RainCityKnits: Gorgeous Yarn Colours

Gorgeous yarns from RainCityKnits from Gastown in Vancouver, Canada. Source: RainCityKnits.

I must tell you about RainCityKnits from Gastown in Vancouver, Canada. And I’m not just telling you about the yarn because it’s masterminded by my sister. Her yarns are incredible, with beautiful on-trend colours and ethical sourcing.

Sock yarn in berry purple.

RainCityKnits yarns are made from 100% merino wool, spun by a worker’s collective in Uruguay. Krista, the owner / designer of RainCityKnits, hand dyes each skein individually in her studio in Gastown, Vancouver, Canada. Each skein is unique and vividly coloured.

Currently available in sock yarn / fingering weight, with more weights to come in the future, the line includes 13 colours: Heliotrope Purple, Berry Purple, Vermillion Red, Hot Pink, Bright Orange, Lemon Yellow, Wasabi Green, Kelly Green, Blue Teal, Rain Drop Blue, Royal Blue, Midnight Black and Natural. There are also several Ombre, or variegated, versions of the colours.

Swatch.

I am lucky enough to have gotten my mitts on a couple of the colours and I am in the process of designing an accessory pattern to showcase the lovely yarn from RainCityKnits. I’ve made a swatch in the natural colour so as not to use any of my precious coloured yarn!

RainCityKnits yarn colour perfect for some colour on a grey West Coast day.

I hope you’re excited as I am about this yarn. In Vancouver, you can find RainCityKnits yarn stocked at the new Wet Coast Wools shop in Kitsilano. Online, RainCityKnits has an Etsy shop where you can purchase any of these colours. I really encourage you to try this yarn out.
x Rena

Dog Days are Over: Autumnal Hints

Star Slouch Hat. PDF pattern available from The Red Fox and Gown.

As Florence + the Machine put it, the dog days are over, unfortunately. I don’t mind being proven wrong, though! For those who don’t know, the dog days are the hottest days of summer, usually in July and August for us in the Northern Hemisphere, and falling in January and February for Southern Hemisphere folks. Here in Vancouver, Canada, the dog days usually are in July, but with our late summer this year, August put in a good showing with a heatwave earlier this month.

From every ending comes a new beginning. I really used to scoff at that truism, but there’s really a lot of wisdom in the phrase. Just because you can’t see the road ahead through the fog doesn’t mean that there’s no road ahead. With the ending of summer, a new season and new beginnings. I always have felt that September is really the start of the New Year with back to school and crisp autumnal days.

And the point of all this? With the arrival of fall comes knitting coziness. Fresh patterns, new yarn, supplies. Lists of design ideas. I feel like it’s the first day of school, although I’ve been out of school for some years now; graduate school is all but a memory. I’m ready to hunker down with projects and lose myself in knitting.

Star Slouch Hat in grey.

In preparation for the upcoming Fall / Winter, I’ve been busy working on a line of knitting patterns aimed for beginner to intermediate knitters who are ready to move beyond variously shaped rectangles and are ready to learn a few new techniques. One easy project is my Star Slouch Hat pattern- as promised, it’s an easy-to-knit slouchie beanie, or toque for the Canadians, that you can dress up or down for that urban look. I made mine out of alpaca for extra luxury.

Edinburgh Mittens in alpaca.

My Edinburgh Mittens are a classic, trim mitten style with modern colour blocking. Me being me, they’re also made from alpaca. I took the colour cues from my time in Edinburgh when I fell in love with the city and Scotland in general, particularly from Arthur’s Seat overlooking the city.

Arthur’s Seat, Edinburgh, Scotland. View from Edinburgh Castle.

Click on the pictures above to go to Etsy for the patterns. If you prefer, you can also find my designs on Ravelry for another option.

I am very near ready to post another pattern this week, a twist on a hat pattern. I promise that it’s cozy!

What are you doing to get ready for fall? Do you have any knitting projects lined up?

x Rena

Alpaca Loves: My Favourite Knitting Fibre

A lovely alpaca.

I love alpacas. Originally hailing from South America, they are a North American import and occasionally spotted in farmer’s fields if you look. If you don’t know already, alpaca fibre is wonderful to work with. Alpaca fibre is incredibly soft, warm and leaves a lovely halo on your finished work. As well, they are hypoallergenic and have no lanolin. I would have to say that alpaca is my favourite fibre to work with.

Did you know that there are two kinds of alpaca? They are the Huacaya, with a dense wool similar to sheep, and the Suri, with flowing wool that resemble unmatted dreadlocks.

The Huacaya alpaca.

The Suri alpaca.

I often work with Garnstudio’s DROPS Alpaca if you check out my knitting patterns. They have an excellent contemporary colour palette, which is also very important to me. You can work with the yarn as you would normally with one strand, or work with two for a bulkier look. Either way, I’m pleased (please note I don’t work for Garnstudio or any other yarn producer).

Another great yarn company for alpaca is Blue Sky Alpacas. They also have several lines of alpaca yarns and they’re all terrific. Melange is a yarn of 100% baby alpaca and it is sooo soft! They also Alpaca Silk, 50% alpaca, 50% silk – the yarn has a slight sheen and there’s a great colour palette. And there’s more, so please check them out!

Misti Alpaca deserves a shout out too. I like their Worsted collection especially, made from 100% baby alpaca.

Last but certainly not least, is locally produced alpaca yarn. You can usually find some in your local yarn shops, especially with the movement toward locally produced, sustainable products. Shopping local is a great way to go to support your local industry.

Did you know that a baby alpaca is called a cria? Here’s a picture, because baby alpacas are ridiculously adorable.

Do you have a favourite alpaca fibre to work with?

A Knitting Nook: A Home Studio Corner for Me

Latest swatches easily accessible on the bulletin board.

Today I had an intervention with the nest of paper and things that had taken over this particular corner of my home. The mess had to go to make way for the new.

I really needed / need a sane home office / knitting nook studio space for me. I promised myself that if the mess was cleaned, I would set a modest budget to buy a shelf and bulletin board. And to my amazement, I beat the mess back today. Things went where they belonged or new homes were made. Whatever wasn’t needed was out of here.

In my excitement, I actually ventured out on a Saturday afternoon to get the shelf and bulletin board on the condition that if I got them, they were going up right away, not to become one of those I’ll-do-it-later projects. And so it was, and is: a knitting studio nook for me.

And the shelf is up! The lovely skein of sock yarn is by Vancouver’s Rain City Knits (more soon about RCK).

It has everything I need at hand – computer, sketchbook, and yes, that mannequin that keeps popping up in my photos – in a 3′ by 3′ space. The latest knitting swatches from current design projects are up to christen the bulletin board. My pens, scissors and tape are organized.

A 3′ x 3′ knitting studio nook for me. Note: that’s not me on the right. She’s a friend.

In the spirit of this organization, I’m contemplating how to store the rest of my yarn hoard, which is the equivalent of a couple of banker’s boxes or so. Not so bad as hoards go – don’t worry, there’s more, but it’s in a storage unit with other things. I’m thinking I’ll tag all the partly used skeins before I forget what they are. Often those band tags end up in my sketchbook.

Right now mostly yarn is stored in plastic bags in the closet, away from cats and dust. There are various project bags about with current project on the go.

Do you have a home studio? Do you have any storage ideas that you’d like to share?

x Rena

A Beautiful Mind: Designing Knitting Patterns

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Swatching, always swatching. And this…

I am truly in awe of knitting designers who can create –and most importantly, recreate– knitting patterns out of thin air with stitch patterns beyond stockinette or garter stitch (and not I’m not being sarcastic for once) and making decreases and increases as they see fit… without writing any of it down until they’ve knit the pattern a few times. Rest assured this isn’t my method.

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…becomes the Star Slouch Hat

As my sister was looking over my design notebook the other day, she remarked that it was like the film ‘A Beautiful Mind’ (yes, with Russell Crowe) from a few years back. I’m not quite making calculations on glass and mirrors, but I definitely do a lot of sketching and measuring, calculating and recalculating. And there’s sometimes muttered curses. However, I have a new found love for my old school calculator and Excel. And I don’t think there’s a coloured pen that I can pass up.

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A glimpse into one of several sketches for the Edinburgh Mittens pattern

Everyone’s process is unique. I can’t imagine what anyone else – like my sister- would make of my notes with seemingly random numbers and tallies and sketchy looking pseudo-technical drawings of accessories and garments. And she’s a knitter, so she totally gets the idea about the effort of designing. She’s designed herself. But my sketchbook does look a bit like a descent into madness. But a beautiful madness, I hope!

Just like making lists, whenever I need to remember anything important beyond my name and address given my rotten memory, I sketch to visually jot down what’s floating about my brain so I can stop thinking about it. Of course, then I can’t stop thinking about the changes I want to make. And inevitably I won’t have the desired materials at hand for this, so it’s a good exercise in patience for me. At least there’s the sketch for reference.

So lately I have a stack of Excel charts and a sketchbook full of ideas and seeds of patterns. Fear not, there is plenty more to come and so very much more to learn.

x Rena

New Blog for the Red Fox and Gown!

The English Rose Hat

Hi everyone! Welcome those who have followed over from The Vintage Design Shop blog and those joining in here at The Red Fox and Gown blog home for the first time. The Red Fox and Gown is my new venture into the fashion design realm with sewing and knitting. I plan on regularly posting my latest knitting design previews, sewing projects, contests and more.

You can find The Red Fox and Gown both on Etsy and Ravelry – on Etsy for both sewing and knitting, and Ravelry for knitting ventures. I’m a self-taught indie knitter and sewist, with some time in the museum world, including at London’s Design Museum where I worked with contemporary fashion exhibitions among other fun stuff. I was inspired by both the emergent and established designers and I have finally launched my own shop with my creations.

For the latest news, check here – and please join us on Facebook and Twitter.

To get started on the fun, I’ve just released my English Rose Hat knitting pattern today on both Ravelry and Etsy. It’s a slouch hat with a repeating rose motif, which I think is really cute. But I’m biased. 🙂

Here’s a sneak peak of the first page of the English Rose Hat knitting pattern. Stay tuned for an upcoming contest and a blurb on my newest favouritest ethical sock yarn from Vancouver, Canada.

x Rena