Friday, 28 February 2014

Inspired by: WAHM

Gorgeous stacks of fabric that will become a #colordivequilt. I love it so! @annamariahorner thanks so much for making such amazing fabrics! #colordivequiltkit
My Colour Dive Quilt Kit from Anna Maria Horner, the WAHM extraordinaire!
WAHM = work at home moms. 

For the past (almost) eleven months I have felt a little bit alone in my position as a work at home mom. I know a lot of stay at home moms or working moms who are on mat-leave for the first little while and then go back to work. We all juggle our lives as moms, wives and career women. But as a work at home mom I've been feeling a little isolated, like I couldn't really relate to the moms I know because no one shared my specific set of circumstances. 

Then I saw this series that one of my favourite blogs, A Cup Of Jo did a few years back. Scroll to the bottom and there are 8 interviews with work from home moms that I found really inspiring. The irony of the whole situation is that it took me the better part of a day to string together enough minutes to read the interviews. I was constantly being pulled away by work or life. Ha! Balance. The unattainable dream! After tucking Rowan into bed last night I finished reading the interviews and then chatted with Chris about how I think we can improve our work/life management and I'm feeling really good about it. I think carving out a bit of time once in a while to reflect upon your situation and find ways to make small changes that will hopefully make life more organized is really important. We've set new goals for ourselves, now lets see if we can stick to them!

Another blog post I read recently that really struck a chord was this one over on A Beautiful Mess about changing dreams. It highlights the importance of making plans, dreaming big, but then going with the flow. Following your path, even if it takes you places you didn't know you wanted to go. I feel like running TFA has had a lot of "changing dreams" moments. When I started TFA over 6 years ago I had one vision for my business, as time passed, life changed and our strengths and weaknesses became more clear to me things haven't always gone the way I thought I wanted them to. And I'm totally ok with that because I think that we're ending up exactly where we're supposed to be. 

And while I'm randomly chatting about work, motherhood, dreams and life, I've got to mention that stack of fabric pictured above. It's a Colour Dive Quilt Kit designed by Anna Maria Horner (the quilt pattern and all the fabrics) and I cannot wait to sink my teeth into it! Anna Maria Horner is an amazing textile designer who's aesthetic is so different from mine, but is still somehow so incredibly appealing to me. You know I love a good rainbow gradient, so there is just no way I could pass up this quilt kit. Anna Maria happens to be a mother of 7, her youngest just a few weeks younger than Rowan. If I'm not mistaken, she also works from home, and though I don't know her, just reading her blog and following her on instagram I really get the impression that I could learn a lot from her about balancing work and life with a busy family (her's being 7 times busier than mine!) 

Wishing everyone a very happy weekend. I've got two boys at home (ok, one baby and one man) who are both feeling a little under the weather so I think we'll be spending a good deal of it drinking tea and taking long naps. Doesn't that sound nice? We'll see what Rowan has to say about that. 

Thursday, 27 February 2014

Julie's Notebook: Team Tanis Ravellenic Games

During the Winter Olympic Games, there is a very fun knit-along called the Ravellenic Games- you cast on during the opening ceremony of the Olympics, and knit like the wind to finish your project by the end of the closing ceremonies.  We had a great team put together in the Tanis Fiber Arts Ravelry Group- here are all our winning Golds from Team Tanis 2014:

Quite the feast for the eyes, looking at at all those beautiful projects! It was so much fun to see everyone's progress, and we cheered each other on the whole way. We had 49 participants, and  48 Gold Medal winning FOs. Way to go! I'm so super proud to be in league with all these amazing knitters. Just look at those stunning knits up there. If knitting really were an Olympic event, these are definitely the knitters I'd want to have on my team. 

Thursday, 20 February 2014

Follow Your Arrow

Pattern: Follow Your Arrow Mystery KAL by Ysolda Teague
Clues: BBBBB
Yarn: TFA Red Label in Smoke (YICC July 2012) and Delightful (ooak)
Ravelry project page here.

I participated in my very first mystery KAL this year and man was it ever fun! I'm actually quite surprised at how addictive it was. Each week I would look forward to the next clue coming out, I'd deliberate over wether to knit Clue A or Clue B, it was exhilarating. In the end I opted to go Clue B all the way, it just made things easier. I can't say enough about Ysolda's brilliance in orchestrating this massive KAL. There were 2 clues to choose from every week, instructions for a single colour or two colour version provided. There was lace, short rows, knitted on borders... honestly, this was an epic undertaking and I am in awe of her design prowess.  

This shawl is larger than most of the shawls I've knit. I tend to love a good "one skein of fingering weight yarn" shawlette, though even on my petite frame, it's nice to have something a little more substantial to wrap around my neck. 

I struggled big time with the asymmetry of this shawl. With the second Clue, those short rows that make the shawl veer off to the side, I worried that there would be no coming back from it. By the time I had worked Clue 4B I had 3 symmetrical lace clues and 1 super asymmetrical clue that was sticking out like a sore thumb for me. I was very worried that I wouldn't be able to live with it. But I love the yarn I had chosen, and really wanted to see this project through to completion since I had enjoyed the experience so much. I was thrilled when Clue 5B offered an asymmetrical border option, I think that it goes a long way towards balancing out the shawl. I opted to knit the border in intarsia. It was a ton of work managing 3 balls of yarn, 2 colours, lace and short rows all in one border. But I think that it was so worth it. I am certain that I would not be as happy with the shawl if I had taken the easy way out and  knit the border in only one colour. However, I should mention that I am positive that my border has no less than 100 mistakes in it. I am not a perfectionist, so I can definitely live with it, but please don't look too closely! 

This project has given me the mystery KAL bug and I've already taken a few moments to flip through my stitch dictionaries and plot out my own mystery shawl design. Isn't that just the best? When one project inspires another? 

Did any of you participate in the Follow Your Arrow Mystery KAL too? I'd love to see your shawls, add a link in the comments so we can all check 'em out!

Tuesday, 18 February 2014

Smokestack Socks - a new pattern

Introducing the Smokestack Sock pattern!
I have a history of knitting a pair of socks for my dad for Christmas every year. This year I dropped the ball. My poor dad had no handknit socks to unwrap on Christmas morning. To make up for it, I designed a pair of socks just for him (though this isn't the first pair he's inspired, my Alpha Socks and Business Casual Socks were also designed for and gifted to him!) This time I used a special skein of Purple Label Cashmere Sock yarn in the Rock colourway that I went on and on about here. Dad deserves nothing but the best!
The Smokestack Socks were obviously inspired my my Brixter Hat pattern. I just love all that texture and those crisp cables. Actually, to be even more specific, these socks were inspired by the ever so slightly modified Brixter I knit a few months ago. With a slightly different cabling rhythm these socks are the perfect, simple, unisex pattern. I have plans to knit myself a pair in a brighter colourway. 
The pattern is offered in two sizes, small and large, which roughly translate into "average woman and average man" sizes. However labeling sizes is can be so arbitrary so lets just say that I'd make the small size for myself (I have tiny feet, I wear a size 5 or 6 shoe) and I'd knit the large size for Chris (he has regular man sized feet, wears a size 10 shoe) and each pair will fit the intended recipient perfectly! The all over ribbing makes for a very stretchy and therefor forgiving and comfortable pattern. Perfect for sock knitting.


1 skein Tanis Fiber Arts Purple Label Cashmere Sock yarn (70% superwash merino, 20% cashmere, 10% nylon, 115g =  400yds).

Pattern is given in two sizing options, small (large) – roughly translated into woman’s medium / (men’s medium). The cast on number is the same for both sizes, needle size, heel, gusset and toe instructions vary.

Set of 4, 2.25mm (US 1) / (2.75mm (US 2)) dpns or size needed to obtain gauge.

17 stitches and 20 rounds = 1.5” (1.75”) wide and 1.25” (1.5”) tall unblocked in pattern.

Finished Measurements:
Cuff Circumference: approx 12” (13)” stretched.
Leg and Foot lengths vary depending on knitter’s preference.

Additional Tools and Materials:
Tapestry needle

Ravelry pattern page here

Monday, 17 February 2014

my knitting nook

This is wear I do 99.9% of my knitting. In this corner of the sofa, with telephone, remote controls and knitting baskets just an arms length away. I keep small WIP's in the basket on the left, all of my essential knitting tools in the wooden bowl and miscellaneous patterns and papers in the basket on the right. 
The above shot includes literally all of my essential knitting tools (the ones in the above mentioned wooden bowl). I have 1 pair of scissors, 1 calculator and believe it or not 1 set of darning needles (there are 2 in the pack, but I've only ever used 1 of them). Considering the amount of knitting I do I think that I've managed to keep my knitting supplies extremely paired down. I hold absolutely no judgement towards those who have a thing for gear and who have 500 sets of stitch markers, but I've somehow never gotten sucked into it and have managed to get through about a decade of knitting without losing my one darning needle. Even when I bring my knitting out and about with me and need to grab my scissors and tape measure I'll take these and then promptly put them back in my bowl when I get home. Crazy right?
And then there is the rest of it... the needles, the buttons. All of these things live in a few baskets in a cabinet in my living room. I'm not sure that I've ever shared a full shot of the fireplace that Chris and I built in to our living room (I should get on that, we love it!) we built a cabinet on one side, and Rowan recently took it upon himself to necessitate my reorganizing of it. I pulled out all the buttons and the needles, tidied them up and put them away nice and neat. That was about two weeks ago and the cabinet is still looking as it should. It feels very good to know that at least one corner of my crafting zone is as it should be! Don't even get me started on my office. I have made exactly zero progress on my big office makeover project… boo!

Thursday, 13 February 2014

Watcha workin' on?

I've got several projects on the needles these days that I don't think I've mentioned at all on the blog. So, here's a little update on what I'm working on. 
First up is a new design I started just the other night. I'm knitting it in Aurora in the new Amber Label base and so far so good! I have no more details to share about this bad boy as it's still in a very preliminary stage and I have no idea where it will go from here. Hopefully somewhere, possibly nowhere. 

My official Ravellenic Games project
When I released the Cavalcade Sock pattern as the January Year In Colour Club pattern many of us agreed that the back pattern alone was pretty enough for a sock. I'm knitting a pair of DK weight socks for my sister in law in the Saffron colourway using just the eyelet cable ribbing motif. Should be such a quick knit, but things have been so busy these days that it's proving to be quite challenging to find the time to work on it. 

My Follow Your Arrow mystery shawl:
I've tried very hard to work each clue the week it came out, and up until now, I've managed to stick to the timeline. But now I'm on the last clue, Clue number 5. I've opted to pick option B for every clue, it's going to be great, but it's going to take forever to work this border. The pattern is ingenious, but I've gone ahead and decided to make things uber-complicated by working the border in intarsia! The results will be so worth it, and I don't think I'd like it half as much if I didn't, but man, this is a pain in the butt to knit. I will persevere and finish this eventually but it will certainly not be finished by Sunday night. Sigh. My project page with yarn details can be found here. I was considering intarsia for the border, figured it was foolish, but then saw this version and now there is no going back!

So, those are my main knitting projects these days. Other than that I'm trying desperately *desperately* to get photos of Rowan in this hoodie for the pattern I'm wrapping up. He is almost too big for it now and is so much more mobile than he was just a few week ago. There is a very good chance that the pattern shots end up blurry and that Rowan is squeezed into this hoodie like a little blond sausage. 

So, what's on your needles? Are any of you doing the Mystery KAL? Ravellenic Games? Crazy intarsia projects? Baby wrangling?

Wednesday, 12 February 2014

fabric dyeing workshop

Thank you so much to everyone who piped in on Monday's blog post to express their love of blogs! Sharing ideas and projects is such a big part of crafting that I don't see craft blogs going anywhere anytime soon. 
fabric dyeing
Some inspirational samples by teacher Dianne Robinson
my favourite part of any fabric project… the ironing!
My range - from slate blue to lemon yellow. All luck since I completely messed up my measuring!
Mom's gorgeous parfait dyeing. My favourite fabric of the day is that mix on the left. 
Our hand dyed fabric stash.
Big plans for this bundle. I did not dye all those blues! Only the two in the centre. 
This past weekend I had the chance to take a fabric dyeing workshop with the Beaconsfield Quilters Guild taught by Dianne Robinson. My mother is an enthusiastic member and I managed to sneak in and nab the last spot in the class alongside her. It was awesome! Mom laughed at me for being so excited about taking a dyeing class (after all, I literally dye yarn for a living) but dyeing cotton fabric is different. Though the fundamentals about colour theory are the same, there is a completely different process involved in dyeing plant fibers like cotton and dyeing animal protein fibers like wool. Which is why you see so few hand dyers doing both animal and plant fiber dyeing. It requires different types of dyes, different methods to set etc.

It was incredibly liberating to be able to sit back and play with dyes and colour with absolutely no pressure. Though I do have fun experimenting on my yarns in my own studio, this felt nothing like work, it was like I was back in art class. I'm really happy with the fabrics that we dyed, but I think the most valuable thing I came out of the day with is a renewed passion for my craft. Every time we would pour dye on fabric I'd feel this rush, the whole process of applying colour to undyed material (be it yarn, fabric or paper) is still so exciting to me. It makes me feel very lucky to have found my calling. 

I don't do nearly enough sewing to justify my new fabric dyeing obsession, but I do plan to put a few of my hand dyed fabrics to good use soon. Remember these fabric swatches I had framed in the loft? Well, I replaced them with Liberty fabrics some time after we moved (and have since moved the liberty swatches to our bedroom) so all of these gorgeous blues have just been sitting in my stash, waiting for inspiration to strike. We're due for a new throw for the living room, and I think that with a few of my hand dyed blues thrown in I'll have a lovely palette to work with to make something really fresh and modern to snuggle under while I knit. 

Here are a few inspiration images of quilts that I've pinned. Which one gets your vote?
1) This quilt could be pretty in all blues.
2) More squares framed by white.
3) Maybe all triangles?
4) This heart quilt is really sweet, but maybe not right for these fabrics.
5) Love this one.
6) Well, this one makes a lot of sense for these fabrics.
7) Or maybe just Ombre strips like this one, because I never can get enough of a good ombre look. 

Monday, 10 February 2014


Are you on Instagram? I am right here. And I love it! There is much buzz around the internet these days about the changing face of blogging. With so many fast paced social media sites around these days (facebook, twitter, instagram, pinterest) fewer people are taking the time to sit, read, comment and participate in the blogging community. I, however, am not one of these people. I have luckily managed to avoid getting hooked on facebook or twitter, I love instagram, but it will never replace a good blog post for me. I love seeing a beautiful image, and I will "like" it, but I will continue to visit blogs and read about the story behind the images. 

As a blogger, business owner and colour lover, it's fun for me to have another outlet for quick posts, but since I consider this blog to be my true online home I thought it might be nice to share some of my favourite fibery-snaps with you here too. Above is a selection of my favourite moments in instragram from the past 2 weeks. 

So, I'd love to hear what you think. Do you still love a good blog post as much as I do? Or have other, quicker, social media sites replaced the chatty blog as your source of crafty inspiration? My thoughts: no way. I'd like to have my instagram and blog about it too!

Friday, 7 February 2014

Fashion Friday - Boots!

Featured knit: Handspun Hat
Yarn: TFA Superwash Merino Roving in Kelp, handspun by yours truly.
Boots: MJUS cowboy/biker boots in turquoise purchased from Cara Shoes.

A love story:
Girl sees photo of boots online. 
Girl can't stop thinking about them. 
Girl luckily has a contact in the shoe world (this contact happens to be the one responsible for leaking said photo of boots in the first place). 
Girl places a phone call that ends with the divulging of credit card details.
Boots are delivered. 
Girl and Boots live happily ever after until the end of time. 

The end. 

Turquoise boots, impractical? No way. They match just about everything I wear (and knit!) I will wear these every day. Thanks Sara, you're the very best. 

Wednesday, 5 February 2014

From Rock, to Lucky Penny and back again - a colour story.

Psst :: I reference the Etsy Update a lot in this post! If you don't know what I'm talking about, check out Tuesday's post here.

Some colourways just happen. Once in a blue moon I know exactly what I want, I make a plan, dye some yarn and everything comes out exactly as intended. More often, however, colourways are a tad more mysterious to me and kind of take on a life of their own. They start with an idea and end up wherever they are supposed to. Developing Club colourways can be difficult because I'm usually aiming for something very specific. Working on Etsy update colourways is a completely different ball game. There is so much freedom, nothing is planned, we just experiment as much as we want to and are always surprised and *usually* are thrilled with the results. 

Every colourway has a story. I thought it would be fun to start sharing some with you here.

ROCK version 1.0
Back in November 2012 we came up with a lovely, soft colourway that I called Rock. It had a little bit of grey, some beige, soft turquoise that in some places overlapped with a light mustardy yellow colourway making green spots too. I loved it. The batch we dyed had one flawed skein, which I was happy about because it meant that I could keep it!
Just a bit more saturated = LUCKY PENNY!
I loved the colourway so much that the next time we were playing around for an Etsy update I tried to recreate it. I was a little more heavy handed this time and the results were not what I was expecting. More saturated, more turquoise... more fabulous! That's how a not-quite-right Rock became one of my favourite colourways ever: Lucky Penny
ROCK version 2.0
Fast forward over a year later and I still had that skein of flawed Rock sitting in my stash. I still loved the soft colour and decided to use it to cast on for a new sock design that had been brewing. After having spent a bit of time with it, I was re-committed to giving it another shot in the studio. Knowing that we went too saturated the first time we tried to recreate it, we used our Lucky penny recipe as a starting point, then paired it down, made a few changes and came up with a brand new version of my lovely Rock. Looking at these photos it looks like Rock has come a long way from it's original lighter-Lucky Penny self, but in person the two versions were actually very close, our new Rock is just a bit more grey, which I love - I've never met a nuanced grey that I didn't like!
Smokestack Socks - pattern coming soon!
So there you have it! Rock inspired Lucky Penny and then Lucky Penny was the key to cracking the code to a softer, subtler Rock. It's a very complex colourway, difficult to photograph (aren't they all!) It's sometimes grey, sometimes beige, sometimes green, but always lovely. I've finished up the socks I was knitting with my skein. The Smokestack Sock pattern will be available within the next week or two. If you'd like to knit yourself a pair in Rock just like the sample, Friday is your chance to nab a skein!

Tuesday, 4 February 2014

A different kind of Etsy Update


Shop will appear empty until exactly 8am (EST) on Friday at which point the yarns will be listed.

We are very excited to be trying something a little different for this Etsy Update. We have chosen 6 colourways and will be dyeing to order. This allows us to offer these 6 colourways pictured in large quantities in the following bases:

Green Label Aran Weight
100% superwash merino
115g (4oz) = 187m (205yds)

Purple Label Cashmere Sock
70% superwash merino, 20% cashmere, 10% nylon
115g (4oz) = 365m (400yds)

*New* Amber Label Cashmere/Silk DK Weight
75% superwash merino, 15% cashmere, 10% silk
115g (4oz) = 242m (270 yds)
Edited to add: this base will be listed at $32 a skein, just like it's big brother - Orange Label!

These yarns will go live in my Etsy Shop at 8am (EST)and will be available for 12 hours only or while quantities last. I really hope to have some available for a good part of the day. However I'd definitely recommend checking in early in the day if you have your heart set on something specific. I have allotted a certain number of skeins for each base. I'll start out the day with an even number of each colourway but am reserving the right to redistribute yarn availabilities as I see fit throughout the day.  For example, if one colourway sells out in Green Label very early on and I've got another colourway that isn't moving, I will borrow some from the less active colourway to add stock to the sold out colourway.

I am pretty crazy about all 6 of these colourways. Right this moment I'm staring at a skein of Aurora on my desk and I'm thinking that it just might be the best colourway that we've ever dyed. I love it. I'm also very happy to be able to offer a new base in this update. A very luxurious DK weight, merino/cashmere/silk blend that would knit up beautifully in any use; sweaters, shawls, accessories, this yarn takes the dye beautifully and I think you'll love it.

Since we will be dyeing to order for this update please allow 2-4 weeks for shipping and 4-6 weeks for delivery.

Monday, 3 February 2014


Yesterday Rowan helped me to get the ball rolling. He crawled right up there, pulled himself up, opened the doors and started cleaning things out. He found the bin where I stuff all of my swatches. I hadn't looked in that bin forever, so a big thanks to Rowan for making me take a second look. A bunch of the swatches have been turned into designs or knits. Others are still percolating and may never be anything more than a swatch. One in particular really got my wheels spinning. I'm excited about that. 

I laid out all my swatches, took stock, and then proceeded to clean out the cupboard. Then I moved on to another area... man it feels good to have conquered just one tiny corner of chaos. Thanks Rowan! For wreaking havoc and then making feel good about sweeping up behind you!