Guys, what a month it’s been! As we all know I have pneumonia. It’s a bummer but I’m being treated well and I’m actually feeling pretty close to normal again. It’s been a very eye opening experience, not only as a reminder of how important our health is but it has also made me re-evaluate how I’ve set up TFA and how sustainable it is the way we currently work. Don’t worry! I’m not planning anything crazy, but I am planning a few tweaks to make our systems run more smoothly and to also make it more manageable when unpredictable situations like this one occur. At this moment we’re actually on top of things! Which feels like a mini Christmas miracle. We’ve got lots and lots of gorgeous yarn for the Boxing Day Etsy Update, lots of good stuff in the pipelines.
Well, I thought that I just had a persistent cough and that I was going to wake up feeling better any day, but I didn’t. In fact, I woke up feeling worse. Yesterday I was diagnosed with pneumonia and I am officially being forced to take it easy. I’ve got so many orders to ship and so much work to do leading up to the holidays, so the timing is less than ideal, but my only hope of getting better quickly is to rest. So that’s what I’m going to do. I hear that pneumonia can be hard to shake if you don’t allow yourself adequate rest and downtime and shake this thing I must!
The thing about being a husband and wife business is that when the wife is out of commission the husband has to pick up all the slack both at work and on the home front and something’s gotta give, so not much of anything will be happening work wise for the rest of the week. I’m really hopeful that I make a speedy recovery and will be able to make up for the lost time in the next week or two.
The Canada Post strikes have come to an end, however the backlog of packages in the system are likely to continue to cause delays for some time, both domestically and internationally. If you’re waiting on a parcel from me please sit tight! The postal service is overwhelmed so please expect delays. Canada Post has reassured us that though there is a backlog, our parcels are safe and will be delivered.
That’s my update, I hope to be back soon with better news!
Ugh, so I’ve been sick for weeks! I have very little to show for this week, but I am optimistic that I’m on the mend! Any day now I’m going to wake up feeling normal again.
In other news that requires a giant UGH… Canada Post! This is the 3rd or 4th time that we’ve had to deal with a postal strike since I started TFA and I am so tired of it. It’s brutal for small business’ but more than that it just feels cruel this time of year when so many families are relying on the ability to feel close and connected by sending something special through the mail.
As far as TFA is concerned it is business as usual and we just hope and pray that delays aren’t too significant. International packages shouldn’t be affected and so far I haven’t experienced anything too dramatic domestically. There really is no other option, couriers and other other shipping services like Fedex and UPS are prohibitively expensive for the small packages that I mail.
I’m trying to stay positive! It’s snowy and freezing (actually, very much below freezing) and it’s the perfect type of weekend to stay in, knit and start making some serious holiday plans with my family. Stay warm!
Good morning! This weekend’s Update is live y’all! You can read all the details in Monday’s blog post. In a nutshell, the Gift Bundles have been added to the shop and are selling faster than I expected. I’m so glad you like them! I suspect that will sell out quicker than they have in past years so if you’re considering getting one you might not want to wait too long. Once they are gone, they are gone! While some of the items are available separately, like the calendars and stitch markers, the colourway and the boxy bags are exclusive to the bundles.
Our ALL THE BASES dyed-to-order update is also well underway. If you’ve been contemplating a sweater in one of our super luxe cashmere/silk blends now is your chance to order! These bases will be discontinued in the new year.
Big week here at TFA Headquarters! Here’s what you need to know: On Friday, November 16th the 2018 Gift Bundles will be available! I have already made the listings and you can check out all the details here. They say ‘sold out’ but that’s only because I don’t have the option of listing them as ‘not yet available’. On Friday at about 8am ET they will be available.
Next on the list of exciting things that are happening this week is a BIG Dyed-To-Order Update that will conveniently also be happing on Friday, November 16th. I have purposefully scheduled the update for the same day as the Gift Bundles drop so you can combine shipping and I’m purposefully telling you all about it a few days in advance so you can do all your planning!
After literally years of consideration I have decided to retire all of our non-PureWash bases after our annual Boxing Day Etsy Update. We are so passionate about our PureWash line of yarns, it’s where our hearts are and it’s what we want to focus on. We’re going in whole hog! It was an incredibly difficult decision, purely for selfish reasons since I love so many of our first generation bases and I’ll miss them! Retiring them completely feels a little sad, but I keep reminding myself that this free’s up space for me to continue developing more PureWash yarns! The truth is our current model of only having some yarns available full time and the rest available in the occasional update has made things overly complicated. I received an email just this morning from a customer inquiring about how to purchase Orange Label and even I was confused by my response.
All that to say that Friday morning I will list all of our colourways in all of our bases for the very last time. You can order whatever you want and we will dye it up for you. The bases will remain available for about 48 hours or while quantities last! After this update we will take stock of what we have left in inventory and dye it all up for our Boxing Day Etsy Update. After that, they’re gone!
The Gift Bundles are ready-to-ship, the rest will be dyed-to-order, if you order a Gift Bundle alongside a batch of Orange Label I’ll hold off and ship them all together. Everything will be ready to ship early December to arrive in time for the holidays.
Let’s dive a little deeper into the Gift Bundles shall we? I LOVE this year’s bundle! I am constantly surprised and delighted by how well the Gift Bundles come together. It’s as though they were actually planned to be perfectly coordinated! Of course that’s always my hope but things go off on tangents and develop a life of their own but then somehow like magic when all these separate elements come back together they make perfect sense as a whole.
The 2018 Gift Bundle includes:
• 2019 TFA calendar.
• A beautiful note card designed by illustrator Katrinn Pelletier of Katrinn Pelletier Illustration. You will receive 1 of the 6 notecards pictured, if you have a preference for 1 design please leave a note in the comments and I’ll do my best to accommodate requests while supplies last.
• A set of 21 Gold Geometric Stitch Markers.
• 1 skein of the custom Gift Bundle colourway Reflection on PureWash Fingering Weight yarn (if you need more than 1 skein in your life you can select more from the drop down menu!)
• TFA Boxy Bag - Hand made BY MY MOM!!! Bag is 9.5" long x 4" wide x 4" tall. Perfect for socks, accessories or even smaller sweater projects. Features a light grey exterior (show off your enamel pin collection!) with a pop of colour and metallic accents on the inside. It has a bright TFA turquoise zipper and our signature TFA star zipper pull! I have bags lined in seafoam green and bags lined in magenta. If you have a preference for 1 over the other please leave a note with your order and I will do my best to accommodate while supplies last. TFA Star zipper pull is removable and can be used as a key chain or you can clip it to your purse, or your belt or anywhere else you may want to clip a star. Get creative! ;)
I love everything in this year’s bundle, but I obviously have a soft spot for those projects bags made by my mom Noreen with help from her friend Andrea. They are awesome! (‘They’ refers both to the bags and the dynamic duo who made them!) I love the understated but impactful use of colourful accents we chose. It feels quintessentially TFA to me. Mom has mastered the art of production boxy bag making, and I’m hoping to continue to put her skills to good use going forward. 3 cheers for my mom!
The Gift Bundle exclusive Reflections colourway is a dream. It reminds me of Lotus, one of my favourite permanent collection colorulways, but it stands on it’s own as a dynamic speckle. With bits of gold, amber, turquoise and jade green over a veil aqua and grey, it’s my dream colourway. I will be casting on for a tiny Flax in this colourway pronto.
It’s an exciting week indeed! I love this time of year. See you Friday!
Pattern: Linden Sweatshirt by Grainline Studio
Fabric: Some pretty sparkly grey sweatshirt fabric that I picked up at Club Tissue… that’s all I got. Fabric should come with ball bands like yarn!
So this was a fun and super satisfying project. Every single sewer that I follow on Instagram has posted at least one version of this pattern. It’s not something that I had been planning on making mostly because a) I don’t sew that much and b) I have so many knit sweaters, do I need a sweatshirt? Well, this is the thing: I have exactly one sweatshirt that I love. It’s authentic 80’s vintage and I’ve been wearing it since I was probably 12. It was too big for me then but now it fits me perfectly. It’s old and worn and has a ripped seem that needs to be mended and I love it. I was out shopping for fabric for another top when I spotted this sparkly sweatshirt material and I was suddenly struck! I could make a new version of my favourite old sweatshirt! The thing that I love the most about that old St-FX sweatshirt is that it’s small and thin. Most sweatshirts are big and bulky - and if you’re looking for something extra cozy and plush that’s great, but I like a smaller layering piece. This fabric paired with this pattern hit the mark perfectly! I have a new made-by-me favourite sweatshirt. I don’t plan on retiring the old classic in favour of this one exclusively, but it’s nice to have options and I hope that will help to prolong the life of my original sweatshirt too since I now have two grey sweatshirts to jump between when I’m in the mood to be casual cool.
So, what does this have to do with Slow Fashion? Well, that part comes into play when considering the rest of my outfit, namely, that cool black holographic backpack and those faux-leather leggings. Both are recent purchases (and by recent I mean acquired in the last 6 month) and both were impulse buys that I regret yet they have taught me a major lesson about the way that I should, and shouldn’t shop, going forward.
The backpack is cool. I actually really love it. I saw it in a boutique, loved it, didn’t buy it, then was in the same boutique again a few weeks later, saw it again, still loved it and felt that the double moments of love meant that I was justified in buying it. I thought that it would be a super practical diaper bag. The thing is, it’s not. I find it much more annoying to have to pull a backpack off of my back and open it and then dig around inside to find what I’m looking for with a baby in my arms then to just reach into the messenger bag/diaper bag that I am currently using. Sidebar - the messenger bag that I have used as a diaper bag for all three of my kids is one that I bought in high school and have used on and off for the past 20 years. THAT was a good slow fashion purchase! So, back to the backpack, not only has it proven impractical for me as a diaper bag but it’s also made completely with synthetic materials. There is probably not a single biodegradable thing on this bag. Which is a bummer. So, yeah, I regret this purchase. I don’t loose sleep over it and I will get use out of it from time to time, but the next time I will pass on something like this.
Next up: those “pants”. I use the term pants loosely because these are leggings and I have always been dubious of the “leggings as legitimate pants” trend. Here’s the thing about these pants, I thought I wanted to add a bit more edge to my wardrobe and I have always loved the rock n’ roll vibe of these biker style faux-leather leggings. But… I don’t wear leggings! Like ever. I am a devoted jeans girl to the end of my days. I’ve owned them for about a month now and I wore them the day I bought them and then the day I took these photos and that’s it. They just aren’t something that I reach for and I think that a huge part of slow fashion and making smart purchases is knowing yourself. I will wear these from time to time but mostly out of obligation. As I’m writing this I’m thinking that maybe these pants aren’t exactly the worst thing ever, because though I do love my denim it is nice to have something other than denim to wear from time to time, but the truth for me is that my lifestyle just doesn’t feature that many non-denim appropriate days and given the choice, I feel better in my jeans. The lesson here is Know Thyself! If you don’t wear leggings, don’t buy leggings.
Lessons learnt. I am not perfect, but I do try to think about what I’m spending my money on. Not only to be thrifty, because who wants to spend money on items they don’t value? but also to be conscious of the fact that every item I buy has an impact and I should use my spending power wisely.
I love that last shot because it really looks like I’m either bird watching or maybe taking a scenic hike in the most inappropriate outfit ever. Hikers would make fun of me if they saw me out on the trails in these pants and that backpack!
And the photo below is the only shot I have that captures the metallic thread in the sweatshirt fabric. It’s not super in your face sparkly, but it adds a little somethin’ somethin’.
Pattern: Ombré Cardigan - originally published in September of 2011.
Yarn: TFA Pink Label Lace Weight.
I designed my Ombré Cardigan back before “fades” were called fades. It’s not quite as subtle a fade as we’re seeing these days, but it’s still a cool look. This little cardigan is still a favourite of mine. I love everything about it. The colour, the 3/4 sleeves, the wide ribbing at the hem… All good choices that I would do again. My favourite thing, other than the colour, is the knit-as-you-go seed stitch button band! Don’t get me wrong, I have no problem picking up stitches and knitting a neat little button band, but there is something so satisfying about a project that is actually done as soon as you cast off. I have several patterns with this sort of button band and I guess there’s a reason for it! I would totally knit this again, but maybe in a fingering weight fade with one of our 5 Skein Fade sets rather than lace weight held double, and probably with a bit more of a relaxed fit - this mom of 3 likes a bit more room around the tummy these days… Having said that, since this cardigan is designed to be a bit more trim fitting it’s great for layering and I find that whenever I wear it I feel really put together. I always wanted to knit one in green, maybe that will be next on my list!
Pattern: I Heart Aran - originally published in April of 2011.
Yarn: TFA Fingering.
This sweater pattern will always hold a very special place in my heart. I worked on it so hard for so long and I still love it! I Heart Aran was my first adult sweater pattern and that means I learnt a lot in the process of designing and writing it up. I remember when it came time to grade the pattern for all the sizes I sent an email to a designer friend of mine and asked “Is there a program where I can just put in my pattern and it pops out graded? Do I seriously have to sit there and do all that math for every size? What am I missing?” She replied with the email equivalent of a gentle pat on the head and an “aw honey, yes, you really do have to sit there and work out all that math for every size. There is no secret shortcut.” Hmmm. This designing thing really is hard work!
Experienced designers and people who are more clever than me have developed elaborate spreadsheets to grade their patterns (still involves lots of work though) but I am less of a spreadsheet kinda gal and more of a pencil and paper kinda gal, that’s just how my mind works. Anyways, I survived! And I had this beautiful pattern to show for it. Publishing this pattern was a big moment for me.
Sidebar - I did fine in high school math but I certainly wasn’t especially enthusiastic about it. However! Had math been taught with a more practical approach rather than purely theoretical I bet I would have resented it less. You know how when you’re an artsy teen and you’re learning complicated math and you say “I’m never going to use this in my real life” well… if you become a knitwear designer you’ll actually use it (some of it at least). Food for thought! :)
Gosh I love those cables! That cushy cozy collar! Dove was a brand new colourway when this pattern was released, I don’t know how I ever lived without it.
Pattern: The Golden Hour by Andrea Mowry.
Yarn: TFA Dusty Rose Palette featuring PureWash DK in velvet, pink grapefruit, trinity, rose grey, smoke, natural, sand, stone.
Ravelry Project page here.
I initially sat down with this beautiful Dusty Rose Palette and my stitch dictionaries all set to design my own shawl featuring texture and colour. I was thinking some stripes, some lace, some colourwork, maybe even some bobbles! As the wheels started turning I realized that the reason I had such a specific idea of what I wanted this shawl to look like was because I had seen this shawl before. What I really wanted was this, the Golden Hour Shawl by Andrea Mowry is exactly the look I was after. So I set aside my design plans and embarked on a relaxing and enjoyable knit following somebody else perfectly written pattern. And I am so happy with the results!
The fact that this shawl features exactly 8 bands of motifs and the Palettes include exactly 8 colourways means it was meant to be! I knit this worsted weight pattern with DK weight yarn without any trouble at all. I did run short on the last colourway (the stone stripe with the eyelets) but just stopped when I ran out of yarn and proceeded to the border, easy peasy. I love the size of the shawl - though smaller than the original worsted weight sample it’s plenty cozy for me.
When I posted some photos of this shawl to Instagram I received a few requests to see the backside since it can be weird to picture what the backside of stranded knitting looks like. This shawl actually features mosaic knitting, which is different from stranded knitting in that it uses only 1 colour per row. You still have floats, but they are the result of slipped stitches. From the backside, the two techniques look very similar though I think that it would be easier to ensure tidy floats with mosaic knitting.
My bobbles aren’t quite as bobblelicious as I would like, but I guess that’s just because I did them as written and as written they were intended for worsted weight and would be bigger. I could have modified the bobble instructions. I’m happy with them as is, but y’know, if you’re going to do bobbles then DO BOBBLES!
This was a very fun knit. Shawls are just the best. I feel like DK weight shawls are underrated and they deserve to be in the spotlight more often! For my climate they are pretty perfect. They are still light and airy yet provide the extra cush and coziness that are always welcome on a cold winter’s day.