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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

These Are A Few Of My Favourite Things

November 28, 2019

I thought today I would share a little about myself, and my journey to where I’m at now, a 37-year-old knitting pattern designer, partner, learner, and mum of two. You have all long had a glimpse of Alexa’s and my life through this blog, our books, and our social media (we aren’t very private people). Here are a few things you may not know.

After studying architecture, and working the field for a few years, I decided to step sideways into a design niche oh-so-much less serious. As many frustrated emails as a pattern error may generate, as much angst as knitters feel about an ill-fitting jumper, it is still knitting. In my mind it doesn’t compare with the levity of tonnes of building materials, the coordination of a wide array of stakeholder all balanced against uncertain construction costs in a volatile economy.

Lush Cardigan
The Lush Cardigan was one of my early designs.

stepping into knitting pattern design

So I took the plunge, taking as much as I could glean from my design and technical training along with me for the ride. Alexa and I developed designs, planned our first book, worked part-time jobs to pay the bills, and as our business formed, Alexa began having babies.

I should take an aside here to tell you all that I feel strongly that parenting is NOT the be-all-and-end-all of a person’s life. Until I turned 30, my plan was to skip the massive time-energy-creativity-attention sinkhole of children and instead pursue other intriguing adventures in life. To this day I am inspired and intrigued by people who do not become parents and spend their energies on projects other than their own children. I also understand that although I felt I had the power to choose (a gigantic privilege), for many, parenthood is not really a choice, and I see immense amount of unjust stigma around that as well.

While not having kids was the plan in my 20’s, sometimes things change! After making a major career shift and a transatlantic move, along came my 30th birthday, a lovely man who wanted to have kids, and FOMO (that’s Fear Of Missing Out) and that plan flew right out the window. I went from all-round “meh” with respect to children to “oh my goodness how long is it going to TAKE to get pregnant”. Then “oh my goodness it sure takes a long time for a baby to cook”. Post-birth my optimistic / unrealistic inner script went: “I’m sure I can still do all the things I used to do…” (and yes, sigh, reality eventually hit!).

stepping into motherhood

Well, you may be familiar with our Instagram feed.

Vivid Blanket Pattern
I photographed a teeny tiny Max on this rainbow Vivid Blanket, wearing a miniature Flax Light pullover, just a week or two after he was born.
A laughing woman struggles to hold onto her kids, who are struggling to escape.
My 36th birthday… the kids didn’t want to have their photo taken with me, clearly!

John and I became parents, and then took a good long time to be molded into the role. Five years and a second kid later, I think I’ve accepted the label they give me, ‘Mum’. In my better moments I embrace parenthood as an awesome additional role, an extra skill-set. And looking back, I smile over these last years filled with love and frustration and joy that I’m pleased to add to my story.

Britannia Sweater Pattern
One of my all-time favourite photos of Neve. She was just learning to walk, and we spent a relaxing golden evening in the Meadows park, barbecuing with friends; here in Edinburgh it stays light till 11pm in mid-summer.

my knit photos record my story

Photography is a big part of my work. One side effect of always having the camera out, creating these images of knit designs, is that the story of my family is captured, crystallized.

Looking through photos takes me to those specific moments in time, how it felt to be in that place, the air on my skin, the smell, the emotions I was feeling. I am reminded of what my little ones were LIKE at that moment, and of who I myself was then. To you, these photos may just be ‘a kid in a cute sweater’. For me, they are pages in the story of my life.

So here, with no further ado, are a few of my very favourite things…

Stovetop Hat Pattern
Four days old, in his very first Tin Can Knits hat. Max was born a little jaundiced, so needed to be laid out mostly naked in the sun while he slept on those early days. This is when I learned how truly TINY newborn heads are, and then how quickly they grow! Out of frame was total chaos, floods of tears, worries that he was too sleepy and not feeding, the utter insanity of the first week with a first baby.
Gather Hat Pattern
My mum, all the love, and her first grand-baby! We visited Vancouver Island Max’s first Christmas, and spent a few days on the west coast at Long Beach. I remember the euphoria of early parenthood, feeling optimistic, but also uncertain, and often overwhelmed by emotions.
Bumble Beanie Pattern
While visiting Canada we stayed in a chic little flat in downtown Vancouver, where we took the photos for our 5th book, Max & Bodhi’s Wardrobe. Alexa’s youngest, Bodhi, was 7 months old. Max didn’t crawl yet, so he was easy to capture, but Bodhi was roaming ALL over the show, so it was nearly impossible to get them both in the frame!
Playdate Cardigan Pattern
We returned to Vancouver Island the summer that Max was one, such a relaxing and joyous summer visit. Taking him to Miracle Beach Park, where I had spent days and days of my childhood roaming wild and free, was really nostalgic. It made me FEEL why some people move back to the place they grew up when they become parents.
Peanut Vest Pattern
This is quite possibly Max at Peak Cuteness! I was 7 or 8 months pregnant when we attended a family wedding in Aberdeenshire. It was early early spring and the snowdrops were just up, the landscape there was SO pastoral and picturesque. I’d made Max a teeny tiny kilt in a tartan that (almost!) matched John’s, and a Peanut Vest too. I just remember that time as so intensely full of pleasure, happiness, and joy (pregnancy hormones?!).
Pregnant woman at the beach, carrying a toddler on her shoulders.
Max wasn’t quite two years old, and although I was lucky to be strong and healthy, I found late pregnancy plus toddler care HEAVY on the one day a week he with me rather than in nursery. It was spring, the days were finally getting longer, and we spent a glorious evening down at Portobello beach, just waiting for baby. It was that moment of in-drawn breath, of delicious calm, when you know the storm of newborn-ness will begin at any moment. Neve was born a day or two later.
I Heart Rainbow colourwork yoke sweater pattern
When Neve was a newborn, I took more joy and pleasure had less anxiety than I had with my first baby! She spent much of her first month in tiny knits, as you can see in our blog post about Mini Me Made May! On her second or third day of life, she wore this premie size of the I Heart Rainbows sweater, which was my very first sweater design!
A toddler and a baby wearing matching Bumble sweaters.
While we worked to finish our 7th book, Mad Colour, Neve was just a couple months old. As you might guess, it was a wild time. She wasn’t a terrific sweater model, typically babies are a bit too floppy at that age! But I couldn’t resist making her a teeny tiny Bumble sweater, and this sibling photo was worth it!
Light and Shadow Hat Pattern
Immigrating to the UK is a process, and there was a period when John and I had to live apart, while I took the kids to Canada to await the results of our application. I was lucky to be able to live with my parents for a few months. Neve was just 3 months old, and Max was 2, and this felt like a sad and scary time for our family to be separated. But there were upsides; every day Max and I toddled along to the beach I grew up playing at. Neve came along for the ride in the sling. This evening it was autumn and the air had turned cold, and Max threw stone after stone in the water, as I took some photos for the Light and Shadow hat pattern.
Ironheart Sweater Pattern
Shortly after the three of us arrived back home to Edinburgh, I shot these photos of Max in the Ironheart sweater for the Heart On My Sleeve fundraiser for the Against Malaria Foundation. I remember my attitude of IMMENSE gratitude to have my family back together and safe. This bright autumn day we went to Hollyrood park, and Max hunted for dragon’s eggs in the fallen leaves.
One year old baby in a teal onesie, lying on a rainbow quilt.
Knitting isn’t the only craft I enjoy! I sewed this onesie from a thifted Hard Rock Cafe T-shirt, and made Neve this triangle quilt for her first birthday. She still really loves it, and is just so PLEASED with anything that I make just for her.
Two toddlers playing in a park, wearing colourful yoke sweaters.
I made these colourful sweaters to test out our Strange Brew recipe pattern as we were developing it. The kids wore ALL the knits to the park round the corner this crisp and bright winter day. This was the age when they first began really PLAYING together, which was so cute to watch.
A smiling man holds two toddlers, one in each arm.
On a weekend outing to Stirling Castle, I took a load of photos for our Week of Colour colourwork tutorial series. This outtake of John and the kids illustrates how what a glorious day it was!
A toddler with pigtails and a frowny face wearing a colourwork yoke sweater with lake and mountains in the background.
It was exquisite but COLD in the Canadian Rockies when we took a very special trip with both sets of grandparents. This meant that there were PLENTY of opportunities for candid kid shots, because they were wearing woolies every day!
Children in colourwork yoke jumpers holding hands on a frosty driveway.
For holidays we often travel north from Edinburgh to John’s dad’s house in Dundee. The kids love playing in his big garden. This Christmas day was a crisp, bright, and frosty, and it was relaxing and joyful to be surrounded by family.
Fleet Hat Pattern
I think many couples find that post-kids, time spent alone together becomes extremely precious. I feel like there’s never quite enough! I shot this photos of John in the Fleet hat I made him during one long lovely day that we spent kid-free, walking and talking for hours, swimming in the sea, and eating delicious food.
Smiling man holding two kids, all wearing colourwork hats.
Our two-family trip to Iceland was one of the greatest adventures we’ve taken, as a family, so far. I love that John is along for the ride whatever crazy ideas that Alexa and I dream up!
Strange Brew Book
The cover shot for our book Strange Brew, which we took on our joint family holiday to Iceland, is perhaps the peak of ‘my favourite things’. I don’t know if we’ll ever be able to match this image for joyfulness, because it contains all that both Alexa and I love. The goofy personalities of our kids showing through, our supportive partners looking sexy in our knit designs, and ALL the colours, all at once!

Well I could go on, and on, sharing the stories behind the pictures. But you get the idea, right?

It makes me very happy that my job, making patterns which bring joy to knitters, has the side-effect of capturing many of my joyful moments, and telling at least a part of the story of my life.

Love Note Friends

November 21, 2019

When I got back from Paris, Alexa was working on a new Love Note sweater for herself, and so I thought… hmmm perhaps during the KAL I’ll make one too! Well, as per my standard practice, I did NOT finish my second Love Note before the deadline (because deadlines are made to be broken, apparently?!), but I did bind off eventually!

I’d bought some LOVELY Rainbow Heirloom kidsilk cloud in ‘favourite aunty’ at EYF 2019, and had decided it would be the mohair part of my sweater. But it took some swatching to decide what sock weight to hold alongside this mohair. To learn more about mohair blending, check out this post which has MANY more examples!

After ALL the swatching I decided on Rainbow Heirloom’s Solo Light in ‘killer flamingo’ to go with my ‘favourite aunty’ mohar. I got started, and was surprised once more at just how fast the knitting on this project goes. I think it was perhaps 2 evenings of knitting and I was through the yoke? For me, straight-up stockinette is more painful, so the body and sleeves took a little longer!

I modified the pattern slightly, since I already had one Love Note in my wardrobe. To make this one a bit different, I knit the body bit longer (adding 1.5-2″), and worked long sleeves with longer, more relaxed cuffs (I decreased to 36 sts, rather than 28, and ribbed for 2”).

Since we launched Love Note, Alexa and I decided that our sizing range for future patterns will go to at least 5XL or 64” chest + ease. So many knitters have been enjoying Love Note, so we went back and extended our size range. Love Note now goes to 72.5″ chest.

My friend Nina, who’s the owner and dyer at Rainbow Heirloom, also made herself a Love Note, since modelling for us in Paris! She used a beautiful combination, holding a strand of undyed Kidsilk Cloud alongside a strand of ‘aussie sunshine’ – a bright intense yellow. The pale mohair tones the intensity of the yellow down, and adds an ethereal halo; so cool! I never tire of seeing all of the painterly combinations of mohair and sock yarn. I’ve been down the rabbit hole on Instagram (#lovenotesweater) many times.

So of course we had to get together and take some cheesy Love Note friend pics! 

Nina and I work together once a week or so, meeting at a coffee shop and either working alongside each other, or just doing a social catch up while knitting. We also take the opportunity to take some photos of yarn, new designs, and the latest off of our needles. As a self-employed creative, work can sometimes feel lonely, daunting, and focus can be difficult to find. Meeting up with a friend like Nina, and working in the same time at the same place can help me to focus. If you’re interested, I share more about my experiences with self-employment in this post.

Baby To Big

November 7, 2019

Confession: When Alexa suggested we size our patterns from baby all the way up through adult sizes, I wasn’t sure it was a great idea. At the time, I didn’t have kids, grand-kids, nieces or nephews, or even any friends with kids. I had never knit for little ones, and to be honest, it seemed a grand and flagrant waste of yarn and time that would be better spent knitting for me! Alexa was expecting Hunter at the time, and she was pretty insistent that it would be awesome. She already had adorable matchy sweater pictures in mind I’m sure!

So I was uncertain, but I trusted Alexa! A few short years later, I found there was an endless supply of little ones around and I felt the JOY of tiny knits. Honestly, the best part of my job is seeing beautiful things I made on the people I love, for me it’s even better than wearing my own sweaters!

Moraine Sweater Pattern

the #matchymatchy cuteness factor

We started taking cheesy #matchymatchy photos back in 2011, and you’d think by now it would have gotten old, but nope, for us it just keeps getting better and better!

Old Growth Cardigan Pattern
Romping around the rain forest in matching Old Growth cardigans!

It’s not always easy to get the toddlers to cooperate. OK, to restate that a bit more accurately: it’s always nearly impossible to get toddlers to cooperate! But they are so cute in the photos that we often forget the suffering it took to get the shot.

Spotlight Sweater Pattern
Bodhi, your attitude is showing! There was more than a few toddler moods when we shot the Spotlight sweater on one-year-old Bodhi and her big cousin!

The people that we love, the people that we knit for, and knitters themselves come in all shapes and sizes, right? We decided our patterns should be sized accordingly.

Clayoquot Toque Free Knitting Pattern
Good looking person plus tiny baby? And it’s a free pattern too? We can say yes to that!

making high value patterns

From the beginning, our goal has been to make trusted patterns that are high quality and high value, while offering excellent learning resources and responsive customer service, so knitters can really enjoy our designs. Our baby-to-big size range has been one of the ways we sought to deliver a lot of value. Publishing free patterns is another way we seek to offer value, so you can try our work, and buy with confidence. The Simple Collection, our free learn-to-knit series with 12 free patterns and in-depth tutorials, is perfect for learners, teachers, and knitters who just love simple satisfying projects.

Flax Light Free Pattern
It’s not always easy to get the ‘baby’ and the ‘big’ in frame at the same time! The Flax Light sweater is a free pattern, part of The Simple Collection.

Not all knitters can afford to pay for patterns, there were times in my knitting journey that I thought paying $7 for a pattern was ludicrous. We like to do our part to add to the gigantic resource of free patterns available online. We treat our free patterns just as we do our pay ones. They go through the same rigorous process, and we put all the same love in too.

Gather Hat Pattern
Heads, of course, come in all sizes! We think the Gather hat is adorable on all ages and genders.

when in doubt, take baby steps

Clothes are worn differently by adults and kids. Part of the joy about knitting for little ones is not worrying too much about sizing. If the knit is bigger than the kid, you can be confident it will fit one day. If it’s a bit small, there’s likely a littler child coming down the pipe; your beautiful creation will be enjoyed one way or another. If you’re more serious about ensuring fit, we suggest you measure the kid rather than guessing based upon their age; the sizes and shapes of little ones vary widely, just like grown-ups do.

Rye Socks free knitting pattern
The Rye Socks are a free pattern, and you can learn to knit socks following our tutorial! Start with a kid size and you will bind of your first sock in no time!

One convenient thing about having the full size range in a single design is the ability to try out a new technique, project type or yarn quickly. We often suggest that knitters new to sweater or sock knitting begin with a kid size if practical. In half (or less!) the yardage and time you will practice all of the new techniques, think of it like a GIANT swatch. Plus, it’s bound to fit SOME kid at SOME point, even if it comes out vastly larger or smaller than intended! We all know how gauge can be a fickle friend!

Love Note Pattern
The Love Note sweater is lovely on grown ups and cute on kids too!

how does baby-to-big sizing make our designs different?

We generally need to design multiple versions of a motif or stitch pattern, in order for the size range to work, but again, we see this as an upside, because more practice is better when it comes to creative work, right?!

An adult sized stranded yoke sweater has a LOT more yoke rounds in which to work patterning! This means that the smaller size appears quite a bit simplified in comparison.

The design challenge of making a concept ‘read’ over our extensive size range generally results in more simple designs. We consider from the beginning how an idea might adapt to a 20″ chest, a 44″ chest, and a 60″ chest. But the truth is, Alexa and I were fans of simplicity to begin with, so this works for us.

Compass Sweater Pattern
For the Compass Sweater, the chart for baby and toddler sizes was scaled down and simplified significantly order to give a similar look and feel as the crisp details of the adult size design. Instead of starting with a 8-stitch repeat, it begins with a 4-stitch repeat.

More samples, in more sizes, also means more opportunities for us to inspire you with beautiful examples. If we make a baby size, a child size, and an adult size, we can show you three different ways to do a knit!

Chromatic Sweater Pattern
For the teeny tiny baby size Chromatic sweater, we used a rainbow; because Alexa and I really LOVE a baby in a rainbow!
Chromatic Sweater Pattern
The adult size Chromatic sweater explores ombre, and shifting levels of contrast, while the kid version illustrates how bold and crisp the stitch pattern looks in black and white stripes.

working to be more inclusive

Our intent is high value, inclusive patterns, and we recognize that despite this intent, our work is not currently as size inclusive as it could be. Our baby-to-big size range was established in 2011, following Craft Yarn Council sizing standards, which at the time described women’s sizes up to a 60″ chest measurement. Nearly a decade later, we realize we’ve not been as inclusive as we could be, and will be adding grading for a women’s 64″ and 68″ chest/bust size + ease to future patterns. Alexa and I would like to apologize for excluding you.

Penny Sweater Pattern
Alexa enjoying Paris in a cropped Penny sweater. In her blog post Knitting For Yourself, she shared how for a long time, knitting a garment for herself felt like an seemed like an infinite amount of knitting, but she’s well over that now!

There are a range of other changes we are working on with the goal of making our patterns more accessible to those with differing visual and cognitive abilities; to begin we are including written chart instructions for new designs, and are researching best practices for low vision patterns, requirements for users of screen readers. We are committed to doing better and hope you will join us on this journey.

do you love or hate #matchymatchy knits?

Do you buy our patterns for the grown up sizing, or are you a dedicated baby knitter?

Marshland Sweater Pattern
I think this is one of Alexa’s all time favourite pics… I know where she stands on the matchy question!

Strange Brew Round Up

October 24, 2019

It’s just over a year since we launched our favourite book yet, Strange Brew. It seemed like the perfect time to clamber down, down, down the rabbit hole to see what knitters have made. Of the nearly 3000 Ravelry projects I scanned through, there were a few fun themes. But first and foremost, it seems like Strange Brew has been making some knitters happy!

happy knit face

The thing about finished sweaters? They make the knitters happy!

Woman and man in yellow and grey sweaters leaping off the ground.
@hobby_tricot and her partner in matching Compass Sweaters! How DID they get that far off the ground for this photo?!
Woman in colourwork yoke sweater in a green forest.
@beginswithaC looking pleased in a very lovely Icefall.

cute and complex motifs!

When you give knitters the tools to put anything on a sweater yoke, and what happens? They put all sorts of odd, intriguing and adorable things on their sweaters! There were a lot of nerd themed yokes too… you know we love it!

  • @jdweinmann did this hilarious baby heads sweater for her friend, cartoonist @lucyknisley, to wear on her book tour!
  • PeggyRitch made this wild work of art ‘Viking Knot’ jumper, using Strange Brew for a bit of guidance.
  • celaine420 did this unbearably cute porgs sweater! Great eh?!
  • Trientje59 did 3 matching sibling fox yokes… and one for mum too!
  • gfpowers with a beautiful horse themed yoke!
  • laurelswift inspired by the children’t book Iggy Peck Architect

christmas themed Strange Brews

Just a few of the Christmas themed articles inspired by the Strange Brew patterns & recipes… My goodness were there a load of photos of cute kids in front of Christmas trees!

all the GRELLOW

There were MANY many knitters who were loving the combination of grey + yellow, also known as grellow! I haven’t actually knit anything grellow… what’s wrong with me?!

colour combos I can’t wait to copy!

Most of my best colour combinations? Copied, copied, copied! Read more about how I collect my favourite palettes here! Consider this fair warning colour geniuses! There were SO many inspiring combinations, but here are a few that I thought were top notch!

  • @kikucorner made a Compass sweater that SPARKLES in vivid blue and with lemon yellow.
  • @esvetiknits‘s Mountain Mist sweater combines gold, apricot, and soft pink in a palette that knocks my socks off!
  • creativekitty made a lovely muted version of Trek.
  • @breiwerken boldly combines red, vivid pink and violet in her Almanac sweater – love love love it!
  • MKSutton‘s Anthology hat is absolutely berrylicious!
  • @splendorfalls made an especially beautiful Strange Brew cardigan.
  • @beginswithaC used vivid purple, blue, and greens in her Icefall.

show us more! #tincanknits and #strangebrewsweater

We LOVE to see your knits, comment on your dilemmas, and share your passion. We’re mostly active on Instagram, if you tag us in your post caption using @tincanknits or if you tag us in the photo, it’ll show up for us to see. Or use the hashtag #tincanknits or #strangebrewsweater and we usually see those too!

Strange Brew Ebook
If you haven’t checked it out yet, give our Strange Brew collection a look! The ebook contains 14 patterns, including two that are versatile ‘recipes’, for only $22 USD, so it’s a great deal!

what will you cast on?

As hat season begins in Edinburgh and Vancouver, our favourite from this collection is the Fleet hat; it’s not too complex and knits up quickly in worsted or aran weight yarn. I desperately want to cast on one for each of my family and friends… but I think I’ve got to do some design work for the next book instead! Darn work getting in the way of my knitting for pure pleasure!

Fleet Hat Pattern
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