Introducing a Change


There is no denying nature’s power. While we humans and all living things must take precautions against extreme weather, especially those people who live on fault lines and in dangerous storm zones, at the end of it all, Earth is going to do whatever it is going to do. We are here, sometimes holding on for dear life, and simply along for the ride. While I realize that individuals must have a variety of responses and emotions surrounding extreme weather, including fear, frustration, awe, curiosity, anger, confusion, I draw a great deal of inspiration from knowing that the forces of nature and the universe are going to keep on working, shifting, changing and evolving around me and long after I am gone.


I share this snippet of a personal belief I have held throughout my life because I have become surprised by my responses to my own extreme weather challenges. Some of you may have heard me speak about the frozen pipes, dye baths and water filters that set Viola back last winter. Like any busy person with their mind focused on work, I set about fixing the problems and (I thought) making improvements to ensure work could continue smoothly in the future. With the arrival of colder temperatures this year, a new set of problems has emerged, and compounding the problem this year is the fact that I also feel a massively increased pressure to produce more yarn than ever before. My initial response was similar to last year, I stubbornly battled my way through fried electrics, more frozen pots, steam damage, mould and continually broken or breaking stoves and water filters. All the while, I believing that I needed to force the studio to continue working in extreme conditions of cold and to be even more productive than it had ever been before. I displayed a human tendency that I have always feared, I tried to control nature.

Why did it take me so long to remember my own values? Why did I try to force a broken situation to work for so long, while it caused me immense stress? Why did I try to force nature to make an exception for me and my work?


Complete emotional, mental and physical exhaustion has finally allowed me to begin to see clearly again. I am emerging from well over a year of working long hours, seven days a week. Please know that I am not fishing for sympathy at all, the only person who forced this work on me was was myself. However, I allowed myself to be carried away in a direction that I don’t want to move in, telling myself what I know to be true, small business owners need to constantly push themselves and work gruelling, exhausting hours in order to barely keep up.

Viola began with my own curiosity and experimentation. Not with a goal of creating a successful business. While I am thankful every day for the fact that I have been able to support myself for nearly ten years through my own creativity and hard work, the fact remains that I do this for the creative process. I dye yarn because I am curious about the colours I see in the world each day. If I am not able to feed this creative part of myself, I will not be able to continue dyeing yarn at all. I won’t want to.


All of this is to say that Viola is a small, creative business, with the emphasis on creativity. Over the next few months, I hope to make the time to write down and share information about my process, intentions, conflicts, struggles as well as the things that I have learned. I am working on a follow-up to this blog post, which I wrote, almost two years ago, with genuine intention and feel I have since strayed from.

Viola’s mission statement may well be unconventional. I’m still considering the words I would like to use, but I expect it should read something like this…’A slow study of the colours, movement and experience of nature painted on yarn’

I have a lot more to share about my recent thoughts, experiences and plans for the future, and believe I am at the beginning of real change within myself and Viola. Thank you for reading and more to come.

Emily xo


This post accompanied a newsletter, which contained handy information about the availability of many of our yarns. I am adding the newsletter text below to provide further context for those who are curious / wonder why they can’t purchase the yarn they want right now…

Just in the nick of time (I promised a newsletter before the end of this week) I am writing today to share an update on set backs I have experienced in the Viola dye studio and the effects those set backs will have on Viola’s dyeing schedule and production. It has been challenging to find the best way to approach this topic, not only has it caused me a great deal of stress and confusion, but it has also set into motion a change in goals and intentions for Viola going forward. I have quite a lot to contemplate and a great deal that I want to share with you. This information is coming and will be available on my blog for anyone who wishes to read it. The first of what I hope will become a series of posts on this subject is available here.

Knits About Winter is essentially an ode to my favourite season’s beauty, mystery and magic. I feel that a large part of winter’s allure is also in it’s danger, it can be completely hostile and unforgiving. Humans have lived in far more severe winter climates than I do, and I suspect that they are wise enough to avoid dyeing yarn in a little shed in minus 20 C temperatures. (If I am wrong about this, please let me know, I would love to know the story of such a person/peoples).

Two winter updates remain, and both were pushed back in order to compensate for our current challenges in the dye studio. A combination of cold outdoor temperatures, steam, condensation, fried electrics, overworked stoves, frozen pipes, broken water filters, warped doors, invasive ants (yes, their effects have hit hard this winter) and numb hands have all contributed to these delays. Please know that I stubbornly charged on for longer than I should have, trying to force this broken set up to work, for fear of letting you down. It needs time and attention to improve and rebuild which will not be available to me for many months.

For now, here are the facts about Viola’s dyeing schedule for the rest of this winter, and why specific yarns are/are not available…

I currently have less than 100 skeins of Polwarth & Alpaca in stock and it is destined for Snowdrift Shawl kits that will be available for Pre-Order only in the January 22 shop update. It will be another six months, at minimum, before I a receive more of this yarn. This is not because of a lack of planning ahead on my part, nor is it negligence of the spinners. It is because the mill, like me, is very busy and takes great pride in their work. The same mill spins Shadow DK, and availability of this yarn is equally scarce.

Mooresburg DK and Persephone are both spun at an even smaller mill than the above yarns. I receive little shipments (about 30 skeins at a time) every so often and save up yarn until I have enough to piece together a small palette of colours. Mooresburg DK will be in the January 22nd shop update, the first time I have been able to offer this base in over a year. Persephone is even more rare still.

The reason why I mention this is because I have received a very large number of requests to order these yarns in advance and I realize that I haven’t explained exactly how rare they actually are. To offer an advanced choice to some knitters, while so many others have patiently waited would be unfair and I won’t do it. The Winter update schedule lists when and how the above bases will be available (in a kit, or not). Once these updates sell out, the yarn will be gone until the next shipment arrives and all I can do until that time is wait patiently. I will go into further detail on this subject in my upcoming series of blog posts.

The rest of the bases I dye are Sock, Sock Minis, Mohair Lace, Merino Fingering and the new Organic Merino DK. These are more readily available to me, which is why you see much more of them in shop updates. Their availability depends solely on how productive I am able to be in the studio, and I haven’t not been at my most productive this winter, as you know.

Due to so the many uncertainties I still face in the studio, I cannot provide more specific details about availability at this time, but I will continue to add information to the winter shop update pages as often as possible. I realize how stressful shop updates can be, and truly want to make them easier for everyone by providing you with as much information as I can. In order for updates to be as fair as possible I do not offer custom orders, special requests or advanced shopping privileges, especially now when there is less yarn to go around.

The influx of new followers, support and interest in Viola yarn has been humbling and overwhelming. Your thoughtful messages about Knits About Winter have been so meaningful and appreciated. Thank you. The truth is that Viola has never been a large company, and producing large quantities of yarn has never been it’s focus or my priority. Not because I wish to be elitist or withholding, but because each skein takes a great deal of time and energy. The process cannot be sped up, to do so would destroy what (I believe) makes Viola yarn special. In fear of loosing sight of the reasons why I do this, and loosing myself along the way, I am taking these winter disasters as a signal to slow down. Much more musing to follow in my upcoming blog posts. Thank you for reading, supporting, following and for your patience while we resolve our studio problems.