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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

September Sweaters III

October 3, 2019
5 cousins in their Gramps sweaters!

A tradition for the ages

A few years ago, Emily and I decided to start a sweater knitting tradition, the September Sweater. For those who don’t know her, Emily is my sister-in-law, an excellent knitter and famous knitwear model too!

For this year’s September Sweater instalment, we chose a TCK oldie, the Gramps sweater.

I love a good family tradition. For me, there are certain foods that are a MUST at big family dinners. For the kid’s birthdays, I hang a string of photos from the year in the living room; for us to remember and celebrate them. And my extended family has an odd tradition of bashing boiled and dyed eggs together at Easter (the winner has the egg that doesn’t break) and we all eat a lot of egg salad for a week!

As we grow we keep the traditions we love, and leave behind the ones that no longer make us happy. We are also free to start new traditions of our own. I think of my kids, in turn, taking what is meaningful to them and passing it down the line.

The original September sweaters, Flax with a rainbow stripe for a bit of a 70’s vibe. We used Tanis Fiber Arts Green Label Aran in ‘sand’ for the MC and the rainbows are composed of various Madelinetosh and SweetGeorgia yarns.

Emily and I love a good matching (or coordinated) sweater photoshoot. A few years ago we began with Flax sweaters for all of our kids (4 of them at the time). It took me WAY longer to knit 3 sweaters than it took her to knit 1, so it took almost a year longer than anticipated (note that Ellis’ sweater looks a wee bit tight on him). The photoshoots can get a little…overwhelming… but we loved it so much we decided we should do it again!

5 Strange Brews! We knit all of these ones up in Brooklyn Tweed Arbor. You can find all of sweater details, including the charts here.

The next round I got a little smarter. I realized that knitting 3 sweaters exactly the same wasn’t quite as exciting as I wanted it to be, so we decided to make coordinated sweaters and stick with the rainbow theme. Arlo was born, so the sweater count went up to five! I loved knitting those Strange Brew sweaters so much! The kids look adorable and by complete chance, their boots even matched their sweaters.

Fast forward 2 years (because that’s how long it took me to knit three of these Gramps sweaters) and we finished our third round of September sweaters. Cozy shawl collars and warm wool kept everyone smiling at Incinerator Rock, in the Pacific Rim National Park. It’s so fun to see how the kids grow in these photos as they mark a moment in time. The kids’ different personalities come through too!

Bodhi is so little here!!!
I feel like they are ready to break into a dance routine here….or maybe they just finished one?

Gramps sweater details:

  • Hunter’s sweater: Knit up in Stone Wool Cormo in ‘Karst 03’ size 8-10 years.
  • Jones’ sweater: Knit up in The Plucky Knitter Scholar in ‘chamomile’ size 8-10 years (I know, it’s wild that Hunter and Jones wear the same size now!).
  • Bodhi’s sweater: Knit up in Brooklyn Tweed Quarry in ‘sulphur’, the gauge was quite different from the pattern so I knit the 6-12 month size, but customized the lengths for Bodhi.
  • Ellis’ sweater: Knit up in Stone Wool Cormo in ‘Tobacco 03’ size 4-6 years.
  • Arlo’s sweater: Knit up in Swans Island All American Worsted in ‘pomegranate’ , size 1-2 years.
Hunter rocking the original Gramps cardigan from our very first book!

What to knit next?

Now the fun part: what to knit next? What should our next round of September sweaters be? I’m leaning towards cables, but maybe colourwork? Perhaps even a new design altogether? Here are a few of the contenders:

Almanac, Antler pullover, and Compass

Tell us, what are some of your favourite traditions? Do you knit a friend a pair of socks every year? Do some lucky recipients get a new hat when the weather turns?

First Day Sweater

September 26, 2019
Trek Colourwork Sweater Pattern
Bodhi in her Trek sweater knit in Hello Stella yarn.

I think after the success of the September Sweaters we have established that I love a sweater with a title. I love making almost anything into ‘a tradition’, and in this case I gained another excuse to knit a sweater, as if I needed one, right?! So now I have knit Kindergarten Sweaters for each of my three kids. What’s a Kindergarten Sweater, you ask? Let me tell you!

Trek Sweater Pattern

An Intriguing Idea

Someone once told me they dressed their kid in the same type of outfit the first day of Kindergarten as the first day of Grade 12. This seemed like a fun idea to me but, as a knitter, I thought I should take it one step further and knit a sweater. I will, in theory, knit the same sweater for them to wear in for Grade 12. Wish me luck.

1999 Sweater Pattern
Hunter’s Kindergarten sweater was a 1999 in Rainbow Heirloom Sweater ‘princess rockstar’.
Bowline Sweater Pattern
For Jones I knit a Bowline sweater in yellow, his favourite colour. The yarn is Hedgehog Fibers DK in ‘pollen’, so it is a little off gauge.

When Lindsay of Hello Stella created the Van collection (which includes a donation to a good cause) I knew it was the PERFECT palette for a Kindergarten sweater. I have wanted to knit the Trek sweater since Emily first designed it, so away I went!

I love this warm palette and the tweedy quality of those black neps.

An Adjustment for Gauge

Since the Trek sweater pattern is written for DK weight yarn and the Van collection yarns are sock weight, I used the stitch counts from the adult size XS, but customized the lengths for Bodhi. Part way through the yoke I panicked, worried it was going to be too deep, so for the middle ‘box’ section I used the smaller chart. I worried for nothing, it fits the way I did it, but those few extra rounds just following the pattern would have been just fine too.

Check out our tutorial about knitting a garment at a different gauge for tips on how to make this sort of an adjustment.

Bodhi is my third kid and she has been WAITING for her chance to go to school with the big kids since Hunter’s first day of school. She is so ready for this!

Trek Sweater Pattern
And she got a new haircut for Kindergarten too!

Strange Brew Directory

September 26, 2019

This post is a directory of the Strange Brew knits that Alexa and I have done over the course of the past couple of years! We’ve had so much fun with this recipe, and we hope you will too. Each of the posts below includes charts that you can apply to your own Strange Brew sweater!

Our Strange Brew colourwork yoke ‘recipe’ pattern is useful and flexible, but without an example (or a dozen examples!) you could find yourself staring at the blank page, uncertain what to put on your yoke!

If you’re embarking on a ‘design it yourself’ colourwork yoke, check out our tutorial series dedicated to the techniques and methods for Strange Brew.

strange brew example sweaters

Have we knit SO MANY strange brew sweaters? Yes, yes we have!

Sparkly dots and short sleeves! Cute!
A bold graphic pattern, and saturated tones.
A steeked cardigan for Bodhi with some serious fall vibes!
A little bit like 2-tone coffee beans?
Quick, simple motifs in vivid colours! Charts here.
Cropped and detailed; in this yoke I experimented with green and pin combinations!
This colour combination was outside my comfort zone, but I love it!
Simple and classic with a retro holiday mood!
Simple but perfectly satisfying!
Designed without a plan, this yoke was an adventure!
Icicles for Hunter
Snowflakes for Bodhi!

One More Time

September 20, 2019
Woman on a step wearing a handknit sweater with a colourwork yoke.

Last year I knit John a Strange Brew colourwork yoke sweater. It was nominally a Christmas gift, but really I made it because, despite the fact that John had been my loving partner and prime cheerleader for years while Alexa and I built Tin Can Knits, he STILL didn’t have a hand-knit sweater… only a single sadly scratchy scarf. That’s a knitterly fail if ever there was one!

2 adults wearing matching handknit sweaters

But wouldn’t you know it, once John’s sweater was knit, what happened? In spite of my drawer full of other lovely sweaters, I mostly wanted to wear his. All the time. So the unthinkable had to be thought. I would make myself the same sweater! We would match. Because what’s worse than a hand-knit sweater? Matching hand-knit sweaters on middle-aged lovers. (hahaha side-note… I LOVE saying “LOVER” out loud, because it makes Alexa cringe every time).

Just kidding, it’s really the best! Our kids are still a bit too small to know the hot sting of parent-inspired shame, but soon we will be embarrassing them nonstop, so we’ve gotta get started now, working on suitably ridiculous wardrobe.

2 adults in matching sweaters. The man is kissing the woman on the cheek.

The gory story of the design development for this yoke pattern was covered in the original post. If you’re interested you can find the charts there to make a matchy sweater of your own!

What I want to show you today are some alternative colour options that I considered. You might find these palettes inspiring if you’re planning a yoke sweater like Strange Brew , Marshland, Spotlight or one of the many beautiful colourwork yokes out there!

Adult woman in handknit sweater with a colourwork yoke
This smile shows how happy I am with my new sweater! I made it relaxed and cozy with 3-4″ of positive ease.

developing a colourwork yoke palette

A knit sleeve next to bits of yarn in various colour combinations
A sleeve plus the yarns that I brought to the table (the sidewalk) for consideration! I spent A LONG TIME hunched over these yarns photographing various options.

To choose a palette for my copycat yoke, I began by pulling out my worsted and aran weight stash! I worked the body and sleeves of the garment in a tweedy grey, so I just had to select 3 colours that would work alongside it.

testing the palette

Once I’d selected some combinations that I thought might work, I used a graphics program to trial out the colour placement roughly on a sketch of the yoke patterning. This gave me a little closer idea of what the garment might look like with the colour combinations I’d shortlisted.

After some deliberation, and a call out to Instagram to see what the knitters thought about my colour combinations, I was pretty sure I was going to go with one of the light pink + rust options. But then I hesitated. The sleeves and body were finished, so all I had left was a delicious yoke to knit, but for some reason I wasn’t getting started.

A handknit colourwork yoke close up

back to the drawing board…

When it came down to it, what I REALLY loved about John’s knit was that cobalt blue. So I had to go back to the drawing board, and find a combo that allowed the cobalt to shine! In the end I pulled out some of my DK weight stash, trusting that it would work just fine with the worsted weight main colour. That gave me access to a crispy crunchy golden brown, and a more purple-toned deep navy. All told, I’m glad I went back in the cobalt direction! It feels more ‘me’.

I think we’d all agree it’s a little too matchy, buuuuuuuuuttttt… This oversized sweater is REALLY delicious to wear.

An adult woman wearing a handknit sweater with a colourwork yoke.
An adult couple wearing matching knit sweaters and laughing.

more play with colour

Did any of the colour combinations I explored inspire you? You could use your favourite palette above to make one of the designs from the Strange Brew collection – these combinations would work well for Marshland, Almanac, Fleet or Cartography.

Marshland Sweater (link to pattern for sale)
Marshland Sweater
Almanac sweater (link to pattern for sale)
Almanac Sweater
Fleet hat (link to pattern for sale)
Fleet Hat
Cartography sweater (link to pattern for sale)
Cartography sweater has all-over colourwork patterns

Fall is for Hats

September 19, 2019
I knit up this family of Gather hats in Rainbow Heirloom Sweater in ‘golden north’ and ‘auld lang syne’, Sweet Fiber Merino Twist DK in ‘Dusted Rose’ and Tanis Fiber Arts Purewash DK in ‘mint’

There is something about September and the changing leaves that makes me want to cast on HATS. I mean, not just 1, not 2, but whole families of hats! In early autumn it’s not even cold enough here in Vancouver to warrant such a hat desire yet. In fact, I could probably wait until the end of November. Maybe it’s the hustle and bustle of back to school that leaves me wanting a small and manageable project, maybe it’s the end of a long summer of sweater knitting, whatever it is, I’m craving hats.

So I gather up the precious single skeins from my stash, take a look around at the people I love, consider their possible head warmth needs, and then get started churning out hats like there’s no tomorrow!

Noel, rocking a pom!

Pattern Love (6 years later)

I first designed the Gather hat for Knit City… was it 2013?! Knit City is an event I have loved from the beginning and a big part of that is how Amanda and Fiona work to bring the knitting community together. This year I took a new look at this old favourite and knit up a whole family of hats!

Olivia was all smiles in the field of flowers!

Every so often I re-fall-in-love-with a pattern. I really enjoy the smocking stitch, mostly because it looks pretty and complicated, but it couldn’t be simpler (we even have a tutorial for that here if you don’t believe me). I enjoyed putting this unusual palette together, a golden yellow, dusty pink, an emerald and a minty green. It’s pretty far outside my usual colour scheme but I really like it and immediately wanted to create a Strange Brew yoke with the combination.

After knit four Gather hats I decided to give this old favourite a new layout with new photos.

Matching hats for the win!

There are more TCK hats to choose from if you are on a hat kick like me!

Antler, Hunter, Beloved, Penny, Tall Dark and Handsome, Rosewater, Clayoquot, Stovetop, Fleet, Precipitation, Snap

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