After the birth of my new little one just over 3 months ago, I needed some bread and butter knitting; something simple and satisfying. So I cast on a gigantic Bonfire Blanket in Wool and the Gang’s Crazy Sexy Wool, a delicious super chunky wool. It took a little longer than anticipated, but I cast off this bulky bad boy just before heading home for a summer trip to Vancouver Island!
crazy sexy wool giveaway!
Wanna win yarn? Wool and the Gang are having a giveaway – it’s running until midnight, Sunday August 21st 2016 – so enter here for a chance to win some Crazy Sexy Wool!
UPDATE >>>>> The contest has been completed, and Anna is the lucky winner of 3 skeins of Crazy Sexy Wool! Enjoy the luscious chunky knitting! Thanks to all who entered.
Bonfire Project Details:
Pattern: Bonfire Blanket
Sizing: The completed blanket measures 74” long and 54” wide, I worked a total of 7 pattern repeats. For this uber-bulky version, I achieved a garter stitch gauge of 6.5 sts & 10 rows in 4″, on 15mm needles. The cable pattern repeat measured 9.5″ long and 18″ wide.
Yarn: Wool and the Gang Crazy Sexy Wool in ‘magic mint’
Needles: While the pattern calls for 10mm needles, I used 15mm to achieve an ideal drape with this yarn, which is even bulkier than the yarn the pattern was designed in.
A cozy and stunning addition to my home
I love this knit! Making something super bulky like this for the first time, I found the speed at which the knit progressed very satisfying. I now have a really beautiful blanket to keep the whole family cozy on cold Scottish winter nights, which I am sure will come again (too soon!). For complete project details, check out my Ravelry project page.
Our cat Willow loves the new blanket too!
dog days of summer… and some easy little take-along knits
Putting super-chunky blankets aside for the moment… it’s HOT here on Vancouver Island where I’m enjoying a summer vacation with my family, hitting the beach every day.
Alexa and her crew are adventuring through the Rockies; she’s just knit a Banff hat on the way to Banff… of course!
If you’re heading out to the cottage, or settling in to your favourite camp spot for these last lazy dog days of summer, we’ve got some littler (lighter) project suggestions for you! If it’s too hot to knit during the day (what?), you still may enjoy a couple leisurely hours after the sun has set, needles clicking while you laugh and joke with family and friends.
I love fair isle yoked sweaters. The simplicity in the body of the sweater is great relaxing knitting, and the yoke is that pop of colour and fun that make the finished garment a piece to treasure. I’ve knit a few colourwork yokes over the years and I’m definitely not finished yet!
Swatching for a Colourwork Yoke
For the Paintbox KAL I am working on the Christmas in July sweater by Tanis Lavallee and I am loving it so far! Part of the challenge for this KAL was to swatch in 3 different colourways, so I thought I would offer up my usual method of swatching colourwork: I knit a hat.
I find when I knit fair isle back and forth (right side, then wrong side) it looks too sloppy, so I prefer to swatch in the round. I also prefer to use a circular rather than double points, it gives me a more accurate idea of my gauge, which is important if I am knitting a sweater. So, I need to cast on at least enough stitches to get around a 16″ circular needle, why not just knit a hat? Turn a swatch into a great gift!
This method of swatching may seem like overkill but it really ensures that your sweater will come out just the way you want it. We have 3 free hat patterns, the Clayoquot toque, i heart rainbows hat, and Barley, that will give you an idea of the number of stitches to cast on for each size and you can just use your main colour to do the decreases.
For example, if I am swatching in a worsted weight I can look at the Barley pattern, see I need to cast on about 78 stitches for a child size hat, work the ribbing, then change to my fair isle pattern (you may need a little increase to make the stitch count divisible by your pattern repeat). I work the fair isle pattern until my piece measures about 6″ from the cast on, then I work the decreases as written (if you needed an increase round for your pattern repeat you will need to work that number of extra decreases in this round). That’s it! Now you have a lovely swatch hat. Give it a bath, a block, and you can measure for gauge, as well as having tried out your colour combo. For your sweater you can make any necessary adjustments.
My Christmas in July
While I would usually go for a swatch hat, for Christmas in July I just cast on a yoke for the smallest size (but in DK weight yarn rather than the fingering suggested). For the wee ones a yoke isn’t really that much more knitting than a hat so I decided to wing it. I can always rip back the yoke if I need to swap out a colour or two.
I usually find it hard to hit on the perfect colour palette on the first try (unless, perhaps, I am copycatting the original), so swatches are a necessity for colourwork! However, I’m finding the fair isle pattern for Christmas in July so forgiving, I already love my first two ‘swatches’ (with a few rows ripped back along the way).
High Contrast or Blend?
Sometimes a yoke calls for high contrast, like the North Shore I recently finished. You really want to be able to distinguish the trees and mountains. The waves don’t necessarily need to be as high contrast, but you can see the difference between my recent version and the original.
For the Christmas in July though, having higher or lower contrast really just gives a different effect. My warm colour yoke has a ‘blendy’ effect, while my blues and greens give different, more distinct, shapes.
I’m having so much fun with this pattern, I can’t wait to cast on my third swatch!
If you want to join in the KAL just check in with our Rav group here and hashtag your progress on your favourite media spot with #paintboxKAL
More colourful knits from TCK:
When Seattle knitwear designers Andi Satterlund and Erin Birnel approached us about their new digital magazine, Stranded, we knew we wanted to take part. Stranded not only has inspired designs but includes cross stitch, a recipe, and articles as well. So, in their second issue, The Mild Weather issue, there are 2 new Tin Can Knits patterns, Elwha and Twisp. The articles in this issue feature a few of my favorite people too, Caitlin Ffrench and the fine ladies at Spincycle Yarns!
This issue was inspired by one of our favourite places, the good old PNW (that’s Pacific Northwest folks). Rainy forests, drizzly beaches, and mountains always on the skyline. With images of ski lodges and winter days dancing in our heads Emily and I designed Twisp and Elwha.
Elwha is a cabled pullover, knit from the bottom up. I wanted to create something with a timeless feel, a sweater that would be at home in the ski lodge, the pub, or even on the slopes. Don’t picture modern skis though, think extra long wooden skis (I think my Dad still has a pair in the garage somewhere….), and whooshing down the hill in woollies instead of Gortex. This sweater says hot chocolate by the fire!
The yarn is one of my new faves, YOTH yarns Father, a 100% rambouillet yarn that is light and lofty but oh so warm, it is really the perfect sweater yarn. The stitch definition let those cables shine! Elwha is a unisex sweater, perfect for the men in your life too.
As you may have guessed, we are loving colourwork lately! Any chance to combine lovely yarn and multiple colours is a win in our book. Twisp is a lightweight hat (a must for fall in PNW) knit up in Quince and Co Chickadee. It has a generous brim, perfect for hat versatility, worn with either a flipped brim or nice and slouchy. It is a great hat to play with colour, using just 2 or a whole rainbow!
Each Stranded issue is available for purchase for just 1 year so get it while it’s hot!
Other lovely patterns from The Mild Weather Issue
Paintbox: Playing with Colour
With a brief hiatus in the land of bread and butter knitting, it is time to return to the Year of Something New! I propose an exploration of colour. Emily and I have been madly working on a colourful new project and we are immersed in swatches and colourful knits so we want to encourage you to do the same! How about a KAL to keep us all motivated and inspired?
What is the Painbox KAL?: For this exploration of colour you must choose a pattern involving an element of colour (it does not need to be a TCK pattern), eg. fair isle, slip stitches, stripes, etc. (not just a single colour), and you must swatch it a minimum of 3 ways (three different colour combos). Even seasoned knitters need to swatch when it comes to colourwork!
Dates: Starts today (July 28th) and ends Thursday September 8th (all entries for prizes must be in by Midnight PST on September 8th)
How to join: To join our KAL simply go to the Rav group here. There will be a spot to post your swatch pics and a spot to post your finished objects, and, of course, a spot to chat with knitters about all the colourful things you want to accomplish.
Swatching and colour
Why the swatches? Because (gets up on soap box) swatching is essential to colourwork. I have ripped back numerous yokes, started over many hats, and discovered oodles of stripe combination that just didn’t work. Swatching is a great way to try out some new combinations, perhaps a little bolder or more subtle than your usual. It is the year of something new after all! Do don’t be a wuss and get ready to do some swatching!
For this KAL I will be knitting the gorgeous Christmas in July sweater by Tanis Lavallee, especially fitting since the KAL starts in July right? I think it will be for Bodhi, I’m kind of winging the sizing. The pattern is written for a fingering weight yarn but I’m going to be a rebel and use DK. If I knit the second size it should come out around a Bodhi size, maybe with some room to grow. The lengths are easily adjusted so there is no problem there!
Wondering where to start for some colour inspiration? I always like to check out the Ravelry projects for any pattern I am starting, sometimes there is a kindred knitter who has already worked up a colour combo I adore! Another route is to create a Pinterest board of your favorite colourful pairings to reference. This is the one I created for my Christmas in July sweater.
And so I dive into the stash, ready to make some bold colour decisions, and invite you to do the same! To follow along on your favorite social media spot, just use the hashtag #tckpaintbox
More colourful knits from TCK:
Dreaming of the North
For some time now I have been dreaming of a holiday in the north. I often visit the Canadian Rockies, which are north from Vancouver, but not the kind of north I am dreaming of. I want to see the wild north of Alaska and the Yukon. My kids were a bit too little to attempt a road trip up the coast this year, but soon, soon.
So, with visions of the great white north dancing in my head, Dotty from the NetLoft, a lovely shop in Cordova, Alaska, asked if I would create a design for their Fiber and Friends Retreat . Of course I said yes! I was inspired by the photographs of their surroundings as well as The Cordova Gansey Project, a project of their creation. They are aiming to bring back the lovely woolly gansey’s for the modern day fisherfolk, fishing for Copper River Salmon near them.
The design I came up with, Bowline, was inspired by vintage Gansey sweaters, knit up for fishermen to keep them warm at sea. 2 of Dotty’s children are modern fisherfolk, fishing for salmon off the coast of Alaska. Her daughter, Nelly, has a beautiful website for here and a great Instagram account: driftersfish, both full of inspiring photos of her life on the water.
Bowline is a simple textured hat with a big brim, perfect for folding over and keeping out the icy Pacific winds. Sized for wee fisherfolk and big! It is a great hat to knit up in that single skein of woolly wool to create a hat to keep out the cold and last. I used the NetLoft’s Alaska Fisherman 12 Ply, a hearty worsted/aran weight yarn in lovely natural shades.
Pattern: Bowline by Tin Can Knits
Yarn: 80 (90, 110, 130, 150) yards aran weight yarn (samples shown in The Net Loft Alaska Fisherman 12 ply in ‘carharts’ and ‘natural deep’)
Needles: US #8 / 5mm 16” circular and DPNs (or as required to meet gauge)
The Cordova Gansey Project:
The hope and desire of the “Cordova Gansey Project” is to educate and promote the making and wearing of hand knit wool gear and to reintroduce “fishermen sweaters” to the active and present commercial fishing industry, especially the next generation youth who are transitioning into leadership and ownership, as well as for those whose outdoor lifestyle would benefit from wool handmade garments custom knit for them by loved ones.
The sentiment of knitting to keep your loved ones warm really resonates with me. I have always loved knitting gifts and one of my very first projects was a blanket, over 6 feet long to accommodate my tall Dad, who often found blankets too short for him. I love the feeling of putting a hand knit wool sweater on my wee ones to keep them warm when we spend time outdoors near the ocean. I feel there is a gansey design or 2 in Tin Can Knit’s future!
It all started with Maryann Moodie. I can’t remember if I first heard her on the Woolful podcast or through Tanis of Tanis Fiber Arts but I was instantaneously and absolutely captivated. Her weavings have a simplicity and a vintage quality that I love. Who knew triangles could be so amazing?! Her colour palettes are right up my alley, and I was not surprised to find that they include many colours from Tanis. I knew I wanted to learn to weave so a few clicks later a hand loom was headed my way!
Like many things I have learned to do over the years I figured I would just read the manual and when in doubt there was always youtube right? Well, while I did manage to warp the loom and get started but I felt I could use a little help.
When Lucy Poskitt (her Instagram account is amazing, check it out here) was offering a weaving class at Studio 126 in Vancouver it seemed the fates had aligned! It was a fabulous class (including Rain City Knits yarn!), and I loved playing with different yarns in a new format. I finished this little weaving and Hunter immediately claimed it and hung it above her bed.
Along with my desire to learn to weave, I have also long wanted to try my hand at a woolly tattoo. I first saw this beautiful embroidery style when the incomparable Tif (aka Dotty Angel) ‘tattooed’ Maize mitts and posted the picture to Instagram. That was a while ago indeed! I asked her if she would work her woolly magic on a pair for me and the results were spectacular! (those are mine, the blue ones top right)
Along with lovely woolly tattoos, Tif also has a wildly popular dress patterns from Simplicity. There is something magical about Tif. Her crafty aura, her colour choices, her turn of phrase….and it is all more magical in person! Of course, as a crafter, I wanted to try a woolly tattoo of my very own. Last Sunday I hit the road VERY early for Tolt Yarn and Wool and had a chance to combine weaving and embroidery with Tif and her daughter Meg (Prideofmice)!
The weaving was done on a vintage picture frame re-purposed into a loom. I wove a background fabric with various black/dark grey yarns, and then it was time to tattoo! There were lazy daisies, fly stitches, and couching, I was so excited I don’t think I looked up or opened my mouth for an hour (very unlike me). For a little extra woolly tattoo inspiration, you can check the Pinterest board I created too!
When I described the class to a friend she exclaimed that it was possibly the most hipster thing she could imagine: hand weaving and embroidery on a vintage picture-frame-turned-loom, and learned from the small batch, artisanal creator herself. I am so pleased with the results (imperfections and all!) and I will definitely be creating more in the future!
Patterns calling for a woolly tattoo
I am absolutely loving some bread and butter knitting!
With a tiny new baby, there’s only a bit of time for knitting. When the majority of your time is spent feeding, fussing and bum-wiping, grab yarn that you love and choose a simple project that will grow quickly for maximum relaxation and knitting satisfaction. On those days when it feels near impossible to get that baby to stop crying and sleep, adding a couple rows of buttery soft squishy garter stitch to a blanket can lift your spirits and return your feeling of accomplishment!
For my bread and butter, I chose Bonfire, a super-bulky blanket which combines garter stitch goodness with a single luscious cable to keep things interesting. I’m about a quarter of the way through, and loving the way the fabric knits up.
Since Alexa designed the Bonfire Blanket, I’ve been itching to make one, both for the joy of the process, and to add a gorgeous and cozy blanket to my home! Never one to knit something EXACTLY like the original, I decided I wanted something a little grander so I went with Wool and the Gang Crazy Sexy Wool in ‘magic mint’. Who wouldn’t love such a bright and beautiful blanket to welcome them home?
I’m not sure yet how many repeats of the 20-row chart I will be able to do with my 20 balls, but all the details will be posted on our Ravelry project page here when I’m done. Watch the blog, because once I’ve finished there’ll be a chance to win some luscious yarn of your own from Wool and the Gang!
What’s your bread and butter?
Socks, hats or baby sweaters, most knitters have a basic project that they come back to again and again for the comfort and pleasure of the simple knit. What’s your bread and butter?
More bread and butter blankets from TCK: