It seems like a very long time ago indeed that I came up with the idea for the Winterberry blanket. This lovely blanket was first released in Pom Pom Quarterly Winter 2013, Pom Pom being one of my very favorite knitting publications! I was inspired by the lovely red winterberries, the ones that always seem to be photographed against a frosty day. We have most recently re-released Winterberry on its own, or as part of the ebook Great White North.
My vision for Winterberry was a pretty-but-practical warm lap blanket or baby blanket. Something to keep you toasty in the cold winter months. This meant it simply had to have a squishy garter stitch center (what could be cozier than garter stitch?), but a charming little border to keep things interesting.
Winterberry is constructed by working the garter stitch center first, on the bias (that means you are starting with only a few stitches, increasing out, then working your way back down). The border is then picked up all the way around and worked in the round. Concerned about the bobbles? Don’t be! We have a tutorial to walk you through it here.
The yarn I used is the Plucky Knitter Primo Worsted, and it is, as the name suggests, primo. A sumptuous merino/cashmere blend, perfect for a plush blankie. The color is Narragansett gray and I can’t get enough; I also designed the Old Growth cardigan in the same yarn…and the same classic color.
There you have it! A perfect blanket to wrap up under the tree for a wee one, throw over your shoulders on that oh so chilly evening walk, or place in your lap while you curl up with a good book.
More blankets from TCK:
There are many bobbles out there, this one is from the Winterberry blanket pattern. While the number of sts and rows might be different, the principles remain the same. To make a bobble you are increasing the number of sts by working multiple stitches in one stitch, working solely on those sts for a few rows, then decreasing back down to the original number of sts. Let’s see what that looks like:
How to make the bobble in the Winterberry blanket:
- Work to the stitch specified in the pattern
- Work k1, yo, k1, yo, k1 ALL IN THE SAME STITCH. You now have 5 stitches where you had 1 stitch.
- turn your work so the wrong side is facing and purl the 5 sts.
- turn your work back so the right side is facing, knit those 5 sts.
- turn your work back so the wrong side is facing, work decrease: p2tog, p1, p2tog
- turn your work back so the right side is facing, work decrease: slip 1, k2tog, pass slipped stitch over
That’s it, bobble complete. They look a little tricky but after a few you will have it down pat. Now you can embark on your very own cozy and cute Winterberry blanket.
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!
Patterns with in depth tutorials:
It’s taken me quite a few knits to realize this, but I’ve decided it’s best to knit REALLY big for babies and children. Like 1-2 sizes bigger than you think your child will be when the sweater is complete!
First of all, life can throw a wrench in the best laid plans, and leave you with a 3/4 complete knit which no longer fits your child. And second, after pouring 10-20 hours of care and attention into a sweater, I want to see my little one wearing it every third day for the next 2 years or so! Hahaha but really… this is how I think about hand knits for Max now that I’m over the initial excitement of TINY baby knits.
The latest delicious item that’s flown off my needles and onto the snotty little darling is North Shore. I was very strongly compelled to knit this by my sweater knitting friend Rosie (all about her and her sweaters here), who has just completed her own North Shore.
North Shore Project Details: (Ravelry project page here)
Pattern: North Shore Pattern $7 – download the pattern now (or get the Pacific Knits ebook)
Sizing: I knit the 2-4 year size for Max, who is only 16 months old!
Yarn: DK weight – I used Rowan Tweed in ‘askrigg’ for the MC, with the following CCs: Queensland Collection Kathmandu DK, Rowan Tweed in ‘wensley’, Malabrigo Merino Worsted in ‘lettuce’, and Bigwigs Angora in ‘chalk’
Needles: I used US#5 / 3.75mm and US#7 / 4.5mm
Gauge: 22 sts / 4” in stockinette stitch
Notions: stitch marker, darning needle
I decided to use Rowan Tweed, a really lovely single-ply tweed that comes in great colours, and I am quite confident will hold up well. It took some deliberation (by which I mean knitting half way through the yoke pattern then ripping it out… twice) before I settled on the final colour palette. EVEN when knitting their own designs, designers don’t always get colours and yarn choices right the first time! In the end, my Christmassy concept of white trees on a red background was turfed, and I settled on a palette very similar to the original sample.
Knits that remind me of home
North Shore is a design is from our second book, Pacific Knits. Written shortly after my move to Edinburgh, it was inspired more than a little by a great nostalgia for my home on Vancouver Island, and my years spent in Vancouver. While I’m settled here for the long term, I definitely want Max to learn about the Pacific coast part of his heritage.
Ocean, trees, mountains: these are the basic building blocks of the pacific coast of Canada. Vancouver’s north shore has all of the above, from kayaking along sandy beaches, hiking through steep verdant woods, to ski traverses over the glaciers and icefields of the Coast Mountains. We love our west-coast landscape!
This darling jumper is just half of a Master Plan… I’m scheming about making a matching sweater for me, perhaps in the lovely new Dovestone DK by Baa Ram Ewe? I picked up some skeins at Yarndale, and I got a colour card too… I just worry that I might need to order one of each colour to really ‘nail’ the colourwork yoke…
Well I’m absolutely ecstatic with how this little sweater turned out. Who knows if I’ll manage to knit one for myself before Max turns 5 and grows out of his… but a girl can dream!
Intimidated by colourwork?
If you’d love to knit North Shore, but haven’t tried stranded colourwork before, we’ve got some tutorials (and great free patterns) for you! Take a look at the free Clayoquot and I Heart Rainbows hats, either would make an easy first colourwork project. Grab a friend and tackle it together… click below to share this post!
Once you’ve done a hat, you’ll be all ready to cast on for a sweater… honest!
Colourwork from TCK:
Inspiration is a funny thing. In interviews and when chatting with knitters I am often asked where inspiration comes from, and I always have the same dissatisfying answer: everywhere! Not only do I find inspiration in moments, nature, patterns, colors, feelings, and sometimes even dreams, but that inspiration is not always what it seems. What may at first appear to be a plain, machine knit, brown, cardigan (worn throughout the 80’s and a lot of the 90’s by my Dad), is actually the inspiration for the Jones cardigan!
It wasn’t so much the design or style of the cardigan that I wanted to capture, but the feeling. The cardigan once belonged to my grandfather and that made it very special to my Dad. I wanted to create a sweater that was classic and timeless that could move through the ages, so I turned to my favorite: cables! While Jones will certainly out-grow the wee size I made him here (I think he already has!), I will undoubtedly knit him his own grown version, and perhaps he will pass it on.
The Jones sweater is knit from the bottom up, with a drop shoulder sleeve. The shawl collar gives it that ‘grampa’ feel, fitting to my inspiration. While I designed this cardigan for Jonesie, it also looks lovely on little girls and ladies (check out the Ravelry projects for a little inspiration). Who doesn’t love a cabled cardi after all?
Pattern details for Jones
0-6mo (6-12 mo, 1-2y, 2-4y, 4-6y, 6-8y, 8-10y, XS, S, SM, M, ML, L, XL, XXL, 3XL, 4XL)
Finished bust: 18 (19, 20, 23, 25, 27, 29, 31, 33, 35.5, 38, 40, 42, 46, 50, 54, 58) inches
400 (450, 500, 600, 750, 900, 1000, 1100, 1300, 1550, 1700, 1800, 1900, 2000, 2200, 2400, 2600) yards DK weight yarn (samples shown in Anzula Cricket in ‘elephant’ and ‘madam’)
US #3 / 3.25mm and US #6 / 4mm 32-47” circular needle and DPNs in each size (or as required to meet gauge)
I am starting to plot my Christmas sweaters for 2015 and Jones might just need another Jones!
More cardigans from Tin Can Knits
One of my first patterns, the Antler Mittens, is still one of my favorite patterns today. It is a testament to the timeless fashion of a classic knitted item! I have been smitten with the Antler cable for a few years now, you may recognize it from the Antler sweater and the free Antler hat…okay, I’m a little obsessed. They are such great mittens, I wanted to make a pair for Hunter so there was only 1 thing to do: size them for all!
The Antler mittens now come in classic TCK sizing (baby to big) and the pattern got a bit of a make-over with new photos and some updated pattern writing too.
Yarn: 70 (80, 120, 150, 200) yds aran / chunky weight yarn (shown in Madelinetosh Chunky in ‘fog’ and ‘robin red breast’)
Needles: US#6 / 4mm & US#8 / 5mm (or as required to meet gauge)
DPNs or long circulars for magic loop
These mittens are squishy and wonderful, perfect to keep the cold at bay as fall turns to winter. They feature a nice long cuff (my personal fave), great for keeping mittens on small hands and slipping up the sleeve of your coat. No gaps for the wind to get you!
If you are a gift knitter like me, you already know the season is upon us! I’ll be whipping up a pair or 2 of these, how about you?
All the Antlers from TCK:
Are you a sweater knitter? I don’t personally count myself one, although I have knit and designed a number of popular garments! My friend Rosie is definitely a sweater knitter. I joined her for a trip to the park, and she brought along 12 of her favourite sweaters.
For all the project details, check her out on Ravelry – she’s Rokay. Thanks again Rosie for modelling your lovely work, and sharing your story!
What makes a sweater knitter?
I’m not sure of the correct definition, but when you meet one you’ll know! Rosie learned to knit just 2.5 years ago, and already has made 16 sweaters for herself! She’s also done several for her husband, friends, and little family members too. This works out to a sweater every month or two… definitely far exceeding my own knitting output!
Why sweaters (or rather jumpers here in the UK)?
Rosie told me that even before she began knitting, she had a love affair with sweaters. They were the items that she loved to shop for, and was drawn to browse in thrift stores. Her gran is an accomplished machine knitter, so she’d grown up in custom-made sweaters. Born in the warmer South, she finds Edinburgh winters ‘bitterly cold’, and stacks of sweaters are an obvious remedy! She’s recently cut her hair short, which she admits was in no small part inspired by the desire to show off the exquisite yokes she loves to knit, so they wouldn’t be hidden by the fall of long hair! That’s dedication folks!
Yokes Yokes and more Yokes!
As you can see, Rosie tends to knit yoke sweaters, because she loves having the mindless knitting time of body and sleeves, then enjoys the details at the yoke toward the end of the garment. She’s also found that circular yokes are more flattering on her than raglan-style shaping. Because she’s quite a product knitter, she wants to get that sweater off the needle and into the wardrobe! So simple yoke patterns are ideal. She often adjusts patterns for gauge and for her shorter body and longer arms, and adds more curvy waist shaping, as she is rather petite. These simple seamless sweaters are ideal for adjustments like this which make for a perfect fit.
But it’s not ALL yokes! Rosie does branch out, and has a number of sweaters all set out to knit… but finds that she doesn’t often cast on the more complex projects, preferring to work on projects she knows she’ll be able to wear within a month or so!
And if those exquisite sweaters weren’t quite enough to inspire… here are a few more!
Have you been inspired by Tin Can Knits ‘Year of the Sweater’?
If you haven’t already heard about our sweater-knitting-push for this year, you still might want to join in!
We plan to each complete 12 sweaters, some will be for us, some will be for little people we have or know. It doesn’t matter if we started them last year (or, ahem, a few years ago), this is the year they will be finished! Along the way we’ll be sharing our favourite sweater-knitting tips and techniques, as well as adding some new tutorials to our already extensive list (check them out here).
So join us won’t you? Let’s knit along! Tag your KAL projects with #tck12sweater2015 and check out our Rav thread here for a little knitterly support.
There are some amazing prizes to be had…
1. A sweater’s worth of yarn from Rainbow Heirloom.
2. A signed copy of our book Road Trip.
3. The complete Tin Can Knits ebook library.
Some of the Tin Can Knits designs that Rosie has knit!
The final step in most knitting projects is blocking, which settles the knit stitches into place, stretches and reveals lace patterns, and allows your yarn to bloom and the collection of knit stitches to become a unified piece of fabric.
The steps below for wet-blocking are also the same process you will use when washing your handwash-only hand knit sweaters. I’m not adverse to hand-washing, but I find that part of the magic of wool is that it needs washing only once or twice a year, so taking care of your hand-knit wardrobe doesn’t become an unreasonable task!
Wet-blocking a sweater is really much the same as blocking any other piece of knitting. If you’ve never heard of blocking, you might like to read our Blocking Basics post first, as it illustrates the basic steps that we cover below.
Depending on the garment, and the finished size you desire, you will block your sweater more or less aggressively. In some cases, you may want to use blocking wires, while in others this may not be necessary.
How to block a sweater
- Fill your sink or basin with lukewarm water and wool wash if desired.
- Gently wet your sweater. I do this by submerging my knitting and pressing out the bubbles. You don’t want to agitate your knitting too much. Leave it for about 15 minutes to get it good and soaked. Some fibres (cashmere, silk) take longer to become saturated with water. If you are blocking a multi-coloured piece, you will want to prevent the colours from bleeding into one another in the soaking bath, so instead of wool wash, add white vinegar to the soaking bath, and take care not to leave the sweater to soak for too long (don’t forget about it overnight!).
- Take your sweater out of the water and press out as much excess as you can. Do not wring your knitting, this can put it out of shape permanently.
- Roll your sweater in a towel and stomp on it, this remove excess water. You may need to use two or three towels in a row if you’re drying out a larger or bulkier sweater, as the knit will have soaked up a lot of water.
- Lay your sweater out on your blocking boards (or mattress, or carpet) and using your hands push it into shape. For a simple stockinette sweater, it may be sufficient to simply pat it into shape, with approximately the right body and sleeve width / length. For a patterned sweater, you may wish to block the piece aggressively, using blocking wires and pins to stretch out the body, sleeves, and yoke to open up a lace or cable pattern. If your finished garment turned out a little too short, or too skinny for your liking, you can also block ‘for length’ or ‘for width’, stretching the piece more aggressively in one or the other dimension to coax it into a better fit! This won’t work a miracle, but knit fabric (especially wool) is quite flexible, and as Alexa and I always say “when in doubt, block it out”!
Year of the Sweater #TCK12sweaters2015
Have you been knitting along with us during Tin Can Knits ‘Year of the Sweater’? I hope that you’re tagging your sweaters with #TCK12sweaters2015 on Instagram, Facebook and Twitter, and submitting your entries on our Ravelry Group KAL too! There are some great prizes… I happen to know that Alexa has finished at least 12 garments already… probably more like 15 or 20! I’ve only actually completed 8 this year, as far as I can count… but I have WAY too many more on the needles right now so I’ve got to get finishing.
A few more that I’d like to knit this year: