Archive for February, 2011

A Few More Tools

Monday, February 28th, 2011

Well, back by popular demand is a few more tools. It seems that sorting out which tools might be useful for which project gives people some trouble. It’s also nice to find out about a tool that might make (or sadly, have made) your life easier.


First up is the row counter. I had a debate with Emily a few months ago about the merits of the row counter. Her argument was that it was easy enough for her to count up her rows, why bother with a little click? I had to respectfully disagree. It’s not that I can’t count my rows and read my knitting but sometimes it’s nice not to have to. I also definitely have trouble counting my rows when it comes to cables. It always looks like I’ve completed enough rows and I get tired of finding out I needed two more only after I’ve done another inch of knitting. I also enjoy the satisfaction of a little click when I’ve accomplished another row or round. Just lovely.

There are 2 types of row counters pictured above. The smaller one fits on the end of your straight needle and you turn it each time you finish a row. This one won’t work if you are working on DPN’s or circular needles. Actually it works just fine, it just won’t sit on your needle, you’ll have to keep it beside you. The other one sits beside me in it’s designated spot on the arm of my couch and offers a supportive and satisfying click.


These are stitch holders. Stitch holders are usually specified in the ingredients section of a pattern and they are used to hold stitches for a later use. This model is sort of a giant safety pin, you just slip the stitches on and squeeze it closed. Stitch holders are a lot easier than using a piece of waste yarn but they aren’t ideal in every stitch holding situation. For a mitten thumb, for example, I prefer to use a piece of waste yarn (simply weave it through the live stitches) because it’s more flexible. The stitch holders can make it more difficult to close the thumb gusset gap because you will have to stretch your stitches.


There are many types of cable needles and I’ve had the one pictured here for 11 years, it’s an old faithful. There are many like it but this one is mine. I am a firm believer in the ease of the cable needle. Others have tried to preach the  no-cable-needle-needed method of cabling but I simply won’t have it! I’m not sure if it’s because I’ve gotten so fast at cabling with my needle or the fact that my first 2-3 attempts at a needle-less cable just looked a little wrong, but I just can’t seem to come over to the dark side! If you are looking for a cabling tutorial, check out the post here, or if your feeling a little adventurous you can check out a needle-less cable tutorial here. I’m sure Anina will disagree with me, she’s all about the needle-less cable….

Oh The Cowls You’ll Make

Thursday, February 24th, 2011

I know, I know, cowl crazy right? There are just so many promising yarn combinations, colour combinations, and patterns to choose from! The best thing about a trunk show is seeing the finished garments IN PERSON. A photo is great but there’s nothing better than trying something on. This doesn’t mean that mine will turn out exactly the same, especially as I freely substitute yarns, but it does offer some great inspiration. Amanda, Kynna, and Anina have been cowling (just made that word up, I think it’s a keeper) away and here are a 2 of their FO’s from Cowl Girl Knits.


Amanda’s Eyelet Cowl: This cowl was made with Mirasol Qina, Tilli Tomas Mega Skein, and Alchemy Juniper. This is quite the beautiful yarn cocktail! Tilli Tomas is always a knitters little luxury, the colours are stunning with just a slight variegation. The Qina is a super soft yarn, my daughter has a whole sweater in it and it’s warm and wonderful. The Alchemy Juniper is one of my latest obsessions, it’s soft and stretchy and Alchemy’s colour pallette is the stuff dreams are made of. I’ll be picking up a couple of skeins for some luxurios socks tomorrow!


Kynna’s High Contrast: Kynna knit this little beauty up in Luxury Alpaca. The key to making this cowl really work is (as the name suggests) the contrast between colours. If you were to use colours that were closer together in shade or intensity it just wouldn’t have the same effect. Choose wisely! The original pattern calls for the Classic Elite Ariosa, which we do carry in some beautiful colours, but having felt Kynna’s cowl, I think I would make mine in the alpaca too!

Cowl Girl Knits Party!

Tuesday, February 22nd, 2011


If you haven’t had the chance to make it to an Urban Yarns party, this Friday is your chance! We have had a few happening shindigs at the shop, including Kaffe Fassett and Brandon Mably, as well as  Debbie Stoller. If there is one thing I can say about partying knitters: it isn’t what you might picture. Knitters are a pretty happening group that know how to let loose on a Friday night!


This Friday, the occasion (excuse), to have a party is the book Cowl Girl Knits by Cathy Carron. There will be a trunk show at the shop and ALL of the cowls in the book will be on display. There will also be several cowls that the UY gals have knit up in yarns from the shop. I have always been a big fan of the cowl, at least since I started at Urban Yarns, and I am pretty excited about this lovely book. It’s a whole book of cowls, I’m in heaven! I’ve already had a chance to see two cowls in person, Kynna has a lovely one on the go in some charmingly chunky alpaca and Amanda is knitting up hers in the soft and sumptuous Blue Sky Alpaca Brushed Suri. This pretty pink number is kind of like cotton candy, a look I find alluring.

The party details: Wine and Cheese Friday, February 25th from 7-9, at our Point Grey location.

See you there!

National Sweater Day

Friday, February 18th, 2011

It’s 11:30 and I have almost missed National Sweater Day! This is a fairly aggregious error for such an avid knitter, I blame some friends who moved today and baby Hunter entirely. In fact, I have knit many more sweaters (that still don’t quite fit, but are getting closer) for her than myself. I am realizing as a write this that if I had finished all the sweaters I had started, that last statement wouldn’t be true. And there you have it, my dirty little knitterly secret: I have a terrible track record with finishing sweaters! I don’t really think it’s the sweaters though, I think it’s my intense love of knitted accessories and the ease with which I can be distracted.

Shalom Cardigan

Shalom Cardigan

When Anina told me that today was National Sweater Day, my first thought should definitely have been ‘I should work on my Reindeer sweater!’ but instead it was ‘I should look for a new sweater project on Ravelry!’. Thus the unfinished sweaters….. I went looking for some of the most popular sweater patterns on Ravelry and boy did I find some great ones. I like to start with the most popular because the patterns are usually (disclaimer: usually) very well written and there are lots of projects to look at. I don’t always stop at the most popular but I think it’s a good place to start. Here are the 3 popular sweaters I’m dying to knit up, I just need to pick one…..

First up is the Shalom Cardigan. This sweater description had a few words that really pique my interst: top down and button closure. I love to knit sweaters from the top down because I will avoid seaming at all costs. I think I may have mentioned my button affinity before…? The other nice thing about this sweater is the gauge, 13 stitches per 4 inches on 7mm needles, it will knit up in a snap. Perhaps this is the project I need to improve my sweater confidence. The only problem with this cardigan is the sizing. The pattern is written for a 32-34″ bust and that I am not. There are some instructions to make the sweater bigger and a lot of people seem to have done just that so it’s not that big of a deterrent for me.

Owls Sweater

Owls Sweater

Next is Owls. This pattern is wildly popular, 1157 projects and counting! I love a good cable any time and I knit an iPod cozy with the charming owl cable already and loved it. The sweater includes a lot of button eyes, which gives me yet another liscense to button. Kynna is currently working on her own Owl sweater and the thought of us paling around in matching sweaters sounds kind of fun. There is also a mini Owl (Owlet) pattern so I could match Hunter up as well…too much?



The third pattern is somewhat new but already has a lot of projects, the Tea Leaves cardigan. One of my fave knitters at the shop knit this one up and it just looked so good I was immediately smitten. It has quite a simple shape but I’m drawn in by the details. This sweater definitely needs a hand dye in my opinion and perhaps even a slightly variegated yarn. For this purpose I am leaning towards a Dream in Colour Classy, just the right amount of variegation while remaining washable.

Tea Leaves

Tea Leaves

Now I just have to decide which one I’ll knit first, I will keep you updated!

Mohair and Slouchy Hats

Monday, February 14th, 2011


There is something about combining yarns of different fibers that is just so much fun. The combination of a solid and a hand dye, or even two different solids often makes the yarn come alive. Both Kynna and Amanda have knit up a great slouchy hat (pattern is free here) using 2 different yarns held together and the effect is amazing! I am especially smitten with the mohair in the mix, there are a few new mohairs around the shop so there are a lot to choose from. This hat calls for lace weight to be combined with the mohair which makes for some stunning options.



Amanda went with a slightly more subtle combination of Malabrigo Lace and the newest mohair around the shop, Debbie Bliss Angel (pictured above), a silk mohair combination. I think the hat is gorgeous of course, slouchy being all the rage. The mohair gives off a beautiful halo but it’s not quite as fuzzy as, say, an angora. If you’re looking for another solid mohair we’ve also got Shibui’s Silk Cloud. This one has a slightly higher silk content giving it a nice shine in addition to the mohair halo.


Kynna went with a bolder colour combination and a self striping lace. The lace is Zauberball, a very cool yarn, it comes in sock and lace weights and a absolutely LOVE the way it stripes up. For this hat 2 strands of the lace are held together, so instead of striping the Zauberball has a wonderful depth of colour. There are really 3 different greens coming through at any given time, how wonderful. It’s not even so much a stripe as it moves from one colour or shade to the next. The mohair is a hand dye from Alchemy called Haiku. The emerald combo is to dye for, well chosen Kynna!


Valentines Knits

Friday, February 11th, 2011


There is something so nice about a day of hearts. While it can get a little hallmark-ish I try to boil it down to the good intentions of the day: expressing your love to those who mean the most to you. Being a rather un-romantic individual I’ve never made to much of the day but I do like to make something nice for my hubby just to show I care. This year will be even less romantic for me, but I’m sure in love with my new baby, it certainly marks a different phase.

If you are trying to find the perfect gift for that special someone, there is nothing more heartfelt than a handknit gift. While my hubby is wary of complimenting my knitted items, lest I knit him a complete outfit or something crazy like that, he really loves the cashmere toque I knit him a few years ago. It’s the only knitted thing he will wear but he wears it with pride! It’s a pretty dull knit, or it would be if is weren’t cashmere! I knit Devon’s Toque, the pattern that comes with every skein of Handmaiden Cashmere. If anything could turn someone into a knitting fan, it’s cashmere. Even men are susceptable to it’s powers. If you’re trying to win someone over with your knitting I recommend this project.


If you are looking for a pretty hat for yourself, or a special lady in your life, check out Amanda’s latest pattern the Heart Hat. It’s got a little heart shaped lace and my personal fave: the pompom. It’s made in a fabulous yarn too, Pear Tree 10 ply. This yarn is unbelievably soft merino. I mean it, in a blind test I would have definitely guessed cashmere or perhaps alpaca, it is soooo soft. Slouch hat’s are all the rage, I’m thinking I might make mine in grey….

In the Mood for a Treat

Monday, February 7th, 2011

Have you ever had a bad knitting day and needed a little pick me up? Sometimes a little luxurious yarn is the answer for me. There are some yarns around the shop that always make me happy not just to pet but to knit with as well. Here are my top 5 luxurious yarn picks (in no particular order):


1. Blue Sky Alpacas Royal: Mmmmm, not surprising that Blue Sky made the list. Royal alpaca is a thinner yarn, 24 stitches per 4 inches and absolutely buttery soft. It comes in some lighter shades and it’s perfect for a small shawl, some luxury socks, or the charming button up cowl.


2. Handmaiden Cashmere: I have knit many items with this 100% cashmere yarn but my favorite is a little one skein wonder I designed: the Simple Yet Effective Cowl. Just one skein of this hand dyed beauty and some 16 inch 3.75mm needles for a cowl that’s sure to please. If you’re in the mood for a hat instead the yarn comes with a pattern to make a ribbed toque that has been a hit with men and women alike.

3. Aslan Trends Royal Alpaca: This yarn is a little newer but has been incredibly popular, hard to keep in stock! It’s another Royal Alpaca yarn so it’s soft as can be. It’s a nice solidly dyed yarn in great colours. It’s been used for a few projects but easily the most popular is the Honey Cowl. 2 skeins of this yarn makes a nice long cowl that wraps around twice to keep you warm as can be.


4. SweetGeorgia Cashsilk Lace: Of course some SweetGeorgia had to make the list too. Another amazing colour palette and a super soft yarn with a little shine in the combination of silk and cashmere. A lace weight yarn, this beauty is perfect for any shawl but I personally recommend the Shetland Triangle. It’s a great pattern with a repeat that allows for almost any amount of yarn.

5. Alchemy Silk Purse: This yarn is another hand dye that is a great yarn to use when knitting for those allergic to wool, alpaca, and/or cashmere. As usual Alchemy’s colour palette is fantastic. Their yarns are so vibrant that the silk absolutely glows. It’s also super soft because it has hardly any spin to it. Perhaps a Springy scarf? Maybe a cardigan? Anything you knit will be a real statement piece.

With so many lovely yarns to choose from it’s time for a little yarn treat!

Tools of the Trade

Thursday, February 3rd, 2011

While the obvious knitting tools of the trade are your yarn and needles there are so many other little devices out there. There are usually functional plain versions of these items but often there are funkier or funnier versions of the same thing. Case in point being the tape measure. Sure you could have a boring one but there are some pretty adorable tape measures out there, like the black sheep, or the Pinocchio. Some items are real necessities but other gadgets just make your knitting run a little smoother, these are the items I simply must have in my knitting kit.


First up is the all powerful tape measure. This one is definitely a must have. While many of us hate to swatch it doesn’t mean we don’t have to do it and a tape measure is the only way you are going to know if you are on gauge or not. Patterns also often include instructions that read ‘knit until piece measures __ inches’ (or something to that effect) and you just won’t know unless you measure!


Next up is the stitch marker. This one really makes life so much easier. While it may appear to be ‘just’ a little plastic ring, it is a very important plastic ring! When you are knitting in the round you can slip one of these suckers onto your circular needle and you won’t have to think about the beginning of the round again. If you are using double pointed needles I recommend placing the stitch marker in the middle of needle one. The first stitch on needle one is the beginning of the round, but if you try to put a stitch marker on the end of a double point it will just fall off, thus marking nothing. Stitch marker are also great for marking the beginning and end of a pattern repeat. I have found this particularly useful when knitting lace, if you place a marker at the end of each pattern repeat you will know immediately if something has gone wrong, instead of waiting for the middle or end of a row, or *gasp* 2 rows later. These are really just a few uses, stitch markers really are an invaluable item.


Last but not least on my ‘can’t do without’ list is a set of darning or tapestry needles. This is a blunt needle with a curve at the end and it is used for sewing up seams or weaving in ends. There is some debate on what the very best needles is for knitterly purposes, some think a sharper needle is ideal because you can split your stitches when you are weaving in ends, making it harder for those ends to come undone. I really think a dull needle is the only way to go though, it’s so much simpler to just weave the yarn through the stitch and it makes seams a snap. To each their own though, there is no right or wrong, only preference. So, if your knit kit is short any of these items I suggest you make your knitterly life a little easier by picking them up!