Skip to content

Handspun Summer Lovin’

July 2, 2020
yellow, pink, and white two-ply yarn
A skein of yellow, white, pink handspun 2-ply

Spinning is like an old flame I have a hot rendezvous with every few years. It doesn’t fit into my everyday life, but when we get together, sparks fly! In the same way that I love knitting with speckled yarns, knitting with handspun brings me BIG JOY. And spinning the yarn myself? Well, that’s like adding an extra layer of icing on the cake.

I first learned to spin on a drop spindle in 2008. In 2017, the desire came back stronger than ever, and I bought piles of fibre and a little e-spinner. Now I’m enjoying another summer of mildly illicit handspun pleasures. Ever since I dug into my Precious Stash, I decided I MUST spin the exquisite batts I’d been hoarding away. Spinning is time-consuming as hell, and it doesn’t make much sense to anybody who hasn’t already caught the bug. But I love it SO HARD.

Transforming fluff into stuff is delicious magic

As a designer and maker, I get really excited about completely transforming materials with my own hands. Spinning yarn out of fluff is all about this. The entire process is a sensual pleasure: the selection of fibre, the process of drafting and watching the twist transform fibre into yarn, and the soaking and finishing process. With spinning, you spend so much time enjoying the material before you even cast-on!

Oh, but this love makes no sense

In a fit of anxiety about spending so much time on my spinning obsession, I mentioned to my husband, “Handspun just makes no sense. It takes SO long to make, and then you still have to knit the sweater!” He literally laughed out loud and said, “Emily, you do knitting for a living. Do you know how much sense that makes?” Point taken.

101 rookie mistakes

Alongside the pleasures of spinning have come plenty of surprises. I’m accustomed to being very competent as a knitter, so when I make the most basic of mistakes spinning, I have to laugh at myself – even when I feel like crying over the mess I’ve made!

Like, how the hell did I switch the twist in the middle of a bobbin?! One day while plying, I realized part way through the process that I’d spun half of one bobbin in one direction, SOMEHOW switched the direction of the twist, and spun the remainder of that same bobbin in the opposite direction. So beyond a certain point, it wouldn’t ply with the other bobbin of singles. WHOOPS! That’s a do-over.

Or, how haven’t I spun NEARLY enough for a small sweater?! I recently started a sweater project with 200g of a lovely green batt, which I spun into singles. To stretch the batt farther, I spun the other ply in a coordinating colour. I figured I could make a cropped sweater with about 400g of yarn. A couple of weeks later when the lot was complete, I measured the yardage and discovered that, while it looked and felt like DK weight, there was only around 750 yards of it! At that point, I realized I should google “how much fibre do you need to spin a sweater?” I quickly learned a pretty basic fact: handspun tends to be denser than comparable mill-spun. OOPS! I’ll need to spin 800g of fibre to have enough yarn for my cropped-sweater project. Time to begin again!

Spinning a sweater is my goal!

Alexa and I both like to have at least a dozen (slightly unreasonable) master plans on the go at any given time. So to add to this year’s impractical list, I plan to to spin and then knit a sweater from handspun.

I’m considering knitting a Flax sweater (it’s a free pattern, so check it out!). Or perhaps a Strange Brew sweater because apparently I just can’t stop experimenting with yoke designs. But I might change my mind and make something with a bit of pretty lace, like Windswept or Ironheart.

Because it’s my first time with this kind of project, I’ll spin the yarn first, and then let it tell me what it wants to be, depending on the gauge it knits to, and the colour and texture of the finished yarn. I might even use it to work up a new design! In any case, I know I’ll enjoy every sensuous minute….until we meet again.

Tell me about your spinning adventures

Being new to spinning, I’m most interested in the spinning tales of others. Are you a long-time spinner, or maybe new to the craft? What are your top tips or pitfalls to avoid?

~ Emily

Three Tips for Using Your Precious Stash

June 25, 2020

Do you have a ‘Precious’ stash? I’m talking about capital ‘P’ precious – that box of yarn, fabric, fibre, or craft supplies that you love so deeply you can’t quite bear to actually use them. You could be working with the most beautiful, sensual, high-pleasure materials that you have carefully squirrelled away. Why aren’t you?

a rainbow of skeins of handspun yarn

With the world feeling more than a little upside down right now, maybe it’s time to crack out your best vintage and really savour the beautiful things you have at hand. Rummage through your stash of precious yarns, fabric, paper or fibre, and get started making with the special materials you love to bits but are reluctant to use.

a stack of floral and graphic printed fabrics
I collected these precious Liberty cotton lawn prints since moving to the UK nearly 10 years ago. Since this photo was taken, I have cut into each and every one of them, but it took guts to make those cuts!

Oh, but it’s too ‘Precious’ to actually use

Sometimes I will bring home a yarn, fabric, or fibre that seems too precious – too beautiful or unique to risk damaging, to dare to take it into my hands and transform it. There’s always risk in making – the risk that your skills won’t be up to the material, that you won’t do it justice.

skeins of handpun on rocky ground
Handspun yarn is very precious to me, so I find it difficult to get started using it. These skeins were a special gift to myself during a difficult moment three years ago. Eventually, I did make one of these skeins into a Beloved bonnet for my little one.

Before I began designing knits professionally, the cost of some supplies made them a luxury for me, and I was nervous about ‘wasting’ or ruining them. Now that I design knits for a living, I literally must cast on for my livelihood. Even so, I still find myself hesitating to use precious items. But to do my work, I need to use all my materials and accept that mistakes are part of the creative process. Skeins may be ‘wasted,’ but the time I spend learning to work with them is never a waste. And whenever I make the leap of confidence and cast on, the joy flows freely!

children running away along a forest path, one wearing a dress in striped and floral fabrics
Fabric brings me so much more joy when it’s used and worn than it does hidden away in boxes.

So what are you waiting for?

I often get stalled by uncertainty, feeling that I’m not quite ‘ready’ enough to dip into my precious stash. But over the years, I’ve found a few tricks that help me cast on or make that first cut.

1. Realize it’s wasted in storage, where it can’t bring you pleasure or improve your life

I like to remind myself of this often, so it feels like I have a responsibility to get my most precious materials out of plastic bags and into daily use.

Smiling kid in a striped sweater in the forest
Now that these precious materials are out of boxes and onto the wriggly body of my kid, I get to enjoy their beauty often! All project details can be found here.

During my recent wave of comfort knitting, I made a Flax sweater (free pattern!) for my little one, Neve. I combined the leftovers of a handspun yarn with coordinating mill-spun and hand-dyed colours. It was such a joy to work with this precious yarn!

2. Recognize that every project teaches you

I have to remember that I’m actually doing myself a disservice when I avoid working with my precious stash. I tell myself: ‘If you don’t cut into that stack of wool tweeds you’ve been collecting since you moved to Scotland, or if you don’t get started knitting with that sweater’s amount of single-ply Noro yarn that you bought on Vancouver Island back in 2016, you’ll just never learn how best to use those materials.’

stack of woollen tweed fabrics in earthy tones
I really love woollen fabrics and have collected them over the years, with various bag, trouser, and jacket projects in mind. While I did make lovely tweed jackets for my kids, I haven’t yet had the courage to cut out a project for myself. But I must learn to take my own advice!

I also try to remember that when I make a mess of something on my first try, I am likely to learn a lot and be more prepared for my second, third, and fourth attempts.

Fluffy batts in deep greens and soft yellow and pinks
These lovely batts languished in my attic for three years, waiting for me to feel ‘ready’ to do them justice. Finally I pulled out the wheel and spun them up, and I haven’t had so much fun making (and learning) in years!
a pink, golden, yellow two-ply yarn

3. Remember that the point is pleasure!

The primary purpose of the hobbies I do with my hands is my own pleasure. After all, there are less expensive ways to get things. There are easier ways to give gifts. There are more practical ways to clothe myself and my loved ones. But if you’re like me, making beautiful creations with your own hands is what brings you pleasure – and working with precious materials makes it even better!

~ Emily

two child shirts hanging on a wall
These darling children’s’ shirts were made from fabrics I consider precious. I was resistant to getting started, but they are ultra-adorable on my little ones. This pattern is from an excellent book called Happy Homemade: Sew Chic Kids, by Ruriko Yamada.
Two smiling kids in kilts and button-down shirts


How to Knit a Love Note Sweater

June 18, 2020

This step-by-step tutorial explains how to knit the Love Note sweater: a top-down pullover with a pretty lace pattern at the yoke. Ready to get started? Get your copy of the Love Note pattern here and follow along!

What you’ll learn in this tutorial

We’ve broken the Love Note tutorial into 6 parts. Start at the beginning and work your way through – or just jump to the technique you need help with!

  1. Yarn choice and sizing: How to choose a fabulous yarn combination and find the right size for you.
  2. Construction: An overview of the process and how the sweater is constructed.
  3. Yoke: How to work the provisional cast-on, lace pattern, and raglan increases.
  4. Body and sleeves: Creating the high-low hem and picking up the sleeves.
  5. Neckline: How to pick up stitches from the unzipped, provisional cast-on, plus tips for ensuring the perfect fit.
  6. Finishing: How to finish off your beautiful sweater!

New to knitting lingo? You can find definitions for any abbreviations here.

When you share your Love Note, be sure to use the hashtag #LoveNoteSweater! Surf the #LoveNoteSweater hashtag on Instagram and check out the projects on Ravelry.com to help you decide what colour, yarn, size, and fit will suit you best.

If you’re not already getting our emails, join our list to stay in the loop!

Love Note Sweater: Yarn Choice and Sizing (1/6)

June 18, 2020

This post is step #1 of the Love Note Tutorial series. Other posts in this series include:

  1. Yarn choice and sizing (this post): How to choose a fabulous yarn combination and find the right size for you.
  2. Construction: An overview of the process and how the sweater is constructed.
  3. Yoke: How to work the provisional cast-on, lace pattern, and raglan increases.
  4. Body and sleeves: Creating the high-low hem and picking up the sleeves.
  5. Neckline: How to pick up stitches from the unzipped, provisional cast-on, plus tips for ensuring the perfect fit.
  6. Finishing: How to finish off your beautiful sweater!

Selecting yarns

Here comes the first fun part: choosing a yarn combination! Our Love Note samples for this tutorial were knit holding a single-ply sock-weight yarn, along with a strand of lace-weight mohair and silk. We used Rainbow Heirloom and La Bien Aimee. (See our in-depth tutorial on mixing mohair lace and sock-weight yarns.) If you’d rather not use mohair, you could hold together a sock with a different sort of lace-weight yarn – or just use a DK weight yarn. Worsted or aran-weight yarn will work, too, but the fabric will be heavier, giving the garment a significantly different drape.

skeins of green yarn and a partially knit item
Layering with mohair adds a beautiful depth of colour. This is La Bien Aimee Singles and Mohair, both in the colourway ‘Shire.’

Yardage note: Our sizing and yardage table lists yarn requirements for combined yarn, so if your size calls for 600 yds, it will require 600 yds of both the sock-weight yarn and 600 yds of lace-weight mohair yarn.

When it comes to sizing, we’ve designed the Love Note to include plenty of positive ease – we recommend between 4″ and 12″. This sweater has a relaxed fit, and the loosely knit fabric is fabulously drapey!

What is positive ease? This means the finished sweater will measure 4″-12″ more than your actual chest measurement. For more information on ease and choosing a sweater size, check out our sizing post here.

Nina (left) is wearing Love Note size M with 7.5″ of positive ease; this means the sweater is 7.5″ larger than her actual bust measurement. Aimee is wearing size XL-XXL with 10″ of positive ease.

Once you’ve chosen your yarn and desired size – and knit a gauge swatch to confirm that you’re achieving the pattern gauge of 16 sts & 24 rounds / 4” in stockinette stitch – you’re ready to cast on!

If you use Ravelry.com, add this project to your Projects page, so you can keep all your notes in one place for easy reference… and so we can see your sweater when it’s done!

Next step

The next post in this series is about the Construction of the Love Note Sweater. Head there now!

Love Note Sweater: Construction (2/6)

June 18, 2020

This post is step #2 of the Love Note Tutorial series. Other posts in this series include:

  1. Yarn choice and sizing: How to choose a fabulous yarn combination and find the right size for you.
  2. Construction (this post): An overview of the process and how the sweater is constructed.
  3. Yoke: How to work the provisional cast-on, lace pattern, and raglan increases.
  4. Body and sleeves: Creating the high-low hem and picking up the sleeves.
  5. Neckline: How to pick up stitches from the unzipped, provisional cast-on, plus tips for ensuring the perfect fit.
  6. Finishing: How to finish off your beautiful sweater!

Love Note garment construction

The Love Note sweater has a ‘top-down’ construction. This means that it starts at the neckline and is knit down to the hem and cuffs. It’s also knit ‘in the round,’ which means you’ll knit around and around, rather than knitting back and forth in rows and then sewing the pieces together at the end. The result is a seamless sweater.

The yoke is knit first – from the neckline, down through the lace band and a small section of raglan increases – to the point where the yoke separates for the body and sleeves.

The body is also knit in the round, downwards, with a section of short rows that adds length to the back body section. This creates the ‘high-low’ hem detail. Note: the high-low hem is optional, and step #4 will guide you through it.

Sleeves are worked from the underarm in rounds, down to the cuffs. They aren’t shaped until you reach the cuff, where stitches are decreased for a gentle gather detail. Lastly, the collar is picked up, a decrease round is worked, and ribbing is added.

illustration of lace yoke being knit top down.
illustration of lace yoke being knit top down through body.

illustration of lace yoke being knit top down through body and sleeves.

Next step:

Now that you have your road map, it’s time to cast on! The next step in this series is the yoke. Head there now!

Love Note Sweater: Yoke (3/6)

June 18, 2020
Back detail of Nina is wearing a sunny yellow lace yoke sweater.

This post is step #3 of the Love Note Tutorial series. Other posts in this series include:

  1. Yarn choice and sizing: How to choose a fabulous yarn combination and find the right size for you.
  2. Construction: An overview of the process and how the sweater is constructed.
  3. Yoke (this post): How to work the provisional cast-on, lace pattern, and raglan increases.
  4. Body and sleeves: Creating the high-low hem and picking up the sleeves.
  5. Neckline: How to pick up stitches from the unzipped, provisional cast-on, plus tips for ensuring the perfect fit.
  6. Finishing: How to finish off your beautiful sweater!

Cast-on

For a perfect fit at the neckline, begin with a provisional cast-on. This means you’ll come back after knitting the remainder of the sweater and finish the neckline later. Why? Because the neckline is, in this sweater, the most critical point for achieving the fit you want. The entire garment ‘hangs’ from this point, so a comfortable neckline is a must.

We tend to use either the crochet chain provisional cast-on method or the needle and hook method. There are other provisional cast-on options out there – use whichever method pleases you.

a circular needle with provisional cast on in white yarn
Here we’ve used waste yarn and the crochet needle and hook method to cast on provisionally.
a circular needle with provisional cast on in white yarn and first row knit in copper colour yarn
When you work a provisional cast-on, the first row is knit, and THEN you can join for working in the round.

Plain rounds and increases

After casting on, follow your size instructions, knitting in the round and working increase rounds until you reach the section titled ‘Lace Pattern.’ It helps to count your stitches before proceeding to the lace section – to double check that you have the correct number.

There are many types of increases out there, and lots of them will work just fine for this sweater. We like to use an m1 increase.

a section of copper coloured knit fabric worked from a provisional cast-on
For this size 6-8 yr, we have 4 rounds, an increase round, and 2 rounds.

A note about circular needle length: When you find your stitches are too ‘bunched up’ on your needle, it may be time to switch to a longer circular needle. Some knitters prefer their stitches packed on the needles, while others like them a little more spread out. Do what works for you!

Lace section

Now you’re ready to work the lace section. You can follow either the lace chart or the chart’s text instructions. This lace pattern has increases (yarn-overs) and decreases (k2tog, ssk, and sl1-k2tog-psso) on every round. Note: there are no ‘plain’ rounds in between, like some patterns have.

If you’re new to lace knitting, you might want to check out our tutorials on how to read a knitting chart or how to knit lace. If any of the techniques are new to you, click the links to learn more: k2tog, ssk, sl1-k2tog-psso. Just don’t fret! If you take it step by step, we’re confident you can tackle this as your very first lace project.

Moving the marker

One of the ‘tricky’ bits about this lace pattern is a shift in the beginning of round (BOR), which occurs at the beginning of round 5. Each time you come to the start of round 5, remove the BOR marker, k1, and then replace the BOR marker. This shifts the BOR over by 1 stitch. Then, work round 5 as described in the chart or the written instructions (starting with k4, yo, k1, yo, etc.). This is necessary because the final instruction of the repeat is a double decrease (sl1-k2tog-psso), which will require that ‘extra stitch’ that you just moved to the other side of the BOR. Don’t worry too much about how it works. If you follow these instructions precisely, it WILL work.

Note: If you’ve placed extra markers to note each repeat of the lace pattern, you’ll need to shift each of these markers in round 5.

This BOR shift occurs each time you work round 5, and the marker never moves back.

a provisional cast-on knitted fabric, and lace pattern on circular needles
Ready to work round 5!
knitting project in progress, with a stitch marker

knitting project in progress, with a stitch marker, and annotation showing the final three stitches of the round to decrease

knitting project in progress, with a stitch marker and a double decrease stitch worked

Once you have worked the number of chart repeats for your size, the lace band is complete. You’ve nearly finished the yoke! There are just a few more rounds before you can move on to the body and sleeves.

doughnut-shaped lace yoke in progress
Lace section complete!

Next, you’re going to work one last increase round before beginning the raglan rounds.

Increase round 3: knit, increasing 4 (0, 8, 4, 4, 4, 0, 0, 0, 0, 0, 0, 8, 20) sts, evenly spaced.

For an ‘evenly spaced’ instruction, divide the number of stitches you have by the number of stitches you want to increase – that will give you the interval at which you will increase. It’s not critical that these increases come exactly evenly spaced. You just want to avoid having them all really close together.

Example: You are knitting the 6-8 yr size. You have 168 sts, and you need to increase 4 sts. 168 divided by 4 = 42.
This means you’ll want to increase a stitch every 42 sts, so you’ll work [k42, m1] four times.

There’s a note here that says ‘BOR is located at centre back.’ This means that the location of the BOR is at the point in the yoke that corresponds with the centre of your back. This is useful to know because it may help you visualize what comes next.

Raglan shaping

There’s a short section that increases a few more stitches and adds a few rounds to the yoke. First, work a set-up round, placing 4 place markers (PMs) on the needles in between stitches. These markers indicate where the raglan increases will occur.

doughnut-shaped lace yoke in progress with marker placements noted
lace knitting in progress with locking stitch marker shown
We recommend using a different coloured marker or a locking marker (as shown here) to distinguish the BOR from the raglan markers – that way you won’t accidentally add raglan increases at the centre back.

Raglan increase round: [knit to 1 st before marker, m1, k1, SM, k1, m1] 4 times, and then knit to end [8 sts inc].

This means you’ll knit from the BOR to the point where one stitch is remaining before the first marker. At this point, you’ll m1, knit the last stitch before the marker, slip the marker (SM) from one needle to the other, k1, and then m1 once more.

For the m1, we like to use an m1R before the marker and an m1L after the marker, but whichever increase method you like best is just fine, too!

Because the instructions are in square brackets [instructions], you’ll repeat those instructions a total of 4 times, and then knit to the end of round (BOR). One round increases the stitch count by 8 sts. Work the Raglan increase round as many times as called for by your size.

Note: There are no ‘even’ knit rounds between raglan increases in this design, as you may have seen in other raglan patterns.

Bodhi, standing in a field of flowers, is photographed from the back to show off the lace yoke of her rusty orange sweater.

Next step

Congratulations! Your yoke is complete. The next step in this series is body and sleeves. Head there now!

Love Note Sweater: Body and Sleeves (4/6)

June 18, 2020
Aimee is standing in a cobblestone street wearing her orange lace yoke sweater. Her hands are in her pockets and she is smiling.

This post is step #4 of the Love Note Tutorial series. Other posts in this series include:

  1. Yarn choice and sizing: How to choose a fabulous yarn combination and find the right size for you.
  2. Construction: An overview of the process and how the sweater is constructed.
  3. Yoke: How to work the provisional cast-on, lace pattern, and raglan increases.
  4. Body and sleeves (this post): Creating the high-low hem and picking up the sleeves.
  5. Neckline: How to pick up stitches from the unzipped, provisional cast-on, plus tips for ensuring the perfect fit.
  6. Finishing: How to finish off your beautiful sweater!

Separate body and sleeves

You separate the body and sleeves by knitting around on the body stitches, casting on underarm stitches, and placing stitches on hold for the sleeves of your sweater (which will be completed later). Follow the step-by-step instructions, as illustrated below.

doughnut-shaped lace yoke in progress with annotations showing which sections will become front, sleeves, and back
First, the right half back is knit, and the right sleeve is put on waste yarn. The underarm sts are then cast on, and the front is knit. Then, the left sleeve is put on waste yarn, and the underarm sts are cast on. Lastly, the left half of back is knit.

We recommend putting the sleeve sts on waste yarn; this will keep them flexible while you work on the body. For help with this technique, see our post explaining how to place sts on waste yarn. When we cast on stitches for the underarm, we use the backwards loop method.

lace sweater in progress
Sleeve stitches are on hold, and we’re ready to knit round and round on the body.

Once the separation round is complete, there are only body stitches on the needles. From here, just knit around and around until you reach the stated length for either a cropped or longer sweater! It’s very easy to adjust the Love Note to be longer or shorter as you see fit. (Alexa has both a short, cropped version and a longer version in her wardrobe.)

Nina is wearing a soft pink lace yoke sweater over a floral print dress that hits just above the knee. Her sweater is short, ending above her waist.
Nina is wearing her cropped Love Note over a dress.
Alexa is standing in a field of trees wearing her green lace yoke jumper with her hands in her pockets. Her sweater hits just above the pockets of her jeans.
Alexa is wearing a longer Love Note with jeans.

High-low hem

Once you have knit your desired length, it’s time to create the high-low hem. It’s a cute detail, but you can choose to skip it if you prefer. To create a high-low hem, you’ll knit a wedge of fabric that has more rows at the back than the front. This is where short rows come in. The marker is located at the centre back of the sweater, so the short rows are worked symmetrically around that marker.

An orange sweater with the needles still in the body of the sweater. A black marker notes the beginning of the round at the centre back of the sweater.
This marker is located at the centre back, and the short rows will be worked symmetrically around that point to create a high-low hem.

If you are new to short rows, we highly recommend trying the German Short row method.

Once the short rows are complete, you’ll switch to smaller needles, and work 1” of 1×1 ribbing (that’s k1, p1 around). It is important to bind off very loosely, so that the lower edge of the fabric doesn’t ‘pull in.’ If you can’t manage to control the tension as you bind off, you can use a larger needle or try a different, stretchy bind-off method.

The sweater may seem short at this moment, but wait until you’ve finished the entire sweater and wet-blocked it before you fret and pull out the hem to add more length. The fit of the yoke and the change to the fabric that happens with blocking will have a big impact on the finished length. Wait and see!

A detail of the high low hem of the Love Note sweater. Aimee has her hand in her pocket and the curve of the hem is visible.
You can see that the back of Aimee’s sweater is longer than the front, but the short rows do come around, making for a nice curve.

Sleeves

Remember those sleeve stitches that you put on hold? Now it’s time to put them back on the needles. Rejoin the working yarn, and pick up and knit stitches at the underarm. Place the BOR marker in the centre of these newly picked-up stitches, and then knit around the held stitches.

One tip for avoiding holes at either end of the underarm: Pick up an extra stitch at each end of the underarm section. For example, if the pattern says to pick up a total of 8 sts for your size, then pick up 10 sts. On the very next round, work a decrease like ssk or k2tog to join the held stitches together with the picked-up underarm stitches. This helps to avoid a hole at the underarms, while maintaining the correct stitch count for the upper arms.

For larger sizes, the sleeve stitches will fit around a 16” long circular needle, so you can knit on the round on a circular for the majority of the sleeve. For smaller sizes you’ll knit in the round using a longer circular and the magic loop method or double pointed needles (DPNs).

An orange sweater with the live sleeve sts shown on double pointed needles.
The sleeve stitches for this sweater have been placed on DPNs. Now we’re ready to join a new ball of yarn and pick up those underarm sts.
A green sweater with sleeve sts shown on a 16 inch circular needle.
For larger sizes, a 16″ circular needle will work for the sleeves.

The sleeves on this sweater are EASY PEASY. You just knit in the round till you achieve the stated sleeve length. Work a sharp decrease round, and then switch to smaller needles to work a little 1×1 ribbed cuff on smaller needles (and likely using either DPNs or magic loop method at this point). You’ll want to use a loose bind off, just like on the body of the sweater.

The sleeves as designed are ¾ length. However, it’s easy to add in another 4″-6″ of length for long sleeves if you prefer. Note that the yoke is fairly deep, so that will impact how long the sleeves need to be. If you’re adjusting sleeve length, wait to work the ribbed cuffs until you’ve finished the neckline, blocked the sweater, and tried it on – that way you can add or subtract length before finishing the sleeves.

An orange lace yoke sweater with the neckline on white waste yarn.

Next step

Just the neckline and finishing to go! The next step in this series is the neckline. Head there now!

Love Note Sweater: Neckline (5/6)

June 18, 2020
Olivia is wearing her lave yoke sweater, purple with a rainbow of speckles. She has braids in her hair and she is in a field of daisies.

This post is step #5 of the Love Note Tutorial series. Other posts in this series include:

  1. Yarn choice and sizing: How to choose a fabulous yarn combination and find the right size for you.
  2. Construction: An overview of the process and how the sweater is constructed.
  3. Yoke: How to work the provisional cast-on, lace pattern, and raglan increases.
  4. Body and sleeves: Creating the high-low hem and picking up the sleeves.
  5. Neckline (this post): How to pick up stitches from the unzipped, provisional cast-on, plus tips for ensuring the perfect fit.
  6. Finishing: How to finish off your beautiful sweater!

Neckline

The last piece to finish is the neckline. We’ve got a tutorial on how to unpick the provisional cast-on here. Some provisional cast-on methods leave you with one stitch less; if this is the case, take it into account in the coming decrease round.

a detail of a provisional cast on being unzipped and a circular needle going through the live stitches.
Unzipping the provisional cast-on and placing those live sts on the needles.
An orange sweater with the live neckline sts on a circular needle.
Ready for some ribbing!

You might want to add a ‘lifeline’ at this point, in case you decide to rip back and adjust the neckline after the fact. A lifeline is a thin piece of yarn that’s threaded through your live sts but not knit into the work. If you find the neckline is too tight or too loose, you can pull those needles out and rip with ease – the live sts will be held by your lifeline.

Just like the hem, the key to this neckline is a very loose bind off. We like to use a needle 3 sizes bigger than the needle that was used for ribbing.

An orange finished lace yoke sweater. Before it has been blocked.
Just a block and this one is ready for wear!

Next step

Just a block to go, and you’re done! The next step in this series is finishing. Head there now!

Love Note Sweater: Finishing (6/6)

June 18, 2020

You’ve done it! You’ve knit a lovely Love Note sweater, there are just a couple last ‘finishing’ steps to complete.

This post is step #6 of the Love Note Tutorial series. Other posts in this series include:

  1. Yarn choice and sizing: How to choose a fabulous yarn combination and find the right size for you.
  2. Construction: An overview of the process and how the sweater is constructed.
  3. Yoke: How to work the provisional cast-on, lace pattern, and raglan increases.
  4. Body and sleeves: Creating the high-low hem and picking up the sleeves.
  5. Neckline: How to pick up stitches from the unzipped, provisional cast-on, plus tips for ensuring the perfect fit.
  6. Finishing (this post): How to finish off your beautiful sweater!

Finishing

The most important finishing step is wet-blocking the sweater to set the lace and relax the fabric into shape. Because this sweater has such an open fabric, you’ll want to be careful not to block it too big. Keep your measuring tape handy and pat the sweater into shape.

The light and drapey fabric of this garment hangs from its tightest point, the neckline bind-off. After blocking, if the fit isn’t quite as desired, unpick the neckline bind-off and rework it more loosely or more firmly. For a more drastic fit adjustment, rip back to the decrease round, and then decrease more or fewer stitches before working the neckline ribbing and bind-off. Weave in all the ends once any required fit adjustments have been made.

Share your #LoveNoteSweater with the world!

Share your progress with us on Instagram or Ravelry by adding the hashtags #LoveNoteSweater and #TinCanKnits. We LOVE to see your knits!

Love Note sweater pattern
Love Note pattern

A Visit to Long Way Homestead

June 12, 2020

A long, long time ago, when Tin Can Knits was in its fledgling years, I met the owner of one of Vancouver’s local yarn shops: Anna of Baaad Anna’s. Even at our first meeting, I knew I wanted to be Anna’s friend. She is funny and thoughtful, very laid back and yet super passionate. Anna always has a story to tell and a project she’s working on, and I always want to hear both. So when Anna said she and her family were leaving Vancouver to run a fibre farm in Manitoba, I knew it was going to be an exciting adventure!

What is Long Way?

Long Way Homestead is a charming, rustic fibre farm located on Treaty 1 territory, just outside Winnipeg in Manitoba. Treaty 1 territory is the traditional lands of the Brokenhead Ojibway, Sagkeeng, Long Plain, Peguis, Roseau River Anishinabe, Sandy Bay and Swan Lake First Nations, as well as the Métis Nation.

Anna and her husband Luke always joke that they like to do things the long way or the hard way, so of course they named their farm Long Way Homestead. They say there’s been a bit of a learning curve (and that’s an understatement), but now that they’ve had the farm for a few years, they feel like they (mostly) know what they’re doing. They raise chickens, pigs, and cats, but the most exciting part, of course, is the woolly sheep! You can read more about the farm, Anna’s crop rotation, and other farming practices here.

A row of 5 sheep bums as they dig into a trough of food.
A frenzy at feeding time!
2 chickens, one black and white with a brilliant red comb, and one a softer brown and white. Both pecking the green grass.
Chickens roaming everywhere! These gals are egg-layers.
A mound of dark brown dirt with a few orange marigold flowers and a few little green bushes, the indigo.
Anna keeps a dye garden, full of plants for dyeing her beautiful yarn.

Anna raises a flock of mainly Shetland sheep, along with a few Merino crossbred sheep and a couple of llamas. She also runs a fibre mill at the farm, where she turns fleece from the sheep into beautiful yarn. She processes fleece from other farms as well. You can read all about Long Way’s custom milling here and check out the farm store here.

Some complex looking blue and silver machinery, with a thread of yarn being wound around a bobbin.
Somehow, the inner workings of this complicated, yarn-making machinery made perfect sense when Anna explained it.
Anna's hand as a strand of yarn passes from one part of the milling machinery to another.
Voila! Yarn!

Summer Fun

Last summer, I packed up the kids and headed to Long Way for a week of catching up and farm fun! It was the absolute best. My three kiddos and Anna’s two packed together and spent most of their time roaming, playing, and having fun. When it rained (and boy, does it rain in Manitoba!), we took them to the various museums around Winnipeg. Anna was able to tell me all about the farm, and we were able to catch up over drinks after the kids’ bedtime, too.

My little ones were so excited to be there. Hunter was (and still is) completely smitten with the lambs. Jones enjoys the outdoors anytime, anywhere, so he was in his element roaming around (Batman figure in hand, of course). Bodhi was a little hesitant around the sheep at first, but she warmed up in the end. Collecting eggs from the hens was her very favourite thing.

In the middle of a green pasture Bodhi is in rainbow tights, petting a light brown sheep. Anna is showing Bodhi the sheep's face. In the background Jones and Josh are deep in discussion.
My favourite part of this picture is the very serious conversation happening in the background, but rainbow tights and sheep are pretty great, too.
Hunter is wearing a white hat with a pale rainbow of speckles. She is holding a sheep with a big smile on her face.
Hunter even learned to purl while we were on the farm. She knit this whole hat almost entirely by herself!
Bodhi is crouched down petting a lamb. She has a slight look of hesitation on her face.
Still a bit of hesitation on Bodhi’s face here, but this little lamb is irresistible.
All of Anna's family and my three kids are sitting at a long picnic table. Everyone is smiling and either giving a thumbs up, smiling, or still eating.
Big dinners outside are the best!
Jones is in the foreground, in a green field, still holding his batman figure. There are sheep grazing in the background.
Wandering the grassy fields – so much fun!

It was so interesting taking the mill tour, seeing the many processes that turn fleece into yarn. I was fascinated hearing about Anna’s rotational grazing systems, her passion for the Fibershed movement, and her love for the animals under her care. I also managed to fall in love with some beautiful Targhee she was working on when I was there. I came home with a sweater quantity (SQ) ready to become my next sweater!

7 skeins of white yarn stacked up against a grey background.
I’ve already started swatching, but I’m still not completely sure what kind of sweater this yarn wants to be yet.

We had a lovely time at Long Way last summer, and I can’t wait to go back. If you need more sheep pictures in your life (and I know that you do), follow Anna on Instagram. You can usually find her yarn at shows all over Canada, or you can shop conveniently online. If you are local to Winnipeg, I highly recommend a farm tour, too!

~Alexa

Other posts you might like:

Hunter’s Knitting
Iceland – Our Family Journey
Tofino – A Wild Place That Has Our Hearts

%d bloggers like this: