Articles by Mairi McKissock

Nina’s Clapton

Nina made this version of Isabel Kraemer’s design Clapton, using her favourite yarn, Fleece Artist 2/8 Blue Face Leicester in black, with one skein of Malabrigo Mechita in gold for the highlights.

It’s a lovely design, with a classic shape and relatively simple stranded pattern for the yoke.  And, like anything worked in BFL 2/8, it is light, warm, soft, and luscious.

Nina made this slightly longer, for a tunic-length sweater, and needed just a bit more than two skeins of 2/8.  She thinks that a regular length sweater, in most of the smaller sizes, could be made with just two skeins of 2/8.  If you’d like to make one like it, Nina would be happy to advise about yarn quantities.

Closed for holiday weekend

Posting date: 4 September 2020

We will be closed all day this Saturday, 5 September for the Labour Day weekend.

We apologise for any inconvenience this may cause, but we hope that you, too, have the opportunity to rest and relax over this long holiday weekend.

Our online storefront remains open, of course, and any orders placed will be shipped out, or available for pickup, on Tuesday, 8 September, when we reopen.

Summer Hours

Posting date: 29 July 2020

We are moving to reduced hours at the store (1213 Ellesemere Rd) for the remainder of July, August and September:

  • Tuesday – Saturday: 10:00 a.m. – 5:00 p.m.

However, our online storefront remains available 24 hours a day!

2020 Toronto Yarn Hop

Posting Date: 19 June 2020

As many of you know, we participate every year in the Great Toronto Yarn Hop, a locally organised tour of yarn stores that usually takes place via public transit.

Not surprisingly, this year’s event will be largely online, as gatherings on public transport are not permitted at this time.  We do hope to see some of you in person making individual visits, but if you are shopping safely from home, you will be able to use the provided discount code from your Yarn Hop passport in our online shop.

Sale! 20% off Handmaiden Special Edition Yarns

Posting date: 5 June 2020

Handmaiden yarns (together with sister brand Fleece Artist) have always been one of our favourite Canadian independent dyers.  They have been in the business for decades, and have some of the best yarn base selections, with consistently spectacular colourways.

So, we make a point to stock up on their special edition offerings, most recently the ‘Wanderlust Islands’ series, with colourways inspired by island vacation destinations.  We have these limited edition colours in three luxury fibre blends: Flyss (Linen/Silk), Swiss Mountain Woolie Silk (Merino/Silk), and Alpaca Merino (Merino/Alpaca).

These are all wonderful yarns, and they have been popular as all Handmaiden yarns are.  It’s just that we ordered rather a lot of them, expecting these to be a big seller at this year’s Knitters’ Frolic, and of course that didn’t happen, due to COVID-19.

So, we’re selling the remainder of our stock at 20% off.  These colourways will not be repeated, so if you like what you see, buy them now!


New Yarn – Kremke Stellaris

Posting date: 5 June 2020

This is an entirely new yarn for our store, and we are excited by the creative possibilities it brings.

Kremke Stellaris is more of a thread than a yarn, and while it can be used on it’s own to create wonderfully fine cobweb-weight projects, we feel that it really shines (literally) when held together with another yarn to add a bit of sparkle to your work.

It is soft, easy to work with and comes in a wonderful range of colours.  Nina’s new capelet design shows how easy it is to add an elegant shimmer to transform the simplest of projects.

We started out with just a few of the available colours, but it is already popular and selling well, so we will definitely be getting more in soon!


New stock – Drops Brushed Alpaca Silk

Posting date: 5 June 2020

We just received an order with lots of wonderful new colours in one of our favourite yarns: Drops Brushed Alpaca Silk.

This is a light-weight yarn that is as soft as a cloud, knits up quickly at a loose gauge, has tremendous yardage, comes in a terrific range of colours, and is remarkably inexpensive.

Nina has worked up a new design using this yarn – you can see a picture of her capelet sample in the project gallery.


Dressy Capelet

Nina made this scrumptious capelet from her new stock of Drops Brushed Alpaca Silk, holding one strand together with a strand of Kremke Stellaris for a touch of sparkle.  It uses four balls of Brushed Alpaca Silk, and one spool of Stellaris.

It’s everything we expect from one of Nina’s designs – maximum elegance and practicality with minimum effort.  A clean, simple design that anyone can make, and will look good on everyone.

The light, airy, brushed alpaca makes this garment incredibly soft and weightless – an ideal thing to roll up in a corner of your bag and always carry with you for those times when you don’t know how many layers you might need in your day.

Perfect as a light, extra layer in winter, when the lofty alpaca will trap warmth under your coat.  Perfect for spring and autumn, when temperatures vary unpredictably and you need a layer you can put on or take off and stow in a small space in your bag.  Perfect for summer, when going in and out of air-conditioning has the same effect.  And perfect for looking stylish in any season.

The pattern is available from Nina at the store, or in the online shop.  Remember that all of Nina’s patterns are free with purchase of yarn.  So, if you are buying online, only put the yarn in your cart, and add a note with your order that you would like a free copy of the pattern.

Cabot Trail – restock & new colours

Posting date: 21 May 2020

This morning we received our restocking order of Trailhead Yarns Cabot Trail (laceweight tencel), including a few new colours.  We know that some of you have been eagerly awaiting this, in order to knit Nina’s new Checkerboard Tunic, or the summer version of her popular Layering Tunic.

If you think you know what colour you want, order online now, to be sure you get your preferred colours – there were only five of each new colour, and several have been sold already!


Posting date: 19 May 2020

We made a big addition to the online store today.  Buttons!  Hundreds and hundreds of them – literally.

It turns out that browsing online for buttons is actually quite a good way to shop.  Or even just window-shop.  Because you can filter by size, shape, and colour, you can narrow down your options and easily see what might really work for any given project.

Of course, colour representations are never perfect online.  But, we are a full-service yarn store, so if you are buying online, we offer a button-matching service. We will suggest buttons to match a yarn that you are buying, or we will check that buttons you have selected match the yarn you have purchased. Just add a note with your yarn order requesting a button match (or to check any already selected buttons), and we will contact you with button suggestions and not ship your order until you have a added a matching button selection, if desired.

We can also offer button-matching for any yarn previously purchased, so long as it is a yarn and colour that we still have in stock for comparison.

Colour Play

Here’s a creative piece from Louise, getting instruction from Nina on the fly to work her first top-down raglan.

There’s no pattern, just an adventurous knitter learning as she goes with guidance from Nina.  Louise used Rhichard Devrieze Thede sock yarn, in the popular ‘Psychedelic Hosteins’ colourway, interspersed with Ruby sock yarn.  Here’s what Louise says about her creative process:

“I started top down doing as for an ordinary raglan sweater, instructions by Nina. (1st raglan for me 🤗). I alternated 2 rows each colour until then switching up to more of the Ruby yarn, sometimes 6-8 rows of that colour. I finished off the bottom band in basket weave just because I was bored with ordinary ribbing. I picked up stitches for the sleeves and neckline and finished edges in basket weave also.”

That’s the Creative process, all right!  All the way to figuring out how to get a selfie in the mirror, because even getting photos is hard when we’re all isolating.

Great job all around, Louise!

A Gnome Addiction

Lisa says it’s never too early to start Christmas Knitting!  And now we’ve seen what she’s been making, we want to join her.  Gnomes!

Aren’t these guys the cutest?  The pattern is Never Not Gnoming (by Sarah Schira), and Lisa says these quick, easy-knit fellas are so addictive that she has made seven so far.  Given how long it is until Christmas, and how much extra knitting time the COVID-19 shutdown has given some of us, we predict that certain households will be positively over-run with gnomes by the time the festive season kicks off.

We like the woolly look of the yarns Lisa used – you could get the same effect with BC Garn Bio Shetland, but really, this is a great pattern for using up any fingering weight yarn scraps you have in your stash.

Thanks for sharing, Lisa – these guys really made us smile.

Viajante shawl/poncho

This is a truly stunning piece of knitting eye candy!  Pat made this glorious version of the Viajante pattern by accomplished designer Martina Behm.  This is a particularly popular pattern right now, and with good reason.  It’s a very, very easy pattern to knit (all knit stitch, with a few simple increases and decreases), there’s almost nothing you can do wrong, sizing is a non-issue, and the result is both dramatic and practical, suitable for both formal and casual use.

Pat used three and a half skeins of Malabrigo Mechita in a beautiful, speckly turquoise colour for this joyful splash of colour.  But you could use any fingering, light fingering, or heavy laceweight yarn to good effect.  We think it would be just as nice in Fleece Artist 2/8 Blue Faced Leicester – two or three skeins depending on the desired length.

Terrific project, Pam!  Thanks for sharing.

Edie Linen Top

Here’s a great summer top, made by Christina.  She used the Edie pattern, by Isabell Kraemer, with a few modifications.  It’s a lovely pattern, very simple to work, and designed specifically for linen yarn. 

The yarn is BC Garn Lino – a beautiful sport weight linen yarn that is great choice for summer things.  And it comes in a wonderful range of colours.  We love Christina’s happy pop of fuchsia!

The original pattern has some textured stripes.  Christina did away with those, and added her own texture details around bottom seam lines.  But in this yarn, any version of this tee is going to look terrific!

More great work, Christina!  Everyone is going to want one of these…

Store re-opening on Tuesday

Posting date: 15 May 2020

Per provincial guidelines, we will be re-opening the store on Tuesday 19 May.  This is very exciting, after such a long shut-down, and we are really, really looking forward to seeing many of you again.  However, we must work with some limitations and restrictions:

  • Opening hours: Tuesday to Friday, 10 am – 6 pm; Saturday, 10 am – 5 pm
  • No more than two customers in the store at one time.
  • Maintain 2m (6 ft) distance from other people at all times within the store.
  • Please wear a mask while in the store.
  • Please keep visits short, both to minimise any contagion risk in shared indoor spaces, and to allow other customers time to visit.
  • Customers are invited to use our hand sanitizer (available at the counter), or washroom (at back of store) to wash hands on entering and/or before leaving the store.
  • Please stay home if you have any symptoms of cough or fever

Additionally, the online shopping portal is still available, with shipping or curbside pick-up options.

We are sorry, but we still cannot offer hands-on knitting assistance yet.

The coronavirus is still with us, and there is an expectation that numbers of new cases will rise as businesses all over Toronto start operating again.  So it is very important that we follow all of the provincial and Health Canada safety guidelines.

Persons considered ‘at risk’ should not visit any store, including ours, until further notice.  Persons at risk include: anyone in poor general health, anyone with immuno-compromisation issues, anyone with cardiovascular issues, anyone with diabetes of any type, anyone with chronic respiratory issues.

Online Store Updates

Posting date: 15 May 2020

We have had another busy week, expanding the online store.  We now have most of our yarns catalogued in the online shop. There are a few low-volume yarns still to add, and those might take a while, but all of our most popular lines are now available.

As always, you can find the newest yarns under the ‘New’ menu tab, and our sale yarns under the ‘Sale’ menu tab.  Our latest sale items include deep discounts on some gorgeous, hand-dyed luxury fibres from Handmaiden, one of our favourite Canadian yarn dyers.

This week, we have also added a number of Nina’s original design patterns.  We’re not done – there will be more added over the next few days, but we do now have up a good selection of her new patterns, and the most popular of her older patterns.

And while you’re here, check out the customer project gallery.  We are posting customer project photos here as you send them to us. Thank you for all the pictures you have sent! You have made some beautiful things!

It will likely still be a while before we can gather at the store together with our knitting projects for ‘show and tell’, so please continue to share your projects with us here!  Email photos to, together with any notes about the pattern and yarn used.

Veronika Poncho/Sweater

Anja made this intriguing garment from the Veronika pattern by Cocoknits. It looks so fun and comfortable!

Anja chose to use Trailhead Yarns Fundy Tides and Cabot Trail, holding together one strand of each to give a complex blend of colours – one of our favourite ways to use these two yarns together.  It produces a lovely, light, summer-weight fabric with great drape.

Thanks for sharing, Anja – great project!

Babyull Lanett – restock & new colours

Posting date: 13 May 2020

Babyull Lanett from Sandnes Garn is a big seller, and not just for baby projects.  Its a high-quality, cruelty-free, easy-care, economical, baby-skin-soft wool yarn, blended with enough yarn to make it durable enough for socks and other tough-duty projects.  No wonder it’s popular!

Now restocked in our most popular colours, and a few new ones to round out the selection.

Mia Pullover

Kim made this version of Nina’s Mia Pullover pattern.  She used Geilsk Tweed, as a substitute for the Debbie Bliss Fine Donegal the pattern was originally written for, and we love how it came out.

It’s soft and tweedy, with a flattering fit and simple but elegant details.

Looks great on you, Kim!