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February 20, 2019

When I was designing the Icefall sweater, one of the most pleasant tasks was choosing just the right palette. After quite a lot of stitch pattern development, I settled upon the motif I would work with. But then, which colours to use? Instead of a symmetrical colour pattern, I had this idea to use 4 colours in a different way.

With this in mind I chose a deep rich blacky brown Tukuwool Fingering ’05 anga’ for the main colour of the jumper. Very dark and very light colours for a sweater body make for easy contrast colour choices. Everything pops!

The brights that I chose to set against this as the ‘panes’ of coloured glass were the next thing to choose. While traditional Fair-Isle patterns have a symmetrical arrangement of colour about a pattern centreline (loads of examples of that in this post), I had an idea about a 4-colour palette, with a different kind of symmetry. I thought I’d put the brighter colours, that would have stronger contrast with the body colour, at the centre, with the deeper, more saturated colours on either side. I decided to work two hues, one top, one bottom.

I trialed out A LOT of different options in Tukuwool Fingering (yup, I now have nearly ALL the colours, I love it!). My colour palette trials might give you ideas about how you’d like to work your version of Icefall.

How did I have the time and energy to make so many swatches? Spoiler alert: I used a knitting machine while I was developing both the motif, and then to choose the palette for this design. This allowed me to make slight adjustments to the stitch pattern, and then make a new swatch more quickly than would be possible if I hand-knit every option. And once I had settled on the final chart, I was able to check colour combinations much more quickly on the machine.

While there were many swatches I liked (I’m looking at you top right), I finally settled on the palette we used in Strange Brew, 29 murai, 28 taate, 02 humu, and h31 aava. I was so pleased with the effect of using the lighter/brighter tones in the center, it draws the eye in just the right way.

Alexa’s version of Icefall

While I toiled and debated, swatched, adjusted, and swatched again, Alexa let the yarn do the work! She chose a pretty light grey YOTH little brother ‘oyster’ from her stash and added a precious skein of Spincycle Dyed in the Wool in Melancholia. The light coloured body of the sweater meant the subtly changing teal really popped. Hunter was immediately smitten with the cropped sweater and has asked that all her sweaters be cropped from now on.

So, how what colour strategy will you use for your Icefall? There is always a lot of inspiration on Ravelry too!

Let’s Get Cozy

February 15, 2019

When the cold winds are howling outside your door and the mornings greet you with frosty window panes, it’s time to get cozy. As knitters, this our prime time, if anyone knows cozy, it’s us! We know how to hunker down wrapped in woollies, a steamy cuppa in hand, working on whatever is on our needles between sips.

We are so pleased to bring you our newest sweater pattern, perfect for wintry weather, the Antler pullover! We knit up in the super cushy Hinterland Range, a warm mix of 50% Canadian Rambouillet and 50% alpaca raised on the British Columbia coast.

The Antler Pullover

The Antler pullover is brought to you by popular demand! There have been more than a few knitters on Ravelry who hacked the original cardigan, and now you can knit it as a pullover too! The pullover has short row shaping to raise the back neck as well as a slightly deeper yoke and higher neckline than the cardigan. We hope you like the latest addition to the Antler family!

Antler Pullover Pattern Details:

Sizing: 0-6mo (6-12mo, 1-2yr, 2-4yr, 4-6yr, 6-8yr, 8-10yr, Women’s XXS, XS, S, SM, M, ML, L, LXL, XL, XXL, 3XL, 4XL, Men’s S, SM, M, ML, L, XL, XXL, 3XL, 4XL)

Finished Chest Measurement: 18.5 (19.5, 21.5, 23, 25, 26.5, 28.5, 30, 32, 34.5, 36.5, 38, 40, 42.5, 44.5, 46, 50.5, 54, 58.5, 36.5, 38, 40, 42.5, 44.5, 48, 52.5, 56, 60.5)”

Yarn: worsted / aran weight yarn
320 (350, 410, 480, 580, 640, 700, 800, 900, 1050, 1150, 1250, 1325, 1400, 1450, 1550, 1600, 1700, 1900, 1200, 1300, 1400, 1500, 1600, 1700, 1800, 1900, 2000) yards


Hinterland is run by the Hanahlie. After a career in photography and design, Hanahlie came to farming following her desire to make things with her hands. She raises rescue alpacas on Pender Island and Hinterland yarn is a mix of this alpaca fiber and Canadian wool; find her story here.

For the Antler pullover we used Hinterland Range, a wonderfully soft and warm yarn, it was a delight to work with! Hinterland’s yarn line also includes Watershed (a bulky weight yarn) and Dusk (a new fingering weight yarn) all with the same alpaca/wool mix. I picked up a few skeins of Dusk recently and can’t wait to cast on!

All That Sparkles

February 7, 2019

This little darling! Her smile and that dimple get me grinning every time!

Alexa has gone back down one of her favourite rabbit holes recently (the antler cable… something new coming oh so soon). This kindled in me a desperate desire to make an Antler cardigan for Neve! I’ve made one or two for Max, but poor second child that Neve is, she had thus far been neglected! So this lovely red Madelinetosh Vintage that had been languishing for some years in my stash became an Antler cardigan, and it was the perfect opportunity to use these lovely mismatched gold buttons from my stash too!

I’m a big fan of ‘similar’ buttons. They don’t need to match exactly, they just need to work well together as a set. More on my button love here.

There’s a great thrift shop near my house with an EXCELLENT button selection, and I love to go in there and rake through them, picking out ‘similar’ and ‘coordinating’ combinations of buttons. There’s just something so inspiring and intriguing about buttons, especially considering the past history of second-hand buttons… I can take a pleasant journey in my imagination thinking up their stories!

The yarn is Madelinetosh Vintage in ‘robin red breast’ – this is the very same yarn we originally designed the Antler Cardigan in originally. Years later I still love it to bits. It’s a great, robust, hard wearing and delightful semi-solid yarn for garment projects; especially well suited to sweaters for little ones which tend to require more laundering!

Sometimes, I throw my ‘work knitting’ to the back of the closet and just knit a project PURELY for the fun of it. These sparkly Barley hats were this kind of project! I knit them while visiting in-laws over Christmas; the pattern requires ZERO attention, and always seems to come out beautifully.

Other ‘just for pleasure’ knits that I made recently are these SUPER SPARKLY Barley hats for Neve and Max. Occasionally I spend my morning working at a cafe in a lovely department store here in Edinburgh, and occasionally I’ll peruse their yarn selection. It doesn’t have the great selection you would find at an independent LYS, but it’s still interesting when I want a little hit of colour and inspiration. This is where I stumbled across this outrageously sparkly stuff; it’s Rico Design Luxury Magic Mohair. I thought to myself, well, we’re probably not going to do a design in it, so I let it stay on the shelf. Right. Sensible.

Then the next week, I stopped on by to look at it again, once more deciding that it was impractical, and not buying it. Eventually, I told Alexa about this sparkle yarn I’d been obsessing over, and she laughed at me “That’s silly, if you love it you should get it!” So I felt a bit ridiculous and supposed she was right. Best not to shy away from inspiration! What are a few more balls going to do… ? While sparkles are not my norm, sometimes you need to give in to desire; and perhaps sparkly holiday hats are just the moment for impulsivity and indulgence!

Despite my desire to finish both John’s and my own Christmas jumpers (a leftover ambition from the Strange Brew KAL), I couldn’t help casting on immediately, and these two barley hats were the result! The kids love them of course!

The Simple Collection – Fabulous Free Patterns

Have you knit something from The Simple Collection? We published this free learn-to-knit series of simple modern patterns back in 2013, but have been gradually adding to it ever since! The first 8 patterns were all made in worsted-weight yarn, but we’ve since added some lightweight versions; the Flax Light sweater, the Barley Light hat, and we started this year ‘best foot forward’ with the Rye Light socks. There are now 13 free patterns to choose from!

There is PROBABLY something that you need to knit from The Simple Collection. The Barley hat, for example, has nearly 19,000 listed projects on Ravelry, at the time of this blog post. Clearly it’s a fan favourite, and it’s pretty easy to see why!

How to knit an i-cord

January 26, 2019

An i-cord is just a little tube of knitting. It is a great way to make tie for any knit item that might require it. You can use this technique to connect up your mittens so they don’t get lost, create ties for the Cable Me Softly booties to keep them on the wiggly baby feet, or make the ties for the Beloved Bonnet.

Bodhi is wearing her Beloved Bonnet with i-cord ties. It is knit up in Cedar House Yarns Yearling DK in ‘sunstone’.

To make an i-cord you will need yarn and double pointed needles (a circular needle will work just as well, but it’s a little fussier because you have to slide your stitches all the way from one end to the other).

Ready to make my i-cord!

An i-cord can be creating using 2, 3, 4, 5 or sts. For this tutorial I am working a 4 stitch i-cord for my bonnet.

How to knit an i-cord:

  1. Cast on 4 sts (I used a long tail cast on).
  2. Slide your stitches from one end of the DPN (or circular needle) to the other. Your working yarn will be coming from the 4th stitch cast on.
  3. Knit those 4 stitches.

Repeat instructions 2-3 until your i-cord is the desired length.

1. Cast on 4 stitches.
2. Slide those 4 stitches to the other end of the DPN (or circular needle). Note that the working yarn is coming from the 4th stitch.
Ready to knit those 4 stitches, the working yarn is coming from the 4th stitch so you are going to bring it across the back of your stitches to knit that first stitch.
After you knit those 4 stitches give your tail a little tug and your i-cord will look like this.
Here I have slid those 4 stitches to the other end of the needle so my working yarn again comes from the 4th stitch. I will bring it across the back to knit that first stitch.
As you repeat steps 2 and 3 your i-cord will start to grow!

To keep the tension even in your i-cord, after you have knit the first stitch of the set, give it an extra tug so it’s nice and snug.

That’s it! I-cord is easy peasy once you get the hang of it!

Patterns perfect for i-cord from Tin Can Knits: Beloved, The World’s Simplest Mittens, and Cable me Softly


January 10, 2019
For Christmas this year, I had the ambition to make a family of yoke sweaters using our Strange Brew Recipe. I finished two of the four I had planned in time for the photo… that’s not bad, right? Luckily I had a dozen other yokes to choose from, so we are well cozy in wool!

For me, 2018 was ‘the year of the yoke’. I’m sure that applies to many knitters out there, right? Yokes are so hot right now, and it’s easy to understand why. Once you knit one… It can be difficult to stop!

As a designer, I was SUPER excited to publish our Strange Brew yoke recipe pattern, because it meant that I could knit just about ANYTHING… using a single pattern. I could knit it a little differently each time, depending on my mood and inspiration.

My Sweater

This Strange Brew yoke sweater is a knit that I improvised on the needles. I cast on, working from the top down, working with a palette of yarns that interested me! I followed the Strange Brew instructions for cast-on and initial increase of a sock-weight top-down sweater.

This has been my most-worn sweater for the past 6 months, ever since it came off the needles! I’ve just bought some more so I can make another one in the same yarn – De Rerum Natura Ullysse – but a different colour, so that this one can have a rest once in awhile!

How I worked out the yoke design:

Because I was working the yoke by feel, I began with a 4-stitch repeat, with a vague plan to add stitches to the repeat, to eventually arrive at an 8-stitch repeat, and thus double my stitches, by the time I’d worked about half of the yoke depth. Tip: A wedge chart that doubles in stitch count by half-way through the yoke depth is generally a solid bet.

As I worked, I switched out one colour at a time, creating an alternating pattern of rectangles. As long as I liked the combination of the yarn that I added in, I would continue, without too much thought as to an overall plan for the yoke. Only at one point, in the centre of the pattern, did I begin to break my own rules, creating a set of little squares that alternated with the background colour.

Once I’d worked half-way through the pattern, I had established a palette of colours I liked, and from that point on I simply used each of them once more, to bring a cohesive and intentional look to the finished design. Using the forest green as the final colour also helped tie the design together, as it was the CC colour I had begun with at the neckline, and its low-contrast pairing against the navy means it creates a blendy edge to the colourwork.

As you can see here, the wider columns of colour (which have the little navy boxes inset within them) are formed mainly of lighter colours, and so they stand out against the deep pink, navy, and olive green of the narrower columns of colour. This effect of ‘columns’ could be enhanced or diminished using colour placement.

The wedge pattern, thus developed, had only increased from 4 sts per repeat up to 7 sts per repeat. I went a little off-piste and added in some raglan shaping points while I did the short-row shaping at the back of the yoke, and working a few extra rounds to get the desired yoke depth.

The stockinette body and sleeves of this jumper I completed on the knitting machine, which means they are seamed. I shaped the body with waist shaping, which is an option given in the Strange Brew pattern. I made the body a little bit cropped, and the sleeves are a little bit long, so I fold them back most of the time.

I REALLY love this yarn. De Rerum Natura Ulysse is soft but sturdy, and comes in INTERESTING colours. My next Strange Brew sweater in this yarn will have this fabulous red-orange heather as the main colour.

De Rerum Natura Ulysse

The yarn is De Rerum Natura Ulysse, a sport-weight yarn that I used when I made the child-sized samples for the Compass sweater and Compass cowl designs (from the Strange Brew collection). I really love this yarn to bits. It’s a French & Portuguese grown and milled merino that’s been woollen spun, and it comes in a sophisticated palette of subtle heathers. I found that the fabric pilled quite a bit at first, but after the first time I shaved the sweater, it has looked great and has not produced many more pills. A sweater in this yarn is the perfect weight for me. I find it soft enough for against-the-skin wear which is great for me because I usually wear tank-tops under my sweaters.

An ‘odd duck’ palette – pushing my boundaries out

The palette I chose was a bit of an ‘odd duck’ for me. With the exception of the navy MC, these are not colours I’m usually drawn to; either on their own, or in combination! But developing the Strange Brew recipe pattern and collection has given me a framework in which to push my skills and experience in combining colours outside of my comfort zone! Frankly, it’s much more interesting for me to attempt combinations I’m uncertain of than it is to stick with tried-and-true palettes. While this means more ripping and re-knitting, it’s also more satisfying when I land on a combination like this one that really speaks to me!

Navy, Olive, Fucsia, Orange, Pale Blue, and Pale Pink… who would guess this would work?

I’m sorely tempted to cast on and make another just like this in a different palette, because the process of making this sweater was just so fun and satisfying, and I’ve hardly taken it off since it was finished in the spring.

Design your own yoke sweater!

We’ve put together a host of tutorials that can guide you as you use our Strange Brew recipe pattern to design your own colourwork yoke sweater, including a tutorial on planning a steek, just in case cardigans are really more your thing!

More colourwork from Tin Can Knits:

Rye Light

January 1, 2019

Sock knitters are a special type of knitter! They always have a pair of socks on the needles, whether they’re using double points, magic loop, working their socks two-at-a-time, cuff-down, or toe-up. Sock knitters have this whole other thing going on. They knit socks anywhere and everywhere, watching kiddies at the park, riding the bus, or chatting with the in-laws! The socks go where they go.

We often hear from knitters that the next step on their knitting journey is socks. They yearn to become the type of knitter described above; a knitter with a memorized sock recipe that they make over and over. These knitters, on the cusp of becoming sock knitters, are intimidated by the heel turn, but ready to try something new! Our original Rye socks have been the first pair for many knitters since the pattern was released back 2013.

Well, for the last 5 years we’ve been hearing requests for a sock weight version of Rye! While we still recommend making worsted weight socks as your first pair (they simply go so much faster!), we know you all have a precious skein of sock yarn languishing in your stash, waiting to come out and play!

I knit Bodhi’s wee socks in ‘leaf jumping’, I love all those teeny tiny speckles!

For our splendid Rye Light socks we used Sunshine Yarns Luxury Sock in ‘be still’, ‘leaf jumping’ and ‘pumpkin bread’. It was absolutely delightful to knit with! I especially enjoyed the tiny flecks of all the colours in ‘leaf jumping’, it was like little bits of happiness with each passing stitch.The simple garter panel and otherwise plain nature make it a great place to use a precious semi-solid, or a wild speckle, anything goes!

Wrapped in woollies! These three are all wearing Flax sweaters and Rye Light socks, Emily is wearing her Antler Toque and Jordan is sporting an Apple Pie hat.

We have already given the Flax sweater and Barley hat the ‘light’ treatment and now we’ve got Rye Light! It’s the same modern simple design, but now in a lighter weight yarn. And of course the pattern is sized baby-to-big!

Rye Light Details

Pattern: Rye Light available here for FREE!
Sizes: Baby (Toddler, Child, Adult S, M, L)
Yarn: 120 (180, 240, 320, 380, 480) yards sock / fingering weight yarn
Suggested Needles: US #1 / 2.25mm DPNs (or circular for magic loop) US #2 / 2.75mm DPNs (or circular for magic loop)
Tutorial: The Rye tutorial works for this pattern as well, the numbers are different but all of the concepts are the same.

More socks from TCK:

How to plan a steek in a Strange Brew colourwork sweater

December 20, 2018

What is steeking? Steeking is cutting your knitting, and it is a particularly useful technique when knitting colourwork. Using this technique you knit a sweater in the round as though it were a pullover, then ‘steek it’, cutting it up the front, it to create a cardigan.

I knit Bodhi’s steeked cardigan in a delicious fall palette of Brooklyn Tweed Peerie.

For full details on how to reinforce and cut a steek see our post on steeking here. This post focuses on how to plan a steek for a Strange Brew sweater. This post is part of our multi-part series on how to design or knit a colourwork sweater.

Why not just knit it back and forth? Stranded colourwork is generally best worked in the round. The result tends to be tidier because it is much easier to see your pattern forming on the right side and it is easier to keep an even tension and loose floats. In addition, keeping edge sts tidy can be tricky when working colourwork back and forth.

How to plan a steek in your Strange Brew design:

There are a few things to take into consideration if you are planning a steek in your Strange Brew sweater. You will consider the placement of steek sts, pattern alignment, and how precisely to work the steek sts.

Steek stitches: In order to steek a sweater you will designate 5-7 sts at the centre front as the steek stitches. Throughout the sweater these 5-7 stitches are sacred, you must place all increases and decreases outside of these stitches so as not to impact them.

This is the hem detail on Bodhi’s steeked sweater. You can see that there are 5 steek sts between the white lines. I’ve also started and finished my ribbing outside the steek sts with 2 stockinette sts.
This is the yoke in Bodhi’s steeked sweater. There are 5 steek sts at centre front. All of the increases and decreases occur outside of these 5 sts. I also made sure my pattern started and ended on the same colour before and after the steek sts to keep the edge symmetrical. 

Once your sweater is done you will reinforce and cut up the centre of the steek stitches. The button bands will be picked up on either side of these steek stitches. The picture below shows Bodhi’s sweater with the crochet reinforcements (in red) and the button bands already picked up and knit.

Once your sweater is cut, the steek stitches will have been eliminated (you will have cut up the centre stitch and picked up button bands on either side of the steek stitches). Because you will gain the width of the button bands, there is no need to add 5-7 stitches to the Strange Brew numbers, you can simply use the stitch counts given in the pattern.

Pattern alignment: When knitting a steeked sweater it is best to have the pattern jog or beginning of round (BOR) occur at the steek (at the centre front of your sweater). This way there are no pesky ends to weave in, you are cutting them up anyway! Depending on your motifs you may need to add edge sts so your patterning is symmetrical around the steek stitches.

How to work the steek sts: In 2 colour rounds, colours should alternate at the steek, as shown in the charts below. Alternating colours in this manner means you wont end up cutting into a long float, and both yarns will be well anchored in place. For single colour rounds, you will work only that single colour at the steek stitches.

On the left is the checkerboard pattern and on the right is a vertical stripe pattern. Either method works well to mesh the yarns at the steek. 

Bodhi’s Fall Cardigan: an example

For Bodhi’s steeked cardigan I started with the idea of interlocking crosses for the patterning at the yoke and hem. It was a fairly simple idea that worked out to a 2 stitch repeat. I worked the 4-6 size, top down, in sock weight yarn according to the Strange Brew recipe.

I worked this sweater with 5 steek sts. The first stitch of my round was the centre of these 5 stitches. This means I had the BOR marker, 3 steek sts at the beginning of the round, the rest of the yoke patterning, then 2 steek sts at the end of the round. I changed colour at the BOR.

For the ribbing, I knew my button bands would be picked up on either side of the 5 steek sts so I wanted my steek sts to be in stockinette rather than rib, and I wanted to start and end the round outside of the steek sts with 2 stockinette stitches so it would look nice and tidy when the button bands were picked up. So, the centre 9 sts were in stockinette, the 5 steek sts plus 2 on either side.

You can see my centre 9 sts were stockinette for the ribbing at the collar.

I worked yoke increase rounds before and after the yoke patterning and made sure that none of the increases occurred within the steek. This meant I had to throw in an increase or 2 extra in the rest of the round to end up with the desired final number.

I skipped the short rows, but if you wanted to add them in to a top-down steeked design, you would knit 1/2 of your sts, place your marker for the centre back and work your short rows from there, following the instructions included within the Strange Brew recipe pattern.

The chart: The chart below shows how I worked the hem detail for Bodhi’s sweater. The first stitch at the bottom right is the first stitch of my round. So I had 3 steek sts, then my 2 stitch repeat, and each round ended with 2 more steek sts.

TIP: I recently picked up a great tip for steeking! Pick up the button bands BEFORE you cut your steek. It puts even less stress on those freshly cut stitches.

Steeking Large Motifs:

While Bodhi’s sweater has a small repeat pattern, you may be considering a design using larger motifs. It’s more important with larger motifs to consider the way the pattern will begin and end on either side of the steek stitches (and thus on either side of the button band locations). This is simplest to figure out visually, armed with graph paper, pencil and eraser!

Considering the example below, you wouldn’t want to end up with a full snowflake on one side of your button band and a half or partial snowflake on the other. You would want button bands to be located such that a full or half motif was maintained on either side of button band. With that in mind you may need adjust the total stitch counts through the yoke in order to allow for your chosen stitch patterns to have this sort of mirrored beginning and ending.

In this example, to work this pattern it would be necessary for your stitch count to be a multiple of 16 sts, plus 3 edge stitches, plus 5 steek stitches, thus it would be a multiple of 16 + 8.

Armed with a little planning you are now ready to go forth and plan yourself a Strange Brew cardigan!

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