Di Corvidae

I’m publishing patterns under a new label, di Corvidae. The patterns are sold as individual PDF downloads from Patternfish. The Bristlecone Collection seen here is the first collection under this label, and here is a peek at the creation.bristlecone_filmstrip




This cabled sweater is Vivika. I designed a very wide cable panel some time ago, inspired by Corkscrew Hazel. I often get ideas from plants and trees, I find their shapes very interesting. I was waiting for the perfect garment in which to use this cable panel, and I believe I found it. The panel fits well between the shoulders, so the armhole shaping is worked over the Stockinette stitch portions of the sweater.


Here is Katrien in progress. If you know me, then you are familiar with my Lopi obsession. Well, I have indulged. Here is a lovely shoulder wrap in my favourite yarn. I love Alafoss Lopi, the colours are amazing.


This spring and summer I will be visiting local gardens and arboretums in order to study the shapes of plants and flowers more closely, so that I can offer more nature-inspired patterns. I’m also planning some camping trips, as I find that an appreciation of nature can only be enhanced by campfires, beer, and toasting marshmallows. As wonderful as it is to have the convenience and culture of a city, it is so nice to get away from it for a while. Falling asleep to the sound of owls hooting in the distance is quite magical. Plus I can bring my wool.

Garment Photography: Anthony Biancardi. Still life photography: Robin Melanson.

Spring melt

The winter has been quite mild, but regardless, I am very excited for Spring. The birds have been coming back, and the air is alive with their sound. There are tons of red-winged blackbirds down near the shore, trilling their song.
The seasonal changes are particularly obvious on the river. Just last week it was still frozen, except for the rapids. The quality of the light has been amazing at sunset, very glowy and diffuse, sort of magical.
shorelineThe melt is allowing the earth to emerge again, spring bulbs are pushing up, the smell of composting leaves is on the air. Mud and subtle rot, spring smells. It always reminds me of Seamus Heaney’s poetry, earthy and honest, and cyclical. In “Gifts of Rain,” a river is described as

“bedding the locale / in the utterance, / reed music, an old chanter / breathing its mists / through vowels and history.”

Water is symbolic of life and blood and the flow of time and history.


sunset_meltOnly a few days later, a lot of the ice has melted and the water has risen by about 6 inches. The birds are going crazy – crows, blackbirds, jays, cardinals, and numerous little twittering brown birds, and there is a small animal corpse rotting near the shore. It must have been frozen all winter, but now the water is alive and decomposing what winter preserved.


This morning the fog was absolutely surreal. It was floating like a big blanket, so thick that you could see it up close, swirling around like dry ice fog, probably caused by a slurry of broken-up ice rushing down the rapids and melting in the morning sun.fog






fog_2This isn’t snow, it’s fog sitting just above the water.






In the lock, the mists were gathering around the gate. It was otherworldly.









I can’t wait until the magnolias and crab apple trees start to bloom. There is a garden in the Morgan Arboretum which has numerous magnolia trees and I know it will be glorious in a few weeks. Leaf buds are already starting to come out. And I need to find some pussy willows.

Thrift shop goodies

I nipped into the local thrift shop to see if there was anything cool, and got some interesting finds today.

silk_tiesI’ve been wanting a tie for several months now, so I was very happy at this:

Three silk ties, from left to right: Hardy Amies, Lanvin, and John Rodd for Holt Renfrew. The first two are vintage, and the third I’m not sure if it’s vintage or contemporary but the pattern is really awesome.

Looking forward to mixing up the gendered clothing. I think I’d like to wear a tie with a shirtdress. I have a friend who wears bow ties and she looks so cool in them!

mugsI always check out the dishes, today I found two very cute matching mugs.

A little garden scene is depicted, on one side a rabbit hops along, and on the other  there is a squirrel on a branch and mushrooms grow all around him. I LOVE anything with mushrooms on it.

These are marked Churchill England, which is a common stoneware manufacturer.

blue_fabricI also had a look at the fabrics, and found some yardage of vintage printed cotton canvas fabric. There is about two yards of 54″ wide fabric. I’m not sure exactly what I’ll do with it yet, but it is lovely heavy fabric without any flaws and the large tonal brocade-print pattern is quite attractive.

I have enough to re-cover the seat of an interesting wooden chair I have, or to upholster a footstool, or make some cushions or something.

When I see a vintage piece of good quality fabric with a print I like, I buy it even if I don’t have a definite plan for it, because I won’t see it again. I think if you have a good-sized collection of fabrics that you really like, they will eventually come together in a decorating scheme.



Bellevue sweater in Twist Collective Winter 2011

My “Bellevue” sweater pattern is published in Twist Collective Winter 2011 edition. It’s a hip-length pullover with a deep v-neck, and it is worked in two coordinating textured stitch patterns. It works up very quickly on 5.5 mm needles in Filatura di Crosa “Charly” 100% wool yarn.

Twist Collective Winter 2011. Photography by Jane Heller.

*Pony not included with purchase.

This sweater was made back in July-August, which gives you an idea of the lead time involved in publishing patterns and magazines. So way back in the nice warm Summer, while I was working in the sweatshop picnicking by the river, I was dreaming of wintry sweaters and snow and ice.

Luckily, it is now winter and I was able to take some winter-inspiration photos over the last few days while out for my usual walks.


I don’t take photos of projects in progress with the plan of using them later in a blog post. There are a few reasons for this. Sometimes I am not the one knitting the sweater, or not even anywhere near the person who is knitting it. Another is that I am not a photography wizard – the reference photos that I take for pattern writing aren’t works of art, they are tools. Publishing knitting patterns tends to be seasonal, and the work comes in great big stacks all at once at certain times of the year, not spread out in a comfortable fashion. So, at Busy Time, my workspace (= apartment) is a disaster area and my free time is non-existent. All waking hours are spent trying to meet stacked deadlines. Hence the dearth of in-progress photos! You see one sweater here, but at the time this was made I had about sixteen on my plate in various stages of their creation.

Luckily for you, Twist Collective took lots of photos!

Twist Collective Winter 2011. Photography by Jane Heller.

In this one you get a good view of the buttons. I confess I am somewhat of a button hoarder aficionado. These are vintage buttons, from my personal collection. They were just the right colour to go with the yarn, and their shape is so pretty.

Twist Collective Winter 2011. Photography by Jane Heller.

Here is a nice close-up of the cuff. I have to say I cannot wait until I get this one back and can wear it myself. That’s another good thing about Twist Collective – they return the samples to the designer after the trunk shows are over. Given the number of sweaters that I make (in recent years, it’s been about 40 or so per year), I have very little to show for it in my own closet. However, that doesn’t bother me terribly, what I enjoy the most is thinking of new things and creating them (in fact, there is a new thing from me which will appear in the Spring issue of Twist Collective).

Should you knit this sweater, I hope that you will enjoy it as much as I will, and that it will keep you warm on days like this:

New design booklet for Naturally Yarns

I got my new design booklet for Naturally Yarns  in the mail the other day! It’s a collection of 11 designs worked in Naturally Yarns ‘Waikiwi,’ a 4-ply yarn with a fiber blend of 55% Merino, 20% nylon, 15% alpaca, 10% possum.


I designed all of the projects in this booklet, and I created all the chart and schematic artwork. It’s always nice to see the final product after working for several months getting it all together.

Here is a brief synopsis of how the garments go from sketch to finished booklet: After the designs are decided upon, the instructions are written for the sample sizes, and the garments are knitted up on very short deadline. When the garments are ready, they are shipped off to New Zealand for photography. Next, the patterns are graded and the final drafts are written, charts and schematic are drawn in final form, and the instructions are edited and proofed. The final layouts are put together with the chosen photographs and the instructions. The booklets are printed and shipped to the distributors, and from there to the retailers.

The name/number of the booklet is Naturally Yarns BKWA4, Waikiwi Solids and Prints.

In Canada, Naturally Yarns products are distributed by Old Mill Knitting Ltd. You can locate a retailer near you here.

In the U.S., Trendsetter Yarns distributes Naturally Yarns products. Find a local retailer here.

If you are in New Zealand or Australia, you can visit Naturally Yarns website to find a local retailer here.

Here are a few images from the book:



I like this page from the inside cover, showing a few of the details up close, and a candid shot with a kitty.

If you are a Ravelry member, you can also visit the Ravelry page to see all of the projects from the booklet .

Vintage textile finds

The other day I was out on a little “treasure hunt” at the local thrift store, and luckily I found some interesting textiles. I used to pick vintage clothes and accessories for a friend’s shop in Toronto, and I admit I get way too excited over vintage kitchen linens, fabric remnants, and the like.

So here is what I found:

Vintage Vera tablecloth with a pattern of ferns and cosmos in tan, orange, brown and coral. Very cool! I love Vera designs!


Also, a piece of floral chintz with dahlias, and thorny vines, and big orange poppies. This sort of thing is a bit much on its own, but I think piecing it with some solid colours would provide a nice counterpoint. Perhaps you will get to see what happens to it? Or perhaps it will go live in the fabric cupboard and wait for the right project….

I also found another tablecloth, 60s heavy linen with a very attractive bold pattern in cobalt, tobacco, brown, and cerulean. The center is an orderly grid of flowers on a white background,and there is an organic floral border all around.linen_tablecloth

Now, the number of dinner parties I host is not high, so my need for multiple tablecloths isn’t great, though my desire for them is insatiable. The vintage ones are of such better quality than what you can purchase new today, and the patterns are so interesting that I cannot resist. I think that these tablecloths could make nice throws on a bed or over a chair (and you could change it often if you tend to get bored of the same thing).  There is also a lot of yardage here if one wished to sew something from it. We’ll see…


I installed this blog over two years ago with the intention of finally being able to keep people up-to-date on current patterns and projects. However, you know what they say about best laid plans….

Since then, there have been many changes in my life, which at first seemed to be for the worse, but ultimately turned out for the best (and are continuing to seem better and better). One big change was that I moved from Toronto, Ontario to a little town just outside Montreal, Quebec: the town of Ste-Anne-de-Bellevue. It sounds quaint, I know. In fact it is quaint! The population is only about 5000, yet its proximity to a big city (Montreal is about 30 km away) and an age-diverse population (McGill’s MacDonald Campus and John Abbott CEGEP are located here, so there are a lot of young people) make it a very nice place to live.

The town is right on the Ottawa River, which joins later into the Fleuve St-Laurent. There is a historic lock for boats to pass by the rapids, and the area is popular with tourists and boaters in the summertime. I admit to bringing my knitting down to the river and watching the lock traffic, sitting under a tree and having a little picnic.
I have been here for just over a year, last winter was very beautiful. The cold didn’t stop me from taking a walk every day, although I had to give in to the puffy coat phenomenon which is prevalent here in the winter. When it is cold and snowy, wearing a down-filled coat is really the way to go, even if you look like you are wearing a sleeping bag. But it doesn’t matter because everyone else is wearing the same thing!


The winter sun seen from the shoreline

The town makes several outdoor rinks in the parks, including one about 2 minutes from my place, so I was able to go skating every day last winter. I saw them putting up the boards for the hockey rink the other day, so it won’t be long until skating time again.

The summer was lovely as well, there is absolutely no shortage of picnic spots around here. It gets a bit crazy on the canal on weekend nights, with boats shoulder-moored two-deep up and down the canal, and all the restaurant terraces filled to capacity. There’s a beautiful spot to walk out far, across the lock, where the sunsets are quite stunning. There are all sorts of birds that make their home there. I’ve seen grey herons, barn swallows, cliff swallows, pipers, blackbirds, crows…. The seagulls are quite comical. If one catches a fish, he struts around in front of the others, shaking his little fish in his beak to show off.


So here I am, working very hard as a freelance knitwear designer and technical editor, enjoying the scenery and the multitude of outdoor-things to do around here, and seeing quite a bit of Montreal as well.