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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.


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


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 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!


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)


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


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.

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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!


::: 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.


::: 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.


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.


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.


::: 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.


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!


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

Let’s Knit Lace ::: a free beginner lace pattern and tutorial

June 6, 2014

Gothic Lace Cowl by Tin Can KnitsIf you have always wanted to try lace, but have been a bit too intimidated, now is the perfect moment, and we have an ideal pattern for you!

Grab your yarn, needles, and a copy of Gothic Lace, our free beginner lace pattern!  You can find all the project details (and more pretty pictures) in this post.

Gothic Lace Cowl SwatchWe made the Gothic Lace cowl in a worsted / aran weight yarn (Malabrigo Worsted) using 5mm needles, so it is a quick knit and easy on the eyes and the fingers.

Once you are comfortable with lace techniques, you can graduate to skinnier yarns and littler needles!  Use a solid or semi-solid colour yarn, because the lace pattern can get lost in variegated yarns.

Malabrigo Worsted

Malabrigo Worsted – this single-ply yarn gives great stitch definition, and the semi-solid colours really show off the lace pattern.

Getting Started :::

Gothic Lace PatternFollowing the Gothic Lace pattern, you can knit either a short cowl (wraps once around), a long cowl (wraps twice around), or a scarf.

For a cowl, cast on 49 stitches, and for a scarf cast on 41 stitches.  If you just want to make a little lace practice swatch just cast on 25 or 33 stitches.

To begin, you will knit 8 rows (this forms the garter stitch edge).

Gothic Lace Cowl

Next it is time to start the lace pattern!  The instructions say:

Repeat rows 1-12 of gothic lace pattern, following chart or written instructions…

As you can see, the lace section of the pattern is described by a lace chart, and also by line-by-line text instructions.  You can follow either the chart or the text instructions, or flip back and forth from one to the other!

Don’t understand charts?  We have an in-depth tutorial to help you learn how!

How to Knit Lace

When you are working a lace pattern, it is very important to read all of the abbreviations and chart notes carefully before you begin the pattern, so that you understand the chart.  In this pattern, you will learn that the chart shows right side (odd numbered) rows only.  All wrong side (even numbered rows) are worked as follows: k3, purl to last 3 sts, k3.  Easy Peasy Lemon Squeezy.

So you will start with row 1, following the chart or the text instructions:

Row 1 (RS):     k2, k2tog, yo, k1, [ssk, k1, yo, k1, yo, k1, k2tog, k1] repeat to last 4 sts, yo, ssk, k2

If this is your first lace project, there may be some instructions that you haven’t come across before.  Click the links to find out exactly how to work these stitches if they are new to you.

How to work common lace stitches :::

Lace is formed by increases (typically yarn overs to form the holes) balanced by decrease stitches.  Some of the most common stitches used are:

  • k2tog – knit 2 stitches together – is a right leaning single decrease [tutorial here]
  • ssk – slip, slip, knit – slip 1 knitwise, slip 1 knitwise, knit 2 slipped sts together through back loops – is a left leaning single decrease [tutorial here]
  • yo – yarn over – starting with yarn in back of work, bring yarn between needle tips from back to front, and then pass over RH needle to back of work, creating a new loop over the needle – this is a single increase which creates a hole in the work [tutorial here]
  • sl1-k2tog-psso – slip 1, knit 2 sts together, pass slipped stitch over the k2tog and off needles – this is a left leaning double decrease [tutorial here]

To make your first lace experience easier, place markers at the start and end of each pattern repeat.  The pattern repeats are indicated by the heavy vertical lines in the chart, and the square brackets [ ] in the text instructions.  So as you work row one, have 5-6 stitch markers ready to place on the needle in between stitch repeats.

For absolute clarity, let’s work row 1 together…

Row 1 (RS):     k2, k2tog, yo, k1, [ssk, k1, yo, k1, yo, k1, k2tog, k1] repeat to last 4 sts, yo, ssk, k2


You start by knitting 2 stitches, then working k2tog, then a yo, and one knit stitch.  These are the ‘edge stitches’.  Place a marker (PM) now, then work the lace repeat once [ssk, k1, yo, k1, yo, k1, k2tog, k1], then PM again to mark the end of that 8-stitch repeat.  You will still have 36 more stitches on the left-hand needle to work (or 28 if you are making the scarf).  So what do you do?  Well, a ‘repeat’ is called a repeat because you repeat it… So work that same 8 stitches [ssk, k1, yo, k1, yo, k1, k2tog, k1] 4 (or 3) more times, placing a marker after each repeat, until you get to the last 4 stitches of the row (no more repeats will fit).  Then you end the row with the ‘edge stitches’ on the other side, yo, ssk,

Your very first lace row is complete, and you have markers that indicate the start and end of each repeat, which make for easy checking.  Before you work the wrong side (WS) row, check that you have the correct number of stitches in each section; from right to left you should have 5 edge sts, then 4 or 5 sections with 8 sts each, then 4 edge sts, with your stitch count being the same as you cast on (49 sts for a cowl, 41 sts for the scarf).  This lace pattern maintains the same stitch count on all rows, because the number of sts increased (by yos) equals the number of stitches decreased by (k2togs, ssks, and sl1-k2tog-pssos).

After you have worked row 1, you will work row 2, which is given in the text instructions, and described in the chart notes, but not shown on the chart itself.

Row 2 and all following WS rows: k3, purl to last 3 sts, k3

The k3 at start and end of the WS rows create a garter stitch edge, which is a nice detail, because garter stitch doesn’t curl the way stockinette stitch does.

When you have finished row 2, you will look again to the chart or text instructions for working row 3.  As you will notice, rows 1, 3, and 5 are all exactly the same!  So you will get a lot of practice with this identical sequence of stitches.

As you work the lace, keep the markers in place (just slip them from the LH to the RH needle in between working the stitches).  Check after each RS row to ensure that you have the correct number of stitches in each section (5 edge sts, 8 sts per repeat section, 4 edge sts at end).  That way, if you make a mistake it is very easy to locate, and work back to fix it right away.

Gothic Lace Cowl

Rows 7, 9, and 11 are each unique, but keep the markers in place in the same locations, and simply work the combination of stitches indicated.  You will notice how the lace pattern as knit looks just like the lace pattern illustrated on the chart.

Gothic Lace Cowl

This is one of the great benefits of working from a chart; you quickly learn to see how the knit fabric should look, and are much less likely to make mistakes in your knitting, because the structure of the pattern will ‘make sense’.


Once you complete row 12, you are ready to start again at the beginning of the lace pattern. So go back to row 1, and start there.  As the pattern states:

Repeat rows 1-12 of gothic lace pattern, following chart A or written instructions, until piece measures approximately 22 (44) inches for short (long) cowl, or 58 inches for scarf.

After that many repeats of the pattern, you will be a lace expert!

Knitting Chart Repeats

Check out our How to Read A Knitting Chart tutorial to learn more about lace, colourwork, and cable charts.

All that remains is a bit of finishing.  If you’re making a scarf or a cowl without buttons, just knit 8 rows (removing markers), and bind off all stitches.

Gothic Lace Cowl by Tin Can Knits

If you are making a buttoned cowl, you have a couple of options.  You can work regular buttonholes within the garter stitch band:

… work buttonholes: k3, [yo, k2tog, k4] 7 times, yo, k2tog, k2

OR you can make crocheted button loops, as I have done in my sample (note: crochet abbreviations are American).

How to work crochet button loops :::

Using crochet hook and yarn, begin with WS of work facing, working into the bind-off row.

Foundation row (WS): Work sl-st into first 2 sts, [ch4, skip 3 bind off sts, sl-st into next 3 bind off sts, ch4, skip 3 bind off sts, sl-st into next 2 bind off sts] repeat 3 more times, sl-st to end.  This forms 8 button loops.

Crochet Button Loops

Next row (RS): work sc to button loop, [sc 5 times into button loop, sc once] repeat 7 more times, sc to end.

Crochet Button Loops

Voila!  You have a completed cowl or scarf!  After you weave in all yarn ends, and sew buttons on, you are ready for the last very important step: blocking.

Gothic Lace Cowl

Wet blocking is very important for lace, because it opens up the pattern, and sets the stitches.  You’ll see what I mean when you block your first lace piece.  We will share an in-depth tutorial on blocking lace in coming weeks, but for now, just follow these simple instructions:

HOW TO WET BLOCK ::: To wet block, soak your knit in lukewarm water, then lay it out on a towel, roll up and stomp on the towel to squeeze out as much water as possible. Finally lay out flat (pinning along edges if desired) until completely dry.

Learn more about blocking regular knit projects here.  These instructions will work just fine for this cowl or scarf.

Gothic Lace Cowl

LEARN LACE with a friend :::

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!

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Other patterns to perfect your lace skills:

Thistle Scarf by Tin Can KnitsTorrent Socks by Tin Can KnitsFalse Creek Cowl by Tin Can Knits

How to read a knitting chart

June 6, 2014

Charts are graphic representations of knitting instructions.  They are a compact way to illustrate more patterns that would take much more space if described in text instructions.

Charts also illustrate how a lace, colourwork or cable pattern will look once it is knit up, and this means that when you use charts, it is easier to see where you are in a pattern, and identify errors early.

After a bit of practice, most knitters find working from charts much more intuitive, quick, and simple than working from line-by-line text instructions.

Botany Shawl by TIn Can Knits

Chart motif from the Botany Shawl … this is an extreme case where writing out line-by-line instructions for this large-scale motif would be entirely impractical.

Each square is a stitch ::: start with the key

In a chart, each square represents a knitting stitch, similar to the way that each abbreviation in text instructions does (for example k2tog or p1).  The first thing you should check when you start knitting from a chart is the key or legend, and chart notes if they are included.  This will explain which symbols represent which kind of stitches.    Often, an empty square means to knit the stitch, and generally, a yarn-over will be represented by an O in the square. However, each designer may have a different format and set of symbols.  Once you understand the meaning of each of the symbols, you can proceed to knitting the chart.

Chart Key

The key (and chart) for our free beginner lace pattern, the Gothic Lace Cowl or Scarf… check it out!

Are all rows shown… or just the RS rows?

Charts will either show all rows (or rounds) or only illustrate one side of the work, usually the right side.  If the chart shows only right side rows, text instructions will be given for how to work the wrong side rows.  The omission of wrong-side rows is common in lace charts, because many lace patterns are simply purled on wrong-side rows.  As you can see from this illustration, the structure of the lace pattern shows up much more clearly when the wrong-side rows (which aren’t conveying much information) are removed.

Reading Knitting Charts

The Gothic Lace pattern shown two ways – with all rows shown, and with WS rows omitted. As you can see, the chart is more compact and relates more clearly to the structure of the knitted fabric when WS rows are omitted. Check out the free pattern here!

But how do I actually knit following a chart?

Once you’ve reviewed the key and chart notes, and determined whether all rows are shown, or just the right-side rows, you can get started knitting from the chart.

Typically, for right side rows, you will work the stitches one at a time from RIGHT to LEFT.

So where only right side rows are shown, this means that you read each row shown in the chart from RIGHT to LEFT.  To work the wrong side rows, follow the instructions given in the text or chart notes.

Reading Knitting Charts

If the chart shows BOTH right side and wrong side rows, you will work the RS rows from RIGHT to LEFT, and the WS rows from LEFT to RIGHT.

If you think of the chart as a picture of the finished fabric taken from the right side of the work, this makes sense, as the RS rows are worked one stitch at a time from right to left, and the WS rows are worked from right to left too… but on the opposite side.

A careful reading of the chart key is crucial in this case, because often chart symbols are worked in one way on the right side of the work, and in another way on the wrong side of the work (for example, knit on the right side, purl on the wrong side).

Reading Knitting Charts

What are the heavy lines?

Commonly, stitch and row repeats are indicated by heavy lines (or boxes) in the chart.  This is similar to the use of brackets in text knitting instructions.  So you would work the edge stitches one time, then work the ‘repeat’ stitches as many times as possible (always reading the set of instructions from right to left on right side rows), before ending with the edge stitches at the end of row.

Knitting Chart Repeats

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

What do I do when I get to the end of the chart?

After you’ve worked the last (top) row of a chart, you would typically begin again at the bottom at row or round 1, if the stitch pattern is repeated several times.  The text pattern instructions will let you know how many rows / inches to work following the chart.

How to Read a Lace Chart

Lace patterns are often described only in charts, as they may have large stitch and row repeats can make writing out (and reading) lace patterns quite cumbersome.

At Tin Can Knits, 90% of our lace patterns use charts that only illustrate the RS of the work, because we find these types of patterns much more intuitive, simple and satisfying to knit.

How to Read a Lace Chart

The lace chart for the Sunflower Shawl shows RS rows only. You can see clearly how the chart motif corresponds to the knitted fabric.  You read the RS rows from right to left, and follow text instructions for the WS rows.

Of course, there are always exceptions to this rule, and when both sides of the work are charted, you will work the RS rows from right to left, and the WS rows from left to right, making sure to check the key so you understand how stitches are worked on the RS vs the WS of the work.

How to Read a Lace Chart

The lace chart for the Kits Kerchief includes both right side and wrong side rows, because they are required to work the lace motif.  You read RS rows from right to left, and WS rows from left to right.

How to read a Colourwork Chart

Fair-isle stranded colourwork is usually worked in the round, so that the RS of the work is always facing, you are working the knit stitch most of the time, and you can easily see the pattern forming as you work it.  However, there are some exceptions to the rule in which colourwork is worked flat (in rows).  Either way, charts for colourwork patterns will generally illustrate every round (or row).

If the pattern is to be worked in the round, then you will read every round from right to left.

How to Read a Colourwork Chart

Our free ornament pattern – Fancy Balls – includes three simple colourwork motifs, knit in the round. As you can see, all rounds are shown on the chart.

 If the pattern is to be worked flat, then you will read the right-side rows from right to left, and the wrong-side rows from left to right (in the opposite direction); in order for the pattern to form as designed.

How to Read a Colourwork Chart

The Goldfish cardigan is knit in rows. You read the RS chart rows from right to left, and the WS chart rows from left to right.  Because the fabric is stockinette stitch, you will knit all stitches on RS rows, and purl all stitches on WS rows, using the colour indicated.

As fair-isle colourwork is typically stockinette stitch (knitting all sts on the RS, purling all sts on the WS), the chart key will typically describe which colours to work each stitch with, rather than the kind of stitch to work.  So when you see a square that corresponds to CC1, you will knit one stitch with contrast colour #1.

How to Read a Colourwork Chart

The chart for the North Shore pullover includes several contrast colours, as shown in the key. You will knit all stitches in the colour indicated, unless the stitch is a decrease… as shown by the symbols for k2tog and ssk in rounds 19 and 21.

How to read a Cable Chart

Cable charts may either show every row or round, or show only right side rows, with instructions for ‘keeping in pattern’ given for the WS rows (typically you would knit the knits, and purl the purls).

One special feature of cable charts are the symbols for cable turns.  Cables are worked over more than one stitch, so the symbols for cable turns are more than one stitch wide.  As you can see from the antler cable below, c4b and c4f – cable 4 back and front – are worked over 4 stitches.  Be sure to review the chart key before you cast on!

How to Read a Cable Chart

This cute free hat pattern – Antler Hat – is knit in the round, following a chart which illustrates all rounds. Each round is read from right to left.

Know somebody who’s struggling with charts?

We’ve created this tutorial for you and your friends!  Help us continue to provide these great resources by sharing with your friends, and joining the chat on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, Pinterest and Ravelry!

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Do you have a specific question or concern about reading charts?  Let us know in the comments, and we will do our best to point you in the right direction.

Charted Delicacies from Tin Can Knits:

North Shore PulloverBotany ShawlSnowflake Pullover


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