Four Super Simple Travel Knits

travel-friendly patterns for youWhether you are chillin’ by the Dead Sea, campin’ by the Bow River, or browsing though Parisian flea markets, these free patterns are prefect lil’ thangs for your next trip.

Skyping Beanie by Halldora J – a great hat with an X shaped crown for guys n’ gals

Nick Cowl by Heidi Kirrmaier – a clean, clever cowl with a sporty drawstring

Seedy Bow Band by Courtney Spainhower – A bit of whimsy and cute to pack in your travel bag.

Simple Sideways Triangle Scarf by Churchmouse Yarns and Teas – So simple and brilliant that you could make this in your sleep.

As always, STASH provides one-on-one pattern assistance so if you need yarn ideas or needles, pop by and ask for help!

Knitting tips for travellers

One of the most-asked questions at STASH is “Can I fly with knitting needles?” The answer is YES! The Canadian Air Transport Security Authority (CATSA) allows knitting needles, but security screeners may not like what they see in your kit. CATSA outlines what you can bring on planes

Here are some general tips to make your travel knitting go smoothly and not involve an argument at the security gate…

1. Use bamboo or wood needles. Unlike metal needles, these needles do NOT look like horrible weapons when scanned in your carry on or luggage. I once brought size 15 mm 16″ long circular metal Addi Turbo needles across the country with me and security searched my carry on Every. Single. Time. I have never had trouble with bamboo or wood needles. Even interchangeable metal tips have known to be problematic, so go natural for travelling.

tips for travelling with knitting needles2. Use circulars if possible. Circulars are shorter and easier to pack than straight needles. They don’t look like foot long weapons. They don’t poke the person sitting next to you on the plane. Best of all, you can’t DROP a needle that is attached by a cord to its mate. I dropped a double point needle once on the plane and it rolled TWO aisles away – awk-waaaard! Also, you can knit flat on circular needles, they are not just for kntting awesome tubes.

3. Pick smaller projects. As much as we love super bulky yarns at STASH they are simply not practical for travel knits. Instead pick a smaller gauge of yarn such as worsted, dk, or sock. Sweater projects are another no-no – they eat up precious luggage space that is really needed for souvenir yarn purchases during your trip to Turkey!

4. Find a small, thin, project bag for your knitting. Not only can needles roll around on a plane, your ball of yarn can go rogue too! Reign that yarn in with a cloth project bag that you can dangle from your wrist or elbow rest.

5. Pack multiple paper copies of your pattern. When travelling it is a bad idea to rely on your iPad as a pattern source – batteries can go dead and even paper copies can go missing so keep a spare pattern in your checked luggage. That way you don’t loose your marbles when the main pattern inevitably disappears on the streets of Prague, or is left on a picnic table in Jasper.

6. Pick a simple pattern. The project needs to be a bit mindless so that distractions like mariachi bands or breaching whales don’t knock you off kilter if you look up and enjoy the view from the Eiffel Tower. Also, counting sucks when on a crowded subway in Tokyo.

7. Never pack scissors. I once had Transport Canada’s rules printed off and with me and security still would not let me carry through a pair of children’s scissors. I’m going to point out that said scissors were designed so that CHILDREN could not hurt themselves, but evidently they were still considered a risk to national security. STASH cutters are a great option because they do not have an open blade, making them flight-friendly!

8. The rules are different in every country. What swings in Canada may not jive in Croatia, so familiarize yourself with airport rules at any exotic locale to which you travel. That, or brush up on your Hindi phrases so that you can attempt to explain knitting to a security guard in a foreign land.

Inspired to knit while travelling? Check out our blog post of STASH’s top four traveling-friendly patterns for summer!

Stay Cool, Peeps!

A free pattern roundup for cool knitters at STASH

First, we picked through Ravelry to find you some sweet knitting patterns that will keep your mind in cool places! Second, STASH has kickass air conditioning. Finally, Frozen Assets Ice Cream will be on deck on Sundays and some Thursdays through the summer (follow ‘em on Twitter to get the scoop on their locations all week long! Get it? Scoop? )…

Scooped - Knit yer’ own ice cream cone with this free pattern by Marcie by Nishioka.

Ice Cream Sandwiches by Ilana Marks- Another free pattern? Yes please! Ice cream sandwiches are our fave.

Light Sword Freeze Pop Cozy – A free crochet pattern so that your Mr. Freeze can double as a light sword while you enjoy gmomming on it without having a cold hand! Genius.

Water Bottle Sling – Lug around refreshing aqua with this crocheted sling, a free pattern by Nicola Newington.

A Sun Hat by Kristi Pyatt – Warning, this is cute as all heck, and free to boot.

So stay cool, crafty peeps!

P.S. Did you know that Ravelry has an entire category called “Food Cozy”?! High five, Ravelry for being on TOP of THAT.

Don’t know what to knit with DK?

Passe-partout shawl, on Ravelry

So now that DK yarns have inspired us,  it’s time explore the PLETHORA of wicked patterns that are so awesome that it sort of freaks us out. Here you go!

 

Civilized peeps might want to knit up this lovely, textured shawl called “Passe-partout” by Maanel… 

 

 

 

Grey Loop Cowl by Helen G on Ravelry

 

Boho peeps may want to knit up this double-length “Grey Loop” cowl by Helen G

 

 

 

Simple Knit Shrug by Purl Avenue  on Ravelry

 

Chilly peeps could really use this beautiful “Simple Knit Shrug” by Purl Avenue...

 

 

 

 

 

 

Teensy little mini-peeps would probably love to wiggle around in this “Baby hat with Top Knot” by Julie Taylor…

 

 

Granny Stripes blanket by Anna of Attic24 on Ravelry

 

Peeps with magical crochet skills could wow us with the “Granny Stripes” blanket by Lucy of Attic24… 

 

The Down Low about DK

Don’t know about DK? Here’s the low down for ya’ on the down low!

This time of year it can be refreshing to knit with a yarn that is not too heavy, and DK is a popular choice in the summer months.

So here is a total overview of ALL yarns at STASH that has which fall into the territory that we call DK!

 

 

Wooly Natural Knitting by DMC at STASHWooly Natural Knitting by DMC
100% superwash merino wool
$11 for 125m/50g

This yarn is super-new and super squishy. We are excited to have this yarn because it has a very similar look and feel to Sirdar Sublime yet it is a superwash yarn – making it infinitely more practical to use and care for as a baby item!

 

Tosh DK is available at STASHTosh DK by Madeline Tosh
100% superwash merino wool
$27 for 206m/100g

If you have never gazed in wonder at the beauty of a skein of Tosh then you have never lived. Hyperbole aside, Tosh DK is a springy, perky yarn with great stitch definition and is highly sought after by knitting enthusiasts around the world.

 

Rylie by Hikoo is available at STASHRylie by Kikoo
50% baby alpaca, 25% linen, 25% mulberry silk
$33 for 250m/100g

This is the kind of yarn that, if you pick it up to hold it, you will not want to put it down. Instead, you will walk around squishing and fondling the skein in absurd and possibly inappropriate ways. Just sayin’. With a fiber content like this, Rylie has a drape and hang unlike any other DK at STASH.

 

Fine Merino Superwash dk is available at STASHFine Merino Superwash DK by Diamond Lux
100% fine merino superwash wool
$8 for 125m/50g

Extremely soft and well priced, Diamond Lux has created a beautiful DK superwash in a vibrant range of bejeweled colours. Also good for kiddo items, it knits up neatly and wears well.

 


Yarn Ink is available at STASHSuperwash DK by Yarn Ink

100% superwash wool
$28 for 229m/100g

Hand dyed by local artist Yarn Ink, this Superwash DK comes in fantastical and fun colours that tugs at our heartstrings. Highly variegated and clever colourways mean that you will have tough time choosing just one skein.

 

Abracadabra by Hikoo is available at STASHAbracadabra by Hikoo
35% superwash merino, 50% polypropylene, 15% nylon
$15 for 91m/50g

This yarn changes to PINK when exposed to the sun. Seriously. As if this yarn isn’t crazy enough, it is also available in purple!  How does this work? Here at STASH, we assume that it involves combing the mane of a unicorn.

 


High Twist by Rain City Knits at STASHHigh Twist DK by Rain City Knits

100% superwash Merino
$24 for 211m/100g

Each skein is individually hand-dyed with love in Vancouver, BC and we couldn’t be more pleased with the results! Rain City knits won us over with their bold, bright, retina-burning pallette of colours at Knit City, and we have been big fans ever since.

 

Eco Andean by Estelle is available at STASHEco Andean DK Wool by Estelle
100% eco andean highland wool
$11 for 350m/100g

First, that is some crazy awesome meterage for 100 grams of yarn. Second, as an undyed, eco product the Eco Andean DK is a great choice for any knitter wishing to tread lightly on this earth while knitting like a fiend.

Are you inspired? Then check out our post of excellent FREE patterns to knit with DK!

The Sparrow has landed

Sparrow linen at STASH in Calgary

Quince & Company is pretty cautious about the expansion of their yarn lines so when STASH was approached to carry their linens, we breathed into a paper bag for a few minutes then pulled ourselves together and said “why that would be lovely!” and promptly ordered EVERY COLOUR AVAILABLE.

So now we carry all of the Quince & Co Sparrow linen and Kestrel linen and it is even more beautiful in person than we could ever imagine!

Linen is a funny thing – it starts out sort of rigid but it softens up with handling. And then when you block it, this yarn is ALL kinds of CRAZY.

Quince & Co has the most beautiful patterns available for purchase online and we already have whipped up the  Lineal Cardigan in Sparrow in Pink Grapefruit and the result makes our knees weak. The sample will be available for viewing in the shop by the end of the month.

We are also loving the two-skein project Strathcona Scarf by Jane Richmond, it is on Veronica’s needles and we will share the results as soon as it is complete!

 

Swatches & Gauge for the Uninitiated

Mr. T knits swatches, he don't mess around

Some knitters never knit a swatch; some knitters are fanatical about swatches. At STASH, we believe in moderation and like to test gauge in the following situations:

  • If the finished piece needs to fit a human being
  • If the finished piece needs to fit a fur baby
  • If we are not really sure if the yarn is going to do what we want it to do (such as knit up in gauge)[cryout-pullquote align=”right” textalign=”left” width=”33%”]you will get a sweater that will actually fit, or a shawl that isn’t the size of a house.[/cryout-pullquote]
  • If we are about to invest a lot of time and money into a knitting masterpiece
  • If the yarn supply is limited and we need to be sure that we will not run out (so if you buy yarn on vacation, buy three skeins so that you have enough to make SOMETHING for gosh sakes!)

When we get crazy and do not knit a swatch:

  • If we already “know” the yarn and have knit with it
  • If we are whipping up a flat or flexible project like a scarf, wrap, or cowl and are using the right needle size and yarn
  • If we are not feeling too uptight about the results
  • If we are lazy and want to chance it

What happens if you don’t knit a swatch and figure out your gauge?

  • Your piece can be too big or too small
  • Pieces may not sew together nicely
  • Your hard knitting work is for nothing
  • Sad, right?

So, how to swatch?

  1. Look at the pattern for gauge notes, yarn size and needle size recommendation.
  2. Start with the correct weight yarn and recommended needle size.
  3. Cast on enough stitches (plus a few more) needed to measure the gauge recommendation.
  4. Knit up that swatch. You can even get fancy and add a seed stitch or garter stitch border to get it lay flat but this is personal preference.
  5. BLOCK that swatch. Sorry, this part sucks and is why many skip the whole swatching step but if you lightly wash it, block it to size, and THEN measure it, you will get a sweater that will actually fit, or a shawl that isn’t the size of a house.
  6. Once the blocked swatch is dry, find a ruler and measure the number of stitches across, and the number of rows up (usually within a 4” x 4” or 10cm x 10cm square).
  7. If the swatch gods shine upon you, you nailed your gauge! Yay!
  8. If the swatch gods taunt you, your gauge is off.
    1. Too many stitches per inch? Move up one needle size and knit another swatch, repeating steps 4 to 6. Boo!
    2. Too few stitches per inch? Move down one needle size and knit another swatch, repeating steps 4 to 6 Hiss!

“Cheater” Swatches

I like to do cheater swatches so that I can rest knowing that I am somewhat on the mark. To do a cheat swatch:

  1. Cast on a bunch of stitches with your desired yarn and needle size.
  2. Knit in stockinette stitch for a while
  3. When it is  just over 1 inch tall, measure your gauge to the inch across and up and times your results by 4 to mimic a larger swatch.
  4. Feeling good? Then unravel and start knitting!
  5. Disclaimer: this procedure is only marginally better than not knitting a swatch at all, and could totally bite you in the arse later on in your knitting project. You have been warned!

So do it! Knit a swatch! It is totally boring but you will be a better knitter for it. You are TOO AWESOME to be wasting your time knitting something that will fit NO ONE. Think about it. or, as Flight of the Conchords like to say: THINK ABOUT IT.

STASH’s crazy n’ crafty Christmas lists

gift ideas for crafty peepsWe asked ourselves “what would we like to see under the tree from STASH?” and then we made dream lists. Then things really got out of control. 

So here are FIVE lists chock full of last minute gift ideas for the crafty peep in your life (or for you, just write it down and send your boyfriend our way, we can take it from there and you can get that Malabrigo Rasta that just arrived).

Ho Ho Ho!

Three great things for crafty kids:

1. Rico knitting doll & yarn

2. Rubber band loom mega set

3. Sublime Stitching beginner embroidery kit

Top three yarns for the sock knitter:

1. Rain City Knit Superbrights

2. Sweet Georgia Tough Love Sock

3. Manos del Uruguay Allegra

Three things for the non knitter:

1. Kirikipress Embroidery Softies

2. Fancy Tiger Needle Felting Kits

3. Sublime Stitching Ultimate Embroidery Kit

4 yarns for the new knitter

1. Malabrigo Rasta + 10 mm needles

2. Cascade Lana Grande + 10 mm needles

3. Universal Uptown Worsted + 5mm needles

4. Cascade Superwash 128 + 8mm needles

6 ideas for the knitter who has everything:

1. Adorable Kitten  & Yarn salt n’ pepper shakers

2. Stylish rice baskets for holding’ projects

3. Addi Turbo machine knitter

4. Mini Big Loop yarn & needles

5. A gift certificate (any amount you want!)

6. Locally made project baskets (as seen in the top pic!)