psst :: don’t forget we’re running a 15% off promotion all weekend long with coupon code “YAYTFA” !
Before I go any further, here’s a coupon code for 15% off everything on our site:
*Valid until 11:59pm ET Sunday, March 17th. Free shipping on CAD/US orders over $200 still applies. If you have any trouble applying two coupons (you shouldn’t) I’ll issue a refund for any overages in S&H charged.
I am super excited to announce that our little website re-organization is officially live! You may not even notice it at first, the changes aren’t dramatic, I just did a whole bunch of little things that will hopefully make the site easier to navigate for everyone wether you are here to browse, to buy or just to get some colourful inspiration. I spoke more about my intentions for this update in this blog post last month.
So, shall we talk about what I’ve been working on!? Are you ready for more detail than you’d ever need to know about building a website? Part of me thinks I’m about to overshare but a bigger part of me knows that everyone loves a little sneak peek behind the scenes at all this backend stuff, right?
You may notice that I’ve embraced the drop down menu! Adding a drop down menu is a new trick for me. I’m kinda proud of myself for figuring that out (full disclosure: I really shouldn’t be that proud as it was very simple). I’ve consolidated all our info pages into the ABOUT drop down menu and all of our shop-able pages into the SHOP menu. Pretty straight forward right?
In the SHOP section the main thing you’ll notice is that you now shop by yarn type rather than by colour. In the coming weeks I will be adding the POP UP SHOP page (working on building up some inventory) but for the initial launch I’ve got our entire CORE COLLECTION.
How lovely is the CORE COLLECTION landing page!? So when you select CORE COLLECTION you’ll come to a page that looks like that screenshot above and says this:
Our CORE COLLECTION colourways are available in all of our custom-spun, eco-friendly and organic PureWash yarns as well as our sturdy Blue Label Sock yarn. The Core Collection is always available to order in whatever quantities you need and is dyed-to-order.
Which I hope makes things pretty clear. Let’s say you’re interested in picking up some Chunky yarn, you click on PureWash Chunky and voila!
I’m nuts about what these yarn pages look like! The other very cool thing that I learnt while doing this update is how to add code to make the colourway name sync with the colourway image. See in the screenshot above how the colourway selected from the drop down menu is Lotus and tada! the image for Lotus is the one you see! It works both ways, either by selecting the image and having the name displayed in the drop down menu or by selecting the name in the drop down menu and having the image pop up in the image window. This had to happen in order for this new system to work and I am thrilled that it went so smoothly! Did you know I’m basically a hacker now?
Hmm… So what else is new? Well, I also re-organized the Kits & Gifts section but dividing it into two subcategories: PROJECT KITS & SKEIN SETS and NOTIONS • GOODIES • GIFTS. I had been feeling like our kits section was pretty all over the place including everything that wasn’t a single skein of yarn. I felt that it limited my ability to add more project kits because the whole section wasn’t particularly organized. This also allowed me to separate our notions into more subcategories as well so everything is easier to find (I’m looking at you Gleener!)
OH! And the last new thing I figured out how to do (remember I’m basically a computer wiz now) is to add a plugin to display the inventory of any item that has less than 10 units left. This feature will come in super handy when I add the POP UP SHOP (I’m pretty committed to only typing that in all caps apparently) since each batch of yarn will be available in limited quantities. To see it in action check out the Mitten Kits page. You can also test out how the images sync up to the colourway name if you’re so inclined. :)
So, I think that’s about it for today! I hope that you all love this new way of visiting our site. I still have a long list of things that I’d like to update and spruce up but I feel like we’ve made good progress in the right direction. If you spot any bugs (please NOOOO!) or have any feedback for me I’m all ears and would love to hear your thoughts in the comments.
Also, enjoy 15% off until Sunday night! Don’t forget the code: YAYTFA
This is a long awaited post about how exactly I go about washing all my hand knits. There are a few disclaimers I have to put out there before I get into it:
1) No matter what kind of yarn you’re knitting with (superwash, PureWash, natural untreated…) I’m a firm believer that all hand knits should be laid flat to dry. Period. I don’t put any of my knits in the dryer and the main reason is because dryers are hard on fabrics, all fabrics. Here’s a little laundry anecdote for you: my sister and I purchased the same t-shirt at the same time. It was a nice cotton tee, nothing fancy, easily washable. I threw mine in the washer and dryer every time it needed it, but my sister lived in an apartment where she had a washing machine that only had cold water and no dryer, so her t-shirt got washed in a cold cycle and hung to dry. I bet you can guess where I’m going with this. Fast forward a few months of regular wearing and washing and my t-shirt looked dull and old and hers looked bright and as good as the day she(we) bought it. Lesson learnt. I only ever wash in cold water now. I line dry in the summer and use my dryer in the winter but anything special gets left out of the dryer because it really makes all the difference! So if that’s true for a cotton t-shirt, it’s 100 times more true for hand knits.
2) My system may not work for everyone simply because maybe your washing machine isn’t the same as mine. I’ll get into the washing machine details next but my delicate/knits cycle may be more delicate than yours and you should test a swatch before throwing in a full garment. Another reason why knitting a swatch is always a good idea!
3) I’m focussing on sweaters, hats and mitts here. Things like lace shawls that require proper blocking are treated slightly differently which I’ve previously blogged about here.
4) Superwash yarns have a tendency to grow when wet and I might break my no dryer rule occasionally if I find that a garment has stretched so far out of shape that it’s no longer working for me. I have, on occasion, put a completely dry superwash sweater in a hot dryer for 5 minute increments to fluff it up and tighten up the stitches. It’s not my favourite thing to do and avoiding this stretching is one of the reasons I developed our line of PureWash yarns.
Before we dive too deep into the exciting world of washing your knits I want to mention how infrequently I wash most of mine. This is not something that happens weekly in my house, not even monthly. Wool garments don’t absorb odours and dirt as easily as cotton items do. They are typically an outer layer and are worn over a t-shirt or tank which get washed more frequently. My kids wear knits all the time and though I’m not overly precious with them (my 5 and 3 years olds wear them to school and daycare where I have no control over what happens to them) I do simple things like take a sweater off of my 3 year old before serving him a bowl of spaghetti or, say, finger painting. Other than that they wear their hand knits the same way they would wear a store bought sweatshirt.
When an item looks like it’s ready for the wash I set it aside and typically wait until I have enough hand knits to run a load in my machine. Because we have tons of hand knits to choose from I can do that, if I didn’t have as many knits and didn’t want one to be out of rotation while I wait for a load to accumulate I would hand wash it. If something is accidentally dirtied in a way that I feel needs to be addressed right away, or if there’s a favourite item that I want to be able to reach for right away, I skip the machine and go straight to the hand washing.
Hand Wash Method:
If I’m hand washing an adult sweater I do it in the sink. If it’s a smaller item I’ll use a bowl. I fill the sink/bowl with cold water, pour in some wool wash, let it sit for 20 minutes/several hours if I forget about it. Squeeze out the excess water and then lay it flat to dry on a towel. For adult sweaters I will have Chris squeeze out the excess water because it can be a bit of a chore and then I’ll lay it on a towel, roll it up and step on it to get more water out of it before laying it flat. Garments get carefully reshaped so they dry nicely, accessories or things that don’t need as much reshaping just get tossed on a drying rack. I lay them on towels on the floor in my office. I typically do it in the evening and they are usually dry by the morning. Sometimes I’ll put smaller items like hats or mitts on a cooling rack (like what you would use for cookies) to allow for more air circulation, but sweaters go directly on the floor because I don’t have anywhere else to put them.
Full disclosure: I have a spin dryer that we use for the yarn and I use it to remove the water from garments too. It’s so much easier than the squeezing/standing on a wrapped up towel system and gets them so close to dry but I wouldn’t buy one just for sweater care.
If I’ve got a bunch of knits to wash I’ll do them all in one load in my machine and I do think that not only is it quicker/easier, the items seem to get cleaner, however it is definitely harder on them so that’s something to consider. All I do is set my top loading machine to the delicate/knits cycle, cold water, add in a little less than I would usually use of my regular laundry detergent (we use an eco-friendly scent-free/dye-free variety, something really gentle on the clothes) and let the machine do all the work. I put it through the whole cycle and then lay them to dry the same way as the items I’ve hand washed. They do come out of the washing machine looking a little worse than items I hand wash, but once they’re dry and I’ve given them the once over with my Gleener they look as good as new.
All the kids clothes in the top photo and the photo below were washed using my machine method.
For things like the kids knit mittens and hats I actually prefer to hand wash only because I’m usually in a rush for them. They come home in the afternoon after having dipped their mitts in slushy puddles and I want them washed and dried in time for them to wear to school the next morning so I put them all in a bowl with some wool wash on the counter, I’ll probably end up changing the water once or twice because children are filthy and then I’ll put them on the drying wracks overnight. I can do it in less time than it takes to wash the dishes. In fact I’m often doing both simultaneously. It’s no biggie.
Regardless of how I’ve washed the items, they always get Gleened before they are folded and put back into rotation.
The blanket above is the best example I can find to show just how awesome at defuzzing the Gleener is. This blanket is knit from non-washable wool but I washed it using my machine wash method and though it looked pretty awful when it came out of the washer (just covered in pills) I gleened it and it looked better than ever. Those photos above are from years ago, that blanket was the first thing I’d ever gleened and it sold me on the tool completely. You can see the same blanket on the bottom of the pile of blankets below. The photo below was taken yesterday after I washed the 4 blankets shown using the machine wash method. The hat and mitts on top of the pile were hand washed.
Above is a sweater knit in our PureWash DK Weight base that accidentally got put in a regular wash with a load of laundry. Luckily I caught it before it got tossed in the dryer. I laid it flat to dry and then gave it a good once over with my Gleener and it came out as good as new! While I wouldn’t recommend that method of washing it is nice to know what our PureWash yarns can stand up to the abuse if it happens. I have washed and dried swatches of all of our PureWash bases and they have all made it through the process exceptionally well - they look like they’ve never been washed - but I still wouldn’t recommend you wash your knits that way. They will survive but we want our knits to THRIVE for years and years!
And one last honourable mention in the “laundering your knits” category goes to my steam iron. My iron does not see very regular use but every once in a while I will put the steam on high and run the iron lightly over a knit to and it makes a world of difference. If I’m being completely honest, I have been known to skip the wash and just give a sweater the once over with a Gleener and a steam iron and it can really breathe new life into it.
The Christmas In July sweater Willow is wearing in the above photo has been worn by all three of my kids over the past 5 years or so. Lots of wear, lots of washes and it still looks great. Because or the time and expense involved in hand knitting I think taking good care of the things we make is so important. So many people think hand washing is an insanely time consuming and labour intensive task but it’s really not. It’s nothing to be afraid of. You know what is an insanely time consuming and labour intensive task? Knitting! All that time and energy you devoted to your work means that your gorgeous hand knits need to be treated with respect. So let’s do that. Let’s wear them and enjoy them everyday and then care for them respectfully when laundry day rolls around.
If I’ve missed something or if you have a tip or trick that you do when washing your hand knits please let me know in the comments!
Yarn: TFA DK Weight Yarn in Brick.
These days I tend to mainly work in multicoloured motifs but revisiting this sweater has me re-thinking that position. I LOVE this sweater. I wear it all the time in the winter and it is beautiful and knitterly but still understated and cool. It falls mid-hip on me and it’s a length that I find really easy to wear. But really, the star of this design is the cable cast off around the oversized turtleneck. It’s neat and crisp and and is a tiny detail that packs a big punch. I remember shortly after I released this pattern I regretted that I hadn’t thought to carry the cables from the raglans down the sides of the sweater but I’m glad that I didn’t. Though that would have been a perfectly reasonable decision, it would really change the overall look of the garment, making it more graphic and linear. Would be a simple mod if that’s the look you’re after though! The more relaxed fit and longer length means that this was one of the only pullovers in my collection that fit me throughout most of my pregnancies which makes it extra special for me. It’s the type of sweater I would definitely knit again, maybe next time in white?
Now that we have a kid in school this was our first year having a March break and we tried to make the most of it without doing anything crazy. A play date, a sleepover at the grandparents house, lots of time playing outside, a visit to the Botanical Gardens (lovely!) and the insectarium (not so lovely…) and we’ll be finishing off the week with a trip to my Ottawa to spend time with my brother and his family. Wasn’t the most productive work week but it more than made up for it in family time - a fair trade off once in a while!
Last week I realized that Willow was rapidly outgrowing all of her clothes and I needed to get a few new tops and pants for her. I made a quick trip to the mall and picked up a few essentials but nothing I saw got me very excited. I decided to make her something fun. This little top is adorable! I used less than 1 fat quarter of the floral print for the yoke (from Garden Party Tango by Iza Pearl Design which I’ve had since 2015!) and the seabreeze gingham is a remnant my mom had leftover from a dress that she made for my sister when she was 10 years old. So, a solid 20 year old remnant. Way to be a hoarder mom!
I am obsessed with Made By Rae’s Geranium dress/top pattern. I made a smaller version for Willow last summer, look how tiny she was! I pretty much think that it’s one of the only dress patterns I’ll ever need for Willow because it is so versatile. It has many customizable options in terms of length and sleeve design and embellishments - the #geraniumdress hashtag is full of inspiration. The pattern comes with an expansion pack for all sorts of other details to make each version unique and I’ll definitely be getting it soon because I want many more Geranium dresses and tops. This version has me weak in the knees!
I’m really happy with how this top came together but was worried that I’d ruin it with sloppy buttonholes so I got myself a snapper? A snap installer? A snap gun? A thing that looks like pliers that allows you to put snaps on fabric and it’s the best thing ever! Willow is at risk of never learning how to manage buttons because I am going to be putting multicoloured snaps on everything from now on. I’m also pretty pleased with my hand sewing. I stitched the top lining down by hand and it looks neat as a pin. The inside is almost as nice as the outside and if I knew how to make the skirt hem and side seams invisible I bet this top could be reversible. Will have to look into that.
Even though this top is definitely more spring/summer appropriate I am too excited about it to wait for the thaw to have her wear it so for now we’re layering with sweaters. The lovely cardigan she wore yesterday was a gift knit in our Orchid colourway, the pattern is Mavis baby set by Oomieknits and it’s perfect. Even though I am a huge fan of super colourful knits I’ve found it extremely useful to have a few solid coloured pieces as well to layer over her more patterned clothing.
Lastly, I never knew that I would be a baby headband person but guess what… I am! Willow is pretty tolerant of them too. Micah calls them bow-danas, like bandana but with a bow. Get it? I thought that was pretty clever.
Pattern: Business Casual Socks - originally published in December of 2011. And it’s FREE!
Yarn: TFA Blue Label Fingering Weight.
I love this design with all of my heart! This free sock pattern is definitely my most popular and I have no problem with that. I love the crisp lines and the simple diamond motif. It’s easy to knit but packs a big punch. These were designed for my dad, lover of hand knit socks (a trait he passed on to my older brother!) and I love that I have a little corner of my knitting world dedicated to him.
Yarn: TFA PureWash Chunky in Trinity.
Ravelry Project page here.
Say hello to my new favourite sweater! I had no idea how badly I needed this sweater in my life until I finished it, blocked it and put it on my body. Now I never want to take it off! One glance at my Ravelry project page will tell you that I don’t typically knit chunky sweaters, or dropped yokes (Is that a thing? the yoke is much longer than my actual measurements from neck to armpit) or sweaters with puffed sleeves, or bobbles. Heck! I don’t even knit much lace these days! But the second I laid eyes on this pattern I knew that I wanted to give it a try and boy am I glad that I did!
Part of the reason why it was so easy to convince myself to give this pattern a shot, even though it happens to be such a departure for me, is the fact that at this chunky gauge it required very little time commitment from me as far as sweaters go. I knit the whole thing in under a week. Even if I ended up hating it on me I figured it was worth a week’s worth of knitting to find out. And the good news is I love it! This winter has been so cold. Maybe it’s just my old, frail bones, or my drafty house, but for whatever reason I have found myself chillier than usual and in need of a chunky merino/alpaca sweater. It’s perfectly warm and cozy yet somehow still light and wearable.
Look how pretty those staggered yoke increases are! I love that this design has so many feminine details, even right down to the colour I chose to knit it in, but at this gauge still looks modern and cool instead of just sweet and pretty. This pattern is the chunky version of a design that was originally published for fingering weight, and though both feature the same lovely details I just can’t get enough of this chunky version. It feels more fashion forward, dare I say even editorial at this gauge. I’m into it.
I love the silhouette with the front tucked in (I am never not tucking in my sweaters) but love it less so hanging loose. Untucked it’s just a bit less flattering on me, which is why I don’t have a photo of it untucked. It hits a bit low on my hips making my torso look long and shapeless. But with a front tuck? Perfect.
I’m very pleased that I decided to knit it in Trinity. Other colours I was considering were Mint, Cloak or Gold which I’m convinced would have all worked. Trinity is such a lovely shade of very wearable pale pink. The last pink sweater I knit turned out to be not quite right for me, but this one gets 2 thumbs way up!
PureWash Chunky is an organic merino/alpaca blend and that 20% alpaca content lends this yarn the loveliest drape and the littlest bit of halo which is so coveted these days. It manages to do all that while still providing beautiful crisp stitch definition and is quite possibly the perfect yarn for this style of sweater. I highly recommend this yarn/pattern combo.
So here’s to taking calculated risks with your knitting. To stepping out of your comfort zone and hopefully surprising yourself by finding a new favourite colour, or a new favourite silhouette or maybe just a new favourite way to work yoke increases!
And here’s a tip from me to you: slap on a statement sweater and a bright lip and you will be shocked at how pulled together you look! The lipstick I’m wearing is Laura Mercier Velour Extreme Matte Lipstick in Fire and it is amazing.
Pattern: Windward Hat - originally published in December of 2011.
Yarn: TFA DK Weight.
I designed this hat right around the same time as my Cabled Canuck pattern and though I love them both equally the cabled pattern is far and away the more popular of the two. It’s funny how that happens. I think the pattern photos for Windward could be better, and maybe people just like worsted weight cables more than DK weight lace for a hat? Regardless, I still love this hat for early and late winter. Maybe not deep winter when the lighter weight and slight openness of the fabric isn’t enough, but for those transitional seasons it’s just right. The double brim goes a long way towards making this hat warmer than it appears. If my ears are warm, everything is alright.
This hat pattern works equally well as a beanie or a slouch (instructions are included for both) but the beanie version above is the one I get the most use out of. I like how the tighter fit really highlights the motif. And the OOAK colourway I knit it in still makes my heart go pitter patter.
Out of 639 comments the random number generator chose #38… Making the winner of this week’s giveaway: Christine H! Christine wrote,
I'm so looking forward to the redesign! Keep up the great work!
Send me an email Christine to firstname.lastname@example.org and I’ll pop your skeins in the mail!
Thanks so much to everyone who entered and left such thoughtful comments on Wednesday’s post. I read each and every one of them. You guys really are the best!
Have a great weekend everyone! We’ll be celebrating Willow’s first birthday by having family over tomorrow. I’m not talking about it too much because I can’t believe it! She turned one earlier this week… I can’t believe it!
This giveaway is now closed. Thanks to all who entered!
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. ;)
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: