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A hot Antler hat

August 10, 2018

I knit all summer. Even in the 30 degree heat. Even at the beach. Even at the campsite. Everywhere! Although I must say, this summer in Vancouver is extra hot and I considered putting down the Lopi sweater I was working on….but I persevered! Instead of making me want to put down my needles, summer just makes me want to cast on something bright and fun!

At the beginning of the summer I taught a class at Yarn Okanagan and while I was perusing the marketplace a bright fun skein at Baaad Anna’s booth caught my eye. It was bright, fun, reminded me a little of my style in the early 90’s…..I needed it! Hunter loves all things bright and speckled so I had a brief debate with myself over getting enough for a sweater for her, or if I should just do an accessory. I have a lot of single skeins in the stash and it isn’t really meshing with my constant desire to knit sweaters, but I went for the single skein with an Antler hat plan.

Let me tell you about this skein. It has all the colours, plus speckles, plus dark bits that make everything pop even more! It is a skein of Hedgehog Fibers Merino Aran in the delightful colourway ‘piggy bank’. I wasn’t really sure how the cables would come out in a busy skein, but I had seen a few on Ravelry and Instagram so I thought I would give it a go.

I’m so pleased with the results! The cables show up just fine and the speckles are everything I thought they would be. Hunter chose a turquoise pom pom from my wee bright faux fur pom stash (this one was from Tanis Fiber Arts). Hunter and I went up to Simon Fraser University for some photos. She was in fine form, practicing her annoyed teenager look, alongside her smiles and dancing.

For all the details on the hat you can check out the Ravelry project here.

What do you like to knit in the summer? Do you take a break? Do you prepare for winter?

More cabled hats from TCK

Back to Alaska

July 21, 2018

While sitting around the table one evening in Iceland I received an email. I mulled it over, thinking it impossible, but finally I said out loud: I think I have to go back to Cordova. The email was from Dotty at the Net Loft and it was about their Fisher Folk retreat. It was calling me, I had to go! Emily said ‘I’ll keep an eye on the inbox’ and Gary said ‘the kids and I will manage’ and so a few weeks ago I hopped a plane (or 3) back to to one of my favorite places for a week of knitting, adventuring, and learning.

I was going to write about my favourite part, but then I realized there were so many! I had a grand time knitting all over town, by the docks, at the bakery, at the taco stand, in the library…..everywhere! When I met my roomate (we hadn’t met before) we had the same backpack and glasses, so I knew we were going to get along spectacularly! There were always knitters around and even if there weren’t it doesn’t bother me any to do a bit of solitary knitting.

I also had a chance to take a fascinating Gansey construction class with Beth Brown-Reinsel and a lace class with the GREAT Evelyn Clarke. The very first bit of lace I ever knit was her Shetland Triangle Shawl and our lace pattern writing was heavily influenced by her clear instructions and charts.

Me and Evelyn, no big deal…..what?!

I also had a chance to meet Lori, who I have long been inspired by on Instagram (she is loritimesfive on Instagram and I HIGHLY recommend you check her out). She gave a chat one evening about slow stitching and I was so inspired.

Laurie, serene as ever on the Aurelia (wearing a lovely Lucerne hat)

I had a chance to go out on The Aurelia, a big beautiful boat, with a bunch of knitters, and it was just the most wonderful and relaxing time. We knit, we chatted, we took in Prince William Sound, I couldn’t have asked for more!

It was really nice being able to go back to Cordova and re-connect with all the wonderful people I met last time I was there. Amy even took me out on a photography tour!

I got to see beautiful sweaters made from the Strange Brew class I taught too! This is the beautiful Jane and her amazing sweater, inspired by the Lupine found…everywhere!

One of the most inspiring parts of this journey was the Gansey exhibit. There was a wonderful talk by Stella Ruhe, all about the history of Gansey sweaters and I was fascinated. She looked at all of the old pictures she could find of Gansey sweaters, because of course, the sweaters themselves were worn until they were just a few threads left! She took all of these images and had knitters re-create the sweaters from the photographs. Each of these sweaters hung in the museum in Cordova and it was such a sight to behold. It was a combination of knitting, history, and photography, my 3 great passions together!

Gansey sweaters hanging in the museum.

In addition to Stella’s fascinating talks and Beth’s introduction to the structure of a Gansey sweater, there was an evening display of the Cordova Gansey’s. There were so many knitters who had knit a Gansey sweater, custom designed, for either themselves or their loved ones. The sweaters were often modeled by the recipient and each knitter described the motifs used and the meanings behind them. It was pure magic for me. Watching knitters share their design process and passion….it was just magic. I don’t have any pictures from that evening, but I do have a picture I took before of Amber and her Gansey sweater and I waxed poetic about it here.

Amber in her beautiful gansey

And so I immediately cast on not 1, but 2 Gansey sweaters for the kids. There was so much time for simple knitting I whipped up the 2 sweater bodies and they are waiting for me to do a wee bit of math and choose my motifs!


Time for a blanket KAL!

July 11, 2018

Tanis is churning out Polygon blocks!

We have always found the amazing colours of Tanis Fiber Arts and the blankets of Tin Can Knits to be a match made in heaven. Tanis is hosting a great blanket KAL and you can find all of the details  here. When I went to write this post I realized just how many of our blankets we have knit in TFA and…..well it’s a lot!

My most recent blanket knit in Tanis Fiber Arts DK is the Polygon. It was a chance to use my *ahem* curated stash, collected over my long-time fandom (I think I got my first skein of Tanis back in 2010!). Instead of choosing a tight palette of a few colours I went with a wild rainbow of almost all the colours! No regrets, I adore this blanket in all of it’s rainbow glory.

Next up is the Vivid blanket. I have knit this blanket in TFA not once, not twice, but 3 times I loved it so much! I knit one with white borders, one for Bodhi when she was born, and one for Ellis when he was born. Bodhi and Ellis’ blankets are both rainbows, but slightly different rainbows. I like how swapping out a few colours gives them a totally different feel.

Bodhi’s Vivid, Ellis’ Vivid, White Bordered Vivid

I have also knit up the Bounce blanket in TFA. This one is slightly less rainbow-ized…but not much! This one was for my wee nephew Harrison.

Bounce blanket in all it’s stripes and lace!

I have even knit up a POP blanket (that I had totally forgotten about!) in TFA, with my favourite combination, white encircling the bright colours.

In addition to all the blankets I’ve knit, Tanis has knit up some lovely TCK blankets as well, her Fly Away blankets are really an inspiration.

And if you need even MORE inspiration, check out Tanis’ TCK blanket projects here, here, and here, Undone57’s Fly Away here, and you can see ALL of the TCK/TFA blankets in one place here.

So, will you be blanket-ing along this summer?!

More blankies from TCK:

Boardwalk: which way suits you best?

July 6, 2018

I have long been intrigued by the idea of a backwards cardigan. I started sketching this idea years ago, around the time Tin Can Knits first started. It’s sort of a vintage look, somewhat impractical (I mean, you pretty much have to button it up and put it on as a pullover), it’s a bit different, but not totally odd. It’s a look I quite enjoy and so I finally pulled out my sticks and string and knit one up. It seemed sensible to make it an otherwise simple sweater, with the sole details being crisp raglan lines, sweet little split hem, and the buttons up the back. When I was finished I was completely smitten, it was exactly what I wanted!

Button it in front or back!

Of course not everyone wants a cardigan worn backwards, so Boardwalk can be made with 2 options, the frontwards, or the backwards. The sweater is completely the same except for the shaping at the top neck, so you can wait until the last minute to decide. Short rows lower the neckline depending how you want to wear it.

This is my nephew Arlo when he was brand spanking new. He is wearing his teeny tiny Boardwalk and a Beloved bonnet to top off the look

The forwards version is a perfect wardrobe staple. Simple and straightforward, perfect for that SQ you have stashed in your favourite colour. It works well with tweeds, woollies, speckles, or hand dyes, a canvas that lets the yarn shine. Boardwalk is perfect layered over a tank top and jeans or a summer dress for cooler evenings.

Neve looking oh-so-adorable in her speckles!

Lately I’ve been thinking about my own sweater wardrobe from the practical perspective of what I actually like to wear (vs what I like to knit, the 2 don’t always go together). I think I’ll be knitting up a Boardwalk sweater for me! I haven’t decided whether to style it forwards or backwards….but I don’t have to decide until the neckline shaping so I can cast on anyway!

Sweet little split hem detail

Boardwalk details:

Pattern: Boardwalk by Tin Can Knits
Yarn: 300 (350, 400, 500, 575, 675, 775, 850, 1050, 1100, 1200, 1300, 1400, 1475, 1550, 1600, 1700, 1900, 2100, 2250) yards DK weight yarn.
Samples shown in: Natalie and Hunter are wearing YOTH Big Sister in ‘Portobello’ and ‘Sea Salt’, Neve and Arlo are wearing Hedgehog Fibers Merino DK in ‘genie’ and ‘pollen’
Needles: US #4 / 3.5mm & US #6 / 4mm (or as required to meet gauge)
Gauge: 22 sts & 30 rounds / 4” in stockinette on larger needles

Hunter’s sweater love

I never know which sweaters my kids will REALLY love. They will wear any of them without fuss and of their own free will, but sometimes they just LOVE a sweater. Jones and his Gramps sweater, Bodhi and her Antler sweater. Well, Hunter couldn’t get enough of her Boardwalk cardigan. She wore it non-stop after our photoshoot! Her cool teenage cousin told her it was a good look and she beamed with pride. She also started wearing her Lush cardigan backwards, just 2 buttons done up at the top. What a fashion forward little 7-year-old!

So, grab your fav yarn, the Boardwalk pattern, and join me in knitting up the perfect sweater for fall!

More stylish staples from TCK:



My Sweater Wardrobe

June 21, 2018

I had such good intentions of posting about this during Me Made May, but we were frantically packing for Iceland (and maybe there was some last minute knitting), and….well….here it is now!! Best intentions right? I, like a lot of knitters I hear from, knit a lot for other people. I LOVE to knit for my kids, I like to knit for my Mum, I knit a lot of samples for our patterns, and I have knit things at various times for just about everyone I know. Last year there were a bunch of new babies in my friend group and I knit wee sweaters and hats for them too. I don’t take the time though, to really knit something for myself. A couple of years ago I decided that needed to change (I mean, who shows up at a knit conference and doesn’t have a suitable hand-knit sweater?! Embarrassing), and this is a record of my progress this far.

First up, the most recent finish. This is my Strange Brew sweater, knit up in Brooklyn Tweed Arbor I picked up on my first trip to Alaska. (Side note: isn’t it nice to pick up yarn on vacation? This sweater will always remind me of the Net Loft). The thought behind this sweater is that I love to wear black and grey. I love to knit with colourful yarns, but what I wear 99% of the time is jeans and a hoodie, so I needed a sweater that fit into that wardrobe. I went with a dark grey body (I am mostly too spilly to wear light colours) and a neutral palette for the yoke. I was so very pleased with Bodhi’s Christmas sweater this year, that I decided I needed to size that chart up for me.

Just ignore that lovely piece of lichen trying to blend in with my hair….

After SWATHES of grey stockinette I had a little party in the yoke, and voila, a sweater for me! It’s the first sweater I didn’t have to immediately adjust in some way to fit more to my liking, which was also a huge win. I called on my photography buddy, Tessa, and we headed out to Buntzen for a few glamour shots.

The rest of my sweater wardrobe has been seen before, there is my lovely red Prairie Fire that I love to bits, my brown tweedy Antler sweater (that I snapped the back neck on yet again, so it is in the repair pile), and my mustard Flax sweater.

I really adore the colour of my Flax, and I’m mostly quite happy with it except….it’s too short. I ran out yarn (rookie mistake), and it’s a hand dye so my hopes of matching dye lots are rather slim. The sleeves are a bit too short for my liking, and the body is also a smidge shorter than I prefer. They are so close….only an inch or an inch and a half off…..but sometimes that’s enough to leave it on the shelf.

With a hand knit sweater it is just so worth the effort to make your sweater perfect. So, with that in mind, I think I’ll have to colour block that sweater. I’ll take out the cuffs and maybe an inch, and I’ll do a few inches in a new colour at the cuff and hem. Now, I said this to Emily and she immediately told me to throw some pink at it….my initial instinct was grey of course……thoughts?

It’s always good to have a photographer friend, this pic is from Sylvia

So I’m curious, are you a sweater wearer? Do you have a horror story about a sweater you have knit and couldn’t fix the fit on? Tell me your sweater stories, I am dying to hear them.

Sweaters to add to the wardrobe (Are you sensing a theme?!):

Postcards from Iceland vol. 1

June 7, 2018

The whole gang in Iceland! Seljalandfoss in the background

About a year ago Emily and I were on the phone, as we are every Monday, and we were discussing the things in our lives we would like to do. Some goals were craft oriented (sewing projects and sweater wardrobes), some were food oriented (learning a few new ‘everyday’ recipes is always on my list), and some were travel related. What places did we want to see? And then we had a crazy idea: we should go to Iceland. Not just the 2 of us…..ALL of us! So 3 weeks ago we packed up our husbands and kiddos and jumped a plane to Iceland for a 16 day trip all the way around the land of fire and ice!

This adorable couple was along for the wild ride! Rain, sleet, wind, sun….all in 1/2 hour!

It wasn’t really an ‘all play’ vacation. We were on a mission to photograph our upcoming collection (be ready for September!). In addition to our two families we had Nina of Rainbow Heirloom (our lovely model) and her fiancée, Ross, came too. For the first few days we just drove around Reykjavik taking thousands of photographs against the stunning backdrops….and stopping regularly for coffee and pastry of course!

We had the pleasure of spending an evening with Helene Magnusson , the Icelandic Knitter, while we were in Reykjavik too! We headed to her beautiful studio where she let us comb through her beautiful trunks of samples (and a whole drawer of beautiful colourwork mittens!), while she described her knitting journey, her special Icelandic yarns, and her wonderful knitting and hiking retreats. Hiking in Iceland with Helene has been officially added to the bucket list!

One of our favourite days was our trip to the Blue Lagoon, we all piled into the cars and headed for the warm blue waters. They were amazing! It was a perfect sunny day (a rarity on the trip), the kids were happy to be floating, grown ups enjoyed the steam and sauna, and the view couldn’t be beat! That blue is indescribable!

The best part of being in Iceland was the amazing outdoors. Both the weather and the scenery changed frequently, one minute you were looking out at the vast Atlantic, the next you were on a mossy hill, then passing a field of Icelandic horses! There were mountains, vast expanses of volcanic rock, green and brown mossy hills, and black pebbled beaches. It was a wonder everywhere we turned.

Changing weather meant improvising! This is Emily’s ‘sweater-turned-scarf’ look

We had a wee chance to check out the local yarn shop and we couldn’t miss the Alafoss shop as well! There were beautiful lopi sweaters everywhere we looked. At the coffee shop, on the street, in the shops, and yes, there was lopi yarn in the grocery stores too! There was too much to cover in just one post so there is more on our fantastic journey to come!

More Road Trip Knits from TCK:

Sonya Philip, an interesting wardrobe, and projects that require practice

May 10, 2018

Recently I’ve realized that I am at a point in my life where many of my current projects require PRACTICE, repetition, and solid habits. Maybe its the theme of this decade (my 30’s)?

The things that I’m interested in taking forward in both my creative work and my personal life are the sorts of things that don’t come easily or quickly. These kinds of projects require daily or weekly attention, a load of work, and seem to develop so very much more slowly that I’d prefer!

Just a few of the swatches and prototype projects that I’ve made as I develop colourwork designs for our upcoming collection.

A few things I’m working on personally are my posture (pilates), fitness (regular running), and re-learning piano (I just started lessons). In my knitting and design I am focussed on building skills and experimenting within stranded colourwork, as Alexa and I put together our next collection.

Let me tell you, designing in colourwork requires A LOT of practice! These hats are from our Week Of Colour blog post series that explores different colour strategies.

Perhaps somewhere between the professional and the personal floats my grand ambition to develop a more interesting wardrobe for myself. For as long as I can remember I have bemoaned my lack of an ‘interesting’ wardrobe. Despite being a designer, my clothes have always been woefully boring, and yet I’ve always admired women and men who let their personalities and playful sides show through clothing.

As I write this post, I realize I have a load of stylish friends who inspire me; Ysolda puts together quirky yet thoughtful combinations and wears loads of hand-made items, Jess of Ginger Twist Studio rocks vintage pieces alongside a stunning array of knits, and the lovely ladies of PomPom never fail to impress with their whimsical mix of delicious colours and modern designs.

Sonya Philip, creator of 100 Acts of Sewing

A view from the Instagram feed of Sonya Philip, textile artist and creator of 100 Acts of Sewing.

I recently met a woman who REALLY knocks me out with her fashion sense and creativity. At the Edinburgh Yarn Festival this year I ran into my current style idol, Sonya Philip in person! I’ll have to admit I butted right in to her conversation with ‘OMG I LOVE YOUR WORK SO MUCH’ in true awkward fan style. Luckily I ran into her later on and apologized!

Sonya and I headed to EYF 2018 – we made a pretty great colour combination eh?! Photo by Jeni Reid

Sonya is a San Francisco-based artist and the creator of a series of sewing patterns, called 100 Acts of Sewing. In 2012 she began a project to sew 100 projects. In her words: “What began as a personal challenge to make 100 dresses in a year, has developed into a larger exploration of praxis.” Read more on her site.

Sonya’s Instagram feed is one of my very favourite. Ever. It just makes me crazy happy! There are many things that I love about her work, but the thing I want to focus on is PRACTICE.

100 Acts of Sewing patterns

With the 100 Acts of Sewing patterns, Sonya has created basic patterns which erase any barriers to creation. It is in each person’s use of these patterns, their curation of fabrics, pattern, and details where these patterns really shine. For me, Sonya’s work is an invitation to play, to practice, to become proficient. Not to BE perfect, BE proficient, or HAVE the ideal thing instantaneously, but to create, step by step, day by day, and revel in the joy of this process and its results.

Sonya wears her designs so well! I find her combinations of colour, pattern, texture so joyous and inspiring. How can I drool over this endless source of inspiration, but then pull on the same jeans & tank top every day?! Well… because it is a long process, a daily or weekly practice, to go from boring shop-bought wardrobe to interesting hand-made wardrobe. And to be honest (and make my excuses!), my kids are 2 and 3.5, so life is only just now becoming a tiny bit easier!

an interesting wardrobe for me

So there it is, a 30’s life goal … making and wearing clothes that speak a little bit more of me, who I am, and what I love. I’ll be starting with sweaters (naturally!), and moving from there. I made these swingy tank tops last year, and I think I’ll make a few more because they’re what I really love to wear under my sweaters.

To move beyond jeans, I think the sewing project that I need to ‘nail’ is trousers (I suppose that 7 years in Scotland means I’m converting from ‘pants’!). So I’m hoping to find or develop a perfect pattern for a) high waisted wide leg trousers and b) slim trousers, like a jeans fit but made in other fabrics. Any suggestions for likely sewing patterns that might fit this bill? I’ve got some great woollens collected to get started on…

As for the sweaters I have planned… Well it’s all about yokes for me for at least another year! I’ve got A LOT of sweaters planned for me. In the past I’ve had very few handmade sweaters for myself, but recently I acquired a hand operated knitting machine. I’ll talk more about this useful tool in a future post, but suffice it to say that it’s allowing me to complete some sweaters for my own wardrobe, something I have seldom had time for in the past few years.

A few initial concepts / colour explorations for the sweaters I have planned

I may work on adding to my wardrobe in ‘outfits’; one sweater plus one pair of trousers. Conceptually, I don’t want to do a lot of different things, I want to take 2 or 3 basic patterns: our Strange Brew yoke sweater recipe, and two styles of trousers, and work various iterations within these basic patterns. There are SO MANY ways I could do a yoke sweater, right?

Here are a few of the recent yokes I’ve made, but this has only just whet my appetite for more!

And with one or two trouser styles, and a stack of different colours and textures I am sure I will be able to build a handmade wardrobe that I find both interesting and practical. Inspired by Sonya Philip’s iterative exploration of simple basics, I will work within the canvas that I’m loving (the yoke sweater), and practice; again and again.

Concept sketches of my new ‘uniform’ … let me tell you, yoke sweaters are featuring BIG in my imagination! And sexy trousers… and boots that go stompity stomp.

Neon… it goes with everything, right?!

This amazing green has been especially calling to me lately. Next year’s ‘Christmas Sweater’ is going to be this vivid ‘Vintage’ green with pinks and deeper greens at the yoke. I swear, I probably told everybody I met at EYF this year about this green sweater idea I was obsessed with… So after talking it up so much, it had better be good!

I just need to swatch to determine which pinks & greens to use through the yoke. Or maybe a little of all of them? The cone is Rennie’s Supersoft, and the balls are from Jamieson & Smith, Jamieson’s of Shetland, and Rennies.

Do you have grand master plans for a handmade wardrobe? Or to bring more of your personal style out through the clothes that you choose to buy?

Tin Can Knits sweaters that make great wardrobe additions:

Strange BrewFlax Light by Tin Can Knits

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