Archive for November, 2014

Urban Yarns: A Perfect Ten

Thursday, November 20th, 2014

Hey everyone.

Do I ever have some good news for you.

It’s here. The book is here.

Did I not tell you about the book?

Well, our tenth anniversary book (Perfect Ten) is now available for pre-order! We got current and past staff together and came up with 16 incredible designs that we think you’re going to love.


I’ll get the paperwork out of the way now. You can pre-order the book online or in-store for $27.95. At the launch on December 5th, the price will go up to $29.95 (so pre-order while you can).

Speaking of the book launch… You’re all invited! December 5th, 2014. 7-9pm at Urban Yarns in Pt Grey. There will be goodies and surprises, and you can schmooze with the designers – hope to see you there!

“This book was born from our wish to celebrate the 10th anniversary of Urban Yarns by highlighting the incredible creativity and talent of some of our staff and instructors including Sylvannah Baugh, Sandra Dunkin, Anina Hansen, Ruth Hawke, Karen Holden, Alison Holley, Amanda Kaffka, Sylvie Lui, Deanna Krushinsky, Cheryl Niamath, Julia Sharpe & Michael Wynne.

The designs in this book represent an amazing compilation of fun and stylish patterns, ranging in difficulty from beginner to advanced. Interspersed among the patterns you will find some great stories from Urban Yarns’ customers. To make the knitting experience even more enjoyable, each designer has recommended special drinks to pair with their creations.

All profits from the sale of this book will be donated to Mekong Blue, a weaving and training centre in Cambodia.”

Ok, I know, enough of the chit chat, I bet you want to see the patterns! Well, here are some promo teasers of most of them. Which are you just dieing knit?

tudor toque

The Tudor, in Sweet Georgia Trinity Worsted

Interchangeable Ribbed Toque, in Diamond Luxury Baby Alpaca Handpaints

sweetmesh stanleypark

Sweetmesh in Sweet Georgia Trinity Worsted

Stanley Park in Sweet Georgia Tough Love Sock

ramblingrose poncho

Rambling Rose in Harrisville Designs WATERshed

Faded Poncho in Madelinetosh Tosh Sock

hacker-yaletown fern

Hacker in Harrisville Designs WATERshed

Yaletown in Cascade Eco+

Fern in Sweet Georgia Tough Love Sock

fallingleaves dazzle Chimera

Falling Leaves in Sweet Georgia Trinity Worsted

Dazzle in Harrisville Designs WATERshed and Shibui Silk Cloud

Chimera in Habu Merino 4P

cushion cosmopolitan

Cable Cushion in Rowan All Seasons

Cosmopolitan Frill in Madelinetosh Tosh Vintage


Monday, November 17th, 2014

Yes I am going to talk about Christmas and holiday knitting……I know, I know it might seem early but the reality in the crafting world is: if you’re planning on making holiday gifts you have to start at least now….better yet the end of summer, beginning of fall!

Everyone seems to have their own set of rules as to when it is “allowed” to start to celebrate the holidays. For me it is December 1st, that is when I can start playing my Christmas music (ahh Roger Whittaker, Boney M….ok, now that is starting to get me a little excited) and put up my Christmas lights. But the retail world seems to like to introduce anything holiday earlier and earlier every year. I don’t know about you but for me a big sign that the Christmas holidays are fast approaching is when Starbucks starts pumping out all there holiday drinks…gingerbread latte, peppermint mocha or eggnog latte…anyone? I even noticed that the grocery stores are already stocking eggnog??!! Where has the time gone, before we know it the festivities will be in full force. To try and save you some last minute stress I thought I would give you a soft nudge and list a few ideas for some fast easy gifts that you can whip up in time for the giving season.

Decorative holiday balls are a fun, colourful project great for gifting. So many options and colours to play around with, and a wonderful way to learn how to do colour work in your knitting. As well as use all the new knowledge you learned from last weeks colour blog post;). We have this great book full of different ball patterns for any holiday occasion:



And for crochet:


Even for your “ugly sweater party”, you can knit your own:


What about trying to knit your own stocking or slipper socks, so much more fun, meaningful and sentimental than the store bought. Just think of the beautiful piece of art hanging from your fireplace. There are a ton of different patterns, varying in degree of difficulty and we would be happy to help you find the right one for you. Here are a couple of suggestions:


If you would like some additional support, I am teaching a stocking/slipper class on Mondays starting December 1st for three weeks (8th and 15th) from 12-2pm. “But I have never knit a sock before” you say….then my sock bootcamp class is the perfect fit for you. You can learn all of the components of knitting a sock in just three hours, by completing a mini training sock. Then you will be set to try any topdown sock or stocking pattern or ready to join the basic sock class for additional learning.

Of course you can always knit scarves, cowls, mittens/gloves, hats or houseware accessories. The pattern possibilities there are endless, all of the staff can help you find the perfect fit. This is a great time to try out some of the more luxurious yarns like cashmere, mink, possum, angora and alpaca…so soft, warm and cozy.

Even if you are one of those last minute shoppers and really pinched for time we have you covered with arm knitting. Honestly anyone can do this, from young child to adult and in maybe one hour max!!! Yes really that simple…and it can be turned into a lovely chunky cowl or scarf.


Both Karen and I will be teaching arm knitting workshops, so there is bound to be a time that fits your schedule. Karen will hold them on Sundays, 12-1pm and I will teach the technique on Wednesdays, 3:30-4:30. You can check out our website for more info and the current class list- Or come by the shop to get inspired we’ve got lots of ideas, see all the beautiful colours and yarns….no excuses people, it is time to get your craft on for the holidays!!!

Tech Talk: Colour pt. 1

Tuesday, November 11th, 2014

Hey everyone, today (actually there will probably be a few posts in this series) we are going to start talking about colour. Not colourwork exactly (which you may know is a favourite pastime of mine), but some basic colour theory that holds true for all your knitting, and quilting, and drawing, and painting, and crafting, and just generally experiencing the world through a critical lens.

Ok, maybe you don’t want to experience the world through a critical lens, so let’s just say that this discussion might help you pick out yarns in the future. Good enough? Great, let’s begin.

Our perception of a colour has three main elements: Hue, Value, and Saturation. Hue is what most people think of when they refer to a colour. Often represented on a colour wheel, most people know the primary colours* (red, blue, yellow), and secondary colours (green, purple, orange).

Hue is what we obsess over when we ogle Madelinetosh or Sweet Georgia. We will talk more about hue later, and its importance in yarn selection.

(Yes, I know that there are eight colours on that wheel, not the six I mentioned)

Saturation is related to the perceived intensity of a colour. You can add (imagine actually mixing paints on a palette) white to a colour to make a lighter tint, or grey to a colour to make a muddier tone, or black to a colour to make a darker shade.

But today I want to focus on Value. Value refers to how light or dark colours are in relation to each other (or rather, to a grayscale that ranges from pure black to pure white). Value is really critical to colourwork, as yarns with a similar value are harder to tell apart than yarns with very different values – regardless of their hue! In fact I would go so far as to say that value is the number of determiner of effective colourwork (bear in mind, I could choose some dreadful combination of hues, but still have an effective design).

(A monochromatic grayscale, from white to black)

Put bluntly, if you are working on a colourwork design (hey, ask one of our amazing staff nicely, and they will help you pick a great pattern…) that is worked in two colours, you want them to be of substantially different values. If you are working with three colours, you probably want them to be substantially different in terms of value. But as you add more colours, it does get trickier – er, this is also a discussion for later.

So, how do you apply this theory of colour value to your yarn selection? The technical term is “value testing”, which really just means using method to assess whether or not your chosen colours are too close in value. Again, I hear you cry, ‘how?’

Well the tried and true method is to squint. Simply put your yarns down on the table (ideally in good, natural lighting), and mush them up nice and close to each other, and squint. If, the more you squint, the more similar the value of the yarns seem to be be, then they probably are similar in value. If you can still easily distinguish between the yarns, you are likely on the right track.

If you don’t feel like squinting in the yarn store, we thankfully have technology at our disposal. With a camera or smartphone, take a photo of the yarns in question, and convert it to black and white. Really, it’s that simple. This conversion will make abundantly clear just how close in value your yarns are. To illustrate, here are two simple projects I knit.

The first has a high value contrast between the red and yellow yarns, as you can see in both the colour and black and white versions.

The second photo… not so much.

In the black and white version it is almost impossible to tell the two yarns apart.   Which is more effective?

As a parting thought, I’ve applied the same treatment to the Rowan Pure Wool Worsted shadecard, and it’s pretty interesting to see exactly what the range of values is (one of our hands down favourite yarns for its knitting properties and the fact that it comes in 56 colours…)

Anyway, I hope you’ve found this as interesting as I have, and would love to know what technique tips and tricks you would like to learn more about in the future! Drop us a line and let me know…

*Fun side note, the history and debate about the language of colour is a fascinating study. If you are linguistically inclined, I highly recommend reading into the universalist/relativist debate.


Monday, November 3rd, 2014

Are you sick of cowls?

Then I have got news for you!

Big chunky, long scarves were spotted all over the Autumn/Winter 2014/15 knitwear runway shows. I don’t know about you but I am a little tired of the ubiquitous cowl and welcome this new, refreshing change. Who doesn’t like a big cozy scarf to wrap yourself up in…especially with our rainy, damp and cold weather.

Here is a peak at the runways:

Michael Kors, Zadig & Voltaire, Michael Kors

Even men are wearing them…..


And did I mention chunky yet……The best part is that these scarves can be knit up in no time, look super luxe and not cost you the designer/runway price tag!!

So I did just that….

I used this awesome new yarn from Italy. Naturalia is super chunky, 100% natural wool goodness (yes I love that lanolin smell :), found the appropriate large needle size (15mm) and went for it:

Naturalia, Made in Italy, 100% wool, 132yds, 13/15mm needle


This is the final result…a super long and chunky scarf that gives plenty of options for wear from long and loose, wrapped mummy style to over the head as a hood.


And if this isn’t chunky enough for you, we also have this yarn:

Grosso, Made in Italy, 100% wool, 22yds, 25mm needle

Imagine the fun you can have with it…try this scarf:
Free pattern- Parisienne Scarf, courtesy of

Or perfect for knitting up your own Poof!
Also a free pattern:


So come on down to Urban Yarns and check out all the new oversized yarns to get with the chunky, long scarf trend. I will even share my pattern with you;). Also there is a Poof class scheduled for November/December, a fun way to liven up your living room!!

How did you like this trend report…would you like to see more trend forecasting and inspiration from the runways?