KNIT HACK Sweater Lab Prep



Sweater Lab TONIGHT

Our inaugural Sweater Lab ( in collaboration with Your Fiber Intake) starts TONIGHT! Since it’s a bit of an experiment for us, we don’t know what the result will be, but I think everyone will have fun, so it should be a success. For those of you who have already made a sweater, you don’t really need any prep, but for the uninitiated, I’d like to offer a bit of guidance. For more info on Sweater Lab, follow this MAGIC LINK (or click on the picture or any of the other links).

So You’ve Never Made a Sweater Before ….

DON’T PANIC … You don’t need to be afraid. It’s just a garment, and the pattern tells you how to do it, step by step. When you don’t know what a term or abbreviation means you can look it up on the internet. If you are old skool, you can look it up in a book, like The Principles of Knitting by June Hemmons Hiatt, The Knitter’s Companion by Vicky Square, or The Ultimate Knitting Book by Vogue Knitting.

Choose a Pattern

You need a pattern. I suggest going for something basic, something vetted, and something worked in the round.

BASIC … seems obvious, and yet many people make their lives difficult by taking on something more involved. Why do they do this, they get caught up in the *idea* of the finished product; they want it to be perfect and ideal for their taste. Let go of that, it’s your first sweater, not your last. It doesn’t need to be ideal, it just needs to be a sweater. Moreover, I have found that people are less likely to complete their projects when they contain a lot of barriers. Newbies with simpler projects tend to learn faster, have more success with their project and ENJOY THE PROCESS.

VETTED … this means a pattern that is written by a professional designer and has already been made by many people. For the following example, I’ll use FLAX by Tin Can Knits.  You can find the latter on Ravelry; go to a pattern, and click on the PROJECTS tab at the top of the page. It will show you all the projects people have made with the pattern. If you go to the drop-down menu that ways FILTER THESE PROJECTS you can refine your search to ALL HELPFUL PROJECTS. The little life preserver at the top right of each project indicates the number of people who found this project helpful. Presently, it is not possible to sort the projects by ‘Most Helpful’, so you have to troll through the projects to find one that is useful.

IN THE ROUND … I primarily prefer sweaters worked in the round (top-down) for newbies because they usually have minimal finishing, especially seaming. For newbies, seaming tends to be a barrier to actually finishing a project, and a bad seaming job decreases satisfaction with the project. Now, I’m not saying *never* make a seamed sweater, quite the opposite, there’s nothing sexier than old-fashioned set-in sleeves. You do not need to be afraid of or avoid seaming, but on your first sweater making a project in one piece tends to end with more Joy and less frustration. This goes back to our first principle, go for Basic andENJOY THE PROCESS.

TENSION … choose a pattern that is worked with a yarn that is a worsted to chunky weight (between 20 to 14 stitches over 4 inches/10cm). Going thinner or thicker seems to make life difficult, and decreases the success of the project.

Suggested Patterns

The following are all basic garments, are written by professionals, have clear instructions, and are worked in the round, from the top-down.


Choose a Yarn

A few considerations on choosing the yarn for your first sweater …

TENSION … make sure your yarn matches the stitch tension in your pattern or is close (within one stitch over 4″/10cm).

DURABILITY … you may be ripping back your work a few times, DO choose a yarn that has some durability and won’t get mucky with a lot of handling. Single ply yarns do not tend to wear well, no matter the price-point, they end up looking mungy very quickly. Multi-ply yarns tend to fare better. Super scratchy wool yarns tend to be very durable, super soft yarns tend to start pilling WHILE you are knitting. My best advice is to find something in-between. By the way, durability is also beneficial once you’re finished and will add to the longevity of the garment.

FIBRE …DO choose a fibre you enjoy, but DO NOT choose a fibre that is hard to work with. A 100% wool like Cascade 220 Superwash or Cascade Eco are ideal; they work up easily, wear well, and are cost effective. Wool blends are also suitable, like Berroco Vintage or Berroco Vintage Chunky; both knit well, wear well, and are machine washable, and people are rarely allergic to it. If you need a cooler yarn, try a cotton/synthetic blend like Cascade Avalon.  Fibres that are unpredictable or hard to work with include alpaca (and other camelids), linen, pure cotton, mohair, viscose (and other cellulose plant-based fibres like bamboo), and 100% synthetic yarns.

COLOUR … choose whatever colour makes you happy (solid, heathered, tweed, variegated, self-striping), but don’t choose something that is very dark. Dark colours will make it hard to see what you are doing, and this could prove to be a very bad thing on a project where you don’t really know what to expect.

PRICE … this is a touchy subject, especially since I’m the one selling the yarn and you are the one who has to actually shell out your hard earned cash. You don’t need to lay out a ton of money for a good yarn, but when it comes to cheap yarns, you get what you pay for. Actually, you often get less than what you paid for. The retail garment industry has decreased our awareness of (and exposure to) good textiles, and as a consequence, many people aren’t familiar with quality textiles or their market prices. Quality textiles are more expensive than you expect, you’re might experience a little bit of sticker shock. From my perspective, I’ve found that people who use a decent yarn enjoy their project more, it is more successful, they actually finish it, they like and use the finished product, and they enjoy the process.

Suggested Yarns


I think that’s about all I can handle writing (and you can read) right now, but I promise to follow this post up with a very exciting discussion on SWATCHING! (No, seriously, it’s REALLY important. You need to swatch, and you need to swatch properly).

CLEARANCE 30% off Wollmeise

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All of our Rohrspatz & Wollmeise is on FINAL CLEARANCE! It’s beautiful, but it didn’t work out for us, and it needs happy new homes. We’ve dropped the price, it’s ALL now 30% Off – get it while it lasts!

RESTOCKED Addi Flexi Flips!

addi flexiflips BLOG

Addi FlexiFlips

Cast-on to an effortless new method of knitting socks, cuffs, hats, and many of other projects which are worked in the round, with the addi® FlexiFlips. Made specifically for North America, these specially designed 21cm circulars (3.5″ tips with 1″ cord) rest comfortably in the hand, and act as flexible double pointed needles. Easy to use, stitches are simply distributed over two needles, and then knit with the third – resulting in only two needle changes per row.

Featuring the same dual-tip design as the popular addi® FlipStix, the FlexiFlips feature both an addi® Rocket tip and an addi Turbo® tip. You will always have the right needle, when you need it. Overly versatile, FlexiFlips also make great cable needles.

Shop Online Button Turquoise 250w


NEW Handmaiden Casbah 5ply Gradient Wrap Kits

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Handmaiden Casbah 5Ply Gradient Wrap Kits

Soft and luxurious, Cashbah 5 Ply is a wonderful DK weight yarn made with cashmere and merino! These gradient sets transition from one skein to another naturally, and have an amazing depth to their colours. Each skein is 82m(87 yards)/50g (80% merino, 10% Cashmere, 10% Nylon). Made in Canada. Each kit is individually dyed, no two are exactly alike, images may vary a bit.

Kit Contains

  • 5 skeins of Casbah 5ply yarn (398m total)
  • Pattern

Shop Online Button Turquoise 250w

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Handmaiden casbah 5ply wrap kit COMBO.jpg


holiday sale 2017 BLOG

Our annual Holiday sale starts December 21st and lasts until January 7th!  Select products will be reduced 20%, and yarns in our Clearance section are an ADDITIONAL 20% Off (including Wollmeise)!


NEW Sweater Lab



Sweater Lab

We think the new year is the perfect time to try new things, and in collaboration with Your Fiber Intake, we’re trying something new too – we call it Sweater Lab! The Lab is a place for independent knitters to meet and learn together; socialize, network and try something new.

The Lab is kind of like a Knit-Along – we’re all in it together, supporting each other – except everyone chooses the project they want to work on, at their own personal skill level. For our inaugural outing, we’re going to work on a sweater!

Sweater Lab is FREE, but it is NOT a class, it’s a collaborative, community experience. If you need extra help, one-on-one instruction is available during Sweater Lab for $4.97(+tax)/15 minutes. We’ll also offer FREE suggestions on patterns, yarns and other materials, as well as taking your measurements, swatching, and other support you’ll need to get your project off the ground.

  • Wednesday nights from 6pm to 8pm, January 17 to February 28, 2018
  • Drop-in, no need to sign up
  • Everyone is welcome, all skill levels
  • Location: 1382 Bathurst St, Toronto ON

Note: If you need more instruction than provided at The Lab we also offer conventional workshops, as well as one-on-one instruction at reasonable rates.  

A Holiday Gift For YOU

I’ve owned a knitting store for over 13 years, and I’ve been teaching knitters since it’s inception. I no longer teach group classes, but I’ve always done plenty of one-on-one instruction. I’ve observed a few things about learning knitting & crochet over the years, and my holiday gift to you is I’m going to share some of it ….

The Most Important ‘Thing’ For Knitters & Crocheters

YOU. The ‘thing’ that is most overlooked and neglected is you. You thought I was going to say some kind of gadget that’s trending on Instagram? Nope, your mind is the most important thing you bring to the table. And it’s also not why you think either. I’m not talking about your analytical skills like math or problem solving, or your visual or spatial skills (I’m actually utterly spatially inept), it isn’t the conventional brain stuff I’m after. I’m talking about the part of you that is YOU, your ‘self’, your feelings.

Now, you’re probably saying to yourself “she just lost me, this chick is getting into some serious off-road, wavy-gravy, crunchy-granola material. What’s next, is she going to try and sell me some kind of crystal which will ‘purportedly’ improve my knitting?” Believe me, I totally get you,  I can be a bit of a cynic myself, but please bear with me, I’m going somewhere good, and there won’t be any sales pitches. 

Back to feelings …. (are you humming the song in your head? I am too, I’m sorry about that, my bad) … when I’m teaching, the thing I notice most often is that people are unaware of their feelings, and boy, when people knit, A LOT of feelings come out! Knitting is one of those things in life that people take really seriously, but they absolutely don’t have to. If you botch a stitch or a project or a row, NOTHING is going to happen. You won’t lose your job, muck up your relationship, screw up your kids, default on the mortgage, total your car, fail your class, bankrupt your business, etc. None of the important choices you have to make in life is going to be touched.  Whatever it is that you fear/hate/avoid, it isn’t on the line.

Kind of liberating, isn’t it? When you make a mistake in your knitting, it doesn’t mean ANYTHING. Nothing, nada. It’s just an experience, a process of creating a textile, learning a set of skills, and you can choose two actions:

1. Rip it back and try to do it again, working over and over until your master that micro-skill.

2. Live with it and forge forward, potentially experiencing new things.

Either way, you’ll get to the same place, a textile. The first option is generally more common, but sometimes I meet people in the second group. Whichever side you land on, I generally suggest you try the other to help balance yourself out.

Which leads to my second point … Knitting seems to be a microcosm for of all kinds of feelings we have about ourselves. When I’m teaching, all kinds of stuff comes out in people. I’m constantly amazed by what I learn about the human condition while teaching people what to do with sticks and string. There’s often a lot of insecurity and self-doubt, but at the core of it, I see FEAR. And that’s absolutely ok, fear is kind of a big part of being human, it’s built into us.

So what do I do when these things surface with my clients? I remind them that it’s only a textile, it’s only a hobby skill they’re learning, and nothing is on the line. I remind them that everyone starts as a beginner, that everyone learns at their own pace, that it takes ten thousand hours to master a skill. I tell them that their ‘performance’ as a knitter doesn’t have any bearing on who they are, it doesn’t mean anything.

Now here’s the big stretch in our little yoga class …. if knitting is a microcosm for all kinds of feelings, if none of it matters and it won’t have an impact on any of the important parts of your life, then it is also an excellent place to experiment with those feelings. Feelings exist for a reason, they’re our friends, they exist to help us. So whatever comes up, say ‘hi’ to it, and if you are feeling brave you might even want to get to know it. If it’s a positive feeling you’ll experience some extra happy (who doesn’t want more of that?), and if it’s an uncomfortable feeling you’ll learn something about yourself, possibly something that’s been getting in your way.

So what does this have to do with actual skills, how is this an actual tool? Well, the uncomfortable stuff holds people back, it blocks them. It makes them learn slower, and it makes the learning process harder. It makes people uncertain about choosing a yarn, a colour, the right needles, the right pattern. It makes them scared to try a new technique, learn a new skill, use Ravelry, try a project outside of their comfort zone. It keeps people knitting scarves for a decade, it makes people afraid to try making a sweater/socks/mitts/cables, it keeps people in a comfortable little rut where they make the same sweater over, and over, and over again.

If you can clear out some of the uncomfortable stuff you’ll start to try new things, you won’t get hung up or held back, you’ll see things you didn’t notice before, you’ll enjoy things you didn’t before, you’ll learn faster, and you’ll be happier with your projects. You’ll become braver, you’ll become more intuitive, and you’ll become more comfortable with your uncomfortable feelings.

DON’T LET FEAR INFORM YOUR CHOICES. It’s only a TEXTILE, it doesn’t mean anything, it doesn’t have any bearing on who you are. And for goodness sake, please remind yourself of how beautiful you are, because YOU are.

With all my Love,