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:
I have long been a fan of Tolt Yarn and Wool, a lovely shop in Carnation, Washington. It may be that I am a sucker for beautiful photos (and Anna and Kathy take amazing photographs!), and lovely yarns, but I think above all I am drawn to the passion Anna has for all things knitting as well as all things community. Emily R (model Emily) and I have made a day of our trips across the border to take in the beautiful shop many times since it’s opening, and it never disappoints! The staff is always super friendly and helpful, the yarn selection divine (this is where I first discovered YOTH), and they are always passionate about locally produced yarns like their Snoqualmie Valley yarn.
Last year Tolt came out with their lovely collection: Camp Tolt. As a lover of all things camping, road tripping, and knitting I immediately send a message to see if I could design something for the next collection! This years Camp Tolt collection includes my hat design: Banff.
Sizes: Baby (Toddler, Child, Adult S/M, Adult L)
To fit approximate head circumference: 16 (17, 19, 21, 23) in
Yarn: Peace Fleece Worsted
80 (90, 100, 120, 140) yards MC30 (30, 40, 40, 50, 50) yards CC
Needles: US 6 / 4mm and US 8 / 5mm
I have been accused in the past of being a bit of a literal thinker/designer, and this is really a prime example! When I think camping, I always think of the woods and so it seemed a natural fit to have simple fair isle trees as part of Camp Tolt. Knit up in Peace Fleece, a rustic, worsted weight yarn, the hat is a quick knit you can be wearing by the time you arrive at the campground.
When I completed the design Anna asked me what campgrounds/hiking spots were important to me, and Banff national park in the Rocky Mountains came to mind immediately. I have been camping there with my parents since I was small and when Bodhi was only a few weeks old we took the whole family on our road trip there to photograph Road Trip.
This year’s Camp Tolt collection also includes the lovely Bandera Pattern!
More fair isle goodness from TCK:
While I am thoroughly enjoying the year of something new, I am taking a break and indulging in some bread and butter knitting. What’s that you ask? It is some simple, satisfying knitting, usually a ‘go to’ pattern with just enough interest to keep me going as a knitter. My first bread and butter project is an Antler cardigan, for me! It is a project I’ve been contemplating for some time now…
Last year Emily completed a BEAUTIFUL Antler cardi in the Plucky Knitter Primo Worsted in ‘honey wilkes’ and it definitely made me jealous! Once she was finished she popped Max in the original Antler sample from Pacific Knits to grab this lovely mother-son shot. This photo is everything we envisioned when we set out to create patterns sized from baby to big!
The Antler is also one of our go-to baby projects. Emily made this little pink one for her niece, I knit this deep blue version with mis-matchy buttons for Jones (although Bodhi is modelling it like a star here), a neutral but lovely brown one (complete with Antler buttons) for baby Trevor, and Emily whipped up a wee one for her nephew Sawyer (modeled here by the incomparable Max).
So the seed was planted, I might need another Antler cardi. I had made one a while ago in a bright and fun orange (Madelinetosh Vintage in ‘tomato’), but I felt my wardrobe was missing something a little more subdued in the sweater department. Then I saw my lovely friend Natalie (make of the delicious East Van Jam) in her stunning Antler, knit up in the rustic and fabulous Cestari Traditional Collection 2 Ply.
Well, when I was at the Beehive last summer I picked up some Brooklyn Tweed Shelter in ‘pumpernickel‘ for just such an occasion and i have cast on! I will be working on this sweater over the summer, including a few road trips (that’s right, I’m going to keep knitting with woolly wool all through the hot summer months)! The stockinette body is perfect for patio conversation and the cables keep life interesting (like how to NOT lose your cable needle forever when you drop it in the Jeep on the Trans Can).
What are your ‘bread and butter’ knitting patterns? Those patterns you turn to over and over?
To join in for some Bread and Butter knitting by using the hashtag #breadandbutterknitting on your favorite social spot!
More Bread and Butter sweaters from TCK:
The first month with a newborn is not the easiest… but the newest Tin Can Knits baby, Neve, has been a little dear (most of the time).
Between crying and cuddles, Emily has thoroughly enjoyed #minimemademay and snapped plenty of pics of the baby wardrobe!
Despite yawns and afternoon naps, Emily had a fabulous time dressing up her little darling in the tiny newborn outfits that she’d spent so much time preparing.
Want to learn more about the pattern, yarns, size and modifications we’ve used to create these knits? Lately we’ve been keeping better track of our personal knits, and posting all the project details on Ravelry – check it out!
Lace is, of course, one of Emily’s favourite things… So a little Prairie Fire pullover was a necessary knit!
Neve was more than a pound bigger than Emily’s first baby, Max… so some of the tiny knits didn’t last for very long!
Bodhi joined in the fun, showing off her surfer hair and her new Neon Clayoquot Toque!
Max showed off his handmade wardrobe too (luckily Edinburgh is cold enough for toques and sweaters in May!).
Not to be outdone by the little ones, the eldest of the Tin Can Knits ‘mini’ clan, Hunter, is getting ready to start Kindergarten in her new Little Coastal Pullover (design by Hannah Fettig, yarn is Madelinetosh Vintage in ‘cousteau’, all the details in this blog post).
And lastly… Emily also rocked the handmade wardrobe this month, celebrating her post-partem ‘Mammalicious’ figure (the principle being if you can’t avoid it, own it!).
Do you have plans to add to your ‘memade’ or ‘minimemade’ wardrobe this year?
Some sweet little knit wardrobe additions
I recently went suffered an obsession with the Bumble Beanie, a pattern from our second baby book, Max & Bodhi’s Wardrobe. The original design was worked in DK weight yarn, but I was experimenting with colour and yarn combinations from my stash, and wanted to knit the pattern even more quickly, in worsted & aran weight yarns. I mean, Neve was on her way, I had to knit fast right?!
ARAN weight Bumble Beanie – pattern adjustment details
Cast on 56 (64, 72, 80, 88, 96) sts for newborn (baby, toddler, child, adult SM, adult L) sizes. I worked on 4.0mm needles for the brim, and 6.5mm at the slip-stitch pattern, for a finished gauge of 17.5 sts & 24 rounds / 4”. With this chunkier gauge and fabric, I’d suggest knitting 1/2” to 1” longer than called for in the pattern before decreasing. With the adjusted cast-on numbers, you’ll setup to decrease by working [[k1, p1] 7 (8, 9, 10, 11, 12) times, PM] around in order to divide the work into 4 sections.
While knitting many and various aran-weight bumble hats, I also tried a few other modifications, in each case these work for single-round stripes (and would work in a single colour too but it may be less striking). To create a slipped-stitch cross detail at the crown (as shown on the left above) is quite simple – just slip the CC decrease stitches from the previous round.
To insert a panel of garter stitch, which is quite beautiful in single-round stripes, adjust the pattern as follows:
Round 1, in CC: k1, p11 (13, 15, 17, 19, 21), k1, sl1, PM, then work in pattern (per bumble beanie Round 1) to end
Round 2, in MC: sl1, k11 (13, 15, 17, 19, 21), sl1, p1, SM, then work in pattern (per bumble beanie Round 1) to end
And then, when you decrease, in this first quarter section of the hat, you’ll work:
on CC rounds: ssk, purl to 3 sts before marker, k2tog, sl1, SM, then work in pattern (per bumble beanie decrease Rounds 1 or 3) to end
on MC rounds: sl1, knit to 2 sts before marker, sl1, p1, SM, then work in pattern (per bumble beanie decrease Rounds 2 or 4) to end
experimenting with yarn combinations
Bumble a great pattern for self-striping yarns, like Noro Kureyon and Silk Garden. When you use the self-striping yarn as the MC, the colour changes are broken up and made more subtle by the single-colour CC dots. When you use the self-striping yarn as the CC, the rainbow of dots stands out against a solid-colour background.
I also love the effect of using tweeds and heathers together, for a softer and more rustic effect. I bet it would also work nicely to use a variegated hand-paint for the MC and a solid for the CC ‘dots’, to break up any colour pooling and make the hand-paint more subtle.
To make things even more interesting, in some of my hats I held a strand of a lace-weight silk/mohair alongside either the MC or the CC. This created a fabulous halo and sparkle in the finished fabric, and could be used to unify the colour across a high-contrast self-striping colourway.
do you find it hard to match your stash yarn with patterns?
We also have a tutorial on how to adjust patterns to work at a different gauge than called for – this can help when you have yarn that you love, and a pattern you love, but they don’t match up perfectly in terms of gauge. Here at Tin Can Knits we’re making 2016 The Year to Learn Something New, and bringing you excellent new tutorials that we hope will inspire you to learn new skills! Get our excellent email updates, and share in the chat on your favourite social spot:
Other simple patterns just begging to be ‘hacked’