Archive for November, 2010

Knitting up Something Seussical

Tuesday, November 30th, 2010


One of my favorite Christmas traditions is the stocking. I’ve found over time that different families have quite different traditions regarding this iconic item. My aunty and cousins wrap every little thing in the stocking and the whole thing has to cost less than $30. Mostly it gets filled with toiletries, perhaps a book, that kind of thing. Also, everyone contributes to the stocking. In my family, even though we are all growed up, my mummy is the queen of the stocking. Our stockings can sometimes include the major present of the year (especially as electronics get smaller and smaller), nothing is wrapped, and I honestly can’t remember the last time everything even fit in my stocking!


Amanda has created this beautiful stocking that has all the features I look for in a proper stocking. It’s big. This is a must to fit as much loot as possible into the actual stocking. It’s also felted so it’s strong enough to hold all Christmas booty and still hang by the fire for Santa. It also has my current favorite, the pompom! These are some pretty serious pompoms too. They are so big and fluffy they look like snowballs. Adorable. The second most charming part of this stocking is the seussical looking tail. It has a stiff wire in it so it stays nice and curly. It’s just lovely and it really reminds me of the Grinch. Knit one of these lovelies up in whatever colour scheme suits you. We have many suitable felting yarns, including the mother of all felting yarns: Cascade. I like the look of a felted hand dye, it really adds a new depth and I’ve recently seen some gorgeous tweeds felted up. There are lots to choose from!


Let it Snow Let it Snow Let it Snow!

Friday, November 26th, 2010


Tis the season for cold flakes and warm hot chocolate. It’s the stuff knitting dreams are made of! I almost put in It’s a Wonderful Life yesterday I was feeling so festive and cozy, but I decided it was a little early. The heater is broken in my living room so I was bundled under some fleece blankets with a wooly scarf and hat on and knitting away. My hubby even made me some tea to keep warm. It was magic with the snow falling outside. Snow is, of course, only magical if you don’t have to get out and drive the Vancouver streets (particularly the unplowed side streets…..). The morning when I set off to work was a much more stressful and less magical moment! Once I was in for the night though I felt a lot better about the weather!


This weather definitely has me thinking scarf and I’m even feeling a little cabley lately (I think I made up that word but you know what I mean). I’m currently working on the Honey Cowl (see post below for details) but I had a real tweed hankering as I watched the snow pile up on the patio table. The next knit in line is Dryad from Brooklyn Tweed. This beautiful cabled masterpiece is knit up in Berocco’s Blackstone Tweed. It’s a lovely soft tweedy yarn in some fantastic shades. Blackstone is mostly wool with a little mohair and angora thrown in to make is soft. Come on in to knit night tonight and get one started!


To make a Dryad of your very own you will need:

Dryad by Jared Flood

4-6 balls of Blackstone Tweed (depending on desired length)

5mm needles

a cable needle

How to Make a Pompom

Monday, November 22nd, 2010

With the holiday knitting season in full swing there are so many great little projects to be made for friends and family. One of my favorites of the moment is the hat and I’ve been particularly smitten with the pompom embellishment. Pompom’s are also a lovely ornament, wrapping embellishment, or perhaps (if you are feeling ambitious) a garland! My husband asked me yesterday if all hats made for our child HAD to have a pom pom. Yes, I answered. Yes they do.

There are a couple of ways to put together a pompom but my personal favorite is via the Pompom Maker by Clover. I’ve been told you can make a pompom using cardboard but I find the Clover version super easy and it makes a nice even pompom with a good spherical shape. The mechanism itself, however, does not appear easy to use on first glance so I thought I might try to simplify with this little pompom tutorial. Thanks for being my lovely assistant Kynna!

Step 1: Get yourself some yarn and a pompom maker (there are 4 sizes, this is the 2nd largest)


Step 2: open the maker and start wrapping the yarn around one side.


Step 3: Wrap wrap wrap! Even though it feels like the pompom is eating yarn, you really want a nice full pompom so create a nice thick layer.


Step 4: Close the first side and open the second side. Wrap your yarn around the second side to about the same thickness as the first.


Step 5: Close the second side. You will now have a nice full pompom maker.


Step 6: Take your scissors and cut as seen below.


Step 7: Take a piece of yarn and tie it around the middle of the pompom maker.


Step 8: Open both sides of the maker.


Step 9: Pull the maker apart and release the pompom!



Fun with Debbie

Friday, November 19th, 2010



Last Wednesday I had the honour of meeting one of my knitting heroes, Debbie Stoller (perhaps I mentioned her?). Not only did she tell us all about her latest book, but how she got started in the knitting world. I was riveted. I was weaving in the ends on the sweater I knit from Superstar Knitting, listening to a very interesting woman talk about  knitting, it was heaven.


I wasn’t the only one thrilled to meet Debbie and have her sign my book, all the Urban Yarns ladies were in fine form. Sara even managed to knit the top she is wearing in the picture in only a couple of weeks. It was blocking the night before! Sandra, the queen of cables, knit up a beautiful tomato red dress in only 2 days! Some serious knitters around here I tell ya!

I must say I was totally lame and blurted out ‘You’re the reason I started knitting cool things!’ as soon I sat down at the signing table. What a dork. I was in good company though! Venus had Debbie sign her copy of Bust magazine (another of Debbie’s endeavours) and everyone was excited to meet the knitting guru.


A Taste of Honey

Tuesday, November 16th, 2010


There is something about a simple, beautiful design, paired with super soft and brilliantly coloured yarn that really turns me into a copycat knitter. It’s like I see the knit wear and I can’t think of anything else until I’ve cast it on! Meet the Honey Cowl. KT (a knitting machine with excellent taste we’ve come to know and love on Friday nights. You can check her out on her chic blog here) brought in this stunning cowl and I spent most of last Friday night feeling the soft soft yarn and thinking about all the colours I would knit this same cowl in. I briefly entertained the idea of absconding with the brilliant blue knit, but immediately dismissed the idea as a karmic no no.


The thing about this cowl is that the already nice yarn was even nicer once it was knit up. Is this possible? It was as if the pattern/yarn combination was equal to more than the sum of its parts. Strange knitting voodoo. Hmmm, just read back over this and it seems a bit gushy and obsessive but that’s just how I feel about this cowl. KT knit hers up in the Aslan Trends Royal Alpaca, 2 skeins, but it’s a cowl so you could really knit it up in almost any yarn. If you wanted a chunky version you could just take out some stitches or give your cowl and extra wrap. The possibilities are pretty much endless. I do, however, recommend a yarn with good stitch definition, like the Aslan Trends, to show off the pretty stitch pattern.

To knit up a Honey Cowl of your very own you will need

Yarn: About 350-400 yards of a DK weight yarn (20-22 stitches per 4″)

Needles: 5mm circular needles

Pattern: can be found for free here

Hats to the Rescue!

Friday, November 12th, 2010

There are so many large scale knits out there that it is nice to break it up with a hat. What is a large scale knit you might wonder? A sweater or blanket, anything that takes many many meters of yarn. For me, these kinds of projects are often broken up by smaller projects like hats or mittens, knit at the same time as the sweater. This might be why I finish fewer large scale knits than others….


Around the knitting circle on Fridays there have been a number of hats lately. The one that I think almost everyone has knit is the Starcrossed Beret. Kim knit one up in the super soft Pear Tree yarn this week and I’m completely in love! I’ve knit this one myself, but mine really lacked the slouch I was looking for. This might be because my needles were a size too small (I know, I work in a yarn shop and I still thought it would be just fine to use needles a size too small, I’m not sure what I thought would happen) and I really felt it could use an extra pattern repeat. Then it would be perfect. Unfortunately it needs a full rip out so I haven’t gotten up the courage to do that yet.


Kynna has been a knitting machine these days and she finished two super cute hats. I also think she has fabulous taste because I’ve knit both of these hats myself. The first is Ripley, a really cute pattern from Ysolda Teague. I love the way Ripley looks with the pleats in the back to make it a slouchy and kind of a hipstery hat. There is both a plainer version and a lace edged version of this hat. I knit the lace one in white while Kynna went with a nice charcoal grey. The yarn is one of my faves (have I mentioned it a million times yet?) Blue Sky Alpacas Worsted Hand Dyes, both Kynna and I got our hats out of one skein. What a treat.


The second hat is Porom by Jared Flood. It’s another slouchy beret (as they are all the rage) with a simple lace stitch. Kynna and I both knit our hats from Shibui Alpaca and they are soft as clouds. My pink hat looks pretty darn good on my head (I have a lot of curly hair) but it looks a little hilarious on the mannequin, a little more rasta than slouchy! Kynna knit hers a little shorter and it looks quite regular both on her head and on the mannequin head. Great taste as usual Kynna!


The Ever Popular Ysolda

Monday, November 8th, 2010


Some designers get a lot of talk around the couch on knit night. For a somewhat random group of gals there seem to be a few that we all agree on, or at least appreciate. Two that definitely come to mind are Jared Flood (who wouldn’t love Jared’s designs with his stunning photography? He’s downright irresistible) and Ysolda Teague. Kynna is absolutely enamoured of Ysolda and has knit more than a few of her designs. When an unsuspecting knitter dared to ask ‘who is Ysolda Teague?’ the other night I thought Kynna might fall off the couch, the look on her face would make anyone laugh.


One of Kynna’s more recent Ysolda accomplishments is her Veyla mittens. These are a lovely pair of fingerless gloves with lacy details and precious buttons. Just lovely. Not only is the pattern beautiful but Kynna has picked an awesome colour combination and some classy little black buttons from Button Button. The yarn is a soft sock yarn from Shibui called Staccato. As soon as we got Staccato in it was a hit. Amanda is knitting up some leg warmers and Kynna snapped up a skein for her Veyla’s.


These would be a lovely quick knit for yourself to keep the chill off your hands this fall, or for a loved one this holiday season! The pattern for Veyla can be found in Whimsicle Little Knits 2. We’ve got both of Ysolda’s books (WLK 1 and 2) and they are definitely worth a look so come on in and check them out!

Making a List and Checking it Twice

Thursday, November 4th, 2010


Today I had my first Egg Nog Chai Latte. I think the reaction to that statement will either be disgust or delight, depending on your view of the whole holiday season thing. I feel that as a crafter and avid Christmas baker I have an excuse to start the season early: if I don’t, everything simply won’t get done. Over the last couple of years I’ve slightly improved my ability to pace my Christmas crafting and last year I didn’t even have anything to work on come Christmas eve. I gave myself a pat on the back and my hubby heaved a sigh of relief.

So now it’s that time again: time to choose my yarn and projects and the recipients of knitted items this Christmas. Since I’ve been baby knitting, the list of knitted gifts is actually a little smaller this year. I’ve made the list though, and I’m seriously sticking to it. Some key points of the list are that no one on it has said a bad word about my knitting and actually all of them have been pleased with a knitted gift in the past. Here’s the list: 3 pairs of socks, 2 shawls (1 is done), 1 sweater, 2 hats, 1 cowl. Not too bad. It might be a bit of a reach but the sweater is half finished and so are 2 out of 6 socks.

Here are some questions you might want to ask yourself while creating your list:

1. Is there realistically enough time to finish this item (including blocking time) before the day?

2. Will this individual really appreciate a knitted item.

3. Have I ever heard this gift recipient utter the phrase ‘you can just buy that’?

4. Is this project a challenge or are you an old hat at knitting it? (the answer to this question may not determine whether or not you knit something, it just might have an effect on question 1)

5. Who are the most important people to knit for?

6. Who will most appreciate and love a hand-crafted item?

Also, before you create a list of your own I highly recommend you read this hilarious post from the yarnharlot, it’s not only the funniest knitting related thing I’ve ever read, it’s just good sense!

A Lovely Local Pin

Monday, November 1st, 2010


I find that lately I am more and more inclined to go local. This has been true about food for a while now, but lately I’ve been thinking more and more about supporting local people in other areas as well. It’s not that I don’t love a lot of our out of country brands like Blue Sky and Rowan, but it’s nice to support the small local guy as well. One of the local artists we like here at Urban Yarns is Dale Ramsey.


Dale creates beautiful wood shawl pins and closures by hand. His closures are really works of art. They are sculpted to the body and are made of instrument wood. The finish on them, aside from being stunning in colour, is the same finish they use on cars, so the colours won’t run in our rainy Vancouver weather. There are all kinds of beautiful shapes and colours to choose from, so there is undoubtedly one that goes with the shawl or sweater you may have just finished.


The latest addition we have acquired are Dale’s shawl pins. They are simple and elegant but they too have a bit of a story behind them. They are made from exotic woods from around the world in all different colours. These, however, are not coloured after they are created, the colour exists in the wood itself. Some of these exotic items include Birdseye Maple from Easter North America, Purple Heart from Costa Rica (my personal fave), Ebony from Africa, Yellow Heart from Guyana, and Coco Bolo from Central America. These pins are a great treat for yourself but they also make a really great gift for the knitter who has everything (you know who I’m talking about here). It’s something unique, special, and local.