Tuesday, 28 February 2012

Knits for Julie's baby!

Remember the 2012 baby boom I mentioned in a recent blog post? Well, among the special couples expecting their first child this year is our very own Julie! Though she has one of the later due dates, she was the person I was the most excited to knit for! Sure, there's extra pressure when knitting for a knitter, she would be able to spot any errors or has a very keen knitterly eye, but on the flip side, as a knitter you know that she's going to appreciate all the hard work involved in even the tiniest little baby sweater! I was also excited to knit for Julie because we know she's having a girl! And baby girl knits are just about the cutest things ever. 

Clara button

When I hear the words "baby" and "girl" in the same sentence my brain immediately jumps to the Clara Dress. I've now knit this dress three times and it never disappoints! Julie's favorite colour is green, so she got a pretty, light green dress with a sparkly turquoise button. 

Peacock Sunnyside

And what baby's wardrobe would be complete without a Sunnyside Baby sweater? I knit this one in Purple Label Cashmere Sock yarn (because baby + cashmere = amazing) in the Peacock colourway. Girls can wear blue too! I'm sure that she'll have plenty of pink, and while I completely support that I thought I'd add a pop of blue to the mix since it's my favorite colour. 

Enjoy these knits Julie! Can't wait to meet baby Crawford!

Friday, 24 February 2012

A few new pretty things from my favorite sites

My new heart bowls

I think that one of the reasons we all love Etsy so much is because we know that by purchasing a beautiful handmade item directly from the maker's Etsy shop, we are supporting the artist directly. I love knowing that the person who made these beautiful little heart shaped bowls wrapped them up with care herself and shipped them to me. Gosh I love handmade things! 

Aren't these little bowls just the sweetest? I'm not sure what I'll use them for, earrings? Condiments? I think that the little one would be perfect for olive pits. is that weird? When I'm entertaining I often put a dish of delicious olives out as part of my appetizers, but then you're always left with the awkward situation of having to spit your pits out into something... a little heart shaped bowl would be just the thing. 

These beautiful heart nesting bowls were purchased from JD Wolfe Pottery. I love the colour!

My new heart bowls

I have another favorite site to thank for this next purchase. I pinned this image on Pinterest months ago and kept going back to it. I just love this pencil drawing. It's light and fine and that bun is just so familiar looking to me. As a perpetual bun wearer I finally caved and purchased this 5x7 print from Belafonte on Etsy. The print is called "A Perfect Mess". Isn't that nice?

gorgeous print

Since taking this picture I have framed this print in a simple, light birch frame. I'm planning on hanging it as part of a collection on top of my new fireplace. That's right, new fireplace! Chris and I are adding a gas fireplace to our living room and it is being installed today! Full details coming soon, I cannot wait! 

love this cat!

Next, this hilarious little blue cat. Ok, the cat itself isn't blue, but to me the overall feeling of this print is blue and I love that. The cat reminds me of my family pet Tristan, and he's wearing a bow tie, best $15 I ever spent! He is admittedly very silly, but he brings me so much joy. :) This print is called "Handsome Cat" by Alice X. Zhang and was purchased here. I was so enamored with him when he arrived in the mail that without removing him from his celaphane wrapper I immediately taped him to the wall. I've since moved him and taped him to the side of a cabinet. I'm keeping my eyes open for an 8x8" frame, but until I find the right one I'm happy to move him around the house and tape him up where ever feels appropriate.

Last up, an original work of art that I threw together in one afternoon (including drying time) all in I don't think it took more than 20 minutes of actual work. Inspired by this image that I pinned months ago I decided to attempt my own version. I had started collecting crocheted doilies a while ago, but my collection never amounted to more than a couple discoloured, sad little doilies. I grabbed an old canvas, some gesso, leftover paint and voila! Instant doily art. I really like it, it's subtle, textural and fiber-licious. 

Wednesday, 22 February 2012

Mint Sea Scarf

Mint Sea scarf

I knit this scarf way back in July (you can see me working on it when we were at Julie's cottage here). It's simple, looks great on both sides, is squishy, cozy and warm... and it has buttons! What more could you ask for!?

Mint Sea scarf

For this project I used 1 skein each of Green Label Aran Weight yarn in Seabreeze and Spearmint. It is a wide, rectangular scarf with lots of eyelets, so I added some buttons to one end so there is lots of flexibility in terms of how you chose to wear it. 

I'm not sure what I like more about this scarf, the buttons or the endless colour possibilities! I chose to knit mine in two soft and similar shades, but it would also look awesome done up in two highly contrasting colourways. 

Mint Sea scarf

It's hard to tell from these pictures, but I'm actually wearing very bright and bold fuchsia lipstick! It has taken me a long time to feel comfortable wearing bright shades on my lips. For years I was a lip-gloss addict, and though I sported some bright and sparkly glosses, they never have the same intensity of pigment as a real lipstick. They're always a bit translucent. It's funny, because though I still don't think that I look quite right in red lipstick and don't know that I'll ever feel comfortable in it, I have completely fallen in love with hot pink's and even purple-y shades. Go figure!

Monday, 20 February 2012


TFA Studio - our little backyard workshop

I think that it's time that I share a few shots of the inside of the studio with you all. I know you've been patiently waiting for the big reveal, and I really wanted to show you, but the truth is, it's just not that interesting! The studio is working out extremely well, it's super practical and does everything that we need it to, but it's sparse. It's not a super artistic, inspirational space just yet. It's white, stainless steel,   clean and very bright. The ceilings are vaulted, the windows are large, so the space is flooded with natural light and even though it's a modestly sized studio (it's only 10' x 14') it feels wide open and spacious. 

the studio

Chris does most of the production dyeing for TFA. Together we come up with the colourways, figure out the recipes and then when the orders start pouring in Chris gets to work. All of the colourways are dyed in small batches of 5-10 skeins at a time depending on the fiber content. The Silver Label Mulberry  Silk and the Purple Label Cashmere Sock yarn take the dye differently then the 100% merino yarns, so they require a different application. The process is quite simple and doesn't require anything more potent then plain white vinegar and heat to set the colour. I often wonder what the cashiers at Costco think of us when we roll up to the cash with twenty 5L containers of vinegar. I'm sure that they think we're crazy enthusiastic picklers! 

Chris in action!

Since Chris is a bit of a neat freak he has stapled cardboard to the "backsplash" in order to catch some of the dye splatters. I'm completely against this and can't wait for him to realize that the cardboard is a mistake and the multicoloured dye splatters are what make the space beautiful. I'm sure that he'll come to this conclusion on his own, I'm patiently waiting. 

Oooh, dyeing!

We have two long stretches of stainless steel tables, each with it's own sink. We've divided the space up into a clean side and a dirty side, the dirty side is for dyeing and the clean side is mostly for rinsing. The stainless steel surfaces are awesome. They make the whole clean up process so much easier. Just a quick squeegee into the sink and you're ready to go with the next colourway. 


It's not high-tech and it's not fancy. Chris has started decorating the walls with some pretty random artwork. Eventually I hope that the walls will be covered with art and splashes of colour. I'll share photo's again in the summer when the space is more lived in and we've had a chance to "pretty up" the exterior. Since everything has been frozen for months we haven't done anything to our plain little studio yet. 

We thought long and hard before we decided to take the plunge and invest in our own studio. We knew that we needed a change, we couldn't continue to dye at the pace that we needed to in the laundry room. We have seriously considered renting a space many times, maybe even hiring a few people to help with the production, but in the end we always come back to the fact that we love being a small, family run business. We love working from home and having flexibility. If we rented a space and hired dyers we would suddenly be a much different company. We would have to worry about making enough money to pay the dyers, pay for the space. We would spend much more time "working". The way we're organized now, it rarely feels like work. Don't get me wrong, we're up every morning, Monday to Friday, and we dye and ship hundreds of skeins of yarn every week. But the work is fun and so rewarding. Staying small means that we're always able to work together and that we have the time and energy to devote to dreaming. Sounds whimsical doesn't it? But it's such an important part of staying creative. We need to be able to take an afternoon every once in a while to play with colour, to experiment, to not worry about the orders and just make. 

Dye shelves

I assume that somewhere down the line we'll probably have to take a leap and get bigger. But for now we're really happy with how things are. 

Friday, 17 February 2012

Blank Canvas Baby Sweater

Thank you so much to everyone who left me feedback about what they'd like to see on the blog. I think that the general consensus is that I should blog about whatever I feel like sharing, and that definitely works for me! It will certainly remain mostly knitting, because that's what I spend the most time on, but I'll feel better blogging a bit more randomly knowing that you guys support me!

Blank Canvas infant sweater

Have I mentioned that my inner circle of friends and family is experiencing a serious baby boom? Five of my nearest and dearest are expecting their first bundles of joy in the coming months (including my very own brother!!! First baby in the family, we're so excited!) So, obviously, I've been doing my part to make sure that these babies all come into the world with no shortage of wooly wardrobe options! I've been knitting baby gear like crazy, and I'm loving it. I've said it before and I'll say it again, knitting for babies ranks very high on my list of favorite types of knitting. The projects are usually so quick and so adorable! I've completed several baby knits that I haven't been able to blog about yet because the recipients haven't received them yet. 

Blank Canvas infant sweater

This is a little number I've been working on that I'm calling the "Blank Canvas Baby Sweater". The construction is based on a favorite little sweater that my mom had for my siblings and I when we were infants. It's a simple tube up to the armholes, then continues straight up for the front and back. The neckline is left wide open so it fits easily over giant baby heads and fastens shut with buttons (or leave it  un-fastened if your baby favours a boatneck look.) This pattern is such a simple shape that it got me thinking about how cute it would look with some fancy colourwork. I've cast on for a second Blank Canvas sweater, this time using a 4 seasons hat kit! I'm working on the sleeve now and I should have this one finished very soon. I can't wait to block this guy, blocking colourwork makes all the difference in the world!

Spring baby sweater

I got so excited about how great this project is for using up leftover fingering weight yarn that even though I'm not finished my Spring sweater yet, I immediately dove into the stash and picked out a sweet palette of pastels to start on a third sweater right away. This one will be simple stripes again. Two of the colourways I'm using (the one that I've cast on with and the pastel rainbow ball in the center back) are so old that I think I dyed them with kool-aid when I first started experimenting with dyeing. Crazy! 

pastel baby sweater

I have no idea who I'm going to give these sweaters to, I have no shortage of possible recipients! For now, I'll just keep knitting baby items and pick recipients later. 

Oh! Have you all popped over to Julie's blog to enter the giveaway? There are 2 skeins of TFA Yellow Label DK up for grabs! You've got until midnight tonight to enter.

Have a great weekend!

Tuesday, 14 February 2012

Lilia's Christmas knits

Lilia's Christmas knits

I have a reputation for giving my poor little sister Lilia terrible Christmas gifts. I always mean well, but somehow I've managed to give her a weird IOU gift on more than one occasion. I think that the worst offense was the year that I wrapped up a pair of my mom's old jeans and gave them to her along with an IOU to turn the jeans into a purse. The worst part is that I never did end up making her that purse, so mom jeans were all that 13 year old Lilia got from me that year. We laugh about it a lot now, but she certainly didn't think that it was funny at the time. 

As I was wrapping up her gift this year (well, last year I guess, Christmas 2011) I worried that I had fallen into the same old trap. I gave her a Windward Slouch (which I new she would like) a pair of Grammy's mitts that coordinated with the hat (which I also knew she would like) and this is the part that could have gotten me in hot water... I gave her a custom Dipped Infinity Scarf kit that worked with both the hat and the mitts. I know, you're all thinking I'm crazy because a scarf kit is an awesome gift, but considering our history and how badly received gifts that require assembly usually are, I had reason to doubt it. I knew that she would like the colours and the scarf, but worried that maybe she would have preferred to receive a finished scarf rather than just the supplies to make one herself.  Luckily for us all, she loved it. She's a very good knitter, but doesn't have as much free knitting time as I do (she's in med school, she's a very busy girl). She cast on for the scarf on Christmas and was finished before the end of the holidays. Phew! She's been wearing her full set of winter accessories ever since and looks fantastic!

Lilia's Christmas knits

Colours (view them all here)
Hat: teal.
Mitts: teal, seabreeze, lemongrass.
Scarf: teal, midnight, deep sea, peacock, seabreeze, spearmint, lemongrass, buttercup.

So, I know what you're all thinking: "It's Tuesday! Where's TFA Tuesday?" well, I'm giving it a break for a while (again!). There are certainly no shortage of awesome knits in TFA yarns, and you can peruse to your heart's content over on Ravelry. But I need to reclaim my Tuesdays. I know it seems selfish, but sometimes I have other things that I want to blog about, but I can't because I have to stick to the "schedule", which is silly. I love blogging, and when I started, it wasn't exclusively for TFA, it was just my little space where I shared the fun, crafty, colourful things that I felt like sharing. I don't like feeling like I have to blog certain things on certain days, I like freedom.

Having said that, is there anything that you guys would love to see on my blog that I'm not sharing? More posts, less posts, more WIP's, more behind the scenes, more colours, less knitting/more life... I'd love to know what you think.

ps: Happy Valentine's day!

Saturday, 11 February 2012


Adding some pretty to my chaotic coffee table

Chris does all the grocery shopping. When I do it I always spend way more money then necessary and come home with all kinds of stuff that we don't need. Pretty stuff, silly stuff, mostly treats and snacks, I have no self control. Case in point, yesterday I popped out to buy the fixin's for a caesar salad and came home with a pre-valentine's day gift to myself. This little bouquet of tulips. So simple, so pretty. My coffee table is perpetually overflowing with knitting paraphernalia, books, magazines, patterns, notions, wip's, needles... it's a mess. These lovely tulips help to distract from the chaos! 

Friday, 10 February 2012


Golden knits

So, I'm kind of confused. All my life I went about my business thinking that my favorite colour was blue and pretty high up on my list of least favorite colours was yellow. I don't hate yellow, I love how it looks paired with blue! But it's definitely not a colour that I'm drawn to or typically chose for myself. So how have I managed to amass such a collection of knits done in Gold? Gold is in the yellow family right? And I love it. I would even say that I'm drawn to it. When selecting a colourway for a new project Gold often ends up right at the top of my list of good options... I think it all started last fall when I bought a new pair of shoes, one thing led to another and the next thing I knew, I was a yellow person!

Wednesday, 8 February 2012

Strada Headband & a question

Strada Headband

I test knit Julie's Strada Headband pattern, and clearly this is the worlds cutest headband. I'm crazy for the bow! It's just such a perfect, quintessential bow shape. The next time I need a bow to adorn a project (and I'm starting to think that it's a mistake that more of my projects don't have bows) I'm going to be using this pattern. 

I knit mine with just under half a skein of TFA Yellow Label DK Weight yarn in the Atlantic colourway. This was a really quick and effective knit, great for leftover yarn and the perfect knitted gift. Yay Julie!

Strada Headband
Ravelry project page here.

On another note, I spent an afternoon dyeing one of a kind colourways for the Etsy shop last week. Most were snatched up over the weekend, but there are still a few of my personal faves available. 

Rose - Green LabelSunday - Yellow Label

What yarn weight/bases are you guys mostly looking for in the One of a Kind Etsy shop? A little bit of everything? Mostly sock yarns? Sweater quantities of Aran and DK? I really enjoyed my afternoon of dyeing without any rules and plan on doing it more often, but I'd love to hear what you all think!

Tuesday, 7 February 2012

January TFA KAL Wrap Up: The Final FOs!

6 different groups. 94 participants. 54 FOs before midnight on January 31st. It was an amazing month filled with gorgeous projects and really inspiring knitting and crochet! Here are some of the FOs:

Highlanddancer's Mariette Shawl:                                                  pipperdo's Autumn Sunset:

janineny2001's Silk Dove shawl:                                           Peanutshell's Fiddlehead Mittens:

 Tashabear's Malachite Butterfly socks:         ekd's Seabreeze and Jewel Jane cardigans:
 kpolland's Asteroidea hat:                                               ocean1120's Meret Beret:

pfong001's Julissa pullover and Autumn Four Seasons Hat:

MeadowyRavine's Sunnyside Cardigan:                           sleepyinsomniac's My Vampire Boyfriend Socks:

mdcim's What About Bloom in Blue hat:      hotcheese's Blathnat socks:

danimily's Atlantic Pembroke:                                        Elfsknitting's  Savannah Hats:

CarlaBeeCreation's First Sweater, Canadian Royals, January 1st Cowl:

susara's January Frost and Asteroidea:

moonjumper's Olive Tabby: debbieknits5000's Wispi:

ireneta's January Passion and Fallberry mitts:

tmr714's Sweetheart Socks:                      GreenBeanString's Aquarium Pomatomus socks:

nittenpurlin's Stormy Cable Cardi:                               Rosehiver's Water for the Elephant socks:

Huntersma's Cabled Canuck:                                      Viki's 2012 Mystery Socks:

letstry's Royal Rock Island :                       haynescd's Autumn Hat:

BlueberryHill's Midnight Evening Cardigan:

Thanks everyone for a really fun KAL!! It was so amazing seeing everyone's knits in progress and amazing FOs. You guys rock!