Saturday, 30 January 2010

Meadow Handspun

I couldn't resist, I really wanted to see how this roving would spin up. I'm still a pretty inexperienced spinner and am 100% self-taught, so I really have no idea how a roving is going to look once it's spun. That's a big part of the fun, it's always a surprise!

I'm very pleased with the results. Lovely pools of blues, greens and turquoises mellowed by the browns and beiges. I find the result to be soft and soothing. This skein is 100g and 310 yds. I've gotten pretty good at spinning light sport weight yarn. Perfect for another baby surprise jacket!

This is my most technically successful skein of handspun yet. It's quite evenly spun and balanced and I think that I did a better job of plying this time.

I may be a tad addicted...

Thursday, 28 January 2010

wedding location

As regular readers will know, this June I am marrying my sweetheart Chris. My mom found this picture and I think it's so neat because you can see the golf club where we are having our reception in the foreground and in the distance is the church where our ceremony will be held. Our wedding day location in one snapshot.

Isn't it a great shot? We are 4 1/2 months away from our wedding day and we're now entering the "fun" phase where we're getting a lot of stuff done. We're trying to plan ahead and stay on top of things so we're not running around like lunatics when May roles around and we realize that we only have one month left and 100 things left to do. This wedding planning thing is a lot of work! But we're enjoying it. I think that we're a pretty laid back couple. As long as he shows up I'll be happy!

Wednesday, 27 January 2010

Happy Birthday Mom!

Today is my mom's birthday! She's the best.

I'm knitting a pair of socks that may or may not be for my mom (she reads my blog, so I have to keep her on her toes!) The pattern is the Waving Lace Sock from Interweave Favorite Socks book. I think that this is the 5th or 6th pattern that I've knit from this amazing book. I have several sock pattern books, some I occasionally flip through, but none that I knit from as much as this one. I've even knit several of the patterns multiple times. The yarn I'm using is my own Blue Label Fingering Weight yarn in a one of a kind colourway. It was an experiment a while back, I think that this shade of purple is very pretty, and suits the geometric lace pattern nicely.

As you may have noticed, I've been quite interested in multicoloured yarns and rovings lately. I've added a whole series of multi's to my collection, I've been spinning with multicoloured rovings... so it was only a natural progression for me to experiment with dyeing my multi's in my roving. Here is Rhythm and Meadow in my superwash merino roving:

I'm looking forward to spinning these up and comparing the finished handspun yarn to it's partner in hand dyed yarn. I'm sure the resulting yarns will be very different, but equally interesting.

Meadow may be one of my favorite new colourways. I have a feeling that when this is spun it will have a similar vintage look to the whispers in the wind handspun that I recently knit with. I think that the browns and the light beiges will add a softness. This may be my next spinning project.

I don't have any immediate plans to add multicoloured rovings to my permanent collection of products, but I may bring a few along with me to my next show, these are still in the experimental phase.

Thanks to everyone who left such nice comments on my last post about my handspun BSJ! I'm still a very new spinner, so the encouragement means a lot!

Monday, 25 January 2010

Handspun BSJ

I'm repeating photo's again... is that a bad thing to do in a blog?

Here's the roving I started with:

Whispers in the wind colourway by dkknits. Back in July I spun it into 270yds of roughly dk weight yarn:

And this weekend I knit it into my first handspun baby surprise jacket. This is an awesome pattern for using a single skein of handspun yarn. This colourway is so multifaceted when it's knit up into simple garter stitch. The colours and tones seem to fluidly change in every stitch.

Garter stitch has the amazing ability to make what seemed like glaring mistakes in the skein of yarn to look like intentional hand made charm. It hides all flaws. Which is exactly what I need, my handspun is still far from perfect!

This little sweater is still missing buttons, but that's not a problem because I don't have a recipient for it yet. It will just sit in my "knitted gifts" drawer until someone I know and love has a baby that needs to be gifted a handspun sweater and then I'll go searching for buttons!

Thursday, 21 January 2010

Peacock Plumage Handspun

I know that I'm repeating some of the photo's of this lovely roving from my last post. But now that this roving has been spun in to singles, plied into a 2-ply yarn, skeined, soaked and dried I felt like doing a little photographic recap of the process from beginning to end.

Hand dyed superwash merino roving by dkKnits:

Carefully spun singles:

Finished 2-ply yarn. 102g = 370yds!

I've realized that whenever I finish a skein of handspun, I always look at it, admire my hard work, and then think to myself, "this is lovely, but it would be nicer if it had more turquoise in it." Possibly the only time I didn't think that was when I spun this.

The more I look at it, the more I love it! And though I think it's possible that I might like it even more if it were more turquoise and less green, I still think it's stunning just the way it is.

Tuesday, 19 January 2010

finished socks & new spinning

I finished Jake's socks, all 3 pairs! I just hope they fit. I'm worried that his three year old feet may be bigger then I think they are... these may be ankle socks, but I would be fine with that too!

I'm gearing myself up to start another shawl project, but last night, after finishing those little socks, I decided that I wanted to work on something a little less intricate and a little more mindless. So I dug out this gorgeous roving from DK Knits and started spinning. (I don't think she has an Etsy store anymore...)

These are definitely my colours! I think this yarn is going to be very pretty!

Sunday, 17 January 2010


Today's post is going to be a little bit random. First up, my new labels.

They are the exact same design as my original labels because though they are simple I still love them, but they have been scaled down. When I started dyeing the multi's I realized that I wanted a thiner label because a wide one wrapped around the center of the skein potentially hid a lot of the excitement in the colourway! So we (by "we" I mean Chris) made me a thinner label. While we were at it I made the executive decision to no longer write all the colourway names by hand, sure it was cute and home-made looking, but sometimes when I had hundreds of labels to write, not only did it take FOREVER, it also risked getting a little bit sloppy... and it's kind of important that the name of the colourway be at least legible. I'm still signing the backs of all the labels, because signatures are allowed to be sloppy!

I'm making my nephew socks for his 3rd birthday. I thought it would be appropriate to make him 3 pairs because to me, that just makes sense. I'm knitting them out of leftover yarn and since toddler's grow so fast and I don't know how big his little feet really are I'm making tube socks. I think that they are really cute. Each sock takes me about 2-2 1/2 hours to knit. A fun little project.

I've been thinking a lot about the Ravelimpics. A big part of me wants to participate, and I can think of lots of very challenging projects that I would love to start and finish in two weeks! I've considered finally finishing my bohus, because I think I'm ready. I've thought about taking the opportunity to dye, spin and knit a sweater, to knit Chris the sweater I've been promising to make him for months! To learn to crochet and to start and finish a crochet project. But in the end, I've decided that I've got so many serious deadlines to face every day that I really don't need a way to work the pressure of a deadline into my casual, relaxing knitting time.

I may change my mind and get wrapped up in the excitement of the Olympics, but for now I'm thinking that I will be a spectator in this years Ravelympics.

That's all for today, I think I'm going to go and finish knitting a tiny little sock now.

Wednesday, 13 January 2010

Prism Leyburns

My first pair of socks for 2010 are officially off the needles! Ok, I swear, I'll stop starting every post with a declaration of a new first for 2010, I think it's getting a little tired. I started these socks before Christmas. I loved the how the colours looked in the skein when I dyed my new Prism colourway, but you never know exactly how it's going to translate once knitted.

At first, I was worried that this colourway might be a little bit too crazy for me. It's certainly bright, it's like a rainbow exploded! Could these socks be too wild? After about 2 seconds of wearing these socks my answer to that question is a resounding "no way!" These socks are like a party for my feet! As soon as I put them on, I can't help but smile.

This pattern never gets old. It's the perfect showcase for variegated yarns. I'm sure I'll be knitting it again soon.

Whenever I knit with multicoloured yarns, I'm always mesmerized by the details. The spots in the pattern where the stitch count changes and the yarn starts behaving differently. The heel, the toe, the gusset.

In the winter when it's too cold to parade around bare footed and show off my brightly painted toe nails, at least I can show off some awesome, happy socks!

Tuesday, 12 January 2010

Percy Shawl

First FO of 2010 is officially ready to be blogged!

This shawl was fun and challenging (particularly chart B). I really love the first lace pattern, it looks like little daisies, very sweet. I also love the border with all those nupps! It's graphic and dramatic. To be perfectly honest, I'm not as crazy about the middle pattern. Even though it was the most complicated portion to knit, I just don't find the resulting lace to be as pretty. However, I don't think that the delicacy of the daisies would work with the boldness of the border without having a strong middle section to breech the two. And though I don't love the middle section on it's own, as a whole I'm very happy with how the shawl looks.

The finished shawl is pretty substantial. It's 55" across (which is almost as big as my wingspan!) and 32" up the spine. After reading on Ravelry that a lot of people considered the Percy shawl to be a shawlette I was a bit surprised by the size of mine, definitely a full blown shawl in my books! I upped the needle size to a 4mm, and I also added a couple extra repeats of the final 2 rows of the border chart because I wanted to make sure that I really maxed out the proportions and used up as much yarn as I could. I wanted to test how much mileage I could get out of one skein of this yarn. I finished with 8 grams of yarn left, and what I consider to be a pretty big shawl, so I'm very happy with how far one skein took me!

After knitting with my new silk yarn I can now confidently say that I am in love with it. I cannot wait to be able to share it with you! It's a dream to work with. I don't actually make the yarn, I just dye it, so though I do like the colour, I can safely say that this yarn is awesome without totally patting myself on the back because I had nothing to do with making the yarn so shiny and soft and drapey and fabulous.

I finished a pair of socks last night, so now I have absolutely nothing on my needles! It makes me feel a little uneasy actually... last night when I finished grafting the toe closed on the last sock and realized that I didn't have something else to pick up and knit on I started to feel a little anxious! I'm sure the feeling won't last long as I have more than a couple projects in mind to cast on for tonight!

Monday, 11 January 2010

Fun with colour

My first wholesale orders of the year were mailed out yesterday. We're off to a good start! These orders included some of my new multi's! They looked so lovely all labeled and ready to be packed, I couldn't help but snap a few shots.

I like the look of them individually, but in groups of ten I think that they look even better.

Stacked in 20's in boxes they look pretty neat too! Almost hypnotic...

My Percy shawl is all done and blocked, now it just needs to be photographed. Now to cast on for something new!

Saturday, 9 January 2010

2010 - the year of the shawl

I predict that I will knit a lot of shawls this year. There are a couple of reasons for this, my wedding is coming up in June and I plan on knitting shawls for my bridesmaids. I have this new silk yarn that is so yummy and perfectly suited to shawls. There are so many great patterns out there, (I'm already planning on casting on for this next.) and basically, I just love knitting lace shawls! I love the complexity and the challenge that they present. I love the way that they transform from a bumpy mass of stitches pre-blocking into a stunning work of art post-blocking. And I love wearing them. So, 2010 will be the year I knit a lot of shawls.

Unfortunately, that means that there will be a lot of WIP shots that look like this:

Voila my Percy shawl. Hopefully I'll be able to get creative with my photography and figure out a way to make those pre-blocking blob shots a little more interesting...

Until this shawl, I thought that I hated knitting nupps. My only previous attempt was on the Swallowtail shawl that I knit for my mom for Christmas 2008, and it was not fun. I couldn't figure out how to make them loose enough to comfortable p7tog, but this time I think I got it! It actually wasn't rocket science, I just knit my nupps carefully and made sure to hold the stitches loosely in place, a little finicky, but definitely worth it. So far so good!

A couple more nights of knitting and I should be able to have this finished. Chart B has you purling in pattern on the wrong side, which is something I'd never done before. I'm glad that I did it, but it's shocking how much more complicated it made things for me! I thought that since I was used to knitting in pattern and purling is no big deal, that purling in pattern would be just like knitting in pattern. Whatever. But somehow working every single row in pattern and never having a break to just purl back without concentrating made it way more difficult for me! I had to be totally focused on my pattern and my knitting for every stitch. I'm now on Chart C (the last chart!) and am so relieved to not be working every row in pattern. Even with the finicky nupps, it feels so much easier.

Wednesday, 6 January 2010


I once read a blog post where the writer explained how she framed her first attempt at knitting. It was sweet, it was a little uneven swatch of stockinette and garter stitch, up on the wall in a little shadow box. A reminder of where she started. I have a similar reminder. When I was 7 or 8 years old I received a "learn to knit kit" as a gift. I sat down with my mom and my 6 tiny skeins of fluorescent acrylic yarn and cast on for a garter stitch scarf. When I would run out of one colour I would just tie on the next and keep going. When I was done, I had a tiny little scarf, perfect for my beloved stuffed animal Snoopy.

I didn't know how to sew in the ends, so I just braided them together and let them dangle. My garter stitch is 10 stitches wide at some points, 9 stitches at others, and even 12 at others! Almost 20 years later and I still sleep with Snoopy every night. If I go to bed without him tucked under my arm I feel like I am missing a part of me... I know that sounds like a strange thing for an alleged adult to admit, but I'm just so used to having Snoopy with me. I don't travel with him any more after I tragically forgot him at a friends house when I was 5 or 6, I learnt then that it was better to have a bad nights sleep without him then to risk losing him in a lost bag or a hotel room.

Snoopy still comforts me at night, and he still wears that scarf that I knit him years ago. A keepsake of my very first stitches.

Sunday, 3 January 2010

Silk love

Even though I still have a couple unfinished projects from 2009, I just couldn't help but start off 2010 by casting on for something brand new and exciting! Remember a while back when I said that I was working on a new yarn? I had hoped to have it available before Christmas, that wasn't possible, the new deadline is to have it out before March. In the meantime, I've cast on for the Percy shawl (ravelry link) in a sample that I have dyed up in Deep Sea.

So far it's working up beautifully. I love silk!

Friday, 1 January 2010

A look back

2009 was a very big year for me. I can't possibly recount every high and low, and I don't think anyone would want that anyway, so I'll just stick with the high-lights. Personally, I got engaged to the man of my dreams! Professionally I quit my day job to focus on building my own business, I went to my first (and second) knitting show as a vendor, I made my own website and I gained a full time business partner (my fiancé Chris!) Right now, I can't help but feel really lucky to be doing what I love. We work very hard, but we love our work, so it's no sacrifice at all. This time last year Tanis Fiber Arts was almost 1 one year old, I had 2 products: Blue label fingering weight yarn and Green label aran weight yarn. In 2009 I added 2 more yarn bases, 2 rovings and 3 kits. I collaborated with talented designers to create patterns. I designed my own patterns! I bought a spinning wheel and learned to spin! I wrote 115 blog entries!

And in my spare time... I knit.

I have 46 finished projects from 2009! Too many to fit into one mosaic, so I've separated the socks:

12 pairs of socks, 7 were gifts, 1 was donated to charity and 4 were kept for me!

Then there is the rest: 11 sweaters (3 for Stella, 3 for babies, 5 for me!), 7 hats, 4 pairs of mittens, 3 blankets, 3 scarves, 2 shawls, 2 cowls, 1 pair of slippers and 1 elephant.

1. mitered corner - the Baby Shane Blanket, 2. Lagoon Loppem with Lime green buttons, 3.Stella's Preloved inspired sweater, 4. Kureyon Hoodie, 5. February Baby Sweater, 6.Girasole, 7. Assemblage, 8. TFA Sand, 9. Thermis, 10. Adamas shawl with Pink Label Lace at Frolic 2009, 11. Mitered Square Blanket, 12. IMG_2225, 13. Buttons Neck Warmer, 14.TFA - Blue Label - Lace Ribbon Scarf - Plum, 15. February Lady Sweater - TFA Mallard, 16.Nightsongs Shawl, 17. Hand dyed, hand spun, hand knit hat! , 18. Elijah in pink, 19.Midnight Porom, 20. Sparkle Fresh Beret, 21. TFA - Thrummed mitten kit, 22. TFA Fiddlehead Mittens, 23. Vespergyle mitt, 24. Stella's Watercolour sweater, 25. Little Miss Greenjeans in Peacock, 26. Little Girl Scarf, 27. Little Inga Hat, 28. Fiddlehead Mitten in Aqua, 29. TFA Dipped Infinity Scarf Kit, 30. Stella's Aran Pullover, 31. French Press slippers, 32. Dipped Infinity Sweater, 33. Koolhaas

8 of the knits are reserved as show samples, 15 were gifts (I consider Stella's sweaters gifts!) and the rest live at home with me, some of the hats are shared with Chris, but the sweaters are all mine!

Quite a productive year! 2010 is shaping up to be pretty exciting too, I've got my wedding to look forward to, more knitting shows to attend, new yarns, colours, patterns and kits to dream up... I'd better get to work!