A Giveaway + Some Thoughts

Scroll to the bottom to enter the giveaway! If you’re in a blog reading kind of mood, I’d love it if you’d read through today’s post too. ;)

TFA Orange Label in Mint and Delightful

TFA Orange Label in Mint and Delightful

I’ve been brainstorming ways to try and make TFA more inclusive. There are so many different aspects of inclusion but the thing I’m going to talk about today is accessibility and availability. You know the big website redesign I keep mentioning? The main reason I want to do that is because over the years TFA has gone in several different directions and we’ve somehow ended up in a place where it’s not always easy to figure out how to get your hands on a special skein of our yarn. There are so many practical reasons why hand dyers depend on updates and I pass absolutely no judgement on dyers who work that way. But if you’ve missed an update because of work, life, you forgot to set an alarm or you just didn’t know it was happening, then you’re outta luck. It can start to feel like in order to get a skein of yarn you’ve got to be part of an exclusive club, which can be very alienating.

I have always tried to keep my system as simple as possible but all sorts of little changes landed TFA in a place where if you’re looking for a skein of Purple Label yarn, you’ll likely leave the site lost and confused, you’ll send me an email with a simple question “How do I buy a skein of Purple Label in Grape to knit a Sunnyside Baby sweater?” and I will send you a 3 paragraph reply that leaves you even more confused then when you started. Not cool.

Etsy Updates, Dyed-To-Order Updates, Limited Edition items, these things are all super fun and creatively rewarding for us and I don’t want to get rid of them completely, but I also don’t want them to be the only things we do. I am very excited about the new direction I’m taking our shop in. I really think it’s going to work well for everyone!

I just wanted to share a bit about why I care so much about re-organizing the shop. I want this space to be welcoming to old customers and new customers alike. Thanks for reading!

Now for the giveaway! I’ve got two beautiful skeins of TFA Orange Label yarn to give to one lucky reader! Simply leave me a comment below to enter. Easy as pie. :) A winner will be chosen at random on Friday. Good luck!

If you’re looking for pattern ideas for a single skein of luxurious yarn, here are a few suggestions:

Kit Restock!

yarn!

I’ve restocked a whole bunch of KITS! I’m still very much in the weeds in terms of re-photographing all of our yarns and colourways and working on a website overhaul. It’s coming along but it’s not quite there yet. What is ready right now is a whole lot of kits! I’ve got a variety of Mitten Kits, White Light Skein Sets in Fingering and Worsted Weight, Mini Sock Yarn Skein Sets AND a few new Fingering Weight Fade Sets as well.

Pictured above are the 7 lining colourways from the current selection of Mitten Kits. I love it. :)

Five Things

Kind of a Valentine’s Day theme this week. I couldn’t give a hoot about Valentine’s Day but have to admit that even the silly holidays are fun with kids. They make everything an exciting excuse to celebrate! Also, Rowan made us the sweetest Valentine at school, so now I’m a fan. Have a great weekend!

Any excuse to bake and decorate sugar cookies. Micah couldn’t be more pleased about the sprinkle lava overflowing from his cookie.

Any excuse to bake and decorate sugar cookies. Micah couldn’t be more pleased about the sprinkle lava overflowing from his cookie.

Micah dumped out the box of crayons and Rowan put them back in. In rainbow formation!!! YES!

Micah dumped out the box of crayons and Rowan put them back in. In rainbow formation!!! YES!

Rowan and I made these Valentine’s for his classmates, but we wrote: “You’re my purrrfect friend” and they turned out so cute!

Rowan and I made these Valentine’s for his classmates, but we wrote: “You’re my purrrfect friend” and they turned out so cute!

Last week we brought the boys tubing and it was amazing! There was a chairlift and everything. Big time fun for small kids and full grown adults as well.

Last week we brought the boys tubing and it was amazing! There was a chairlift and everything. Big time fun for small kids and full grown adults as well.

These two cuties!

These two cuties!

Scrappy Rainbow Socks For My Brother

rainbow socks

Pattern: Toe-Up socks with an afterthought heel.

Yarn: So many TFA scraps I don’t even know where to start!

Ravelry Project page here.

About once a year I try to knit a pair of socks for my older brother Luke. I don’t knit socks for everyone in my family every year, but Luke is a special case because the socks I knit for him literally save lives!!! Sort of… Luke is a doctor, more specifically he’s a Urologic Oncologist and he does this specialized surgery that, from what I understand (which is clearly not much) involves robots that he controls with joysticks. Ha! He’s going to kill me when he reads this because I’m certain I’ve got it all wrong! So, the first time he did this surgery he was wearing hand knit socks (he’s not standing over the patient, he’s sitting at a desk operating the “robots”) and the surgery went really well and since surgeons are notoriously superstitious he will now only wear hand knit socks while doing this type of operation. So I knit him socks to save lives. Luke and I are both basically heroes.

This most recent pair is one of my finest achievements! Using only the tiniest yarn scraps from my fingering weight scraps bin I faded this moody rainbow - moody might be a stretch, but there are lots of darker shades thrown in - and I’m so pleased with the results. To get the faded transitions I simply worked lots of stripes in varying widths whenever I was switching colours. I didn’t have a set number of stripes in mind because my goal was mainly to use up every last bit of my yarn, so there was a lot of eyeballing involved. Sometimes I ran out of yarn earlier than expected, sometimes my stripes ended up taking longer than I thought. With this sort of project you have to be able to embrace a certain amount of randomness. A cavalier attitude goes a long way. At the end of the day rainbow socks are awesome no matter what. :)

Five Things

The prettiest drying racks! Colours for a new yarn bundle kit coming soon. :)

The prettiest drying racks! Colours for a new yarn bundle kit coming soon. :)

This adorable little cardigan  has 6 button holes but only 4 buttons. It makes me laugh and I’ll never change it.

This adorable little cardigan has 6 button holes but only 4 buttons. It makes me laugh and I’ll never change it.

My brother recently ordered 2 big bean bag chairs and they were delivered in the coolest boxes. The boxes featured instructions on how to turn them  into play castles! Isn’t that brilliant!? Printed on the box was a unicorn shield (all part of the castle theme) that my boys were lucky enough to be gifted. Rowan’s is on the right, all rainbows and sparkles. Micah’s is on the left, just an eye patch. This is them in a nutshell.

My brother recently ordered 2 big bean bag chairs and they were delivered in the coolest boxes. The boxes featured instructions on how to turn them into play castles! Isn’t that brilliant!? Printed on the box was a unicorn shield (all part of the castle theme) that my boys were lucky enough to be gifted. Rowan’s is on the right, all rainbows and sparkles. Micah’s is on the left, just an eye patch. This is them in a nutshell.

Luminosity Sweater progress. Getting there! Pattern in the works!

Luminosity Sweater progress. Getting there! Pattern in the works!

Did you know Willow’s middle name is Blue?

Did you know Willow’s middle name is Blue?

11 years! Time for a change?

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Did you know that last year, January 2018, was the 10 year anniversary of Tanis Fiber Arts!? The date I chose to mark the beginning of it all is somewhat arbitrary, because the knitting and dying started earlier, but on January 15, 2008 I made my very first Etsy sale (which happens to be my brother’s birthday!) The very first skein I sold? A skein of Blue Label Fingering Weight in Shadow. And then on January 27th, 2008 (which happens to be my mom’s birthday! what!?!? I hadn’t realized the coincidence before right now!) I started this blog. So January of 2008 - no specific day, just the entire month - is what I consider the official beginning of Tanis Fiber Arts. Wouldn’t it have been lovely if I had taken this walk down memory lane last January to celebrate our 10 year anniversary? Why yes it would have been, but I was 8.5 months pregnant at that point and there was only one milestone that I was interested in celebrating.

So here we are, 11 years into our TFA journey and looking back on it all I can see that so much has changed and yet so much has stayed the same (we still dye that Shadow colourway using the exact same recipe!) We have made lots of changes along the way to suit our growing family, our growing fan-base and our growing interests and I think that 2019 might be the year to make a few more. I don’t want to scare anyone, I don’t have anything super drastic in mind, but I do think that it’s important to look at everything that we are currently doing with a critical eye and make sure that we aren’t just doing it that way because it’s the way we’ve always done it but rather because it’s the best way.

What I’m thinking of specifically here is our website. When I built and organized the site it served as both our direct to customer retail space and our wholesale product catalog. Since we haven’t done wholesale for years maybe a bit of re-organizing could make it function better for our customers. We’ve also been streamlining our bases (more on that next) but the number of colourways we regularly dye and the number of new, limited edition colourways we regularly feature has grown substantially. The one thing I hear more than anything else is “More kits! More kits!” so that’s something that’s always on my mind as well.

The knitty-gritty: Does shopping by COLOUR still work for you? I am definitely in the process of updating all of my product images. We sell predominantly PureWash yarns now yet don’t have them well represented within the colourways at all. Working on that! Would it be simpler to shop by yarn type? I definitely notice that most of the orders that we receive are for single bases. Often for multiple colourways, but more often than not they are of the same base. There are obviously exceptions, but it makes me wonder if shopping for yarn by base rather than by colour would simplify things.

About those bases: Towards the end of last year I made the bold announcement that we would be discontinuing ALL non-PureWash bases after the Boxing Day Etsy Update. Well… I’m having second thoughts. I love the specialty bases and after dying, shipping and handling so much of them for the Boxing Day Update I have a renewed love for them. Oh, and I should also mention that while my long term goal is to create my own PureWash versions of my favourite luxury blends that is still realistically a few years off purely for economic reasons. This is the thing, I was never able to have them available! There are multiple reasons for this but the main one is that our current set up relies on the fact that we have every yarn available in every colourway. Sure, I could keep Red Label and only have it available in a dozen colours rather than 60, but since we’re organized by colour you would have to click on every colour to see if it was one of the chosen 12 to be available on Red Label - not very practical.

This is what I’m thinking: What if I divided our yarn bases into two different categories in two different sections of a “SHOP YARN” tab on my website. “Core Collection” and “Pop Up Shop” or “TFA Boutique” (I’m still workshopping names - I think I can do better) and everything in the Core Collection (PureWash and probably a sock yarn) would be available in every colour in unlimited quantities dyed-to-order as it is now - so if you need 16 skeins of PureWash Worsted in Atlantic to knit an epic blanket, you can order it anytime and we’ll dye it for you. And, everything in the Pop Up Shop would be ready-to-ship luxury bases in limited quantities and colourways. It would sort of be like how we use the Etsy Shop but I would fit it right into the website. Having the Pop Up Shop ready-to-ship makes dyeing and inventory management so much easier for us. The easiest option by far would be to have everything ready-to-ship and do no dyed-to-order at all, but there is no possible way for me to have 20 skeins of every base in every colour available in a ready-to-ship format so you can order those 16 skeins of Atlantic for that epic blanket project. Am I making any sense at all? Does that appeal to you? Do you have a better idea? Are you still reading? I would love any and all feedback.

So that’s where I’m at. I’m brainstorming ways to have our core collection of yarns and colourways always available while still leaving room for special bases and colours as well - because that’s a big part of the fun for us. It will take time to re-photograph and re-organize the shop, so things will likely happen in baby steps over the next few months but hopefully this year will be the year we figure it all out.

Thanks for the last 11 years and hears to the next 11!

Hello Old Friend - Cabled Canuck

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PatternCabled Canuck - originally published in December of 2011. 

Yarn: TFA Worsted Weight.

Ravelry pattern page here and original blog post here.

Eight years later and I still wear the Shadow version of this hat every winter. Truth be told it’s not the only hat I wear (I have a few to rotate between!) but it’s high on my list of favourites. This was my first circular cable design, where each cable flows into the next and there is no real beginning or end, it’s completely seamless. The decreases create a gorgeous floral or star shaped burst at the top of the crown. It’s such a satisfying little knit.

Fun story, this hat was started out as something completely different. My first version, though cabled, looked nothing like this. I was knitting it for my brother and it just didn’t work out. Version 2.0 became this and I named it the Cabled Canuck in honour of my brother’s favourite hockey team, the Vancouver Canucks, as a little nod to him. Hi Luke!

Five Things

Etsy Update  today at noon ET! A small ready to ship update for today. Lots of pretties available!

Etsy Update today at noon ET! A small ready to ship update for today. Lots of pretties available!

We support inclusivity ! All are welcome. Period. Except for bad guys - bad guys not welcome.

We support inclusivity! All are welcome. Period. Except for bad guys - bad guys not welcome.

I am plugging away at the miles (inches) of stockinette for the body of my Luminosity sweater. It's coming together!

I am plugging away at the miles (inches) of stockinette for the body of my Luminosity sweater. It's coming together!

My brother and his wife made this tray for me. I love it! Aren't they talented?

My brother and his wife made this tray for me. I love it! Aren't they talented?

This photo captures they're individual personalities perfectly.

This photo captures they're individual personalities perfectly.

Have a great weekend everyone!

Five Things

Boxing Day Etsy Orders continue to ship out every day. Little by little we are getting closer to having everything in the mail. If you are still waiting for your notification of shipment, thank you so much for your patience! I will have it all wrapped up by the end of the month.

Mona Lisa, Rocket, Speckled Iris, Ziggy, Pink Mimosa, Mimosa Twist. OBSESSED with this order.

Mona Lisa, Rocket, Speckled Iris, Ziggy, Pink Mimosa, Mimosa Twist. OBSESSED with this order.

Rowan is getting into yarn photography!!!

Rowan is getting into yarn photography!!!

Stella bella.

Stella bella.

This is the first sock of a pair that I am nearly finished. Once I cast off the second sock (possibly this weekend) I will have zero projects on my needles!!!)

This is the first sock of a pair that I am nearly finished. Once I cast off the second sock (possibly this weekend) I will have zero projects on my needles!!!)

Chris, Willow and I took a quick 48 hour trip out East last week to check in on our cottage build. It was a momentous moment for us. I can’t believe that’s ours! I haven’t shared much about the cottage because it’s incredibly personal and special for us, but I’m sure you’ll get loads of updates when it’s done and we’re actually there over the summer.

Chris, Willow and I took a quick 48 hour trip out East last week to check in on our cottage build. It was a momentous moment for us. I can’t believe that’s ours! I haven’t shared much about the cottage because it’s incredibly personal and special for us, but I’m sure you’ll get loads of updates when it’s done and we’re actually there over the summer.

Hello Old Friend - Fairview

Fairview

PatternFairview - originally published in October of 2011. 

Yarn: TFA Red Label Cashmere/Silk Single.

Ravelry pattern page here and original blog post here.

This is probably one of my most worn scarves ever! For my petite frame it’s the perfect size and weight to scrunch up around my neck from fall all the way through to spring. It’s totally my kinda knit. It’s pretty and complicated looking but has no finicky bits. Every wrong side row is a plain purl row. I loath patterning on the wrong side and would really have to love a pattern in order to commit to doing any wrong side lace work - just a weird preference of mine. I have to enjoy the knitting just as much as I enjoy the finished object. Looking back, the only thing that I would have done differently is to offer a second, larger size, however at the time I was focused on showing how far a single skein of our Red Label base could go. And though encouraging the knitter to modify the pattern to include an extra repeat or two is simple enough, it would not have been that much extra work to have included an additional size - something to add to the list!

I have to admit that I’m a little bit shocked at how frequently I wore this golden coloured scarf. Is it because I wear so much blue and grey and a subtle pop of gold is always a nice compliment? I think so. I wonder if I would wear it as much if it were blue… Interesting to think about.

Hello Old Friend - Adelia Hat and Mitts

adelia hat and mitts

PatternAdelia Mitts and Cowl- originally published in September of 2011. 

Yarn: TFA Purple Label Cashmere Sock.

Ravelry pattern page here and original blog post here.

When I think back to when I was designing my Adelia Mitts and Cowl set one thing jumps out at me and that is how pleased I was with that perfect little thumb gusset! Out of the two items the fingerless mitts are definitely my favourite. I love that cowls are the perfect item for neat and tidy colourwork and they are so satisfying to knit, but the details added in the mitts really make me happy. It was my first time designing a mitten with a thumb gusset and fitting the heart into that lovely little triangle was incredibly satisfying.

Looking at these photos reminds me that I’m due for a new 2-colour (or more!) fingering weight mitt design. The stranded nature of a fair isle knit makes them surprisingly warm, even in fingering weight, and the fineness of the gauge means that you can fit a lot of cool detail into one fairly small project.

This last shot remains one of my all time favourite knitting shots we’ve done. My favourite mug, those sweet little hearts, a latte so delicious and frothy that it’s almost overflowing… Doesn’t get much better than that!

Tensile Pullover

Tensile by Emily Greene in Tanis Fiber Arts

Pattern: Tensile by Emily Greene

Yarn: TFA PureWash Fingering in Harmony (OOAK).

Ravelry Project page here.

Photography credits go to Rowan! Give your 5 year old a camera and a bit of direction and they will shock and amaze you. I edited these photos (taken with my phone) with my phone’s software. Just brightened them up a bit. I didn’t do any cropping - he framed each of the shots. For some reason that I can’t explain his angles remind me so much of how Chris takes photos! They are the same person I swear. Every day Rowan is growing more and more into himself and honestly that self is so much like Chris it’s crazy. In case you didn’t know… Rowan is my 5 year old son. :)

I cast on for this sweater almost immediately after seeing it in Brooklyn Tweed’s Wool People 12 late last spring (or was it early summer?) Ravelry says I cast on June 23rd. It took me months to finish but only because I purposefully let it linger for a bit while I worked on other projects. Sometimes I become slightly obsessive about a particular project and race through it to be able to enjoy the FO as quickly as possible. Other times I just don’t! I can’t really explain the logic behind it. Some projects are just better if you slow down and let them last as long as they like.

On Christmas Eve I wore my Wolf River sweater and my sister commented on how much she liked it and how it fits that perfect spot in a wardrobe for when you want to look nice and put together but still be comfortable. Tensile fits that same niche for me. It’s a cozy and comfy knit, but it’s not a casual sweatshirt style pullover or a slouchy cardigan. It’s drapey and detailed and chic! With a pair of tailored pants or a skirt it’s an outfit. Throw on some earrings and you’re ready to go out. Having sweaters that make me feel warm, comfortable, cozy and still super chic is always a home run for me. Though of course you could style it with cut off shorts and a ponytail for warmer weather and it would still make sense.

I’m still a little nervous when casting on for a sweater with positive ease but I’m getting more and more comfortable with it every time I attempt a new draped garment. This sweater had the added excitement of being super lacy (meaning you really couldn’t get a feel for the finished size until after blocking) and seamed (meaning you couldn’t try it on until it was all done and sewn together). It makes for a nail biting knit! Luckily for me it came out just how I hoped - which isn’t really luck actually, it’s good design by Emily. :) The pattern is perfect and I didn’t make a single modification.

I really love this colourway. It’s called Harmony and unfortunately it’s the type of colourway that really needs to be seen up close and personal to truly be appreciated (aren’t they all!?!) I loved this colour so much and we dyed up a tonne for the shop last spring and it was a hard sell! Maybe it was the photos, maybe people just don’t like grey/purple shades as much as I do, but for whatever reason it lingered in the shop for ages which gave me the chance to pick a few skeins for my own selfish knitting. Interesting side story: all the not-quite-right batches of Harmony that we dyed ended up morphing into our Cloak colourway! Which I also really love - possibly even more than I do Harmony? It’s so hard to say, I love them all… but it’s possible that if Cloak had existed when I was casting on for this project I may have chosen Cloak instead. Though I do really like the softer colour for this airy garment. Honestly, there are no wrong choices when it comes to colour!

So there you have it, my last official FO post of 2018! I have a few other knits from the year to share, but they will have to wait until the new year. I’m also planning a 2018 re-cap post but I’ll be honest, it is really hard to re-cap a year when that year includes the birth of a baby! How do you sum that up!? It’s too much. So I may just stare at my Instagram best nine and remember what an amazing year it was for my family personally and leave it at that.

Can you believe tomorrow is the first day of a new year!? Let’s make it a colourful one OK?

xo - Tanis