Friday, 27 February 2015

drool-worthy #16 - the number collection

it's been a little while since i wrote a drool-worthy post, and i was actually thinking about that a couple of days ago. as timing would have it, veronika jobe from yoth yarns released a collection yesterday and they're all gorgeous! meet the number collection, five designs which use yoth's big sister (dk) and little brother (fingering) yarns.

the collection is a mix of accessories and garments, but i'm particularly partial to the garments. veronika's eye for detail, for example on this hem and the braided straps, just make me sigh. and dream of summer, although at this point i'd settle for the snow melting.

004. but actually, just the whole outfit, k thanks.
i also love the colour play. yoth does neutrals and gradients brilliantly, and the different shade along the bottom half of these sleeves is perfect. it's like you're wearing an extra layer of handshoes but they're already attached see how clever?? also, i love those boots.

my absolute favourite piece, though, is this vest. i've been drawn to vests lately (some designs are off in the wild right now, waiting on consideration from others), and it's strange because i have traditionally not understood the whole "cover your torso but not your arms" concept, especially since i have such cold hands. but that extra layer is really doing it for me these days, perhaps because my hands are actually getting colder and so i've been wearing even more layers than usual. either way, this vest looks like you've basically wrapped yourself in a blanket, and i am always all for that. 

this is yoth's wild rice colourway from their raw palette collection.

yoth yarns are gorgeous, and their product photography is some of my favourite yarn porn these days. check out their yarns and collections, and if you're on the west coast, drop by tolt or baaad anna's to squish some in person before you buy enough to knit the whole collection. 

Sunday, 22 February 2015

fun & games

i have some fun new knitterly things i've been working on, and i would love for you to play with me! 

i have a new shawl design that i absolutely love and have knit up twice and will be putting together kits of it for the show in april. i'm looking for test knitters right now. it knits up surprisingly fast for such a huge shawl, and it has all sorts of colour play possibilities. plus it uses mini skeins. who doesn't love mini skeins? you have until the end of march to knit it up, so if you're interested in test knitting, give me a shout. and if you're a winnipeg local and interested in knitting one up in my naturally dyed yarn, let me know (i'm afraid i'd be keeping that one for the show, but i'd be happy to gift you a separate skein in exchange for it).

i dyed up this very dark logwood skein on my glitter sock base on monday, and i'm a bit obsessed with it. i desperately want to knit something with it, and i'm also still obsessed with this gradient skein i dyed up weeks ago with logwood and onion skins, so i'm thinking they should be paired together for a project. the question is, do i design something new with them, or do i knit up one of my current designs with them? both abalone and the above design would look great in them, but i kind of want to use the excuse to come up with another design. the problem is that i don't know what to do with them yet, and ideally i would have whatever it is ready for the show in april, which isn't really realistic unless i just don't sleep. i'm also starting to lean towards using them to knit up escher, which has been hanging out in my queue for a bit. so i don't know what to do yet. i'll just look longingly and pet them in the meantime.

now, for some fun news from folks who are not me. kristan macintyre is hosting a kal for caitlin ffrench's dark woods patterns. the deadline is april 1st, and you get bonus points for naturally dyeing your own yarn. kristan was talking about eco-printing enshroud after it got knitted up, which i am sooooooo into. i wish i had the time to knit up my own enshroud right now. i love the idea of eco-printing on knitting though. i'm actually experimenting with eco-prints on one of my sock blanks, which will of course be deconstructed once it's unravelled into a cake and then knit into something else. i scavenged some eucalyptus earlier this week from bouquets at work, and kelly just gave me some indigo, so there are many ideas wandering around in my brain...i'm thinking of squeezing in a pair of gather mitts anyway, which i will justify because my current handshoes are all melting around the top edges from overuse. it's fine, right? i only have two new patterns, show samples, and the possibility of two magazine samples on top of show prep to worry about right now. ha. i'm a nut. but i love these ladies, and i love dark woods, so if i can make it happen i will. 

this is fossil & bone.
speaking of brilliant b.c.-based fibre folks, sylvia just released a new shawl that is just beautiful. i love the name a lot. it's weirdly similar to the shawl i made for meaggy in the fall and that i'll be releasing prior to the show, but i think that's just because great knitting minds think alike. i love the way that the ends are tied into knots, and the lace stitch she's used. sylvia designs the loveliest lace shawls.

so that's the news for now. i'm in a very scavengy mood right now, perhaps just because i'm tired of winter and want to go wander in the woods without a bajillion layers on (i love layers, just not to the point where i look and feel like a marshmallow). i'm dreaming about finding bones and dye materials and cooking up eco-prints over a fire. 

Monday, 16 February 2015

keepin' it riel

happy louis riel day, folks! february is often a particularly dreary month in canada, and having no day off between new year's and easter has proven to be not so great to many employers and governments. so several provinces were smart enough to create a holiday in mid-february, and here in manitoba, that day is louis riel day. hurrah for the long weekend!

i had hoped to get to festival du voyageur's fashion show on ice yesterday, but my homicidal uterus had other ideas. so instead i stayed in and got a good chunk of knitting done on a new pattern sample. today, however, i set aside for logwood! since my kitchen is my dye studio, i try to contain the number of days i overtake it with iron mordants due to the required extra ventilation and mask usage. i dyed up several skeins in order to semi-exhaust the dye bath and the chips, which i could technically use a bit more, but i decided to do some eco-printing with them instead. 

here is the organic jersey i scoured last week, laid out with rose petals, leaves, some other tiny flowers, onion skins, and the exhausted logwood chips. i bundled it all up and let it simmer in the dye bath, before turning off the heat and going out for a few hours. when i got home, i unwrapped it and tossed it in the washing machine. why be rougher with it than i normally would? because i have plans to make it into an easy-to-wear dress, and if the fabric and dye can't take a ride through the delicate cycle, i should rethink its use anyway. it seems to have survived and is drying now, so you can expect to see photos on instagram as i progress with its sewing destiny.

hanging out with the dye baths also generally means i have oodles of knitting time, so i'd hoped to  work on the lace shawl that will be part of when nature fought back. the other pattern sample i'm working on is coming along very quickly, but it's also a pattern that allows for social knitting, whereas this lace design really does need focus and attention. hanging out at home with my dye baths allows for that more than short breaks at work, or even hanging out after work when my brain is fried. i plan on having both patterns released prior to the trunk show, with kits prepared for both available at the show.  i ended up focusing on finishing work and a design submission instead of knitting though. the design is a secret one that i've finished off today and will send in for consideration tomorrow, so depending on how that turns out, i may have some very exciting news and collaboration to tell you about. if it doesn't turn out, i will likely do the design anyway, just over a more relaxed timeline. i do like what's in my brain, it's just a question of when to pump it out.

i  finally finished off my friend liz's slippers, complete with gorgeous buttons! we did an energy swap, with my knitting and her graphic design skills, and i'm very happy to have these lovelies ready to mail off to her. 

i also wanted to take this opportunity to thank you all for your support of prairie fire, and the many lovely words and compliments for my auntie! i made sure to share them with her when i went to visit her earlier this evening. they mean a lot, so kinanaakomin. 

Sunday, 15 February 2015

prairie fire

i've just released a new/old pattern on ravelry. prairie fire is a one-skein wonder shawl that i designed as a gift last year for my auntie, and right now you can download it for free using the code "heartscape" until the end of february.

prairie fire is the common name for castilleja coccinea, also sometimes known as indian paintbrush (my auntie made a joke about that as soon as i gave her the shawl). it's a gorgeous, fiery flower that can be found across the prairies, out west, and down as far south as the andes with certain strains of the castilleja plant. i have many memories as a wee one stumbling on patches of them on hikes while camping. you can actually eat the flowers, although the roots and green parts are toxic if ingested. the bright hues of manos del uruguay's alegría in carnaval reminded me of these flowers, and i knew that a one-skein wonder shawl had to be the showcase for these reds. indian slipped stitch (hurrah for racist stitch names…from now on, i'm referring to it as loopy cross stitch) provides some lovely texture and reminds me of the long petals of the flowers.

auntie pauline happened to be wearing the perfect shade of lipstick when we dropped by.

my other major inspiration for this shawl is my auntie pauline. she's been a friend of my parents' for almost forty years, and is married to my uncle rodney, who is one of the kindest and most openhearted people i've ever met. the pair of them are this force of gentle loving action, always helping others and using their good fortune to advance the lives of people less fortunate. auntie pauline is an elder, and since moving back to winnipeg, i've had the delight of spending more time with her than i have in over a decade. she's full of traditional knowledge, and apparently she and mum harvested sage from fields inside the city when they first met. they were nursing buddies way back in the day, and i grew up pretending pauline and rodney's samoyeds were my wolf pack. 

the colours and design of this shawl remind me so much of auntie pauline. this shawl is now hers, and i'm so happy and blessed to have her as my model for the pattern. we took these photos last summer in her backyard right before i flew out east for my residency.  

pattern: prairie fire by me, available on ravelry
materials: one skein of manos del uruguay alégria, or 425 yards/389 metres of fingering weight yarn

mumsy and auntie pauline sharing plant love, four decades in.

many thanks to my auntie pauline, who graciously agreed to be my model! kinanaakomin!
hippie blocking.

bonus pic: i loved this design so much that i had to make one for myself. i used northbound knitting merino singles (i'm in love!) in verdigris, and knit it right before my white rabbit residency in nova scotia. i blocked it under the blackberry bush on an unfolded vegetable box. i have so many wonderful things associated with this shawl. i love how knitting can take those memories and emotions and experiences on as you work and wear it.

bonus pic number two: i also made another one while i was doing my residency, using a skein of yvieknits sparkly sock in orange julius that i'd picked up at the loop in halifax right before i went to the woods. the colour was exactly what i'd pictured in my mind for a fire-inspired look for when nature fought back, so of course it had to come home with me. i knit the shawl during breaks in the open-air bar and during fire circles. the colour is almost impossible to photograph properly, but trust me, it's gorgeous.

Thursday, 12 February 2015


these days, i have been all about the random bits of prep work for the trunk show and getting knitting deadlines and paperwork out of the way. well, i'm still right in the midst of those deadlines and paperwork, but ticking them off as they come along is certainly satisfying. i have logwood and indigo dyeing days marked off, but beyond that, the majority of the yarn dyeing is complete. i'm now on to the (rather repetitive) task of reskeining, labelling, and recording each skein, cake, and braid, and then organizing some of those further into kits. i'm splitting those steps up over the days with knitting samples and making stitch markers to keep it entertaining!

i am more than slightly biased in the matter, but i have to say it - i love my stitch markers! i've made them with shells, jasper, agate, and fresh water pearls, and i think they're beautiful. on top of that, though, they're the nicest stitch markers i've used while knitting. yes, they look lovely, but they're also the perfect weight (i.e. no weight, but they stay out of your way), and they're not too big or too small. the thing i'm going to need to test is for very small and very large needles. i would also like to make removable markers, but i haven't quite figured out a cost-effective/attractive option for those yet. regardless, these particular stitch markers (which have a 9mm diameter) will be available for purchase at the trunk show. i'll be selling them in sets of five.

my moo cards came in, and i am the happiest little fibre-y small business nerd! they turned out beautifully. the printing is crisp, the paper (their green cards) is a comforting weight, and all of my writing on the front is legible! hurrah! there are twenty different images, which is rather exciting. i can't wait to start incorporating them into my packaging!

the buttons are made from (starting at the top and going clockwise): european buckthorn, lilac, apple, crabapple, ash, caragana, plum, elm, siberian elm, honeysuckle, local cherry, amur cherry, and burr oak in the centre. 
i met my friend carson back in the fall at a market. he's a magician with wood, and i asked if he would be able to make a mass order of buttons. last night, i went around the corner to his place (all the winnipeg hippies live within walking distance of one another - it saves on potluck travel time) and picked out my buttons from the basket of ready ones. they are so gorgeous and beautiful and finely crafted. they're extremely smooth and finished with linseed oil, so they'll be wonderful for handknits! i'll be putting a few together into kits for the show, and will hopefully have time to knit up a flopster before the show with some of my worsted weight wool and sew on a button. carson will have more buttons at festival du voyageur, so for you local folks, you should definitely go check him out and grab some buttons and a spoon or two.

anna maltz's latest article in the most recent issue of pom pom makes me so happy that i am reading it slowly to savour it.

so i have many things to do, and many plans to solidify, and many small tasks that become humongous due to their repetition, but i love it still. and there is always, always, always time for a knitting break. preferably with a pattern i enjoy, yarn that is scrumptious, using needles and notions that make me happy, and maybe even with a great little article to read.

Tuesday, 3 February 2015


one of the most interesting things to me about the creative process, particularly when it comes to longer-term projects and collaborations, is the way that they shift. as interests wax and wane, inspirations appear and disappear, life gets in and out of the way, so a project can shift. and sometimes, certain aspects of a plan live on across multiple projects. i speak today about my inspiration and plans for when nature fought back, and where it is currently standing, although i suspect that it will move several times before its final (or final-ish) production.

a stack of finished pieces for the collection, in various stages of pattern publication.

it began last year, long before i went to live in the woods and played with bones. it actually started off as an idea for a play, a story about ghosts caught in limbo and what items they might leave behind to suggest to us their journeys. the idea of remnants. our impacts on the environment, and what trigger might cause nature to fight back against us, and what would happen to us if it did. a nuclear tea party. alice in wonderland and her jabberwocky and march hare and flowers that towered above her. nightmares. dreams. the power of stones, and the stories of bones. the comfort of a pair of antlers held in your hands when everything else feels unstable. the smell of rot. memories of iceland and polish woods.

pollination is the first published pattern from the when nature fought back collection.
sketches give way to swatches and trials and errors and retrials that become successes. everything seems to fit into the theme, even when they're not technically related. ideas for this collection go off on tangents and have inspired at least three other collections, some of which i've started by accident and others of which are waiting more patiently for their turn. and then, the performance and reveal shift because collaborations shift even more than personal projects. and the pull of those collaborations make the shift good and fine and exciting, and so we go down a different path together.

yarn for upcoming patterns, three of which are established, tested, and just need to be knit and photographed in the proper yarns before publication, and one which is still in the pre-swatch stages.

but the original pull is still there, and some sort of culmination feels necessary for that aspect of the project. so here is my plan: by the end of 2015, to have a dozen complete looks that fit into the collection. each of those looks to have at least one original design that is actually part of the collection, but also other designs made again to suit certain looks. to have a dozen (maybe more, but definitely not fewer) patterns that are specific to the collection. to go into the woods and take many photos and pull together a lookbook. to create a small show to launch them, or at least to show them off. to pull them together after that as a trunk show, ready to travel at a moment's notice to fellow fibre lovers, perhaps along with yarn and kits, although not necessarily always with me.

these are my goals. for now. maybe (likely) they will shift some more, and by the end of 2015, there will be something entirely different sitting in front of me. but for now, i think these are reasonable and achievable goals, and an end date that suits me and will let me move on to related and unrelated things will a feeling of completion. or at least as much completion as one ever feels in creative pursuits.