Articles by Mairi McKissock

Pattern suggestion: Raglan Sweater

Posting date: 20 October 2021

This top-down raglan sweater pattern is a must-have.  It was written by our own Michelle Porter

We don’t want to forget basic essentials when we’re posting pattern suggestions for our Bio Shetland promotion.  And this one is super-flexibile.  Make it in any size, and at any gauge.  Make it with long sleeves or short.  Give it a turtleneck, or a crew neck, or a scoop neck.  Knit it in one colour, or in stripes.  Use lots of different colours, or just a few.  Add cable details, perhaps down the arms or along the raglan lines.  Or use eyelet increases for the raglans, like in this picture, for a really easy tough of elegance.

The possibilities are endless, and a good, basic pattern like this gives you a framework to build on.

The basic pattern is written for aran-weight yarn, but you can hold two strands of Bio Shetland together as a substitute.

We think that BC Garn Bio Shetland makes wonderful, light sweaters.  There’s a lot of yardage in those inexpensive skeins, and a lot of warmth in that woolen-spun yarn.  So, here’s a raglan sweater pattern to help you make that sweater-to-live-in that everyone needs.

Pattern suggestion: Full of Minis Welted Hat

Posting date: 12 October 2021

This welted hat pattern belongs in the Fun category!  Fun to knit, and fun to wear.  It is the Full of Minis hat pattern by designer Barbara Nalewko.  You can make it with just about any fingering weight yarn, but we’re suggesting it for use with the BC Garn Bio Shetland currently on promotion.  The welts combine beautifully with the woolen-spun characteristics of the yarn. multiplying the warmth factor.  Most knitted hats are less effective in windy conditions, but the extra layers of fabric in the welts make this hat warm even in windier weather.

The welts in this hat are quite easy to make, because the colour changes for every welt.  So, it’s easy to see which stitches to pick up on the welt rows.  You could make it with just two colours, alternating colours on every welt.  Or, you could make it with dozens of colours, using up scraps from your stash.  Either way, it will be an eye-catcher and a conversation piece.

Edna’s ‘Wake’ Sweater

Edna knitted this beautiful sweater recently using BC Garn Bio Shetland.  The pattern is Wake, by Veronik Avery.  Bio Shetland has similar characteristics to the yarn used for the original design.  So, it can be substituted without modification.

Edna used just 6 skeins (300g) of Bio Shetland.

We love the bias-knit cables in this design, and the extra length in the back.  It’s a nice, easy-wearing casual style that’s great for layering.

Mairi’s Ruffled Wrap

This ruffled wrap has been at the store as a sample for a while, but we’re featuring it now as a pattern suggestion for the BC Garn Bio Shetland promotion.  It’s a great free pattern by an unnamed designer for Patons UK.

Mairi used just four skeins of BC Garn Bio Shetland, in the colourway ‘Washed Jeans’.  You won’t be surprised that the colourway goes beautifully with denim jeans for a great casual look.  The wrap is worked side-to-side with increases up to a middle point.  So, it was easy to judge how much yarn to use.  Increase for two skeins, then decrease for two skeins.

The pattern was great fun to work.  Most of the knitting is garter stitch, with tiny little cables to add interest, and short row turns to give extra volume for the ruffles.  The long crescent shape is very flexible, allowing the wrap to be styled many different ways by adjusting the drape.

Also, it’s super-warm, thanks to the lofty, woolen-spun characteristics of the Shetland yarn.


Special Promotion – Bio Shetland

Posting date: 2 October 2021

We’re trying something new this Fall knitting season – a special promotion for one of our favourite yarns.  BC Garn Bio Shetland is an absolutely lovely eco-friendly, pure wool, woolen-spun, inexpensive, lightweight yarn.  It’s suitable for all kinds of warm, soft, light-weight garments and accessories.  And it comes in a truly wonderful range of colours.  The range of colours, combined with the ‘sticky’ characteristic of a woolen-spun yarn make it ideal for stranded colourwork.

Here are the details:

  • From now through 31 October, get 20% off all purchases of Bio Shetland, either in person at the store, or in our online shop.
  • From now through 30 November, get a one-time 20% off coupon good for any yarn purchase when you post a new, finished project using this yarn on our project gallery.
  • Discount coupons will be sent by email when your project is published, can be used any time up to the end of this year (31 December, 2021), and can be used either in person at the store or in our online shop.

During the promotion period, we will be highlighting a few patterns that are terrific for this yarn.  We’ll publish those here on the news blog, and also collect them on a new page for the Bio Shetland Promotion under the ‘Home’ tab in the web page banner menu.   Additional ideas are available on Ravelry – you can use the ‘pattern ideas’ tab that’s available for any yarn in their database.  Here’s a link for the Ravelry  pattern ideas for Bio Shetland.  Also on Ravelry, the ‘projects’ tab for any yarn shows all the projects that other users have made with it – here’s a link for Ravelry projects made with Bio Shetland.

Lisa’s Painting Bricks Shawl

Here’s another beauty of a shawl knitted by Lisa.  The pattern for this one is ‘Painting Bricks‘, again by Stephen West.  Lisa has been making excellent use of a varied selection of hand-dyed Canadian sock yarns, including Lichen and Lace 80/20, as well as two skeins of Cascade Heritage Sock in black, to outline the ‘bricks’ in the pattern.

We think the effect is absolutely stunning. The neon bright colours especially convey the look of a stained glass window.  Lisa says that she likes the wide wingspan of the shawl, and that it works as a conversation starter with almost any outfit.

Like pretty much all of the Stephen West shawl designs, this one is easy to execute.  It makes good use of basic knitting techniques (garter stitch, stocking stitch) and easy slip-stitch patterning to create the drama.

Lisa’s Bubbles and Brioche

Bubbles and Brioche is another of the popular Stephen West shawl designs.  Lisa knit this with a mix of sock yarns from Canadian independent dyers.  Nina carries a fine selection of hand-dyed sock yarns to choose from, and we love the strong contrasts that Lisa has chosen.  That neon yellow-green colour really pops!

Lisa says that what she liked most about this pattern was:

  • learning the brioche stitch. 
  • the interesting stitch pattern changes incorporated in the design
  • the very cool “peacock effect” by the end of the project
  • how much fun it is to do the bubbles
  • using high contrast colours that really make them pop!

We agree that it’s a great pattern for learning new skills – nothing too difficult, but tremendous fun from start to finish.

Pat’s Purple Perfection

This beautiful handknit shawl is Pat’s latest creation.  She made this regal version of the ‘Chevron Shenanigans‘ shawl, designed by Stephen West, using a mixture of yarns: Lichen and Lace 80/20 sock, Artfil Belle, and Manos del Uruguay Alegria.  She used three skeins in total, one of each, plus a little scrap yarn, in black, for a contrasting bind-off.

It’s a fun pattern.  Asymmetrical enough to be visually interesting and fun to knit, but also easy to work and easy to wear.

We love the way Pat has used different yarns to best advantage here.  The tonal variations of the different purples complement each other beautifully, and the result is rich and interesting.

Great job, Pat!

Special Event – Sylvia Olsen on Zoom

Posting date: 9 June, 2021

Six years ago, we hosted a wonderful workshop with Sylvia Olsen, as part of her cross-Canada knitting tour.  She taught a fascinating class on Coast Salish knitting techniques, and shared stories from her book, Knitting Stories: Personal Essays and Nine Coast Salish-inspired Knitting Patterns.  Together with her partner, Tex McLeod, they spent six weeks travelling from Victoria to Newfoundland, and conducted workshops in more than 40 locations (including Creative Yarns).  She taught knitting, listened to stories from hundreds of knitters, and told her own stories.  Along the way, Sylvia gained a new appreciation and formed a new relationship with her country.

Creative Yarns re-opening Friday 11 June

Posting date: 9 June 2021

On Friday, 11 June, Creative Yarns is re-opening (again) for in-person shopping, at reduced capacity. Our hours will be:

  • Tuesday: 10:00 a.m. – 6:00 p.m.
  • Wednesday: 10:00 a.m. – 6:00 p.m.
  • Thursday: 10:00 a.m. – 6:00 p.m.
  • Friday: 10:00 a.m. – 6:00 p.m.
  • Saturday: 10:00 a.m. – 5:00 p.m.

Creative Yarns will be following all city and provincial rules and guidelines for safe Step 1 re-opening.  In particular:

  • Please read and follow the City of Toronto patron screening criteria before deciding to visit.
  • Masks are required for all persons able to wear one.
  • We cannot accommodate more than two customers in the store at one time.  Please be mindful if there are others waiting to enter, and keep your visits as brief as you conveniently can.
  • We cannot allow extended ‘sit and knit’ time in the seating area.
  • Hand sanitizer is available when you enter, and we are cleaning all customer-used surfaces after every visit.

Online shopping with curbside pickup is still available for anyone not comfortable with visiting in person, but we hope that this opportunity to look at our yarns for yourself will be helpful to many of you.

We are very much looking forward to the time when COVID restrictions are no longer necessary!  There is nothing we enjoy more than having a store full of knitters, relaxing together to chat, knit, and share creative ideas.

In the meantime, thank you very much for your continued patronage through this very difficult time.  Your words of encouragement and support, as much as your purchases, have made it possible for us to keep operating and have hope for the future.

New Yarn – Noro Kakagori

Posting date: 10 April 2021

There’s a huge amount of yarn in one of these giant balls of lightweight Noro Kakagori.  So, your single-skein projects can be quite ambitious!

It’s a single-ply blend of cotton and silk, with a small amount of viscose and nylon added for strength and drape.  It’s the perfect mix for cool, summer projects.

Noro’s is famous for woolen-spun, long gradient colour blends, in nature-inspired colourways.  And this yarn is a standout example.  So, the texture and the colour combine to make simple knits become dramatic and eye-catching.

Try it for go-everywhere sweaters and cardigans, shawls and wraps, ponchos and accessories.


Curbside pickup only

Posting date: 9 April 2021

I’m sure you already know, but retail stores in Toronto are closed again.  As of 7 April, our physical store is open for curbside pickup only during the current lockdown phase.

We will be happy to assist you by phone (416-331-8085), or through our online shopping portal.  Curbside pick-up and home delivery are both available.

Stay well and stay safe!  We look forward to seeing all our friends and customers again in person when it is deemed safe to reopen.

New Yarn – Artfil Mericana DK

Posting date: 1 April 2021

We are particularly excited by our latest new offering.  Artfil Mericana DK is a wonderful, soft, smooth, squishable, hand-dyed DK weight yarn.

It’s available in a huge range of space-dyed, tonal, semi-solid, and speckled colours.  All of them are gorgeous!  It’s a very flexible weight of yarn, suitable for projects big and small.  It has a nice, multi-ply, high-twist character, making it sturdy and pill-resistant, but still soft and smooth.  Use it for sweaters and outerwear that will look stand up to years of love, wear, and laundering.  Use it for cowls and delicate accessories that  you need to be next-to-skin soft.  Use it for snuggly blankets that your family will consider heirlooms.  Or buy just one skein for that perfect hat.  And then maybe a second skein for matching mittens.  Because you will never run out of things to knit with Artfil Mericana DK.

New Yarn – Pro Lana Kid Seta

Posting date: 31 March 2021

Mmmm, laceweight mohair and silk!  There is no such thing as too many choices for laceweight mohair blends, and Pro Lana Kid Seta is an excellent addition to the family.

The 70/30 blend of finest kid mohair and silk is as good as it gets.  The vivid solids and tasteful, long-colour-run gradients are visually stunning.  And it comes from a yarn company that specialises in high-quality yarns, milled in Europe.

The reason we love laceweight mohair blends so much is because of their uniquely versatile characteristics.  You can knit simple, lightweight, accessories – cowls, scarves, wraps, capelets – and even cardigans and sweaters, with just one strand of mohair at a very loose gauge in plain stockinette or garter stitch, and they will come out as light and soft as a cloud, while still warm and snuggly, with a magnificent halo.  Or, hold one strand of mohair together with any other yarn to knit more robust garments and accessories at a denser gauge.  Either way, the mohair adds visual and textural interest.  Colour and texture blending with strands of different yarns is so much fun, and so easy to do!

New Yarn – Hikoo Bubble Tea

Posting date: 30 March 2021

We’re now stocking the fun, new Bubble Tea yarn, from Hikoo.  This is a yarn with a lot going on – thick-and-thin texture, softness and drape, balanced with just enough ‘memory’ and elasticity.  It’s ideal for lightweight accessories, or loose, drapey wraps and cardigans.  And it’s a very easy yarn to work with.  The simplest patterns will come out looking terrific, because the yarn does all the work.  No complex knitting tricks required!


New Yarn – Martin’s Lab Tough Sock

Posting date: 29 March 2021

There’s always room on the shelves for more beautifully hand-dyed sock yarn!  Nina’s latest ‘find’ is the ‘Tough Sock‘ yarn  from Martin’s Lab, a small independent dyer in Toruń, Poland.

This comes in a gorgeous range of vivid colours, and the 75/25 Merino/Nylon blend and high twist means that it lives up to it’s name – although deliciously soft, it is tough enough to be perfect for socks.  Or anything, really!  Sweaters that don’t pill; shawls that can be blocked aggressively and carried around for everyday in-and-out-of-a/c use; next-to-skin accessories; you name it.

What’s not to love about a hand-dyed sock yarn?


New Yarn – Illimani Santi

Posting date: 23 March 2021

This recent arrival falls into the category of affordable luxury yarns.  Illimani Santi is a gorgeous blend of ultra-fine merino, baby alpaca, yak, and mulberry silk.

This is a very versatile yarn.  DK weight,  it has great drape so it can be worked loosely for a garment with liquid flow.  But it also has terrific stitch definition, so you can use it at a tighter gauge for denser projects with cables or textured stitches that really pop.

And, it is very, very soft and smooth.  So you can use it for next-to-skin garments, including luxurious cowls.

New Yarn – Katia Easy Hat

Posting date: 22 March 2021

This has been in stock for a while, but is new to the online storeKatia Easy Hat is exactly what it claims to be.  It might be the easiest hat project you’ve every tried, and it’s definitely the yarn you’ll reach for if you ever need a hat for Right. Now.

This is a self-patterning yarn, jacquard-style, so it looks like clever knitting.  But even the contrasting brim colour is part of the single-ball pattern.  There are no extra ends to weave in when you’re done.

Available now, in three beautiful colourways.