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December 14, 2017

There is something about December that cries out for a bulky knit. I’m not sure if it’s the cold, the gift knitting, or the combination of the two that makes me paw through my stash, or head to my LYS for a lovely skein of something big.

When I saw the beautiful cakes of Yotta yarn at Julie Asselin‘s booth at Knit City I wanted them all. I took a deep breath, chose 3… and then picked up another skein at Baaad Anna’s a few weeks later! My vision for this hat took all the things I love… and super-sized them!

Bulky yarn + a folded brim + cables + pompom = too much = perfection!

You see how the math worked there? Honeypie is a perfect knit for cold winter nights. After the hectic rush of year-end work deadlines, party planning and busy shops this simple quick knit will bring you pleasure stitch by stitch. It features a delicious doubled brim, some interesting cables, and a big pompom to finish it all off.

How many kissing shots are too many? I never tire of them….

This hat will keep out ALL of the cold! I should also mention that the kids LOVED the big hats. They were warm and fun, with pompoms the size of apples. The giant doubled brim on their little heads made me immensely happy.

Project Details

Pattern: Honeypie
90 (110, 130) yds super bulky weight yarn (samples shown in Julie Asselin Yotta in ‘birch’, ‘haze’, ‘’jaipur’, and ‘nakaberri’)
Needles: US #10.5 / 6.5mm 16” circular, US #15 / 10mm 16” circular and DPNs (or as required to meet gauge)
Gauge: 12 sts & 17 rows / 4” over cable pattern
Notions: cable needle, darning needle, stitch marker

Tis the season for quick gift knits!

If you are a gift knitter, you probably feel each tick of the clock as the holidays approach. Honeypie knits up quickly, and you can’t knit just one! Julie has Yotta yarn available in the shop here, there are so many pretty colours to choose from, I think I’ll make one in blue next…..

A beautiful superbulky – Julie Asselin Yotta

More delicious cables from Tin Can Knits:

Yoke Design (by the seat of my pants)

December 12, 2017

We have just wrapped up an extremely fun KAL focused on our new Strange Brew sweater recipe and Dog Star pattern. Hop to the bottom of this post to check if you won, and check out the Strange Brew projects, and the FO thread for some really exquisite and inspiring knits!

I knit a yoke by the seat of my pants!

This November I participated in NaNoWriMo, a challenge to write a 50,000 word novel (draft!) in the 30 days. It was crazy fun, and in a previous post I wrote about how a big project like that (or like knitting a sweater!) can build grit. Well, the novel project also introduced me to the concept of ‘pantser’ vs. ‘planner’. If you just sit down and get started working ‘by the seat of your pants’ you’re a ‘pantser’. If you spend months making detailed plans before you begin, you’re a ‘planner’. Well, I’ve always considered myself a planner, in my design work and life in general, but while writing, the daily imperative to get words on the page made me reassess… often the magic happens AFTER you get started with your creative work.

For the KAL I had decided to knit a little yoke sweater for my 18-month-old Neve, using the wedge design method described in our Strange Brew recipe.

I used the vivid and lovely Rainbow Heirloom Sweater for my little Strange Brew KAL yoke.

But after choosing some BEAUTIFUL Rainbow Heirloom colours and knitting sleeves and body, I was frankly, a little overwhelmed by the concept of ‘designing in public’ and sharing my process on the internet. I was worried it would be a fail, and I wouldn’t do the project justice!! Hilarious eh?!

a knitter’s procrastination … work on another project instead!

So of course facing uncertainty I dove deep into some knitterly procrastination. I picked up a different project that I’d initially thought would become an Ironheart sweater from our charity collaboration, Heart On My Sleeve. As Ironheart has the same construction and similar stitch counts as Strange Brew, so I decided that it would be a ‘palette cleansing’ project to be playful with before returning to the Rainbow Heirloom project. I had already knit the body and sleeves in part on my new knitting machine, and I was at the point of no return… the start of the yoke!

I chose a rough palette of colours

Most anything would shine with the white sweater body I’d made. I had a few colours in the same yarn (Shilasdair Luxury DK) so I started with two blues, a couple yellows, then added in a gold, pink purple, browns, a grey and a deeper blue too. I guessed I wouldn’t use all of these colours, but that I wanted to have them out in front of me as I knit, to choose from when I changed colours.

I didn’t really ‘plan out’ my colour concept except to decide I’d start with gold against the white, and then lose the white entirely, using pairs of other colours through the yoke (this was made necessary by the fact that I was nearly out of the white!). Having started with the gold, this meant the yellow part of the palette would be the ‘foreground’ and the other colours would be the ‘background’.

I chose a ‘wedge’ size, and sketched the first few rounds

I wanted to stay flexible as I knit. But I knew I wanted to work with a small-repeat pattern that would repeat many times around the yoke, so I decided to start with 8 sts, then eventually decrease to 6, then to 4 per repeat. Strange Brew is designed with 24-stitch repeats, so 8 stitch wedges fit perfectly. I started to sketch up a chart, but I only drew out the first 20 rounds, although my size of yoke would require more than double that.

As I worked, I let my mind wander, and look at the shapes that began to form in the knitting. Almost immediately (after round 3) I decided to go ‘off pattern’, abandoning my chart sketch, and began to create two-tone lozenge shapes with blues, framed by gold and yellow. I think I was inspired by the shapes formed in this hat. Then I threw in the brown, and ended up with strongly contrasting hexagons formed with brown and yellow. I wasn’t sure about that part of the design, but I wanted to see what might come next, so I left most of my stitches on hold, and worked further on a small segment of the yoke, trying out a few decreases, geometries, and other colour combinations.

I slept on it, and then returned to what I loved so far (the two-tone lozenges). I ripped back a few rounds and focussed the design on those geometries, but continued to experiment with colour combinations on the needles.

While there were things that I didn’t absolutely LOVE about the yoke, instead of ripping and changing it further I decided to continue forward. I felt it was more important to get it done (it’s gotten so cold here in Edinburgh) than aim for perfection.

I used this chart; you can see from the column to the right how the foreground and background colours shift and make a more complex effect than if you had worked the design in two colours (as shown in the chart to the right).

In the end, I pretty much love it like crazy! It’s outside my typical colour comfort zone (pink!) and I allowed myself to LEAVE things in that I was uncertain about. I also knit it with very minimal planning, this was somewhat different from my usual process, and I had a load of fun.

back to my first KAL knit

Since I put on my first yoke (and never took it off again!), I was warm while I contemplated how I would complete the first yoke. In the end, I decided to play with the lozenge shape I loved from my first yoke once more, but do things a little bit differently. I offset the rows of lozenge shapes, changed up the order of yellows I used for the ‘frame’, and by doing so broke up the vertical alignment through the yoke somewhat. I also chose to use a lighter background colour between the motifs, so it fades back rather than standing out the way the brown, purple and pink do.

This is the chart I used:

Neve was uncooperative this weekend… so her big brother Max modelled the sweater instead. It’s good to know it will fit her for a couple years!

Did you KAL with us?

Hundreds of knitters joined in the fun on our Facebook Group, and on our Ravelry Group too. But out of the grand total of over 81 entries, we used a random number generator to pick the 5 who would win prizes:

1. mercourier – wins a copy of Mary Jane Mucklestone’s book on Fair Isle
2. Roudynette – wins a copy of Andrea Rangel’s new book, Alterknits
3. KathyDavid – wins a copy of Jane Richmond’s cool West Coast Cardigan pattern
4. Raybaer – wins a TFA Palette by Tanis Fiber Arts (delicious!)
5.  rockinit – wins the entire Tin Can Knits ebook library… so much to knit!

Honourable mentions (because we loved their projects SO much): laurelswift and her awesome Iggy Peck Architect sweater, justlivin because I kind of want to steal her sweater, OurMutualFriendM for finishing 6 sweaters, and gfpowers because I’m a sucker for a fabulous photo, all win a Tin Can Knits pattern of their choice!

More TCK yokes for your knitting pleasure:

North ShoreSpotlight by Tin Can Knits

Snowflakes for Bodhi

December 8, 2017

Last but not least in my series of September Sweaters is the green sweater for wee Bodhi. I originally thought I would knit trees (I mean, it’s a green sweater, it needs trees…obviously), but when I saw Emily’s swatch hat for Neve I thought to myself: snowflakes, it’s gotta be snowflakes!

Neve’s hat was my inspiration! Check out the blog post with the chart for this hat here.

When I made Hunter and Jones’ yokes I worked colourwork for the complete yoke depth, from just after the short row shaping all the way to the neckline. For Bodhi’s yoke I had a different approach – I wanted a single striking Fair Isle motif right in the middle of the yoke.

Project Details:

Pattern: Strange Brew (mods and charts detailed below)
Yarn: Brooklyn Tweed Arbor in ‘wreath’
Size: 4-6 (Bodhi wears commercial clothing size 4)

I knit the sleeves and body per the Strange Brew pattern. Once I had joined the yoke I worked short row shaping before the patterning, just like in the other 2 sweaters. I decided I didn’t want to incorporate my decreases into the chart itself. Instead, I worked 8 rounds in MC, worked my first decrease, worked my chart, then worked my second decreases, knit 7 rounds in MC, and my last decrease, then the ribbing. This made the ratios slightly different than in the pattern, but as we say, the numbers are squishy, and it worked out just fine! I didn’t want to do the snowflakes exactly the same as Emiy had for Neve’s hat so I tried a different style of snowflake with little cross motifs in between.

I worked this 14-stitch repeat chart in the centre of the yoke; as luck would have it, after working decrease round A, the stitch count for the 6-8 year size is 168, which is 14 x 12, so no adjustment to the stitch count was necessary.

There you have it, Bodhi’s simple snowflake sweater. So, now that this year’s epic September sweater photoshoot is done, it’s time to start plotting for next year! Maybe a series of cabled sweaters? Perhaps it is the year of Gramps sweaters? Bumble? More Fair Isle? Decisions, decisions…..

Do you have any epic knitting traditions?

More Fair Isle fun from Tin Can Knits:



Yellow for Jones

December 7, 2017

Jones is the only one of my kids with a strong colour preference. Hunter likes all colours in different shades at different times, and Bodhi changes her mind pretty regularly too. But Jones wants yellow. Always. If it’s not yellow, it’s not for him. So Jones got the yellow September sweater this year (details on all the September sweater here)!

Project Details:

Pattern: Strange Brew
Yarn: Brooklyn Tweed Arbor in ‘Klimt’
Size: 6-8 (Jones wears commercial clothing in size 6)

I knit Jonesie’s sweater last. I had begun with a clear idea for Hunter and a vague snowflake concept for Bodhi, but when I got to the third of my September sweaters (check them all out here) I was momentarily stumped. What to do… So after a little uncertainty I just did what we recommend in the Strange Brew pattern: just do it! I took the path of least resistance and used the pattern exactly as it is intended. I picked a few smaller scale motifs from those listed in the Strange Brew pattern and just followed the instructions. I worked short row shaping before my motifs. I worked a couple of patterns, a decrease round, a couple more patterns, another decrease round, a final pattern, a final decrease round, and then ribbing. Sometimes keeping it simple is just right, eh?!

I am so pleased with his sweater, I always love the look of small repeat Fair Isle. I designed the Tenderheart sweater this way, and the Dog Star sweater had only slightly larger motifs. I doubt I’m finished with the idea either!

Tomorrow will be all about Bodhi’s snowflakes!

For the love of simple Fair Isle:

Hunter’s Yoke

December 6, 2017

For Hunter’s September sweater (details on all the September sweaters here) this year I decided to go with the lovely wedge chart we included as an example in the Strange Brew pattern. It has a pretty icicle feel to it, and I loved the little diamonds in between. In order to work in this chart I had to make a few small alterations to the stitch count at the yoke.

Project Details:

Pattern: Strange Brew with mods (detailed below)
Yarn: Brooklyn Tweed Arbor in ‘Alizarin’
Size: 8-10 yr (Hunter wears a commercial size 7-8 so I knit it with a little room to grow)

To begin, I knit the sleeves and body per pattern. Once I had joined it all together for the yoke I worked short row shaping before starting the yoke patterning. I didn’t want short row shaping above the charts, it seemed better to have the icicles extend all the way to the neckline. The chart was a multiple of 16 sts, so I needed to decrease 216 to 208 sts to accommodate this (13 x 16 = 208). I worked my 8 decreases on the last round of my short row shaping, while picking up my wraps.

I used this chart (it’s included within the Strange Brew pattern), which begins as a 16-stitch repeat, and decreases to a 6-stitch repeat by round 34.

Next I worked the chart as it was. It was a few rounds taller than I needed for Hunter’s size, but I figured a few rounds wouldn’t break anything. As the chart fit 13 times around this yoke, when I was finished the chart I had 78 sts, rather than the 96 sts I was aiming for in the 8-10 year size. I debated taking it back a few rounds and skipping the last set of decreases (which would have given me 104 sts), but knitting is pretty stretchy and I was already done, so I worked the ribbing, a loose bind off, and it still fit just fine. If it had been too tight, I could have taken it back to round 34 of the chart, skipped the decreases there, and had 104 sts (13 repeats x 8 sts). Then I could have decreased 8 sts to 96 sts before the ribbing.

Voila! Hunter loves it, and it can even double as her Christmas sweater in all it’s red and white glory. Tomorrow I will detail Jonesy’s yoke!

More Fair Isle on kiddos from TCK:

A Tenderheart for Arlo

December 5, 2017

It’s a funny thing knitting for babies. They are so tiny when they’re born, but grow so fast, it all seems a bit unbelievable. When I was pregnant with Jones I pulled out the baby clothes from Hunter and thought to myself ‘No, that’s impossible. She can’t have fit in those clothes!’. I mean, I definitely had photographic evidence that she did indeed fit those clothes, but it bent my brain to reconcile the 2 year old in front of me with those tiny onesies and wee joggers.

When knitting for kids it is always advisable to knit a little bigger rather than a little small (more wear for your hard work right?!). However, for newborns, it seems you can’t knit small enough, and they fit for about 5 whole minutes. For more of our (somewhat expert?) recommendations of knitting for babies, check out this post!

The smallest size included in the Tenderheart pattern is 0-6 months, and that is quite a range. It fits a 6 month old better than a newborn (but babies vary quite a bit too!). Emily knit up a 0-6 month Tenderheart in no time… but it was enormous on wee Arlo! He will fit into that sweater very soon, but she wanted it to fit just right for our epic September Sweater photoshoot. So she cast on another and it was even smaller and faster than the first! Her newborn size modifications are listed below.

Project Details:

Pattern: Tenderheart (with the mods listed below)
Yarn: Brooklyn Tweed Arbor in ‘cobbler’
Size: Teeny Tiny – smaller than 0-6 months

Newborn Size Modifications:
Sleeves: cast on 24 sts, work 1.25” ribbing. Worked 2 sets of increases (28 sts), knit until sleeve was 5.5”. 6 underarm sts.
Body: cast on 88, worked 1.25” ribbing, knit until body was 6”
Join body and yoke: with 6 underarm sts at sleeves and body I had 120 sts for the yoke.
Yoke: Worked chart rounds 7-28 so there were 60 sts at the neckline and did 0.75” of ribbing at the neckline.

Arlo looked so cute with his cousins, and big cousin Hunter was so proud to be holding him for the camera. Tomorrow I detail Hunter’s icicle yoke!

More knits for the teeny tiny from TCK:

Go Big or Go Home – the September Sweater

December 4, 2017

It is often said that one should ‘go big or go home’, and I try to live according to that motto at least some of the time. If ever there was a ‘go big’ it was the invention of the September sweater. The September Sweaters are a sweater for each kid, according to some sort of theme, each September(ish). September sweaters are accompanied by a wild photoshoot, with much sugary bribery, and exhaustion after only 1/2 hour or so.

My sister-in-law Emily and I have accomplished this epic feat 2 years running and it is now a permanent addition to my yearly knit list. We might be nuts, but I think it’s worth it!

Last year’s September sweater featured Flax, with a little rainbow

Last year we did Flax sweaters for all four cousins, all with lovely rainbow stripes, giving them a sort of nostalgic 80’s feel. It was an epic amount of knitting, an even more epic photoshoot, and the end result might be my favourite photo I’ve ever taken.

Fast forward to this year. We decided to keep with the rainbow theme, but wanted to do more of a coordinated effort, rather than matchy-matchy. We picked up a gorgeous rainbow of Brooklyn Tweed Arbor (knowing there was a 5th cousin on the way) and set to knitting!

Brooklyn Tweed Arbor, from left to right: Alizarin, Klimt, Wreath, Sashiko, and Cobbler

We were originally going to knit them all Tenderheart sweaters, but once I started designing Strange Brew yokes I didn’t want to knit the same thing twice! Emily knit a wee Tenderheart for Arlo (with a few mods to make it fit a newborn, details here), and a Dog Star for Ellis.


Ellis’ Dog Star sweater is the only one we knit straight from the pattern, no mods! It came out so cute, and Ellis looks so big compared to last year’s photo!

For Hunter, Jones, and Bodhi I worked on new yoke designs, following the Strange Brew recipe pattern and enjoying the limited pressure of using only 2 colours, and the endless possibilities in a yoke! Charts and details for Hunter’s sweater are here, Jones’ sweater are here, and Bodhi’s sweater are here.

Do you go big, or prefer to keep things reined in when it comes to your knitting projects? Emily wrote last week about about how knitting can help you develop grit and the endurance to tackle larger projects, do you agree?

Planning September Sweaters for next year… the short list includes:

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