The start of the year is a time of grand beginnings and big energy for me. I set ambitious goals and cast on bold new projects!
Thus I have begun a new blanket design. While we generally don’t share our designs until they are off the drawing board and into the books, this time I wanted to make an exception and illustrate what my design process is like.
Last fall I launched my hand-dyed yarn line, Rainbow Heirloom. All the glorious rainbows I have been creating in the dye studio have definitely been impacting my design work. I am inspired to create them and they, in turn, inspire new designs!
Design Intent: a simple, satisfying, striped rainbow
So with this in mind I began to make swatches, just playing with different ways to stripe. I tried the classic chevron, simple crochet, and alternating colours in a simple lace pattern. The final swatch, a clear winner in my mind, creates a clear, bubbly and bouncy shape. The white main colour makes a nice crisp line between the coloured waves, and the form of the lace is unique, modern, and playful.
Another design question that had to be answered up-front for this blanket was the order in which to knit the stripes, and which colours to be included. Since I was working with my Rainbow Heirloom blanket kits in mind, I decided to use the ‘Sunshine and Storm’ rainbow, and work all 21 colours into the blanket. So I pulled out my mini-skeins, and began to play.
Having knit 1/3 of my blanket (6 colours… you can see the results!), I realized that the minor adjustments I had made to the pattern after knitting the swatch weren’t as brilliant as I had hoped. When designing I strive for perfection, because the hundreds of knitters who knit our designs deserve our best work.
So I’ve just now cast on again, with a small adjustment to the striping. But this is an addictive knit, every stripe is a new colour so you always want to knit just one more!
More about the knit design process
We have some other posts about the design process, and about other designers:
Are you ambitious at the start of the year?
We have laid down another big goal this year – #TCK12sweaters2015 – Alexa and I each plan to knit a total of 12 sweaters this year… and we’d love to have you join in! For more info check out this blog post (there’s prizes!) and tag your posts on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, and Ravelry with #TCK12sweaters2015!
Other blanket knits from TCK:
Last year my dear friend Anna (of Baaad Annas) finished a sweater each month. One year, 12 sweaters.
This seemed like too wild an idea last year, when Emily and I were both pregnant and we were working on Road Trip, but this year (even though have many designs in the works and 4 kiddies between us) it seems like a great idea! Right? So the question is: who’s with us?!
Whether you are a regular sweater knitting or working on your first, 12 sweaters in a year is a challenge! We have decided that finishing pieces already in the works definitely counts.
We are knitting some sweaters for little people and some for big. Emily saw this image I posted on Instagram… and it inspired her to knit another Flax for Max. She had already knit this one, and this one… but at 6 months old little Max has just outgrown ALL of his sweaters, so Em whipped up a new, larger Flax for him in just 2 evenings!
This wee grey Flax is for an upcoming addition to the TCK family, as our model Emily is pregnant! Bodhi is happily modelling this gift for my niece or nephew. So we each have completed our first sweaters of 2015 already!
It’s knitting, so there really aren’t any rules. 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 the all 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.
What do you say to a few prizes from TCK? The rules for you are loose, if you show us 12 sweater pics, finished in 2015 (started whenever) we will enter you for a draw! For each TCK sweater you knit, you will get an extra entry. Just email us a link to your Ravelry page, your Instagram feed, or attach your 12 pics and you will be entered to win one of the following prizes.
1. A sweater’s worth of yarn from Rainbow Heirloom.
2. A signed copy of our latest book Road Trip.
3. The complete Tin Can Knits ebook library.
TCK Sweaters I will knit this year include:
I am looking forward to teaching at the lovely shop Baa Ram Ewe this February, at both their Harrogate and Leeds locations! Sign up now, there are a few places left to learn about chart reading and lace in the Vivid Blanket and the Low Tide cardigan classes.
- Vivid Blanket Class – Harrogate shop – Feb 11 @ 1-4 pm
- New Season Launch Party – Harrogate shop – Feb 11 @ 6-8 pm
- Low Tide Cardigan Class – Leeds shop – Feb 12 @ 1-4 pm
- New Season Launch Party – Leeds shop – Feb 12 @ 6-8 pm
If you can’t make it to the classes, sign up (it’s free) to come along to one of the New Season Launch Parties – I will be bringing samples from our latest book Road Trip, and I love to sign books and chat knitting! Baa Ram Ewe is offering exclusive discounts on their new yarns, and goodie bags too… be sure to sign up to secure your spot.
Baa Ram Ewe has a strong focus on promoting local designers and the UK fibre industry, and have created a very special 100% British yarn called Titus. It’s a scrumptious blend of 30% UK alpaca, 20% bluefaced leicester, and 50% wensleydale longwool, and comes on subtle and rich colours evocative of the Yorkshire landscape where the yarn is spun. Best of all, it’s an excellent match for some of my favourite lacy Tin Can Knits patterns!
What are you knitting this year?
Planning to learn a new technique or complete your first sweater? We have a wide range of excellent in-depth tutorials and irresistible free patterns – perhaps they will inspire you to try something new this year. Let us know what you think on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, Pinterest or Ravelry, and be sure to tell your knitting friends too!
Other patterns to pair with Titus 4-ply
Like many parents I love reading to my kiddies. We snuggle close and read about caterpillars who eat too much, kids who have to pee, and bears of all kinds! Lately Hunter wants to do the ‘reading’ (to the endless annoyance of Jones) and Bodhi wants to eat the books (to the endless annoyance of everyone). They have their favorites, including the book The Mitten by Jan Brett.
If you aren’t familiar with the story of The Mitten, it is about a grandson who begs his grandmother to knit him a pair of white mittens. Grandma warns him they will get lost in the snow, and that is the first thing that happens of course! An improbably number of woodland creatures crawl into the mitten and when a mouse crawls on bear’s nose he sneezes! Out the animals come, tossing the mitten in the air for the boy to find.
I like the idea of toys based on books. It brings the story to life in a new way. We already had some of the woodland creatures but for Christmas I filled out the collection and knit them a rather large mitten to accommodate them all!
I kind of winged the mitten. It was worsted weight yarn and I cast on 56 sts with smaller needles, ribbed for a bit, changed to larger needles, did a thumb gusset, etc. just like in the Maize mittens. It came out pretty big, I think an adult large mitten would have done just fine!
The kids loved it (even Bodhi, she is really enjoying chewing on the hare), they pile all the animals into the mitten while I read, or they make up funny voices and stories for the animals. Story time is always my favorite!
What are your favorite children’s stories? Have you read Extra Yarn?
More mittens from TCK
For an epic start to 2015, Alexa and I packed up our families and headed to Tofino, on the west coast of Vancouver Island. We drove through the frosty mountains, cooked a seafood feast, and soaked in the hot tub watching grey green waves curl and break on the sandy shore. It was a great way to start the new year… and an inspiring place to plan new designs and special events for the upcoming year!
Upcoming Tin Can Knits Events
- This Friday, January 9th come meet us in person in Vancouver – we’re having a book signing at Urban Yarns from 7 to 9 pm.
- If you’re in Yorkshire in February, sign up for a class with Emily at Baa Ram Ewe in Harrogate or Leeds – February 11th and 12th 2015. Or come along to the evening events to say hello and check out the Tin Can Knits samples, and lovely Titus yarn in person!
- At the Edinburgh Yarn Festival, March 14th and 15th 2015, you can try on samples, get your books signed, and shop Rainbow Heirloom yarns in person too! Emily is also teaching 2 classes… sign up now to secure your place!
- To spend the weekend with Alexa, check out the Fraser Valley Knitter’s Retreat at Springbrooke Retreat Centre on July 3rd to 5th, 2015.
- You can check out classes with Alexa at Black Sheep Yarns in Port Moody or 88 Stitches in Langley this Winter
New Years in Tofino
Tofino is one of both Alexa and my favourite places in the world. Our business actually started there – on a road trip we took back in 2010, when Alexa and I were walking the beach and she said “we should write a knitting book”… and I agreed! A year or so later 9 Months of Knitting was born, and our partnership was established.
This trip, with toddlers leading the way, we rambled along the beach and through the wet wild rainforest. There were impromptu science lessons while gazing in tidal pools, lovely family photoshoots, and lots of warm woolies required!
Do you have New Year’s traditions?
Designs inspired by Tofino!
This year I had the bright idea that my children NEEDED Christmas sweaters. Nope, they could not wear any of the sweaters I have already knit them, they needed awesome new coordinated set of sweaters. It’s not the first time I’ve wanted kiddies to wear matching sweaters, especially for their epic Santa pics, you can see Hunter and Jones’ first Santa pic together here, and this it the one from last year:
This is the first year having all of my 3 babies together on Santa’s knee, it was time to go big! I decided on a black and white-ish theme this year, just to mix things up. I originally wanted this to be a stash busting project but that lasted about 5 minutes. I picked up some YOTH and Hazel Knits at Knit Fit in Seattle while I was there and while I had 1 skein of Tosh Vintage in Farmhouse White, I needed 1 more…and although I thought I had a skein of Graphite, I didn’t so I had to get that too.
Pattern: Flax…sort of. Bodhi’s sweater is a fingering weight version of Flax without the garter on the arms. Pattern coming in the new year!
Yarn: Hazel Knits Artisan Sock in ‘quill’ and ‘nekkid’ (hilarious colour name)
And so, this lovely Santa picture was made. I have a feeling they will hate this ‘matchy’ picture for a few years when they are older, but hopefully they will look back 80 years from now and know that their mummy loved them and thought matching sweaters were hilarious.
Keep up with TCK :::
Patterns perfect for next year’s Christmas Sweaters:
“Oh the weather outside is frightful… but the fire is so delightful…”
The thing I remember most vividly from the house where I grew up is the wind in the trees on stormy afternoons. My folks still live here, in Black Creek, a small community on Vancouver Island. Out the window you can tall Douglas fir trees, and when the wet and windy southeasters blow up the Strait of Georgia these big old monster trees wave back and forth while the rain tap, tap, taps on the skylight in the living room. The wood stove glows, keeping the house warm and toasty, and on miserable days like these we just stay inside and eat soup and crusty bread, drink irish coffee, chat, and knit!
Needless to say, while visiting the sodden West Coast I am very much enjoying #knityourlist – a super epic knit list that Alexa and I are working our way through as we count down to Christmas day. Because designing is my job, I don’t often find the time to make knitted gifts for my family, but this year Alexa and I have taken on a pile of delicious projects. We wrote all about it in this blog post.
Em’s #knityourlist progress:
I am not stressing or fussing… if the projects don’t get done on time, it will be fine. So far, by day 8 / 12 I have completed 2 of my projected 6 projects… hmmm looking at the math I may not get the whole lot done!
Alexa’s #knityourlist pile of squishy goodness:
Alexa is a star when it comes to whipping out beautiful finished knits! Despite working her buns off and taking care of 3 children under 4, she seems to accomplish twice the knitting that I do… I don’t know how she fits it all in, but I’m glad to have such a hard-working business partner!
So far she’s made a Greystone Hat in Sweet Fiber Merino Twist Worsted in ‘winter’, an adorable little Prairie Fire pullover in Tanis Fiber Arts Green Label Aran in ‘grapefruit’, and the cutest little tiny Flax socks in Sweet Fiber Cashmere Aran.
On top of those projects, she has just knit up a new design for adorable boot toppers!
Have you #knityourlist yet?
Wanna follow our last-minute knitting on Instagram and Facebook? You can watch our progress day by day, and share your photos and projects too… we’d love to see what you’re whipping out in time for the big day. Just tag your posts with #knityourlist
Cute FREE hat patterns that you can knit up in no time!