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A thoughtful wardrobe

May 26, 2017

Em and I, out on the town in our knits

There is a lot of talk in the knitting world about being a process knitter vs. a product knitter. Do you knit because you love to knit or do you knit because you love the knitted item you have created? I see no reason to choose between the two, I love the finished knit because I loved knitting it! I especially love seeing my knits, that I so enjoyed making, adorning my loved ones. Friends and family who have a warmer head, toasty hands, or a cozy sweater to wear.

My most worn piece, a simple Grain shawl in luxurious Sweet Fiber Cashmere Aran. Photo cred to the wonderful Softsweater!

In my zeal of knitting though, I don’t always consider whether or not I will wear something. I knit bright pink cowl because that colour looked great in the skein and I was itching to cast on a cowl! Will it go with the orange vest I wear all the time? Nope. Didn’t stop to consider that at all…..

While I have no regrets (I loved knitting that cowl, and it will look great on whoever I gift it to), I thought I might take a stab at creating a knit wardrobe that coordinates with my actual wardrobe. That isn’t to say I won’t design an outfit around a knit, I mean, that makes a lot of sense to me, but I want to focus on knitting things for myself that I will get a lot of wear out of. This is particularly true of sweaters.

My most successful sweater I’ve knit for myself, a Flax in a lovely mustard yellow, Plucky Knitter Plucky Sweater in ‘princess phone’

I am a limited wardrobe kind of girl. I wear a lot of black, almost exclusively wear leggings or jeans, love plaid, and my grey hoodie collection is solid. So, I’m on a mission to create some knitwear for myself that goes with some of those things.

Natalie’s beautiful Antler was the inspiration for my own. She knit it in Cestari and the combination of cables and tweed are fabulous!

This idea started last year as I knit up my lovely warm brown Antler cardigan. I was inspired by my friend Natalie (@eastvanjam) and her beautiful Antler cardigan to create a tweedy one of my very own. I picked up some Brooklyn Tweed Shelter on a trip to the Beehive in ‘pumpernickel’ with a specific outfit in mind. I wanted to wear it with jeans and either a t-shirt or maybe a plaid shirt. I wanted to knit something that fit in my wardrobe!

I finished the Antler and immediately saw the error of my ways. The Antler has a more open neckline…..but I don’t want to wear it that way. I wear my sweaters a little snugger around the collar. So the button bands came off, the ribbing and the cabled decreases came out. I added 2 repeats of the cable before the decreases and decreased an extra 8 sts just before the ribbing.

Voila! A sweater that is just what I want it to be! It may be just a boring brown sweater, but to me it is perfect. Each yard of yarn flowed through my hands, each stitch was created by me. It is a sweater that will last and that will always look good with a pair of jeans. A realistic wardrobe staple!


More cabled knits from TCK:

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Neve’s Quilt and #trianglesaresohotrightnow

May 18, 2017

It looks like I’ve been sharing a lot of sewing projects this May, because I’ve been so inspired by #memademay and #minimemademay. But hey, as a designer I’ve gotta play!

Neve Triangle Quilt

This quilt was a long time coming. When I was pregnant with Neve, I was obsessing over triangle quilts (to avoid a similar fate, don’t surf this hashtag). I read the tutorial for the Purl Bee Modular Blocks quilt and thought… holy shit, triangles are so EASY… what am I waiting for?! So what felt like a few minutes later I found myself in a fabric shop and bought my first ‘charm pack’ in an amazing rainbow of textured solids. Let me say, for a beginner quilter like me these pre-cut 5” squares are THE BOMB. I got to skip what I find one of the more boring steps (cutting out) and get straight to the goods!

I chose a coordinating yellow for the MC, rather than white or grey which are my go-to main colours, especially when working with a rainbow. I had heard colour genius Kaffe Fassett speak, and he explained how he liked to pair colours, rather than setting them against white or black, because of the way the colours interact and intensify each other. So I went for yellow to see what would happen. I cut as many squares of the MC as I had of CC (42), then paired them up, always one CC with one yellow MC). Then I made them all into triangle blocks, chain piecing them which made it go really quickly. Then I was on to the most fun part; choosing a layout! During a kid (and cat) free moment I laid out a few options.

While I was strongly drawn to the random one, I decided that this quilt wanted to be a bit more simple, clear, and geometric, so I went with the one that looks a bit like flying geese. I guess it’s a little like the Fly Away blanket which I designed shortly after Max was born.

Neve Triangle Quilt

Add it to the pile! I made the quilt on the left when Max was born, and the Tunisian crochet blanket last year. The kids’ room is getting pretty cozy!

Neve Triangle Quilt

Happy Birthday Darling! I also made Neve’s onesie from of a Hard Rock Cafe t-shirt that I found at a thrift shop. I used this free pattern by Shwin & Shwin.

I had intending to make this quilt before Neve was born, but you know how these things go! A couple weeks before her first birthday I was wondering what gift John and I could give her (she’s 1, she doesn’t care). I decided that a deadline was what I needed, and pulled out the supplies for this quilt. I finished it up and even hand-stitched her name on it, all in time for her to open it on the day! This is a pretty impressive feat, as I’m infamous for wrapping up half-finished things (and then, ahem, sometimes NEVER finishing them…). I can’t be the only one, right?!

Neve Triangle Quilt

I chose a lovely batik which I had been saving for years as the backing fabric. I took the top and backing down to the fabric store to select the perfect edge colour. Then I used this tutorial to make the double fold binding, which was time-consuming but made an exquisite finish.

Neve Triangle Quilt

This quilt currently lives on the floor in the dining room, where she has her milk in the mornings and afternoons these days

#trianglesaresohotrightnow

Obviously Alexa and I have been on a bit of a triangle binge these days. And you know it’s not just us; triangles are taking the design world by storm! Check out some of my favourite triangle designs and projects on Ravelry.

 

More TCK triangles:


 

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Speckles and Lace: A Lush for Hunter

May 16, 2017

We have expounded upon our love of speckles recently (all about that here), but I think my speckled love has gone from ‘ooh, pretty’ to ‘I NEED TO KNIT EVERYTHING IN SPECKLES RIGHT NOW’. It’s gotten a bit ‘full on’ as they say. Reminds me of my hand paint fever of the mid-2000s…

I knit Hunter a modified Flax sweater all in speckles over the winter break and loved it. The yarn was House of a la Mode in ‘Tinsel’ and it was just so much fun to knit. The pattern is simple (even with my mods) but as the yarn runs through your fingers the colours change, sometimes stitch by stitch! An adventure for sure.

A few weeks ago I combined my speckle obsession with my current need to constantly knit sweaters for my kids. They have pretty good sweater wardrobes already (except Jones, but I’m working on it), and little sweaters are quick (well, okay, they are quicker than knitting myself a sweater). Knitting for the kids also satisfies my desire to cast on certain patterns immediately (I’m looking at you So Faded Pint Sized), and the three of them wear their sweaters all the time! Is there anything more satisfying to a crafter than seeing their work out in the world, being used and loved? Nope.

Check those buttons, are they pink? Are they purple? Whatever shade of awesome, Hunter adores them!

And so, on a trip to Knit Night at Black Sheep Yarns I couldn’t resist the Hedgehog Fibers Merino DK in ‘fly’ and by the time I went to bed I had a lace band blocking for a new Lush sweater. I normally choose a size with a bit of positive ease for the kids knits (+2-3″) to maximize wear, but with this design, the lace looks really good when stretched a bit, so I went with only about 1/2″ of positive ease for this one.

lush project details:

Pattern: Lush
Yarn: Hedgehog Fibers Merino DK in ‘fly’
Size: 7-8 years (27″ chest)

Hunter is loving it! She wore it before the ends were even woven in and she especially loved the pinky purple buttons I found at Button Button. The yarn was a delight to knit with, an adventure in every stitch, and the whole project was rather successful if I do say so myself. So successful, I MIGHT have cast on another speckled project immediately….in spite of all the other WIPs on the needles!

So, what do you like to knit for the littles? Do you stick to accessories? Are you as sweater crazy as we are?

More sweaters ready for speckles by TCK:


Flax Light by Tin Can KnitsChromatic by Tin Can KnitsPlaydate by Tin Can Knits

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Wool Tweed + Liberty Prints

May 11, 2017
Wool Jacket

So I was loving Max’s little red trousers… but then a friend commented that red trousers are associated with upper crusties, here in the UK anyways, as extensively documented by LAMFRT… so now I’m conflicted!

It’s May, and #memademay and #minimemademay have inspired me to share some of the non-knitting things that I’ve enjoyed making, wearing, and watching my kids romp around in.

I was inspired to make this jacket by Purl Soho’s lovely little Felted Wool Baby Jacket, which I’d come across ages ago. However, I wanted a more ‘grown up’ jacket with a zipper for Max, so I roughly copied a pattern off one of his commercial jackets; making 2 pattern pieces, front (same as the back) and a sleeve.

Max Wool Jacket

My ‘self drafted’ pattern is pretty low tech!

The collar I just made out of a strip, folded over, which I cut to correct length after sewing it to the neckline. I may have stuck some fusible interfacing inside too, but I don’t really remember. I cut the lining using the same pattern pieces, but made the sleeves 2″ longer, so that they could fold over and be hand-sewed down on the outside for the lovely little cuff detail.

Wool Jacket

Little exposed cuff details allow the lining fabric to shine through! I paired a Liberty of London Tana Lawn print with the wool.

Wool Jacket

Wool Tweeds

This is quite a delicious stack… and I may just have a few more squirrelled away!

I love wool tweeds and tartans… And this love, since moving to Scotland, has meant I’ve amassed a not-insignificant stash. On the whole, I don’t allow shame to enter into how I feel about my crafting supplies (design and craft is my day job, right?!). But with the precious and expensive woolen yardage mounting up, well, I admit to feeling a little anxiety and guilt that I own this beautiful stack although I’m really not a very prolific sewer. I guess the answer to that is to get out the scissors and get started!

Lowlands by Tin Can Knits

This was the first version of this jacket that I made. I loved it to bits, and was very sad when he grew out of it. But it gave me the opportunity to make him another!

And now that it’s springtime, Neve will need a little wool jacket (or two?!). I’ve pulled out these two outer/lining combinations. What do you think?

A grey herringbone tweed with 3 possible prints for the lining… I’m leaning toward the rainbow floral at the bottom.

A soft tartan in a 70’s colour combination, with a mustard cotton lining… MMMmmm I’ve got a yellow zipper that would pull this all together perfectly!

Do you branch out and practice other crafts, or do you stick to knitting? I find that exploring other media really inspires me and brings new ideas to my knit design. I’m also working on a By Hand London Victoria blazer, and planning to make some trousers out of some of the woolens in the stack above. I think they’ll pair nicely with my hand knits this spring and next fall.

Wool Jacket

Are you sharing your ‘mini’ makes this May with us using the hashtag #minimemademay? Join in! It’s fun and easy, just tag your photos on Instagram or Twitter, and you can surf the tags for even more inspiration!


Cute knits for the Minis from TCK:

Peanut Vest by Tin Can KnitsUndertone Cowl

 

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Re-imagining an old WIP

May 4, 2017

With a bit of creativity, a sad old WIP became a beloved knit for Max!

Basketweave Cowl

This exquisite bit of knitting had been languishing unloved for YEARS

This year I am on the warpath to minimize my WIPS and take responsibility for both my stash and my projects. Alexa is in the same mood lately (read her ‘Spring Cleaning‘ post to learn more). Part of my KonMari household organizing process has been to excavate all the unfinished projects that were sadly crammed into shopping bags and stuffed into the back of the closet. Those poor lonely knits which got to a point, and then went no further! As a designer, I am lucky enough to work almost exclusively in beautiful yarns, so it’s even more depressing that projects in luxury fibres were languishing until a day when pigs knit and they would miraculously be finished.

This little technicolour number began when I was first running Rainbow Heirloom yarns (now owned and run by my talented friend Nina Davies). After knitting this rainbow vivid blanket, I had many odds and ends of the rainbow of yarns used to create it, so I thought I’d knit up a simple, textured scarf in a basket stitch, simply changing colours when I reached the end of each colour.  So about 1/4 of a scarf was knit, then the project was abandoned.

The checked stitch pattern goes like this, it’s an 8-row repeat:
Rows 1 & 3 (RS): [k2, p2] to last 2 sts, k2
Row 2 & 4 (WS): [p2, k2] to last 2 sts, p2
Rows 5 & 7 (RS): [p2, k2] to last 2 sts, p2
Row 6 & 8 (WS):  [k2, p2] to last 2 sts, k2

The pattern is worked on a multiple of 4 + 2 stitches. I had 42 stitches on the needles, and the final piece measures 7.5” across, which means that the gauge is close to 5.5 sts / inch or 22 sts / 4” in pattern. I would have knit this on 4.0mm needles.

Max and John out on the town one winter weekend. Max is wearing his usual uniform: North Shore sweater, this colourful cowl, and his Lowlands hat.

And so a perfectly lovely bit of knitting was saved from back-of-the-closet obscurity! Do you have some knits that you could dust off and polish of to similar satisfactory effect? Sometimes a bit of knit fabric doesn’t need to become what it was initially started to be… a square of fabric could be a doll blanket, or a short cowl, or a bottom-up sweater cuff, or the body of a baby sweater… there are quite a few possibilities!

Of course, this cowl is now Max’s favourite, he calls it his ‘scarf’. He’s 2.5 puts it on himself, and hasn’t lost it in 6 months of nearly constant use. That’s a success in toddler knitting if ever I’ve seen one!

But how big should it be?

A good rule-of-thumb for short cowls (that only go around once) is that they should be about the same circumference as the wearer’s head. So a similar number of cast-on stitches as a hat would have, plus maybe a few extra. In my case, as I was using a bit of a scarf, I ripped back the knitting to the right length, and then put both ends back on needles, and used Kitchener stitch to graft the two ends of knitting together make create a tube about 18″ around.

Pull out your (knit) skeletons!

Do you have a shameful back-of-the-closet work in progress? Or do you have many?! We’d encourage you to pull them out, air them, and either unravel to liberate that yarn for a new project, or re-imagine what the bit of lovely fabric might become, if it’s not going to be finished as-is! Share the results with us on your favourite social spot!

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Cute on both little ones and the ladies:


Spotlight by Tin Can KnitsFlax Light by Tin Can KnitsRaindrops by Tin Can Knits

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MiniMeMadeMay and a Baby Surprise Jacket

May 1, 2017

Today Is the First Day Of… Me Made May and #minimemademay too!

Last May my littlest baby Neve was oh so new, and after feeding, nappy changes and loads of sleep my one work task of the day was to take a photo of her in her extensive knit wardrobe! Thus our Instagram feed was overloaded with adorable baby knits (have a browse here and here). Well, May is here and we’re excited to do it all over again! Join along with us on your favourite social spot, using the hashtag #minimemademay for the minis or #memademay for you!

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Bodhi rocking a prototype of a sweater we have been working on!

Alexa and I have been working on a bundle of new knits for the little ones and some for ourselves too! We’re very excited to share all of the things with you this month! Last week we talked all about spring cleaning your knits, organizing your stash, and how to stash in similar yarn bases for easy combinations. Now our woollies are in great shape for wearing and sharing, and our most beloved stash is crying out to be knit!

Trusting Elizabeth Zimmermann

Elizabeth Zimmermann has long been a knit design idol of mine, with her straightforward, seamless and eminently knit-able designs. And I have had the Baby Surprise Jacket on my list since I discovered it…when I first started knitting! But, I must be honest, I’ve held back for years and years because I looked at the photos and I didn’t get it. Finally, this year I let go, put my trust in EZ, and just cast on and *gasp* followed the instructions. JOY. That’s all I really need to say; this was a joyous process and one of my favourite knit items of all time now that it’s done.

baby surprise jacket

Of course! It’s a surprise… the genius of this construction didn’t become obvious to me until I’d nearly finished knitting it!

baby surprise jacket

I wasn’t really sure what size it would come out, but I knew I wanted to knit using these two lovely yarns from my stash, and 4.0mm needles would do the trick. I decided that I’d just cast on and go for it, and not worry too much about the size, because if it didn’t fit Neve there would surely be another baby along soon who it would be perfect for! As luck would have it, it came out just the perfect size for her, especially for springtime, when a shorter-sleeved cardi is warm enough.

baby surprise jacket

baby surprise jacket

One of the things that really ‘made’ this knit for me was the yarn. I striped Shilasdair Luxury DK in ‘fleece cloud’ with Noro Kibou in ’22’. I absolutely LOVE this Noro yarn, it’s such a subtle, tweedy and classy self-striping bundle of joy, and the halo of the angora in the Shilasdair yarn makes for a soft and cuddly fabric.

Finishing Touches

Because I wanted a nice MC line around the neckline, rather than the raw edge of the garter stitch, I left the button band and hem stitches on the needles, and worked the shoulder seams first.

baby surprise jacket

The single crochet seam creates a nice crisp raised line where front meets back

I used a single-crochet seam at the shoulders for a crisp raised detail. With wrong sides together, and the front of the jumper facing, insert the hook through both layers, draw through a loop of MC yarn from the WS, then *insert hook again through both layers, draw another loop through to the RS, then yarn over and draw this third loop through the previous 2, leaving a single loop on the hook. Repeat from * until the seam is complete from cuff to neckline. Then I did the same working from neckline to cuff down the other side, so that the seam was still worked with the front of the sweater facing.

After the shoulder seams were complete, I finished the neckline by picking up and knitting stitches (with RS facing) along the right side of the neckline, the back neck, then the left side of the neckline. Then I turned the work (WS facing) and knit one final row. Lastly I bound off all stitches. This created a lovely consistent MC finish at all edges of the work.

baby surprise jacket

Choosing buttons was another joyful part of the process! Purple-blue mother-of-purl won the day.

baby surprise jacket

Neve says YAY!

Before I knit my BSJ, I did some VERY EXTENSIVE surfing on Ravelry, and these were my favourite versions of the design, for your surfing pleasure! I’m hoping to make another soon, perhaps with some handspun?

Other TCK knits you’ll probably see this #minimemademay:


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Stashing Similar Yarns

April 27, 2017

Some of my special stash of single ply sock weight yarns, from a range of hand-dyers including Madelinetosh, Hedgehog Fibres, Rainbow Heirloom, and La Bien Aimee

We’ve been talking all about spring cleaning this week, about caring for and storing your knits, and about spring cleaning your stash too!

One of the things I have learned, after a few stash purges, is that I love to buy single skeins, but there is a danger they’ll hang about not being used unless they find their way into multi-coloured projects. With that in mind, I’ve recently found it useful to collect single skeins in a couple of my most loved yarn types; these skeins are similar enough to be combined across yarn brands to make multi-coloured projects.

Burnished Shawl

Burnished looks great in 2 or 3 colours; go crazy and mix & match your odd balls!

single-ply sock weight yarns

One of my stash boxes holds a pretty fabulous rainbow of sock weight single-ply yarns. I don’t hesitate to add to this collection because these types of yarns are so easy to use together. Most of the really popular hand-dyers and nearly all of the smaller companies dye on this type of base, so finding colours that work together on similar bases is very easy, and very useful for designs like the Burnished shawl, Slice shawl, or a cute I Heart Rainbows colourwork yoke.

Mini-skein gradients are often dyed on this type of base; these are two lovely speckle sets by EasyKnits and they’ll find yarn friends in my stash of single-ply semi-solids

Slice Shawl

Slice uses bold blocks of colour and simple geometric lace

plied sock weight yarns

If you’re partial to more hard-wearing plied sock yarns, they are another type to collect for mixing and matching. Some sweater designs, like raindrops, you can make a baby or toddler size out of a single skein, and for other designs, like Playdate or Flax Light, you can always stripe 2 skeins together, which would give you sufficient yardage to make up to a 6 year old size.

Striped Swatch

I’m currently obsessed with this colour combo I swatched a couple weeks ago, neon yellow and teal! I think it needs to become a tiny Flax Light for Neve… but when will I find the time?!

Last year I made this little striped Playdate for Max out of 2 single skeins that were crying out to be combined!

Flax Light

Nina made Neve a tiny Flax Light (without the garter on the sleeves) in Rainbow Heirloom Merino Light in ‘killer flamingo’ and ‘kermit smiled’. Such a fantastic combo!

hand-dyed DK or sport weight yarns

The most extensive collection of mix-able yarns that I hoard is DK (and sport) weight hand-dyed yarn, like Madelinetosh Tosh DK, SweetGeorgia DK, Rainbow Heirloom Sweater, and other various lovelies. These rainbow brights are just crying out to be used together, and work well in multi-colour projects like Fly Away, Bumble beanie, Peanut vest, Clayoquot cardigan, Vivid blanket … the list goes on, and you can check out all our colourwork projects here.

This is probably the yarn type Alexa and I design in most often, especially for colourwork; so you’ll see a lot of projects that can be started (or completed) with a good dig through this category of your stash! Many of the accessories in Mad Colour are worked in this type of yarn, using scraps and odds and ends.

Prism Hat

I pulled out the entire rainbow of stash scraps for this Prism hat!

Undertone Cowl

The Undertone cowl is a perfect opportunity to use leftovers as you can change colours every few rounds, or stick with a 2-colour combination!

Do you have a strategy for collecting similar sorts of yarns? What does your stash look like? Share your stash… we like to hashtag ours #yarnporn!

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One more rainbow for you… because we just can’t resist!

Scraptastic projects from TCK:


RidgelinePolygonUndertone Cowl

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