Archive for December, 2010

Beginnings and Endings

Thursday, December 30th, 2010

This New Years I’m thinking both of new beginnings and some sad goodbyes. It’s ringing in new adventures and saying goodbye to the year past. As some of you might know, Tuesday was my last day at Urban Yarns before my year of Maternity leave. While I’m obviously pleased to be taking the time off and REALLY excited about my own new beginning as Mommy dearest, it’s still sad not to see my favorite ladies on a daily basis. Both my hubby and my friends are doubtful I’ll be able to stay away from the yarn shop for any real length of time, so I hope to see everyone at knit nights! I will also still be blogging my little heart out so you won’t miss me here!

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As for sad goodbyes, the lovely and charming Sarah is moving down south to beautiful San Francisco. Sarah is a fabulous knitter and her witty (and sometimes delightfully nerdy) conversation will be missed around Urban Yarns. Sarah is always good for an interesting knit or a Glee conversation, among her many talents. If you see a sweater all knit up in the shop, chances are it was knit by either Sarah or Anina. We’ll all miss you Sarah!

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Before she left Sarah knit up this lovely Dipped Infinity Scarf using various sock yarns. I just think it’s so beautiful. We spent quite some time picking out all the colours and deciding how they should go together. We toyed with rainbows but decided the scarf would be beautiful but possible wouldn’t get enough wardrobe play. We also looked at a black to white scheme with various shades of grey in the middle, also a nice option. That’s really the beauty of this scarf, any pallette will do, the options are endless!

Gearing Up for the New Year

Tuesday, December 28th, 2010

I have always thought of September as the New Year. I’m not a student anymore but still, it seems like a good start to the year no matter who you are. Seasons changing, kids going back to school, all kinds of classes and projects are starting, and summer vacations are coming to an end. Even though September is clearly a ‘fresh start’ kind of month, January gets the official New Year. My hubby calls January the New Year Do Over. It’s your chance to make all of the promises to yourself you made in September come true. It’s a chance to start the new year over again. Let’s face it, a lot of us need this do over as life tends to get in the way of big, well layed plans a lot of the time.

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With the New Year at Urban Yarns it’s time for some new classes. Time to learn something new, finish an old project, or brush up on some ‘lost’ skills. Our instructors at UY are fantastic (if I do say so myself). Sandra is teaching our Beyond Beginner class on Thursdays. In this class you can bring your own pattern choice (usually a sweater or garment of some kind) and Sandra will talk your through it. She’s something of a knitting therapist really….. Sandra teaches this class on a regular basis because she’s just so popular! Hilarious and layed back, I highly recommend miss Sandra as a teacher!

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If you’re looking to learn lace (and I think everyone should, there are an absolute ton of techniques involved in lace that transfer over to all kinds of knitting) why not learn from someone who knits it pretty much all the time? That person is Alison. She must have knit hundreds of beautiful lace pieces, many of which are haning in the shop. She’s got so many lacey class options you’ll have to check out our class list to see them all!

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We’ve also got miss Amanda teaching the new Mitten Bootcamp. The popularity of the Sock Bootcamp has been to overwhelming that we thought we would take that idea and apply it to mittens. In sock bootcamp you learn to knit a sock in 3 hours by knitting a tiny little sock. You learn to knit in the round, turn a heal, pick up a gusset, and decrease for the toe. Once you master the mini sock you can start in on a big pair of socks with confidence. Well, look out socks, here comes mittens! Amanda will teach you all the mitten techniques you need to know so you can move on to making a warm wooly pair of people sized mittens.

These are just a few of the clasees we will be offering in the new year so check out the full list here!

Last Minute Ornament Knits

Wednesday, December 22nd, 2010

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Well, it’s time to start counting the hours rather than the days! Knitters are looking for the chunkiest yarn (or even holding some chunky yarn doubled) and the biggest needles. 20mm is a comically large size of needle. I’ve knit a few last minute items on these and when I was knitting on the ferry I think at least 10 people just HAD to know what I was up to. They were a great conversation starter.

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If you don’t want to go big, you can go small with these super cute ornaments. Kynna knit up hers little snowman in an evening. There are a lot of little techniques in these ornaments but they go so fast! The snowman is adorable but I’m also quite smitten with Owen and Olive, the Christmas monsters. If they aren’t the funniest ornaments on the tree, I don’t know what is.

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I knit up some Little Sock Ornaments as well, designed by moi. They knit up in 1/2 hour or less if you’re looking for a little something to top a prezzie or jazz up a Christmas card. I knit mine up in Blue Sky Alapcas Melange and Sport for the rainbow socks and a little Peter Rabbit and some Blue Sky Alpacas Suri merino for the white.

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So break out your double points, pick up a pattern, yarn, or a kit, and enjoy the next couple of days with some Christmas nog and movies!

What’s up on Boxing Day? An extra 10% off sale items and some serious deals on odd balls. Come on in, we’re open 12-5!

What a New Knitter Needs

Monday, December 20th, 2010

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There have been many a time around UY when a knitter has come in looking to convert another. I think it might be in our knitterly nature to want to bring others over to the dark side. We wish to inflict our loop obsession on the masses in order to have people to knit with I think. Knitters love company. Not only do knitters come in looking to help out the beginner in their lives but others as well. ‘My (insert relation here) wants to learn how to knit, what will they need to get started?’. Well, let me offer some advice.

First I think a good beginner book is essential. Something the NK (new knitter) can reference later in his or her knitting career as well as something to get them started. As you all know, I usually recommend the Stitch and Bitch book for this purpose but there are also a couple of great Vogue knitting books that make excellent references. I feel that a good beginner book should have excellent diagrams and should be easy to use, these are your two main criteria.

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The other item an NK needs is their very first project. There are really a lot of options in this category but I beg you knitter: do not start them out with a sock, a cable, some lace. This will only deter them! Are there exceptions to this rule? Of course. But it really helps your walking if you learn to sit up first!

So I recommend the faithful fool proof scarf. You need some worsted weight yarn (maybe a little thicker if you prefer), needles to match, and a healthy dose of garter stitch. Why garter you ask? While it may seem dull knitting a scarf in garter stitch will give you an even tension by the end, pretty much every time. It’s also pretty forgiving on any missed stitches etc. and the texture of a garter scarf is great for warmth and fashion. If you’re not sure just tell the lovely ladies at UY how wide you want your scarf and they will happily give you an idea of how many stitches to cast on. It’s that simple!

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Last but not least I would turn a new knitter on to Ravelry. If you don’t know what Ravelry is, it’s kind of like facebook for knitters, only better. You can put your projects on Raverly to share them with the knitting world, you can organize your knitting stash and needles, you can find both free and pay patterns galore, search for yarn information, well, the list is really endless. I absolutely love Ravelry and spend probably too much time on that site. I could really go on for days about it! So add a little note in the NK’s card or put a sticky note on their new reference book with the note: www.ravelry.com

The Accessories Knitter

Saturday, December 18th, 2010

I definitely count myself as one amongst the accessories knitter. I have knit a few sweaters, some blankets, some skirts, but I ALWAYS come back to the accessory. Hats, scarves, mittens, gloves, who doesn’t like an accessory?! I have kind of a plain jane wardrobe so jazzing up my life with some colourful or textured knits is a fine way to keep things fresh. I’m also thoroughly enjoying baby accessory knitting, my child will never be without a pompom hat it seems…..

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If you are buying for an accessory knitter this year I recommend both of Ysolda Teague’s books. They are full of beautiful hats, gloves, mittens, scarves, toys…what more can a girl ask for? My favorite knits are Kynna’s fingerless gloves from Whimsical Little Knits. A skein of Shibui’s Staccato (a silk blend sock yarn), some needles, and some matching buttons makes a great gift.

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For a scarf sized Ishbel shawl (also from Whimsical Little Knits) all you need is one skein of SweetGeorgia Cashluxe Fine. This is a new yarn around the shop, it’s a combination of Merino, Cashmere, and Nylon making it soft but washable. One skein makes the smaller sized Ishbel on 4mm needles and I highly recommend the pointy tipped Addi Lace needles for this project. They make everything run so smoothly.

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Twinkle Twinkle Little Star

Monday, December 13th, 2010

There is a big new yarn in town (and I mean that rather literally) and it is Twinkle. ‘Tis’ the season for warm, chunky, chic knits and a super soft new yarn to knit them in! Last year (and who are we kidding, this year too) it’s been a rush to decide what to knit in our bulkier yarns. Fashionable and fast is an excellent last minute gift combination.

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Blue Sky Alpaca Bulky (which is used in the two cute patterns above) is a fave, along with the washable Spud and Chloe Outer. The new kid on the block is Twinkle. Twinkle is a Classic Elite Yarn, one of the newer lines at UY, and it is like butter to touch. Mmmmm, just thinking about Twinkle yarn, big bamboo needles, and some coco with marshmallows makes me smile.

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Twinkle is one of those charming single ply yarns that knits up to about an 8 stitch gauge on 15mm needles. What is a single ply yarn, you may ask? Why it’s a yarn that looks kind of like it came straight from the sheep, no spin to it at all. Twinkle is 100% wool but it’s hard to believe that when you feel it, it’s more like 100% cloud. There is also a great new book for Twinkle, full of chic knits, you can check out the contents here.

Of course, what would big yarn be without a one skein project? Here’s a link to a free Ravelry pattern for a lovely one skein cowl called Marian. Sarah has knit one up in the shop in the Malabrigo Rasta, but I’m knitting mine up in some plummy purple Twinkle.

As you might know, we have a lot of samples hanging around the shop. Some samples come to us from the various yarn companies we carry but the vast majority of them are knit by the lovely ladies in the shop. A little while ago UY was approached by a movie company wanting some hand knits for their movie. We were happy to oblige, who wouldn’t want their knitting on TV? Well, the show airs this Thursday, December 16th at 9 o’clock and it’s called “On Strike for Xmas”. I’ll be tuning in to see my knits in action!

Hats for Charity (and for fun)

Friday, December 10th, 2010

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There are so many great things about knitting for charity. The number one great thing being that you can do something special for a cause using your mad knitting skills. It’s nice to use your knitting powers for good. Urban Yarns will be knitting up some more hats for charity in the next few weeks for Save the Children/ Caps for Good Campaign. Hats will be displayed at TNNA in January then distributed to new moms and their babies through Save the Children programs in Asia, Africa, and Latin America.

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Save the Children offers a downloadable kit to help you create your caps complete with free patterns You can Click here to download the Save the Children/Caps for Good Campaign kit. You can drop your caps by UY and Anina and Jan will bring them to TNNA themselves. Otherwise you can mail them to the following address by January 4th.

Alice Peterson Co.
Att: Caps for Good
118 Center Street
El Segundo, CA 90245
310.322.0600

* Please make sure your cap has a “cap tag” which must accompany each cap – click here for the cap tag.

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I have been knitting up some hats myself, somewhat compulsively. This hat pattern has pretty much everything I love in a hat: Fair Isle techniques, pompoms, and Blue Sky Alpacas Sport and Melange. They are also adorably small for all the little rugrats coming into the world. The other great thing about these hats is that they whip up in an evening, charts and all!

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I started with the classic hat, colours just like the pattern. Then I thought, why not take this colourwork a step further? These hats are a great way to explore the colour wheel and different colour combinations in a low investment project. 4 skeins of BSA makes more than a couple of hats and you really don’t need much for the pattern part.

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It’s interesting to see how differently the hats look with more and less contrast between colours. For this fall inspired hat I really thought there was enough contrast between the yellow, red, and orange but the pattern is definitely harder to pick out than in the hats with a white/cream background. I sometimes find it hard to tell whether colour combinations will work or not without using the old trial and error method. The human eye can see the contrast so clearly between 2 skeins of yarn but it’s a little harder when there are only a few stitches of each colour.

To make a Giacomo Baby Hat of your very own, for yourself or for charity you will need:

Yarn: 4 skeins Blue Sky Alpacas Sport or Melange

Needles: 3.5mm 16″ circular needle, 3.75mm 16″ circular needle, 3.75mm double pointed needles

Other: pompom maker (I used the green one, the second largest size), darning needle for those pesky ends, 1 stitch marker

The pattern: you can find the free pattern here.

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For the Sock Knitter

Monday, December 6th, 2010

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For the sock knitter in your life, there are just so many options. So many types of fibers (although I think most people still look for a washable sock yarn), types of needles, and types of socks! While I still stand by the traditional double pointed needles and top down socks, there are all kinds of options for those more adventurous. There are socks on 2 circular needles, socks from the toe up, and socks 2 at a time for a start. We’ve got books for all of these types of sock knitting if you are buying for the sock knitter looking for the next level. I also really like Cookie A’s book, (she’s kind of the queen of socks). It’s got a lot of good information and tips as well as some cool patterns.

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When people come in looking for some sock yarn I immediately point them in the direction of the ‘wall of sock’. It’s a wonderful colourful wall full of all kinds of sock yarn. I really love a hand dye in a sock yarn, and I enjoy some crazier colour schemes than I might for a hat or a scarf.  It’s like my own little secret when I wear a pair of colourful crazy socks. Of course we have some more subdued yarns as well, bright yellow socks aren’t for all I understand.

Needles are really a preference thing. For circulars I would definitely go with an Addi Lace, for the finer sock yarns. If you are really looking to spoil a knitter we’ve also got the Addi Lace interchangable sets, a dream come true under the tree….but I digress a bit. The treasures in my own personal stash definitely include my Lantern Moon needles. I have double points in US 1 and 2, which is pretty much all I use for socks and they are a dream. They are strong rosewood needles which don’t bend as easily as bamboo, I love them and we just received a shipment of Lantern moon so pick up some needles for the sock knitter in your life!

This weeks sale yarn is Louisa Harding Shingle and Glisten. Glisten is a sparkly yarn while Shingle is a be-sequened yarn perfect for a seasonal project for the fabulous individuals you know!

What to get for the Lace Knitter

Friday, December 3rd, 2010

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It’s certainly that time of year again and everyone is wondering what to get for the knitter in their life. Or perhaps you are the knitter wondering how to tactfully suggest some items that would fit in a Christmas stocking or under the tree. Well, here are a few of my suggestions for a special type of knitter: the lace knitter, perhaps you could pass on the post if you are subtly hinting to family or friends ;-)

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While knitters are rarely only one type, we  all know knitting can come in waves, perhaps you were a sock knitter last year, an accessories knitter the year before, or the brave sweater knitter the year before that, but if you are a lace knitter this year you probably have a few lace specific knitting traits. You probably have pretty good attention to detail and enjoy the process of knitting (as opposed to being more product oriented) because boy do those yards of yarn start to go slowly by the final few rows of a shawl! You probably enjoy working in some finer fibers and are currently digging some lighter, airier knits.

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My favorite yarn to knit up some lace has to be SweetGeorgia. Subtle hand dyes make any shawl just that much more beautiful and both the more vibrant colours and the more subdued look stunning in the skein and knit up. There are 2 choices in SG for lace: Cashsilk (my personal indulgent fave) and Merino Silk Lace. The Cashsilk is about 400 yards and has that cashmere softness to it. Perfect for a smaller shawl or scarf size. The Merino Silk Lace has that silky shine and is a very generous 765 yards. You could knit anything up with that kind of yardage!

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If you have a newer lace knitter on your hands perhaps some sock weight yarn would be nice. It’s a little thicker than the lace but remains light enough to do the job. I’ve knit up a couple of Ishbel shawls from Ysolda Teague in sock weight and I just love it. There is lots of sock yarn to choose from (we call it the sock wall) so you can come on in and pick your colours.

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Shawl patterns aren’t particularly hard to come across in the shop but I have to say, in my wild summer shawl-a-thon, one of my favorite patterns had to be Emily Wessel’s Photosynthesis. This pattern is hugely popular on Ravelry and around the shop. It goes rather well with a skein of SweetGeorgia, hint hint hubby!