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Next Stitches

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

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

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

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

Emily’s next stitches

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

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

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

Alexa’s next stitches

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

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

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

Your next stitches

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

Some next stitches inspiration

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

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

Starting with the basics?

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

~Emily and Alexa

28 Comments leave one →
  1. Vicki Vincent permalink
    December 14, 2021 9:41 am

    Wishing you a Happy Holidays and a blessed new year. Your plans sound like a great adventure!

  2. Thelma permalink
    August 29, 2021 6:43 pm

    Absolutely wonderful. Love your article and I relate so much to it. I find it very enlightening in every sense. I took up knitting and my experiences while understanding the stich construction are so similar to yours. I commend your efforts for writing such a beautiful piece. Very inspiring too.

  3. Susan in Portland OR permalink
    January 14, 2021 11:14 am

    Hi Emily and Alexa
    2020 was such a disaster in so many area of life, and it looks like we all get to slog a bit further through 2021 before we get to anything resembling “normal.” While this season seems to be all about learning patience and perspective (my least favourite lessons), one good outcome is that my knitting has improved a lot! I appreciate your simple patterns and teaching style in that. I just made Love Note for the first time for my granddaughter in the Vancouver area whom I haven’t been able to see in person for a year. At least Canada Post can get through. Thankful for all the blessings we still have that we might miss in “normal” times! Emily, ¡Buen trabajo en su lecciones de Español!

  4. KittyGritty permalink
    January 14, 2021 8:45 am

    Your patterns are so lovely. I love Tin Can Knits❤️

  5. Elizabeth Ann permalink
    January 14, 2021 6:58 am

    I am so amazed at your creativity and just the sheer amount of projects you have! You both have young families and are such an inspiration!
    Thank you both for sharing!

  6. Myrna Hadrits permalink
    December 30, 2020 7:14 pm

    Love Tin Can Knits

  7. Sara permalink
    September 24, 2020 10:14 am

    I love your patterns and appreciate your tutorials as well. I am currently knitting the simple mitten pattern for a child . The pattern is very well written and easy to follow so I get good results. I am new to the blog but look forward to more exploration. Thank you for everything!

  8. Karla W. permalink
    September 15, 2020 8:32 pm

    Emily, your handspun is absolutely stunning! Well done you! I’m a novice spinner and hope to eventually have my yarn look like that. I had to laugh when Alexa said its a slow process…something most people, me included, don’t understand until they actually see the process of spinning. It’s work but it is SO rewarding. Love your patterns and am about to cast on a baby hat from your Simple Collection. As Dr. Henry says, “be kind, be calm, be safe.”

  9. Olivia permalink
    September 14, 2020 5:15 am

    You guys are amazing. I love reading about your journey. I’ve had a long journey in a very short time, many in fact so I’m trying to slow down and not push but appreciate what I have (memories) and know. But at the same time, my interest in Physics, in particular Particle & Astro Physics (Gravity) is increasing and I’m still devouring every book I can find while trying not to regret that I didn’t find Physics while I was young. It’s never too late to learn. Plus I’m loving my new telescope.

  10. September 11, 2020 2:52 pm

    Would love to get patterns of vivid. I love to knit or refresh my knitting again

  11. petula permalink
    September 11, 2020 5:04 am

    For me next stitches involve big steps in my professional life and the return to knitting after a four year hiatus!

  12. Esther permalink
    September 11, 2020 4:30 am

    Diese Wolle ist sehr schön!
    Denn Pulli würde ich gerne stricken, danke!

  13. Bindy in Australia permalink
    September 10, 2020 6:11 pm

    Hi Emily and Alexa. Thanks for sharing both the knitting and the ‘other parts of life’ next steps. I don’t think I’ve ever knit a bottom-up sweater and had to join the torso and arms at the yoke, so I am tackling that skill. I cast on your Penny design last night to give that construction a go. I teach senior secondary school (15-17 year-olds) and we’re about to start two weeks of school holidays after a very BIG term of all students learning from home. The holidays are very welcome as a next step. Thanks for the post!

  14. Dawn permalink
    September 10, 2020 4:56 pm

    Can you tell us about the beautiful blue/green variagated yarn pictured in the flax pattern at the beginning of this email? I would love to get some!

    • September 10, 2020 9:33 pm

      Hi Dawn – It is Emily’s handspun!

      • Barbara Lindeman. New Jersey USA permalink
        September 11, 2020 9:04 am

        I also love this yarn…… Is it or will it be available For purchase?

  15. Liz permalink
    September 10, 2020 2:04 pm

    For a carer like me, knitting is a mix of both joy and frustration. The latter comes when you can’t get to your project(s) because you have no choice but to focus on the needs of others, to the extent your own dreams evaporate. The former comes when you are able to reach for your needles in peace, and a project finally goes forward towards the end you desired (albeit some years ago!). So small steps are my only way forward in life, be it caring or knitting. I too like learning about things, and after 42 years in this house, the jumble of items attests to that. I will have another try at some of them (wood carving anyone?), but it’s still knitting I return to. Maybe it’s the chance to do something that acts like meditation combined with creative action – a power-full (typo intended) source of healing to a tired soul. Now where did I put those needles with the nettle yarn scarf…..?

  16. SMarin permalink
    September 10, 2020 12:25 pm

    What yarn did you use for your post’s picture?
    It is a beautiful variagted green.

    • S Marin permalink
      September 10, 2020 12:28 pm

      I read that the yarn is your handspun yRn. Do you sell any of your yarns?

    • September 10, 2020 9:34 pm

      Hi! That yarn is Emily’s beautiful handspun

  17. Linda Rice permalink
    September 10, 2020 12:06 pm

    Please tell me what yarn is used in the Flax sweater as shown in the first photo in this blog…green/turquoise/red flecks, etc. thanks

  18. Suknits permalink
    September 10, 2020 7:41 am

    I even modified your Flax sweater by doing a panel of garter stitch down the sides of the body of the sweater to correspond with the cast on underarm stitches

  19. September 10, 2020 7:34 am

    Thank you so much for focusing on forward motion and little next steps.

  20. Meredith MC permalink
    September 10, 2020 7:29 am

    You guys are awesome. Thank you for the inspiration and beauty you send into the world. I’ve knit a few of your patterns and I love the easy to follow format you’ve created. My next steps are diving back into teaching middle school online, with a whole new teaching platform to use (And teach to kids) that is nowhere near as easy to use as google. So knitting will be in the back seat for a bit. Within reach, but not centered. I dreamed about a knit last night that I now want to see if I can make. Luckily I took good notes that will be there when I have time and brain space agin.
    Thanks again.❤️

  21. Helen Schendel permalink
    September 10, 2020 7:01 am

    I have knit many of your patterns, including all of your simple collection. I especially enjoyed Lush and Gramps (Made 5), Prism and flax.

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