Friday, 31 January 2014

Fashion Friday - super professional

Featured Knit: Adelia fingerless mitts, designed by me!
Yarn: TFA Purple Label Cashmere Sock in Sand and Atlantic.

I had a meeting on Wednesday. A real meeting with an actual business man in a suit and everything. I did not wear a suit. Part of me wishes that I was a fancy business woman who wore smart suits and stiletto heals to work in a marble office. However another part of me really enjoys that I'm a laid back business woman who gets to wear pj's and hand knits to work everyday instead. Because pj's didn't seem appropriate on Wednesday I grabbed the most official looking top I own. A classic blue and white oxford. Any shirt that buttons up and that gets tucked into pants with a belt is pretty darn official to me! 

Anyhow... my meeting went well. I don't think I embarrassed myself too much. I did however, keep my hat on the whole time, and when it was time to explain what TFA is all about I just pointed to my head. Super pro. 

Thursday, 30 January 2014

Julie's Notebook: Irisa Cowl (New Pattern!)

irisa cowl 1

Even if you aren't big on colour trends, it's hard to avoid the Pantone Color of the Year, Radiant Orchid- it's been popping up all over the internet, and by spring, you'll be seeing lots of items in the stores in this color. Suddenly, you might find yourself buying a blouse or a new bag in a shade you didn't even know existed back in 2013.

When it comes to trendy knits, a one-skein project is perfect- it's fun to knit an accessory that gives a nod to what's cool, as well as carry you far beyond it (who knows what the color of the year will be in 2015!).

Tanis Fiber Arts is known for it's amazing colours, and while we don't have a tonal or semi solid that is exactly radiant orchid, Iris fits the bill of being on trend and yet timeless. Those little bright spots are definitely radiant orchid-esque:

irisa cowl 2
 That castle and unicorn are getting in the Radiant Orchid spirit, too! 

I love Iris. It reminds me so much of spring- crocuses and hyacinths beginning to pop up, the rich colours after the bleached out greys of winter. This cowl is the perfect quick knit- a great one skein project for variegated yarns in rich, saturated purples that make us hopeful for spring.

Pattern: Irisa Cowl

Needles: 5mm (US 8)

Yarn: One skein of Tanis Fiber Arts Green Label Aran, in 'Iris'

It can be worn in a single loop, like the top photos, or doubled, for a cozy, keep-the-wind-away look. 

The Irisa Cowl is a very quick and very easy pattern, perfect for busting out of the knitting doldrums and getting a great hit of colour. The variegation in the Iris colourway is highlighted by the simple slipped stitch pattern. I know it won't be spring around here for a little while, but with a lovely colourway like this and a pretty new cowl to keep me warm, I can definitely stand the wait.

Wednesday, 29 January 2014

Club - January 2014

The 2014 Year In Colour Club is in full swing! The January Club shipments went out earlier this month, the pattern has been sent out and projects are already starting to pop up on Ravelry, which is always the most exciting part! This year we've kicked off the Club with a bright and cheery pink shade I've called Orchid. Dyed up in Blue Label Fingering Weight yarn, a simple sock project is just the thing to get us all revved up for the 2014 knitting season (by "knitting season" I obviously mean the entire calendar year.) I designed the Cavalcade Socks to feature a few very pretty, yet deceptively simple, lace motifs. 
Club memberships are available all year long, it's never too late to sign up! Join now and you'll receive your skein of Orchid along with the next shipment of Club yarns in March. And don't forget! This year we're offering a "patterns only" option. So if you'd like to knit yourself a pair of Cavalcade socks, you totally can! 

Monday, 27 January 2014

Sparkly Queen St. Mitts

Pattern: Queen St. Mitts by Glenna C.
Yarn: TFA Cosmic Blue Label Fingering Weight Yarn in Lucky Penny.
Ravelry project page here

Sparkly fingerless mitts in one of my favourite colourways... need I say more? This project was a fairly quick knit, however I fell victim to "second mitt syndrome" which slowed things down a bit. I've had these off the needles and in rotation since November, but then I fell victim to another knitting problem "failure to photograph syndrome". No idea what took me so long to haul out the camera and get Chris to take photos of me awkwardly positioning my hands on my knees... it didn't take more than a minute to do and now I've got a lovely FO to share! 

These mitts are really just that, super lovely. The pattern has bobbles and cables and a really neat reverse stockinette stitch gusset that I love. I'm thinking that fingerless mitts should be the new sock. You've got that thumb gusset instead of the heel gusset and once that's done it's just a simple tube really, much faster than socks and just as portable. A great vehicle for fun bobbles, cables and lace. I need more fingerless mitts in my life.  

Thursday, 23 January 2014

Club "patterns only" option now available



The 2014 Year in Colour Club is off and running! The January Club shipments have all been mailed and today I sent out the Club pattern and set up the "Patterns Only" buying option. This option is a great alternative for those who want all the fun, excitement and exclusivity of a Club at much less of an expense. It's also a great option for those of us who have lots of special single skeins stashed away and need single skein projects in various weights delivered to our inbox 6 times a year! What a great way to knit your way through your stash. 

Wednesday, 22 January 2014

Pretty corners

In yesterday's blog post I confessed to really not loving the look of my work space. But I should have added that when you look closely, there is always something beautiful to rest your eye upon. It's really just the big picture of chaos that I find a little less inspiring. 

Tuesday, 21 January 2014

TFA Office - Before

The title of this post gives it all away... I'm finally giving my office the revamp that I've wanted to for the past *almost* 4 years! I can't believe that we've lived in this house that long, wow. This space is one of the main reasons we bought this house. It's a large room off the garage with direct access to the backyard (and studio) and is completely separate from the rest of the house. Even the ventilation is not connected, which is a big plus when you're dealing with such a fiber-filled space. 

This room has so much potential and I've always felt like it's current set up feels and looks very temporary. It's time to remedy that. Here is a list of things that I hope to address over the next couple of weeks:

  • lighting - the lighting is so bad that it makes it very difficult to work in here at night, which is a big problem since I often need to sneak in a few more hours of work after Rowan goes to bed.
  • paint - the walls are a light grey, I need them to be a bright white! Plus there are a few other details that I'd like to touch up, like painting the dingy doors that lead to the backyard and garage a fresh pop of colour.
  • shelving - all of my shelving for yarn storage was just thrown together with stuff that we had when we moved (and then there are those glamorous cardboard boxes stacked in the corner... oy!) Other than the desk, we haven't purchased a single thing for this room in 4 years. I'd like to get shelving that works and makes sense for once.
  • flooring - the sage green carpeting was stained when we moved in and has developed lots more mysterious stains since we've taken over. We trek indoors and out through this space all day, carpet is definitely not the right material for how we use this space. Not to mention the fact that no amount of vacuuming in the world would get the carpet clean enough to make me feel comfortable putting Rowan down on it. 
  • Inspiration - this room is totally lacking artsy character. I'm envisioning a proper inspiration board, more beautiful display, better organization... a space that makes id

Friday, 17 January 2014

Fashion Friday - Reverb

Featured Knits: Reverb designed by me!
Yarn: Brooklyn Tweed Shelter in Hayloft colourway.

I designed and knit this cardigan for Brooklyn Tweed's Wool People 5 collection back in the summer of 2012. I was barely pregnant when I finished it and then sent it off right away. I have been looking forward to the day that I'd get the sample knit back so I could try it on a non-pregnant me and see how I liked it. Guess what... I love it! It's exactly what I wanted it to be. I liked it when I designed it, I liked seeing it on the model and I've liked all the gorgeous versions I've seen pop up on Ravelry, but I love it now that it's part of my sweater wardrobe. It's straight, not fitted, and I like that. Fits more like a jacket, especially with the stand up collar, and I like that too! Don't you love it when a knit works out? I also, kind of surprisingly, LOVE the colour. Take a look at my sweater collection, I have very little in the gold/rust/brown spectrum. Shockingly, I find this colourway extremely wearable. It seems to go with all the bright purples and blues that I tend to gravitate towards. 

So, there ya go, Reverb revisited. Have a great weekend!

Wednesday, 15 January 2014

Hat inspired by shirt

Pattern: Grammy' Hat
Yarn: Green Label Aran Weight in Chris Grey, Velvet, Seabreeze, Peacock and Olive

Whilst Christmas shopping in December I picked up this shirt for my brother Vince. I love a comfy long-john shirt and I was immediately drawn to these stripes. I just love the colour combo. If they made this shirt for women I'd buy it and my brother and I would look like twins. But I digress. Around that time, Vince had misplaced his favourite hat so I decided to make him a new one and to use this new shirt as inspiration! Worked like a charm. I'm so happy with how the hat turned out, and Vince loves it too!

This was a fun exercise, it combined colourways that I would never have combined on my own. Olive and Peacock? I never would have thought of it, but I love it! Inspiration is all around us!

Tuesday, 14 January 2014

TFA Tuesday - Sople Pattern by Lete's Knits

Top Tier Knitter/Designer: Justyna Lorkowska aka Lete's Knits (blog)
Pattern: Sople by Justyna herself!
Yarn: TFA Yellow Label DK Weight Yarn in Frost

A little while back, Justyna sent me a bunch of sketches and asked me to pick my favourite and in turn she would turn said sketch into a beautiful knitting pattern featuring my yarn! I picked my fave, a sketch for a lovely cardigan with the most awesome cable details all over. We chatted yarns, again, I suggested my favourite colour and Justyna was game. She sent me updates about the design throughout, let me know how things were coming along, so you'd think I would have been prepared for how gorgeous this finished knit is, but when the photo's of the final product showed up in my inbox, I was floored! 
The shoulder details, the hem and cuff details and then that stunning back panel! I love seeing all that attention to detail. This is the type of knit that I was just saying I was missing from my collection. A lighter weight (not aran weight!) cardigan that I could layer over just about anything. 

Justyna has several designs that fit the bill actually, I've been eyeing her Shifting pattern for some time, I would live in that sweater! Check out her Ravelry pattern's page, it's worth it!

Monday, 13 January 2014

Moodboard Monday - Frost

image sources, clockwise from top left: sky and twigsfrost skein, TFA frost french cancanballerinas, TFA french braidbeach glass

A lovely pale blue with a touch of cool grey makes for the perfect wearable shade of my favourite colour. I would knit anything and everything in this colourway, what would you knit in Frost?

Friday, 10 January 2014

Fashion Friday - The sweaters, taking stock

After the holidays I decided that it was time to take stock of the chaos that was my sweater collection. My closet was beginning to burst at the seams with sweaters, many that I didn't wear. There's something about the holiday season that always puts me face to face with the reality of how much excess we sometimes have in our lives. I'm lucky, not everyone has the same generous, gift-a-plenty type of holiday as we do, and though there is nothing I would change about spending Christmas with my family, a part of me is always made especially aware of those who have less - thus making my closet of many sweaters feel quite gluttonous. So, Chris and I cleaned out our wardrobes and donated two big bags of clothing. It felt good. 

The piles pictured above are what is left of my sweater collection. The four stacks on the left are all hand knit, which makes me happy. There are actually two more, one that I forgot to photograph and  my Reverb that I just got back from Brooklyn Tweed last week!) Seeing all of my sweaters together like this is quite neat. Most of my store bought sweaters are lighter weight and truthfully, many of those light weight cardigans get a lot of use, so I think that I definitely need to make an effort to knit myself more light weight sweaters since my collection is predominantly worsted weight. And, since I'm being perfectly honest here, there are a few sweaters in those piles that I couldn't bear to part with, though I never wear... I'm looking at you Noro beauties (this one and this one)! Also, I think that I need to knit a green sweater, maybe even a red one, and I'll go out on a limb here and say that I don't need any more blue... but come on, who are we kidding, there is a very good chance that I knit myself another blue and grey sweater this year. 

Tuesday, 7 January 2014

That's our boy!

So, this hat was not knit by me, nor is the yarn my yarn, it's not even my pattern! Zero for three. But, hey, that's my boy! Hat model extraordinaire! Can that kid rock a slouchy hat like it's nobody's business or what?

My cousin Louise was recently visiting and while she was here she finished off this gorgeous hat. The pattern is Magnolia by Maria Socha. It's knit in Madelinetosh Chunky in the Spectrum colourway. A colourway that I really love, in fact, I own 1 skein of Madelinetosh yarn in Pashmina and it is in this very colourway (my cousin and I have great taste!) but now I think that I should have bought it in Chunky rather than Pashmina because Rowan really looks good in this chunky hat! Or maybe TFA needs a chunky base... wheels are turning!

Shipping update: If you are still waiting for your yarn from the Boxing Day Etsy Update or from an order that you placed over the holidays, rest assured that we are packing and shipping as fast as we possibly can! Canada Post has gone and thrown a wrench in my plans by having a glitchy website today, so I am writing blog posts with cute pictures of babies to try and calm my nerves because I can't work on getting all the shipping done... grrrrrr. 

Monday, 6 January 2014

Patina Socks and Framed Slouch patterns

Patina Socks 
Ravelry pattern page here.
Framed Slouch
Ravelry pattern page here

Now that we've rolled into the new year and Chris and I are deep into getting the January 2014 Club packages ready to go out, the patterns from the 2013 Year In Colour Club are ready for wide release. The Club patterns are exclusive to Club members for the duration of the Club calender year, so when we rang in the new year we also marked the end of the exclusivity clause on all 2013 patterns! I've made my Patina Sock pattern and my Framed Slouch pattern available for sale on Ravelry. I'm working on the Papaya Shawl pattern and will have it up as soon as it's ready.

As far as the exclusive 2013 Club colourways... I haven't decided which ones will be joining the permanent collection yet. There were a few fan favourites, but I've got a bit more work to do before I'll be able to commit.

The first of the 2014 Club shipments will be going out soon! You've got until January 10th to sign up and ensure that you get your January Club yarn asap. Join the TFA Year In Colour Club here!

Happy Monday!

Friday, 3 January 2014

Thoughts on 2014

I have this feeling that 2014 is going to be a great year. I'm not sure why. I've moved seamlessly into writing the date ending with a 4 rather than ending with a 3. Usually that takes me a few days to get used to, but not this year! I think that it's the 4. I just like years that end in 4, they feel good.

Looking back on 2013, I'm still not really able to wrap my mind around all that has happened. I became a mother. Enough said. How much bigger a life change can you really make? Having a baby required me to make lots of work changes as well, tough decisions, but I know that they were the right decisions. There were lots of moments in the first few months when I wondered if I could do it all. My work needed me, my baby needed me, I felt like I was failing at everything. But bit by bit, 9 months later, I think that it's all working out. I've spread myself thinner than I'm used to, but y'know what? I like it that way! Rowan has made me stop trying to always multitask and rather work harder when I'm working and play harder when I'm playing. He's given my life the balance that I wasn't able to find on my own. The past 9 months have been very empowering in that way.
at 6 weeks - learning to make it work.
Having Rowan has changed everything. I used to try so hard to find balance in my work and my life. My work is my life and my hobby is my work. It used to be confusing, but now it's all starting to make sense. I had a moment after Rowan was born where I was complaining to my sister about how overwhelmed I was. I didn't take a day off - the second I would put Rowan down I would run into my office to try and get some work done. I was bemoaning my lack of "me time". My sister Lilia, in her ever wise if not so tactful way, reminded me that frankly, I love my work. That if I had all the "me time" in the world I would likely spend it knitting, Ravelling, blogging, playing with yarn... what exactly was I complaining about? I'm not sure she realizes what a huge impact that conversation had on me. She was totally right and it was just the kick in the pants I needed. Any time I feel overwhelmed now I just think of my brilliant sister and her words of wisdom. "Get over yourself Tanis. Your baby is adorable and you work a job that you love, what's your problem?" Gotta love sisters. 
at 2 months - inspires in his own special way.
I don't have any big New Years resolutions to share. I've never been big on resolutions, though I do like the idea of a clean slate, the beginning of the school year has always felt more like "New Year" to me than January 1st ever has. This year, my only real mission is to live slowly, savour every minute and be spontaneous. I've frequently shared my desire to find more balance in life on this blog, and I think that I'm actually getting closer to achieving that for myself. Funny, you'd think that adding a baby to the mix would throw us all for a major loop, but Rowan has actually helped me (probably more like forced me) to slow down, take breaks and let my mind wander. 

I feel that what is right for me this year is to do whatever feels right "right now".  I find that I really don't work as well with too many fixed deadline and long term goals. Of course I have an idea of what I'd like to accomplish and how I plan to go about it, but find that I work best when I allow myself to just ride the waves of inspiration as they come to me. So this year, rather than setting up too many official goals, my plan is to just live in the moment, both personally and professionally, and do what feels right.

I want to maintain the creative passion that got me started in this business in the first place. I am so fortunate to still get extremely excited every time we hit on a great new colourway. You should have seen me when Chris came in from the studio with the first batch of Lotus; I actually squealed! My enthusiasm for colours, fibers and designing has gained momentum throughout the years. The 2013 Boxing Day Etsy update was an excellent reminder that I am still as excited as ever about colour, and sharing it with people (like you!) who appreciate it makes me so excited I can hardly stand it. Making gorgeous colours and then hoarding them really would not have the same effect. It's the sharing that makes it all so rewarding.

So my plans for 2014? Play, teach and learn with my baby boy as much as possible. Talk, walk, cook and be with my husband as much as possible. Dream, draw, colour and knit for my work as much as possible. A little bit of everything, not too little of any, the perfect life/work cocktail. I think I can do it!
Rowan photo bomb!
Oh, and I'll make 1 official goal for 2014, finish up the collection of baby boy knits that I've been working on forever!

Wednesday, 1 January 2014

Rainbow Twist

Pattern: Rainbow Twist by Thao Nguyen
Yarn: Malabrigo Rasta in Piedras colourway
Ravelry project page here.

I have very grand plans about putting together a proper New Year blog post. I'll sum up 2013 and make big, yet achievable, goals for 2014. But that will take me a bit of time to put together. So for today I'm catching up with an overdue FO post. 

I bought a skein of Malabrigo Rasta years ago (probably 6 years ago?) and it has sat in my stash until very recently. In December, while in Toronto I picked up another skein of Rasta (it's so bulky and glorious, I couldn't resist!) and decided that it was time to bite the bullet and put those skeins to use. It was so silly to procrastinate on, it's literally one night, one skein, one cowl, done! I knit one cowl for my sister and gifted it without taking a photo. Then I knit this cowl for myself. I'll be 100% honest. I love this cowl, though I pretty much only wear it indoors. Weird right? The thing is, it hangs just so around the neck, which looks lovely, but leaves my throat exposed to the frigid -20C weather we've been having these days. I've tried bunching it up under my coat to tighten it and really wrap myself up in warmth, but it doesn't stay put that way and isn't comfortable. I'm fine with wearing it around the house though, it is a pretty cute look I think. Those giant stitches make me giggle every time I look at them!