Posts Tagged ‘GCC’

Some World Cup Knitting

Tuesday, June 15th, 2010


I don’t think I’ve watched a full soccer match since I was a U17 Defenceman, more than a few years ago…..but the international ferver over the FIFA World Cup has been contagious! It seems that people I have never heard speak of the sport are suddenly swept up and excited about it. It also brings up some serious rivalries!

So, of course, it’s time to do some World Cup Knitting. I’m a fan of the team scarf but that might not be too practical, as it’s June (a cold June here, but June none the less). For somethings a little simpler, you can add a soccer ball to anything you might be knitting. There is a great chart here (scroll down, it’s on the right).If your an England fan there’s a waving flag chart here. There is a team Germany hat here (easily adaptable to any striped flag).

The funniest World Cup knitting I’ve seen is definitely the soccer playing monkey! Check him out here.

Knitting brings more than fan fun to South Africa, it also brings jobs to knitting women. Anina shared this great article with me and I thought I would pass it on. Gogos Spread their 2010 Knitting Magic

And, of course, there is a Ravelry Group that are working on a Knitting Olympics-esque knit along for the games. You can check that out here.

Some shop news: Urban Yarns is on Facebook! You can check us out here to keep up with all our shop updates, share pattern ideas, and get some quick advice.

Our sale this week is Alessandra Super Kid Seta, regulat $14.95, now 25% off at $11.21. It’s a yarn that’s comparable to Rowan Kidsilk Haze so there are tons of patterns!

GCC: Stalled

Friday, June 11th, 2010


Although I really love knitting (hard to tell isn’t it?) sometimes I find myself stalled. There are just so many beautiful things to knit and so little knitting time. To be fair, I think I would always feel there wasn’t enough knitting time, even if I knit all day every day.

Anyhow, I find myself a little stalled in my tracks as to what to get knitting next. There are definitely things I SHOULD be knitting. Like a certain couple of sweaters that shall remain nameless. Or perhaps I should pick out one of my lovely boxes of stashed yarn and just get crackin’! But instead I have chosen to clear my head with some garter stitch. The theraputic qualities of garter stitch are endless. I have often heard knitting referred to as yoga-esque and I think garter stitch supports this theory. What I can never figure out is why stockinette doesn’t have the same effect for me. It’s not as if purling is somehow more stressful than knitting. It’s weird that way.


I figured as long as I was creating a great swath of garter stitch, it might as well be working towards a purpose. I’m working on Brooklyn Tweed’s Tweed Baby Blanket. Normally I frown upon knitting something up in the exact same colours as the pattern. Not always, but it somehow feels less creative to me. There are, however, certain patterns that are just so fantastic in their original colour combos, they are just begging to be copied. The soft greys in this pattern are so lovely and neutral without being too boring. I’m using Debbie Bliss Rialto Aran in a light and dark grey. The pattern calls for a lighter weight yarn (DK or 22 stitches per 4 inches) the original is a bit lighter and airier but I like the squishy quality of mine. Garter stitch is inherantly squishy but the aran weight yarn gives is a little something extra. Till next time, when I get myself a little un-stalled!


GCC: February Baby Sweater

Monday, May 31st, 2010


Summer is kind of a great time for knitting baby things. They are small, portable, and satifying. What more could you ask for in a vacation project? Since I have all but abandoned 2 sweater projects I needed to get a sweater completely finished (for confidence you understand) so I cast on for a baby sweater. The pattern, however, was not entirely new to me. As you might know I knit myself a lovely February Lady sweater and the little yellow sweater I knit was just a littler version: the February Baby Sweater.

I’ve recently become rather smitten with Elizabeth Zimmerman so knitting up the February Baby Sweater from Elizabeth Zimmerman’s Knitters Almanac just made sense. The sweater is super cute. It can be done in any weight, but the size will change accordingly. To make a slightly larger sweater I knit it up in an 18 stitch gauge. What did I choose for the job you might ask? Why SweetGeorgia Superwash Worsted of course! It worked so well on my Lady sized sweater I thought why not use it again for a little one?


I knit up this charming little sweater in no time. It was top down (which I love) and I even knit the sleaves in the round, as per Brooklyn Tweed’s instructions. It took only 4 skeins of SG Worsted and I knit it up on 5mm needles. The sweater is adorable (if I do say so myself) but the colour choice was a bit of a debate though. I was told shortly after completing the sweater that sometimes babies look a little jaundice when swathed in yellow. I’ve decided I don’t care but I thought I would let you all know this is a possibility.


Also, I would recommend thinking through your button placements ahead of time. I somehow ended up with 8 buttonholes. This is clearly too many but I did not think things through ahead of time. I started placing buttonholes and then nothing was lining up so I just had to keep doing them at regular intervals. This is not ideal.  Do a little math ahead of time or just put 3 buttons at the top, like the February Lady. 8 buttons, sheesh. The upside is that I found the cutest lemon drop buttons at Button Button that work perfectly with the sweater. Silver lining.

GCC: A Little Something Springy

Monday, May 10th, 2010


Last weekend was Mother’s day (I hope this isn’t news to anyone) and I wanted to do a little knitting for my Mother in Law. It wasn’t just Mother’s day for her either, it was also her birthday! I figured this was a prime oportunity to display my fine knitting skills. MIL has blonde hair and fair skin and LOVES pink so I thought I would give the new Shibui Sock a try. It comes in some great colours and even though I immediately gravitated towards the deep tealy blues, I knew the soft pink was perfect for MIL. I didn’t want to make socks though, just not right for the occasion. I decided to whip together a small shawl/triangular scarf.


I picked up 2 skeins and some addi lace needles (sharp tip, not too slippery, I love them) and I was ready to go, except for the pattern. I recently finished Multnomah so I didn’t want to do that one again but I didn’t feel there was time for anything too taxing. There definitely had to be some garter or stockinette stitch finished with a little lace. Here is what I discovered: there are SO MANY patterns on Ravelry (both pay and free) that fit this description. While this may seems like a good thing, it was a lot of choice. The one I finally chose was Traveling Woman. There is some Stockinette stitch to kick it off (good conversational knitting) and then it’s finished with a nice horeshoe lace trim.


To knit a Traveling Woman of your very own you will need:

2 skeins of Shibui Sock

3.5mm needles (I used 24″ Addi Lace) I thing my needles may have been a bit small though, I got an extra repeat of the horeshoe pattern and the fabric over all was a bit tight. The nice thing about lace though is that you can kind of use any needle you want, things will just come out a little bigger, a little smaller, a little more open. It all really comes down to preference. To get one just like mine you can use 3.5mm but I think a 3.75 or 4mm would be quite nice as well.

The pattern, which you can find for free here.

So, if your looking for something quick and not too tricky give it a whirl! Enjoy!



GCC: Blocking 101

Monday, April 26th, 2010


There are a lot of things in the world of knitting that are debatable. Some of these questions are even unanswerable because they are really just a matter of preference. Needle choice, for example, is largely a question of preference. Some knitters will choose straights over circulars, long over short, bamboo over addi, etc. Will anything terrible happen to your knitting if you use Addi Lace needles (my faves) vs. Bamboo circulars for a given project or vice versa? No, it’s a matter of what makes you happy. Do what you feel! What does this have to do with blocking you might ask? Nothing really, it’s just that blocking is one of those knitting issues that is really just a matter of debate that I think comes down to preference.

There is much debate on the purposes of blocking and when, why and if it should be done. This intro is kind of acting as a disclaimer, there are lots of schools of thought on blocking and I’m really just sharing my own. Do what works for you, as usual. There are different ways to block different items and I thought I would start with something I’ve done a fair bit of lately: some lace.


Step 1: fill a bucket, sink, or bowl with cool water. I use a bit of SOAK in my water, it’s a wool conditioner that smells nice and softens your finished project.


Step 2: put your finished shawl into the water and gently squeeze out the bubbbles. When no more bubbles come out, you know the water has completely permeated the yarn, making it easier to have the shawl stay the way you want it when you lay it out.

Some would disagree with this full immersion approach and would make the shawl damp with wet towels. It’s another way to go but I’m not that gentle with my knitting. If I’m going to be wearing something I think it should stand up to a certain amount of abuse. DO NOT use hot water. It will felt your knitting and unless you are going for that felted look you will be sad. There might be tears. Don’t let this happen to you.

Step 3: Roll your shawl in a towel to get out some of the excess water. Use a dark towel if you are nervous about running colours.


Step 4: I used to to pin my shawls to a towel but Emily set me straight on that. She uses cardboard for a good stiff blocking. I tried it and I agree. I got a big cardboard box and broke it down so I had a nice big surface. Then I laid out my shawl and put quilting pins through the points on the shawl. Each shawl will most likely have it’s own natural points, you’ll know, don’t worry. Just put your pin through the point stitch and then through the cardboard. Lace really looks amazing when it is blocked rather severely so don’t be afraid to really stretch it! FYI: I don’t recommend using quilting pins, I didn’t have t-pins (which I do recommend) so I used the quilting pins I had and I kind of wrecked them. I am so impatient sometimes.

Step 5: Let it dry, unpin and enjoy!

This is kind of a severe way to block. Others suggest that you block it slowly and gradually. I am obviously much too impatient for that. Also having a giant piece of cardboard taking up my living room is probably already pushing hubbies patience so keeping it there for an extended period of time is just plain not going to happen.

If you are blocking a sweater, scarf, blanket, some fair isle mittens, or really any other piece of knitting you probably won’t need pins. Again, others might disagree but I think it’s kind of overkill to pin down a scarf. Unless you need points of any kind, then you will need pins. There are always exceptions!

If I’m blocking any one of these items I will repeat steps 1-3 but then I will lay it out on a dry towel the way I want it to look (uncurled edges, straight seams, even stitches etc.) and let it dry that way. If it’s a sweater it can take a while to dry (beware the Christmas Eve block. That’s a story for another time…..) so I would change the towels every so often to speed drying. You are really just smoothing things out, those funny stitches and crooked seams. Fair isle items always look much better after a block, much smoother and more even.

If you are interested in some other opinions or techniques you can check out these sources on blocking as well (some of these dedicated individuals are much more serious about their blocking than I am!)

Yarn Harlot

Emily Wessel

Brooklyn Tweed (blocking wires)

Purl Bee

Knitting Daily

Posie Gets Cozie



GCC: Shetland Triangle

Monday, April 19th, 2010


Sometimes you knit a pattern and it just works for you. It has all the interest you want without being overly complicated, it works for the yarn you love, and it is a usable piece of knitted art when you are finished. The final product isn’t just beautiful but something you can wear or use as well (depending on the project of course).These patterns don’t come along every day. They aren’t even the same for every knitter. You just know when you’ve found one.


The Shetland Triangle by Evelyn Clark is just such a pattern for me. I loved it. I still love it. I will love it again soon! I finished mine and immediately wanted to cast on for another! I kind of have a little obsession forming (like I need another little knitting related obsession!). I love the lacy pine cones and the way the decreases/increases create a sort of circular look. Just beautiful.


Of course you have all already heard me rave about the yarn I used too: CashSilk Lace by SweetGeorgia. A skein of CashSilk is 400 yards and the pattern calls for 450 but I just cut out a repeat and made it a little smaller. One of the things I like about this pattern is that you can really make it as big or as small as you want. The repeats are easy to memorize but not too boring so it became conversational knitting shortly after I started it.


With Mother’s Day around the corner I want to get 2 more shawls on the needles myself (one for Mumsy and one for Mom in Law) and I highly recommend a little lacy scarf or shawl (depending on the mother) as a nice gift. A skein or 2 of sock yarn will do nicely for a slightly thicker (and faster) version or you can go all out and pick up some lace. I like the Malabrigo Lace for price, softness, and colour range (don’t try to backtrack with this stuff though, nightmare!). There are also some nice Fleece Artist and Handmaiden laceweights around the shop that will do the trick. Of course, the Cashsilk is the ultimate lace treat in my opinion!

To make a Shetland Triangle (or 3) of your very own you will need:

The Pattern which you can purchase here or you can find it in the book Wrap Style at UY

The Yarn: 1 skein SweetGeorgia Cashsilk Lace

The Needles: I used 4mm Addi Lace in 24″ but needle choice with lace is kind of personal choice. A larger needle will give you a lacier look while smaller needles will be a little tighter. Up to you.

1 stitch marker and blocking pins.



GCC: Subbing 2.0: How much?

Monday, April 12th, 2010


Back by popular demand is the subbing tutorial. What I neglected to mention in the last post is how to tell how much yarn you will need! Another popular question around the shop is ‘How many skeins will I need for a _______’. While we are always near by with a calculator around the shop, here are a few tips to figure out how much yarn you will need.

One of the things I hear a lot is yarn requirements that are given by weight. There are many patterns in the world that are written with amount requirements in ounces or grams, especially (although not restricted to) older patterns. Elizabeth Zimmerman, for example, gives weights in all of her patterns. I have a theory about this: there are just more yarns out there now. If there are only a few types of yarn, mostly wool, it’s easy to go by weight. Now, there are so many different yarns and fibers, I just don’t think weight is accurate enough.

Lots of people come to UY looking for 4 oz of wool or five 50 gram balls. This works fine if you are using the exact yarn in the pattern, meaning the same brand of yarn. If you have a Debbie Bliss pattern and you are using Debbie Bliss yarn you are good to go! Simple. As soon as you start subbing this becomes a problem. Here’s why: different fibers weigh different amounts for the same yardage. Alpaca and angora are very light fibers, so you will get more yardage for the same weight. Silk, on the other hand, is a lot heavier than wool. If you have a fiber that is a mix, then all bets are off and I would look to our good friend the ball band to tell us how much yardage is in there.

So what should you do if you want to start subbing yarns?

Step one: check out the original yarn. If you are subbing you will already want to look up the gauge so make a note of how many yards per skein while you are at it. A couple of things to be careful of though:

  • make sure you are measuring either meters or yards and keep it consistant. There are 109 yards per 100 meters FYI.
  • The other thing to be careful of is the occasional change in skein size. Every once in a while a yarn company will change the size of their skeins from 50g to 100g or vise versa or something else entirely. Make sure you are looking at the same size skein.

Step two: Once you have determined how many yards per skein the original yarn had, do a little multiplication and figure out how many yards you will need to make your sized garment.

Step three: check how many yards (or meters) the yarn you are substituting has. Yardage needed divided by the yardage of the substituted skein gives you the number of skeins you will need of the substituted yarn.

Now, the above advice is great if you are working from a pattern but what if you are that wild knitter who is stashing for the right pattern to come along or *gasp* designing their own garment? Well, it is a little tougher but there are a few basic guidelines you can follow in a lovely little pamphlet of yarn requirements. It’s been my yardage bible for the past couple of years, you can pick one up at the shop for about $6 and it’s an invaluable tool. The Knitter’s Handy Guide to Yarn Requirements.

I would also recommend buying an extra ball or skein, especially if you are making a garment. It is exchageable if you don’t need it and I have seen more than a few regrets over unpurchased extra yarn. Remember that every knitter is a little different and sometimes the best laid plans can go awry. Even if all signs point to 8 ball, you just might need a little bit more.

Voila! Now you’ll be able to sub yarns at will. Don’t let substitutions scare you, being able to knit things many different ways, with different yarns, fibers, and style is what makes knitting so great. It makes each item unique. Also, we would be happy to walk you through substitutions in the shop any time!


GCC: Granny Square Obsession

Monday, March 29th, 2010


I’m not really a crocheter. I can crochet in a pinch and I’m fairly competant at pattern reading but I’m limited in my experience. With a refresher I can single, double, triple, half-double, etc. and I remain confident that if I applied myself I could pick it up but as it stands I remain a knitter with limited crochet abilities. I had never even been drawn to crochet (except for a brief encounter in university) until I saw a most beautiful granny square blanket on the Purlbee here. Joelle Hoverson is one of my knitting heroes and she has a real eye for colour. I loved the geometric shapes and I decided I would apply myself and make a crochet blanket of my own.


I dug around my bookshelves and pulled out a copy of the Happy Hooker by Debbie Stoller (excellent pictures and funny explanations, what’s not to love in an instructional book?). I was ready to go. The first one I made with Spud and Chloe Sweater. It’s a washable wool/cotton blend that comes in nice bright colours.


Once I had completed 3 or 4 rounds I was into the swing of things and it was easy as pie! I had a good rhythm and I took it with me on vacation. One of the things I love about crochet is how fast it is. I was done in no time (it didn’t hurt that it was a baby blanket either) with beautiful results (if I do say so myself).


I then had to make another one because I was hooked (pun intended). This colourway was inspired by Neopolitan Ice Cream. I have intentions of passing this one off to the next baby girl I know. I love the way crochet looks so retro and something friends and I would call granny-chic. It’s kind of old fashioned but a more modern colour palette can really bring it up to date. Once I finished that one I move on to a different colour palette. One for the baby of unknown gender. Bright and colourful!


Last but not least (I said it was an obsession, believe me yet?!) I started one in Debbie Bliss Rialto DK. It’s a washable yarn as well and I am enjoying the way the thinner yarn makes kind of a delicate blanket.


To make a granny square blanket of your very own you will need:

4 skeins of Spud and Chloe Sweater (I used 5 colours for the third blanket but there were leftovers)

5.5mm hook

The pattern: granny-square1 (this pattern is pretty bare bones. I recommend some crochet knowledge or a copy of Happy Hooker by Debbie Stoller)

Blanket 1: Spud and Chloe Sweater 2 Rootbeer, 1 Moonlight, 1 Grass

Blanket 2: Spud and Chloe Sweater 2 Ice Cream, 1 Watermelon, 1 Rootbeer

Blanket 3: Spud and Chloe Sweater 1 Rootbeer, 1 Pollen, 1 Grass, 1 Splash, 1 Popsicle

For a Debbie Bliss Rialto DK blanket you will need about 6 balls of Debbie Bliss Rialto DK and a 4.5mm hook.


GCC: The Queen of Lace

Monday, March 8th, 2010


I just got off the ferry ending a wonderful weekend with the Queen of Lace. Who? You might ask. Miss Emily (the Queen herself) once worked at Urban Yarns but has moved to the island and we all miss her terribly. She is an expert at lace, both knitting and designing. This is her:


With summer on the way (I know it’s only March but the weather this weekend proved that it’s true) I am trying to think of some lighter projects to work on. I have worked in some cotton but lovely lace really seems like a great project. Here are some reasons you might want to give it a whirl:

1. It’s light to carry, you can get a lot of lace in 50 grams.

2. It’s light to knit, no heavy wool half finished blankets draped on you while you knit away.

3. Colour! You can kind of go nuts since shawls are an accessory.

4. Fashion. While I am admittedly not the most fashionable individual I love a small colourful lacey shawl around the neck.

Emily and I headed to the coast and chilled in Tofino for the weekend. While we were there we managed to get in some knitting at the cafe and at the beach. I thought I would take advantage of her wisdom and work on a couple of lacey items.


This is the Multnomah shawl (by the way, I love the Shalom sweater featured on the front page of her blog, nice) started during the Olympics. It was quick and easy and only 1 skein of sock yarn. Simple, yet effective. The bottom of the shawl is some feather and fan lace which is perfect conversational knitting because there are 3 rows of stockinette for every one row of lace pattern. I knit this up during catch up time and it’s blocking while I type.


The next project I started was the beautiful Brandywine Shawl. This one is worked from the tip to top which makes the bottom the hardest part. As the shawl grows there is more and more garter stitch in the middle (relaxing) but to kick it off it is all lace all the time. I am over the hump now so it is smooth sailing from here on in!


Instead of working away dilligently on my Brandywine I also cast on for a Sunflower shawl. What could I do, I had to take advantage of her expertise while I could! This one was designed by Emily herself and I love it. The pattern looks complicated but the repeats are easy to memorize, something I quite like in a shawl. It’s worked from the middle of the top outwards and the lace stitch patterns are reminiscent of sunflower seeds and petals. Beautiful. I’m knitting both shawls in the exquisite SweetGeorgia Cashsilk Lace.

On another note, the new Twist Collective just came out and there is a lovely lace shawl in it I have my eye on here! It’s called Dryad and it’s by the lovely Sivia Harding who is as nice as she is talented.


GCC: Olympic Goal?

Tuesday, March 2nd, 2010


Well, sometimes the Olympics (knitting or otherwise) don’t go as planned. My sweater did not go as planned and is sadly, not quite finished. I was casting off the sleeve as the closing ceremonies were on, not sewing in ends as I had intended. I would normally feel a little badly for not having met a goal but for some reason this time, I don’t. This was an ambitious project that ran into a few problems at the start (ribbing, sleeve ripping, chart reading etc.) but those are not really the reason my sweater is unfinished.


If the Olympics had been anywhere else I would be wearing my cozy sweater right now, but it was here, in my city! I spent so much time in the happy Vancouver streets, at a few hockey games, a few bars, at Olympic parties, hosing parties, it was a fantastic 17 days and I regret nothing! I waited 6 hours to hold the medals, 4 hours to see the Colbert Report, and more than a few hours in security screening line ups. I met new people and enjoyed the atmosphere. Cheered and cried, all the things that proud Canadians did in the last couple of weeks. That isn’t to say that those who completed their projects weren’t living it up, they are just a hint more dedicated than I. So my sweater is unfinished but this experience was fantastic.

That being said, a shout out to my ladies who DID finish their projects!

Jan finished her beautiful Burberry Cowl


and Amanda finished here lovely Prairie Boots


Well done ladies!