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The Simplest Strange Brew

January 28, 2021
a back view of a colourwork yoke sweater

Creating a custom sweater doesn’t need to be difficult. In fact, I just finished a VERY simple one using the Strange Brew colourwork yoke recipe. Yes, I said ‘recipe’. That’s because Strange Brew isn’t a pattern – it’s a formula for designing your very own yoke sweater!

hand knit sweaters laid flat
The teal-on-teal palette of this Strange Brew yoke fits right in with my soft pink Love Note sweater and my vivid, sparkly green handspun Flax sweater!

I cast on this sweater when I was looking for a little simple satisfaction. (I’m sure I’m not the only one feeling that desire lately, right?!) To keep it easy peasy, I chose a high-contrast colour pair: an icy, pale blue with a deep, moody teal. These exquisite colourways are Rainbow Heirloom Sock in Auld Lang Syne (main colour) and Snow Melt (contrast colour).

This is the first colourwork yoke that I’ve knit for myself in a merino sock yarn. I tend to work my yokes, like this vintage green cropped number and this navy blue geometric study, in woollier yarns. But the next-to-skin softness and gentle drape of this new sweater is super comfortable and easy to wear.

a woman in a colourwork yoke sweater

Project details and chart

If you’d like to knit a similar simple yoke, here are all the details.

I used the Strange Brew colourwork yoke recipe, following the instructions for a woman’s size M (37.5″) in sock weight yarn, knit from the top-down. Strange Brew is VERY versatile. The recipe includes 25 sizes, three gauge options, and instructions for working the sweater top-down or bottom-up. It allows you to make a sweater to fit almost any body, working with yarn you love.

I selected a few small-repeat patterns from the library of stitch patterns included with Strange Brew, and I worked them in the order shown here. Following the pattern, I worked the setup increase and increase 1 before beginning the chart. Increase rounds 2 and 3 were worked on rounds 14 and 30 (as noted in the chart), and increase round 4 was worked after the chart was complete. Learn more about charts in our tutorial How To Read A Knitting Chart.

a back view of a colourwork yoke sweater

As much as I like to make things complicated and use about a hundred colours, this sweater gets a lot of use. It may be a bit mundane, but it’s infinitely wearable and comfy.

Keep it simple…or not?

Anthology Hat Pattern

Alexa and I are big fans of monochrome palettes, like this black and white version of the Anthology hat. To begin your colourwork journey with a small project, check out this free pattern, which includes instructions for a hat, cowl, and tubular cowl – in 3 gauges! As a bonus, Anthology is the perfect pattern to swatch for your Strange Brew yoke.

Anthology hat pattern
We wrote an entire in-depth series that covers five different colour ‘strategies’ to help you come up with a colourwork combination you love.
detail of colourwork knitting pattern
Some like it…a bit more complicated!

Perhaps a simple monochrome isn’t your jam, and you prefer your knitting spicy! If so, you may find our tips for applying colour to stranded knitting motifs useful when you want to use ALL the colours for maximum excitement!

Cast on now!

Get your copy of the Strange Brew yoke recipe and get started today! By keeping the colour palette simple and the repeats small, designing a custom yoke sweater can be accessible, joyful, and a great pleasure for any knitter.

Seeking more inspiration? Check out our gallery of Strange Brew yoke sweater knits, with links to each of the pattern details.

~ Em

hand knit sweaters laid flat

Decisions, Decisions: How to Choose the Right Yarn for Your Sweater

January 14, 2021

Choosing yarn for a sweater can be a big decision. You may be working with this yarn for a hundred hours or more – and wearing the sweater you make even longer. Sweaters are usually the largest items knitters make, and the cost for that amount of yarn can be high. So how do you choose a yarn that’s right for you?

The most important thing

Some folks will tell you that you have to choose a certain type of yarn for sweaters. They will tell you it has to be hard-wearing yarn, that is has to be exactly the yarn suggested in the pattern, or that it must match the colours you already have in your wardrobe. But here at Tin Can Knits, we are not purists. For us, the most important thing about a sweater yarn is that YOU love it. What good is knitting a whole sweater in a yarn you aren’t thrilled-to-death about? Are you suddenly going to become enamoured with a yarn you find scratchy or dull once it’s knit into a whole sweater? I doubt it. I personally like to wear black quite a bit, but I definitely don’t want to knit a whole black sweater! So forget what you think you SHOULD use. Go out and find a sweater yarn that is perfect for YOU.

smiling woman in a green and teal handspun sweater
Emily’s current favourite yarn is her very own handspun. This beautiful Flax sweater was Emily’s first garment in yarn she spun herself.
Blog post Alexa's Sweaters in Review
My current favourite sweater is my Cartography sweater that I knit with Spincycle Dream State and Stone Wool Cormo. It is light, soft, and warm, and I really enjoyed the subtle colour shifts of the Spincycle.

It’s all about pros and cons

Not all yarns are great for sweater knitting. A single-ply, un-spun yarn, for example, will likely end up a pilly mess after only a few wears. There are lots of different types of yarn out there, though, and they each have their pros and cons. We stand confidently behind the yarns we use for our pattern samples, but we know they aren’t always available or accessible to everyone – nor are they necessarily what you might choose for your own sweater.

And just because WE have used a certain type of yarn for a particular sweater, it doesn’t mean that is the ONLY type of yarn that will work. A sweater knit in a single ply and a plied yarn might look different, but it certainly doesn’t mean one is definitively better than the other. It comes down to what YOU prefer for YOUR sweater. Customizing things to suit our tastes is what knitters do, after all! Keeping that in mind, here are some factors to consider when choosing a sweater yarn.

Construction or ply

What is a ply? A ply is a strand of fibre that makes up a yarn. A single-ply yarn is just one twisted piece of fibre. A plied yarn is composed of two or more of those plies twisted together. A two-ply yarn is made up of two single strands. A three-ply yarn is made up of three single strands and so forth. Take a look at a few of the yarns you have on hand and see if you can pull apart the plies to count them.

If you choose a single-ply yarn for your sweater, it will be oh-so soft and cozy, BUT it won’t be as hard-wearing as one made with a plied yarn. Single-ply yarns also tend to pill more than plied yarns. There are varying degrees of twist in a yarn as well. One that has a lot of twist will last longer, but it generally won’t be as soft as compared to a softer-spun yarn of the same fibre.

Nina is wearing the Almanac sweater knit up in Lopi yarn. It is a single-ply wool yarn that is very warm and quite durable.
Moraine sweater pattern
Hunter is wearing the Moraine sweater knit up in Stone Wool Cormo, a two-ply wool yarn. There is a bit of texture to it when it’s knit up.

Fibre

There are just so many types of yarns out there these days! You can find yarns made from any number of animal fibres and plant-based fibres, as well as synthetics. There are yarns made from sheep’s wool, alpaca, and yak. There are silk yarns, cotton yarns, and linen yarns. You can also find yarns that are a mix of these things. So which one is right for your sweater?

Emily and I tend to use animal fibres in our sweater knits. Animal fibres have what is called ‘memory’, which means they tend to stay where you put them. They block easily and keep their shape. However, there are exceptions to this. For example, alpaca tends to drape more and holds its shape differently than sheep’s wool. Wool has a few magical properties that I like to take advantage of – like it stays warm when wet and is naturally odour resistant.

3 striped lace swatches
Blocking is a vital part of lace knitting, so if your sweater has lace, you definitely want a blockable fibre. Here, Emily tried a few colour combinations and blocked her swatches for the Chromatic sweater.

Plant fibres, like cotton or linen, tend to keep you cooler. If you live in a warmer climate, they might be the way to go. Plant fibres do not have memory, so they don’t hold their shape the same way that animal fibres do. This can be both a pro and a con. The drape of a linen, for example, can make for a really beautiful top. I’ve had the most success using patterns that are specifically designed for these types of fibres.

The Love Note sweater is knit at a loose gauge. We knit this one in La Bien Aimee single ply, along with a mohair lace. The resulting fabric is light and airy. For more info, check out our post on layering with mohair here.
Hunter is wearing the Antler pullover, knit up in Hinterland Textiles Range, which is a two-ply yarn with a 50/50 mix of alpaca and wool.

Synthetic fibres are the most cost effective when it comes to sweaters. They are also easy to care for; sometimes they can even go in the dryer! You can also often find yarns that are a mix of animal fibres and synthetics, which can strike a great balance.

Care

Another consideration when choosing a sweater yarn is how you will care for your garment. I hand wash all of my hand knit sweaters and my kiddos’ sweaters, too. This isn’t practical for everyone, though, so you might opt for a yarn that is machine washable, like a superwash wool or a synthetic. This is also something to think about if you are doing any gift knitting. In my experience, non-knitters are not always well versed in knitwear care, so keep that in mind.

When I finish a sweater, it gets a bath and a block. For more info on blocking a hand knit sweater, check out our sweater-blocking tutorial here.

The swatch test

So you have your chosen yarn. You have considered longevity, drape, softness, and care, and you have chosen the one YOU love. You are now ready to swatch! Swatching is generally recommended, but I think it is the most important step when preparing to knit a sweater – so don’t skimp on the swatch! Knit a nice big one! We have some thoughts on swatching basics here, the cowl swatch here, and swatching for colourwork here. Give yourself all the information you need before starting your sweater!

Swatching will let you know if you are getting the recommended pattern gauge, and maybe more importantly, if you actually like the fabric at that gauge. Is the fabric is too open or too dense for your liking? Will you want to wear a whole sweater in this colour after all? If you are knitting a cabled sweater, do the cables ‘pop’ the way you want them to? If you are knitting colourwork, do the colours all work together the way you had hoped? Or do you need to add a brighter yellow? Or more contrast? (We have a whole post on choosing yarns for colourwork here.) Your swatch will give you a pretty good idea if your chosen yarn is right for your sweater project.

I knit these three swatches before staring a Bowline sweater. On the left is YOTH Father. Top is Hinterland Range, and bottom right is Stone Wool Cormo. Each yarn had its own pros and cons for that particular sweater, and I had to swatch all three to see which one would work best with the ribbing pattern at the yoke. In the end, I settled on Stone Wool Cormo because I liked the added texture of the tighter spin – and the fact that a cormo yarn would make the sweater light, warm, and soft.
Check out our Week of Colour Hat tutorial for tips on choosing colours for colourwork.

While swatching is important, it is wise to remember that swatches can’t tell you EVERYTHING. A swatch doesn’t have the weight of a whole sweater hanging from it, so it can be a bit more difficult to assess the drape of a fabric. A swatch doesn’t have seams, and it rarely encompasses all of the stitch patterns in a sweater. BUT it is still the best tool we have to test whether or not the chosen yarn will work the way we want it to.

The Hat Swatch

Hats are perfect for swatching, so we knit a whole lotta of swatch hats! For instance, when contemplating the colour palette for the Embers sweater, we first tried several different colour combos in the Embers hat. Yarns in this array include The Farmer’s Daughter Fibers Soka’pii, a single-ply fingering weight; Emily’s handspun, a plied sport weight; and Jamieson & Smith Two-Ply Jumper Weight, a plied wool fingering weight yarn.

What’s next?

You have a yarn you love. You have pinpointed the perfect colour, and you have the right mix of hard-wearing and soft-against-the-skin. Your swatch has told you that the fabric is just right for your liking. Now it’s time to cast on and knit your sweater!

If you are embarking on your very first sweater, or could use some pointers, check out all our sweater knitting tutorials here.

What is your favourite sweater yarn? Let us know in the comments!

~Alexa

Stripes Stripes Stripes!

January 7, 2021
striped blanket hanging over a branch
striped blanket hanging over a branch

Every New Year, I always go a little overboard with ideas and plans for the coming year. Along with a veritable raft of personal goals, I make plans to improve our flat, clear out clutter, and reorganize – and that means diving into my stockpile of yarn. While a significant stash is required for my work, I am sensitive to the weight of STUFF upon me. It can feel a bit overwhelming.

Mad Colour Collection
This is my favourite photo from our Mad Colour collection! It was SUMMER.

This year my stash dive really drew me to create. While working on Mad Colour, a collection all about playing with vibrant hues, I amassed a shedload of single skeins. Since then, many of these lovely gems have been sitting in my stash, tucked away in plastic bins…their beauty and utility hidden from the world. So why am I still so precious about them?!

ribbed scarf made in blocks of bright colour

The fact is, even if these skeins are the most beautiful things I’ve ever seen, and even if I feel they’re so precious they shouldn’t be ‘wasted’ on frivolity, I simply need to get them out of boxes and into the world. I need to follow my own philosophy and ‘just get it on the needles’ (see my Three Tips for Using Your Precious Stash).

Still, a big stash can be daunting…too much sock yarn, too little time, right? Enter my knitting machine! I’ve talked about my knitting machine before, and I STILL LOVE IT. The blanket and scarf shown here were the perfect projects for it – simple, satisfying, and relatively quick ways to run through significant yardage. I probably wouldn’t hand-knit a sock weight blanket like this one, but on the knitting machine, it was manageable.

striped blanket hanging over a branch

I made the blanket in sock yarns. It’s about 190 sts wide, and I alternated a Zauberball Stärke 6 self-striping yarn with several different single skeins. After the blanket came off the machine, I hand-knit garter stitch edging. If I were hand-knitting a blanket like this, I would work in garter stitch, so no edging would be required. Or perhaps I’d follow our free Malt blanket pattern, but I would work it in stripes, blocks of colour, or marled (holding 2-3 strands together).

This child-sized, colour-blocked scarf was also made on my knitting machine. I worked a 2×2 rib pattern over 82 stitches, using all kinds of sock-yarn odds and ends. I made it with my four-year-old daughter, Neve. She chose out the colours and told me which order to work them in; I was simply the technician!

At about 46″ long, this little scarf is long enough to wrap twice around little Neve. And more importantly for her, it’s the perfect length to drag through every muddy puddle she sees!

ribbed scarf made in blocks of bright colour

I LOVE playing with different colours and experimenting to see how they combine. The striped blanket and the ribbed scarf were joyful in this way. They were good reminders that a project doesn’t have to be complicated to be full of joy. Sometimes the simple satisfaction of combining colours is really all that’s needed in knitting. I don’t always have to play with sophisticated stitch patterns or design well-fitting sweaters. Sometimes just getting the yarn on the needles – and watching the colours play off one another – is all my knitter’s heart desires.

What kinds of projects are you drawn to when you feel the urge to purge your stash?

~ Em

Bounce Blanket by Tin Can Knits

Ready to Learn Something New? We’ve Got a Hat for That!

December 31, 2020
yellow and teal colourwork hat

Another year is ending, and a new one is about to begin. New Year’s is my very favourite time of year because I LOVE making lists and goals — and dreaming about all that might be in the coming year. It’s fitting, then, that our theme for Tin Can Knits right now is Next Stitches, as we continue to learn and to grow, both in knitting and in life.

If your New Year’s goals include some next stitches, too — perhaps learning a new knitting stitch or technique — well, we’ve got a hat for that! Hats are the perfect little projects for practicing new skills. Here are some of our favourites…

Embers hat pattern

Learn to knit cables

Our free Antler toque and our free Northward hat are perfect for learning cables! We also have an in-depth Antler toque tutorial and an in-depth Northward hat tutorial to support you along the way, stitch by stitch. Once you’ve caught the cable bug, you’ll want to check out all our cable designs!

Antler Hat pattern
Ayanda is wearing an Antler toque. Download the free Antler hat pattern now!
Northward Hat Pattern
The free Northward hat pattern knits up quickly in chunky yarn, and it uses the most basic of basic cables, which is ideal for beginners.

Learn to marl

Marl is definitely a verb, right?! Combining yarns to create marled fabric effects is very easy and very joyful. The Snap hat is perfect for playing with this technique, and we also have a couple of useful tutorials that cover how to knit marled projects by holding yarns together and how to knit with more than one yarn strand.

Snap hat pattern
snap hat pattern

Learn to knit lace

The simple and satisfying lace pattern for our Whitecaps hat is both charted and written out, so you can compare notes! Or if you prefer, the sweet Penny hat has a delicate lace pattern with a beautiful crown detail. If it’s your first time working with lace, you’ll definitely want to check out our posts on How to Knit Lace and How to Read a Knitting Chart.

whitecaps hat pattern

Learn to knit slip-stitch colourwork

Slip-stitch colourwork is an easy, effective method for forming colourwork patterns in which you’re only working with a single colour in any given round. You can learn this technique by knitting our popular Bumble beanie. It’s a crowd pleaser, and can be worked and worn several different ways.

bumble beanie pattern

The gallery below shows just how many different effects can be created using the same slipped-stitch pattern by working the project in a single colour, in one-round stripes, or in two-round stripes. You may even prefer the ‘wrong side’ of the hat, which has a very cool texture, too!

Learn to knit stranded colourwork

Is this the year you’ll learn, re-learn, or perfect your stranded colourwork skills? We suggest starting with something easy peasy, with fairly short floats. We love our new Embers hat pattern for this, but there are a number of others that fit the bill too; the Cartography hat and the Prism hat are excellent alternative choices!

Cartography hat pattern
The Cartography hat looks fabulous in a simple two-tone palette like this one.

Obviously I just can’t hold back my love of our colourwork hat patterns! Here are a couple more I’d suggest if you’re learning (or want more practice) stranded colourwork: the Mountain Mist hat, Twisp hat, Fleet hat, and Ridgeline hat and mittens.

Learn to design and select colours for stranded colourwork patterns

I had to throw this suggestion in for those ‘extra credit’ kids looking for their next-level skill. (You know who you are!)

Anthology pattern
Using the free Anthology hat and cowl pattern, you can design any number of lovely colourwork designs!
If you’re looking to deepen your skills in selecting and applying colour to stranded motifs, check out our in-depth tutorial. Our Week Of Colour series, which breaks the problem down into a set of of colour strategies, may also be useful.

The free Anthology hat and cowl pattern is a recipe that allows you to use the yarn weight you prefer (sock, DK, or worsted/aran) and select patterns of your choice to design a unique hat, cowl, or tubular cowl. Read our tips on applying colour to stranded colourwork motifs, and then get right to the joyful experimentation!

Strange Brew Yoke Recipe pattern
Soon after you design your first colourwork hat, I’d be willing to bet that you’ll move on to designing a colourwork yoke sweater using our Strange Brew recipe pattern!

Learn to knit short rows

The Beloved bonnet uses short rows to create its perfect face-framing fit. Knitting this joyful little number would be a gentle introduction to short rows, and we have an in-depth Beloved Bonnet tutorial to guide you through, step by step.

Beloved Bonnet Pattern
Beloved bonnet tutorial

Learn to knit twist stitch patterns

Twist stitch patterns are essentially teeny-tiny cables, in which the stitches are worked out-of-order and move across the fabric to form beautiful patterns. Knit the Sitka Spruce hat and mittens pattern to learn this beautiful technique.

Sitka Spruce Pattern

Learn to knit smocking stitch

What’s smocking stitch?! I know, this one is a bit obscure! Smocking stitch looks a little like cables, but it is worked in a different way. It looks intricate, but it’s actually not too tough. Check out our smocking stitch tutorial and then hop over to get the Gather hat and cowl pattern. It’s a really fun little knit!

Gather Hat Pattern

Learn to knit stripes

Am I stretching now? Stripes are pretty easy to figure out for oneself, but Alexa and I DO love to stripe things up. The Prism hat is an excellent pattern for this; it includes a striped hat, a slip-stitch dotted hat, AND a stranded colourwork triangles hat. You can practice all three techniques with this one, single pattern!

Prism Hat pattern
There are so many ways to work with stripes! These Prism hats are knit with delicate, little, single-round stripes.

Next Stitches

As I mentioned, the theme for Alexa and me this year is Next Stitches (we wrote about our personal and knitting goals back in September). Now, as the year turns over, my personal focus areas remain the same: centering antiracism, improving my Español, and being more present with my kids… with a side of trying to buy more local and organic food. On the fibre side, I’m considering a spinning project to explore the different properties of different British sheep breeds, continuing to play with colour, and very much looking forward to my new Electric Eel Wheel arriving this spring! Alexa and I are also designing up a storm, so stay tuned!

We’d love to hear about your 2021 goals, too, so be sure to leave us a comment!

~ Em

A laid flat sweater yoke with a child's hand
The Embers sweater I’m working on for my little Neve matches her nails!

Happy Holidays from Alexa and Emily

December 24, 2020

This year, while staying close to home, we have continued to learn and grow, to support our families, and to connect within our communities. This pandemic has had very different impacts for each of us, and for each of you. For many, it has brought great loss, and our hearts are with you in your rage and sadness — and in hope for some serenity in the year to come.

We continue to be grateful, to recognize our privileges, and to focus on the small joys to be found in everyday life. Stitch by stitch by stitch by stitch, the act of knitting has soothed the two of us — and from what we’ve heard, it’s been a comfort to many of you, too.

To close out the year on a positive note, we wanted to share some of our favourite photos of our knits and our lives from 2020. We wish you warm and happy holidays, and we hope that 2021 brings love, pleasure, health, and safety for you and for all your loved ones.

~Alexa and Emily

A Love Note for Mum

December 17, 2020

Back in March, when we first went into lockdown here in BC, I ordered up some beautiful yarn from La Bien Aimée and cast on a Love Note sweater that would be a Christmas present for my mum. It felt good to start something simple (once you get through the lace, it’s smooth sailing). It felt good to keep my hands busy during an uncertain and scary time. And it felt extra good to work on a special gift – something meaningful when I couldn’t be with the people I love.

Last week, Mum and I went to the tree farm (my favourite yearly photography spot), and I gave her my gift a little early.

A woman in a red lace yoke sweater

I knit often for my mum because she is the perfect knitwear recipient. She regularly wears her knits, takes good care of them, and proudly tells people her daughter MADE them. She organizes a lot of outfits around her knit sweaters and accessories. I couldn’t ask for more!

A woman in a red lace yoke sweater

Mum’s favourite colour has always been red, and I ADORE this deep berry shade from the incomparable La Bien Aimée; it’s called Eric Northman. I used a sport together with the mohair, so the fabric is a smidge denser than the original Love Note – but I love the fabric and drape this way, too.

Mum was super pleased with her new sweater. It’s so light and soft, but also warm…the perfect sweater for her. It brought me a lot of joy to make it whilst thinking of her, and I can tell it brings her a lot of joy to wear it. Handmade gifts are the BEST!

A woman in a red lace yoke sweater

I started mum’s Love Note so early in the year – this might be the earliest I’ve ever completed a Christmas present! But it was just what I needed at the moment: a special project for a special person.

Leave a comment and tell me about the most (or even the least) knit-worthy person in your life! What are you making for them this year?

~Alexa

Merry Little Christmas Ornaments

December 10, 2020
Freeze ornament pattern

It is our tradition, when a big project is out the door (have you seen our new website yet?!), to cast on with abandon and knit whatever we feel like. This time around, rather than casting on a sweater, I’m thinking smaller…like really small. I’m casting on wee ornaments for the Christmas tree! Each of these ornaments is a great way to use up the year’s leftover scraps while savouring a little instant gratification – a rare thing in knitting!

Fancy balls pattern

Fancy Balls ornaments

I love the vintage quality of these fancy little wonders. They’re the perfect project for trying out a few new techniques (pinhole cast-on anyone?), and they serve as a teeny tiny playground for wee colourwork motifs. The pattern comes with a few, but you can find a whole host of small motifs in our free Anthology pattern as well. The colourwork section of the ornament is 36 stitches, so motifs with a repeat of 2, 3, 4, 6, or 12 will fit. So grab some colourful scraps, a little stuffing, and the free Fancy Balls pattern – and away you go!

Fancy balls pattern
Little sock pattern

Little Socks

Next up are the classic Little Sock Ornaments. This is the perfect place to try out sock techniques on a small scale. They have all the techniques of a big sock…but super small. And they’re some real potato chip knitting – you can’t stop at just one! Pretty soon you’ll have a whole garland of wee socks to enjoy.

Freeze snowflakes

I love the Freeze pattern, and I have knit more than a few of these little wonders over the years. It’s so satisfying to see a delicate snowflake emerge from the open lacy pattern. And it’s a pretty intuitive process. If I knit a few in a row, I don’t have to reference the pattern much after the first one.

Last year I made a whole rainbow of Freeze ornaments in speckled scraps and strung them together on a crochet chain for Hunter’s bed. Of course I had to add some twinkly lights, and she loved it!

a bed with colourful lace snowflakes on the headboard

More fun ideas

For more fun Christmas ideas, check out these excellent little projects from The Petite Knitter (@ThePetiteKnitter) and Leila Raven (@Layla_Raven), as well as the newest releases from Jennifer Berg (@Native.Knitter) and Tsin Bikéé’ Knits (@tsinbikee), I’m excited to cast on and try my hand at these precious little projects!

We’ve used our little baubles to make tree ornaments, garlands, and gift embellishments, and we’d love to see the creative things you come up with. Be sure to post with #FancyBallsOrnaments, #LittleSockOrnaments, and #FreezeOrnaments – and make yourself a merry little Christmas!

~Alexa

Embers Hat

December 8, 2020

Alongside the new Embers sweater, we designed a matching hat — because this stitch pattern was just too delicious and addictive! (Also because Alexa and I love to knit hats, hats, and more hats. They’re the best kind of swatches!)

The Embers hat is an ‘I just wanna knit the next stripe’ kind of project. If you’re working with a handspun or self-striping yarn like I did, you’ll find yourself desperate to knit the next motif to see what colours will come out!

A colourwork hat on the grass
I knit this version of the Embers hat using DK weight handspun for the CC, so the colours shifted gradually throughout the hat.

If you’re knitting with odds and ends like Alexa did, you’ll want to get started with the next motif to see how the colours will combine with the palette already in play. It’s super fun!

This motif, in both the Embers sweater and the Embers hat, leaves a lot of room for variation in the contrasting colour (CC) yarn. To make the colourwork to really POP, Alexa held the CC doubled for the samples she knit using The Farmer’s Daughter Soka’pii. The version I made used a CC that was approximately double knit (DK) weight.

Embers sweater pattern
For my Embers sweater, I held a matching strand of lace-weight mohair alongside the CC yarn.

When I knit my Embers sweater, I held a matching strand of mohair alongside the sock-weight CC yarn, which gave the garment some extra oomph and an exquisite halo. I really recommend this if you have some leftover mohair laying around!

~ Em

As you consider a colour combination for the Embers hat or Embers sweater, check out our Week of Colour tutorial series. We have identified five different ‘colour strategies’ that break down the problem of selecting a palette into simpler questions. They will guide you in choosing the right colour combo for you!

Fired Up for Sweater Knitting? Embers is Here!

December 4, 2020
yoke sweater laid flat on a mossy rock
Embers sweater pattern

Who’s ready for some sweater knitting?! Our newest pattern Embers is here!

Embers is exactly what I need right now — basic, top–down construction, simple colourwork, and tons of fun palette possibilities.

Matchy Matchy

We may have mentioned it before (like here and here), but we really love a hat swatch. It’s such a great way to see if your yarn and colour combination is the right one for your sweater. I knit up a few hats to test out my colour combos before embarking on the sweater. Get the Embers hat pattern here.

Embers hat pattern
The Embers hat is this much fun. I promise!

The Farmer’s Daughter Fibers and Jamieson & Smith

I think the most fun part of this sweater was choosing a palette for the yoke. I had a rainbow of amazing Soka’pii from The Farmer’s Daughter Fibers and tried a few combinations before I hit upon my favourite. To make the colourwork really POP, I held the contrast colour yarn doubled.

A warm rainbow of yarn skeins lined up.

Emily chose the colours for the kiddie size from her wild stash of Jamieson & Smith… after agonizing for days and swatching up a storm! I love that pop of brightest red against the grey!

Ready to go? Get the pattern, grab your favourite yarn, and let’s knit! Share your progress on Instagram with the hashtags #EmbersSweater, #EmbersHat, and #TinCanKnits. We can’t wait to see it!

~ Alexa

The New Tin Can Knits Website is Here!

November 30, 2020

Joyful photos, clear instructions, excellent support and FUN have been the focus of our work since the beginning. Our new website is designed for clarity and simplicity – to make it easy for you to browse both our patterns and the hundreds of free resources and tutorials we have developed over the years.

Now you can enjoy Tin Can Knits inspiration in your pocket or at your desk! We designed the site to be easy-to-read on your phone, tablet, or computer.

Screenshot of Tin Can Knits pattern page
Find everything you need on your phone, tablet, or computer!

While the new website design focuses on simplicity, we’ve also made each of our over 160 patterns more deeply connected. Every design now includes a ‘pattern details’ button. Clicking it will reveal all the nitty-gritty information about size, gauge, needles, construction, relevant technique tutorials, and more!

Technique resources

Alexa and I have been developing knitting tutorials for a decade – check them out! Browse by topic, or search to see if we have the tutorial you’re looking for. For example, there are 28 tutorials on our list of Colourwork Tutorials alone!

Tin Can Knits Colourwork Resources

Our Abbreviations, Errata and FAQ pages also have been updated and improved. They’re easy to search and include links to helpful tutorials.

More fun photos

We’ve taken A LOT of fun photos over the years, and our new site lets you enjoy many more of them in all their big, bright, goofy glory! For example, check out the free Flax Sweater pattern to browse some of the dozens of Flax sweaters we’ve knit over the years.

Flax sweater pattern
We have knit MANY Flax Sweaters over the years!

Industry-specific resources

We’ve also added several pages specifically for craft industry folks. We have free teaching materials to help knitting instructors find class materials and inspiration, and wholesale information to make it easy for you to carry our most popular products.

Our story, our values

Over the past couple of years, Alexa and I have been thinking a lot about our values – who we are and what kind of work we want Tin Can Knits to do going forward. You can read more about the story of our business and the values that shape our work on the About and Story pages.

What do you think?

We’d love your feedback – if you find aspects of the site that don’t work for you, please let us know at tincanknitswebsite@gmail.com. Alexa and I are a two-person team, and while we’ve done user testing, there will be elements that we have missed! We want this website to work for you, so please share your thoughts with us. We look forward to hearing from you, and we hope you enjoy the new website!

~ Emily

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