Category Archives: On the Needles

What we’re making at the Knit Cafe

punching bags! needle punching that is!


This is one side of my new cell phone cozy! I made it with a punch needle.

This is the other side.
I have been having so much fun trying out different sized punch needles, changing my foundation fabrics and of course playing with different types of yarns.
This cozy was made with a punch needle made for worsted weight yarns and set for a low pile – the pile is the height of the loops! With a low pile your work is less hairy and you can achieve more detail. Still, I have found with some trial and error – simple is best when it comes to punch needle and rug hooked designs. This is good news for those of you who think you can not draw. Even you can make beautiful stuff with basic beginnings.
The Hello Side has two different heights of pile – can you see it? It’s a bit subtle in this picture.
The telephone side is actually what is considered the wrong side of the work where you get the lowest pile and the stitches are closest to embroidery. This is how you can get the crispest look and the most detail.

Here’s the eyeglass case I made. I liked the hairy side best on this one!

On this side of the eyeglass case I think you will be able to see the different heights of the pile. I find it super effective with this geometric design.

For these two projects a tried several yarns but mainly Retrosario Beiroa, Knit Cafe Small Batch and Brooklyn Tweed Shelter and Arbor. The truth is I liked them all. The Beiroa produced such amazing texture, the Small Batch made puffy stitches that bloomed as I punched. The Arbor made crisp predictable stitches that were good for detail, and the Shelter held flecks of colourful tweedy surprises that are super-duper charming.

I am pretty excited that The Knit Cafe has just received a supply of No Slip Hoops for Rug Hooking and Punch Needling. Sadly they came in after I finished these projects so I will try them out on the next one. These are really sturdy hoops! Just check out those tightening bolts. What makes these loops extra specail is an internal lip and groove system that will hold your project firmly in place. If you would like to try one of these guys for yourself you can find them in our webshop HERE.

If I have you Punch Needle curious now then check out our
Punch Needle Workshop
it’s on March 25

Craftily yours


So..what are you knitting?
I get this question a lot! So does Iwona.
Here are some answers.

What Iwona has been knitting is actually crochet.
She is a busy gal with many things on the go, but recently she has been experimenting with this stitch pattern.

Fine Anzula Cloud makes this pretty irresistible.  Too bad you can’t touch it through the computer screen.  The little dabs of black on a white backdrop was a inspired choice.  When this grows up it will be a scarf.

I made this sweater from yarn I’ve had stashed for about three years now.  Malabrigo Worsted in a colour called Frank Ochre. This was an excellent pattern the charm of which is (as most things are) in the details.
Let’s start with the obvious – the collar in “Bear Claw” pattern

The front is garter stitch, and the back is stocking stitch.  The ribbing (only in the back) keeps the bottom a snug fit.

The back has elegant fanned increases.

The best thing is the edges at the opening.  So neat and trim!
This pattern is called Nanook and it is by Heidi Kirrmaier.

What are you knitting?

Craftily yours


With the Crochet Blanket Class close at hand (it starts on July 22) I thought I would share my version of the blanket.
I was inspired by Maurie Todd’s beautiful creation below.  In fact I outright copied her.  Noro Sock yarn for the middles: that ever-changing yarn that gives you all the colours in the rainbow in just one ball, and a solid coloured sock yarn for the outside.

But since the recipient of this blanket was still in diapers, I  picked some peppy colours.  Lorna’s Laces Firefly for the background.
I found making this blanket addictive, especially the happy little middles that I stacked up and admired. Then I unstacked them and ordered them, reordered them, puzzled and plotted, and restacked them.  Then I made more.  Attaching them all together was not so bad either.  They were crocheted together with NO SEW SEAMS! Something you will learn in class.

When it was all done – I was not!

The finished blanket had wavy edges thanks to the hexagons and all their angles. Those of you who have made the blanket will know what I mean.  To remedy this I made “half hexagons” and added them along the edges that needed them (2 of the 4). Necessity being the mother of invention – I taught myself how.  Others have gone before me and done the same but they were not around.

This is what I did…

Continue reading

show and tell

I should do this more often.
There are so many talented knitters that pass through our doors, and lucky me I get to peer into their knit baskets and see all their goodies.  This is what I saw this week.

Ellen’s version of the Hudson Bay Blanket made with Berroco Ultra Alpaca and I think a little Galway.  Was it Galway – Ellen?

The fiery colour is Handmaiden Casbah, the purple is Madelinetosh Merino Light in Clematis.  The project is the Knit Cafe’s Soho Scarf and it was made by Maurie.

The Sexy Shrug is finished on the right and in progress on the left.  The rosy one was made by Rona with the decadently delightful Anzula – For Better or Worsted.  Madelinetosh Vintage in Composition Book Grey is also quite heavenly in Maurie’s version.

Iwona’s Wispy! She made it with Euroflax Linen.  Isn’t she smart!  A linen sweater will be perfect for the season.  The detail you see on the collar was Iwona’s addition to the pattern.  Pleats in the fabric were sewn in after finishing to make the fit better, but it looks kinda rad!

I hope you all are as inspired as I am by all these excellent knit-ups!
Craftily yours


This past Thursday Toronto broke a record.  The temperature was 33.8 C. This gave the June weather official heat-wave status, with three successive days of heat over 32C.  The last time this occurred was 1949. 
I thought it might be safe to put away the last of the woolies.  It was actually quite pleasant to splash around in some cold water as I washed them clean.  I was squeezing out the water when I thought of Elizabeth Zimmermann.

I know some folks take umbrage with wrapping the woolens in a towel and pressing with all ones might to rid them of moisture.  I don’t know why.  Perhaps they think it is too rough, but then I think of EZ. She describes stuffing her sodden sweaters into pillow cases and then whipping them around – a kind of spin-dry. So I think, if that is acceptable, then a certain amount of stomping with a towel must be alright too.  I look to Elizabeth Zimmerman for guidance in all things knit.  She is the gold standard.

EZ is a brilliant author of several fantastic knitting books.  She is also a genius knitter! She is the designer of the above sweater called “The Baby Surprise Jacket”.  It appears in her book the Knitting Workshop.  You can also buy the pattern separately.  We have both at the shop.
The Baby Surprise pattern shows off EZ’s super-brain.  Made all in one piece with just decreases and increases for shaping and only one seam.  Making this sweater was a joy.  I had memorized the pattern in no time giving me occasion to concentrate on how fantastic it is to knit with Noro.  This sweater was made with Noro Silk Garden Sock yarn.  All the beautiful colour work you see here is pure  Noro genius. Genius+Genius=Double Genius. It’s the new math!

I was so excited about making the baby surprise jacket, I had to make another.  This one was made with soft Casbah from Handmaiden Yarn.  This sweater was made for my friend and her newborn who are living expat style in the USA. I chose the coloured details to be reminiscent of the Hudson Bay Blanket and Canadiana. It subtly whispers remember your roots.
I added on the hood to the pattern.  It was improvised.  The pompom on top is actual a needle felted ball.

 One day (and it will be soon) I hope to have read every word Elizabeth Zimmermann ever wrote.  I have been schooled heaps from what I have so far digested, I have been tickled by her turns of phrase, bolstered by her creativity and many a time laughed right out loud.

The baby surprise jacket is not necessarily for beginner knitters, although there are great video tutorials on the subject if you search them out.  The time is ripe however, to make baby sweaters.  As the city heats up, small projects are more comfortable to knit.  If you have never knit a baby sweater before (or any kind of sweater for that matter) you might want to have a look into the Knit Cafe’s Baby Sweater Class that is coming up soon.  This sweater is a basic construction that will teach you about making simple sweaters of all sizes. Here are the details:

Baby Sweater Class
Monday July 2, 9, 16, 23, 7-9pm
$96, materials not included
to register call 416 533 5648

Craftily yours

otto’s pullover

Since it is the selfish season, I put needles to work on this project.
My ottoman was sadly stained and well…sad.  It needed a sweater.

Project Notes:
Made with Cascade Ecological and a tight gauge (4.5mm)
I started at the middle of the top working outward in rounds with 4 double increases every other round to make the square top.  Cast off with a crochet bind off for stretchiness. Then, when I picked up stitches to make the sides, I picked up looking at the wrong side so the seam wound have it’s bulk on the outside.  I hoped this would make it a better fit and it seams (hee, hee) to have done the trick.

I picked up the stitches for each side separately so that I wouldn’t have to work so much heft all at once.  Also, I had a plan.  I would seam all the sides together with crocheted seaming (the bulk to the outside). The sides were worked on a knit 3, purl 1 rib.

I didn’t have enough of all the same colour.  I was trying to make the good-use of the left-overs – hence the stripes. I’m still not sure about the gold on the bottom and have not woven in my ends in case I change my mind one day.
What do you think? Rainbow striped bottom? Hot pink?

The bind off on the bottom of the rib was also a stretchy one.  Seamed together with crochet using the yarn colour from the top and Voila!!

Craftily Yours

Happy hockey day in Canada!

I have been a fan of Le chandail de hockey ever since I read it in French Class in high school.  This very Canadian tale by Roch Carrier of a boy denied the hockey sweater of his choice and forced to wear a sweater not to his liking has charmingly tragic proportions.  When I first saw these chapeaux, knit by Iwona, I was immediately smitten. I think (in part) due to my love of this sweater- story.  If you would like to investigate this bit of Canadiana further check out this beautiful animated version of the story by Sheldon Cohen.

For Christmas Iwona whipped up this patriotic project; a duo of head-warmers for her family.  I could not resist copying her and making one for my Leaf-loving pal.  I promised the details  and here they are:


The main pattern came from a blog called Artemis Adormnments.  It is a freely available hat pattern with a classic snowflake design.  Iwona omitted the snowflake and replaced it with the blue maple leaf.  The chart for the leaf was found here.  Both Iwona and I were impressed by the extra stretchy ribbing on the bottom of the hat.  Knitting through the back loop makes for a springiness and sturdiness that gives this hat a traditional toque-iness.

We used: Madeline Tosh DK in colour Fathom
For the white, Iwona used Berroco Ultra Alpaca , I used  2 strands held together of Dream in Colour Smooshy which makes it a completely superwash hat.

The pattern calls for 4.5mm, but both Iwona and I used a 4mm instead of the 4.5mm recommended.  Both of us are looser knitters, but the pattern’s assertion that the original hat was made for a extra large head made this needle choice an easy one.

Once you pass the ribbing, the white takes up about 25 rows of stocking stitch.  The Maple Leaf pattern is 20 rows, so begin it on the 3rd row of stocking stitch. Pick up again with the blue and start the decreases at about 6″ from ribbing. We made the maple leaf after the hat was done with duplicate stitch, but you could produce it with intarsia (your choice).

Then make a big old pompom if you choose and you are done!

Craftily Yours