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A Yarny Excursion

July 23, 2014

IMG_6074Vancouver has an abundance of wonderful yarn shops and in my job I get to frequent them all (it’s tough work but someone has to do it). Last weekend I had a great opportunity to hit the road with some knitterly friends and check out a few shops across the border: Churchmouse Yarn and Teas and Tolt Yarn and Wool in Washington. I arose at an awful hour, packed up Bodhi and away we went!

Churchmouse

Churchmouse

Yummy Shelter from Brooklyn Tweed

Yummy Shelter from Brooklyn Tweed

Another cute little touch in this charming shop

Another cute little touch in this charming shop

Blue Moon Fiber Arts looking good!

Blue Moon Fiber Arts looking good!

Our first stop was Churchmouse Yarns, a great little shop in a super cute neighborhood on Bainbridge Island. The ladies gushed over Bodhi while helping us with our yarny needs. I’ve been knitting with Brooklyn Tweed lately so I was drawn to their full collection of Shelter, all in a pretty cabinet display. There was recycled cashmere, Blue Moon Fiber Arts, and Spin Cycle yarns to oggle too. I nabbed some great toggle buttons and some Shelter in Plum (might be a cabled cowl or scarf, not too sure yet… wheels are turning!).

Spotted some Spin Cycle

Spotted some Spin Cycle

Emily eyed Journey in the wild

Emily eyed Journey in the wild

The take home

The take home

Next stop was Tolt Yarn and Wool and I am just in love! The whole shop has a wonderful antique vibe with beautiful wood pieces to hold the pretty yarns. Not to mention the friendly and helpful staff, they treated us like knitting queens. Tolt carries some fantastic yarns that I haven’t seen too often including YOTH Yarns, Quince and Co, and Hazel Knits. I picked up a skein of the YOTH Yarns Big Sister DK (80/10/10 merino, cashmere, nylon) and Em picked up a whole sweater’s worth. I can’t wait to get it on the needles!

The details were all so cute at Told, from the sign on the door....

The details were all so cute at Told, from the sign on the door….

...to the chalk board behind the counter.....

…to the chalk board behind the counter…..

...to the adorable mugs!

…to the cool mugs!

I first met Hazel Knits yarn at Vogue Knitting and have been petting the lovely skeins I bought there ever since. I knit Hunter a little sweater in their sock yarn and the colour depth is amazing. I wanted to take home the whole display but settled on enough ‘Emerald City’ for a Hunter sweater and the last skein of ‘Sedge’ because I had to have it!

Bodhi hanging out amongst the yarn

Bodhi hanging out amongst the yarn

Yawn

Yawn

Rainbows!

Rainbows!

I wanted to take this whole cubby home...

I wanted to take this whole cubby home…

This is what I DID take home!

This is what I DID take home!

Ashley checking out the YOTH yarns

Ashley checking out the YOTH yarns

The crew and I skipped down the road with our full bags to a little cafe for the best egg salad sandwich I have ever eaten then it was back on the road. A long but wonderful day. Thanks again to Ashley for organizing and to Em and Tabitha for being fun car-mates!

Where do you go on your yarny adventures out of town?

TCK patterns perfect for YOTH Yarns

Welcome Bodhi

July 18, 2014

IMG_5795Well, it’s been a little over a month and I’m finally writing about Bodhi! Those of you who follow us on Facebook, Instagram, or Twitter have seen her around, she has already had her first flight and her first camping trip. She has modeled her first sweater and smiled her first smile. She rolled over (it was a couch assist so I’m not sure it was for real) and she likes to look at her dangling toys. She’s a pretty easy kid and is adapting well to the chaos that is our home.

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The best part about having 3 kids is their relationship as siblings. They love, they fight, and they play together. Hunter was instantly in love with Bodhi and we called her mama Hunter for a while. I think Hunter held her more than anyone else for the first 3 days of her life. Jones was a little more apprehensive about this new little creature in his home. He missed having the full attention of his big sister. Now that everyone is used to having a wee sister here, Jones has come around. Each morning he greet her with a surfer dude ‘hey Bodes!’. Hilarious.

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And what of Bodhi’s knit wardrobe you ask?! I will start with the 2 littlest sweaters. I knit her this lovely Flax when I first found out I was pregnant. It is the wonderful Cashmerino Worsted from Sweet Fiber in ‘Ecru’ and I eked it out of 1 skein (it was dicey but I managed). I was especially happy to have this wee sweater when we took the family on a camping trip in the Rocky Mountains. Bodhi was snug as a bug!

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This little number is an Antler sweater I knit in SweetGeorgia Superwash Worsted ‘riptide’ and it is a hand-me-down from Jonesie. It fit Jones for about 5 minutes after I finished knitting it (I started it after he was born) and it was pristine for Bodes. I put it on her yesterday in the heat of summer for a few quick pics and she took it like a champ. Welcome Bodhi and may there be many delicious knits in your future!

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Is there a new baby in your life? What are you knitting for the shower?

More yummy baby knits from TCK

 

Announcing Rainbow Heirloom … brilliant yarn pairings for Tin Can Knits designs

July 10, 2014

Classic RainbowAs our friends and family (and some of our fans) already know, Alexa and I are currently hard at work on our newest book… it’s still a surprise, but we will be sharing some juicy details soon.

But for the past year, here in Edinburgh, I have been working away behind the scenes to develop a line of hand-dyed yarns and knitting kits designed to work perfectly with our patterns!

As you know, here at Tin Can Knits we love to work with subtle kettle dyed yarns, and have a bias toward superwash wools… probably because we design so many baby things!  And you will probably also know that we love a rainbow…

So without further ado I would like to announce my yarn + knitting kit line: Rainbow Heirloom!

Rainbow Heirloom

To begin, I have created rainbow blanket kits which include a whopping 21 colours each!  There are also luscious single skeins in bright and bold colours.  And in the coming months I will be creating sweater kits for some of our popular patterns, including Lush, Snowflake, and, Low Tide and Windswept (get Rainbow Mail to hear when those launch…!).

Classic Rainbow

Vivid Blanket Kit – ‘classic rainbow’ … from vivid purples through lemony yellows to deep submarine blues.

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Vivid Blanket Kit – ‘princess rockstar’ rainbow… from palest peach to blood orange and deep dangerous purple.

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Vivid Blanket Kit ‘sunshine and storm’ rainbow… moody blues and stormy greys punctuated by bright rays of yellow.

Lush in Rainbow Heirloom SweaterRainbow Heirloom yarns will be available primarily online, but my friend Jess at Ginger Twist Studio is featuring Rainbow Heirloom Sweater and Rainbow Heirloom Cash Light as her ‘yarns of the month’ for July… you can read more about them on her blog, and stop by to pet the yarns in person if you are in Edinburgh!  Jess has knit up a gorgeous cropped version of Lush in Rainbow Heirloom Sweater in ‘aussie sunshine’.  I love that she never shies away from bright and bold colourways!

What have I knit so far…?  Well of course I made a little Antler cardigan as one of my first projects!

Antler Cardigan

Antler Cardigan, knit in Rainbow Heirloom Sweater in ‘spearmint’

And to test out the full rainbow, I made myself a big beautiful vivid blanket of course… (I’ll tell you more about that later!).

Vivid Blanket in Rainbow Heirloom Sweater

Vivid Blanket in Rainbow Heirloom Sweater ‘classic rainbow’ kit.

vivid-blanket-kit-01

Vivid Blanket in Rainbow Heirloom Sweater ‘classic rainbow’ kit

And right now, I’m working on a Lush cardigan just for me!  Check out some more photos of that work-in-progress on the Rainbow Heirloom blog.

Rainbow Heirloom Sweater

The yarn for my new Lush cardi – Rainbow Heirloom Sweater in ‘favourite aunty’

Lush CardiganLush in Rainbow Heirloom Sweater

Check out a few of my favourite colourways, and find the full palette here!

Rainbow MailWant to follow Rainbow Heirloom to hear about new colours, kits, exclusive yarn clubs and knit-a-longs? 

There will be some excellent subscriber-only discounts and exciting contests in the near future…  The best way is to get Rainbow Mail – our monthly email updates!

Rainbow Heirloom on FacebookRainbow Heirloom on Instagram Rainbow Heirloom on RavelryRainbow Heirloom on TwitterYou can also connect with us online: on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, Ravelry, the Rainbow Heirloom blog, and shop.

Brilliant patterns for Rainbow Heirloom Sweater:


Dogwood Blanket by Tin Can KnitsVivid Blanket by Tin Can KnitsLush cardigan by Tin Can Knits

Chrysanthemum Shawl – a big bountiful lace bloom!

July 5, 2014

Chrysanthemum Shawl by Tin Can KnitsAlexa is constantly knitting, and this is one of the more recent creations off her needles… a big spring green version of the Chrysanthemum Shawl.  It looks like she has caught the lace bug this season too…

When I originally created this design, I knit it in vivid pink, so Alexa’s version is quite a departure… but still very much in keeping with the botanical nature of the design!

TCK-chrysanthemum-03a

Alexa knit hers in DK weight yarn, so it came out a little bigger than the original sample which was made in sock weight.

 

Chrysanthemum Shawl by Tin Can Knits::: Chrysanthemum Project Details :::

Pattern: Chrysanthemum Shawl or Blanket (published by SweetGeorgia Yarns) – the pattern includes instructions for a semi-circular shawl or a circular lace blanket.
Sizing: Shawl measures 54” across by 27” long. Blanket measures 60” across.  Sample shown in SweetGeorgia Superwash DK in ‘basil
Needles: US #6 / 4mm needles
Gauge: 22 sts / 4 inches in stockinette stitch… but sizing is not crucial for this project, so achieving precise gauge isn’t too important.
Notions: stitch markers, darning needle, blocking wires (if desired for blocking)

TCK-chrysanthemum-04

Chrysanthemum Shawl by Tin Can Knits

The original Chrysanthemum Shawl – knit in SweetGeorgia Merino Silk Fine in ‘orchid’

Chrysanthemum Shawl by Tin Can Knits

Bold Bright pink, or verdant leafy green… which would you knit?

Chrysanthemum Shawl by Tin Can Knits

LEARNING MORE ABOUT LACE :::

Gothic Lace PatternWant to get started knitting lace?  We have an excellent free beginners lace pattern, Gothic Lace, which comes with an in-depth tutorial to guide you on your way!  Lace looks tricky, but really isn’t so difficult – just cast on and get started today.

Uncomfortable with lace knitting techniques?  We have tutorials that cover the garter-tab cast on (how many top-down shawls are started), how to read charts, and how to block a lace shawl or blanket.

Share the knowledge, join the conversation :::  If you know a knitter who would benefit from these tutorials, share this post.  We’d also love for you to join in the chat and share your projects on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, Pinterest and Ravelry!

Tin Can Knits on FacebookTin Can Knits on Instagram Tin Can Knits on Twitter Tin Can Knits on Pinterest Tin Can Knits Email Updates Tin Can Knits on Ravelry

More Lovely Lace Shawls:


Rosebud Shawl by Tin Can KnitsEstuary Shawl by Tin Can KnitsSunflower Shawl by Tin Can Knits

How to Block a Lace Shawl

June 26, 2014

how to block a lace shawlOnce finish knitting and binding off a lace shawl, you may be a bit ‘at a loss’ for how to finish the project.  If you haven’t blocked before, simply follow along with these instructions and get started.

Blocking is not difficult, and perhaps, like me, you will discover that it’s one of the most satisfying of the parts of the process!

I love bocking because it finally reveals the beauty and structure of the lace pattern after you have invested so much time and effort into the knitting.

Why is it necessary to block lace?

Lace stitch patterns are full of holes (yarn-over increases) and corresponding decreases (like k2tog, ssk, sl1-k2tog-psso).  These increases and decreases warp the fabric, pulling it this way and that, and often creating a very 3d texture to the finished fabric.  So when you finish a piece of lace knitting, it is often all lumpy and you can’t really see the beauty of the lace pattern clearly.

Here’s an example in photos… this is the yoke portion of a Lush cardigan which I’m currently working on:

Lush Cardigan

This is the lace yoke section of the Lush cardigan, before blocking – see how it’s all scrunched up and 3-dimensional?

Lush Cardigan

The Lush cardigan lace yoke section during blocking – see how the pattern is very clear?

Lush Cardigan

The lace yoke section after blocking.  You can see that the fabric relaxes somewhat, but the piece stays flat and the pattern is still distinct.

In order to reveal and clarify the structure of lace, it is necessary to stretch out the fabric.  But if you simply stretch it when it is dry, it will spring back.  When you block the lace it stays flat, stretched, and open for much longer.

After weeks of wear, a lace shawl may need to be re-blocked in order to stretch out and open up the pattern again.  Superwash wools (like hand-dyed sock yarns) are very springy, and more likely to need to be re-blocked.  Non-superwash wools tend to ‘hold a block’ (ie stay stretched and open) for longer.  While there are other blocking techniques, I believe wet blocking is the best method for most lace articles.

::: wet blocking supplies :::

  • lace shawl
  • pins (stainless steel is generally recommended, but I often use regular old sewing pins)
  • a surface to pin the shawl out onto
  • blocking wires (not strictly necessary, but they make the process a bit simpler)

::: how to wet block your shawl :::

  1. I recommend weaving in all ends before you start blocking.  That way the woven-in end will be stretched at the same rate as the rest of the fabric, and will be ‘set’ in place by the process.
  2. Soak the shawl in lukewarm water.  If your shawl has multiple colours, it is safest to include some white vinegar in the soaking water, and pull the shawl out after 10-20 minutes, before the colours have a chance to bleed into each other.  You can also use wool wash (like Soak) or the conditioner that you use in your own hair if you want to wash or soften the fabric.

    How to block a lace shawl

    Soak the shawl in the sink

  3. Once the piece is fully saturated (10-30 mins is generally sufficient, but you can leave it longer if you like), lift it out and gently squeeze out as much water as you can.  Don’t twist or wring the shawl, because when fibres are wet they are more fragile and prone to damage and breakage… and you wouldn’t want to tear this exquisite lace piece you’ve just spent hours and hours knitting!

    How to block a lace shawl

    Lay the damp shawl out on a towel

  4. Lay the damp shawl out on a towel, roll up the towel, then stomp on it to squeeze the majority of the water out of the fabric.  When you unroll the towel, the shawl will probably feel quite dry.  You can use a second towel to get it even drier if you like (this may shorten the drying time required).

    How to block a lace shawl

    Roll it up and do a little victory dance! Plaid pajama pants help with the process, obviously…

  5. If you are using blocking wires, thread them in and out through the straight edges of the shawl.  See the tips below for alternatives to blocking wires.

    How to block a lace shawl

    Blocking wires threaded through the straight edges of the shawl

  6. Lay the shawl out on the bed, floor, or blocking boards that will be your surface to pin into.  I have successfully pinned out on my bed, on my carpet, and into cardboard… Alexa is fancy… as you can see she has special foam blocking boards that work really well for the purpose!

    How to block a lace shawl

    The Chrysanthemum shawl pinned out, with blocking wires along the straight edges, and single pins at each of the edge points.

  7. Stretch the piece out and pin it.  I like to start at centre back, and pull each corner out the same distance, measuring with a yard stick.  Once I have the corners pinned, I assess whether the shawl is stretched enough, or if I can pull it a bit further in each direction.  I like to block lace very aggressively, because I feel it shows the pattern best, and the lace looks better after it has come off the blocking board.  The lace will shrink back somewhat after it is unpinned.

    How to block a lace shawl

    Pinning out the points is really fun! Perhaps I am easily amused…

  8. After the corners have been pinned down, I pin along the blocking wires at the straight edges, and lastly I pin out the scalloped edges of the shawl.  It is generally pretty obvious what points of the scalloped edge should pull out, and which are concave.  Study the finished photos of the lace, or just go with trial and error.  Some patterns have more of a natural curve to them than others, but you can often create a gentle scalloped effect just by creative blocking, or vice versa you could try to straighten the edge out.
  9. Once you have finished pinning, leave the piece to dry FULLY before unpinning it.  If you unpin before the shawl is 100% bone dry, the block will be much less effective.  During the drying process, the fibres shrink and pull together, and more and more tension will be put on the pins.  Sometimes a few of them will ‘pop’, so it might be a good idea to check on your blocking shawl a couple times a day, to ensure that the pins are still holding.
  10. After you are sure the shawl is dry, unpin it, and take some lovely photos of the finished result!  I think part of the reason I find blocking so immensely satisfying is that I LOVE the way lace looks, and blocking reveals that beauty.  The way the fabric feels and drapes is often completely different after blocking as well… And you have a beautiful finished piece!
Chrysanthemum Shawl

The Chrysanthemum Shawl – designed by Tin Can Knits, and published by Sweet Georgia yarns. Find the pattern here.

::: alternatives to blocking wires :::

Before I owned blocking wires, I would sometimes use a thin, smooth but very strong lace-weight yarn (I used a silk lace, but cotton would work too), and using a blunt needle,  I would thread this cord in and out along the straight edges of the shawl.  Then I would tie loops in the ends of the cord, and pin the cord out, creating a taut line that ran through the edge of the shawl.  I could pin at a few intervals along this cord, but the line created would be much straighter and more consistent than if I had simply placed pins at a few places.

Another alternative (which I’ve used in the past) is simply to use LOADS of pins along the edges that you’d like to be straight.

The main point is this – don’t let your lack of blocking wires put you off blocking… I knit plenty of lace shawls in the years before I finally invested in a set of blocking wires.

button-email-40Wanna hear about these tutorials as they are released?  Get our excellent emails!

 

More Lovely Lace Shawls:


Rosebud Shawl by Tin Can KnitsEstuary Shawl by Tin Can KnitsSunflower Shawl by Tin Can Knits

 

 

Dogwood Blanket Tutorial

June 11, 2014

9M-dogwood-00The Dogwood blanket makes for a wonderful gift, adding a touch of romance to any nursery or living room, whether you are making one for yourself or as a gift for someone special. If you are feeling a little daunted by lace in the round, let’s work on that together. So get your Dogwood pattern here and we can get started!

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::: My Square :::

While the pattern calls for 750 yards of worsted/aran weight yarn and US 8 / 5mm needles, I chose Madelinetosh Tosh DK (square shown is ‘gilded’) and US 7 / 4.5mm needles. This means my square and finished blanket will be a bit smaller than our original sample.

::: Construction :::

Each Dogwood square is worked from the center to the edge, with the lace pattern repeated four times per round (more on that later). To start a project from the center you will first work a Pinhole Cast On. You will then work the lace chart and bind off all of your stitches loosely. Once you have 4 or more squares you can seam the squares together to create your blanket.

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::: The Pattern: which needles where? :::

While Magic Loop is a perfectly great method for knitting this blanket, I prefer to use double pointed needles (dpn’s) when there are so few stitches to start a ‘center out’ project. So I cast on my stitches, then evenly distribute them over 4 dpns. Why four? Because the pattern repeats itself 4 times! More information on how to work a lace chart here.

pinholecaston

While the stitches are on your dpn’s you WILL have to work a yarn over at the end of each needle. While this may seem a little fiddly, don’t worry. As long as you know the yo is there, and not some strange mistake,  there is nothing wrong with a yo at the end of a needle.

dpns

When your stitches start to get a little squished on your dpn’s it’s time to switch to a circular. If you like the magic loop method you can use a long circular here, if not I went with a 20 inch circular for a bit, then switched again to a 32″ needle when the stitches started to feel squished on the 20 inch.

circulars

::: Binding off loosely :::

Why is binding off loosely so important for this project? Lace knitting is rather stretchy and you will want to block your finished piece somewhat aggressively to show off your pretty lacy pattern. With a bind off that is too tight you won’t be able to block your piece as much and your lace pattern will be lost.

One good method for binding off loosely is: k1, (k1, place both stitches back on LH needle, and k2tog-tbl), repeat to end.

2 sts knit

2 sts knit

knit them together through the back loop

knit them together through the back loop

::: Blocking :::

You will want to wet block your first square right away to make sure you are pleased with the size and the ‘stretchiness’ of the bind off. For a perfect block you will need: blocking boards (I used these foam puzzle pieces from the hardware store, but a piece of cardboard will do just fine), blocking wires, T-pins, and a measuring tape. If you don’t have blocking wires you can block it with pins alone, but the wires create a nice straight edge.

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Once you have soaked your square for about 15 minutes in cool water (a threw in a little Soak as well), put the wires through each side, pin them out, and measure to make sure you have all 4 sides the same. Let dry!

Wires are threaded through the work a few stitches in from the bind off.

Wires are threaded through the work a stitch or two towards the center from the bind off.

 

Make sure you can really see the lace stitches when blocking.

Make sure you can really see the lace stitches when blocking.

::: Seaming :::

To seam your squares together we recommend a slip stitch crochet seam (although it is knitter’s choice of course!). For detailed instructions on the slip stitch crochet seam, check out our tutorial here!

Tin Can Knits Email UpdatesGet Tin Can Knits Emails and we will let you know about new designs and tutorials as they are released.  We also have great specials and contests… don’t miss out!

More ‘center out’ designs by Tin Can Knits:


Gothic Lace ::: learn to knit lace with this free pattern

June 6, 2014

Gothic Lace Cowl or Scarf

Since we created The Simple Collection last year, we have wanted to bring a simple and clear beginner lace pattern to our knitters (and make a useful free pattern and tutorial for knitting teachers too!).

Emily originally created the Gothic Lace pattern for the beginner lace class she taught at Urban Yarns in Vancouver; but we are now making it free to all, with lace tutorials to get you started!

Gothic Lace features a simple, symmetrical, and repetitive lace pattern worked in worsted or aran weight yarn.  Following this free pattern you can make a short cowl in just a few hours, or a longer cowl or scarf by spending a bit more time!  The pattern includes both a lace chart and line-by-line text instructions, so that you can compare the two, and become comfortable knitting from a chart.

Knitting Chart Repeats

Our free beginner lace pattern Gothic Lace has a pattern repeat that is 8 stitches wide, and 12 rows tall.

We have created an in-depth tutorial to guide you through all the steps required to learn lace and make this lovely lace project yourself!  Grab some yarn, needles, and follow along with our ‘Let’s Knit Lace’ tutorial if you aren’t already comfortable with lace.

Gothic Lace Cowl

Gothic Lace::: Gothic Lace Project Details :::

Pattern: Free Pattern – download now!
Sizing: Short (Long) cowl is approximately 10 inches wide by 23 (46) inches long.  Scarf is approximately 8 inches wide by 60 inches long.  Finished size will vary depending on yarn, gauge, and how aggressively you block the finished piece.
Yarn: 200 (400, 400) yds worsted / aran weight yarn for short cowl (long cowl, scarf).  Sample shown in Malabrigo Worsted in ‘frost grey’
Needles: US #8 / 5mm needles
Gauge: 18 sts / 4″ in stockinette stitch… but as sizing is not crucial for this project, so achieving precise gauge isn’t too important.
Notions: stitch markers, darning needle, 8 buttons (if desired), 5mm crochet hook (for crochet button loop detail)

We love to share knit know-how and techniques, but most of all, we love the beautiful result!  This cozy cowl has a beautiful structural pattern which shows up best in solids or kettle dyed yarns.  You can use this project to showcase a set of beautiful buttons, or simply sew the ends of the cowl together if you don’t want to bother with buttonholes!

Gothic Lace Cowl Detail

I have finished my cowl with a delicate crocheted button loop detail, but if crochet makes you feel a little queasy, there are instructions for how to work simple knit buttonholes… or for an even easier finish just sew the ends together, no buttonholes required!

TCK-gothiclace-02

This cute and snuggly accessory looks great in a range of colours… here are a few example photos from my test knitters projects.

 

button-email-40Get Tin Can Knits Emails and we will let you know about new designs and tutorials as they are released.  We also have great specials and contests… don’t miss out!

 

SHARE this free pattern :::

Do you have friends who would like to try lace?  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!

Tin Can Knits on FacebookTin Can Knits on Instagram Tin Can Knits on Twitter Tin Can Knits on Pinterest Tin Can Knits Email Updates button-ravelry-40

Other patterns to perfect your lace skills:


Sunflower Shawl by Tin Can KnitsRaindrops Pullover by Tin Can KnitsLoch Mittens by Tin Can Knits

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