Monday, 31 March 2014

Keyfit Baby Blanket

Happy Monday everyone! So, last week I announced that the collection of patterns for baby boys that I've been working on for over a year now was finally finished and available for all to knit and enjoy! Well, this week I hope you'll indulge me in a little more in-depth chit chat about the four patterns that make up the Lucky Penny Baby collection. It is Rowan's first birthday on Friday, so I'm very much feeling the need to go through photos from the year and share some memories. And man, do I have a lot of photos of this kid and his knits. Let me tell ya! 

All of the patterns featured in the collection are available for purchase individually, or as part of the collection. 

Also - I designed these patterns with my son in mind and will frequently refer to them as "for baby boys" but don't for a second think that they wouldn't be just as awesome for little girls! They are totally unisex. 

Baby Rowan was only 7 months old in this photo! He was so excited throughout this shoot. This shot was supposed to be just to test for light. I snapped about 8 photos of him displaying off the charts levels of enthusiasm. They are hilarious!
Keyfit Baby Blanket


It is my experience that one can never, ever have too many baby blankets. I use them in the car seat, in the stroller, in the crib now that baby is older, as decoration over the back of a chair, as a peek-a-boo toy! You name it! Baby blankets are truly a labour of love and seeing as it is something that the baby will never outgrow, it is perfect heirloom knitting. A gift that the baby in your life will cherish forever. This bright, graphic design was inpired by the colour palette of my son’s nursery. It’s modern, crisp and fresh.

It seems appropriate to start "Rowan week" by featuring the Keyfit Baby Blanket pattern since it was the first design that I completed for this collection over a year ago. This was one of those designs that came together very quickly. My mom and I sewed all the bedding for Rowan's nursery (more on all that fun here) and when I picked out this fun polka dot chevron fabric for the bed skirt I loved it so much and found the colour palette so inspiring that I immediately played with my TFA colourways and put together a Palette to match. Which, incidentally, is now available as one of my TFA Palette kits!
I had been thinking about this particular triangle and diamonds graphic pattern for a while. I pinned an image on pinterest featuring this design ages ago. I couldn't get it out of my head and a baby blanket was the perfect place to use it. 
This blanket requires lots of seaming. The panels are knit first using intarsia, in big blocks of colour. You're only ever working with two colourways at a time. Don't let that scare you! A little bit of seaming is so worth it. Watching it all come together as you sew it together is all part of the fun. 
Rowan has lots of knit baby blankets, we love them all and they are all special, but this is the one that he wrapped himself up in and rolled around on my bed in, which resulted in me getting the above shot which is one of my favourites of all time, so to me, this blanket will always be a little extra special. 

Thursday, 27 March 2014

Lucky Penny Baby Collection



Well gang, I've been working on this collection of baby boy knits for over a year now. The first pattern I worked on was the Keyfit Baby Blanket, I blogged about it being almost complete last February, more than a month before Rowan was born! Rowan will be 1 whole year old next Friday (boohoo, don't mention it!) so it's fair to say that this collection has taken me longer to wrap up than it took to make a baby. 

Anyways, lets not dwell on that. It's out now and I love it! I guess the good thing about taking so long to get things organized is that I have had a full year to test out these designs with my own baby boy and I can now tell you, with total sincerity, that we have used and loved every single piece. This collection truly makes up Rowan's knit wardrobe staples. In my humble opinion as a mom, these are the classic, baby boy must haves. 

I probably don't have to mention this, but I'll point it out anyways just in case anyone is on the fence about it, but this collection would obviously be perfect for a baby girl's wardrobe as well. I'm all about the little boys these days, but that's because he's all I know! But don't let all my talk of little fella's trick you into thinking that your little lady couldn't rock everyone of these pieces. 

So, because I've spent an entire year fussing over these patterns I am going to give myself permission to stretch out the chatter about them for as long as possible! Haha. I mean one blog post would not be enough for me to get this out of my system. So today I'm just here to let you know that the collection is live and available for purchase, and next week I'll be back with all the details on each piece. Oh, and tons of baby photos, since next week is Rowan's birthday week. You've been warned!

Patterns are available individually, or sold together in the collection for a steal! 

Wednesday, 26 March 2014

Club - March 2014

I think that many of us would agree that this has been possibly the longest and coldest winter of all time. In the past I've featured a more springy green colourway for March and have always mentioned something about "the promise of spring being just around the corner". This year, not so much. Spring is nowhere in sight. So, to totally rebel against the chill we've cooked up a fiery hot Fiesta orange shade for this months Club shipment. And added a dash of sparkle no less! Nothing can keep us down!
In classically awesome Julie style she's designed two patterns to make the very most of every last yard of 1 skein of TFA Cosmic Blue Label yarn. The Causerie Hat and Mitts set feature a beautiful ribbed cable. The fingerless mitts feature a really cool knitted on cuff (see how the cables go around the cuff? awesome right?) and in case you've never tried that particular technique before, Julie has made a great little video to walk you through it step by step.  
Club memberships are available all year long, it's never too late to sign up! Join now and you'll receive your January skein and March skein along with the next shipment of Club yarns in May. And don't forget! This year we're offering a "patterns only" option. So if you'd like to knit yourself the Causerie Hat and Mitts set with stash yarn, you totally can! 

Tuesday, 25 March 2014

TFA Tuesday - MediaPeruana's Warmbreeze family cardigans

Top Tier Knitter: MediaPeruana
Pattern: Coolbreeze Collection by me!
Yarn: TFA Warmbreeze Sweater Kit

I first spotted this lovely adult version of my Coolbreeze Cardigan pattern (done in the Warmbreeze palette) and thought that it was so nice that I'd love to feature it in a TFA Tuesday blog post. Then I jumped over the MediaPeruana's Ravelry project page and saw that she has also knit the wee version! That made my day. A family of gorgeous gradient cardigans, what more could you want? Both her adult and her baby version are gorgeous and bring me back to the days when Rowan still fit in his Baby Coolbreeze. I think it's about time I knit him another so we can be twinsies again!


Friday, 21 March 2014

Fashion Friday - knitted family layers

Featured Knits: My sweater - a vintage hand-me-down from my mom.
Rowan's vest - Schoolboy Vest - pattern coming soon!
Yarn: My sweater - awesome vintage Scottish wool.
Rowan's vest - TFA Green Label Aran Weight in Chris Grey, Lemongrass, Seabreeze and Chestnut.

So, Fashion Friday was supposed to be all about highlighting some of my favourite knits and discussing how I like to wear them in real life. But lets be honest, this kid's got much better style then I do, and he wears a lot of knits, so from time to time lets chat about how he likes to style his knit-wardrobe shall we? 

Rowan, thankfully, is not afraid of a little colour. He can rock a pair of turquoise cords like its nobody's business. He wears a lot of stripes, often paired with more stripes, polka dots or in this case, scallops. He is also partial to vests. He has 3 and wears them all the time. The vest he's wearing in these photos is the same pattern as this one, with modified colourwork. The pattern will be released as part of my upcoming baby boy collection soon (like within a week or two!) I cannot say enough about how much I love the baby vest look, it's adorable and incredibly practical. I will go on and on about it when I release the pattern I'm sure. So stay tuned for that!

My sweater was knit by my aunt for my mother years ago. It was knit with 100% Scottish wool yarn, that's all I know about it, and I am continually amazed at how well both the yarn and the style of this sweater have stood the test of time. Aren't classic pieces like this amazing? Knitting a sweater is a big  commitment, but when it lasts years and gets passed on through generations I would say it's more than worth the effort. I've made it my personal mission to make sure that I design and knit at least a few pieces like this in my career. I really can't think of anything more awesome than having a grown daughter one day who loves to wear my hand knit hand-me-downs. 

Wednesday, 19 March 2014

A pompom love tutorial

Who doesn't love a big, glorious pompom!? Actually, they don't have to be big to be fabulous, small pompoms are very often just the thing to spruce up a baby knit, so I don't discriminate by size. I'll take my pompoms small, medium or large, thank you very much! As long as they are fluffy, they are fantastic in my books. So, what's my secret for gorgeous, super fluffy, super awesome pompoms every time? Check out this tutorial for all the details on how I pompom: 

(warning, I use "pompom" as a verb frequently in this tutorial, also, I use a lot of exclamation points, but how could you not when you're talking about pompoms!?)
1 :: I use a pompom maker. Absolutely not a necessary tool, you can make perfect pompoms by wrapping the yarn around just your fingers or a piece of card board. But I have this one and I love it. It requires a lot less trimming and fussing and makes really lovely and round pompoms in a variety of sizes every time. If you love to pompom as much as I do, it's worth the couple bucks. 

2 :: Simply follow the instructions, wrapping the yarn around the two halves of the pompom maker, then fitting them together, cutting your loops and tying it off in the center. For the tying off part I almost always enlist the help of another person, pompom making is made a lot easier if you have 4 hands! 

When that's all done, voila! A very respectable pompom:
In the picture above, and in the picture below, the pompoms haven't had any extra trimming. See what I mean about how the pompom maker helps to minimize trimming? It's almost a perfect sphere as is. 

3 :: Next is my secret step. The step that takes a "perfectly respectable" pompom over the top to pompom perfection! Soak the pompoms in lukewarm water until they are completely saturated. About 20 minutes. 
4 :: When they are thoroughly soaked, squeeze them out, put them in a mesh dryer bag, and throw them in a hot dryer to tumble dry for 30 minutes or until they are completely dry. I really have to emphasize the mesh bag for this step, you know the kind that you might use to wash pantyhose and such? In case one of your pompoms doesn't make it through to the other side this will save you from having to pick out hundreds of little pieces of yarn from your dryer. You see that lovely Lemongrass pompom up there? Sadly, it didn't make it. In putting together this tutorial I experimented with Green Label, Yellow Label and Orange Label pompoms, the Orange Label did not hold together well. I'd recommend sticking with wool yarns for this method, the cashmere and silk in the Orange Label seem to make the pompom too slippery to hold up to the tumble drying. Even though Green Label and Yellow Label are superwash wool, which is much more slippery than non-superwash wool, it's got just enough stick to not give you any trouble in the dryer. This is also where that second pair of hands is useful, you can cinch the pompoms much tighter with a little bit of help.
On the left in the above image is the pre-tumble dried pompom, and on the right is one fresh out of the dryer. Big difference right? It just looks so much fluffier and full of life. The dryer takes all those snipped ends of yarn and separates the plies to give you a really healthy looking pompom. 
So there you have it. My pompom secrets revealed! I Hope you'll give this method a try the next time you've got a knit that needs a bit of embellishment. Happy pompom Wednesday everyone!

Tuesday, 18 March 2014

TFA Tuesday - MrsEaves' Woodhollow

Top Tier Knitter: MrsEaves
Pattern: Woodhollow Hat and Mitts by Kirsten Kapur.
Yarn: TFA Green Label Aran Weight in Chris Grey.

This set makes me want to stop everything I'm working on and knit an awesome pair of cabled mitts with a coordinating hat. The pattern is so pretty and simple and crisp and perfect. This is the sort of pattern that would look great in any colour and could certainly add a pop of colour to a dull winters wardrobe if worked in a brighter hue, but I am so in love with the subtle, modern, laid back feel of this set in Chris Grey. So chic.   
Oh, and the pom-pom doesn't hurt either! Just look at that shot. Sheer hat knitting perfection!

Monday, 17 March 2014

Moodboard Monday - Mallard

top to bottom, left to right: mallard, TFA Green Label, earrings, TFA embossed leaves socks, glass, tree, bobbins

A rich, jewel toned green. Shining bits of blue peeking through. Cool, calm, beautiful. Pairs wonderfully with gold, cobalt and plum.

Check out loads of gorgeous Mallard projects here

Happy St-Patricks day! 

Wednesday, 12 March 2014

Frolic Update

Calling this post "Frolic Update" is kind of unfair because it gives the impression that there is some sort of exciting update about to be revealed. I just couldn't bring myself to call this post what it's really all about... "No Frolic for me". Sad face. 

I feel terrible admitting defeat, I had every intention of packing up the family and driving to Toronto for the weekend, but as the months went by and the Frolic inched closer and closer I knew I was lying to myself. It's just too much for us at the moment. I feel like I say that a lot lately. Doing wholesale at the scale that we used to is too much, doing shows is too much... Why is it so hard to know our limits and just say no sometimes!? Because we want to do it all, right? 

Well, I just can't. I've accepted it and am actually feeling really good about it. I mentioned in this post a few weeks back that things with TFA haven't always gone exactly as I had planned, but that the way they've ended up is definitely the way they should be. And I stand by that. I used to think that I could do a little bit of everything, but that has not worked for me. It's all good though, in learning what works and what doesn't work, what we love to do and what feels like too much effort, we've been able to streamline where we focus our attentions and we are all the better for it! And I really mean that. I think that we are producing higher quality colourways and patterns these days, and when that happens, everybody wins!

Instead of being completely bogged down by overwhelming tasks we're being realistic about what we can manage and are focussing on doing fewer things, better. 

So though I won't see you at the Frolic this year, I am still cooking up a plan to have some new TFA available for you there. The Purple Purl will have new TFA offerings in their booth, so you'll still have a chance to get your recommended dose via them! 

And one last update for this morning:
This child is growing way too fast. The photo on the left was taken less than a month ago when Rowan still fit in his adorable little hat. I've knit another in a size larger so I could get some good pattern shots and get this pattern published already. Rowan has decided that he's so over being a baby model. Instead he's a baby rebel who will do whatever it takes to make photographing him in focus nearly impossible.

Oh boy do I love that face! Excuse me while I go kiss those cheeks. 

Monday, 10 March 2014

Marathon Quiltathon

Last week I posted a photo of a stack of fabrics that were destined to become a Colour Dive Quilt. (I bought the kit here.) And then Saturday I spent a solid 12 hours cutting, sewing, pressing, organizing and then sewing and pressing some more until I had the better part of a quilt top complete. Man, what a day! 

A few things you may not have known about me:

1) I like to sew almost as much as I like to knit. I'm scared of sewing machines, but my mom is a real pro, so with her handy to help if something goes wrong, I am in heaven. In terms of sewing I prefer quilts, bags, stuff doesn't have to fit. :) Incidentally, one of my favourite sewing projects to date is a Multitasker Tote that I made a few years back, also with an Anna Maria Horner pattern and fabrics. AMH is my girl!

2) I am a tad insane when it comes to my crafting stamina. I worked on this quilt, only stopping to feed the baby, feed myself, or go to the bathroom, from 8:30 am until 8:30 pm. I could have worked longer, but alas, I think that 12 hours of baby-neglect is probably enough for one day. Rest assured, Rowan was in very good hands with Chris, my mom and my sister taking care of him, so it wasn't total neglect. 

One more marathon session and I'll have this quilt top complete. I am so crazy for the colours and the prints. The way that they come together is magical. 

What did you all do this weekend? Any crazy craft-a-holics like me out there?

Saturday, 8 March 2014

Piles of yarn

When a baby is born, the knitting plans begin! There is a new baby boy in my extended family, so I'd better get busy! I hope to turn these piles of yarn into a small pile of knits this week. 

Happy Saturday! 

Wednesday, 5 March 2014

WIP Wednesday - for Chris

Good morning everyone! Thanks so much for all the support and enthusiasm you've been showing with this weeks pattern sale! Who doesn't love a sale right? The shawl that was pictured in Monday's post is already being test knit and I hope to have the pattern ready to roll out next month. So glad you like it!

So, this week seems to be the week I cast on for a new project every night... I started a pair of socks on Monday night and then a sweater last night and am seriously considering starting another wee sweater tonight because honestly, Rowan is growing just way too fast and I have a few skeins of Green Label Tartan lingering that would make an awesome little hoodie. So... yup, I've decided, another new sweater will be cast on before the day is done. It's a good week for starting fresh!

I haven't knit a new sweater for Chris in ages. And that's a real shame because he is the best person to knit for. He wears his knit items with pride extremely regularly. He is more than knit-worthy. He's still rockin' a hideous (but sweet in it's naivety) sweater that I knit for him back when we were dating. It's huge and made out of acrylic yarn, but it has hearts on the sleeves and he likes it. I've been wearing my Reverb a lot lately, it's shocking how that golden Hayloft colourway goes with everything (who knew?) and every single time I throw it on Chris comments on how much he likes it. Last night, I'm in my Reverb, thrown on over jeans and a crazy pink plaid shirt and Chris says: "You look great tonight Tan." And then I realized, it's the sweater! Because let's be honest, I did not look great. He's obsessed with Reverb. So I asked if he would wear a Reverb of his own and he very enthusiastically gave me a "hell yeah!" So, there ya go, how could I say no? I dug through the stash, because I was pretty sure that I had a sweaters quantity of this really awesome rustic wooly wool that would be perfect for his sweater. I found the yarn, a few skeins had already been balled up and ready to go, and cast on immediately! I will be making a few mods to account for gauge, but I'll fill you in on those details when I figure them out myself. The yarn is from my favourite Nova Scotia sheep farm Lismore Sheep Farm
Ok, so then there is this pair of socks. Knit in the Burberry colourway of Turtlepurl striped turtle toes yarn. I'm knitting them bottom up since the yarn comes in two matching skeins so I'll knit each skein until I run out of yarn maximizing each and every yard. I bought this colourway with Chris in mind, thinking that he would love some classy Burberry inspired socks, but he's not showing me the love that I expected him to for this project... so they may end up going to someone else. I'm loving them however, hand dyed, self-striping yarns blow my mind. So beautiful, so labour intensive, I couldn't do it. 
And to end off this morning's post. Here is a picture of two skeins of Cosmic Blue Label Frost that I snapped yesterday afternoon. I was packing up orders and shipping them out, I had a pile of yarn on my desk and these two skeins were glowing in the afternoon sun. They looked angelic! This photo doesn't really capture the moment as well as I had hoped, but trust me, Frost in Cosmic Blue Label is amazing. 

That's it for me, happy hump day! What have you cast on this week? 

Monday, 3 March 2014

Pattern sale!

New colour, new pattern, new yarn, new shawl! Details coming... Soon-ish. Love this one. Think you will too.

I woke up this morning excited about patterns and decided that it was high time I explore more of the wonderful features Ravelry has to offer and am running a 15% off sale all week! on all of my patterns in my Ravelry pattern store. The only thing this does not apply to is the Patterns Only 2014 Club membership. 

Use the coupon code: 
at checkout and the discount will automatically be applied! 

Happy shopping!
Sale ends next Monday, March 10th at midnight.

So, this very fun news is followed by some less exciting news... once this sale is over I will be raising the price of a couple of my patterns. Specifically Bract, Brixter, Cabled Canuck, Windward, Fairview and Smooth Sailing. These patterns are all currently priced at $4 (plus 15% off this week!) and will go up to $5 each as of next Tuesday. 

That lovely photo above? Oh, just a little eye candy for you to feast your eyes on on this chilly Monday morning. A new design I'm working on, in a new colourway (aurora) and a new yarn (amber label) newly blocked... new new new!