Archive for November, 2012


Friday, November 30th, 2012


It’s KAL time again and this time, it’s me! Well alright, it’s Emily and I, Tin Can Knits. Whether you are whipping up Christmas gifties or casting on something for yourself, TCK has a pattern for your knitting needs. We’ve got everything from accessories to sweaters, baby to adult sizes. Might I suggest a more ambitious undertaking for this KAL? Our sweaters have a wide range of sizes and types, perfect for your first sweater, something classic, something fancy, something for everyone!



The rules? Pick a Tin Can Knits pattern, cast on next Friday night and cast off by February 22nd. It’s a good amount of time for a larger project and there are no rules saying you need knit just one pattern…. This time around Tin Can Knits is putting up some prizes. If you finish your knit and come to the party on the 22nd you will be entered to win!



Tool Time – Interchangeable Needles

Thursday, November 29th, 2012

As a follow-up to last weeks Tool Time post, I think we ought to discuss needles, specifically interchangeable needles. Since we have so many people buying kits at the store, and with the holidays fast approaching, it is the opportune time to have a little show and tell.

As most of us have a kit of some sort ourselves (or two, or I think the record holder has 5…), we have all agonized over the options, egged each other on (You want *that* kit? Why bother when you have *this* much nicer, more expensive kit…) and in general done far too much research for our own good.

First off, the basics. We carry two brands of interchangeable kits, Addi and Knitter’s Pride. Each of these brands make a few different kits. From Addi, we have the entire line: Basic, Lace, Bamboo, and the newest, Long Lace. From Knitter’s Pride we have the Trendz, Dreamz, Rose Symfonie, and the new Limited Edition Dreamz collections.

Both brands are interchangeable within all their products. That is to say that your Addi Lace cables will work with your Addi Bamboo needles, and your Knitter’s Pride Trendz cables will work with your Rose Symfonie needles. This means that you can mix, and expand your kit(s) with as many supplemental needles and cables as you like!

While more basic than the Addis, the Knitter’s Pride offer fantastic value – about half the price. The steeper price tag of the Addi Click needles does come with the benefit of a more secure click system, a smoother join, and maybe best of all, a lifetime guarantee. If any part of the Addi Click system is defective or malfunctions, you can bring it to any Addi retailer and have it replaced.

You can find the particulars and photos below – Click on the name of each kit below to head over to our store. We also have all the extra needles, cables and accessories for each set! Obviously there’s so much more I could say about these needles, so if you have any questions, come and ask us in store!

Knitter's Pride Trendz

Knitter’s Pride Trendz – Acrylic

The most affordable of the lot, this kit is full of colourful acrylic needles in the most common sizes. Great for the knit-happy kid in your life, it’s also an option for people who find metal or hardwood needles hard on their hands. The Knitter’s Pride interchangeable mechanism is a threaded fitting at the end of the cable and needle, and includes a locking key to keep everything snug.

8 tips: 3.5, 4.0, 4.5, 5.0, 5.5, 6.0, 6.5, 8.0

4 cables: 24″, 32″, 40″, 47″

8 end caps

4 cord keys

Knitter's Pride Dreamz DeluxeKnitter’s Pride Dreamz Deluxe - Laminated Birch

This kit is full of great features. We were all blown away with the quality of the Dreamz series needles (both fixed and interchangeable) – a smooth, non-snaggy finish, moderately sharp points, smooth joins, supple cables, and lightweight construction all make these a delight to knit with (and the sizes are coour-coded) . The threaded interchangeable mechanism is simple, but works quite nicely. The one drawback is the carrying case is vinyl and quite basic.

9 tips: 3.5, 3.75, 4.0, 4.5, 5.0, 5.5, 6.0, 6.5, 8.0

4 cords: 24″, 2 x 32″, 40″

8 end caps

4 cord keys

1 set of size markers

Knitter's Pride Dreamz Limited EditionKnitter’s Pride Dreamz Limited Edition - Laminated Birch

The same high-quality needles as the Dreamz Deluxe kit, packaged in a lovely storage case, and coming with a set of stitch markers. Only 1500 sets were produced, and each one comes with a certificate of authenticity. Slightly more expensive than the Dreamz Deluxe, but the storage case will last much longer (and looks great, too).

9 tips: 3.5, 3.75, 4.0, 4.5, 5.0, 5.5, 6.0, 6.5, 8.0

4 cords: 24″, 2 x 32″, 40″

8 end caps

4 cord keys

1 set of Zoonie stitch markers

1 Limited Edition storage case

Knitter's Pride Symfonie RoseKnitter’s Pride Symfonie RoseRose Laminated Birch

The same great features of the Dreamz Deluxe kit, but instead of the colourful  finishes, the Symfonie needles have a warm Rose lamination that gives a good hard finish. With copper fittings, a matching storage box and a Swarovski crystal studded shawl pin, this is truly an elegant collection of needles.

8 tips: 3.5, 4.0, 4.5, 5.0, 5.5, 6.0, 6.5, 8.0

4 cords: 24″, 2 x 32″, 40″

8 end caps

4 cord keys

1 set of size markers

1 cord case

1 Rose storage case

Addi Click BasicAddi Click BasicNickel Plated Brass

The mirror finish nickel plating on the needles explains why these are branded as ‘Addi Turbos’. These needles use an ingenious spring-loaded interchangeable system that ensures your needle never comes off and your yarn never catches in the join. These needles have the same blunt tip as the fixed circular Addi Turbos. One of the most popular kits we carry, you can make 30 different needle combinations – and that’s without picking up more needles or cables.

10 tips: 3.5, 3.75, 4.0, 4.5, 5.0, 5.5, 6.0, 8.0, 9.0, 10

3 cords: 24″, 32″, 40″

1 connector

Addi Click Lace (original)Addi Click Lace (original) – Nickel Plated Brass

If you love the Addi Turbos, but find them too blunt, or love the Addi Lace but find the brass tips too grippy, this kit gives you the sharp points of the lace needles, with the nickel plating of the Turbos. These needles are about half the length of the other interchangeables we carry, and is the only kit to include a 16″ cable (for hats, sleeves, or other small-diameter knitting). Great for doing small circular projects, but potentially less appealing to those with larger hands or those who prefer a long needle body.

8 tips: 3.5, 3.75, 4.0, 4.5, 5.0, 5.5, 6.0, 8.0

5 cords: 16″, 20″, 24″, 32″, 40″

1 connector

Addi Click Long LaceAddi Click Long LaceNickel Plated Brass

All the features of the original Lace needles, but with full-length tips! Since being launched this Spring, we have been selling these kits like hotcakes. They combine the lace tips, nickel plating and full-sized needles into the most versatile interchangeable kit we’ve seen yet. As a nifty bonus, they have included perforated lifeline cables that let you work in a lifeline with ease (seriously, I was skeptical, but it’s an absolutely genius system).

8 tips: 3.5, 3.75, 4.0, 4.5, 5.0, 5.5, 6.0, 8.0

3 lifeline cords: 24″, 32″, 40″

1 connector

Addi Click BambooAddi Click BambooBamboo

The Bamboo kit brings the smooth functioning of the Addi Click system to knitters who favour wood or bamboo needles. A blunter tip may make lace or cables a bit more challenging, but if you find metal needles too harsh, there’s no way to go wrong.

8 tips: 3.5, 3.75, 4.0, 4.5, 5.0, 5.5, 6.0, 8.0

3 cords: 24″, 32″, 40″

1 connector

Something New From Annie Sue

Monday, November 26th, 2012

It’s been a while since Annie Sue has been at the shop (having moved) but that doesn’t mean she isn’t knitting up a storm! We miss her sunny disposition and her excellent fashion sense at UY, always there to help with a color combination or suggest a great design. Annie Sue’s creative talents have been put to good use in a fabulous design for the latest issue of Twist.



Annie Sue’s pattern Uji is a bulky weight coat with LOTS of lovely cables. The wonderful photos in Twist give it an earthy farm feel, but I think it would look at home walking around the streets of Vancouver too. With a bulky weight yarn and 6mm needles it’s a faster than most knit.

Kettle Valley

Kettle Valley

Check out some of Annie Sue’s other great patterns too. Her Brae cowl is a favorite with Kynna and I!



Tool Time

Saturday, November 24th, 2012

Today, dear knitters, let’s talk tools. Specifically, your go-to, never-be-without knitting tools. When you sit yourself down and pick up your project (surely, one of many on the go), what is in your trusty knitting bag that is next to you? Well, today I will give you a look into my personal tool chest, in no particular order.


First off, the bag itself. A truly fantastic and thoughtful gift, this vintage doctor’s travel bag is now the headquarters of my home knitting. Rigid, of a good size, and boasting a large opening (almost maw-like in it’s gape). Some internal pockets help keep things in order (though a few more would be nice).


Now, I don’t really have a proper travel bag at the moment. I typically stuff any portable necessities into the individual project bag, of which I have several. A mustachioed Slipped Stitch design bag, a Pretty Cheap Blue Sky Alpacas bag, and my favourites, a few custom-sewn bags from a good friend.


Needles. I have a lot of single needles: circular, straight, double pointed, but since picking up a set of Addi Click, they are the only ones that actually stay in my bag. I use the new Long Lace Tip set, and they are fantastic (we have a whole post about interchangeable needles lined up, so I won’t say more for now).


A crochet hook. I don’t crochet. Well, I can crochet enough to clumsily produce a provisional cast on, but that is it. A hook is good for more than crocheting, though. Picking up dropped stitches, back scratching, snagging ends of yarn, working a steek reinforcement, the uses of a good hook are endless.

Stitch markers. When it comes to stitch markers, I often use whatever is to hand – scraps of yarn, paper clips, or in the rarest of cases, actual stitch markers. We are knitters, we are resourceful! I saw someone come in the other day who was using a diamond ring as a stitch marker – talk about knitting dedication!


Ruler and measuring tape. Checking gauge, measuring progress, garments, body measurements – a measuring tool is really, really essential because it’s not something that you can easily eyeball. I like to have a clear ruler for gauge, and a flexible tape for bigger, less straight things. One caveat, however, cloth and plastic measuring tapes will stretch with use and time, and should be replaced periodically.


Smooth waste yarn. For holding stitches that don’t lay in a straight line, or just lots of stitches, working provisional cast ons, marking fabric, some spare yarn will always come in handy. Fine mercerized cotton or crochet cotton is best as it won’t felt/stick to your work and can be easily pulled out when it has served its purpose.

Pins. Straight pins, T-pins, wooden marking pins, safety pins all have a multitude of uses. You should never be without a tinful.


Stitch holders. I typically use waste yarn in place of stitch holders,  but they can be useful nonetheless.

Graph paper notebook. I keep graph paper on hand at all times. I don’t usually keep a line or unlined notebook, just every-purpose graph paper for notes, counting, sketching ideas, graphing, anything and everything.

A Pencil. I keep a jar of pens and pencils of all sorts close to hand at all times, but if I had to choose one, it would be a mechanical pencil – can be erased for corrections, and makes a satisfying clickety noise.

Scissors. Short, sharp scissors. Little to no need for big quilting shears, a small, finely-pointed set of snips will serve you well and reduce the risk of collateral cuts when trimming yarn ends or cutting open a steek.


Finally, darning needles. Large, small, blunt, sharp, they are all useful for different tasks. I cannot for the life of me keep track of mine, and I must end up buying a new set every few projects. I think that one day I will find a stash of about five hundred needles in a corner somewhere. For now, I will keep accumulating them.


So, what have I missed? What absolute essentials are in your knitting bag?

Coming soon…..

Saturday, November 17th, 2012


Well I hate to be a tease but the following patterns are coming shortly! Emily and I (aka Tin Can Knits) have been slaving away and we put together a Christmas collection for your knitting pleasure.


Great White North is  a collection of giftie knits for this holiday season. As usual we have sized all our patterns from Grandson to Grandpa with knits for all. There are mittens, fingerless gloves, a scarf and cowl, shawl or blanket, and hats of course! If you are feeling particularly ambitious (or maybe you need something to wear to the company Christmas party?) there is Snowflake, a gorgeous sweater with a pretty lace yoke.


This year I am so looking forward to more knitting for my wee ones. There is something awesomely satisfying in whipping up a pair of mittens in the time it takes to watch one movie. A cowl in even less time. It’s just such productive knitting! Hunter was reluctant to wear mittens (even when mummy begged her to pose for a photo) until that one day last week when it really turned cold. Hunter turned to me during a rather icy walk with red hands and said ‘mitten?’. It sounded more like ‘meetee’ but luckily I knew what she meant. This season there will be mittens for a newborn, a cowl for a sexy man, a shawl for aunty, and slouchy hats for a couple of teens. There is something for everyone on your list! Patterns will be available individually at Urban Yarns coming soon!

The Curse

Wednesday, November 14th, 2012

So, I really had no intention of writing the following essay, but after mulling it over for a few days, I figure I may as well keep it, and anyone who just wants photos can just scroll on down.

Today, dear knitters, I would like to talk to you a little bit about gift knitting. Now, this isn’t an early jump on holiday knitting (that is a topic for another time), but rather a discussion of a curious knitting phenomenon known to many simply as ‘The Curse’, ‘The Sweater Curse’, ‘The Boyfriend Sweater Curse’, or as Wikipedia has informed me (yes, academics, you may cringe at my choice of sources, but thankfully this is far from a scholarly article) ‘The Curse of the Love Sweater’.

Now, I am sure many (most?) of you are familiar with The Curse. For those of you who are either new to knitting, or blissfully unaware of the danger that lurks in your stash (no, not Yarn Gnomes), The Sweater Curse is rumored to befall any unsuspecting knitter who decides to make a sweater for her boyfriend (this is the historical version, modern takes do include men knitting for ladies, men knitting for men, and ladies knitting for ladies, of course). It holds that if a knitter gives their partner a hand-knit sweater, the relationship is doomed to end shortly thereafter (in some cases, the end of relationship precedes the completion of the sweater).

Lest you think that all hope is lost for knitting your beau something that shows them just how you feel, I must inform you that there are many theories about how to avert The Curse! One such theory is that since the curse only strikes those who gift boyfriend (or girlfriend) sweaters, you’d better put a ring on it (in fact, there is a book published a few years back about just that ‘Never Knit Your Man a Sweater – Unless You’ve Got the Ring)‘. Another popular solution is deceptively simple: to avoid The Sweater Curse, don’t knit a sweater! Hats, mitts, scarves, pillows, stuffed toys, everything but sweaters (and maybe vests, the jury is out on that) is fair game.

Of course, none of this has been empirically proven, but it is a pervasive belief in the knitting world. But is it just a superstition, or is there possibly some merit to the myth? Many people would argue that there is some truth in the stitches. For example, sweaters take a lot of time to knit, and a relationship may peter out on it’s own, and bad timing can be blamed. Or perhaps the knitter gets carried away and spends more time with needles in hand than their partner would like. Then there’s the emotional side – after all a sweater is an incredibly thoughtful, involved item, and someone may not feel comfortable accepting that level of commitment as a gift (especially if they are not ready to respond with a similar level of commitment). Some people simply don’t like handknit sweaters, and no matter how fantastic this particular one is, they won’t be swayed. Or they may love handknit sweaters, just… not this one. Or… well, the possibilities are endless.

There is much to take into account when deciding to knit a sweater (or anything) as a gift for a significant other, and ultimately, only you can decide if it (the relationship, or the sweater) is worth the risk and the effort. All this being said, for every personal tale you hear of The Curse, I am sure that you will be able to find another story of success and gratitude. So knit on, but perhaps with some caution and forethought.


With all the prose out of of the way, I would like to showcase a brand new, free pattern for all of you! In the spirit of men’s knitting (and I do have more posts planned, with a bit more content geared towards decision making), here is my personal Basic Men’s Toque pattern. Of course this can be adapted to fit differently, and by no means is it limited to men, but if you have a guy in your life who asks for a plain, unassuming, no-frills hat… this is it.

Worked up in an Aran weight yarn (sample shown is in Debbie Bliss Blue Faced Leicester, 2 balls of colour 3 – charcoal), it’s a quick knit (one or two evenings, a weekend at most) that is sure to please. It would be great worked in two colours, or worked longer to provide a double-fold to keep ears extra warm. Bonus points for a superwash wool – not that your loved ones won’t take care of it, but it provides peace of mind. I’ve been toting this hate everywhere for the last few weeks, and despite some rough handling, it’s barely showing any wear.

I’ll leave it there for now, but if you click on the photo above, or the link below, you can download a free copy of this pattern – so grab a copy, whip one up over the weekend and strut your stuff into the store next time you’re around to show it off (I guarantee compliments).

Click Me!

P.S. This is the first pattern to be officially launched under the Urban Yarns banner. There will be more coming. Get excited.

Making Pairs

Monday, November 12th, 2012

With holiday knitting on the go there is a problem that inevitably comes up: pairs. There are always pairs of things to be knit for December, pairs of mittens, pairs of socks, and there are always pairs of that favorite gift, a cowl for Aunt D AND Aunt T, scarf for hubby AND your brother. How do you make the perfect pair?

Marshmallow - an upcoming pattern from TCK

Marshmallow - an upcoming pattern from TCK

1. Dyelot: Make sure you have enough yarn in the same dyelot. You don’t want to have the tip of mitten 2 to be a different color. If you are working in a hand dyed yarn definitely think about alternating rows, to avoid pooling in sock number 2 that didn’t happen in sock number 1.


2. Make notes. I can’t stress this enough. Note how many rows you did in the cuff, how many rounds in the thumb, what needles you used, what cast on method and, of course, any changes you made to the pattern. Anything you will want to be the same, make a note.

3. Measure. Make sure they are the same. If you can count the rows or rounds that is great but measuring keeps you honest. This advise sounds obvious but who doesn’t need a little reminder every once in a while?


4. It’s not that fun to knit the same thing over and over. Instead of knitting the same hat pattern keep it varied. Something similar sure, the same, maybe not. At least vary up your yarn choice to keep the interest going. I realize there are a few knitters out there thinking ‘What?! I love knitting the same thing!’ but you know you are a rare breed of knitter! I always think it will be fun to knit a sweater 5 times (I’m looking at you Antler, sure there were 3 kiddie versions but still…..), but by the end I’m ready to throw a half finished garment into the netherworld of my stash closet never to be seen or heard from again. Variety is the spice of life. It’s just a suggestion. There are a ton of great new patterns and magazines in the shop to check out. Knit something new and different!

New Kid on the Block

Tuesday, November 6th, 2012

Hello everyone!

Hey thats me!

Hey that's me!

My name’s Michael (that’s me up there), and I am absolutely stoked to have been asked to start contributing to this blog, and I hope that I can provide some complimentary content to the brilliant things that we’re all used to seeing from Alexa.

A little bit about me: I’ve been working and teaching at Urban Yarns for just over a year now, and I’ve been knitting for about 9 years altogether. I also run my personal knitting blog over at Michael Knits. As is to be expected, I quite like knitting. In general, the more intricate the project, the more I enjoy it. If it’s got lace or cables, I am all over it (some of my personal favourites below).

Regency Era Fichu

Regency Era Fichu

Cabled Cardi

Cabled Cardi

I have a soft spot for traditional techniques, styles, and yarns. If it’s good and rustic, let me at it. Some current favourites are the Harrisville Designs products, and the new Debbie Bliss Blue Faced Leicester (and if you promise not to tell anyone, you can see a sneak preview of a new pattern for the store right here – look forward to more information about the pattern and a bigger project soon).

Well that’s about it for me this week – a brief post, I know, but I’ve got loads more in mind to write about, so expect lots of chatter about yarn choices, some free patterns, product and book reviews, knitting for and by men, techniques and tutorials, and of course, much more.

Sweater Weather

Saturday, November 3rd, 2012
Grace by Jane Richmond

Grace by Jane Richmond

It is definitely sweater weather. I, the queen of the flip-flop, even put on socks the other day. It felt wrong. It’s time to pull your knits from years past out of the dusty corner of the closet and wear them in the name of fashion, pride, and practicality!

Campfire by Tin Can Knits

Campfire by Tin Can Knits

The nice thing about a knitted sweater (to a knitter anyway) is that they are, for the most part, really timeless. I rarely see a hand knit sweater and think ‘those really aren’t this year’s colors’ or ‘cardigans are totally out’. This isn’t to say that out of date knits don’t exist, it’s just that you can’t really go wrong with a simple or classic design.


If you are working on a sweater for this season or your first sweater ever we have a wide range of colors in SweetGeorgia superwash worsted. I love this yarn and have knit both adult sized sweaters and many children’s sweaters in the stuff. The colors are amazing and washability is a great thing in a larger garment. It’s perfect for that classic sweater you will be wearing for years to come!