Author Archives: Amelia Lyon

Our Next KAL: “KAAL,” a Kate Atherley-A-Long!

After the success of our previous knitalong where each crafter worked with yarn dyed by Megan of Lichen & Lace for a project of their choice, we’ve decided to base this one around another favourite artist of ours, the infinitely wise and wonderfully talented designer Kate Atherley.

In addition to being an extremely accomplished knitwear designer, Kate is in high demand as a knitting teacher throughout the English-speaking knitting community.  Just this spring and summer she has been invited to Interweave Yarn Fest in Colorado, Maryland Sheep & Wool Festival, and the Austin Texas Knit & Crochet Guild, to name a few.

As such, we count ourselves as very lucky to be one of few yarn stores that can claim as a regular teacher on our roster.  She can be found teaching at Yarns Untangled virtually every Tuesday and Thursday, and we are especially excited to announce that she will be joining us this Wednesday night (July 13th) for stitch night!  The puck-drop will be Friday July 15th, so this will be your chance to meet Kate, get some advice on which pattern would be best for you, or to pick her brain on any questions you might have for your chosen design(s), two days in advance of the beginning of the KAL.

Kate has generously set up a discount code on Ravelry.  Check the Ravelry thread for the code that gets you 30% off of any of her patterns from today until August 15th.  You can peruse through all of her designs on Ravelry here, but we’d like to take this moment to showcase some of our very favourites.

Always a crowd-pleaser, Asking for Flowers is a fingering weight, garter stitch shawl/scarf with a simple lace edging that is knit as-you-go.  It’s simpler than it looks, an extremely rewarding knit, and great for anyone looking to try out lace chart reading for the first time.

Asking for Flowers
Asking for Flowers

For those of you into cables, or looking to advance your skills, the Oswin the Impossible mitts are a joy to make.  They use one skein of DK weight yarn, suit any gender, and are a great way to show off a truly special hand-dyed yarn.

Oswin the Impossible
Oswin the Impossible

If you’ve visited the store in the past few months, you might have seen either Amelia’s or Nicole’s Wavedeck projects. Wavedeck is a half-pi shawl that is quite a bit less complicated than it looks, we promise.  Pi Shawls are a concept initially developed by knitting pioneer Elizabeth Zimmerman, and although it’s based on the mathematical concept of pi, no math is required to put this together (although if anyone wants to geek out, we are ready and waiting).


And of course, many of you will know that Kate is truly a sock guru.  Her sock knitting classes are some of our most popular workshops, and sock patterns make up almost 40% of her published work.  These designs range from the most basic (Basic Ribbed Socks)…

Basic Ribbed Socks
Basic Ribbed Socks

…to the most fancy (Lindisfarne).


Stay tuned to our Facebook and Twitter feeds for more spotlights on Kate’s patterns as a countdown to the start of the KAL.


Most individual projects completed (two socks count as one project) – bang out as many things as you can in two months!  Single skein projects count, so this is a great way to plow through your queue. Prize will be a $15 gift card for Yarns Untangled!
Biggest Mess Up/Lesson Learned – tell us your pain!  Every new project is a learning experience, and it’s always nice to hear about personal growth. 😉  Prize is a coupon for a private lesson with either Brenna or Amelia at Yarns Untangled.
Most ingenious pattern alteration – show us your knit hacks!  A little bit of shaping, an extra big shawl, a special sock toe, bonus mitten fingers, or whatever your heart desires, other knitters can always learn from your changes and your experience.  Prize is a digital copy of Kate’s book Pattern Writing for Knit Designers.
Special Crochet Prize – Since Kate’s patterns are all written for knitters, we’ll be offering a special prize for anyone who tackles the challenge of transcribing one of her designs into crochet!  Prize is a $10 gift card for Yarns Untangled.
Of course the Random Draw, two winners this time! – each will be awarded a collection of beautiful yarn from Kate’s stash (she gets great stuff sent to her in the mail, this is some primo promo yarn!)

The Knitty Gritty, or “The Rules”
(If this happens to be the first you’re hearing of the term “Knitalong” (or knit-a-long, or knit-along or KAL), we refer you to a short write up from our previous undertaking.)

Important Dates: starts July 15th, ends September 15th
Wednesday July 13th – Kate joins us for Stitch Night
As always, our Drop-In Clinic on Sundays is free to anyone participating in the KAL, so if a pattern seems like a bit of a challenge, we are here to help.
Participation: In order to be considered for entry, crafters must either join the Ravelry thread or post on Instagram (#kaal) and announce which pattern and yarn you’ll be using. Once the project(s) is/are finished, you must post at least one picture of it. If you’d rather, come see us in person and we’ll get a snap of it for you and help you to post it on Ravelry.
If you don’t have a Ravelry account, send us a quick email at info @ announcing your intention to participate. We’ll make sure you’re kept in the loop
Hashtag: #kaal (use this wherever good hashtags are accepted)
Pattern: the project must be following a pattern designed by Kate, alterations and adjustments are of course just fine.  All patterns are 30 % off on Ravelry for KAL participants using the code from the Ravelry thread.  Code is active as of today until August 15th.
Yarn: Crafters must use yarn purchased from Yarns Untangled, but it doesn’t need to have been purchased during the time of the KAL.
That’s it!  If you have any questions, shoot us an email at info @, give us a call at (416) 603-2338, or drop in and see us in person!  




And just for good measure, we made this:


YU in the Community: Adopting a Lamb!

  • by Nicole Tavares

We have exciting news to share with you: Yarns Untangled has adopted a foster lamb through our friends at Topsy Farms!

We’ve dubbed our wobbly little friend “Cardigan” and he’s doing extremely well now. According to the Farm staff, he is the littlest of his group, but feisty and mighty of spirit. We are told he drank a full bottle immediately upon arrival, and then took a long nap.

Cardigan’s vibrant personality is already visible. He’s reported to be a loving, personable creature whose’s made fast friends with another adopted lamb named Purl. He’s also approaching farm staff for food, suggesting that he’s a smart little guy!

While the vast majority of lambs are born perfectly fine and will proceed to nurse and grow into healthy sheep, 1–2% will face dangerous complications. These lambs may born small, weak, injured, or they might be rejected by their mother. Lambs like Cardigan aren’t able to nurse properly, so they require special care in order to survive and thrive. That’s where Topsy’s foster lamb adoption program comes in!

Our donation assists the Farm in providing Cardigan with the extra attention he needs to thrive. He is being bottle-fed by hand in order to get the nutrition he needs and he’ll be cuddled by volunteers that visit the farm. Fortunately, there are lots of generous volunteers for such a task!

Cardigan the lamb being cuddled by a volunteer
Cardigan and his buddy, Purl, having a cuddle with Sally of Topsy Farms.

Once a lamb reaches adulthood they are officially sheep and typically shorn once a year. The fleece that’s produced is then washed and carded. Then, the resulting fibre is spun, dyed and made into the yarns we know and love.

Topsy Farms worsted weight yarn available at Yarns Untangled
A selection of Topsy Farms Worsted Weight available at Yarns Untangled.

Hopefully we’ll be able to take a field trip and visit Cardigan soon. Stay tuned for updates!

Brand New Online Store and Ad Campaign!

We’ve been working on it for months at this point, and we are thrilled to announce that the Yarns Untangled online store is now officially open!  While it is still bare bones for now, you are now able to purchase official YU kits and merchandise, all four of Kate Atherley’s books, and a luscious collection of wool washes all from the comfort of your couch at home.  Over the next few weeks, we will be adding many of our best and brightest yarns to the collection as well.  We expect to be able to have quite a few of them listed before the end of this month.  Share it with all your friends living out of town to spread the YU love around!

At the same time as launching the store, we’d also like to present this whimsical image you see here – one that is also including the upcoming Ravelry ad campaign, which you should be able to see any day.  The beautiful photos were done by our good friend and collaborator Tru Ferguson of The Tru Portrait. For those that haven’t had the chance to meet her at stitch nights yet, she is a fantastic photographer with infectious passion for wearable art and fashion. She was one of the first people we wanted to collaborate with when we decided to open the business, and since then we have been so privileged to have her dream up some images for our website and social media.

Her striking photo of Brenna and Amelia, with Brenna’s colorwork knitted tea cups, was heavily inspired by Alice in Wonderland. Tru doesn’t believe that knitters should feel limited by anything in their pursuit of creativity – you should dream bold. We couldn’t agree more that knitting is without any constraints or rules! It is not just for winter garments – you can play with color, texture, shape and volume to create any whim you have.

Expect more of her inspiring work to be shown in our posts, and as we continue to publish patterns as Yarns Untangled on Ravelry – she is the photographer behind them! You can find out more about her on her website at and her instagram account, @thetruportrait.

The Secret History of Knitting, a documentary

One of my favourite things about working in a yarn shop and knitting in public is how many people will say, “knitting really is becoming popular, isn’t it?”  While this is true in part, we know that knitting has been popular on an off for many many years.  But how much do we really know about the history of this wonderful activity?

Last November, we were approached by a team who were in the process of filming a documentary about knitting for Makeful, a new channel “celebrating the maker community and the creation of one-of-a-kind, handmade goods.”  They had scheduled an interview with the brilliant Kate Atherley, who had suggested using Yarns Untangled as the locale for their chat.  After their shoot was over, the film company asked us if they could come and get a som footage of a few hours of the life in a yarn shop, for use as extra material in the knitting takeover of the Makeful channel.

After some back and forth, we landed on a Wednesday afternoon last month for the shoot.  The hope was that they would get some candid shots and long-form scenes of basic goings on, in kind of a slow-TV style, and we mean slow!  The crew was able to put together a full three hours of gorgeous material, including some lovely shots of our yarn for an experience they’re calling Knit Purl Knit: Three Hours in a Yarn Shop.  It aired last Sunday at 4pm on Makeful, in advance of the premier of the feature documentary, The Secret History of Knitting.

The feature documentary itself is a charming tour of the history of one of our very favourite pastimes.  The team interviewed some of the knitting world’s most interesting people.  We’re especially loving the cheeky Joyce Meader, historical hand knitter and author.  She seems like she’d be a great person to sit down and have a long chat with, and she’s just one of a plethora of fascinating artists, authors, and historians featured.  Learn about how knitting was used to send codes during World War II, the birth of The Sweater Curse, the relationship between technology and knitting, and the never-ending silliness surrounding knitting and gender.

It’s humbling to learn what a long line of fantastic knitters and traditions of which we are just a tiny part.  If you missed seeing The Secret History of Knitting, have no fear!  The full piece can now be seen on their website,, or simply press play on the video below.  Watch for familiar faces, and leave a comment below telling us which part was your favourite, or tell us your own personal knitting history story.  And if you’ve got three hours to spare, stick around and watch Knit, Purl, Knit: Three Hours in a Yarn Shop afterward!

The Making Of: A Cardigan, pt. 4 – Seaming and the FO

Read part three here.
Read part two here.
Read part one here.

Ok folks, it seems we made it all the way to the end.  It’s just over two months to the day since I cast on for this sweater, and considering a polished off a few other projects along the way, that’s not a bad finishing time, if I do say so myself!

Picking up where we left off last, the bits and pieces of the sweater had completely dried, with minimal cat hair present.  Here they are ready to be seamed.

If any of you have blocked straight edges with pins before, Tempest 16you may recognize the tell-tale “pooks” on the sides of the pocket lining from where I had the pins in the fabric.  This kind of thing is the opposite of a problem if you’re blocking a lace shawl that’s got points all along the
bottom, but when you’re looking for a clean edge,
my experience has led to simply using blocking wires with my pins.  I did some quick (real quick and impatient) googling to see if I could find some writing on the topic, or even some pictures, but nothing came up before I got distracted.  If you’ve got photos or a favourite tutorial, share it in the comments below!  Luckily, the pocket is on the inside and when I sewed it in place, the pooks became a non-issue.

Next begins the seaming.  I used to hate this part because it’s usually when my sweater stopped looking awesome and started looking like it was joyfully completed by the first human ancestor to ever discover that she had opposable thumbs.  But ever since Brenna properly showed me how to execute a decent mattress stitch, the seaming became the most exciting.  Seriously, I’ll do your seaming for you in exchange for hugs and caffeine.  Check it:

Tempest 9 Tempest 11 Tempest 10

In the first picture, you see vertical to horizontal seaming, which I find to be the trickiest and am still perfecting.  I will say that on this sweater and the last top I did like this, I found there to be two distinct corners on the top of my sleeve cap.  It’s not really a look I love, and I did try and go over this to round out the corners a bit, but I didn’t do a great job.  In the future, I will run the seam a bit farther down on either corner.  Next the mattress stitch runs down toward the armpit and then you see it pulled closed.  Click on the video below and watch it happen, live!

Mmmmmm, if that doesn’t send shivers up your spine, then I don’t know what will.  My favourite video tutorial for mattress stitch is the video linked above, but a good picture tutorial can also be found on the Purl Soho website.  For the vertical-to-horizontal seaming, check out this explanation from  Here’s some more seam porn:

Tempest 12 Tempest 13

All right, that’s enough, pull yourselves together.

Once all my bits and pieces were in place, it was time for the button band.  The button band involves picking up a billion stitches from the bottom right corner, round over the back of the neck, and down to the bottom left corner.  I did this late at night in bad lighting, so I haven’t got good pictures, but I will say that the pattern had me picking up one stitch for every two rows, and I was rather skeptical.  The more usual ratio is two stitches for every three rows, and fewer stitches means a smaller button band and a higher risk of buckling the rest of the fabric.  However, usually knows what’s up, so I went with it.

The short story is that it was totally fine.  You can see here Tempest 24that it didn’t look super promising at first, but after a good watery steam, the garter band relaxed into place and looked great.  Most animal fibres will do this, but it seemed to me that the angora in this yarn responded particularly well to this steam blocking approach.  Those scoring at home will notice that the pattern called for a skinnier button band, but I’m not a skinny button band type of gal, whatever that means.

After the button band, I did the hem on the bottom.  This pattern calls for a simple four-row rolled hem, but since I had put a more full 10 (or so) row folded hem Tempest 27 - cropon the sleeves, I wanted to mimic that on the bottom of the sweater as well.  Since I had some pink leftover from the pocket, I threw some of that in on the turning row, making this sweater a bit more special.  I wish this had occurred to me when I did the sleeves because they don’t match, but there ain’t no way I’m going back that far or duplicating the pink on top.  It will simply just look like this.

Lastly, buttons.  I don’t know about you guys, but I have several sweaters that sat for months (or are still sitting!) without their buttons because I simply couldn’t be bothered.  Obviously lining up the buttons with the buttonholes is annoying enough that I will put off wearing my wearing, but since this is a public project, I can’t so much get away with that.  Plus choosing buttons gives me anxiety, so  I turned to Instagram for help.

Tempest Buttons
The hive mind is often so much better than just mine on my own.

So finally, the buttons are on, the sweater is blocked, and it’s all ready to wear!  Of course I don’t have pictures of it on my own self yet because I wasn’t wearing the right undergarments, but you can get an idea of how it would fit with a bit more ease and a bit less arm by having a look at it on Judy the judy.

Tempest 6 crop lightened
All done!


Alternatively, here it is on a real live human.  Thanks Nonna!

Nonna models the sweater, pre-buttons.
Nonna models the sweater, pre-buttons.

So that’s it!  Thanks for coming with me on this journey, and stay tuned for the next in our Making Of series.


Lichen and Lace Knit Along

It’s time to announce our second knit along!  Thanks to all the knitters and crocheters who took part in 2015’s Lanesplitter Skirt KAL (great pictures and details on many of the projects can be seen on the Ravelry thread).  This time we’ve decided to take a slightly different tack on the traditional pattern-based KAL, so instead of working on the same pattern as a group, we are opening the doors of possibility wide!  Inspired by the unprecedentedly beautiful yarns of Lichen and Lace, we would like to invite each and every one of you to join us in working on a project of your choice in one (or more!) of Megan Ingman’s stunning yarns.  Two weeks from the publishing date of this post, we will be placing a massive custom order of Lichen and Lace yarn.  Megan has agreed to dye batches as small as single skeins, so there are no limits on the type of project you can do.  We’re also pleased to offer a 10% discount on any special orders of four skeins or more, regardless of base or colourway.

But first, what is a knit along (or “KAL” for short)?  A knit along is, loosely, a period of time where a group of knitters (and crocheters!) join together to work on a similar project, usually on the same pattern, benefiting from each other’s experience, enthusiasm, and learning from each other’s mistakes and triumphs.  Perhaps Larissa and Martin John Brown said it best in their book knit along: Celebrating the Tradition of Knitting Together when they said, “for some knit alongs, the purpose is…part friendship and part collaboration, friendly competion, inspiration, learning, and giving.”  In the case of our KALs, we will set a start and end date for your project, and once the end date has passed, we’ll award a few special prizes to lucky crafters who win in specific categories (see below for the knitty gritty).  Although the prizes are a fun extra incentive, the point is to learn something new, tackle a project you’ve been eyeing for ages, meet new people, and try out some beautiful new yarn.  Yarns Untangled KALs come with the offer of extra help on Sunday afternoons.  Any and all KAL participants are welcome to come to our drop-in clinic on Sundays from 4-7pm, free of charge.  We will use this time slot as an informal meeting time for KALers to come, sit, chat about their project, meet each other, and ask any questions they might have about their project.

All right, so now that we’ve got that explained, let’s move on to the important part:

Pressed Flowers Poppy Teal Tide Orchid2 Clover Amber Amethyst Baby Leaves Rainy DayCitron3 Wild Flowers (2) Sweetpea Pewter huckleberry Marsh Lily

Meet the Yarn

Megan does her magic with four different yarn bases.  Those of you who are frequent shoppers will recognise the single ply fingering and the worsted weight; one major benefit of this KAL is that it will give you a chance to try out something from the other two bases.  Each skein comes with a whopping 115 grams – 15% more than the average skein.  Just some of the gorgeous colourways are seen here, but to browse the full compliment, visit: and make sure you see all three pages!

1ply1 ply Superwash Merino Fingering Weight

Megan says, “This yarn is a 1ply fingering weight with 475 yards in 115 grams. It is 100% Superwash Merino and is a great yarn for shawls. I love the organic looking twist of this single ply. Very soft, this yarn is the best for shawls, but also a great choice for scarves, cowls, and other accessories.”

Suggested patterns
Knit: Paulie by Isabell Kraemer
The large sections of stockinette in this sweater give the
knitter an opportunity to show off the beauty of this plush yarn, and the stripes allow us to choose two complime
ntary colour from the many potential combinations of Megan’s colourways.  Pattern requires 4-5 skeins.

Crochet: Diamonds in the Rough by Michael Snow
This pattern features some beautiful textures that would be accentuated by the single-ply fabric.  Pattern requires only one skein!

PaulieDiamonds in the Rough

80/20 Sockbase - 80-20 fingering

Megan says, “This yarn is a perfect fingering weight with 420 yards in 115 grams. It is strong with 20% nylon, and totally machine washable with 80% super wash merino. A very soft yarn, perfect for socks of course, but also shawls, colour work, and baby knits.”

Suggested Patterns
Basic Ribbed Socks by Kate Atherley
Now’s your chance to try out socks for the first time!  Allow these brilliant colourways to inspire you.  We recommend Kate’s clear and instructive pattern for first-time sock knitters, and if you’re feeling trepidatious, join our Top-Down Socks class with Kate on April 7th and 14th.  10% off the class for participants of the Lichen and Lace KAL!  As usual, one skein of sock yarn is enough for a pair that fits most adult-sized feet.

Crochet: Pacific Rim Shawl by Esther Chandler
Esther Chandler’s pattern features some fun stripey play, and offers the opportunity for experimentation with edging.  Chandler gives some interesting pointers and advice on how to alter this shawl for a larger or more different shape.  Factoring in potential alterations, this shawl could use either 1 or 2 skeins of each chosen colour.
Basic Ribbed SocksPacific Rim

4ply Superwash Merino Worstedbase - worsted

Megan says, “This yarn is a true worsted weight with 200 yards in 115 grams. It is well balanced with a 4 ply construction. 100% Superwash Merino. A very easy knitting yarn with crisp stitch definition. Perfect for sweaters, mittens, hats, and so much more.”

Suggested Patterns
Flax by tincanknits

Flax has been extremely popular ever since it was published in 2003, but recently it’s had a resurgence amongst some of the Yarns Untangled regulars.  This is likely due to its easy construction, clear instruction, and wide range of sizes available, not to mention the unisex design.  Whether it be your first or 100th sweater, this pattern is not to be skipped.  Depending on your chosen size, Flax requires anywhere from 2 to 9 skeins.

Crochet: Shanty Hat by Robin Devine
Last year on a Valentine’s craftathon, this was Amelia’s favourite pattern.  She made two of them during the marathon, and it was her first ever successful crocheted hat.  Cute, simple, and easy to follow, this pattern is a lot of fun and works up quickly.  Choose from one of four sizes, but even the largest uses less than one skein.


80/20 Bulkybase - 80-20 bulky

Megan says, “Your new favourite bulky yarn.  One skein has 76 yards and 100 grams – enough to knit a hat from one.  This yarn is a single ply of 80% superwash merino and 20% nylon making it super soft and squishy.  Best for making hats, cowls, and scarves.  Knits up super quick on size 15 (10mm) needles!”

Suggested Patterns
Honey Stitch Cowl by Davine Choy
This “classic yet modern” design is a perfect combination with Lichen and Lace single ply bulky.  The 3D twists will be brought to life by the plush softness of the yarn.  Suitable for man, women, or child, it would use 4-5 skeins, depending on how large you’d like it to be.

Big Stitch Hat & Cowl by Patons
Chunky and delicious, these two patterns are a great use of this sumptuous bulky yarn.  Make the hat with one skein of each colour, the cowl with 2 skeins of one and 1 of another, or the whole set together.  Big is in!

Honey Stitch CowlBig Stitch Hat & Cowl by Patons


Like all good KAL hosts, we are offering prizes in the below categories.

Best original design – must be completely from your own head!  We’ll be happy to offer pattern editing and help with Ravelry publishing once you’re done.  Prize: a digital copy of Kate Atherley’s Pattern Writing for Knit Designers.

Most individual projects completed – since single skein orders are possible, this is an easy prize to win!  Remember, socks only count as one project 😉  Prize: a gift card for $25 to be spent at your leisure at YU.

Best lesson learned – everyone wants to hear about your progress!  One of the best things about sharing your work with others is learning from each others mistakes and experiments.  Use the Ravelry thread to share your thoughts, feelings, and breakthroughs.  Prize: a gift certificate for $50 off a class at YU.

Random draw – and of course, to throw chance into the mix, we will choose one random entry from all of the finished projects to receive this prize: some beautiful handspun yarn from Amelia and Brenna.

The Knitty Gritty (LOLZ)

  • From the date of publishing this post (February 22nd, 2016), you have two weeks to place your KAL order with us.  Use Ravelry, email (info @, phone (416 603-2338), or see us in person.
  • We require either a 50% deposit or a credit card number in order to secure your order.  Of course, you may pay for the entire thing up front, if you wish.
  • A 10% discount will be given on any special order of four skeins or more, regardless of base or colourway.  Please note that this discount is only applicable to yarn that is part of the special order, and not to yarn that is on the shelves.
  • The KAL begins on the day that our order of yarn arrives from Sackville.  We expect it approximately two months (or less) after the the day we place the order.  Don’t worry, we’ll make a fuss online and in person to make sure you know it has arrived and is beginning.
  • In order to be considered for entry, crafters must join the Ravelry thread and announce which yarn you’ve ordered.  Once the project(s) is/are finished, you must post at least one picture of it.  If you’d rather, come see us in person and we’ll get a snap of it for you!
  • If you don’t have a Ravelry account, send us a quick email at info @ announcing your intention to participate.  We’ll make sure you’re kept in the loop.
  • And again, so that it’s here too, the colourways can bee seen here, and the bases can be seen here.

That should do it for now.  Stay tuned to the Ravelry thread for updates and to check out everyone’s great ideas and progress.  Another blog post announcing the official start will follow soon!

-Amelia and Brenna

The Making Of: A Cardigan, pt. 3 – Blocking

Read part two here.
Read part one here.

The blocking process has always been a bit elusive to me.  I’ll do it of course, because I know I’m supposed to, and I know that it’s essential, especially for a garment like this one.  But I will admit that, in the past, I have skipped blocking my finished objects as often as possible.  This is not for any good reason other than basic impatience to have the project finished (there’s nothing like the satisfaction of changing a Ravelry status from “WIP” to “FO”).  But just like so many other aspects of knitting and crochet, I’ve learned the hard way not to cut corners (some of you may recall the lovely gold and blue sweater that turned into a longish indoor jacket in 2014.  Pictures are pre-blocking.  It’s a good 20% bigger now since the cashmere bloomed.  Wash your swatches!).

As of yesterday, I had finally finished each section of the sweater: back, left front, right front, and both sleeves.  What remains to be completed is the seaming (sewing up the sleeve seams, and joining all five pieces together), the button band, and the folded hem at the bottom.  But before the seaming can begin, the five pieces must be blocked.  The reasons for this are many, but the few that stick out most to me in my experience are as follows:

  1. They just look way better.  I don’t know about you, but when I’ve finished a piece of a garment, especially one that is mostly stockinette, it curls and rolls and flops around and people say, “oh are you making something for a child?”  Post-blocking, they look much more like they’re supposed to, and I’m able to say, “why yes, that is a sleeve!” which is always gratifying.
  2. They are much easier to seam together.  Washing and drying allows the stitches to get up, stretch, and go for a walk.  When they come back, they feel much better and are more willing to sit a row quietly behaving themselves than they were before.  This makes it easier to pick up stitches, and to find corresponding spots from sleeve to body, and front to back.  Un-blocked pieces are more likely to cause trouble in the seaming process and you could etempestSCHEMnd up having to rip out the sewing and re-do it, which is way less fun than ripping out knitting.
  3. Measuring.  If your pattern is worth it’s salt, it will include a schematic (see Ann Weaver‘s Tempest schematic included here).  At this point, you can grab your measuring tape (or ruler, or metre stick, or tapeline) and see how close your measurements match where they’re meant to be.   The fun thing is, if your piece doesn’t quite lie at exactly 11.5″ wide (as my sleeves should be), now’s your chance to stretch the piece a bit and pin it down.  If you’ve used natural fibres, it should dry and hold that measurement better than if you hadn’t pinned and measured in the first place.

I feel pretty confident in my measurements of my pieces.  The back and fronts are both longer than they should be, but that’s because I added 12 rows to each of them.  I have a weirdly long torso (and stubby little legs!), so I often make tops and sweaters a bit longer to help me not look too freaky.  Since Tempest is written in stripes, I simply added an extra “stripe” to all the pieces.  This will change the number of stitches I need to pick up for my front bands, but since the pattern doesn’t give me a set amount, I needn’t worry.  More on that in part 4.

Behold my blocked and measured cardigan pieces!
Behold my blocked and measured cardigan pieces!

Here we have all my bits, drying out and ready to be seamed.  They are now hiding under a beach towel since my feline roommate loves bits of yarn and pins beyond the fair points of reason and safety.  I think the bit I’m most proud of is the right front.  Note the cute little pink pocket!  I’ve never put a pocket in anything before, but my friend Kathryn is working on a wicked man’s cardigan and used a skeinette of Rhichard Devrieze‘s Peppino (only $4 in store!) to line the pocket with a complimentary colour, and I stole her idea.  The skeinette was enough for a pocket and a bit of leftovers – I bet I could have done two pockets, but I decided one was enough.  Here’s what it looked like pre-wet blocking:

Tempest pocket - pre blocking

Hopefully the front will lie a little flatter once it’s dry and the lining is sewn into place, we’ll find out together!  And as a bonus for reading this far, I give you my roommate Felix helping the pocket to lie flat.  Now that I’ve gotten over the blocking hump on this project, seaming never takes me too long.  It’s too much fun to pull everything together, and I’ll share a few tips on the next post about how I like (read: how Brenna taught me) to pick up stitches for the front bands and bottom hem.  xo!

Photo 2016-02-10, 12 01 55 PM


The Making Of: A Cardigan, pt. 2

Read part one here.

You’ll recall that at the conclusion of my last post, I had guessed that a 4.5mm needle should be the right size for me to get gauge.  The old me of a few years back would have simply used the data collected from the 3.5mm and 4mm swatches, extrapolated that a 4.5mm would do the job, and simply started the project with the largest size, not bothering with a third swatch.  However, partially due to a few hard lessons learned in the past few years, and partially because y’all are watching, I took the straight and narrow route.  Behold swatch number 3 (with 4.5mm needles):

Photo 2016-01-24, 1 18 48 PMDue to advice from a very wise friend, via Indigodragonfly’s article, “Swatching, or How to Avoid Getting a Sweater the Size of Manhattan (The Drink or the City),” I rewashed the old swatch along with the new, pressed out the extra water with a towel, allowed the to dry, and then hung them up overnight.  After remeasuring, I’ve actually decided instead to work with the 4mm needles after all.  I found the larger gauge to be rendering a fabric I wasn’t 100% happy with, and after being hung to dry, my original swatch met gauge exactly.  Take that old me of a few years back!

Since I last wrote, I’ve finished both sleeves and started on the back of the sweater.  After a bunch of research that had me peering closely at project photos on Ravelry and rereading the pattern, I realised that the cuffs of the sleeves are designed with just the stockinette cast on edge – no ribbing, no seed stitch, no nothing.  While I have no problem with this look in theory, since the bottom edge of the sweater uses a folded hem, I wanted to have the sleeves match.  Much like quite a few Ravelers have done, I used a provisional cast on and smaller needles, did 4 rows in stocking stitch, knit a row on the wrong size, and then switched to the larger needles to turn the hem.  Once I’d knit enough rows for the folded hem to line up with the needles, I took the provisional stitches off the scrap yarn, placed them on the smaller needles and knit the two rows together.  This method saves you from having to sew the seam by hand afterward.

Photo 2016-01-24, 7 55 12 PM

I will admit that I’m a tiny bit concerned that the hem will flip up a bit, but that can be counteracted by blocking and when sewing the seam.  Or so I’m telling myself.

I have left the cast on for the back and the fronts as just the stockinette cast on because the pattern has you sew the three pieces together and then pick up stitches to do a folded hem going downward.  This way, the hem will all be in one piece and pull the whole thing together at the bottom.  This will also help to me to clean up the bottom edge, if it needs cleaning up.

Have any of you got an argument for or against rolled/unfinished hems?  Have you got a question about my project, or some sweet sweet advice to offer?  Leave a comment below to get the discussion going!

Next update soon.


The Making Of: A Cardigan

One of the absolute best things about working in a yarn store is that we often get to be there, from beginning to end, for a huge number of projects.  Sure, we don’t knit or crochet them ourselves, but we get to be a part of choosing the yarn, the pattern, often the needles, even swatching, customizing, mistakes, disasters, solutions, casting off, blocking, and if we’re lucky, trying on the final item, or giving it a snuggle when you the customer bring it back into the store to proudly show it off.

Today, I’d like to introduce you dear readers to a new Yarns Untangled blog feature called “The Making Of.”  Through this feature, we’ll flip the situation around and take you on a journey through the birth, maturation, and arrival at adulthood of an entire project, warts and all (I’m hoping for at least a few warts, because projects are way more interesting when there are challenges and we learn something, right?).

Ok so here we go.  Your official introduction.  World, meet The Cardigan:

The Yarn: Mineville Wool Project #2701 Angora Wool
The softest and just a bit fuzzy, we’ve all been in love with this bunny yarn ever since it arrived.  At 480 metres for an 100 gram skein, the mileage is undeniable, and the talented ladies of Mineville have sent us a gorgeous array of colours.  Until very recently, we had wrongly assumed that this yarn fell under the fingering weight category, but according to Ravelry, it’s actually more like a DK.  After swatching with it (details below), I can report that due to its angora content, this yarn can be used as either a fingering, sport, or even DK weight yarn if treated right.  The mileage, colour range, and flexibility of this stuff renders it a perfect sweater yarn.

The Pattern: Tempest cardigan by Ann Weaver, Weaverknits
I have had this sweater queued for years.  The shape, cut, shoulder line, and general aesthetic are right up my alley.  The only reason I’ve skipped over it for other patterns is because I found the gauge requirement daunting.  This knitter had a hard time wrapping her mind around getting a 20 stitch (and 30 row) gauge with a fingering weight.  For those who are reading this and going, “…huh?”: a brief explanation.  I won’t go into a lecture about gauge, that’s for another blog post and should probably be written by Brenna because she knows all the things.  But I will say that fingering weight yarn, depending on the needles you’re using, usually yields a gauge that is closer to the 24-28 stitches per 4 inches range (even 30, if you’re making socks).  Which means that in order to get a 20 stitch gauge (a more standard gauge for thicker, worsted weight yarn, in my humble opinion), I’d need some much bigger needles than I’d usually use with fingering weight, thus yielding a loose and less-structured fabric than I like for my sweaters.

Enter: Mineville Angora.  As stated above, it’s tough to label a weight on this yarn because it’s so flexible, but Brenna and I were both pretty sure that I’d be able to make this pattern and yarn match because angora is notoriously fuzzy and a bit bloomy, meaning it will grow to accomodate a looser fabric.  That means it’s time for the swatch.  For those unfamiliar with swatching, we recommend the article on the subject, which says it infinitely better and more thoroughly than I could.  I have learned the hard way, and way more than once, that swatching is a must.  I’m not here to lecture you, but just trust me on this one.  Here’s my fuzzy little square:

All right, so “square” isn’t exactly the most accurate terminology that I could have used; there are two needle sizes at play here, so perhaps it’s a gentle trapezoid.  This guy was cast on and banged out in a few minutes.  I then cast off, soaked it in lukewarm water, and lay it flat on my desk to try overnight.  Washing matters because you aren’t not going to ever wash your sweater, right?  And once a fabric is washed, it can behave rather differently than before, so we are better safe than sorry.

What we see here is a test of two different needle sizes to see which one would be closer to the pattern’s requirements.  The bottom half is knit with a 3.5mm (US 4) and the top with a 4mm (US 6).  Usually I would also have done a 3.75mm one as well, but I didn’t bring that set of tips with me to Ottawa for Christmas because I wasn’t thinking.  The pattern calls for a 4mm anyway, so the data on top will be most telling.  The bottom half is more to give me a fuller picture of how this yarn behaves in general since I’m not familiar with it.

The two sections are separate by most of a line of knits on the purl side.  I probably should have completed the line as it does seem to have made things look a bit funky, being incomplete.  MEH.

After careful measurement and remeasurement (counting stitches and rows in a couple different spots on the swatch), I get 11 sts/2″ on the bottom half and 10.5 sts/2″ on the top (22 and 21 respectively).  In terms of rows, it’s coming out at about 34 rows = 4″ on the bottom and 32 rows = 4″ on top.  So for those scoring at home, I haven’t hit gauge.  I’m close though!  So before starting properly on the sweater, I’m going to need to do one more swatch.  My expectations are that a 4.5mm (US 7) needle should do the trick.

Stay tuned for the next installment of The Making Of: A Cardigan, which I’m hoping will consist of swatch the second and casting on for reals.  Thanks for reading!

To track this project in real time, check out the Ravelry project page.

Knitted Christmas Ornaments: A Kit

For our first official foray into kits, we’re happy to announce that these sweet little numbers are now available in store.  There’s something especially cozy about a knitted tree ornament, and these are some of the coziest.  The kit features 11 possible designs (8 easy charts, and 3 more challenging ones), all from the mind of knitting guru Kate Atherley and they are currently only available as part of this collection.

Since most of the charts are relatively uncomplicated, this kit is suited to any knitter comfortable with knitting in the round and with basic colourwork.  However, if you’re feeling a little tentative but would still like to knit yourself some festive decor, join us on Thursday, December 17th for a class that will guide you through your first ornament and get you set up to make more (the kit includes enough material – yarn and stuffing – for two ornaments).  And as if that wasn’t tempting enough, we’ll make sure you get at least one cup of delicious mulled cider to accompany your learning experience.

We’re working on more kits as we speak including two featuring designs by the ever-so-talented Laura Chau, so if Christmas (or balls) ain’t your thing, stay tuned for more curated combos of yarn and patterns.  And if Christmas is your thang, make sure your family knows this is on your list.

20151129_153401 20151129_153349_crop 20151129_153539_crop

« Older Entries

Newer Entries »