’s mustard colour while Kynna’s has sort of a wintery look in the icy blue. I quite like them both and I like them even better once I gave them a feel. Oh, they are soooooo soft! It’s like touching a cloud. Amanda’s yarn is a single skein of the Aslan Trends Royal Alpaca, a new addition to the shop. It comes in a range of lovely colours for you to try out your own colour scheme. Kynna knit hers up in Debbie Bliss Andes, a lovely silk blend with a loose spin. The hat knit up beautifully in both yarns and there are, of course, many to choose from!

A Jaunty Cap

Tuesday, October 19th, 2010


Well I am back on my design work and I would like to introduce the Woodsman Cap. This little cabled delight is a perfect hat for yourself, little ones, or perhaps one for the whole family! I was really in the mood for some cables this fall and it’s just getting to be cool enough for hats. The flip brim makes the hat extra warm where it counts. Of course I had to knit a wee one and I liked it so much I made a charming green one just for me!


Not only did I feel the need for cables but I’m smitten with pompoms too. While I realize you can use cardboard to create a pompom I find it much MUCH easier with a pompom maker. The key to a good full and fluffy pompom is the number of times you wrap the yarn, this is true no matter what method you use. While I realize pompoms tend to be yarn eaters, it’s really worth it. Who wants a limp pompom?


The yarn I used was SweetGeorgia superwash worsted and I really love this yarn. The stitch definition is fantastic for cabling and it’s kind of a stiffer yarn so the hat stands up really well.

To make a Woodsman Cap of your own you will need:

1 skein SweetGeorgia Superwash worsted (for the smallest size you will need one of the smaller 50g hanks, for the rest you will need 2 of the smaller size or 1 of the larger sized 115g hanks)

4.5mm needles (16″ circular and double points except for the smallest size, it’s all on double points)

1 pompom maker

The pattern should be in shop later today!


Tip of the Day

Friday, October 15th, 2010

Sometimes there are things I hear in the knitting world that just make perfect sense. It’s the kind of thing you hear and you can never forget it and you wonder how you ever did things before. It’s like the construction of a top down sweater. It’s not that’s I’ll never knit a sweater top up again, just certainly not as often.


One of the things I have picked up over the years, and people seem to like, is double pointed needle stitch distribution. It works for anything you are knitting in the round but I find it most helpful for socks and mittens. Here’s the big secret: put half of your stitches on needle one, and distribute the other half over needles two and three. So, if you have 60 stitches you’ll put 30 on needle 1 and 15 on needles 2 and 3.

Alright, I know this sounds pretty simple (and it might not be all together earth shattering) but I’m telling you, it makes life so much easier! First of all, you can avoid those pesky stitch markers, which can’t really mark the first stitch of the round unless it’s in the middle of the needles, which it pretty much never is. If you are knitting in the round on circular needles stitch markers are essential and helpful, but they just get in the way on double points. The beginning of the round is always the start of the ‘big’ needle (the one with the most stitches). Simple right?


For socks this system is great because the top of the foot is always on needle one, no ladders on the top of the foot where everyone will see. For fair isle mittens this is great because 1/2 of the pattern goes on needle 1 and the other half goes on the other two needles. This way you know if you’ve made a pattern mistake halfways through, instead of having to rip back an entire round. So, next time you are knitting away on your double points, give this method a try, you won’t go back!

Knitting and Domesticity

Tuesday, October 12th, 2010


Thanksgiving weekend seems like the perfect time to explore the idea of domesticity. I am lucky enough to have many different women in my life and all of them seem to have different takes on the purpose and worth of domesticity. Some would rather go out to dinner than make something at home, some prefer a home cooked meal to almost any other kind. Some get a certain sense of satisfaction out of a clean house, others would rather have someone else do the tough scrubbing, and still others would rather just not look above that shelf. This got me thinking about the domesticity of knitting and what that really means.

While I don’t think knitting and domesticity ALWAYS go together, it is definitely often the case in my experience. The ladies at Urban Yarns definitely fit this bill. Knitting certainly isn’t the only craftacular and somewhat domestic endeavor that we undertake on a weekly basis. There are quilters, bakers, cooks, weavers, cross stitchers, needlepointers…..the list is endless and most certainly overlapping. Knitting is only one of the many domestic activities which we undertake.We are multi-faceted women with lots of hobbies and undertakings, many of which fall under the category of domesticity.

Now, that being said, is knitting always a domestic activity? I would say almost certainly not. Knitting is not only about creating clothing or accessories for ourselves and our loved ones, it’s about much more than that! Knitting can take many forms, including art, protest, fashion, and the somewhat domestic practicality. This idea got me thinking about what really makes something domestic. Is it just something that takes place in the home or regarding family? And what exactly is the line between domesticity and art? Can things be both? Is domesticity itself an art? Holidays always make me feel a little more domestic and I think I like it, no matter what that says about me.

So, get a little domestic and enjoy this delicious chocolate cookie recipe from Jan!

Nutty Double-Chocolate Cookies

2 cups flour
½ cup unsweetened cocoa powder
½ tsp baking powder & salt
1 cup butter at room temperature
½ cup icing sugar
1 egg
1 tsp vanilla
1 ¼ cups chocolate chips
½ cup coarsely chopped almonds or pecans
1 cup icing sugar for dusting

Preheat oven to 325 degrees.
Lightly spray 2 baking sheets

In a small bowl mix together flour, cocoa, baking powder & salt.
In a large bowl beat butter with ½ cup icing sugar until creamy.
Beat in egg and vanilla. Gradually beat in flour mixture until
evenly mixed. Stir in chocolate chips and nuts.

Pinch off about 1 tbsp dough and roll into a ball. Place on cookie
sheets about 2 in. apart. Flatten balls slightly. Bake approximately
14 minutes, switching position of baking sheets half way through

Cool and just before serving roll in icing sugar to evenly coat.

Toy Mania Continues…..

Thursday, October 7th, 2010


I just don’t know how she does it! I feel like there is a new and even more adorable toy at Urban Yarns every week. Not only is Amanda on a Toy roll but they have been popping up at knit night, knit classes, and in general show and tell. Anina just finished knitting this adorable turkey from the Spud and Chloe Blog. It’s a free pattern that you can find here.


My new favorite though is the cutest reindeer of all! It may seem a bit early to be getting so festive but I just think he’s the cutest thing. Amanda knit this little lovely up with Blue Sky Alpacas yarn (sumptuous) and the pattern and bits and pieces from CID designs. There are so many to choose from in this line (even Amanda hasn’t knit them ALL yet), there is a cute elf and santa if you are feeling festive, or drop by and check out the frog prince. Amanda knit him up in a tweedy yarn and he’s just perfect. The menagerie continues to grow!

The only problem with these charming little creatures is that they can seem a little daunting. Small double pointed needles, lots of increases and decreases, putting the whole thing together when it’s done…it can seem like a lot to take on in a small project. This, however, is both the challenge and the charm of toys. There is a lot of interest and technique but there is also a lot of instant gratification. Also, should a mistake HAPPEN to turn up, it’s not a lot of knitting to rip back (perish the thought).


If you are still feeling overwhelmed at the possibility of a little toy, don’t be afraid, just learn from the best! Amanda is teaching a class on the CID Hanscom Design kits at the end of the month. This whimsical class is going to be a lot of fun, using the ever-so-cute, CID Hanscom Design Kits.  THere are a number of sweet creatures to choose from: Harry Rabbit, Squeak the mouse, Tadeus Crocker, Croco Dehlia to name a few.  Amanda will assist you in working through the pattern and help you with its final construction.
Supply Requirements: Suggested yarn is Blue Sky Alpaca Sport or Melange & 2.25mm needles, fibre fill.
*Please Note: Since these toys are fairly small, basic knitting skills are a pre-requisite, with a concentration on fine motor skills.
Time: 6:30 – 8:30pm
Dates: Oct. 26 & Nov. 2
Cost: $50.00 + HST

Fun with Kaffe and Brandon

Tuesday, October 5th, 2010


It was another wild night at Urban Yarns on Friday. After the famous Kaffe Fassett gave an inspiring talk to many of his biggest fans, it was party time at UY. The crowd returning from the talk was bursting with inspiration. I find Kaffe’s colour combinations and ideas to be the most inspirational. He puts together colours I definitely wouldn’t have thought of, but they really work together. The place was packed, wine was flowing, and every once in a while some hilarity ensued!


Anina and Jan were inseparable from Brandon and Kaffe for the week and I have a feeling some new friendships have arisen. Brandon and Kaffe are both delightful individuals as well as very talented men when it comes to textiles. I got to meet them when they were letting loose a bit on Friday night; they were both charming and down to earth, even though they are both kind of a “big deal” in the knitting and quilting worlds to say the least.


On Sunday, Brandon gave a workshop on colour work and attendees have been all abuzz ever since. Fair Isle work has always been a soft spot of mine, but Brandon really takes it to a whole new level. I’ve worked with a few colours at a time, but I understand the poppy swatch they worked on had just a few more colours than that! Again the focus of Brandon’s work is colour;  how lights and darks work together, and against each other, to create a stunning masterpiece.


There is a lot to learn from two such prolific and accomplished gentlemen and it was a real honour to meet them this week. It’s always wonderful to meet knitting legends!