Archive for the ‘Knitter’s Table’ Category

Great yarns to knit for fall projects.

Wednesday, August 9th, 2017

Do you like to knit up quick projects? Fall will be here sooner than you think!

Rosarios Gaia is a great super-bulky yarn that will knit up into a quick project like a cowl or a scarf in one or two days. With 9mm needles, you’ll knit a cozy and tweedy item out of one of ten colours.

Rosarios Gaia extra bulky yarn.

Luxury Tweek DK by Sublime is a fabulous yarn for knitting fall garments. Because it is a blend of wool and cotton it shares the characteristics of both types of fibre. The wool provides warm and elasticity, and the cotton provides drape and aeration.

Luxurious Tweek DK by Sublime




Diamond distributes 10 great tweedy colors. Some of them are traditional muted tweeds, reminiscent of Edwardian tweed frock coats. I also really like the pastel family that we have. Look at these three (from left to right: Buff Blue, Dawn, and Stone).


Don’t stop at one skein!

Monday, July 17th, 2017

2 or 3-skein projects make great gifts, too!

I’m excited by Debbie Bliss yarns, but I am more excited to knit gifts with them because the recipients undoubtedly ooh and ahhh about them, their softness and their colours. This week we’ll look at 4 great yarns for gifts. Yes, it’s summer, but there are only 160 or so days until the 2017 winter holidays. I’m already starting to think about who to knit for, and what to knit. Using 1 skein may get you somewhere, but for the yarns I’m writing about today, 2 or 3 skeins will result in a decent knit item.

1 skein of Debbie Bliss Lara, use 2 or 3 in gifts.Debbie Bliss Lara is a quick knit. The alpaca wool blend is soft and warm, and enticing. It’s a great yarn for a beginner knitter to make a gift scarf as it’s a quick knit, and its texture really needs simple stitches to look its best.

Cast on 15 stitches on size 10mm or 12mm needles.

Row 1: [K2, p1, k2] across.
Row 2: [K1, p3, k1] across.
Repeat rows 1 and 2 until you’ve used up 2 skeins.

A few skeins of this make glamourous giftsBoheme by Debbie Bliss is another bulky weight  that some knitters call “instant gratification” yarn. Can you imagine how much the recipient of your knitted gift will be gratified, if you’ve found it a pleasure to have the yarn going through your hands and fingers onto your needles?Debbie Bliss Delphi




We carry 16 colors of Delphi that are sedate and gorgeous. This tube yarn is 100% cotton. It has a soft hand and a lovely drape because of its construction. Debbie Bliss has designed 16 patterns to be knit with Delphi. I really like the very subtle gradients in the dye job.

The 12 muted and sophisticated colors of Debbie Bliss Aran Cashmerino Tonals are modern and will go with a contemporary wardrobe. We all know knitters who have bought skeins and skeins of the bright, intensely-colored skeins who then have no idea who to knit gifts for because they are too intense. This yarn will not give you this dilemma. You may want to use 3 or 4 balls to make this free cowl pattern.Cashmerino Tonal 12 colors that breathe subtle glamour











Tuesday, July 26th, 2016

This month we are highlighting an exciting new addition to our early Fall line up.  Reinvent is a fingering weight yarn with a backstory that connects the dots all the way from South Africa to Canada.  Getting its name from a harmonious blend of reclaimed fibres (surplus in the milling process) wool, mohair, silk and nylon are spun together creating a very versatile yarn with four plies.  The wool base provides supple texture and warmth, while the mohair creates a soft halo effect with a splurge of silk for sheen and nylon for maximum durability.  Hand dyed by Ancient Arts, an indie-based company in Calgary, Alberta, this luscious yarn has arrived in our Toronto warehouse fully-stocked and ready to tempt knitters with more than thirty unique colourways.

Reinvent for shawls, socks, cowls, scarves and much more…..


Inuit Art- A mesmerizing mélange of earthy hues intermingled with a subtle base of violet grey.


Syrah By Moonlight- A tantalizing blend of deep crimson reds sweetened with just a hint of cherry blossom.


Water Lily Blue- An icy cool swirl of aqua blue with light and lively undertones.


Frolic- Deep and mysterious layers revealing intense hues inspired by Emily Carr and her iconic paintings depicting the Pacific Northwest Coast.


Calico Cat-  Just one of the purr-fectly charming colourways in the MEOW YARN COLLECTION.

Top Ten Knitting Tricks

Saturday, August 29th, 2015

Who said you can’t teach an experienced knitter a few new tricks?  It seems the more we knit, the more we have to learn about timesaving tips, the best finishing methods and helpful stitch techniques to make our favorite craft so much more enjoyable.  Plus they can be really fun to pass on to your knitting friends.

Here are our Top Ten Knitting Tricks-

1.  Slip Stitch Join: Working in the round should be easy breezy, shouldn’t it?  No messy edges, no seams to sew, yet there is that inevitable opening that occurs between the first and last cast on stitch.  Sure, we can sew in the tail end while slipping it through the opposite edge to help smooth it out but this trick is so quick and effortless-

Cast on one extra stitch. Before joining in the round, slip the first stitch from left needle onto right needle, pass the extra stitch over this first stitch and slip it back to left needle. Tighten both yarn ends and proceed to knit.

2. Tightening Up Ladders: Aaargh! A pet peeve for sock knitters who use double point needles, ladders are enlarged spaces that can form in the fabric as one needle switches over to the next.  Pulling the yarn extra tight when making the transition to the next needle actually widens the gap.

To correct this issue, after knitting the first stitch on the next needle, do not tighten, leave it a little loose and tighten only the second stitch.  

3. Rounding Off Step Shaping: Those jagged little cast off edges that take place along the underarm, neck or shoulder shaping area can make it tricky to sew a smooth seam.

When a pattern calls for a certain number of stitches to be cast off at the beginning of a series of rows, simply knit or purl the first two stitches together. 

4. Casting Off Too Tightly:  When casting off the last row on a project, the tendency is to knit firmly to ensure a neat edge.  This can cause a problem on the neckband of a child’s pullover or across the front border of a cardigan when there is no allowance for stretch.

When in doubt always cast off with a larger needle.

5. Long Tail Cast On: How many times have you attempted to cast on using the long tail method and either overestimated or underestimated the length of yarn required to achieve the total number of stitches?  Its a frustrating way to start a new project and a time waster.

Instead of playing ‘yarn chicken’ try the two ball approach.  Pull a length of yarn from each ball and hold together (or use the center pull and outside end of one ball), make a slip knot four to six inches in from the end.  Now separate the two lengths to position one around the finger and one around the thumb.  This way you can cast on to your heart’s content and simply cut off the extra yarn as you begin the first row.  See video tutorial here.  

6. Jogless Stripes: The problem with knitting stripes in the round is the unsightly step where the two colours meet.  No matter how tightly you knit across this transition point, the jog remains.

This is a simple issue to resolve by first knitting one round in the new colour.  Before starting the next round, lift the righthand side of the stitch directly below the first stitch onto the left needle.  Knit this loop together with the first stitchSee video tutorial here.

7. The Final Hurrah:  You have reached the finish line!  Casting off the last stitch is always a reason to celebrate.  At the end of the row, do you make a slip knot from the last stitch to secure the tail?  This creates an unnecessary knot that can be difficult to hide in the seam especially if your chosen yarn is thick and bulky. 

A more polished way to finish off  the final stitch is to cut the yarn leaving a lengthy end and pull the loop upwards until the end comes through creating just a single tail. 

8. Lifelines:  Making a mistake in a knitting pattern is not the end of the world but having to rip out row after row can seem like a real setback.  A lifeline may easily become your new best friend.  Its just a contrast yarn worked into the knitting in order to save the stitches directly below the mistake which will make them easier to pick up on the needle. 

See tutorial here.  

9. Colour Coded Cables: Following a charted pattern with many different cables and twists can be daunting to say the least.  Each symbol so closely resembles the next and precious knitting time is lost trying to decipher each one at a glance.

This is where highlighters come in handy, buy a pack with as many assorted colours as you can find.  Enlarging the chart is the first step, and then simply colour code each symbol with the corresponding ones on the chart.  Not only will you have an attractive looking pattern, just watch how quickly your eyes recognize the difference between each cable. 

10. Hiding The Purl Wraps: Wrapping and turning has become standard practice in today’s knitting patterns, especially when it comes to creating shaping in collars or shawls.  Learning the w&t technique is quite simple and well-explained in most patterns however there is still the process of hiding the wraps on the purl row that has many mystified. 

See video tutorial here.   

Knitting Lingo

Sunday, August 2nd, 2015

Is there a secret code in the world of knitting?  In order to fully relate to other knitters, who knew we had to learn not only the written pattern abbreviations but also the hidden meanings of acronyms currently winging their way around online knit n chat groups, ravelry forums, and any other chicks with sticks get-togethers.  Is it just a matter of convenience?  Or is this new-fangled lingo designed to create a close-knit society who can essentially communicate in a secret language?


Here are sixteen of the most common knitting acronyms decoded-

FO – Finished Object (newly finished project).

FOTN – Fresh Off The Needles (the needles are still warm to the touch).

ISO In Search Of (a term often used on ravelry to signify a yarn search between knitters).

KAL – Knit A Long (a project worked on at the same time by a group of knitters).

KIP Knit in Public (taking a project to the streets).

LYS – Local Yarn Shop (better than any ice cream or candy shop).

LYSO – Local Yarn Shop Owner (that special someone who gets to rule the yarn castle).

MKAL Mystery Knit A Long (an organized group project especially popular on ravelry with a series of clues posted over a designated time period).

OTN On The Needles (current project).

SABLE Stash Acquisition Beyond Life Expectancy (never enough yarn!).

SIP – Sock In Progress (most current sock project).

SSS – Second Sock Syndrome (just like a virus, it hits every sock knitter at some point).

TINK (KNIT spelled backwards, refers to using both needles to un-knit a project one stitch at a time in order to repair a mistake.  Not to be confused with FROGGING, the rip-it, rip-it method of unraveling stitches row-by-row).

TU – Toe Up (a specific type of sock pattern).

UFO – UnFinished Object (the ‘never speak of it again’ project that hides in the shadows).

WIP Work in Progress (a current project).

Picking vs Throwing

Sunday, May 24th, 2015

“Are you a picker or a thrower?”  Try posing this question as an icebreaker at your next knitting-related gathering.  You may get a few puzzled looks or an answer pertaining to baseball but the majority of knitters know that there is a great divide when it comes to technique.  Although there is virtually no difference to the finished work, there is a huge distinction in the appearance and actual method of achieving that end result and a great deal of controversy over which method is the fastest.

Picking is the term which refers to Continental knitting, and involves the use of the opposite hand (usually the left) to hold the yarn.  The tip of the working needle grabs or ‘picks’ the yarn while the left index finger acts as a lever to regulate tension by holding the yarn slightly up to tighten and down to slacken the stitch.  The wrist is constantly in motion flicking forwards for purl position and backwards for knit.  Hands are situated over the needles and there is a strong resemblance to crochet which makes it easier for dual crafters to adopt this style.  Originating in Germany, Continental knitting made its way to surrounding countries in the early nineteenth century and eventually to North America where Elizabeth Zimmermann was instrumental in its introduction.

Continental Knitting Method

Continental Knitting Method

Throwing refers to the method of English knitting which consists of the yarn being held in the dominant hand (usually the right).  The yarn runs from the ball around the baby finger and is wrapped over the index finger for tension control.  An overhand position on the needles is generally more favorable although some knitters prefer an underhand hold for support.  To create a stitch, the right hand moves upward reaching to ‘throw’ the yarn over the tip of the needle.  This can be achieved by quickly releasing the right hand from its hold on the needle or with a bit of practice by sliding the hand along the shaft of the needle.

English Knitting Method

English Knitting Method

The Switch: There is always a fair bit of wiggle room for improving your knitting technique, and the payoff for learning both the Continental and the English method comes when you are working in fairisle.  With practice and patience, holding one strand in the right and one strand in the left hand will vastly improve speed, plus the notorious tangled mess will be eliminated.  If its just overall speed that you are hoping to achieve, then this instructional video on Continental knitting is a great place to start as well as signing up for a hands-on workshop at your local yarn shop.

Tip: To learn the Continental method try working on a sample in the round first, practicing just the knit stitch for a few days and then attempt the purl stitch on its own for a few days.

Wet Blocking Vs Steam Blocking

Saturday, April 20th, 2013

Congratulations!  The final stitch on your latest knitting project has just been cast off, now what?  Before you sew your seams together, take time for one of the most important steps in finishing a garment, blocking, which will shape and mold your knitted pieces to correspond with the actual measurements given on the pattern schematics.  This will make a huge difference to the overall look, from homemade to professional with just a few simple materials that you may already have at home.  Set up an area with a table to work on, and gather together the following supplies, a tape measure, rustproof pins (T-pins are preferable), a few large towels to use as a blocking pad, spray bottle filled with water, steam iron, and a linen or cotton tea towel.  The next step is crucial, choosing wet blocking vs steam blocking.  To decide which method is most suitable for your project, check the fibre content on the ball band and match to the chart below.  If in doubt, test a small swatch first, any yarns that contain synthetics should be wet blocked, as the heat from a steam iron will damage these fibres.  Both blocking methods require pinning the garment pieces so they will measure out to the required sizing.

Wet Blocking- fold a few towels to create a soft pad and pin your garment pieces in place.  Choose either a spray bottle filled with cool water or a large damp towel as your blocking tool.  Both work equally well, it is a matter of personal preference.  Wet the pieces thoroughly with either the spray bottle or the damp towel.  Leave overnight to dry.

Steam Blocking- fold a few towels to create a soft pad and pin your garment pieces in place.  Set your iron to the lowest steam setting, hold slightly above the pinned garment pieces, and rotate in a circular motion without touching the fabric.  The steam will dampen the pieces without pressing.  If your work requires a light pressing, make sure a linen or cotton tea towel is used as a pressing cloth to avoid direct contact with the fabric.  Leave pins in position until pieces are thoroughly dry.  Drying time is much quicker with this method.


Angora-   Wet block by spraying

Cotton-  Wet block or warm/hot steam block

Linen-  Wet block or warm/hot steam block

Lurex-  Do not block 

Mohair-  Wet block by spraying

Novelties-  Do not require blocking

Synthetics-  Carefully follow instructions on ball band- wet block by spraying, do not press

Wool-  Wet block by spraying or warm steam block

Wool blends-  Wet block by spraying, do not press


The Allure Of Alpaca

Wednesday, June 9th, 2010

With jet black eyes shyly hidden behind a ‘mop top’ reminiscent of the Beatles era, its no wonder these gentle creatures capture our hearts at first glance.  Alpacas are cousins to both llamas and camels, native to Peru where they existed for thousands of years raised purely for their luxurious fibre.  In the late 1880’s, a British wool importer noticed the unusually soft and glossy fibre tucked inside a sheep wool shipment from Peru, and promptly launched the introduction of alpaca wool to the European market.  It wasn’t until the 1990’s that the first of five hundred alpacas made their debut in Canada, highly regarded as sustainable farm animals requiring very little maintenance, and leaving a gentle footprint on the environment.  Naturally inquisitive and social, alpacas get along well with other farm animals, and are exceptionally clean, able to adapt to almost any terrain or climate.  They are quiet animals, communicating with a gentle humming sound within the herd.  

Mop Top Alpaca

There are two very distinct types of alpacas- Suri and Huacaya.  The Suri breed has long straight locks and a noticeably silky lustre, yielding a highly prized fleece.  Suris make up less than twenty percent of the world’s alpaca population.  Huacaya is the more common breed with a full coat of soft crinkly fleece that fluffs outwards in a teddy bear- like appearance.  Over eighty thousand pounds of this buttery soft fleece is sheared in Canada each spring, processed into rovings, batts, felt and spun into luxury yarns, blending easily with silk, bamboo, linen, cotton, and mohair.

Huacaya Alpacas

Alpaca fleece is quite different from that of a sheep.  It is a hollow fibre containing no lanolin which makes it hypoallergenic.  Exceeding sheep wool in strength and resilience, alpaca is highly rated for its thermal value, drapes well in knitwear, and is very lightweight.  The only animal to come in so many colours, alpacas range from jet black, to black-brown, beige, fawn, silvery grey, to creamy white, a total of twenty-two officially recognised colours.   White remains the most desired colour for yarn manufacturers as it readily accepts dye.  

Suri Alpaca

Close Up of Suri Fleece

The popularity of these adorable animals continues to grow with hobby farmers, as one couple remarked, “we started with a pair of alpacas as pets, and in just three years we had a herd of thirty seven, they are hard to resist with their sweet disposition and charm.”      

Qina by Mirasol- baby alpaca and bamboo sourced viscose

Mainland by Earth Collection- baby alpaca and silk

Alpaca Silk Aran by Debbie Bliss

Suri Prism by Diamond Luxury Collection- suri alpaca and nylon

Captivated By Katia

Monday, May 31st, 2010

In Barcelona, a city richly flavored in culture and fashion, well-known for its impressive vistas from hilltops sloping gently towards the Mediterranean Sea, one yarn company has stood the test of time.  For close to sixty years, Katia has spun out innovative yarns, reviving the industry with trend-setting styles based upon European design.  The Katia team has built a solid reputation with quality products that grace the shelves of yarn stores in more than forty countries from Austria to Costa Rica, Guadelope to Hong Kong, and all points in between.  

Katia publishes ten design catalogues a year, focusing on handknitting patterns for babies, children, teens and adults.  A company remaining true to its name, Katia (translates as ‘pure’ in English) sticks with a proven formula that works, covering the gamut from posh elegance to relaxed sportswear as effortlessly as winding yarn around a needle.

For the coming season, Katia pumps up the volume with polar weight yarns  in solid and multi coloured shades, and reaches to deeper depths with smoky hues in self-striping wool blends.  Metallics glisten and gleam in the evening light in shades of silver, black and indigo.  Novelty yarns are puffed up with eye-catching texture displaying remarkable ingenuity from a company that doesn’t hold back when it comes to raising the bar.  Have a glimpse at some of the highlights from Katia’s Collection for Autumn/Winter 2010-2011 and see what catches your eye.

Fabula by Katia

Fabuliscious Fabula!  A polar weight yarn in pure superwash wool, this cowl neck pullover from Katia Book #63 will look great in a range of self-shading colours- red, magenta, teal, charcoal, or denim blue.  Don’t worry about the length of time it takes to knit on 9 mm needles, with nine shades to choose from, it will take much longer just deciding on which colour.

Memory by Katia

The warmth of Autumn is spun into Memory, a supersoft chunky wool blend that balances somewhere between a tweed and a self-striping yarn blending brights and darks together.   No need to sort these colours out before washing, its all in the mix.  This pullover stands out in Katia Book #63 with its unusual ribbed waistband ruched into a front cable panel.   

Alhambra by Katia

A little bit of shimmer goes a long way with Alhambra, an elegant new yarn combining ribbon and just a sliver of mohair for a subtle hazy effect.   This one knits as a chunky weight on 7 mm needles in seven fanciful shades for all out glamour- teal, charcoal, taupe, pearl grey, navy, burgundy and black.

Alhambra by Katia

Alhambra by Katia

Another two alluring styles from Katia Book #63 in Alhambra, a classic cap sleeve with a shawl collar in deep and mysterious teal blue warms up nicely with matching arm warmers.  Cool evenings are all wrapped up in a butterfly stitch shawl in charcoal black. 

Azteca by Katia

Azteca is back again with twenty-one inspiring colourways, the magic of stripes appearing in every ball of this popular aran weight yarn.  In a comfortable blend of wool and acrylic, this simple to knit cardigan with deep pockets from Katia Book #64 shows off the rustic shades of Autumn in the country.    

Azteca by Katia

If you prefer more slimming lines, knit vertically from side to side and add the ribbed border afterwards.  Its a super easy slipover vest that highlights the amazing colourways of Azteca

Illusion by Katia

Make this Illusion a reality in a fiery shade of red.  Its a headturner, a classic swing coat, lightweight and warm enough for gusty Autumn days in a delicate blend of superkid mohair, merino wool and a touch of nylon for durability.  With eighteen shades to choose from, in lively brights and subtle neutrals, why limit yourself to just being a lady in red.

The History Of Noro

Saturday, April 10th, 2010

‘The World Of Nature’ is the simple and intriguing caption on every brightly coloured ball of Noro yarn.  For thirty-five years, these four little words remain the constant heartfelt message from the founder of  Japan’s most innovative yarn company-  Eisaku Noro.  He is a true pioneer with an impressive artistic vision and the sincerest admiration for nature.      

Eisaku Noro

Eisaku grew up in the province of Mie, with nature right at the doorstep.  The Yoshino-Kumano National Park became his playground, an unspoiled primitive forest where he spent many hours fishing in the crystal clear waters of the Miya River, hiking in nearby mountains, and occasionally glimpsing Mount Fiji off in the distance.  His deep respect for nature developed at an early age, while later in school, he discovered an interest in art.  It is both of these great passions that he holds dear and credits as the basis for his life’s work, “I think everything I saw in my childhood was blended in my mind, and spins out whenever I need inspiration for my work.”  In his mid-teens, Eisaku began to study and learn the process of spinning and dyeing yarns. 

It wasn’t until well into his 30’s that he made the leap and started his own company- Noro, implementing all the techniques he had learned, as well as pioneering earth-friendly methods into the manufacturing process.  “For more than thirty years, we have been only using natural fibres, seeking colour with the vitality of nature,” states Mr. Noro in his mission statement.  Fibres are gathered from around the world- silk, kid mohair, pima cotton, and sheep wool which is primarily grown on a large ranch in Adelaide, Australia.  No agricultural chemicals are used and the wool fibres must pass strict standards to become certified organic before shipping to Japan.  All fibres are hand cleaned of debris without the use of chemicals or machinery, in order to keep the natural properties intact. 

Colour Selection Table

Raw fibres go through an individual colouring process within large vats where the temperature is set moderately cool to prevent damage.  After a spin dry cycle in a second vat, the newly dyed fibres are arranged by hand, carded and slowly spun into ‘slivers’.  These irregular combinations of short and long fibres are blended not twisted to retain a thick and thin handspun quality.  An array of slivers are gently spun together according to the Noro palette, to produce the amazing colourways we have all come to know and love.  

winding the slivers

steam setting the colours

spinning machine

Noro has set industry standards many years ago, leading the way with its green approach to preserving the environment.  Metal dyes are not part of the colouring process, and more than fifty percent of the cardboard used for yarn coning, as well as packing materials is from recycled sources.  By modifying the spinning machine used in production to run at a slower speed, hydro usage is reduced by more than twenty percent.

AYA- Book #27

FURIN Book #27

Eisaku Noro is well into his seventies now, involved with all the day to day operations at the company headquarters.  His lifelong dream to bring nature together with the world of yarn has been accomplished, “although it is difficult to reproduce our thoughts into colour, we are happy with the results.”

Within every ball of Noro yarn is a rainbow of possibilities. 

(Images courtesy of