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Handspun Flax

October 22, 2020
smiling woman in a green and teal handspun sweater

One of my knitting goals this year was to spin and knit myself a jumper – and now it’s off the bobbin and on my body! While I’ve knit our free Flax sweater pattern many times, this is the first one I’ve made just for myself. This little spin-and-knit project brought me such intense joy, from selecting the fibres to knitting each and every stitch on what we knitters passive aggressively call ‘sleeve island’.

smiling woman in a green and teal handspun sweater

Vividly colourful and cropped, this sweater sparkles!

The handspun, two-ply yarn I created to knit this sweater was spun with one ply made from a multi-colour batt, and the other from an interesting multi-colour top. This resulted in a dazzling yarn that produced random stripes of colour, shot through with little tweedy flecks of brighter and darker shades.

a green and teal handspun sweater with garter details

I love how the stripes look like strata of sedimentary stone, illustrating the passage of time that went into making this sweater. In this fabric, I can see the many hours I enjoyed, slowly drafting out the fibre into short stretches of one colour, then the next and the next.

sleeve and hem detail of a green and teal handspun sweater

While I often finish my own stockinette sweater bodies on my knitting machine, but I knit by hand for this project. I savoured each round, delighted as new and unexpected colours flowed from these pretty cakes of yarn.

green and teal handspun raglan sweater yoke on the needles

Calming impracticality

My kids are four and six, and during the months of lockdown and summer here in Edinburgh, we’ve been cooped up in our apartment most hours of the day. My husband John and I did our best to split childcare duties whilst continuing to work our full-time jobs from home, but juggling it all was a challenge. Yet it was in this context, with an additional 30+ hours of family labour to share, that I decided it was time to add spinning yarn into the mix. This seemed impractical, to say the very least. But after a long day of trying to get emails and design work done – and be there for the kids as they played, fought, and made mountains of precious junk out of cardboard boxes and tape – spinning became a delicious kind of escape. Evening after evening, I was continually drawn to focus my hands and my mind on the whirring, pulling, transformative magic of my little electric spinning wheel.

A pretty process, full of pleasure

Fluffy batts in deep greens and soft yellow and pinks

To make the yarn for my new Flax sweater, I began with 200 g of green, turquoise, brown, and sparkly mixed batts from Spin City, which I spun into a skinny single ply.

a bobbin with green and black singles, alongside two different teal rovings

After spinning the mixed batts, I had to select a fibre for the other strand of the two-ply yarn I had planned. I ordered two different rovings from John Arbon Textiles – one was a dark green and teal blend, and another contained brighter teals, greens, and shots of pink. I plied a small amount of each with the green to create two distinct sample yarns.

bobbins of green and teal singles and a small swatch in tones of teal, green and turquoise with shots of pink

Next, I knit a swatch with the sample yarns to see which colourway I should commit to. As you can see, I was more excited by the teal and pink colourway, with those pops of hot pink! Designing a yarn like this, from scratch, was very exciting!

green and teal 2ply handspun on an e-spinner

Plying is the process of taking two (or more) single strands, and twisting them together to make a finished yarn. Watching the way this self-striping green ply twisted together with the tweedy teal and pink was both soothing and joyful.

a ball and skein of 2-ply handspun in green, teal, and pink

Before I knew it, my yarn was ready! The next step was to decide which sweater from our extensive range of designs I would knit. I didn’t have very much yardage, so I spun a coordinating yarn that I could use to stripe or colour-block the finished knit.

woman wearing a green and teal handspun sweater
woman wearing a green and teal handspun sweater, looking through a wrought iron gate

In the end, the free Flax sweater was an easy choice. With a yarn this intensely colourful and stripy, I find it’s best to stick with a simple design, and Flax is definitely simple. I chose the M/L size, but I knit at a slightly tighter gauge for a body measuring 37” around. (This means I’m wearing it with 2” of negative ease on my 39” bust.) I also cropped the body to 12″ long, a length I’ve been liking lately. I also followed our new short-row shaping instructions to raise the back neck of this Flax sweater, which made for an even better fit!

smiling woman in a green and teal handspun sweater

So what’s next? 

That’s the big question, isn’t it? Having ticked my ‘spin and knit a sweater’ goal off the list, what new handspun project will I attempt now? Well, I’m currently working a rainbow blanket, knit all in handspun…

A rainbow of soft-spun skeins of single ply yarn

And another sweater perhaps? Yes, I do, in fact, have a new design project on the go, which I’m knitting in handspun!

Knitted fabric in stripes of marled yarn laid alongside skeins of yarn.

And because these two extra projects aren’t quite enough, I’m also working on enough Shetland handspun for a sweater, and it feels like spinning a fluffy, bouncy cloud.

skeins of cream and brown marled yarns next to balls of roving
I was ordering yarn from Jamieson & Smith, when I discovered that they sell fibre, too! At £11 for 500 g (yes, that will likely spin a sweater amount), this will be the most affordable (and time consuming) sweater I’ve knit in ages!

Flax for your first sweater

This year’s theme – for Alexa and I – is Next Stitches; we’re encouraging each other to just keep stitching, and to learn that next skill. Flax and its sock-weight sister, Flax Light, are great patterns if you’re ready to knit your very first sweater – or your second. Our in-depth tutorial will guide you through each technique, from start to finish. As an added bonus, this design is really easy to customize – you can shorten the sleeves or add lace, cables, or stripes. For even more inspiration, check out some other lovely knitters’ versions by surfing the #FlaxSweater hashtag on Instagram. And be sure to include the hashtag when posting yours, so we can share in the joy!

~ Emily

green and teal handspun raglan sweater laid on rainbow of skeins

How to Read a Knitting Pattern

October 8, 2020

Knitting is a simple, satisfying, stitch-by-stitch pursuit. However, to follow a knitting pattern, a beginner must first learn a number of knitting-pattern conventions. These include abbreviations, charts, multi-size text instructions, sizing, and schematic diagrams. We hope this tutorial series helps to clarify your uncertainties!

In this tutorial, we explain How to Read a Knitting Pattern in four parts:

Note: While each designer or publisher writes knitting patterns slightly differently, we tend to share common conventions. We describe our own Tin Can Knits pattern-writing conventions in these tutorials, but once you understand these conventions, the variations that other designers use will be easier to learn and understand.

Practice with a free pattern today!

Put your new learning to the test and get started with one of our free knitting patterns from The Simple Collection, a learn-to-knit series designed to help knitters make the next stitch and learn the next skill. And be sure to share this post with newer knitters you know who are still a little bit unclear about knitting-pattern conventions.

Are there any elements of pattern reading that you still find unclear? Comment on this post or contact us directly, so we can improve this teaching tool.

~ Emily and Alexa

Understanding the Sizing and Materials Section of a Knitting Pattern

October 8, 2020

Before you can cast on, you need to gather yarn and needles. The sizing and materials section of a knitting pattern will tell you everything you need.

Straight wooden knitting needles.

This post is part of our How to Read a Knitting Pattern tutorial. Follow the links below to read the other topics.

Sizing and materials section

The sizing and materials section of a knitting pattern contains a lot of information presented in a compact format. In most patterns, this section contains several key parts, which we’ll look at in detail below.


The sizing section uses either text or a table of values to provide the finished measurements of the item or the body measurement the item is designed to fit. In either case, it’s critical that you knit the project to the design gauge; this will ensure accurate dimensions and a good fit. The specifics of how these dimensions are measured may be noted on an accompanying schematic diagram or sketch.


The yarn section lists how much yarn you’ll need and approximately what weight of yarn you’ll need. (For more information on yarn, check out our tutorial here.) Our patterns also list the specific yarn we used for our sample, along with a link to more information about it.


The gauge section tells you the tension you must achieve for your knit to come out the right size. Tension or gauge is listed as the number of stitches and rows to achieve over four inches in a given stitch pattern, and it will vary from person to person. We hold our needles and yarn slightly differently; we are more tense or relaxed as we work. When it comes to tension, every knitter is unique! For a more detailed explanation, read our tutorial on the importance of gauge in knitting.

Suggested needles

This section lists the the needle sizes (i.e., the diameters), types, and lengths that are suggested to complete the project in your chosen size. However, the needle sizes are only suggestions. To achieve the finished dimensions for the size you want to make, you must knit with whatever needle size YOU require to achieve the design gauge. Read more about knitting needles here.


Some projects require a few extra materials or tools, for example the buttons needed for a cardigan, the cable needle required for a cabled hat, stitch markers, or darning needles. Notions are all the extra tools and materials you may need to complete your project.

This may be all you need to read in order to understand the sizing and materials section of a pattern, but we have included two detailed examples below, if needed.

Example A: Barley hat

The free Barley hat pattern has a sizing and materials section and a construction diagram that acts a bit like a schematic.

Illustration of Barley Hat pattern page with sizing and materials section highlighted

Sizing: Baby (Toddler, Child, Adult S, M, L)
Fits head 16 (17.5, 19, 20.5, 22, 23)” around

The Barley hat includes six sizes; they are listed in order from smallest to largest. Throughout the pattern, the sizes will be listed in this order consistently with round brackets, commas, and bolded adult sizes. For more about these conventions, check out Reading Multi-Size Knitting-Pattern Instructions.

The Barley hat pattern lists to-fit dimensions for each of the hat sizes underneath the size names. For example, the baby size is designed to fit a head 16″ in circumference. The adult M fits a 22″ head. It’s important to note that the pattern will fit these sizes only if you achieve the pattern gauge – more details on that in a minute.

Next up, the materials section contains four parts: yarn, gauge, suggested needles, and notions. Let’s look at how to interpret each section in detail.

Yarn: 70 (80, 90, 110, 150, 170) yards worsted / aran weight yarn (samples shown in Madelinetosh Tosh Vintage in ‘badlands,’ ‘thoreau,’ ‘twig,’ and ‘winter wheat’)

The yarn section indicates the amount and approximate weight of yarn needed. It also provides the specific yarn brand, type, and colourway used to make the design samples. Six amounts are given: 70 (80, 90, 110, 150, 170) yards. These amounts correspond to the six pattern sizes: Baby (Toddler, Child, Adult S, M, L). This means that for an Adult S size, you will need 110 yards of worsted or aran weight yarn.

Worsted weight and aran weight yarn are two weights of yarn, each of which will work in this project. (Learn the basics of knitting yarn here.) In this pattern example, Madelinetosh is a yarn brand; Tosh Vintage is a yarn type produced by that brand; and badlands,, thoreau,’ twig,’ and winter wheat are the names of the specific colourways used to knit the design samples. To convert yards to metres, multiply yards by 0.914, e.g., 110 yds is approximately 100m (110 x 0.914 = 100.54).

Gauge: 18 sts & 22 rounds / 4” in stockinette
14 sts & 28 rounds / 4” in garter stitch
(both gauges given on larger needles)

The gauge section indicates the design gauge you’ll need to achieve for your finished knit to come out in the size expected (i.e., to the finished dimensions listed in the size section).

This gauge means that you’ll need to select a needle size that will result in a finished knit gauge of 18 stitches and 22 rounds in a 4″ square of stockinette stitch, and 14 stitches and 28 rounds in a 4″ square of garter stitch. In Tin Can Knits patterns, the gauge listed first is generally the more important one to achieve, if you cannot achieve both numbers using the same needle size.

Gauge is an important topic, so we have created a separate in-depth tutorial to explain just what it is, how to swatch for it, and how to measure it. Other posts on gauge include the following:

The beginning of a small tube knit on double pointed needles (DPNs).

Suggested Needles: US #6 / 4mm 16” circular needle,
US #8 / 5mm 16” circular needle and DPNs*
(or as required to meet gauge)
*Alternatively, you can use the
magic loop technique to knit in the round using a single long circular needle.

Knitting needles, which come in many types and sizes for different uses, are a fairly complex topic, and we have an Introduction to Knitting Needles post here. The needles suggested for the Barley hat are:

  • US #6 / 4mm 16″ long circular needle
  • US #8 / 5mm diameter 16″ long circular needle
  • US #8 / 5mm diameter double pointed needles (DPNs) or a long circular needle to use with the magic loop technique

What this means, in practice, is that you’ll need a smaller diameter needle for the brim ribbing and a larger diameter needle for the body. You’ll also need a set of DPNs, or a long circular in the larger diameter, in order to decrease at the crown.

It’s very important to recognize the line that says:

(or as required to meet gauge)

You may start with a US #8 / 5mm needle to make your gauge swatch; however, if you cannot achieve the tension stated in the gauge section, you’ll need to try again with a smaller or larger needle size, until you determine the needle diameter that allows you to achieve the design gauge.

For example, I might use a US #7 / 4.5mm needle to achieve the gauge of 18 sts / 4″ in stockinette. In this case, I would likely select a US #5 / 3.75mm needle as my ‘smaller needle’ with which to work the brim ribbing.

Notions: Stitch markers, darning needle

The notions section is a simple list of extra tools or materials you’ll need to complete the project. In this case, only stitch markers and a needle are required for the Barley hat.

Example B: Flax sweater

The free Flax sweater pattern, with seven child sizes and 12 adult sizes, uses a table, along with a schematic diagram to communicate the sizing information.

Diagram of Flax Pattern Page highlighting Materials, Schematic, and Sizing sections.

The sizing table lists finished garment measurements. This means that the dimensions listed for each size are the dimensions that the sweater will measure, assuming you follow that size’s instructions and knit to the design gauge. They are the dimensions of the garment itself. The pattern says to:

Choose a size based upon your chest measurement plus desired ease.

This means that, when knitting this sweater for yourself, you should consider your own body measurements and how much ease you prefer your sweaters to have – and then choose a size that will allow that much ease from your body. Learn about choosing your sweater size here.

The schematic works with the sizing table to visually indicate where the various dimension are measured. You can see that ‘d‘ is the key for the upper sleeve circumference, and then make sure that size XXL, which has a finished upper sleeve measurement of 17″, will work for you.

Four children in sweaters with rainbow stripes on the shore of a calm lake.
The Flax sweater is an excellent project for adding cute details! Read all about Alexa’s unreasonable September sweaters here.

Next up, the materials section in the Flax pattern contains four parts: yarn, gauge, suggested needles, and notions – same as for the Barley hat pattern. Here we’ll briefly touch on the ways that this sweater pattern is different from the hat pattern.

Yarn: Worsted / aran weight yarn – see table for yardage
(samples shown in SweetGeorgia Superwash Worsted ‘deep olive,’ ‘hush,’ and ‘tumbled stone’)

The yarn section refers you to the sizing table, which has a column that lists yardage for each size alongside that size’s finished dimensions.

Gauge: 18 sts & 22 rounds / 4” in stockinette using larger needles

Because a sweater will take between 12 and 60 hours to knit, it’s incredibly important to ensure that you’re achieving the correct gauge. Not sure why? Check out our post, Gauge in Knitting, to be convinced!

Suggested Needles: US #6 / 4mm & US #8 / 5mm
(or as required to meet gauge)

0-6 mo – 4 yrs: 16” circulars and DPNs in each size*
4 yrs – XS: 16” circulars, 24” circulars, and DPNs in each size*
S – XXL: 16” circulars, 32” circulars, and DPNs in each size*
3XL – 6XL: 16” circulars, 48” circulars, and DPNs in each size*

*Alternatively, you can use the magic loop technique to knit in the round using a single long circular needle.

Because there’s such a wide size range in the Flax sweater pattern, you need to look at the needle lengths and types suggested for your size. If you’re knitting an XXL for example, you’ll need a 16″ circular needle, a 32″ circular needle, and a set of DPNs (or a long circular) in each of the two needle sizes, larger and smaller.


The sizing and materials section of a pattern contains loads of information, and now that you’ve learned how to interpret it, you can take the next step and learn about abbreviations and charts. Then you’ll be ready to cast on!

~ Emily and Alexa

Understanding Knitting-Pattern Abbreviations and Charts

October 8, 2020

K2tog, ssk, yo, k1, p1, SM, DPNs, inc, dec, and kfb. Is this just gibberish to you? As you learn to knit, you’ll learn to interpret a number of abbreviated terms. Here’s an example from the free Flax sweater pattern:

Set-up round 1: [kfb, knit to 2 sts before raglan marker, kfb, k1, SM] 4 times [8 sts inc – 2 per section]

This single instruction, for example, includes five abbreviations: kfb, sts, k1, SM, and inc.

Patterns have been written this way for years to pack maximum information into minimum space on the page. While it may seem inconvenient, when it comes down to it, there are relatively few terms to learn with each new pattern – and for most knitters, interpreting abbreviations becomes natural with practice.

This post is part of our How to Read a Knitting Pattern tutorial. Follow the links below to read the other topics.

Free Barley hat pattern

Knitting abbreviations

The free Barley hat pattern begins with the following instruction:

Using smaller needles, cast on 66 (72, 78, 84, 90, 96) sts, PM and join for working in the round, being careful not to twist the cast-on.

To follow this instruction, you need to know that sts means stitches, and PM means place a marker. To decipher the shorthand used in a knitting pattern, review the abbreviations section below.

Illustration of the page of a pattern with abbreviations list highlighted
The abbreviations list is located on page 2 of the free Barley hat pattern.

If there’s a term you’re unfamiliar with, but it’s not included in the abbreviations section of the pattern, check our comprehensive abbreviations list. A quick google search should also give you the answer you’re looking for.

Note: Tin Can Knits’ PDF patterns include highlighted links and question bubbles; clicking these will take you right to our helpful resources.

Knitting charts

Another shorthand used in knitting patterns are charts. Charts illustrate stitch patterns in a compact and concise way, and they also give visual clues about how the knit fabric will look when it’s completed. With practice, most knitters find charts easier to follow than lengthy text instructions, so we describe stitch patterns in chart format where practical. For more help, check out our in-depth tutorial, How to Read a Knitting Chart.

A pale minty green cabled hat with ribbed brim.
The free Antler hat pattern is a great pattern for learning to knit cables!

When a pattern includes a chart, the pattern abbreviations are often found alongside the chart in a key that explains the meaning of the symbols. For example, the free Antler hat pattern includes the chart and key shown below. This pattern includes both a chart and text instructions, to aid learners and those who cannot use charts.

A diagram of a knitting chart, key and abbreviations

Now that we have covered abbreviations and charts, the next step in this pattern-reading tutorial is Reading Multi-Size Knitting-Pattern Instructions, which will cover what all the odd brackets ( ) [ ] mean!

Ready to get started now?

The Simple Collection is a free, learn-to-knit series that covers all the basics of knit and purl through to turning a heel and knitting your first sweater. Check out all the free patterns and cast on now!

~ Emily and Alexa

Reading Multi-Size Knitting-Pattern Instructions

October 8, 2020

Knitting patterns can seem like a dense thicket of numbers, numbers, numbers, and more numbers – all corralled by several types of brackets. For a beginner, this is understandably confusing, so we’ve written this tutorial to answer some of the questions you may have as a new knitter. Remember…with each project you knit, this will get easier!

This post is part of our How to Read a Knitting Pattern tutorial. Follow the links below to read the other topics.

Knitting-pattern text instructions

Once you’ve determined what size you’ll be knitting and gathered the materials you need, it’s time to move on to the pattern text, which explains how to knit the project, stitch by stitch.

The first thing you’ll find under the pattern heading is a bit of information about how the project is constructed. In the free Wheat scarf pattern it’s simply one line:

The Wheat scarf is worked from end to end.

In the free Flax sweater pattern, however, more information is given:

This sweater is worked in the round from the top down. You cast on at the collar, the yoke is knit, sleeve sts are placed on hold on waste yarn, the body is completed, then sleeves are knit last.

This description helps you orient yourself within the context of the overall project, so you know which part of the knit you’ll begin with, and which direction you’ll be working in.

A diagram of a top-down sweater project
The Simple Collection’s free, learn-to-knit patterns include construction diagrams to help you visualize the process – and to help you understand where you are in the project at any given point along the way.

Pattern sections

Next come the instructions you’ll follow line-by-line to work the project. In a garment pattern, the pattern text is broken down into sections, for example yoke, yoke separation, body, sleeves, etc. For a simpler pattern, all instructions may fall under the pattern heading.

Reading and understanding the text instructions that make up a knitting pattern take some practice because, often, many sizes are described in a single instruction – and there are so many different sorts of brackets!

Multiple sizes in the same instruction – brackets, brackets, and more brackets

Once you’ve identified and learned the abbreviations that apply to your pattern, you’re ready to jump into the pattern text. But first you’ll need to know a few things about how brackets, both (round) and [square], are used in knitting patterns.

Brackets that list instructions for multiple sizes: small (medium, large)

Tin Can Knits patterns use the convention of round brackets ( ) to indicate the instructions for multiple sizes. In the free Barley hat pattern, there are three child sizes and three adult sizes, listed in this order: Baby (Toddler, Child, Adult S, M, L). The first size, in this case the baby size, is always listed outside the round brackets. The other five sizes are placed inside the bracketed set and separated by commas. We bold the adult sizes. The pattern begins:

Using smaller needles, cast on 66 (72, 78, 84, 90, 96) sts, PM and join for working in the round, being careful not to twist the cast-on.

This means that you will cast on 66 (or 72, or 78, or 84, or 90, or 96) stitches. You’ll need to identify the number of stitches that corresponds to your size. Don’t cast on 66, then 72, then 78; find the number for your size, and cast on that number. So, to work an Adult S, which is the first of the bolded sizes and the 4th number listed, you will cast on 84 stitches.

When you see this same set of six numbers in other parts of the pattern, you’ll again use the number that corresponds to your size. The sets of numbers may describe a number of stitches to work, a number of inches (a length), or a number of times to repeat a pattern.

Further examples from the free Barley hat pattern include:

Set-up round: k22 (24, 26, 28, 30, 32), PM, knit to end

This instruction means that you will knit 22 (or 24, or 26, or 28, or 30, or 32), stitches, place a marker, then knit to the end of the round. For Adult S, you would work k28, PM, knit to end. Learn more about knitting abbreviations here.

Work rounds 1-2 until piece measures 4 (5, 6, 7, 8, 8.5)” from cast-on, measured at the stockinette side of the work, for a beanie.

This instruction means that you will work rounds 1-2 until the knitted piece of fabric measures 4″ (or 5″, or 6″, or 7″, or 8″, or 8.5″) from the cast-on point. For the Adult S example, you’ll work as described until the piece measures 7″ long, and then proceed to the next instruction. The instruction ‘Work rounds 1-2’ means that you’ll continue to repeat round 1, then round 2, then 1, then 2, then 1, then 2 – in pattern, until the desired length is reached.

Essentially, whatever portion of the pattern is being described, you can determine which instruction to follow from the format of the round brackets: sizeA (sizeB, sizeC, sizeD, sizeE, sizeF). Simply choose the option that applies to your size and ignore the rest.

Pro tip: highlight your size

If you’re working from a printed pattern or book, it helps to go through the pattern before you begin and highlight or underline all the instructions for the size you’re working. This will help you quickly identify the number that applies to your size as you’re working. You can also do this digitally using a PDF reader program.

excerpt from a pattern with a size highlighted
An excerpt from the free Flax sweater pattern, with the instructions for size Adult XL highlighted.

Brackets that indicate you will repeat an instruction: [repeat this]

To indicate a repeated a set of instructions, Tin Can Knits patterns use square brackets [ ], round brackets ( ), or both. The set of instructions is called a repeat. Here is an example from the free Barley hat pattern:

Establish ribbing: [k1, p1] around

This means that you’ll repeat the pattern k1, p1, k1, p1, k1, p1…continuing in this way for the entire round. Some repeats are worked a specific number of times, and others are worked ‘around,’ ‘to end,’ ‘to next marker,’ or ‘to last 4 sts’ – as many times as needed to fit to a defined point in the row or round.

This complex example contains a repeat within a repeat, using both square and round brackets:

Increase round: k6, [k1, m1, (k2, m1) 3 times] to end

This means that you’ll first knit 6 stitches, and then repeat the pattern within the square brackets – k1, m1, k2, m1, k2, m1, k2, m1 – again and again until the end of the round. The round bracketed repeat (k2, m1) is set inside a square bracketed repeat [k1, m1, (k2, m1) 3 times] to save space and to make it easier to read. This level of complexity is not very common in our pattern writing, but it does exist!

Interpreting both uses of brackets within a single instruction

Brackets are starting to seem a little complicated about now, eh?! Well, we need both kinds because we often must describe both repeats and multiple sizes within the same line of instruction. Here’s an example from the free Barley hat pattern:

Set-up round: [k9 (10, 11, 12, 13, 14), k2tog, PM] around
[6 sts dec, 60 (66, 72, 78, 84, 90) sts]
Markers now separate the work into 6 equal sections.

This means that to work the set-up round, you will repeat the instructions contained within the square brackets as many times as you can within a single round because ‘around’ means the same as ‘to end of round.’ For the Adult S example, you would k12, k2tog, PM, and then repeat that same pattern – k12, k2tog, PM – as many times as will ‘fit’ in the 84 sts you have on the needles. Because this repeat uses 14 stitches, it will repeat 6 times, i.e., 84 total sts / 14 st repeat = 6 repeats).

The conventions described in this tutorials are the ones used for Tin Can Knits patterns. However, keep in mind that while all knitting patterns require ‘repeating’ of instructions, different pattern writers use different conventions. For example, it’s relatively common to use an asterisk * instead of brackets to indicate the beginning of a repeat. For example:

Next Round: k3, *k3, yo, ssk, k2tog, yo, repeat from * to last 6 sts, knit to end

This would be worked the same as k3, [k3, yo, ssk, k2tog, yo] to last 6 sts, k6.

Brackets around stitch counts

Not to be confused with repeats or multiple sizes, brackets are also used to define stitch counts within our patterns. Stitch counts are often given after an instruction that results in a change to the stitch count on the needles. For example:

[2 sts decreased]
[12 (14, 16, 18, 20) sts]

These brackets aren’t really doing much but visually separating the stitch counts for the rest of the active pattern instructions.

Nearing the finish line!

Now that you’ve learned how to interpret the pattern size and materials section, how to read pattern abbreviations and charts, and how to read the pattern text itself with its many sizes and types of brackets, we have just a couple more tips to help you make sense of knitting-pattern finishing instructions.

We hope this in-depth review of pattern reading is helpful to beginner knitters who find the semantics of patterns difficult to follow!

~ Emily and Alexa

Making Sense of Knitting-Pattern Finishing Instructions

October 8, 2020

Once you complete the fun knitting bits of a project, there are always a few final steps before your knit can be completely finished.

This post is part of our How to Read a Knitting Pattern tutorial. Follow the links below read to the other topics.

Our free Flax sweater pattern includes the following finishing information, which is typical for Tin Can Knits patterns:

Block your sweater and weave in all ends, using yarn tails to sew up the small holes at underarms. Put on your fabulous new sweater and show it off!

Sweater Blocking

Because Flax is a very simple sweater that uses top-down seamless construction, there is very little to be done after the knitting in order to ‘finish’ it for wearing! But many other projects have more finishing steps and techniques.


two blanket squares being seamed together
For the Vivid blanket, we suggest using a simple whip-stitch seam.

Garments and blankets may need to be seamed before they’re ready to use. For example, pieced blankets like Vivid, Polygon, Fly Away, and Dogwood require blocking and seaming to complete them. Some require knitted edgings as well.

Sock toes and those pesky sweater underarms need to be seamed closed using a Kitchener Stitch, and some projects need a few extra little details like icord ties, a regular old pom pom, or a fancy pom pom.

Collars and button bands

Playdate Cardigan Pattern
The Playdate cardigan features a delicate little button band, which looks sharp with lots of small buttons.

Cardigan patterns may include very pithy instructions like ‘make up and work button bands.’ Our patterns generally include more specific details, and you can refer to How to Knit a Button Band for the general techniques.

The pattern may not explicitly say it, but once the button bands are complete, you’ll need to select and sew on the buttons. (Button selection is an important topic all on its own!) If the yarn used for the knit is sufficiently durable – and thin enough to pass through the holes in the button – I usually use that. Otherwise, a durable sock yarn or thread in a matching colour works fine.

Striped Playdate Cardigan blog post
I considered four different button colours(!) for this tiny Playdate cardigan before settling on the olive green ones.

Weaving in ends

Either before or after blocking, I weave in my yarn ends – or most of the time I do. To be honest, sometimes I leave them hanging for years!

Detail of the inside of a colourwork sweater yoke with dozens of hanging yarn ends.

Blocking garments or shawls

Blocking is a woolly item’s first bath. It should not be overlooked because the final nature of the garment or accessory is not revealed until it’s had a first blocking. If you’ve never learned about blocking, start with our Blocking Basics tutorial for a solid overview.

For lace projects, blocking is imperative to reveal the delicate stitch pattern. (See our tutorial on How to Block a Lace Shawl for detailed instructions.) For garments, the final fit is determined by blocking, so take a minute to review How to Block a Hand-Knit Sweater.

How to block a hand-knit sweater
For projects like the Windswept sweater, blocking is really helpful for revealing the intricate beauty of the lace.

Caring for your knits

Last but not least is something that’s never mentioned in patterns but is always worth considering: caring for your knits. You’ve enjoyed countless hours of knitting; you’ve gained skills and overcome obstacles to create a beautiful thing – so you’ll want to keep it looking good for years to come. Of course, we have a tutorial for that, too! Learn how to properly care for your knits here.

Get knitting!

We’ve arrived at the end of our in-depth series, How to Read a Knitting Pattern. Hopefully these posts have been useful and cleared up some of the questions you may have had about the technical language around sizing and materials, abbreviations and charts, and the various and sundry ways that brackets are used.

If you found this tutorial helpful, please take a minute to share it with a friend or a newbie in your knitting group. From your very first scarf to designing your own colourwork yoke sweater, we love creating and sharing tutorials that help you take that next step and knit that next stitch!

~ Emily and Alexa

Gramps Sweater pattern

The Simple Collection Revisited

September 24, 2020
A woman in a hand knit sweater and hat.
Francine’s face perfectly encapsulates my love of the Simple Collection.

Emily and I want all who encounter our work to find it useful, joyful, and welcoming. In that spirit, we recently revisited and revised The Simple Collection, with the intent to make it even more welcoming for a broader range of knitters.

Going back through this collection was like taking a walk with an old friend. That’s kind of how it feels to knit these patterns, too – relaxing knits and purls and straightforward construction…always guaranteed to be beautiful when finished.

I love the way The Simple Collection’s basic stitches showcase the woolly goodness and beautiful colours of my favourite yarns. Simple stitches always bring me joy, and I hope you take some joy from them, too. Whether you’re headed out on an adventure, trying something new, or just knitting up a classic, The Simple Collection is perfect for any journey.

The Simple Collection has grown to include 12 patterns! Pictured here are Wheat, Rye Light, Barley Light, Maize, Flax, and Harvest.

What’s new, at a glance

  1. Added sizes for Flax, Flax Light, and Harvest – now sized up to 6XL (finished chest measurements of 66″ – 68″).
  2. Added short row shaping and cropped length options for Flax and Flax Light.
  3. Updated printer friendly layouts, with clear tutorial links.
  4. Revised pattern writing for further clarity.
  5. Some new photos of fresh knits and friendly folk.
a woman and 2 children sitting on a bridge wearing knit hats
The Barley hat is sized for the whole family!

The simple beginning

The Simple Collection was conceived back in 2012 to meet a need that Emily and I saw while working in the knit shop and observing the in-person classes there. Although they were a fun way to gain skills in a supportive atmosphere – and often marked the beginning of fruitful and woolly friendships – the in-person classes had two main challenges. First, not all knitters had access to them. Second, instructors were often in need of simple, reliable patterns to teach in their classes. With our experience, we wanted to create a resource that would solve both those problems, and we wanted to make it available for free.

To be clear, free does not mean cheap. We put the same time, effort, and resources into The Simple Collection that we do for all of our patterns (perhaps more!). We just wanted The Simple Collection to be accessible to as many knitters as possible.

Need a little help? We have a whole bunch of tutorials to go along with the Simple Collection!

Taking the fear out of next steps

We also wanted to create a collection that would take the fear out of trying something new. We hear from a lot of knitters who are afraid to take the next step. That first sweater, heel turn, or knit in the round can be scary! To help alleviate those fears, we developed tutorials alongside The Simple Collection, to help you through each step of every pattern. So go ahead and give those next, new stitches a try!

Alexa is standing on the sidewalk with her yellow Flax sweater, smiling at the camera.
Me and my Flax sweater. Photo credit to Sylvia McFadden

Size-inclusive design

Another important update for us was greater size inclusion. We’ve always sized our patterns up to 4XL (per the Craft Yarn Council), with finished chest measurements somewhere between 56″ and 62″, depending on the ease indicated in the pattern. However, we wanted to do even better, so we committed ourselves to including sizes 5XL and 6XL in all of our future patterns. Sizing up the sweaters in The Simple Collection was the first step in that process.

I personally know the frustration, shame, and exclusion of shopping for patterns and clothes for a larger body. (I’ve shared some of my feelings on knitting for myself here.) We definitely don’t want to be part of the problem for anyone else.

A woman in a hand knit sweater and hat

From us to you, with love

Knitters come in all shapes and sizes, ages and races, genders and sexualities, talents and abilities. Many different people come to the simple craft of knitting for many different reasons, but we all share in the joy that comes with it. The Simple Collection was created, and has now been updated, to spread that joy to as many people as possible, and Emily and I offer it to you with all our love.

~ Alexa

Adding Short Rows to Flax

September 24, 2020
Woman in a hand knit sweater.

This tutorial is designed to be used alongside the free Flax sweater and free Flax Light sweater patterns. These and 10 other free patterns make up The Simple Collection – our free learn-to-knit series featuring classic designs supported by in-depth tutorials.

These and other free patterns are part of The Simple Collection – our free learn-to-knit series featuring classic designs supported by in-depth tutorials.

Note: This tutorial includes excerpts from the Flax pattern. If you’re following the Flax Light pattern, all the techniques described below will apply, but the numbers will be different.

Want to start at the beginning?

If this is your very first sweater, congratulations! Our full Flax tutorial is a great place to start. The tutorial includes detailed instructions for each step of the sweater.

Let’s talk short rows

So many questions… What are short rows? Why should I add them to my Flax sweater? How are they knit? Don’t worry – we’ve got answers! The detailed instructions and pictures explaining how to work short rows are below, but if you just want the quick version, you can download the PDF here:

We considered including these instructions within the Flax pattern itself – both when we first published it back in 2013 and now, seven years later. But we decided that the Flax is easier to follow as a first sweater pattern without the complication of short-row shaping. So we created this tutorial as a supplement for those who are ready to learn the technique and knit a garment with a bit more subtle shaping.

What are short rows?

Short rows are rows that don’t go all the way to the end of the round or row; they stop short. Working a series of these short rows creates a wedge of fabric. Here, this extra wedge of fabric is located at the back of the sweater, meaning there is a little more fabric in the back yoke. The result is that the back neck of the sweater sits higher than the front. See below for examples.

Why should I add short rows to my Flax or Flax Light sweater?

Of course, short rows are totally optional! Working the pattern without short rows is simpler to knit, and it makes the back and front the same – so there’s no wondering if you’ve put your sweater on backwards. The benefit of adding short rows is that it gives your sweater a slightly better fit by raising the back of the neck to be a bit higher than the front. Here are some examples that show the difference. Emily is wearing her Flax sweater without short rows, while Francine is wearing hers with short rows.

A woman in a hand knit sweater.
Emily’s sweater is worn without short rows.
A woman in a hand knit sweater.
The back neck of Francine’s sweater is slightly higher than the front.

A note on kids’ sweaters: Though we have included instructions for baby sweaters and smaller child sizes (the under six crew), we recommend skipping the short-row shaping to keep the sweater reversible – that way you don’t have to worry about front and back when popping it over small heads. Plus, if they stain the front, you can just make it the back. Let’s be practical!

4 children of various ages wearing matching hand knit sweaters.
Knitting for kids? We suggest skipping short-row shaping for the under six crew.

Where do the short rows go?

For the Flax and Flax Light sweaters, short rows are worked at the bottom of the yoke, just before splitting for body and sleeves. At his point, all of the raglan increases have been completed, and you will have worked even until the yoke has reached full depth. You will have just completed a round 2.

An illustration of a knit sweater yoke from above.

For this tutorial, we use German short rows, our favourite method. However, others will work just fine, so feel free to substitute your favourite short-row method instead.

Let’s get started!

Placing the centre back (CB) marker

Short rows are designed to create a wedge of fabric at the back of the sweater, so they will be worked symmetrically around the centre back of the sweater. To simplify things, the first step is to place a marker at the centre back of the sweater. To start, the beginning of the round (BOR) marker should be located at the back right shoulder. Once you have placed the CB marker, your short rows will be worked symmetrically around it.

Note: some sizes have an odd number of back stitches (sts) at this point in the yoke, so the CB marker will come before that centre back stitch. Other sizes will have an even number of sts, so the CB marker will come between the two centre back sts. We have accounted for this in the instructions.

Placing the CB marker: [knit to marker, SM] 3 times, k18 (20, 21, 22, 24, 26, 28, 31, 33, 35, 37, 40, 44, 49, 52, 56, 59, 62, 66), place CB marker.

You should now have two markers in your work: the CB marker and the BOR marker. From this point forward, you will ignore the BOR marker, slipping it when you come to it as you work the short rows.

Let’s work those short rows!

You now have two markers in your work, and you are starting from the centre back of the sweater.

Picture of a knit yoke from above, showing the 2 markers.
This is a picture of the yoke from above before starting the short rows. The blue marker is the BOR marker, and the yellow marker is the CB marker. Working yarn is at the CB marker.

Short row 1, right side (RS)

k24 (27, 28, 29, 32, 35, 39, 43, 47, 50, 53, 57, 64, 70, 76, 81, 88, 91, 95), turn work.

Close up showing the sweater yoke with 2 markers.
Here I have knit to the stitch indicated in the pattern. I have slipped the BOR marker as I came to it, and I am ready to turn my work.

Short row 2, wrong side (WS)

With yarn in front (on the WS of the work), slip the first st from the left hand (LH) needle to the right hand (RH) needle purlwise (the last st worked). Next, pull the working yarn over the RH needle to the back of the work, then slip it between the needle tips to the front of the work, ready to purl. This distorts the stitch and makes it appear as two loops over the needle. This stitch is referred to as the doubled stitch.

Close up of knitting needles with the wrong side of the work facing, yarn is at the front of the work on the left hand side.
The WS of the work is facing, and my working yarn is at the front (WS) of the work coming from the LH needle.
Close up of knitting needles with a stitch on the right hand needle with working yarn coming from it.
I have slipped the stitch from the LH needle to the RH needle purlwise.
Image showing the doubled stitch on the right hand needle and the working yarn at the front of the work.
I have moved my yarn over top of the RH needle back around to the front of the work ready to purl. On the RH needle, it appears that there are two loops over the needle.

Next: Purl to CB, SM, p24 (27, 28, 29, 32, 34, 38, 43, 46, 49, 52, 57, 63, 70, 75, 81, 87, 90, 95), turn work.

Recognizing the turned or doubled stitch

The doubled stitch appears as two loops over the needle.

Image of the sweater with the doubled stitch. There is an arrow pointing to the stitch and the words 'the doubled stitch'

Short Row 3, (RS)

Bring the yarn to the front of the work between the needles. Slip the stitch from the left needle to the right needle purlwise. Next, pull the working yarn over the RH needle to the back of the work. Again, this distorts the stitches and makes it appear as two loops over the needle. Knit to CB, SM, knit to 5 sts before doubled st, turn work.

Close up of knitting with right side facing the yarn is coming from the left hand needle and at the front of the work.
I have purled to the designated stitch and turned my work, so the RS is facing. My yarn has moved between the needles to be at the front (RS) of the work.
Close up of knitting with the working yarn at the front of the work to the right of the first stitch on the right hand needle.
I have slipped the stitch from the LH needle to the RH needle purlwise.
Close up of the doubled stitch.
I have moved my yarn over top of the RH needle, distorting the stitch and making it appear as two loops over the needle.

And that’s it! Short row 4 is just like short row 2. You will repeat short rows 3-4 as indicated for your size.

Picking up short rows

Once all of your short rows have been worked, you will have a number of doubled stitches. To resolve those doubled stitches, you will knit to the CB marker and then to the BOR marker. As you come to a doubled stitch, knit the two loops of the doubled stitches together as one stitch.

Close up of the doubled stitch. It is the first stitch on the left hand needle.
I have knit up to the doubled stitch. Here you can see that the doubled stitch is on the LH needle.
Close up of a knit 2 together. The right hand needle is through the 2 loops on the left hand needle.
To resolve the doubled stitch, I insert my needle through both loops in order to knit them together.
Close up of knitting with the knit 2 together on the right hand needle.
The first stitch on the RH needle is the turned stitch resolved.

An alternative method for resolving the doubled stitches

Another technique for resolving (or closing) the short-row purl-to-knit side turns (the second set of doubled stitches you will arrive at), when working from the RS (in the round) is as follows: 

  1. Knit to one stitch before the doubled stitch and stop. 
  2. Slip that last stitch, knitwise, onto the RH needle tip.
  3. From the doubled stitch, using the RH needle tip, slip the extra loop you made over the needle onto the RH needle, without dropping the stitch itself (it remains on the LH needle tip). 
  4. Insert the LH needle tip into the fronts of the two slipped stitches that are now on the RH needle, and knit these two loops together (the same as when you work a SSK).

Emily prefers this method when closing the short-row purl-to-knit side turns because it’s quite effective at closing any gaps and hiding the turn once the fabric is blocked.

Short rows complete

Once you have resolved all of your doubled stitches, you will be back at the BOR marker, and you will be ready to work the yoke separation round.

View from above of a sweater yoke pinned to a blocking board. There is a distinct wedge of fabric at the back of the sweater where the short rows were worked.
In this view of the yoke from above, you can see how there is an extra wedge of fabric at the back (the bottom of the image) after the short rows have been added.

Give yourself a pat on the back, the hard part is over! Time to work the body and sleeves and enjoy your new sweater. We love to see your knits so be sure to tag us on Instagram with #TinCanKnits and #FlaxSweater or #FlaxLightSweater.

A woman in a hand knit sweater.

How did it go?

Was this your first experience adding short rows to a sweater? First time with short rows? Let us know how you did in the comments!

Looking for more tutorials and new techniques?

Here at Tin Can Knits, we are passionate about learning new things. For more tips and techniques, as well as project tutorials, check out our help page here, and sign up for our email updates to learn when we publish new tutorials and patterns.


Next Stitches

September 10, 2020
green and teal handspun raglan sweater in progress with yarn cake

Alexa and I are continually learning – as people, as designers, as storytellers, and as parents – and this year sure has brought its share of changes to learn from. The adjustments in our day-to-day lives and the psychological impacts of frightening circumstances have led us to question many things we took for granted, and to wonder what our next steps should be in these uncertain times.

When it comes to moving forward, all you ever do – all you ever CAN do – is take the next step and knit the next stitch. I believe this is something knitting can teach you, as you patiently invest hour after hour, gradually forming fabric from loop after loop of string. With that in mind, the theme that emerged for us is Next Stitches. This is especially fitting because we have some exciting updates on the horizon. We are currently working feverishly to launch a new and improved Tin Can Knits website by the end of 2020, and we are preparing to re-release The Simple Collection this autumn. We have some surprises in store for the new year, too!

At the same time, Alexa and I are carrying the ‘next stitches’ theme into all areas of life. Here’s what that means for each of us personally.

Emily’s next stitches

For me, ‘next stitches’ has two meanings: cultivating day-to-day happiness and continuing to learn and grow.

In the middle of a pandemic, sometimes simply knitting that next stitch is all I can do – just answering the next email, giving my kid an extra-long hug, calling a loved one, or casting on a simple project that will let me knit, knit, knit around without too much thought. In this sense, ‘next stitches’ simply means continuing to find daily pleasure and beauty in the very small and repeated actions that make up my life.

Secondly, ‘next stitches’ is about learning – learning that ‘next stitch’ or establishing a new habit that can keep me healthy and whole, improve my family’s life, respect the earth just a little bit more, and integrate me further into the community I find here in Edinburgh. The ‘next stitches’ I’m making in my personal life focus on continuing to learn and practice anti-racism, studying colonial history, mejorando mi Español, enseñándoselo a mis niños, and working on being more present and kind in my relationships, both with myself and with others. In my creative work, I’m learning more about yarn, fibre, and construction as I practice hand spinning, and I’m always experimenting with and deepening my knowledge of colour, too!

Alexa’s next stitches

For me, ‘next stitches’ represents adventure. I love the feeling of sitting down with yarn and needles, ready to try something new. This excitement is what draws me to both knitting and design work, as well as learning of all kinds. And the ‘new thing’ doesn’t have to be complicated. When it comes to knitting, it can be something simple, like a new, small technique or a new colour palette, but I always enjoy the adventure.

Like Emily, I’m also always interested in learning. For the ‘next stitches’ in my own personal growth, I am looking forward to continuing anti-racism work with Ravideep Kaur and taking this Indigenous Canada course from the University of Alberta. I’m also doing some weight lifting at the gym and getting outside with the kiddos more.

‘Next stitches,’ for me, is also a bit about tracking the craft of knitting backwards. I think this is a common knitter’s journey; you begin with one thing, and you work your way back. Starting with knitting, I plan to work backwards to learn about materials, the properties of a yarn, where it comes from, and how it’s made. While I’m not looking to take up spinning like Emily (at least I don’t think so…), I am interested in the provenance and creation of yarns. It’s definitely one of my next learning steps.

Your next stitches

What ‘next stitches’ do you have in mind for the coming year? Do prefer bite-sized pieces, or are you inspired by setting bold and audacious plans in knitting and in life? We all have different situations, so the scope of what we’re drawn to take on will most certainly be different.

Some next stitches inspiration

If you’re looking to take up some ‘next stitches’ in your knitting, we have a project and tutorial for your next step. Whether it’s sweaters, colourwork, cables, lace, or the basics, we’ve got you covered.

green and teal handspun raglan sweater in progress with yarn cake
Is garment knitting next on your learning list? Check out our FREE Flax pattern and our full project tutorial, too!
fluffy pink yoke of a sweater with lace
Are you inspired to try some lace knitting? Perhaps you’re interested in learning more about laying with mohair, or maybe you’d like to knit up a Love Note sweater. Click the links for helpful tutorials on each topic!
one bonnet and one bonnet in progress with yarn ball attached
If your ‘next stitches’ plan includes knitting for little ones, or perhaps trying out some German short rows, check out our Beloved bonnet tutorial here.
the yoke of a colourwork sweater pinned to a blocking board
If your next steps include honing your colour palette skills, check our our tutorial here. If you’re ready to dive in and design your own colourwork yoke, check out our Strange Brew series here.
hands holding a grey hat in progress with a cable in it
Is it a new technique you desire? Learn to cable here and get started on a Northward hat or an Antler toque!

Starting with the basics?

Whatever your ‘next stitch’ might be, our Simple Collection is an excellent resource. And stay tuned…useful updates to this set of free patterns and tutorials are coming soon!

~Emily and Alexa

Stripes and Other Hacks for the Flax Sweater

August 27, 2020
The yoke of a striped sweater in purple, pale blue, and golden yellow
The yoke of a striped sweater in purple, pale blue, and golden yellow

I hope you are holding up, managing day by day the impacts that the pandemic continues to have on work, family, and community life. Personally, I chant to myself almost daily, ‘The kids are fine. The kids are happy. The kids are safe.’ And ‘John and I will manage; we will adapt.’ This mantra usually keeps me calm, but as the losses mount up, my sadness about what won’t be possible this year threatens to overwhelm me.

Those who follow us know that the uncertainty of the times put me in the mood to knit everything simple – lovely, easy things that would keep my hands busy and my mind occupied. So the handspun skeins were pulled out to make Beloved bonnets because there’s just nothing cuter.

Handspun skeins in deep blues and purples, pale blue, and buttery yellow
Beloved Handspun Bonnet Blog Post
I think my daughter Neve was two when she wore this bonnet. Two years later, she’s still just as square-cheeked and mischievous – just a lot taller!

Even after knitting a number of bonnets, I still had some significant leftovers, and I wanted to get them out of boxes and on to the needles. This little lovely for Neve was the result.

Little kid in a striped raglan sweater in purple, pale teal, gold and green, sitting on a log.

This project was my way of not only staying busy, but also using up ‘every last drop’ of a couple handspun skeins that I loved to bits. I bought this yarn a while back during a particularly difficult time, so it felt like a major luxury – a pick-me-up treat for myself. (So of course, it got stuffed into plastic boxes and hidden from the world like the rest of my precious stash!)

A striped raglan sweater in purple, pale teal, gold and green laid flat on a yellow quilt

Pattern modifications

I got started on this simple-but-satisfying project using our free Flax sweater pattern, but I made some minor modifications. First, I striped it to make the precious handpun stretch further, working three rounds of handspun yard and then two rounds of mill-spun yarn. I also used a few more hacks along the way:

  • I worked with slightly lighter-weight yarns, so I followed the stitch counts for the 6-8 year size. At my smaller gauge, the sweater came out measuring 24″ around (not 26″), and it will fit my four-year-old for a year or two. (Read our tutorial on How to Knit a Garment at a Different Gauge for more info on this technique.)
  • I skipped the garter stitch panels at the sleeves.
  • Instead of kfb increases at the raglan lines, I knit ‘under the bar’ – an increase that creates tiny holes in the work that aren’t as large as yarn-overs.

You can make a cute, stripey sweater like Neve’s by downloading our free Flax sweater or free Flax Light sweater patterns. Either pattern will serve as an excellent ‘blank canvas’ for trying out a design idea.

More Flax hacks

This is not the first time our Flax pattern has been hacked! Check out some others below…

Lace Flax Hack Blog Post
This lace panel sweater was knit using the Flax pattern with a little lace added!
Flax Sweater Cable Hack Blog Post
Alexa used the free Flax pattern as a base to make this cute little cable panel sweater.
Smiling baby in a sweater with bright and deep red stripes.
Clearly I love stripes! This little Flax sweater got a lot of play when Max and Neve were babies.

Soft, colourful, and ‘made just for her,’ this new, stripey number has become Neve’s go-to sweater this summer. Here in Edinburgh, it can get pretty chilly, even in the middle of summer, so we don’t go out without a jumper just in case!

A child holds a flower in small hands, the cuffs of her sweater are striped gold and pale teal.
I ran out of handspun on the last part of the sleeves, so I just striped the two mill-spun yarns.
Child smiles up at the camera, framed by green underbrush wearing a striped sweater.
A child, ponytail swinging, runs along a forest path wearing a striped sweater.

This, too, shall pass

This sweater, for me personally, has a number of bittersweet memories knit into it. I cast on feverishly and knit away, anxious and uncertain as lockdown here in Edinburgh was just beginning. I photographed it on Neve’s 4th birthday, when we enjoyed a family outing to a nearby park, instead of the party with friends we had hoped for.

I know ‘this, too, shall pass.’ There will be more happy birthdays to celebrate and fun summers to soak in. But I’d be lying if I said this ‘new normal’ we’re all experiencing hasn’t been a daily challenge; I often find myself feeling like I just can’t keep up. So I do what I can do. I focus on today, juggling work and family as best I can. I call a friend. I cast on something simple and joyful – and I get to bed early, so I can wake up and do it all again tomorrow.

~ Emily

Smiling child looks up into the camera
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