Archive for May, 2011


Monday, May 30th, 2011

Cakes of yarn

One of the questions that gets fired off at the shop a lot is “Why does yarn come in these annoying skeins? It should come in a ball so I can just knit it right away”. I hear what you’re saying but I’m here to share the reason for this formatting.

First of all, there are four words for yarn formats (that I know of): Skein, hank, ball, and cake. The most common mistake is between a skein and a hank. What most people call a skein is actually a hank of yarn. A skein looks like this:

Skeins of yarn

Skeins of yarn

It can be worked right away, no re-winding to contend with. It can be pulled from the center or the outside. A ball of yarn looks like this:


A ball of yarn

You might be familiar with this one if you are in the habit of rolling yarn yourself by hand (or if you get a tricky hank and the ball winder loses control, but I digress). There are ways to roll a ball so you can pull from the outside or the inside but if you are rolling the balls yourself they are probably outside only. A hank of yarn looks like this:

Hanks of yarn

Hanks of yarn

This is the style people find so frustrating, but let me tell you a couple of reasons yarn comes in hanks. First off it is dyed this way. Especially if you are looking at smaller dyers or hand dyes in general the yarn is dyed in the hank so they sell it that way. The second reason is that it packs down nice and small for shipping, not like those pesky balls or cakes. The third reason yarn is not usually sold in cakes is that it stays smoother in the hank. There are no crinkly bits if you leave your yarn in a nice loose hank. If your yarn is wound into a cake or ball too tightly and it sits in the cake or ball for some time, it can also become stretched. It’s recommended that you leave your yarn in the hank until you are ready to work with it (this is not so convenient if you don’t have your own ball winder but it is ideal). And so folks, that is why yarn often comes in hanks rather than skeins and balls.

The last format is my favorite term: the cake

A cake of yarn

A cake of yarn

Cakes of yarn are usually what you would turn a hank into. It can be pulled from the center or the outside (I always recommend the outside, not as satisfying but way fewer tangles if you do it this way). I like the cake the best because it just looks so darned pretty. It looks fresh and ready to be knit. A pretty cake just makes me want to cast on a new project right away!

There you have it, balls, skeins, cakes, and hanks!

Brooklyn Tweed KAL update: Finished the second lace chart on my Rock Island! Garter stitch here I come…. I’m feeling so confident I might just finish that BT Tweed Baby Blanket I cast on so long ago!

Go Canucks Go!

Friday, May 27th, 2011


Well, isn’t this exciting! Our little Canucks are headed to the Stanley Cup Playoffs! Those who are not hockey/Canuck fans are probably tired of hearing about them but a chance at the Stanley Cup doesn’t come around too often. I only vaguely remember the 94 series, being 10 at the time. My parents, brothers, and myself all sitting around the TV with our white towels, our eyes glued to the little black puck. I think there is something exciting about the playoffs whether you are a hockey fan or not. I love a good get together to watch the game and I think this time around I might just need some playoff knitting.

Team colours are definitely in order! Some stripey socks perhaps in the blue, green, and white. Or if you are feeling particularly proud of the hometown team and need a slightly more ornate project this scarf might just fit the bill!


Cascade has the Canuck colours in their truest form but if you are looking for something more interpretive and a little less literal there are many options around the shop. Shibui sock or Spud and Chloe Fine come in some Canuck-esque colours as well (perfect for my stripey socks….)

A Winning Combination

Monday, May 23rd, 2011

This past weekend we took Hunter out for her very first camping trip. I needed the perfect project for the trip. There was a little driving to get there but mostly there was a  lot of hanging out by the campfire so it would have to be something worthy of a  fair bit of knitting time. By the way, some might have worried about smoke flavoured knitting but I figured I would just give it a soak and it would be none the worse for wear. I needed a project with a pattern that was easily memorizable (sorry Rock Island, you had to stay home) and something with a thicker yarn, no lace for this long weekend.


The perfect combo for me was the Big Herringbone Cowl from the Purlbee. The combination of a nice textured stitch, big needles, and my all time favorite yarn (yes, I realize this title changes from time to time) Blue Sky Alpacas Worsted Hand Dyes. The pretty charcoal grey with the herringbone stitch is such a wonderful combination it’s like knitting hot chocolate, warm, comforting, and cozy. I had some 12mm needles from my various Twinkle cowls but they are unfortunately a bit short. There are a lot of stitches crammed onto those bad boys! I recommend you pick up 5 skeins, some giant needles (24 or 32 inches rather than 16) and check out the pattern for the next long weekend camping trip!

The Most Beautiful Gloves in the World

Thursday, May 19th, 2011


I was perusing my friends activity on Ravelry yesterday (feeling a bit like a knitting stalker) and what should I come across but the most beautiful fingerless gloves in the world. Amanda always knows just the patterns that will come out looking as if they were straight out of an Anthropologie catalog. The pattern is Sweet Robin Wrist-ees by Tiny Owl Knits

These mittens are a little intense but I think the effort is well worth it. Amanda used intarsia for the bird and nest but this pattern also calls for details added after the glove has been knit. The eggs and nest details are added afterward. A fair bit of technique for a small project but I think small projects are the best way to learn something.


The combinations of colours add so much depth to the project and Amanda’s colour combo came out amazing. It’s sometimes hard to find all the colours you are looking for in one yarn for a project like this but Amanda was thinking outside the box and picked out sock weight yarn in several different yarn brands. The result is fabulous.

Reminder: Margaret Radcliffe classes are coming up next week so snag one of the few spots left! (you can read more about Margaret here)

Brooklyn Tweed KAL Update: I have cast on my Rock Island. Hunter threw up on the first 6 repeats of the outer lace chart. I’m chugging away so I can finish the outer lace chart and clean it. Of all the places Hunter…..

Brooklyn Tweed Knit Along!

Monday, May 16th, 2011


Clapotis Fun! We had a grand time drinking Dorian Grey tea (pinkies out) on Friday night and showing off our charming Clapotis’! It’s such a nice thing to see a project done a few different ways and to enjoy some knitterly bonding. The last couple of Knit Nights we have been tossing around the idea of a KAL (knit along) and finally decided on a theme: Brooklyn Tweed.


Jared Flood of Brooklyn Tweed has long been a favorite designer around the shop. His work can be both simple and complex (sometimes even within the same project) and his designs are some of the most popular around. I think Brooklyn Tweed makes a great KAL because there are just so many options! There are the more simple designs like the Romney Kerchief and the Noro Stripe Scarf and there are more complex like Rock Island (pictured above) or the Juneberry Triangle. There are also projects on different scales, ranging from blankets and sweaters to shawls, hats, and gloves. The perfect thing to entertain a wide range of knitters!


So, how this KAL works:

1. This week: take your weapon of choice (pattern and yarn combo) and cast on

2. Join the Urban Yarns KAL Ravelry group (if you joined us for the knitting Olympics you are already there)

3. Finish your project in a month

4. Come for a Friday night party at Urban Yarns June 24th

Simple right? I encourage everyone to share their projects and progress on Ravelry, I love to know what’s going on!


I’ll be casting on my Rock Island today in SweetGeorgia Silk Lamb Lace, wish me luck! And in case anyone is wondering what other project have already planned out, the gals at Knit Night last friday area casting on 3 Rock Islands, 1 Terra, and rumor has it a Hemlock Ring Blanket.


Friday, May 13th, 2011


1 Super popular Ravelry pattern

1.5 skeins of Mini Maiden

5mm Addi Lace needles

15 stitch markers

2 hair elastics acting as stitch markers

30 purposely dropped stitches

1 accidentally dropped stitch

4 ends to weave in


several evenings

1 10 hour car trip

1 very late night

= 1 finished Clapotis!

Hope to see everyone tonight! 6-9 at Urban Yarns for tea and cookies and Clapotis!



Tuesday, May 10th, 2011


I was just sitting on my couch the other day, minding my own business when Anina sends me an email with a link to the Spud and Chloe Blog. Now, as you may know, I have a real problem with startitis and a Clapotis shawl that is required to be finished for Friday (it’s coming along nicely by the way). Well I opened the email (mistake 1) to find a picture of a lovely little sampler blanket, called the Dreamcatcher. It has everything I love in a blanket, different stitches, many colours, and a pretty patchwork effect. I started knitting by making sampler blankets (I made them in strips rather than squares because it was easier to make mathematical mistakes that way) and I also made some Sampler Placemats I like the idea so much.

So here is the small amount of Spud and Chloe Sweater I have and I’m just deciding on which other colours I will add. They have put out some fabulous new colours since I picked these up and I’m thrilled to have an excuse to try some different ones too. Perhaps adding some Barn Red? Maybe some Moonlight or Grape Jelly? It’s not as though Hunter needs a new blanket and it’s not as though I need another project but the combination of inspiration and fun yarn is irresistible. I blame you Anina.

Tosh Tosh Tosh!

Thursday, May 5th, 2011
Thermis Cowl knit in 1 skein Tosh DK

Thermis Cowl knit in 1 skein Tosh DK

I’m so excited! I have been waiting a LONG time (even in knitting time) for this yarn to come in. I am in love with all things Madelinetosh andp it seems like the feeling has been sweeping the knitting world. What I love the most about this yarn are the colourways. Some are a very subtle kettle dye, while others are a little bolder, all have a dimension that is to die for! I’ve been particularly smitten with kettle dyes myself. Instead of a flat colour there is just so much more to them. It’s really adds something to even a simple stockinette piece. A kettle dye can also be preferable to a variegated yarn when it comes to lacy or cabled patterns. The pattern still comes through but the piece is more interesting than it might be in a flat colour.

We have 3 different kinds of Tosh in: Tosh DK, Tosh Merino DK, and Pure Silk Lace. You might be wondering about the 2 DK weights (DK, by the way, stands for Double Knitting, and knits up around 22 stitches per 4 inches). The Tosh DK is a plied superwash yarn. Perfect for garments you don’t want to handwash (I feel some baby garments coming on) but still a hand dye, what a great combination. The Tosh Merino DK is a single ply yarn, this means it has little spin to it so it’s super soft but keep it far away from hot soapy water (unless you are felting but that’s a special circumstance). I like the Merino DK for a scarf or hat, something that doesn’t see a lot of friction and needs to be buttery soft. The DK is great for a sweater or mittens, something that needs a heartier yarn. The lace, of course, is perfect for any piece of summery lace and the shine combined with the stunning colourways is stunning. At a very generous 1000 yards per skein you could knit 2 smaller shawls or 1 large one with just one skein, how fabulous! I’m starting to think my Rock Island shawl should be a Madelintosh one…..

Breaking out the Lace

Tuesday, May 3rd, 2011


A couple of months ago a did a post about some popular sweaters I was thinking about knitting and FYI I cast on the Tea Leaves Cardigan for my Mom. She is pretty fabulous to knit for since she is 1. small. It takes the least amount of yarn and time to knit her a sweater because she is a small, it’s pretty great. 2. appreciative. Mom is a crafty lady herself and she always appreciates a hand knit. 3. wears knitting. It’s so nice to make things for someone who not only appreciates the work done, but loves to wear knitwear! She doesn’t worry about itchyness (although I do try hard not to knit itchy things obviously) and she is willing to design an outfit around a pretty knitted item, instead of the other way around. The sweater is well under way in SweetGeorgia Worsted, the colourway is Cypress.

This brings me to my next obsession: lace. The weather is slowly turning (looks like one nice day and one rainy day but I’ll take it) and I find nothing lovelier than lace in summer. Last summer I completed 5 lace shawls and this summer I am planning at least 5 more. I thought I would share my top picks.


1. First up is Brooklyn Tweed’s Rock Island. This is not a shawl for the faint of heart. It has lace on both sides (no purl row breaks) and a slightly more complicated construction than the traditional triangle. It is, of course, stunning though! And without sounding redundant, it’s very lacy. There are a lot of shawls out there that have large portions of stockinette or garter stitch with a little lace edging. These are fabulous, don’t get me wrong. But Rock Island, while it does have some garter stitch, has a lot of large holes, making it a more open piece. 680 yards of lace is needed for this project.


2. Damask is one of the most popular projects on Ravelry at the moment and I think it’s just lovely! I’m not sure if it’s partially because I’m a real sucker for mustard yellow right now but there are some really beautiful projects in the pattern. I am thinking about some Malabrigo sock or possibly some Alchemy Juniper for this project. 380-650 yards of sock weight (approximately 28 stitches per 4 inches) is needed for this project.


3. Vesna is a shawl from the latest Twist Collective and it’s done up in one of my personal faves, SweetGeorgia Merino Silk Lace. I have a skein of this with a generous 680 yards so I could start either the Rock Island right away…tough decisions!