What feels like a lifetime ago Emily and I had a great idea: a book of wintery gift knits! We chose a lovely palette of greys and red and away we went. We created something for the tall dark & handsome men in our lives, a pretty holiday sweater for all those parties, some little ornaments to gussy up the tree, and accessories for the wonderful people on our lists.
Sounds great right? It was, but well, … it turns out we weren’t quite done! Great White North is now available in print as well as digital, and includes 3 new patterns, Jones, Winterberry, and Freeze.
How to order Great White North:
Order the Great White North ebook for $16 ::: you’ll get all 12 wintery patterns for only $16
Order the Great White North print + ebook for $18 + shipping ::: you’ll get the ebook right away and print books will ship in mid October.
Already have the Great White North ebook? Not to worry! The updated ebook will be delivered either via email or in your Ravelry library. You will receive the 3 new patterns completely free!
3 New Wintery Knits
Jones is the new cabled cardigan pattern in Great White North. I have always found cables to have a timeless quality. They look classic and sophisticated without actually being too difficult. When it came to all over cables and texture, we went for it! Jones is destined to become an heirloom for the ages.
You may have seen Winterberry around already. This warm and squishy blanket was originally published in the Winter 2013 edition of Pom Pom Quarterly. It can used as a lap blanket while curling up by the fire, a shawl when folded over, or as a blankie for snuggling a little one.
Lastly we have Freeze. Who doesn’t love a lacy ornament hanging from the tree or adorning a wintery window? Freeze is a quick knit, worked from the centre out, and stiffened with a little bath in glue or cornstarch (instructions for this are also in the pattern). It goes along nicely with the Little Sock ornaments and Fancy Balls (free!)
Great White North contains a lot of old favourites too! Tall Dark and Handsome is my go-to pattern for those who like a simple stylish hat, or a textured scarf or cowl. The hat can be worn folded over at the brim as a beanie or longer with a nice slouch.
Snowflake has long been a fan favourite (Emily even has one cast on for her #tck12sweaters2015 ) with a geometric lace yoke and a cute button detail at the cuffs. It looks lovely on big and small alike!
You can knit up some sweet Marshmallow and Bon Bon mittens, sized for even the littlest of hands. Start on some warm cabled accessories like the Drift Shawl and the Bon Bon Toque! It’s only fall, but it’s never too soon to start thinking about wintery gifts is it?
More from Great White North
This year, I chose not to exhibit Tin Can Knits at Yarndale, and went as a visitor instead. Last year, Max was 12 weeks old and it nearly killed me to travel from Edinburgh and work the booth all weekend, despite having mounds of help from my Mom and John. So this year, the weekend after my return from a busy trip to Canada, I decided that a woolly holiday was in order, and left man and bairn to focus on the yarn without any distractions!
Yarndale definitely doesn’t disappoint! My friend Rosie and I spent the better part of Saturday on our first pass through the market hall. What were the big themes this year? There were a LOT of rainbows on display! Many dyers are doing ombre and rainbow mini-skein kits, and there were quite a variety of self-striping ombre skeins too. There were a lot of exquisite crochet blankets in rainbow shades, and a lot of UK designers with new collections to enjoy.
There was also a number of stalls with perfectly adorable felted creatures! It’s not a craft that I’ll ever venture into personally, but I appreciate the work that these artists are doing, and love to look.
My shopping focus this year was in looking at interesting undyed / natural yarns, and British made yarns. I picked up some really beautiful natural shades of wool, alpaca and a merino/cashmere blend too, and had a chat to the folks at Baa Ram Ewe, John Arbon, Purl Alpacas, and Laxton’s.
Of course, visiting a knitting expo like Yarndale is also a great chance to reconnect with friends in the industry. I had a chat with Rachel Coopey of Coop Knits and drooled over her new accessory collection Toasty Volume Two, I just love the way she’s created crisp modern and fun fair-isle designs in Baa Ram Ewe’s Titus.
I reconnected with Lydia Gluck at Pom Pom Quarterly, got a great new project bag and admired Alexa’s latest design for Pom Pom, the Hitchcock pullover, in person.
I had the opportunity to lunch and chat knit design with Justyna Lorkowska of Lete’s Knits, who is both talented and so open and friendly! It was great to swap stories of our design projects and speak about balancing design work with little ones.
At the Ginger Twist booth, I got to hang with some of my favourite ladies! I had a lovely brunch with Clare Devine of Yarn and Pointy Sticks, a designer and tech editor who I don’t get to see nearly as often as I’d like since she moved south, and a quick chat with Jess of Ginger Twist, and Sylvie of the newly launched Phileas Yarns.
The weekend was a hands-down success, and I cast on immediately in the new buttery soft DK weight alpaca I’d picked up from Vicky at Eden Cottage yarns… it’s a sample for a new book, so I can’t show you the right side…!
I was very glad that I enjoyed a yarn shopping holiday this year, but I’m sure Tin Can Knits will be exhibiting again at Yarndale 2016! Fall is here, I’m planning more sweaters for #TCK12sweaters2015, and with my stash of new yarns I forsee many swatches and new ideas coming from Tin Can Knits.
Autumn inspirations from TCK:
I know, I know, it’s barely September. The sun is still shining (mostly….), the lake is still warm enough for a brave evening dip, and people are barely back from their summer road trips. Still, with 3 kiddies, I have to start thinking about winter woollies early! I hauled out the bin of warm hats, cowls, and mitts, to make sure everyone had something that fit. They didn’t. So it’s time to get working on a few new woollies for fall.
Hunter needs a hat. She is at an age where she wants some say in her wardrobe, but is still pretty open to suggestion. I am in love with the colorway ‘Princess Rockstar’ from Emily’s Rainbow Heirloom and Hunter agrees so a Bumble hat will be coming her way!
Jones has a Tall Dark and Handsome hat that fits, but he needs some new mitts and maybe a cowl. I’ll be knitting him a Gather cowl and some Bon Bon Mitts. The cowl is Tanis Fiber Arts Green Label in ‘Chris Grey’ and the Mitts will be in some left over Sweet Fiber Merino Twist in ‘smoke’.
Last, but not least, my hubby asked me for a knit! He asked at the end of last winter for a toque and I was paralyzed with indecision. I think, however, that I am going to knit him up a Tall Dark and Handsome hat (my go to) in Sweet Fiber Cashmerino in ‘woodsmoke’.
What woolies are you working on for fall? New mittens for a man? Hats for the kids?
More woolies for your fall wardrobe:
Once or twice a year, I travel home. Leaving Scotland behind, I visit family on Vancouver Island and spend a week working with Alexa in Port Moody. It’s always an exciting and tiring visit with a schedule full of chatting, crazy last-minute sample knitting and photo-shoots. Now that Max is a toddler, it is so much fun to show him my favourite spots in the place I grew up! He loved the forest and sand at Miracle Beach, a beautiful provincial park just a short walk from my childhood home.
He also loved crawling around and exploring the forest floor, finding pinecones to chew on and sticks to wave about! For the trip I had to put Max in a little playdate to show off. I decided on a simple pattern change: single row stripes!
Playdate Project Details:
Pattern: Playdate Pattern $7 – available for download now (or get the Max & Bodhi’s Wardrobe ebook)
Sizing: This adorable cardi is sized from baby to big!
Yarn: Rainbow Heirloom Merino Light in ‘verdant’ (the Nostalgia Club colour for June 2015) and ‘jewel sea’ – less than 2 skeins required
Needles: US#3 / 3.25mm and US#4 / 3.75mm (or as required to meet gauge)
Gauge: 24 sts & 36 rows / 4″ in stockinette
Notions: stitch marker, darning needle, buttons
Single Row Stripes
When working a flat piece of knitting in single-row stripes, you need to use a circular needle, because you must work two right-side (RS) rows, then work two wrong-side (WS) rows, so you need points on both ends of your needles.
Single Row Striping Pattern
Row 1 (RS): green
Row 2 (RS): teal
Row 3 (WS): green
Row 4 (WS): teal
As you can see, I decided to keep the pocket opening section in the green, and then worked the pocket bind-off row in teal, which made for a tidy little detail.
I considered quite a few options for buttons, but in the end I chose these vintagey looking olive green ones. I love choosing buttons – I always wait until the knit is complete, then take it to my button store, and try a bunch of different options before selecting the one that matches the mood of the design best. It’s difficult to buy buttons in advance, because you can’t be sure how they will look with the buttonhole spacing and button band width of the finished knit. So it’s easiest to wait until the project is finished to find a perfect match.
Simple Pattern Hacks
Have you ever knit in single-row or single-round stripes? I was inspired to make this ‘pattern hack’ by the creative and talented Laura (undone57 on Ravelry) who made this little scrappy playdate with stripes and fair-isle dots… Exquisite eh? Check out her project page on Ravelry for more information.
Over the years, we have created a number of simple designs that lend themselves well to the striping or the addition of simple colourwork patterns. One of my favourites is the free Flax pullover from The Simple Collection.
Other simple designs perfect for ‘hacking’:
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!
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.
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.
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:
- Wait until they show some interest, no sense in trying to teach them something they don’t want to know (in this case).
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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!
- Local shops are a great resource for teachers! Whether in a class setting or a private lesson.
There you have it! Have you taught wee ones how to knit? Any tips or tricks to share?
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:
- 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.
- The swatch: We make MANY swatches (mmm how I love a good swatch!). And then we make some more!
- 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… ).
- 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!
- 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:
- 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!).
- We adjust the pattern per our test-knitters comments on fit and pattern writing.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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!
- 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!
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!
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!
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!
- 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.
- 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