Archive for February, 2015

Valerie’s Closet

Monday, February 23rd, 2015

I am so pleased to tell you all that we have a new line of project bags in store. What makes them even more special is that it is one of our very own staff that is making them!! For those of you that frequent the North Van shop you already know Valerie Jeffrey, but for those of you that haven’t ventured over there, let me introduce you to her and her new, gorgeous project bag line- Valerie’s Closet.


These are the “Snap” bags. They have a magnetic strip closer, that easily snaps open and closed. As you can see they come in great, fun, funky fabrics, are the perfect size, lightweight and super functional!


Next are the “Humbu” bags. These are smaller than the Snap bags, perfect for socks and knitting accessories and tools. They are made of a heavier, almost quilted like fabric with a zipper closer.


Each one of Valerie’s bags are unique and honestly a work of art. I was so fortunate to have won one in our secret santa Christmas party one year (sorry to whom ever I stole it from ;) ) and I covet it…it actually sits on my fire place mantel it is so gorgeous!

Designing a sweater: Part 2

Monday, February 16th, 2015

A few weeks back, I introduced a new project of mine with a little backstory. I left off that post with a picture of my initial sketch and key design elements.

Now, before I get too heavily invested in choosing specific motifs and stitch patterns, I like to work out a few swatches with the yarn. Sometimes I’ll start swatching motifs immediately, if I know I’m going to be working with a yarn with which I am familiar. This begs the question: What yarn am I going to use for this sweater?

I wanted something in the 20-22st/4″ range (DK to worsted), because I didn’t want it to be too bulky (but also not so fine that it takes forevvvvvver). I prefer to work in wool, or wool blends, however the future wearer of this sweater does have moderately sensitive skin, so nothing too “traditional” – that means a superwash or merino wool yarn. I wanted to have a good range of colours to choose from (since I knew I would be working with neutral colours, it was very important to have enough colours to choose from). And finally, I wanted it to be relatively inexpensive, so none of my favourite top-shelf fancy hand-dyed, luxury blends for this project.

My final choice? Rowan Pure Wool Worsted. I’d consider it a light worsted, it is reasonably priced, comes in a huuuuuge number of colours, is superwash, 100% wool, and I kind of just wanted to give it a try.


Choosing colours… Well, you may remember my earlier post on colour theory (note to self: work on part 2 of that series) where I focused on the importance of considering colour value when knitting colourwork. Well, knowing that I was going to be working three yarns that did not differ greatly in hue – paying close attention to value was especially critical for this project!

I basically just pulled out all the neutral options we had, and started by getting rid of the ones that didn’t appeal. I immediately tossed the pure white and dark black, as I was worried they would be too dramatic. None of the greys were really calling to me, and my partner had expressed a desire for warmer tones in the sweater, so I opted to stick to creams and browns. I slowly whittled it down to three – no real rhyme or reason beyond ensuring I had a high, low, and mid valued yarn, and three colours that looked nice together.


For the record, the colours I chose are 102 (cream), 103 (light brown), and 110 (dark heather brown).

Next up was swatching. Well, the first phase of swatching. When I work on a large project, it is often an iterative process. In this case, I had a loose idea of the kinds of motifs I wanted, so I just drew from my mental stockpile of easy patterns and went nuts. I always like to swatch with the yarn in plain stockinette (sometimes in a few needle sizes), and then in each of the stitch patterns to be used in the item. Here, I had examples of low density (the lice motif at the top), high density (the crosses and naughts), and mid density (the chevrons) stranded colourwork motifs. This photo was taken post-blocking, and you can actually see quite clearly just how much firmer the fabric is over a high-density motif – this is clearly going to be a structural concern when planning a multi-patterned sweater (at least 5 or 6 different motifs).


Well, I think I have rambled on sufficiently for today… But as a teaser for next time, I’m breaking out my design arsenal…

Sweater6     Sweater5

Valentine’s Day

Monday, February 9th, 2015

Have you walked past our shop lately? You must come and check out our new window display for February, it is really cool. The Valentines day themed display was created by Kaitlyn Hansen-Boucher, she did an amazing job!! Here is a picture, but really you must come and have a closer look.


I thought that I would stick with the Valentines Day theme for this blog post as who doesn’t like to receive some warm and fuzzy? We all could use some love, pass it on- it spreads fast and makes the world a better place ;) Why not celebrate by showing the people you love with a handmade gift? I pulled these ideas together for you, and don’t worry I know that it is next week but a lot of these ideas are super quick and easy knits (I am talking a couple of hours here, not even).

A homemade card:

heart card


Knitted hearts:


Another version….with or without catnip (for your cat, silly):


Mug or cup cozy:


Knitted heart ring:


And I had to include this one, hilarious!


Unfortunately the patterns looks like it is no longer available.

If that is not enough inspiration, here is a link to a long list of some more options:

Have fun and spread the love ;)

Designing a sweater: Part 1

Monday, February 2nd, 2015

I’ve been asked to share a bit of a story with all of you. Well, a story and a bit of a discussion. I’m going to share my personal design process with you. This is how I work, and maybe the insight will be useful or terrifying…

My partner and I were sitting around the house one day when she turned to me and said “you know that sweater of yours?”
To which I replied “No. Which sweater?”
“Oh, that grey and brown knit one in the bottom drawer that you wear.”
“You mean the one that doesn’t fit, is kind of ratty, and that I really only wear when I’m deathly ill with a fever?”
“Yeah, that one. I want one.”
“You want a ratty, sick-day, ill-fitting knit sweater?”
“No, I want a nice, hand made sweater that looks like that one.”

Well, that was the start of it. But by no means the end.
Here’s the sweater, front and back. It’s based on an Elizabeth Zimmermann seamless sweater, into which I crammed a bunch of different stranded motifs.



Next, we got to planning the new sweater.
We plunked down in front of computer and started trawling Ravelry. Honestly, it wasn’t terribly productive. There were existing designs that had some elements that my partner liked, but really nothing close to what she had in mind. So we let it mull for a few days, and came back to it later.

“So, what do you think you want your sweater to look like?”
“I don’t know! You’re the knitter, I have no idea what will look good.”

D’oh! Design mistake 101. People hire designers (graphic, knitting, software, whatever) because we are supposed to be experts. If people know what they want, why go to a professional in the first place?

This time, I sat down alone and thought about my original sweater and made a list of what were the strongest, most identifiable features. Let’s be honest, I can sit down and pick out the tiniest, most intricate of details, but I bet that those were not what were appealing.

I basically came up with this list:

  • Worsted weight (Cascade 220)
  • Dark grey, dark brown, cream fair isle in pretty broad, clear bands
  • Shawl collar
  • Shirt-yoke (across the back of the neck)
  • Lovely handmade wooden buttons
  • Seamless, classic, Zimmermann construction
  • Worked FLAT. Not in the round. That means there is purl-side stranded colourwork… (this is more of a personal note, not so much a visible design feature)

This was good! Next time we sat down I brought a pad of paper and started sketching. This is what we came up with.


Basically, a more refined version of my sweater:

  • Stranded colourwork, in three neutral colours
  • Shawl collar
  • Not too heavy a weight of yarn
  • Cardigan with buttons
  • Ribbing and the hems and cuffs
  • Hip-length
  • Not excessive bulk over certain areas (upper arms, bust)
  • Maybe pockets and elbow patches

So, that was the start of it. There is of course a lot more involved in making a sweater than just thinking and dreaming! But for now, I think that’s enough for you to mull over. Next time I’ll be back and start talking a bit about the specific design process: measurements, motifs, swatching, yarn selection, oh the list goes on!