Thursday, 31 March 2016

flotsam & jetsam - test knitting call out

i posted yesterday on social media about test knitting for my new book, flotsam & jetsam, and the response has been incredible!

photo by samson photography.

if you're interested in test knitting for me, please email me at and i will send you the information.

updates about availability are being posted on this thread in my ravelry group, as well as on social media. i'm also updating the dropbox links as possible to reflect the latest availability. there are still lots of items available for testing, and i'm ideally looking for a minimum of 1 tester per size/item, with up to 3 testers. there are sweaters, shawls, and a bunch of accessories still available!

here's the original call out:
CALL FOR TEST KNITTERS: hey knitters, i have 17 different designs in need of testing for my book. you'll be receiving patterns in the next few weeks as i filter them through nicola's keen tech editing eye, with a deadline of june 30.
the items are: a blanket, 2 sweaters, a vest, socks (FULL), boot cuffs, handshoes, a cowl (FULL), a bag, a scarf, 2 hats, a headband, and 4 shawls (UPDATE: 2 shawls). commit to as much or as little as you like! all testers receive a copy of the e-book when it's ready, plus thanks in the book. message me if interested.

Tuesday, 29 March 2016

the bag saga, part one

so, for anyone who has known me for very long, it's probably not a surprise that i destroy my bags relatively quickly. i'm tough on them, i put them through a lot, and i tend to use the same one every day until it dies a sad and sorry death. and in the early stages, i do make attempts to salvage them. i take them to get mended. as holes appear, i try to be more careful. inevitably though, the bags that i buy (and i buy ones that are actually designed and made well because i know i will put them through hell) have a 1-2 year shelf life, max. so here we are again, with a bag that is on its last legs and that i should really look at replacing before it, and its contents, explode all over the ground. 

this is what my bag looked like before i killed it. noujica from montreal is the maker.
here's the thing: i don't want to buy a new one. i mean, i know i could, and there are a lot of really fantastic small companies that i could support. i could even just get another of the exact same bag, because tara davis stocks them as well as a bunch of other really great bags. but i'm doing so much making these days, and i'm fully capable of sewing myself a new bag. and my parents have this huge bolt of soft leather that i could use, and there are some pretty great patterns out there that would just need the addition of a zipper to be what i want. but then there's the cost - a good bag is probably $100-200, but if i buy waxed canvas or duck canvas or heavy tweed and then all the leather straps and buckles and heavy duty zips and grommets and d-rings...i'm probably going to spend the same amount and potentially fuck it up. 

i mean, i could make colette's cooper cross-body version...but i think it's too big for what i want.
my current bag is made from a cotton canvas and quite a bit of leather. the leather is in great condition, it's the cotton canvas that's dying on me. so here's my potential plan. i'm going to salvage all the bag's hardware and leather - leather straps, zipper, pockets, and the bottom of the bag. the liner is still ok as well. and i have that leather at my parents', but also some heavy duty canvas from a dress that is too small now and that i was planning on recycling into a bag anyway. i will basically just rebuild the bag, and hope that my stitching is strong enough to keep everything in place. i think it could work. it's just a matter of getting around to it before i completely destroy my current bag and need to replace it quicker than i can get around to making it. or i could use the salvaged materials and use them to make either this bag or this bag from noodlehead. which would maybe help with reducing cost while simultaneously avoiding the whole probably-gonna-fuck-up-if-i-try-drafting issue. i think that's probably the smartest and most thrifty option.

my friend kristie makes these absolutely beautiful rope vessels with handdyed rope. i'd rather spend money on one of them.
in reality, i wish i had a life where i could just carry around baskets anytime i needed to go out. i love having a work basket full of knitting and a notebook and maybe a mason jar for drinks. but working downtown in an office 5 days a week doesn't really allow for that ease, and i would need the world's biggest and most organized basket to carry around all the shit i need during the week. so we'll try this, and see if it makes a difference. and then maybe i'll go on to sew more containers for my life. i mean, the portside travel set from grainline studios would cover basically every other thing i need - pouch for knitting notions and/or make it out of leather and something a little fancier for a clutch, dopp kit for toiletries (would you believe i don't actually have a toiletry bag? i killed the last few i had before my last move...), and a duffle bag for those few times a year i escape for a weekend away. or have to dog and house sit. although i think i'm safe on a duffle for a bit, because i just gave myself an early birthday present with this one (but in the bee print denim) from canadian maker jenna rose. and i'm determined to sew my stowe bag before the wolseley wool retreat. i will hang out by the pool with a basket and my stowe bag with a new project, damn it. 

portside travel set.

Monday, 28 March 2016

1k giveaway on instagram

check out those sexy prizes!
i've hit the 1000 followers milestone on instagram! to celebrate, and also to celebrate the release of my first pattern since december, i'm hosting a giveaway over on my instagram feed. here are the rules and the prizes:

my new pattern, mini flopster, set to drop on april 2nd. photography by samson photography. 

how to play

  • you must have a valid instagram account
  • "like" the original post, follow my instagram feed, and tag a friend - that's it!
  • for a bonus entry, repost with the tags @sunflowerknit and #sunflowerknit1kgiveaway 
  • for even more bonus entries, head over to my patreon page and donate to the campaign! every dollar donated equals an extra entry, so $5 gets you 5 extra entries, $25 gets you 25 extra entries, etc., etc. the best part is that you still qualify for perks too, so you'll get something fun regardless of whether you win the giveaway or not!
  • contest closes at 11:59pm cst on april 1st, and i'll announce the winner on april 2nd.
  • open worldwide 
now time for some awesome prizes!

  • a skein of the fibre co.'s canopy fingering in fern
  • a special edition japanese knot knitting project bag from anna hunter featuring a block print of a manitoba mushroom
  • a ceramic woodfired button by grace boyd
  • a set of regular-sized stitch markers made by me
  • a digital copy of my latest pattern, mini flopster, which you can make with that skein of canopy fingering! set to release on april 2nd. 
how cool is that?? i have cultivated a really beautiful community on instagram (and am despondent that instagram is changing to an algorithm despite all the feedback telling them to not go the facebook way...), and i am so grateful for all the people i've met through the platform, including a number who have become real-life friends too (come find me on ello so we can start growing the community again on a no ads/no algorithm site)! so thank you, and good luck!

Tuesday, 22 March 2016

back and forward

i'm back in flatland after my trip to the east coast, and it's all steam ahead as i tuck into the various projects i have on the go and had on the backburner leading up to the photoshoot. samson took absolutely gorgeous photos of all the knits for the book, and i hate having to wait months to show them to you. so i've decided i will leak sneak peeks over the next few months. nothing that will truly give away a pattern, but at least you'll get an idea of what's to come before the book actually launches. i will probably keep the leaks focused primarily to instagram and ello, although you might find them on facebook as well.

speaking of instagram, i'm hosting a giveaway later this week! it's to celebrate the release of my first pattern since december (such a long hiatus, i know), as well as the re-release of flopster, not to mention the fact that i'm about to hit 1000 followers on instagram. there will be some really fantastic prizes, including stuff from anna hunter, grace boyd, and the fibre co., (as well as me, of course), so keep an eye out for the announcement. you can enter via instagram but there will also be bonus entries coinciding with support for my patreon campaign for the book.

i have three patterns set for release between now and the middle of april, which means cracking down on my sample knitting to get the photos ready on time. and i am also back at my dyepots, which is such a beautiful feeling. i have etsy orders to fill thanks to my collaboration with sylvia on the sunlight shawl for sad people, mini skein sets to organize for baaad anna's in vancouver, and a couple of skeins to rinse and dry for the manitoba craft hub's social's auction. i dyed those with the black walnut hulls from when i made my almada robe, and the colour is out-of-this-world delicious. i'm going to simmer the remainder of the pot down into ink. black walnuts may be my new favourite dye stuff. oh, and i'm in the process of sorting out which of my existing stash will be headed to halifax for the loop! this is actually really exciting for me, because one of my goals for this year(ish) was to sell my yarn in halifax, vancouver, and winnipeg. that's basically the most capacity i have at the moment for selling my yarns, and i chose those three cities because they are all different home bases to me and cover canada in a pretty nice way. so the fact that i'll be in all three locations by april is super exciting! 

i have to get started on my neurocraft projects, and the first is a quilt with handstitching and embroidery. it's kind of nice, because it's a project that i can chip away at in smaller increments. i also have a couple of other larger sewing/stitching projects to get started on, but all have deadlines that are several months away, so it's kind of nice. stuff to do without totally overwhelming me.

speaking of sewing, i am continuing with my handmade wardrobe and life. i really got into sewing my own clothes as i prepped for the photoshoot, but now that it's over, i still have lots of plans. i really enjoy sewing my own clothes and knowing that no one else will be wearing what i'm wearing, and now i can do it at a slightly more leisurely pace. the chambray remnant that i picked up at patch halifax is up first, destined for a stowe bag, and once the patches that i ordered from this german artist on etsy arrive, i'm going to handstitch one of them onto the bag. i'm excited to make a bag large enough for my larger knitting projects, especially since i have a sweater and top pattern in my to-do-soon list. and i have my kenedy dress to finish, which will pair nicely with one of the designs i have set to release in april. 

so, like always, i have lots on the go. i have pattern drafts to finish and send to nicola for tech editing, a garment grading course to complete, several backburner designs to get out into test knitting and then the world, and then all the non-fibre parts of my life too. but i feel relaxed about it all, at least at this point, and content with making time for all of the different projects, including some selfish projects and projects for dear ones. it's the calm after and before the storm, and i am relishing in it. 

Sunday, 20 March 2016

sunlight and certain darkness

my dear friend sylvia has re-released her fabulous shawl the sunlight shawl for sad people and also released a sister shawl for it, a certain darkness. both are triangular shawls that are perfect for beginners or for experienced knitters looking for a bit of a break. 

the fabulous vivienne mcmaster took these selfie-style shots.
the sunlight shawl uses my mermaid hair yarn, and right now you can get a free set of stitch markers ($7 value!) with any dyed-to-order purchase of mermaid hair from my etsy shop. just add the word SUNLIGHT into the "notes to seller" and you'll be good to go! i have just landed back in flatland and will be getting right to my dyepots, so orders should be shipping by the end of next weekend (the drying and reskeining/caking takes the most time in the whole process).

i test knit a certain darkness for sylvia using one of my 5 of hearts mini sets. these babies are only available in-person or in-store, but luckily for those of you out on the west coast, baaad anna's in vancouver will be receiving both my test knit as a sample as well as some 5 of hearts sets for purchase. i have affectionately named my sample easter barf, because, well, those colours from indigo, logwood, and cochineal basically look like an easter bunny barfed all over the yarn. in the most fabulous way. 

samson took a bunch of fantastic photos for me. if you're thinking hey, that hat is pretty great too!, have no fear! i'll be releasing the pattern for it in a couple of weeks. remember how i'm raising my prices on april 2nd? i'll also be publishing patterns around the same time. so grab some of your favourites right now, and then get ready for some newbies in a couple of weeks!

happy vernal equinox, lovers. i have to get my nose back to the grindstone with a presentation to prep for tomorrow and then a bunch of yarn things to catch up on, and i'm feeling very jetlagged, so i want to take advantage of typing fingers for as long as possible. 

Monday, 14 March 2016


adjust (verb): to change (something) so that it fits, corresponds, or conforms; adapt; accommodate: (

i've been back on the east coast for a few days now, and am finding myself feeling like i'm still wearing sea legs back on land. this is the fourth year since i moved away from halifax, and the first time i've been back in twenty months. whereas the last time i was back, everything still felt familiar and the people who i saw were overwhelmingly people i already loved and cared about, it feels like a lot has shifted since then. the streets aren't as familiar; stores and bars have changed hands and undergone facelifts or just been boarded up; people have moved on or soon will be, i suppose like i have. 

for so long, halifax was the place i identified most as home. that's no longer the case, and i think the combination of coming to that realization, and understanding that other things i'd thought to be true are less true, or perhaps are just true in ways i don't recognize, and also allowing my body to relax for the most it has in months, has resulted in a state of instability. i've spent quite a bit of this trip leaking and sleeping, and i think that's going to continue. it's the product of processing grief for things ending, and changing, and evolving. i am trying to adjust my legs back to land, and am hoping a trip to the fundy in a couple of days will help with that resettling. in the meantime, i am finding spots that haven't changed on me yet, and rooting into them to get some work done, and to process. i watched inside out this afternoon after spending much of the day camped out at one of the few places that hasn't quite changed on me yet, and i had a couple of ugly cries, which have been brewing (i should not be welling up at every episode of bones), and i caught up with an old friend, and i am taking space and taking stock. 

we move forward or we stagnate. while i still don't know where i'll be in five years, i do know that i have a lot of concrete plans in winnipeg for the next year. i have a community there that has grown in the past six or so months. i have routine, and enough stability to keep me calm without making me balk. i don't know where home is completely, or even primarily, and i don't know if i will know that anytime soon. there are a few options. it's nothing that needs to be decided too soon though. and i'm sure it will change again, and again. and i just have to keep adjusting. my dear friend stew, who i maintain is one of the wisest souls i know, told me something a few years ago that continues to be relevant, and as i try to regain some solidity, provides some comfort: "you are an ocean; you have tides." i just have to remember to move with the ebb as well as the flow. 

samson took this photo of me prior to a photoshoot yesterday. i look much more peaceful than i have been feeling, but it's all part of being an emotional creature.

Thursday, 10 March 2016

sewing plans, post-photoshoot

the insanity of pulling together the photoshoot is nearly over. one of the things i learned most during this time (besides the whole "give yourself more time" bit...although i feel like i'm constantly relearning that lesson with every project i undertake) is that it really doesn't take me very long to sew a new item. i mean, i can whip up a dress in an evening if i have the materials. so the concept which had previously been a bit daunting to me - working to shift as much of my wardrobe over to handmade/me-made as possible this year - is no longer quite so daunting. and i'm slowly getting more confident in my sewing and finishing abilities, which means branching out into more and more complicated projects. there are some really fabulous patterns i've come across recently, so i thought i'd share them with you all. here are my hopefully-not-too-distant-future additions to my me-made wardrobe:

hampshire trouser by cali faye collection.
i have yet to attempt sewing my own pants. my hip-to-waist ratio is typically a 2-size difference, with most of that being my ass, which means doing a lot of adjustments to get the right fit. and i am a lazy sewer. but i seriously love these pants, and they have the silhouette that i like on my body. so i'm hoping i can tackle them sooner rather than later. 

grainline studio's stowe bag.
since getting knitting project bags from both anna and mel, i haven't turned back. they are so convenient for public knitting, and comfortable, and much better looking than a tote bag, especially when out at events. but both of my bags are small - the perfect size for a hat or small shawl, but as soon as you start getting into multiple skeins, it gets squishy. i want a bag that will fit a sweater. so i think the stowe bag is going to be my go-to project for this. 

grainline studio's driftless cardigan.
lightweight cardigans are my go-to layering piece. but most patterns i see are more feminine/fitted/fancy pants than i like. i want shapeless, long sleeves, big pockets, low neck. so how convenient that grainline read my mind and designed exactly that! 

sewaholic's harwood dress.

i actually just made myself a harwood dress on sunday. but i want to make more! the one i made is for the photoshoot and is a beautiful solid latte-coloured cotton voile with vintage shell buttons. i want to make more in different colours and fabrics. this pattern, which actually is sized exactly to my measurements (how the hell did that happen?), fits like a tee, is the perfect balance of detailed and simple/femme and functional, and is deceptively simple to sew. so i want multiples. and based on the fit of it, more of sewaholic's patterns in general. 

deer & doe's chemise mélilot.
deer & doe was my first introduction to indie sewing companies, and they continue to be a favourite of mine. their patterns fit me right on, and they're always great for my pear-shaped figure (hello, beautiful model there). they've just released their spring 2016 collection, and i'm in love with the button-up top. the dropped shoulders and mandarin collar option make it the perfect level of tough femme. i definitely would like to sew up a couple of these, and then wear a high-waisted pencil skirt. basically, i would just like to steal this whole outfit. 

Wednesday, 9 March 2016

drool-worthy #20 - the fell garth collection

i feel like i'm on autopilot right now with all the final prep work for the photoshoot. i'm sure a number of you are already aware of this because of all my instagram activity, but i'm also trying to get three designs besides those for the book ready for release in early april. one of those samples is knit, one is underway, and one is hopefully going to be knit, blocked, and photographed while i'm away next week (if you're interested in test knitting either a simple hat or one of two shawls, give me a shout!). there are some really incredible designs hitting the world right now by other designers, though, and one batch of those is the fell garth collection by melanie berg and emma wright for the fibre co


some of it is just how beautiful the photos are. there is nothing that i don't absolutely love about this photo. 


seeing such a gorgeous collection is also making me wish doing such large projects, like the book, didn't take such a long time. i mean, they're huge, so it makes sense that they take a long time, but i have also been feeling like i've fallen behind with my publishing. i have so many ideas, and haven't published a new pattern since december because my focus has been on the book. so come april, i'm going to try to play a bit of catch-up. i also have another big project scheduled for after the book's test knitting is underway, but i'm going to try and schedule that a little bit better so i am able to devote time to it and focus on it while also regularly putting out single patterns. 

i love all of the fibre co.'s yarns. one of the book designs uses their canopy fingering, and it's just the most beautiful and luxurious thing to put next to your skin. i actually have one skein left over, and plans for an instagram giveaway once i return from out keep an eye out, because maybe you can get your fingers on the same beautiful stuff. 

Sunday, 6 March 2016

almada robe

i think yesterday was the first day in months where i didn't knit a single stitch. i head to nova scotia in less than a week, and so i'm trying to get all the things i have planned done before i leave. as it stands, i'm still likely going to need to block three shawls while i'm out there. somehow. magically. without bothering the cat...but those are not for the book. they are for two releases set for april (one maybe for the end of the month...maybe), and one for a kal. i'm focusing on getting all the photoshoot items ready right now though. and two other sews that aren't actually for the book's photoshoot, but that i want and want to bring with me. one of which is my almada robe!

almada was one of the seamwork mag designs from the february issue, and i totally fell in love with it. it's designed for lightweight fabrics, but they also mentioned in one of the articles that a light linen would work. which is totally up my alley, because i love the idea of something decadent without being so luxurious that i feel like i need a special occasion to wear it. 

this is a total lie. i look nice and relaxed with my knitting, but i didn't actually knit at all yesterday.
i bought an undyed linen, which i then popped into a dye pot with black walnut hulls. the hulls soaked for 24 hours before i added the scoured but unmordanted linen, then i applied heat for several hours before turning off the heat and leaving the fabric in the pot for a couple more days. the result was this beautiful cafe latte colour after rinsing and washing. 

i love the ecoprint left by one of the walnut hulls.
i had this cath kidston bias tape in my sewing box from when i lived in london a few years ago. i had never found quite the right project for it, until this one. i love how the colours pop just enough. nothing overpowers anything else in this robe. it was a really lovely sew, which took a little longer than i anticipated, but that's because i actually took my time on the finishing details. totally worth it.

i spent the rest of the day working on my harwood dress from sewaholic patterns (based out of vancouver!), and it's almost done! i'm totally in love with it. it fits like a glove, and is just really beautiful. it's replacing my failed dottie angel frock for the photoshoot. i'll have photos once it's ready, although maybe i won't have any decent ones until i get to nova scotia. weekends are kind of my main time for photos, since i'm actually around the house to catch the daylight. i am also hoping to get kenedy from this month's seamwork mag sewn before i leave. if i don't, it won't be the end of the world, but i do think it would look lovely with one of the april releases...