From all of us here at Urban Yarns have a very merry Christmas and may Santa bring you yarn and needles! I will be settling in with some worsted weight yarn and some double pointed needles for some nice thick Christmas socks.
Archive for December, 2012
For my last post of the holiday season, I will assume that all the major gift shopping is done and suggest some stocking stuffers. Since I haven’t had my coffee yet, I will keep this short and sweet: Notions. Knitters can always use more notions. I’m talking stitch markers, stitch holders, darning needles, row counters, highlighter tape, graph paper, a spare crochet hook, marking pins, blocking pins, blocking wires and pads, scrap yarn, measuring tapes, scissors, thread for sewing on buttons, darning yarn, bobbins, needle gauge, and many many more. Any knitting store and most craft stores should have some small items that you can pick up.
And with that, happy holidays! See you on the other side.
There is a certain type of knitter out there. They long for thin yarn, tiny needles, and charts, oh the charts… 60 yards of bulky yarn? Wasted on them! They want hundreds of yards of fine fine yarn, preferably in a solid or a subtle hand dye to show off their pretty yarn overs and ssks. Natural fibers only please, acrylics just won’t block. What items would this type of knitter crave?
1. Lace yarn of course! A couple of skeins of Malabrigo Lace would make a mighty shawl at a reasonable price. A range of colours for every pallette and a single ply and loft that makes the finished product light as air.
2. Blocking wires: I have come to believe that no knitter should be without them but none more than the lace knitter. Lace really looks like a whole lot of nothing until it has been properly (and in my opinion vigorously) blocked. The pattern comes alive and the stitches start to make sense after a SOAK bath, some wires, and some T-Pins. Did I mention T-Pins? Get an extra pack for your knitter’s stocking, you really can’t have too many.
3. A great lace pattern: try some Brooklyn Tweed. Rock Island has lace on both sides of the work, a challenge for anyone!
4. Addi Lace Needles: I just won’t knit lace on anything else. They are a little ‘stickier’ so your yarn doesn’t slide off the needles and their sharper point, while dangerous, will help you keep those stitches in line.
Most of the time when someone comes in looking for yarn for a gift, I immediately direct them to the Wall of Canadian Yarn.
Biscotte & Cie is our newest addition, producing some really fantastic self-striping sock yarns in Saint-Bruno-de-Montarville, Quebec.
And then we get into the truly local suppliers! Sweet Georgia is known for her just fantastic use of vibrant, bold colours, and dyes right here in Vancouver.
We also have a little bit of our own Alexa’s Gourmet Crafter yarns – cashmere and cashmere blends inspired by her photography of local sites.
If you ever have the inclination to learn more about washing and blocking your knits than you will ever need or likely care to know, come and ask me about it. I dare you. Somewhere in the midst of a very long diatribe, the topic of how best to shape your knitwear will be broached, and one possible solution is blocking wires.
Imagine an image here. Normally I am loathe to post sans-photo, but these look exactly like they sound like they should – a set of about a dozen wires of varying lengths.
Blocking wires come in two main types: straight (or rigid) and curved (or flexible). There are many in-between kinds, but typically a wire will be relatively heavy gauge for use pinning out a straight edge, or relatively light gauge for pinning out a nice smooth curved edge. Both have their merits and drawbacks, and both have their place. We have both, just to keep us all happy.
I won’t go into much more here other than blocking wires will make your life way way easier, save a lot of time, allow you to avoid unsightly scalloped edges (or produce lovely scalloped edges, if desired), and seriously cut down on the number of blocking pins needed (do not even think about asking how many hundred t-pins I own…)
And of course, on to the freebie of the day! Today I am going to be slightly awful and plug myself and my fellow designers here at Urban Yarns. We have some great free patterns available for you in store! They are designed to work great with many yarns we carry, and we love to see our creations out and about. Come in and ask about what we have hidden away in the pattern files – there’s lots of goodies there.
There seem to be 2 types of knitters out there: those who knit for themselves and those who knit for others. That’s not to say that these two types never cross to the other side, it’s just a general rule for some knitters. Arguments include ‘it takes so much time and effort, how can I give it away?!’ and ‘it took a lot of time and effort, it makes a perfect gift’.
This post is for the gift knitter in your life. They love to give so let’s get them what they need to do that. I think this season has a perfect combo:
1. Jane Richmond’s new book Island. It has adorable accessories and one great sweater. I knit up a Renfrew hat in SweetGeorgia yarn and I love it!
2. Yarn to match: choose a pattern and match it with some great yarn
Grace: 3-4 skeins of hand dyed sock yarn. Some Handmaiden Casbah in a subtle hand dye would go perfectly with this pattern. A hint of cashmere never hurt!
Arbutus and Rathtrevor: just one skein of Madelinetosh DK makes a whole cowl or a pair of fingerless gloves, Jane knows how to make a skein go a long way!
Strathcona: 2 skeins of Euroflax Linen for this simple pretty scarf.
Renfrew: 1 skein SweetGeorgia Worsted for this little number.
3. Wrap and gift!
This one is for the matchy matchy knitters out there. The makers of our beloved Soak products (wool wash, hand and heel creams which Alexa wrote about earlier) have joined forces with Lorna’s Laces and OPI to offer these Soakboxes. Each Soakbox contains one skein of Lorna’s laces (enough to make one pair of the included fingerless gloves pattern), a bottle of soak wash, a bottle of handmaid cream, and a vial of OPI nail polish to match the yarn. Four colourways are available, each with their own pattern and scent. Aquae/Lace Kelly (featured below), Celebration/Clark Cable, Scentless/Double Pointe Pink, and Lacey/Cuff au Lait.
And a group shot.
Today’s freebie/food for thought is the Rikke Hat by Sarah Young. It calls for one skein of Madelientosh Dk (which we have, and another great option would be Sweet Georgia Worsted). Simple, flattering, and super popular on Ravelry!
It’s coming down to the wire. Holiday parties are piling up, relatives are arriving in town, and snow is starting to fall, time for some last minute knits! A usual favorite for me is a cowl, it’s quick and easy and pretty much everyone loves them. A great cowl pattern plus bulky yarn means a personalized gift for someone on your list.
First up is Marian by Jane Richmond. This is one of the most popular patterns on Ravelry and I’ve knit more than one myself! It takes one skein of Malabrigo Rasta, a buttery soft yarn that comes in an array of bright fun colours. Great big needles and nice thick yarn make quick work, an evening should do it!
Next is another free pattern, the Eleventh Hour Cowl. Kynna and I both knit one up last year and I have a few on my list of things to complete this year. Another bulky item using just one skein, this time in the Spud and Chloe outer. A washable bulky yarn (such a rare breed) and the perfect vehicle for my second love: buttons. 3 big buttons give this simple cowl a little flair and personality.
I know we’re only halfway through December, but for those of you crazy knitters out there who are hell-bent on producing knit gifts for all your loved ones… well it can be difficult to find the time, so quick knits are a big plus! Last year ruffle scarves were all the rage, and they still make for a great easy gift this year. Hands down the nicest, most luxurious ruffle scarf kit is the Rowan Kidsilk Creation (both the solid and the stripe versions). You can knit or crochet one of these out in an evening, no trouble!
And today’s freebie is for the crocheters out there! I can’t find the exact pattern I was looking for right now, but HERE are a couple of dozen options for crochet snowflakes. We’ve got a bunch starched up, hanging on our tree and around the house. They work up pretty quickly, and are a lovely addition to your Christmas decorations.
New babies are a great reason to start knitting. They look so adorable in wool, and they have to wear a sweater it if you put it on them. They can’t rip it off the way a two year old can! When the weather turns cold there is nothing like wrapping your new bundle in wool. You know they will be warm, Vancouver rain or not.
For the knitterly new mum a couple of skeins of washable yarn is a wonderful gift. 400 yards of worsted weight yarn can make a sweater for a 0-2 year old no problem. A beautiful hand dye is extra special, for that little sweater that will passed down through the years. Madelinetosh Vintage and SweetGeorgia worsted have a subtle variation in their unique kettle dyed colors.
For patterns there are really more than I can mention. Debbie Bliss Cashmerino books have many adorable little knits, Brooklyn tweed has great baby blanket patterns, 9 months of knitting has they ever adorable Gramps sweater pattern, and Jane Richmond has some cute baby accessories too. As if that weren’t enough there is also a whole binder of baby pattern leaflets to thumb through. Choose your pattern, let us help you pick out some pretty yarn to match and you’ve got yourself a little joy for under the tree.