Archive for 2012

For the Organized Knitter

Thursday, December 13th, 2012

Carrying on from the other day… In addition to project bags/organizers, there are also pattern protectors! Slipped Stitch Studios (again) makes these fantastic pattern wallets that not only keep your printed patterns looking sharp, but also let you use her magnets to keep track of your place! We have both the wallets and magnets in assorted prints.

Today’s bonus is also pattern related. With so many people getting their patterns online, guess what… There’s an app for that. The JKnit suite of apps (iOS only, not so nice for us android users) lets you read your pdfs and track your progress, as well as maintain project logs and and stash, needles, etc… I think this would be ideal for any iPad user, but would work for the iPhone as well.

For the Beginner

Wednesday, December 12th, 2012

One of my favorite types of knitter is the beginner. There is so much potential, so much enthusiasm, and so much to learn! There are different reasons people pick up the needles, just when I think I’ve heard them all there is something new. My personal faves are baby on the way (either mum herself of someone who will be knitting for the wee babe) and I need to do something with my hands so I don’t eat too much while I watch TV. The second one cracks me up.

So what do you get the new knitter for Christmas? Yarn, needles, and a pattern book. It’s a sure winner! I recommend some worsted weight yarn (just ask one of the lovely ladies or gent working, they will lead you in the right direction), some 5mm needles (to match the yarn) and a book that is dear to my own knitterly heart: Debbie Stoller’s Stitch and Bitch. It’s chalk full of clear explanations and makes a great reference for knitters new and old. Your new knitter will be whipping you up a scarf in no time!

For the Portable (Porting?) Knitter

Tuesday, December 11th, 2012

Most of us have at least one portable project on the go. These little bags are the perfect thing to keep your work clean and in one piece.

Blue Sky Alpacas make a simple, pretty cheap bag that comes in a variety of cute colours (only one size) that vary with availability. Pictured center, below.


Our most popular project bags have to be by Slipped Stitch Studios. These handmade fabric bags come in a range of sizes from sock bags to full-sized sweater or blanket bags. Fabric choice change constantly – if you find one you like, snap it up because odds are it will never be available again. Pictured left, above.

And todays inspiration is triangular scarves/kerchiefs. They can be working in any weight, with pretty much any amount of yarn (or yarns). The perfect stashbuster, easy to wear, no pattern required for the most basic (CO5, increase one stitch at each edge and two at center every other row), or go fancy! My current favourite is this Age of Brass and Steam Kerchief by Orange Flower.

jewel gray kerchief

Soak it

Monday, December 10th, 2012

Many years ago, after I had been knitting for a while, I came to work at Urban Yarns. It was then that I first heard of a phenomenon called blocking. I know, it seems crazy, but when I had really only worked in acrylic yarns or dishcloth cottons, blocking really wasn’t too important. Anyhow, I heard of blocking but I thought it seemed overly fussy and unnecessary.


I have never been more wrong! All of my knitting looks better after a block. The stitches are more even, the cables or lace really pop, it looks kind of like my knitting has been to the spa. It’s been rejuvenated, it shines, it’s had a lovely soak in the tub and is feeling fresh. A great stocking stuffer for your knitter is a bottle of soak. It’s the best smelling way to block your knitting. There’s no need to rinse it out so it’s easy peasy, just fill sink with water and a dollop of soak, and submerge your knitting. Lay flat to dry. Done.

If you are gifting some knitting this year you may want to toss a small bottle of soak in with your gifts, that will make it clear that they are hand wash only too! Soak also makes great hand and foot creams, perfect for gifting with mittens or socks. Come on in and smell them all!

For the Practical Knitter – Advent Day 9

Sunday, December 9th, 2012

Today, I give you The Gleener!

This is super handy tool. Like super duper handy. On one end there are three different ‘blades’ for large bulky pills, medium-to-large pills, and fine, delicate pills. On the other end, a lint brush. Do yourself and your knits a favour with this device and keep your finished items looking good as new.

The Gleener!

And today’s inspiration is a pair of really adorable wrist warmers. The Abra Alba wrist warmers by Matilde Skar are so so cute! I want to make a pair for each season in a different colourway! HERE‘s a good selection of DK weight yarns to get you started.

Stolen from Matilde Skar on Ravelry

Stolen from Matilde Skar on Ravelry

For the thoughtful knitter: Books!

Sunday, December 9th, 2012

I love unwrapping a perfectly rectangular present from under the tree. Square corners means an easy wrap job and most likely a book!  But really it means so much more. It means, most of all, a window into a world of knowledge and inspiration. The best books offer both. I am always inspired by a great stitch, a stunning colour, or a wonderful tale of a knitters journey. You will have to consider which type of book your knitter needs this year.


1. A great stitch: A stitchionary is a wonderful present for a more experienced knitter. Perhaps a budding designer or an adventurous pattern-changer (you know who you are). We have several stitchionary’s but my fave is the Vogue Knitting series. There is a stitchionary for every style, texture, cables, lace, and colourwork (now conveniently in soft cover too!).


2. Patterns: the most popular style of knitting book is of course, the pattern book. There is inspiration oozing from the pages of these little wonders. Two of my faves are the Knitted Gift books from Joelle Hoverson. They are beautifully photographed and full of colour and texture that makes you want to cast on immediately!


3. A knitters journey: no knitter’s library is complete without a little Zimmerman. Her books have patterns, thoughtful reflections on both knitting and life, as well as a LOT of great information about knitting that doesn’t really fall under any normal categories. Her books read like thoughts and ideas with a little knitting thrown in. They make me want to curl up by the fire, under a warm knitted blanket.

For the Embroidering Knitter – Advent Day 7

Friday, December 7th, 2012

Ok, I’m off on another non-knitting product today.

We have these super-adorable crewel kits from Wool & Hoop in (not up on the website yet, but you can call in if you’re interested). You can make cards, pillows, or just hooped designs. I’m working on one of them, and I would say that considering I have never done embroidery before, these qualify as excellent beginner kits. Just note, some of them do not come with hoops, but we have extra hoops to purchase alongside them.

It’s always a good idea to stretch your brain with something different once in a while!

Wool & Hoop China Blue No2 Crewel Kit

And your daily dose of inspiration is handknit christmas balls! I made this set last year…

Deer, Bell, Dovre, Frost

And I got totally outdone by this person! (photo snagged from polarbears on Ravelry))

Local Yarns

Thursday, December 6th, 2012

When shopping as a knitter or for a knitter this year you may want to think local. Here in Vancouver we have some great local dyers and designers and it’s oh so nice to support the home team. I give you my own personal short list:

1. SweetGeorgia: I have LONG been a fan of Felicia’s stunning  hand dyed yarns and Urban Yarns now carries a great selection of her sock yarn, fairy floss, chunky, and worsted weights. It’s a wonderful rainbow to behold! The chunky is perfect for those quick last minute gifts too!

2. Jane Richmond: Jane hails from Vancouver Island and girl can design a knit! Combine one of her great sock weight sweater patterns with some SweetGeorgia Tough Love and you’ve got yourself some magic to put under the tree.

3. Urban Yarns Designers: Urban Yarns is quickly cultivating a mighty list of designers including Michael, Amanda, and I, as well as alum like Annie Sue and Emily Wessel. Between us there are designers for every yarn, size, and taste. From simple to fancy, lace to bulky, and in a wide range of sizes there is a pattern that best suits you.

4. Gourmet Crafter Yarn: Need a special pair of socks? Check out my Gourmet Crafter Yarn. It has a hint of cashmere for wonderful softness and colourways are based upon a local (or Canadian) sight. Each skein has a tag with the photo attached, making it a great gift.


Free pattern showcase: Antler Hat. This cabled number is perfect for every boy and girl on Santa’s route!

For The Discerning Knitter – Advent Day 5

Wednesday, December 5th, 2012

Today, dear knitters (and people buying for dear knitters, hint hint), I propose the gift of luxury.

Most people immediately go to cashmere for luxury, and we certainly have plenty. If you want 100%, there is Jade Sapphire 2-ply laceweight, Jade Sapphire scarf kits (for him and her), Gourmet Crafter DK cashmere, and the Devin’s Toque/Cashmere cloche kits from Handmaiden. There are also lots of blends: Handmaiden Cashbah sock kits, Gourmet Crafter cashmere sock, Madelinetosh Pashmina and Pashmina worsted, Sweet Georgia Cash Silk Lace, Filatura di Crosa Superior, and even Debbie Bliss has some low-content blends.

But there are more divine fibres out there than just cashmere. Possum is soft, warm, and pill-resistant. We carry several possum blend yarns from Zealana, including my very favourite, the possum, caashmere and silk Zealana Air – some of the most indulgent yarn I’ve seen. We also have a small stash of Qiviuk (musk ox), yak, and bison down yarns.

There’s no reason we all can’t have a bit of luxury…

And today’s inspiration is not knitting specific, but a fun design tool. THIS colour palette generator lets you link to a picture and have a custom colour palette outputted. Lots of fun to play with!


Wednesday, December 5th, 2012

Today’s gift idea is an interchangeable kit. This is the perfect gift for a new knitter (they haven’t amassed a great quantity of needles yet) or a long time knitter (because who doesn’t need an upgrade once in a while?).

We have a few sets of interchangeables in a range of prices. The most important question is probably which material you like the best, we have acrylic, wood, bamboo, and the nickel plated addis. For more information on all our needles you can check out Michael’s thorough post here.


Free pattern of the day is the ever popular Honey Cowl. This design is a great way to show off a beautiful yarn. There are MANY options at the shop and the knit is quick and simple. Enjoy!