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Teaching Kids to Knit

September 3, 2015

I have posted a few pictures of Hunter and her knitting on Instagram and there have been a lot of questions about how I taught her to knit, how old she is, etc. Let me tell you all about it!

Hunter at World Wide Knit in Public (WWKIP) day at 88 Stitches

Hunter at World Wide Knit in Public (WWKIP) day at 88 Stitches

First, a little about Hunter and her knitting. Hunter is 4 years old and showed some interest in knitting. I got her some needles (I think they are 6mm needles and the important thing to Hunter is that they have flowers on the ends), and some yarn from the stash (SweetGeorgia Worsted in Glacier, that spoiled girl). I was also gifted a copy of Annie and the Swiss Cheese Scarf by Alana Dakos. What a fabulous book! All about a little girl learning to knit. Hunter loves it.

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I taught Hunter to knit shortly after she turned 4 with pretty low expectations. I really thought we would knit ‘together’ for a long time, but, boy did I sell her short! At first she was in charge of inserting the needle, I would wrap the yarn, and she would bring it through (we did the last step together at first, but she mastered it quickly on her own). One lesson later and she was doing the whole thing by herself. I find, when I teach grown ups to knit, bringing the loop ‘through’ is the hardest part, but she picked that up immediately. This rhyme helped:

In through the front door

Around the back

Through the window

Off jumps Jack!

Now that Hunter has been knitting a few months, she is kind of bored with her project. She originally wanted to knit a cowl for her brother (it’s a scarf right now and I will sew together the ends together when she is done), but now she wants something new. It may have been too big a project for a 4 year old, since their attention span is pretty small.

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I knit a few rows for her here and there, calling them ‘clean up rows’. I fix the odd dropped stitch and get her a row further on. It is a fine balance because I don’t want to do it for her, but I know she wants to move on to knitting something new.

Here are a few tips for teaching kids to knit:

  1. Wait until they show some interest, no sense in trying to teach them something they don’t want to know (in this case).
  2. Age: when I taught kids to knit in the shop I started with kids who were 7 years old. If the lesson is 1 on 1 you can start younger on a kid by kid basis. I think 4 is pretty young, I hadn’t planned on teaching her until she was 5 or 6.
  3. Start them with some worsted weight yarn and needles to match (more or less). Sometimes it seems like the bigger the better, but I think it gets a little unwieldly if you have super bulky yarn and giant needles.
  4. A little at a time. Hunter knits for about 5-10 minutes at a time, a row or 2 and she’s off to something else.
  5.  Small project. I learned this one the hard way. Hunter is dying to get onto something new but I have this feeling she should really finish one thing before starting another. The end of her scarf will likely have a few more mummy rows than the beginning.
  6. Fix it. A few mistakes and weird tension are totally fine…maybe help pick up the dropped stitches though. You don’t want the whole thing going totally off the rails.
  7. I took some advice from Elizabeth Zimmerman: when they hand it to you to fix, do a couple of rows. While you don’t want to do it for them, you can certainly help them along!
  8. Local shops are a great resource for teachers! Whether in a class setting or a private lesson.
Hunter's yarn choice for her second project: Madelinetosh DK in 'holi festival'

Hunter’s yarn choice for her second project: Madelinetosh DK in ‘holi festival’

There you have it! Have you taught wee ones how to knit? Any tips or tricks to share?

How our patterns get made

August 20, 2015

Knitters often ask us about our pattern process. I don’t think they are usually prepared for the long list of steps I launch into! So, this is how sausages (ahem patterns) get made here at Tin Can Knits:

  1. We come up with an amazing concept, usually while we’re in the shower (no, we don’t shower together… minds out of the gutter please!).  We’ve got a great post about design as the intersection of inspiration + desire. We usually make a little sketch, talk it over with the other person and then it’s time for phase 2.
  2. The swatch: We make MANY swatches (mmm how I love a good swatch!).  And then we make some more!
    knitting swatches
  3. We make a mini sample (because we love baby knits… and because knitting is obviously the most cost-effective and practical way to clothe our children… ).

    Caribou Cardigan by TIn Can Knits

    Hunter in a mini-sized version of the Caribou Cardigan, from our book Road Trip.

  4. Using what we learned from the mini sample, we proceed to ‘grade’ the pattern (calculate the math for all the sizes) then write up the draft pattern.  Pull out your spreadsheets ladies and gentlemen!  18 sizes is not for the faint of heart!
  5. We knit the adult sample, and make any required adjustments to the pattern.  As deadlines inevitably loom large, this sample may need to be completed over the course of four days solid knitting (40-60 hrs or so…).  This is why working Moms like us go on and on (and on) about coffee and wine.  As evidenced by Instagram, we do indeed rely heavily on coffee to keep our business running:
  6. We lay out a draft pattern (making it nice and purdy as you would expect, with draft photos, charts, and a pattern schematic) to send out for test knitting.  With 18 sizes, and at least 2 testers per size means that 30-40 people knit the design, and provide feedback (it’s like a super cool early-access designer KAL, and a bunch of extreme knitters get to see our designs WAY before the rest of you do!).
  7. We adjust the pattern per our test-knitters comments on fit and pattern writing.
  8. We do a final photo shoot (or two… or three if children are involved), sometimes we need a few takes to get ‘the one’ which highlights how positively irresistible our knits are!  Read more about our fun-filled photoshoots for Road Trip and Max & Bodhi’s Wardrobe.

    Max was particularly perturbed by this shot. Maybe we weren't getting his 'good side'?

    Max was particularly perturbed by this shot. Maybe we weren’t getting his ‘good side’?

  9. We send the final draft pattern to our Technical Editor (she gets capitals because she is so excellent and so very important!), she does a final check of the math, makes sure our pattern is written and laid out per our standards, and that the pattern sizing matches industry standards.
  10. We make any final changes to the pattern, and add helpful links to tutorials, yarns, and a Ravelry ‘cast on’ button so you can very quickly find the pattern online.  We love our links because they make everything faster and easier for you!
  11. Our exciting new pattern goes live!  We send you an email about it (cause you get our email updates, right?!).  We post the pattern on Ravelry, our website, a few other great places around the web where you can get our patterns (Craftsy, Patternfish, Kitterly, Kollabora, …) and let our retailers know that they can order print copies to stock in shops across the world!

Are you a little bit exhausted just reading about it?  Well a typical Tin Can Knits sweater pattern requires at least 80-120 woman hours to put together, (this is excluding hundreds of hours of test-knitters’ time) a lot of expertise, experience and MAD knit skills!  Put in context, that is 2-3 weeks of full-time work.

We are committed to bringing you an exceptionally high standart of design and pattern writing clarity…and fun photos! We have a thorough process and now you have seen behind the curtain!

What’s an even better value?  Getting the same exceptional design quality FOR FREE… so you can share it with your friends!  We’ve put just as much care into the creation of The Simple Collection, yet all 8 designs are free, and supported by in-depth tutorials.  Check it out, and be sure to share it with all your friends!

SC-wheat-tmb-b SC-rye-tmb-c SC-malt-tmb-a SC-harvest-tmb-a Barley Hat SC-flax-tmb-a SC-maize-tmb Oats Cowl by Tin Can KnitsHarvest Cardigan by Tin Can Knits

Tanis’ Take

August 13, 2015

As a designer it is always a LOT of fun to look through the project made from your pattern. All the different color choices, the different yarns, and of course, the mods! As a knitter I almost never knit a pattern straight through without changing something (to varied results of course!), it’s in my nature. So it comes as no surprise to me that there are knitters out there tweaking our patterns to make their knits their own. Tanis, the genius behind Tanis Fiber Arts yarn has knit 2 patterns from Max & Bodhi’s Wardrobe and her take on Rocky and Fly Away are amazing!

Rocky

Since Tanis was growing a tiny person at the same time Max & Bodhi’s Wardrobe was released she was a little extra smitten with this book. With new baby in mind she whipped up these adorable Rocky joggers. I say ‘whipped up’ because that woman is a crazy speedy knitter! It seems she has a new FO to share on her blog every week!

(I had to put in the one of daddy and babe, big men and little babies will never stop being adorable to me!)

The lovely little detail that made me want to cast on a pair immediately is the little duplicate stitch heart. What a precious little detail! For info on how to use duplicate stitch there is a tutorial from the Purlbee here. The yarn is TFA Purple Label in ‘Sand’ and Blue Label in ‘Atlantic’, a combo I can definitely see myself using in the future!

 

Fly Away

Not only did Tanis bring her fabulous eye for color to her Fly Away blanket, but her designer’s eye as well. Her version uses the basics of our Fly Away pattern, but her yarn choices and layout make for one stunning effect!

In order to make a blanket from her ‘scraps’ (calling all those beautiful ball ends scraps feels wrong!), Tanis used all different weights of yarn and 20 different colorways, holding them doubled, tripled, or quardrupled to get the right weight. The finished blanket was a beautiful gift for her new baby boy Micah…but big brother Rowan is a pretty adorable model too!

The mods:

  1. instead of just a one stripe in the middle, she worked a stripe of equal width at the end, and in the case of the 4 squares with red in the center at the beginning and the end.
  2. Tanis worked 4 colors per square (as opposed to our original 2), and 5 colors per square for the 4 with red in the center. You can see the awesome diagram below to help you make the same mods for yourself!

I am always excited to see just what beautiful inspiration will pop up on her blog next! If you are looking for a little color inspiration for your own Tanis Fiber Arts Fly Away Blanket, the TFA Palettes are a great place to start! Tanis, in her infinite color wisdom, has chosen groups of 8 colors that shine together. Well, Tanis, these are truly some inspiring knits!

More knits from Max & Bodhi’s Wardrobe

Lodestar Stole

August 4, 2015

Lodestar Stole by Tin Can Knits

Sometimes all you want is a simple and satisfying knit.  Lodestar is a generously sized lace stole that makes a perfectly cozy cover-up for a cool summer night or crisp autumn day.

I designed Lodestar in Rainbow Heirloom Lush DK, a sumptuous DK weight alpaca blend. I wanted something luxuriously large and warm, without taking too much time to knit.  While the pattern is written for DK weight yarn, it is easy to adapt for knitting with lighter or heavier yarns, and it includes instructions for making a wider shawl or a thinner scarf.

Lodestar Stole by Tin Can Knits

Lodestar Project Details:

Lodestar Stole by Tin Can KnitsPattern:  Lodestar Pattern $7 – available for download now
Sizing:  Approximately 14” wide by 80” long, depending upon blocking
Yarn:  490 yds DK weight yarn – shown in Rainbow Heirloom Lush DK in ‘fireside’, a limited edition colourway for August 2015
Needles:  US #7 / 4.5mm (or as required to meet gauge)
Gauge:  19 sts & 23 rows / 4” in lace pattern after blocking. The 6-stitch / 20-row lace pattern measures 1.25” wide by 3.5” tall.
Notions:  stitch marker, cable needle, darning needle

 

Lodestar Stole by Tin Can Knits

Some lace patterns don’t look like much on the wrong side, but the geometrical lace used in Lodestar is almost reversible, perfect for an accessory worn bundled up around your neck!

 Lodestar: easy adjustments

Lodestar begins with an increase section, has a straight section, then a decrease section to finish.  The pattern has instructions for how to make the most of your precious yarn by marking the midpoint in your yardage, and counting your repeats.  It is a very simple matter to adjust this design for a different yarn weight, or even to create a triangular shawl!

Lodestar Stole by Tin Can Knits

Lodestar is knit from end to end (left to right in this image)

To knit in lighter-weight yarn, you would want to knit more repeats of the increase chart for a shawl of a similar width.  For heavier-weight yarns, you could knit less or simply follow the pattern as written for a wider wrap.

If you wanted to go ‘off piste’ even further, you can create a big asymmetrical triangular shawl by continuing the increase section until you have just a little bit of yarn left, working a few rows in garter stitch, then binding off.

Rainbow Heirloom Lush DK in ‘fireside’

Rainbow Heirloom Lush DK is an irresistibly soft and drapey blend; 70% baby alpaca, 20% silk and 10% cashmere.  Once you have fallen in love with this yarn, you can get the same perfect blend in sock (RH Lush Light) or heavy lace (RH Lush Lace).

Rainbow Heirloom Lush DK in Fireside

‘Fireside’ on Rainbow Heirloom Lush DK is the limited edition Nostalgia Club yarn for August 2015.

Fireside is a limited edition colour, available for August 2015 only as part of the Rainbow Heirloom’s Nostalgia Club.  The Nostalgia club is a series of one-of-a-kind colourways inspired by my stories and photos of home, journeys, and special moments.  You can learn more, and order this yarn or a club membership here.  And you can sign up to win 2 skeins of this yarn here!  More colours on this luxurious base will be available in the Rainbow Heirloom Update on Friday, August 7th at 8pm BST… get RainbowMail to preview the colourways, and mark your calendar so you don’t miss out!

Lodestar Shawl by Tin Can Knits

 

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Learn about lace

If you are new to lace knitting, we have a series of excellent resources to help you get started.  The Gothic Lace Cowl (or scarf) is our free pattern for learning the basics of lace, and we have posts on how to read a lace chart, how to work lace increases and decreases, and how to block lace.  If you have questions, be sure to ask in the comments, or connect with us on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, Pinterest and Ravelry!

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Other Luscious Lace Patterns:


Thistle Scarf by Tin Can KnitsEstuary by Tin Can KnitsBotany Shawl by Tin Can Knits

Hunter through the years

July 28, 2015
The face that started it all! While Hunter is, in fact, a girl, she was 'that cute little boy on the cover' for some time

The face that started it all! While Hunter is, in fact, a girl, she was ‘that cute little boy on the cover’ for some time

As a photographer and mum I take a lot of pictures of my kids. The thing that they will note as they grow is that a lot of those pictures have knitting in them! Hunter was our very first model at TCK and over the last few years the knit community has watched her grow from a sleepy little newborn to a big girl of four. Without further ado, I bring you Hunter in knits:

Who doesn't love that brief phase when all they do is gaze into the lens?

Who doesn’t love that brief phase when all they do is gaze into the lens?

Nothing cuter than a sleeping babe!

Nothing cuter than a sleeping babe!

When we started writing Pacific Knits Hunter was growing into quite the rambunctious toddler and growing a LITTLE bit more hair

When we started writing Pacific Knits Hunter was growing into quite the rambunctious toddler and growing a LITTLE bit more hair

When we started Pacific Knits Hunter was getting a little older and a LITTLE more hair

Big enough to go for coffee on Main with Uncle Juju

Her favorite person, Emmy

Her favorite person, Emmy

Look ma, mittens!

Look ma, mittens!

What a cutie in her Christmas finery

What a cutie in her Christmas finery

Bigger still! But Emmy is still her fave

Bigger still! But Emmy is still her fave

On the dock at Mile 1 in Tofino. One of many trips that inspired Road Trip

On the dock at Mile 1 in Tofino. One of many trips that inspired Road Trip

My big girl, all wrapped up on the beach

My big girl, all wrapped up on the beach

That hair! The sun was shining through her curls that day in the forest

That hair! The sun was shining through her curls that day in the forest

Nothing says 4 like pig tails! Hunter was picturesque on the beach that day and a big helper with her crabby sibs.

Hunter was picturesque on the beach that day and a big helper with her crabby sibs.

There you have it, the evolution of our little model! From unisex baby model to smiley pig-tailed sweater model! Thanks for being mummy’s big helper and an all around fabulous kid my Huntress.

More knits modeled by Hunter:

 

Knitting on the Road

July 23, 2015

Road Trip by TIn Can KnitsSummer holiday means a bit more time for leisure.  Whether it’s a weekend mini-break or a relaxing month spent at the cottage, us knitters often prioritize our projects when we pack up to hit the road.

Whether it’s a simple satisfying take-along project, or something grander, we’ve usually got something on the needles.

 

Travel Knits: memories in every stitch

I often find that knits created on holiday encapsulate a memory and bring me back to a special time and place.  They are beloved keepsakes; souvenirs created as I watched the scenery out a train window, laughed late at night with distant friends and family, or soaked up the sun in a foreign square.

In 2011 I was on the brink of my adventure to Scotland, and to say goodbye to Canada I took the greyhound cross country, visiting friends I hadn’t seen in ages.  While I rolled on over the vast continent, I worked on the Branching Out shawl.  I remember sitting at my friends kitchen table in Prince Albert, Saskatchewan and charting out several lace options. Then, as the landscaped passed on the way to Montreal, knitting and knitting for hours.  Every time I look at that shawl, I remember that adventure.

Branching Out Shawl by Tin Can Knits

Branching Out from 9 Months of Knitting

I designed the Lush cardigan while on a visit to Vancouver Island.  The bulk of the knitting happened on Labour Day weekend. I sat on a pristine beach on Vargas Island, a tiny little island accessible only by boat, near Tofino.  My sister and friends and I spent three days there, camping on the beach, swimming, fishing, and cooking gourmet food over the campfire (you’ll never imagine how much butter and garlic were required for our 3-day trip!).  Lounging in the sand, soaking up the sun, I knit, knit, knit.  At the end of an unforgettable weekend we headed home, and I wasn’t sure that I’d ever get the campfire smell out of that sweater!

Lush Cardigan by Tin Can Knits

Lush from Handmade in the UK

When my husband John and I honeymooned in Greece and Italy, I wanted to work on something very special just for me, that I could have forever as a keepsake of that time.  So I knit a gigantic stole-sized Thistle in beautiful DK weight angora from Bigwigs Angora.  I knit in the hotel room in Athens, on the beach in Aegina, and in a sunny square in Rome.  Luckily, John enjoys reading and lounging when he’s on holiday, so my knitting didn’t cramp his style!

Thistle Stole by Tin Can Knits

Thistle Stole, knit in Bigwigs Angora in ‘chalk’.

I bet if you think about the things you have knit, many of them will hold a story, a distinct memory of the place or time it was made, and maybe the way you felt or who you were at the time.  Do you have a knit that holds a story within?  We would love to hear it! Share it in the comments, or on Facebook, Instagram, or Twitter.

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Summer Holiday Knits

Are you headed an adventure this summer?  We’ve got a few suggestions for what project to pack.

Paddle Mitts by Tin Can Knits

The Paddle mitts are made in Madelinetosh Tosh DK in ‘silver fox’, ‘tart’, ‘cousteau’, ‘chamomile’, and ‘jade’.

For something classic and simple, I’d suggest the Paddle mitts.  They make an excellent gifts, and fly off the needles.  We made them in a Hudson’s Bay inspired palette, due to our ever-growing love of Canadiana!

Viewfinder Cowl by Tin Can Knits

The Viewfinder Cowl was knit from a single skein of Indigo Dragonfly Merino Single Lace in ‘don’t blink’.

If simple knits are your jam, take the Viewfinder cowl along – it’s light as a feather, and perfect for that lovely skein of laceweight you’ve been saving.  Alexa photographed this one on her family road trip to the Rockies, overlooking the pristine waters of Lake Louise.

blog-travelknitting-vivid-01

The Vivid and Fly Away blankets are knit one square at a time, so you can have the satisfaction of finishing something every day! You can find kits for these projects at Rainbow Heirloom, or use leftovers from your stash!

Perhaps you have bigger ambitions?  While you road trip across the continent or settle in to the rhythm of life at the cabin a patchwork blanket like Vivid, Fly Away or Pop might be the perfect piece-by-piece knit for you.

Hats are probably my favourite sort of project for travel knitting.  When I was visiting Dublin to teach at This Is Knit last month, I made this Stovetop hat for a new little friend!

Stovetop Hat by Tin Can Knits

The Stovetop hat knit in Rainbow Heirloom Sweater in ‘driftwood’, a limited edition colour from the Nostalgia Club.

Our ebooks are a lightweight way to bring your knitting library with you!


Road Trip by Tin Can KnitsMax & Bodhi's WardrobePacific Knits by Tin Can Knits

Provisional cast on: needle and hook method

July 16, 2015

There are LOTS of ways to work a provisional cast on, I find this method a little less fussy than the crochet chain method, although both work just fine. I find lefties are concerned this method won’t work for them, but I assure you it is a 2 handed process (just like knitting), you don’t need to work anything differently.

materials

You will need: a crochet hook, your needle, waste yarn

Note: the size of the crochet hook doesn’t matter, the tension of your cast on is determined by your needle, not the hook.

Step 1: Using waste yarn wake a slip knot and place it over the hook

Step 2: place your needle to the left of your crochet hook with the yarn UNDER the needle

Step 3: move your hook OVER the needle, grab the yarn with your hook and pull it through the slip knot on the hook

Step 4: Once you are finished pulling through the loop, the yarn will be OVER the needle. To put it in position to work the next next stitch you need to bring it BETWEEN the needle and the hook so it is again UNDER the needle.

Repeat steps 3 and 4 until the desired number of sts are on your needle (do not include the st on the crochet hook). Once the last st has been cast on leave the yarn where it is (do not more it under the needle)

Step 5: with your hook, grab the yarn and pull a loop through the loop on the crochet hook

Work step 5 a few times – you are creating a small crochet chain that will help you when you are un-picking the provisional cast on.

Step 1: Using waste yarn wake a slip knot and place it over the hook

Step 1: Using waste yarn wake a slip knot and place it over the hook

Step 2: place your needle to the left of your crochet hook with the yarn UNDER the needle

Step 2: place your needle to the left of your crochet hook with the yarn UNDER the needle

Step 3: move your hook OVER the needle

Step 3: move your hook OVER the needle….

...grab the yarn with your hook and...

…grab the yarn with your hook and…

...pull it through the slip knot on the hook.

…pull it through the slip knot on the hook.

4. Once you are finished pulling through the loop, the yarn will be OVER the needle. To put it in position to work the next next stitch you need to bring it BETWEEN the needle and the hook so it is again UNDER the needle.

4. Once you are finished pulling through the loop, the yarn will be OVER the needle. To put it in position to work the next next stitch you need to bring it BETWEEN the needle and the hook so it is again UNDER the needle.

Once all of your sts have been cast on, make a little crochet chain so you know where to unpick later.

Once all of your sts have been cast on, make a little crochet chain so you know where to unpick later.

Now that all of your sts have been cast on you can start working with the yarn for your project. If you are working in the round, your work will not be joined in the round until the second round.

All your sts are cast on and you are ready to go!

All your sts are cast on and you are ready to go!

NOTE: The first round after this type of provisional cast on should be knit or purled. If you work ribbing or a pattern stitch it will be difficult to un-pick the provisional cast on (it will work but it doesn’t ‘unzip’ easily like it does if the first row/round is entirely knit or entirely purled)

Use your working yarn and knit or purl the first round

Use your working yarn and knit or purl the first round

So you have worked your provisional cast on (either this one or this one) and you are ready for step 2: unpicking your provisional cast on and putting the live sts on the needles.

Unpicking the provisional cast on and putting sts back on the needles:

Step 1: Unpick the knot in your crochet chain and start to unravel.

Step 2: Start picking up sts. You can either insert your needle first, then pull the provisional cast on loop out, or you can pull the provisional cast on loop out first and pick up the hanging live st.

Step 1: Unpick the knot in your crochet chain and start unraveling

Step 1: Unpick the knot in your crochet chain and start unraveling

Pick up the first stitch

Pick up the first stitch

Needle is inserted into the stitch and then the provisional cast on loop is removed

Needle is inserted into the stitch and then the provisional cast on loop is removed

If you choose to remove the provisional cast on first, then pick up the hanging st.

If you choose to remove the provisional cast on first, then pick up the hanging st.

There you have it! Continue picking up sts and un-picking the provisional cast on until you have them all. Sometimes there is one fewer stitch than you cast on, even though you don’t have any dropped sts. This happens because the pick up is actually 1/2 stitch off and it’s easy to miss the first one. Not to worry, just increase by 1 st on the next row.

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SHARE the knit knowledge :::

Do you have knitting friends who could use this tutorial?  Share this post, or let them know about the great free patterns they could try from The Simple Collection.  And join in the conversation on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, Pinterest and Ravelry!

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Patterns that use the provisional cast on:


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