Hello Old Friend - Grammy's Hat & Mitts

Grammy's Hat and Mitts

PatternGrammy’s Hat & Mitts - originally published in December of 2010. 

Yarn: Aran/Worsted Weight.

Ravelry pattern page here and original blog post here.

One of the defining memories I have of my grandmother is of her knitting. If I were to describe her to you, I would say that she had thick glasses, she didn’t like carrots (a fact that as kids we always associated with her poor vision) that she made the best biscuits and chicken soup and that she was a knitter. She knit all sorts of things, socks and sweaters included, but what I remember her knitting the most is hats and mitts. And not just any hat and mitts, these specific hats and mitts. Though I’m sure she veered from these patterns sometimes, I can’t prove it. So, when I embarked on my fledgling career as a knitwear designer I knew that I had to honour Grammy by writing up her patterns. Though I sometimes stray from these patterns and knit different styles of hats and mitts (gasp!) Chris does not. He has knit quite a few hats in his knitting career and they are all this pattern! Sometimes he’ll switch up the ribbing repeat, but that’s as far as it goes. I love it. Grammy would be proud!

Five Things

 This week I seamed my  polygon blanket ! Now I’m just missing a few 1/2 poly’s and the border. Almost there!

This week I seamed my polygon blanket! Now I’m just missing a few 1/2 poly’s and the border. Almost there!

 Unglamorous shot of our front door that I really love for some reason. We’re getting a new front door with a bigger window to let in more light and an actual seal to keep out the cold.

Unglamorous shot of our front door that I really love for some reason. We’re getting a new front door with a bigger window to let in more light and an actual seal to keep out the cold.

 The boys and I made these sugar cookies and I can’t believe how cute (and tasty!) they were.

The boys and I made these sugar cookies and I can’t believe how cute (and tasty!) they were.

 Was planning a shawl design with this palette but in the end I realized that it really wants to be a  Golden Hour Shawl  so I’ll be casting on for that today!

Was planning a shawl design with this palette but in the end I realized that it really wants to be a Golden Hour Shawl so I’ll be casting on for that today!

 Awesome. ‘Nuff said.

Awesome. ‘Nuff said.

Custom Orders & Shipping Update

 Orange Label in Abyss

Orange Label in Abyss

There are a few bits of business that I wanted to address and today seems like as good a day as any to do it! First up is something kind of exciting involving custom orders. Do you remember when we used to offer every single one of our bases in every single one of our colourways at all times? Well, that’s not logistically possible for us anymore, but what I am able to do is accept custom orders for full batches of non-permanent collection bases! A full batch is a minimum of 4 skeins for fingering weight yarns, 6 skeins of anything heavier than fingering, of a single colour. So if you want a sweater quantity of Orange Label, you got it! Just send me an email. This system allows me be able to stock our non-permanent collection bases, just not in massive amounts. To place a custom order just send me an email!

Next up is the less glamorous subject of shipping. Have you all heard that Canada Post may go on strike by the end of the month? Don’t even get me started. I can’t deal. We’ve tried different approaches in the past for dealing with this sort of thing and our best bet seems to be just waiting it out. If there is a strike all orders will be on hold until service resumes. Great.

While on the topic of annoying things about shipping, I’ve had to update the S&H portion of our Policies to reflect the lack of support provided for international order tracking. You can head on over there to read the fine print, but basically what it says is that if you are a non-North American customer there is very little that I can do to assist in locating a lost package and the risk is yours when placing an order. I very rarely run into any issues with shipping. Considering the volume we dispatch every week and the number of weeks that go by without any issues I think that the postal service is working quite well honestly. The trouble is that every once in a while something doesn’t show up when and/or where it’s supposed to and there is very little that I am able to do on my end to make it right. Domestic shipments are the easiest to work out, US orders almost always get sorted out eventually, but non-North American orders that go amiss basically go up in smoke.

It’s a funny thing to be a teeny-tiny online business that depends on the postal service to get my product from me to you. With the mail, there are good days and there are bad days. A happy yarn mail day… is there anything better!?

Hello Old Friend - Prism Shawl

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PatternPrism Shawl - originally published in July of 2010. 

Yarn: TFA handspun and TFA Blue Label.

Ravelry pattern page here and original blog post here.

Lots of pretty pictures in this blog post.

My free Prism Shawl design is a very straight forward triangle shawl with a splash of texture and a simple border. My intention with this design was to maximize the use of a single skein of very special handspun yarn. If you knit this shawl you’ll still have to guesstimate how much yardage will be required for the border, so it’s not exactly fool proof, but since the border is relatively narrow and you can start it at any point that simplifies things a wee bit.

I still enjoy this pattern very much and since I’m such a fan of a triangular shawl worn bandana style it’s only fitting that my first shawl pattern be of that style. In the pattern I don’t give specific row counts for when to work an eyelet row or how many rows of garter stitch to do between rows of stockinette stitch. I just give the instructions for each style of row and then tell you to work them however you want! Both of my sample shawls were knit completely randomly - but with an eye for balance - and I love that about them. I like that this pattern is more about giving you the guidelines and tools for knitting the shawl you want to knit.

Five Things

 Chris and the boys  made 4 batches of hot pepper jelly  - all slightly different and all amazing!

Chris and the boys made 4 batches of hot pepper jelly - all slightly different and all amazing!

 My brother is getting married at the end of the month and he asked me to send him a photo of the “reveal” from our wedding. I love looking at our wedding album and I loved this moment of our wedding day.

My brother is getting married at the end of the month and he asked me to send him a photo of the “reveal” from our wedding. I love looking at our wedding album and I loved this moment of our wedding day.

 Willow and I  dressed as twins . I look crazy in this photo but she looks so sweet in my favourite colours.

Willow and I dressed as twins. I look crazy in this photo but she looks so sweet in my favourite colours.

 The boys found our Halloween decorations… Even though I hate Halloween we’ve somehow become that crazy house that has Halloween decorations out in September.

The boys found our Halloween decorations… Even though I hate Halloween we’ve somehow become that crazy house that has Halloween decorations out in September.

 I’m  looking for testers  for my newest sweater pattern! I’ve been working on this one for ages and I’m so happy to have it almost ready for release.

I’m looking for testers for my newest sweater pattern! I’ve been working on this one for ages and I’m so happy to have it almost ready for release.

A Few Scrappy Flax Jumpers

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I should probably address the elephant in the room here... I know, I'm not British but I can't stop calling sweaters "jumpers". It just rolls off the tongue! Next thing you know I'll be calling desserts "puddings". 

Anywho... here is how I spent my spring, making fun scrappy Flax sweaters for a few little girls that I know and love. Pre-kid I used to knit at least one sweater for every friend I knew who was expecting. Post-kid that fell to the wayside, and that's a darn shame because I LOVE giving knitted gifts! I decided that for no reason other than the fact that I felt like it I would knit a sweater for the babies that I totally would have, but didn't, knit a baby sweater for. I use the term "baby" loosely, these kids are now 4, 2 & 2 years old... better late than never when it comes to knitted gifts right!? My only self imposed rule was to use exclusively leftover balls of yarn from my yarn wall. No breaking in to fresh skeins. 

I'm not going to detail all of the specific mods, because they are dead simple! Basically I just knit with one colour until I either ran out or felt like I wanted to stripe and then switched to the next colour. For the pink/grey version I omitted the garter stitch panel from the centre of the sleeves and instead worked a smaller garter stitch panel between each of my raglan increases. I had no plans for the stripes, the more random the better. I love each interpretation but I'm particularly proud of myself for throwing in that incredibly random turquoise stripe in the bottom version. God I do love a scrappy sweater.

I could knit this pattern over and over and never get tired of it. It's really the perfect base pattern for any mod you could dream up.

The sweaters have all been gifted and despite my best intentions I neglected to weigh them beforehand so I can't say for sure how much of my yarn wall these projects ate up, at least 6 skeins worth I'd say. Scrappy sweaters for the win!  

Hello Old Friend - Alpha Socks

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PatternAlpha Socks - originally published in November of 2009. 

Yarn: TFA Blue Label in Midnight.

Ravelry pattern page here.

Ah, the Alpha Sock pattern. Such a steep learning curve here! I designed these socks for my dad, who's middle name is Alpha. I still try to knit my dad a new pair of socks every year for Christmas, and three of my sock designs came out of this tradition. This is the first pair of socks I ever designed, the first time I had to figure out how to make a chart for a knitting pattern, the first time I had to try and write out the explanation for how to knit a heel gusset... writing patterns is not easy friends! I remember how hard I worked on all those details - not that the pattern is especially complicated at all, but doing all of those technical non-knitting related parts of pattern writing was all new to me then. It's a nice reminder of how far of come and how every time you try something new there are new challenges to master. Now I could make a chart in my sleep but that certainly wasn't always the case. 

This pattern also marks Chris' foray into foot modelling! He has come a long way. I have also come a long way with my photography skills and my photo cropping skills - I would never publish a photo of Chris' hairy legs on my blog now!!! Well, I guess this post proves that I would, but you know what I mean. He does have a beautiful arch though doesn't he? Such elegant feet. 

Alright, so do I still love this pattern? You know what? I do. But not enough to knit it again apparently. The truth is I find it a little fiddly. All of the elements are totally fine and the sock is lovely, but when knitting socks these days I prefer something a little more zen. Twisted stitches and moss stitch are a bit more "extra" than I'm aiming for in a sock at the moment. Still nothing wrong with the pattern, but my preferences have evolved in the past 9 years, which is a good thing I think. ;)

Five Things

This week felt like the first week of the rest of our lives! A touch dramatic? Perhaps. The thing is, Rowan takes the school bus to and from school and that means that we are on a very fixed morning and afternoon schedule, something we haven't had since before I started TFA! Everyone said it would be annoying but so far I am loving the added structure. I think it's going to make us much more productive during our precious work hours. 

 I am still cranking out  polygons  and loving it. I'm nearing the end of my stash of leftovers and might actually start thinking about seaming soon!

I am still cranking out polygons and loving it. I'm nearing the end of my stash of leftovers and might actually start thinking about seaming soon!

 Did you know that Chris is a knife maker? He has made some really beautiful knives but has just upped his game by taking a blacksmithing course last weekend. 

Did you know that Chris is a knife maker? He has made some really beautiful knives but has just upped his game by taking a blacksmithing course last weekend. 

 This is an order I mailed earlier this week. Someone is ready for hat weather and I am inspired! May have to cast on for a hat myself this weekend. Pictured yarn/pompom combos are Garnet/burgundy, Stone/brown, Fig/deep purple.

This is an order I mailed earlier this week. Someone is ready for hat weather and I am inspired! May have to cast on for a hat myself this weekend. Pictured yarn/pompom combos are Garnet/burgundy, Stone/brown, Fig/deep purple.

 Willow learned how to sit this week! She's so tiny yet so fierce. 

Willow learned how to sit this week! She's so tiny yet so fierce. 

 When Rowan and I went lunch box shopping he was very specific about wanting a bento box AND a thermos. I was thrilled when I found  this one by Omie at Well.ca . It wasn't cheap (although it was on sale when I bought it), but it's awesome. We're only one week in, but so far it's gotten rave reviews from Rowan. 

When Rowan and I went lunch box shopping he was very specific about wanting a bento box AND a thermos. I was thrilled when I found this one by Omie at Well.ca. It wasn't cheap (although it was on sale when I bought it), but it's awesome. We're only one week in, but so far it's gotten rave reviews from Rowan. 

Sunshine Coast

Sunshine Coast

Pattern: Sunshine Coast by Heidi Kirrmaier

Yarn: Espace Tricot Petit Lin+ in White.

Mods: Added 2 repeats to lengthen the body and skipped the sleeves.  

Ravelry Project page here.

I haven't been this happy with an FO for myself in ages! Over the past couple of years I've embraced a looser silhouette on top. I almost always where slim pants (99% of the time it's jeans) and I love the look of drape on top paired with trim on the bottom. It's taken a few false starts for me to figure out how to do positive ease right. It can be tricky. I've discovered that if you want to wear positive ease and look elegant rather than frumpy, you've got to have loads of drape. Doing a wooly, worsted weight, cabled sweater with positive ease didn't work for me, but knitting this loose, flowing, linen top with positive ease? Nailed it!

I had originally intended to knit this pattern exactly as written, long sleeves and all, but when I tried it on after having completed the body I knew it had to be short sleeved. It's the perfect t-shirt and since the linen is light and cool I'll get maximum wear out of it over the summer as a sleeveless garment. Though I will admit that I'm already considering knitting another version, in the same linen but a darker colourway, with 3/4 sleeves to be more of a transitional piece. 

Knitting with linen is so different from knitting with wool, but the results are worth it. It felt like a bit of a slog there for a while. I was constantly fighting with my stitches to get them to glide smoothly around my needles, but I suspect that might be because of the interchangeable needles I was using, something with a smoother join probably would have eliminated that problem completely. Once I had completed the knitting, I threw caution to the wind and tossed my brand new t-shirt in the washer and dryer with a white wash. It was exhilarating! It came out looking perfect. How cool is that? I will definitely be rushing to Espace Tricot and using their in house line of linen yarns for my next summer knit, it's really lovely and comes in so many great colours. 

I'm very pleased with my decision to knit this classic t-shirt in white. It's so crisp and cool. I do worry about staining it, but since it's so easy to wash that takes most of the fear out. I really love that I can tuck it in. I am a huge fan of the half tuck and though most of these photos show the tee untucked when I decided to tuck there was no turning back.

So there you have it, I LOVE this top and my only regret is that I didn't have it finished earlier in the season so I could wear it all summer!  

Hello Old Friend - Baby Shane Blanket

My Baby Shane Blanket pattern is the very first pattern I ever published. And it's free! So often these days we publish patterns, talk about them for a week (ok, maybe a month) and then quickly move on to the next thing. Each pattern is such a labour of love and it feels unjust to forget about them just because they are no longer new. I always aim to design items that will stand the test of time. Just because it wasn't designed this year doesn't meant that it's not still relevant! With that in mind I thought that it would be fun to start a new series where I talk about my older patterns, starting with the absolute oldest, to A) remind you that they still exist! and B) chat about how I feel about them all these years later. 

baby shane

Pattern: Baby Shane Blanket - originally published in July of 2009. (I had no idea I'd been designing for over 9 years! woah.)

Yarn: 1 TFA DK Weight Palette.

Ravelry pattern page here.

Wow, so I just wrote a whole paragraph about why/how I came to design this pattern, my very first, and then I clicked over and read the blog post I wrote when I first published it and guess what, my recollection of how it all happened was completely backwards!!! I totally thought that I had started making our TFA Palettes and that they inspired the blanket - a way of making the most of one of our new Palettes. Nope! I designed the blanket and then decided to make kits for it! The Palettes were originally called Baby Shane Blanket Kits but I eventually renamed them because I felt like the name was limiting. You could knit anything with one Palette, not just this specific blanket, and I didn't want people to think that they were only good for one thing. 

Anyway, funny how memory works. 

I still love this pattern. I gifted the original sample but upon my request my mom knit a pastel version for me when I was expecting Rowan. It's a beautiful, colourful addition to the nursery and such a lovely weight and size to tuck into a carseat or stroller or for a little one to snuggle up with for a nap. I feel like the stripes are modern yet classic. It's all about the colours. There are loads of beautiful versions on Ravelry. The blanket is knit almost entirely in one piece, just one little seam to sew at the end, and overall I still think that the construction is pretty clever. I'm impressed that this was my first design quite frankly, clearly I put a lot of thought into it! 

After all these years, it's still one of my favourites. 

I hope you enjoy this new series. I have 83 designs published on Ravelry! I almost can't believe it.  

Five Things

I'm going to *try* and post a tiny little weekly recap most Fridays from now on. A mini journal of sorts. Mostly for me, but also to fill you in on what I'm up to. Some of the photos might have already appeared on Instagram and some not. Mostly family stuff I expect but knitting too of course. ;)

 The balloon parade for Rowan's  first day of kindergarten ! Notice how he and Chris have the exact same gait.

The balloon parade for Rowan's first day of kindergarten! Notice how he and Chris have the exact same gait.

 We have a new sofa that we love... but who is in charge of tidying the pillows every 2 minutes?

We have a new sofa that we love... but who is in charge of tidying the pillows every 2 minutes?

 My most recent FO! The pattern is  Sunshine Coast  by Heidi Kirrmaier. FO post coming soon! 

My most recent FO! The pattern is Sunshine Coast by Heidi Kirrmaier. FO post coming soon! 

 Chris surprised us all by cutting his hair off last night. I think he's gorgeous either way but I will miss getting to braid those luscious locks!

Chris surprised us all by cutting his hair off last night. I think he's gorgeous either way but I will miss getting to braid those luscious locks!

 Hi Willow! Hi Chris' new short do! She is always that happy. She's incredible. Also, 6+ months in and she's still getting use out of that teeny, tiny  Baby Vertebrae .

Hi Willow! Hi Chris' new short do! She is always that happy. She's incredible. Also, 6+ months in and she's still getting use out of that teeny, tiny Baby Vertebrae.

Fall Speckled Club Now Available!

TFA Speckled Club

The fall Speckle Club is now available! I took a poll the other day and the overwhelming majority of people prefer their clubs to feature just 1 base, so I'm giving you the choice of 3 fingering weight bases. Each month you'll receive an exclusive Club speckle in your chosen base - all the details on the Club page! Let the fun begin!!!