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Grand knit plans

March 18, 2020

I really love a good plan. I would say I am also pretty happy to abandon said plan if something shiny crosses my path OR if the plan, which seemed super smart while I was dreaming it up, just isn’t quite as good as I thought it was!

For 2020 (I know, it’s March already), I made myself a grand knitting plan. Really it is more of a reminder system, so that I check in with my goals and see if I am meeting them or if they need adjustment. I didn’t accomplish all of the things I intended in 2019, many because I didn’t start early enough. I don’t want that to happen again this year! If it’s written down I figure I have a better chance of success so here it goes…

Prism hat pattern
These are only 4 of the dozens of Prism hats we knit up for Mad Colour. I think I have a few of these in my future!

A Stack of Hats

A couple of years ago there was a bit of a baby boom among my close friends and family. This was a great joy to me because I love a baby cuddle! Mine had grown into children, but I was able to borrow the new babies from time to time, which suited me just fine. This year I plan to knit hats for all the growing kiddos in my circle. Kid hats are fast, fun, and are the perfect project for the precious single skeins I have collected over the years. So, this goal is very doable, I just need to keep it going through the year in order to have everyone hatted in the fall. A couple of hats a month should do it!

Clayoquot pattern hack post
Mum wears her hand knit sweaters with great pride, I am always happy to knit for her!
This is her modified Clayoquot sweater (details on the mods are here)

Love Note for Mum

Next up is knitting for my Mum. I gave her a few TCK sweater samples this year and has been wearing them non stop this winter. I am thrilled! I want to knit her a Love Note for Christmas 2020. This is another reasonable goal, as long as I don’t leave it entirely to December! I’m having a tough time choosing the colour. Mum has always loved red (also making it rather festive), but has been really into mustard lately… I think I’ll need to ask her in a slick way that won’t give away the plan.

Sweaters for the Kids

For my kids I am feeling somewhat practical… or at least as practical as a knitter can be. I mean, knitting is pretty much the slowest possible way to clothe a person right? My goal is to make each of them a sock weight sweater. Their wardrobes could use a good light-yet-warm pullover that they can throw on in the fall, layer up when it gets really cold in the winter, or wear on summer evenings when we go camping. Something simple and not too fussy. Possibly a Flax Light, or maybe a Compass sweater. Or maybe just a trio of Strange Brew sweaters to keep things interesting! Three sock weight sweaters is no small goal. These are slower knits so I’m hoping to keep them going throughout the year, with a goal of finishing all three for the beginning of October.

Marshland sweater pattern

One for Gary Too

Next on my knit list is Gary. He sort of has a Marshland sweater (it’s half his and half mine), but it’s a bit too warm for him. Worsted weight with colourwork make it very cozy and Gary runs warm. So I plan to make him a sock weight sweater too. I am thinking something dark for the main colour with a bit of colourwork in a single CC at the yoke. My plan is to work this one from the bottom up so I can get cracking and deal with the thinking part later.

Knitting Plan recap:
A whole bunch of kid hats
A Love Note for Mum
3 sock weight sweaters for the kids
1 lightweight sweater for Gary

dissatisfied child in hand-knit sweater
“What, really Alexa, that’s your plan?!”

Emily’s Commentary on Alexa’s plan

OK, so as much as I love Alexa’s inexhaustible knitting ambition, I think I need to intercede and suggest that all of the above (except the stack of hats perhaps) will NOT happen, because Alexa will, in fact, be busy designing lovely new garments and accessories for our next collection, that’s right, isn’t it, Alexa?! Hahahaha – I love a plan too, but I especially love telling my business partner when her plans are utterly preposterous and unrealistic!

Tell me your plan!

Are you a knitter with a master plan? Or do you prefer to go one project at a time? Do you make boundlessly optimistic lists like the one Alexa has described here? Any tips for keeping on track? What are your knitterly goals for 2020? Tell us all about it in the comments!

Michelle’s Matching Mountain Mists

March 5, 2020

That’s a tongue twister isn’t it?

Mountain Mist Sweater Pattern

I have been known to create knitters seemingly from thin air. When our knitwear model Emily first started dating my brother I immediately knew I wanted her to be my knitting companion. She came over for dinner one night and I was ready, armed with a beautiful skein of Handmaiden yarn, some circular needles, and the pattern for the Simple Yet Effective cowl. Well, I think we all know how that one turned out!

Mountain Mist Sweater Pattern

An auspicious beginning

When Michelle casually mentioned she would like to learn to knit I was somewhat less prepared. We were camping and I only had some sock weight yarn and a long circular on hand. No problem for Michelle! Within minutes she was magic looping and an hour later she declared that it was boring knitting a baby hat in one colour and she needed to do some colourwork to keep things interesting. I think my jaw literally dropped.

Michelle sitting in a camp chair knitting with white yarn.

I suspect Michelle really started her knitting love by modeling for us. She was willing to strike a pose (mostly on beaches) in the Stovetop hat and the Antler pullover to name a few.

Sweaters Forever!

Michelle is already a devoted sweater knitter. She has knit herself a Prairie Fire sweater, a Windswept sweater, and (of course) a Love Note. She’s also knit several accessories and a Flax Light for Henry.

Yarn Details:
Windswept Yarn: Estelle Andean DK colour ‘54906’
Flax Light Yarn: Hedgehog Fibers Twist Sock in ‘pod’
Prairie Fire Yarn: SweetGeorgia DK in ‘deep cove’
Love Note Yarn: SweetGeorgia Cashluxe Fine in ‘glacier’

Michelle picked up lace knitting immediately and she even adapted the lace pattern from the Oaken shawl for a hat!

Michelle turned away facing the mountains, with a handknit lace hat and a handknit colourwork yoke sweater.

Knit City and Matching Sweaters

This year Michelle came out to help in our booth at Knit City. She found a little time to shop too and came away with the main colour yarn to make matching Mountain Mist sweaters for herself and her son, Henry! The contrast colours came from my stash and she made the VERY best use of them!

Mountain Mist Sweater pattern

Mountain Mist yarn details

Michelle’s Sweater: Main colour is Isis Fiber Arts in ‘cedar’, contrast colours are Farmers Daughter Fibers Juicy DK in ‘ghost dance’, SweetGeorgia Cashluxe Fine (held doubled) in ‘glacier’, and one mystery skein.

Henry’s Sweater: Main colour is Cherry Pie Cottage DK 100 in ‘dusk’, contrast colours are Western-Sky-Knits Simple in ‘millpond’, Madelinetosh Sport in ‘grasshopper’, and Bumblebirch Forage in ‘Truffle’

I can’t wait to see what Michelle casts on next!!

Mountain Mist sweater pattern

Love Note For Littles

February 27, 2020

It has brought me so much joy to see ALL the Love Note sweaters, on Ravelry, on Instagram, and in person at Knit City. So many beautiful combinations of yarns and colours, on all different bodies too!

Many people in the same lace yoke sweater.
This was only Day 1! It was a heart warming experience to see all the beautiful Love Notes wander by the booth!

Love Note is not just for grown ups!

While our initial concept was definitely a grown up party sweater (you can read all about Emily’s sweater inspiration here), there’s no need to keep all the fun for ourselves! Love Note is ultra cute on kids too. I knit these two for Bodhi and her buddy Liv and they couldn’t have been more adorable picking flowers in the field!

Love Note Pattern

Bodhi was so smitten with her Love Note she has requested mittens that are “as soft as my pretty hairy sweater” (kid descriptions are the best). Check out the mittens that resulted from this request!

2 balls of yarn, one purple mohair, the other white with speckles next to a sweater laid flat.
La Bien Aimee Mohair in ‘PB&J’ and Singles in ‘neon static’

While knitters have made Love Notes in all manner of yarns, we knit up the originals and these wee ones with a strand of mohair held together with a strand of single ply fingering weight yarn.

These magical little sweaters took 1 ball of each, the single and the mohair. I made them both using skeins of beautiful La Bien Aimee yarns I couldn’t resist when we visited Aimee in Paris last year. Liv’s is made using ‘neon static’ for the single and ‘PB&J’ for the mohair. It’s amazing how the layering has made a completely new colour!

Love Note pattern

Bodhi’s Love Note is ‘rust’ on ‘rust’. Same or similar-colour tonal combinations are a ‘sure thing’ if you are worried how a more adventurous combination would come out. Learn more about blending with mohair in this post, Emily made about a million swatches to demonstrate the painterly beauty of layering colours!

Love Note Pattern

I recently cast on a Love Note sweater for Hunter too (she couldn’t miss out on all the fun!). This one is made using Hedgehog Fibers in the colourway ‘beach bunny’ for both the mohair and the single. It has a lovely wild quality layering a speckle on a speckle.

2 balls of blue speckled yarns next to a coffee cup and knitting that is only a few rows in.
Love Note Pattern

Do you knit for any little ones in your life? What are your favorite type of kid patterns to knit?

Scrappy World’s Simplest Mittens (marled edition)

February 5, 2020

Who wants to make anything twice, really?

a mismatched pair of marled mittens on a mossy wall

And is there any (really good) reason why your mittens need to match? I’ve decided that no, they don’t really need to match. And making them ‘fraternal’ rather than ‘identical’ means that I can explore colour twice, instead of just once! This makes for double fun, and helps me avoid ‘second mitten syndrome’.

Triptych Mitten Pattern
Alexa is also generally opposed to matching mittens, she couldn’t bear to knit another Triptych mitten in the exact same colours.

My cozy Waves mittens got a small hole near the fingertips. They’ve been sitting on my windowsill for the last 3 weeks, awaiting repair. I don’t want to wear them, because the hole will get worse, but it’s been COLD here in Edinburgh and I need mittens. The solution?! I couldn’t possibly do the 15 minutes of repair work. Much more sensible to cast on an exciting new pair, right? Mending can wait.

pink and red yarns and the beginning of a mitten

I have a new website to build and a MOUNTAIN of new design work due months ago, but all of a sudden it became critical that I cast on!

The World's Simplest Mittens Pattern

The World’s Simplest Mittens is a free pattern! Download it now, it’s sized from toddler on up to large adult! The best thing about this pattern, in my opinion, is that you can make them again and again, in various and sundry yarns, because we included instructions for sock weight, DK weight, Aran Weight, and even Chunky weight yarns!

little striped mittens
I made this tiny striped pair for Max years ago, and this winter Neve is wearing them.

I followed the chunky weight instructions this time. To make up this weight I held 3 strands of sock yarn together with a single strand of mohair-silk lace. I had recently seen somebody (brilliant) on Instagram do something like this, and obviously the idea had lodged in the back of my brain! Check out our tutorial on how to make marls by holding yarns together if you haven’t tried this technique (it’s FUN FUN FUN!).

I cast the first mitten in the dark, while watching a movie with the kids. I didn’t think much about the colours, and couldn’t see them properly. After a few rounds with the dark blue mohair, I thought I didn’t really like it. So I switched to the hot pink, which blended more with the other reds. The next morning, I saw the work in the light of day and thought perhaps I did really like that dark blue marled in, and decided to work the mitten tip with blues added back in.

a pink mitten, yarns, and the beginning of a green one

Once the first one was done the key was to cast on IMMEDIATLEY for mitten two. I thought I’d go a little ‘nautical’ or ‘christmas’ themed, and do one red and one green mitten. I thought they’d be kinda ugly cool. Success there!

a mismatched pair of marled mittens

Alexa and I live a continent + an ocean apart, so at times we find out what the other is working on via the other partner’s Instagram posts! Sometimes I worry when I am doing an ‘off topic’ knit, and I post about it, that Alexa will be annoyed because I’m so far behind in the design work that was due yesterday. Because of this, I was a bit anxious when I shared photos of these mittens.

But, as I revealed my mitten #procrastiknitting on Instagram, it turned out that the same weekend, she was knitting a set of marled mittens for Bodhi! So we were not only both #procrastiknitting, we were doing it at the same time, AND following the same free pattern… What a wild coincidence!

kid sized speckled mittens
Alexa made these mittens following the worsted weight instructions in @houseofalamode worsted in ‘glitter beach bum’ with a strand of @labienaimee mohair in ‘PB&J’. Delicious, eh?!

Sweaters in Review

January 9, 2020

This year I wrote a bit about starting a sweater wardrobe for myself (all the details are here). I know some of you are following my journey, so here is a review of my sweaters completed in 2019!

Spoilers: Apparently I only know how to model for photos with my hands in my pockets!

Love Note Sweater
I finished not one but TWO Love Note sweaters this year!

Full disclosure, I started some of these sweaters before 2019… but they all were finished in 2019!

In a fit of finishing I managed to bang out that last sleeve, block and weave in ends, and I even started AND finished a couple, all in the same year. Since my personal knitting is often pushed aside in favour of design work, knits for my kids, and the occasional gift knit, that is a real feat!

Cartography

Cartography sweater pattern

So, I have a feeling I’m going to write this a lot, but I think my favourite sweater I knit this year is my Cartography sweater. The pattern calls for DK weight yarn, but I REALLY wanted to use Spincycle Dream State and Stone Wool Cormo, so I knit a size L, but at a gauge of 4.5 sts per inch. At the new gauge it ended up around a 51″ finished chest, which is 3-4″ of positive ease for me. Check out our tutorial on knitting a pattern at a different gauge!

Cartography sweater pattern

I really loved working with the Spincycle yarn, I always do! There is something so fun about the subtle slow changes from dark brown to lighter brown and back again. I’m not a terribly fussy knitter (as you may know by now!), so my sleeves are not a perfect match and no, it doesn’t bother me at all. If you ARE a fussy knitter, it is possible to make your sleeves match (approximately) by starting the ball at a specific point.

This sweater is oh so cozy too! The soft Cormo feels great against the skin, and the colourwork makes this sweater doubly thick. I wore it in the evenings on a chilly spring camping trip and it was delightful to be so warm and toasty. I was mocked for wearing a mostly white sweater on a camping trip, but I managed to keep it ketchup, syrup, and marshmallow free!

Two women standing together in matching sweaters.

At Knit City this year my friend Daphne showed up in EXACTLY THE SAME SWEATER! It is the greatest of compliments when a knitter wants to use the same pattern AND yarn, plus when I wasn’t around she told everyone I was the one who copied her…

Love Note (1 and 2)

Love Note sweater pattern

Without a doubt the most popular TCK pattern of 2019 was Love Note. When Emily first explained this design concept I wasn’t really convinced. I was skeptical I would like the mohair or the crop, it seemed like maybe it just wasn’t the sweater for me. But then I knit one. It knit up in a flash (big needles and a crop make for some FAST knitting) and soon I slipped on my soft, fuzzy, floaty sweater. It was a dream! I paired with a casual dress and wore it all over Paris. It is light but warm, the lace is so beautiful, I was hooked.

Love Note sweater pattern

While we were in Paris we visited Aimee of La Bien Aimee, whose yarn I used for my Love Note and who modelled the Love Note sweater for us. While we were at the shop I picked up yarn to make myself a Love Note Christmas sweater. With Emily’s help I chose ‘The Shire’ in both a single ply and a mohair – LBA merino singles and mohair silk. The mohair was a fair bit darker, which makes for a lovely dark halo and the single underneath shines through. I finished this one in December and was so pleased to wear it to holiday parties! If you’re curious about how to choose colours for your Love Note, check out our tutorial on blending mohair with other yarns.

Love Note sweater pattern

As if 2 Love Note sweaters wasn’t enough, I impulsively cast on my third in December. I wanted to try out a slightly wilder mohair with a neutral underneath. This ULTRA fun mohair (the colourway is ‘vintage ornaments’, a perfect name) is from House of a la Mode, as is the very subtly speckled yarn underneath (colourway is ‘into the woods’). I can’t wait to wear this one too!

A hand holding up some knitting in progress in front of a Christmas tree.

Penny

Penny sweater pattern

Penny is the sweater I designed for our mini spring collection. It has ALL the lace, and a v-neck which I’m really enjoying right now. I loved knitting with this La Bien Aimee Merino DK in ‘blush’. While the overall effect is a subtle warm neutral colour, a closer look reveals a rainbow of speckles! This makes not one, but TWO cropped sweaters this year.

Penny sweater pattern
Almanac sweater pattern

Almanac

When we wrapped on Strange Brew I had an undying urge to cast on ALL of the sweaters. I stole Gary’s Marshland (okay, I suppose we really share it) and I finished a Mountain Mist sweater last year, but that still left a lot of sweaters to be knit!

I worked up a whole family of Northward hats this year and really enjoyed working with Brooklyn Tweed Quarry. I didn’t want those leftovers to go to waste so I whipped up this Almanac yoke with the leftovers and a couple of skeins I had in my stash. Then I chose the lovely deep and dark Lazulite for the body, from far away it looks almost black, it’s such a dark blue, but up close it has lighter flecks of teal that steal my heart.

Almanac sweater pattern

This yarn is solidly a chunky weight yarn, so I worked this one up on 6mm needles. At my new gauge of 3.5 sts per inch, I knit the size ML to get the desired 51.5″ chest. At my new gauge the yoke came out a little extra long which I love for this sweater. It is really an oven, meant for me to wear as an outer layer. In Vancouver it rarely gets properly cold, so my bulky Almanac and a puffy vest are all I need most of the time!

What’s next?

I have my third Love Note on the needles so I’ll finish that one up first in 2020. As for wardrobe additions, I want to finish one sock weight sweater for myself this year. Sock weight is something that is sorely missing in my sweater collection, and I think it would get a lot of wear. Em and I are cooking up something new so I’ll be knitting myself a few of our top secret new designs too!

Too Much

December 19, 2019

Sometimes (*ahem* often) I am too much. I am a person filled with big ideas, and rarely the sense to assess the time reality of them. My determination, and my ability to stay up late into the night, usually sees me through, so I learn nothing and continue onwards. I know you all love me for this quality though, right?! It is this ‘too much’ that brought Tin Can Knits into being!

Antler Pullover Pattern
Hunter is developing her own fashion sense and this black sweater fits!

I set out this year to NOT make the kids a new sweaters in the fall. They are lucky enough to have suitable wardrobes to keep them warm, and their sweaters from last year either still fit, or enough have moved down the line, keeping everyone well sweatered. BUT… when Hunter requested a black sweater and I happened to have a sweater amount of Brooklyn Tweed Quarry in my office, it seemed reasonable to knit one sweater.

Antler Pullover Pattern

Hunter’s sweater

Since I had this black Quarry on hand, I had to make some modifications to the Antler pullover. My gauge was 3.5 sts per inch, so I knit the 2-4 year size in order to get a 29.75″ chest measurement (that leaves Hunter with a little room to grow). I then customized the lengths to suit Hunter. For more details, we have a tutorial that describes how to knit a garment at a different gauge. On this Antler pullover, I got carried away while cabling, so there is an extra Antler cable that makes the yoke a smidge deeper, but no one is complaining.

a picture begins to form…

Once Hunter’s sweater was done a picture started to form in my mind. Coordinated black sweaters (the other two were knit long ago) and perhaps… perhaps they needed hats to top it all off? You see how this happened right?

Bodhi is wearing the Gramps sweater I made for Jones a few years ago and Jones just barely fit into the Tenderheart sweater I made for him 2 years ago. Tenderheart will pass on to Bodhi next year, and Bodhi’s Gramps will pass on to cousin Ellis. The knits get a lot of love around here!!

Gather Hat Pattern

I had JUST enough of the beautiful Rainbow Heirloom Sweater in ‘auld lang syne’ to make Jones a Gather hat. I couldn’t just let that magical colourway go to waste now could I? I whipped up a Beloved for Bodhi in Brooklyn Tweed Arbor in ‘firebrush’, an excellent bright red, I fear she will soon think herself too big for a bonnet!

Beloved Bonnet pattern
Cartography Hat Pattern

For Hunter’s hat I went over the top. From my colourful stash of Arbor I pulled out the most festive colour scheme and away I went! I could knit the Cartography hat (and sweater for that matter) over and over and never get tired. I love the tiny patterns and the changing yarns. It brings me joy to knit it every time.

And so, this picture was created. They are dressed in warm woollies, made with all their mother’s love. Every gift will have this photo on top this year, but seeing these three, with big smiles, in knits I made them is a big gift to me.

Quick Hats!

December 13, 2019

Here in Vancouver it takes a little longer to get properly cold. November is usually coat weather, umbrellas are definitely in use, but it’s not REALLY properly cold. December is when it when winter shows itself here on the west coast. I find the holidays and ‘quick, it’s cold and I need a hat!’ seasons are one and the same! Suddenly everyone is begging for a warm woolly to get them through, and you know me, happy to oblige any knitterly request! Here are a few of my favourite fast hats, in case this happens to you too.

Snap Hat Pattern
Snap hats are definitely potato chip knitting, you can’t knit just one!

Snap

First up is Snap, this is my favourite at this time of year for 2 reasons:
1. It is FAST, knit up on US 10.5 / 6.5mm needles.
2. It is an excellent use for those tiny little balls left over from other projects.

Snap is a perfect playground for experimentation with marling and fades. If you haven’t tried holding yarns together before we have a tutorial for that here, check it out! I’ve been so smitten with mohair this year (Em really convinced me with the Love Note sweater), I’ll definitely be using up those tiny leftover balls from my various sweaters in a Snap!

Snap Hat Pattern
Lily just loved the hot pink at the top!

Northward

Next is the Northward. I have been working on a number of these this year. This hat is also worked on big needles (US 10.5 / 6.5mm), I used Brooklyn Tweed Quarry for these woolly delights! Northward is a free pattern and a great introduction to cables if you haven’t tried them yet (and there is a cable tutorial here to help you along!).

Honeypie

For the bulkiest of hats I always enjoy Honeypie. With bulky yarn (these ones were knit up in Julie Asselin Yotta), AND cables, AND a super ginormous pompom, it’s the perfect ‘too much’ hat. I love a little over-the-top’ when I can get it, as you probably know!

Honeypie Hat Pattern
You gotta love a sister-in-law who dyes her hair to match her hat!
Honeypie Hat pattern
Bodhi is so little here!

So, what are you knitting up for the winter ahead? Are you whipping up quick hats? Or do you slow down and start on a sweater? Perhaps some woolly mittens?

Are you knitting up some hats? Share your progress with us on Instagram with #TinCanKnits #HoneypieHat #NorthwardHat or #SnapHat

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