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September Sweaters III

October 3, 2019
5 cousins in their Gramps sweaters!

A tradition for the ages

A few years ago, Emily and I decided to start a sweater knitting tradition, the September Sweater. For those who don’t know her, Emily is my sister-in-law, an excellent knitter and famous knitwear model too!

For this year’s September Sweater instalment, we chose a TCK oldie, the Gramps sweater.

I love a good family tradition. For me, there are certain foods that are a MUST at big family dinners. For the kid’s birthdays, I hang a string of photos from the year in the living room; for us to remember and celebrate them. And my extended family has an odd tradition of bashing boiled and dyed eggs together at Easter (the winner has the egg that doesn’t break) and we all eat a lot of egg salad for a week!

As we grow we keep the traditions we love, and leave behind the ones that no longer make us happy. We are also free to start new traditions of our own. I think of my kids, in turn, taking what is meaningful to them and passing it down the line.

The original September sweaters, Flax with a rainbow stripe for a bit of a 70’s vibe. We used Tanis Fiber Arts Green Label Aran in ‘sand’ for the MC and the rainbows are composed of various Madelinetosh and SweetGeorgia yarns.

Emily and I love a good matching (or coordinated) sweater photoshoot. A few years ago we began with Flax sweaters for all of our kids (4 of them at the time). It took me WAY longer to knit 3 sweaters than it took her to knit 1, so it took almost a year longer than anticipated (note that Ellis’ sweater looks a wee bit tight on him). The photoshoots can get a little…overwhelming… but we loved it so much we decided we should do it again!

5 Strange Brews! We knit all of these ones up in Brooklyn Tweed Arbor. You can find all of sweater details, including the charts here.

The next round I got a little smarter. I realized that knitting 3 sweaters exactly the same wasn’t quite as exciting as I wanted it to be, so we decided to make coordinated sweaters and stick with the rainbow theme. Arlo was born, so the sweater count went up to five! I loved knitting those Strange Brew sweaters so much! The kids look adorable and by complete chance, their boots even matched their sweaters.

Fast forward 2 years (because that’s how long it took me to knit three of these Gramps sweaters) and we finished our third round of September sweaters. Cozy shawl collars and warm wool kept everyone smiling at Incinerator Rock, in the Pacific Rim National Park. It’s so fun to see how the kids grow in these photos as they mark a moment in time. The kids’ different personalities come through too!

Bodhi is so little here!!!
I feel like they are ready to break into a dance routine here….or maybe they just finished one?

Gramps sweater details:

  • Hunter’s sweater: Knit up in Stone Wool Cormo in ‘Karst 03’ size 8-10 years.
  • Jones’ sweater: Knit up in The Plucky Knitter Scholar in ‘chamomile’ size 8-10 years (I know, it’s wild that Hunter and Jones wear the same size now!).
  • Bodhi’s sweater: Knit up in Brooklyn Tweed Quarry in ‘sulphur’, the gauge was quite different from the pattern so I knit the 6-12 month size, but customized the lengths for Bodhi.
  • Ellis’ sweater: Knit up in Stone Wool Cormo in ‘Tobacco 03’ size 4-6 years.
  • Arlo’s sweater: Knit up in Swans Island All American Worsted in ‘pomegranate’ , size 1-2 years.
Hunter rocking the original Gramps cardigan from our very first book!

What to knit next?

Now the fun part: what to knit next? What should our next round of September sweaters be? I’m leaning towards cables, but maybe colourwork? Perhaps even a new design altogether? Here are a few of the contenders:

Almanac, Antler pullover, and Compass

Tell us, what are some of your favourite traditions? Do you knit a friend a pair of socks every year? Do some lucky recipients get a new hat when the weather turns?

First Day Sweater

September 26, 2019
Trek Colourwork Sweater Pattern
Bodhi in her Trek sweater knit in Hello Stella yarn.

I think after the success of the September Sweaters we have established that I love a sweater with a title. I love making almost anything into ‘a tradition’, and in this case I gained another excuse to knit a sweater, as if I needed one, right?! So now I have knit Kindergarten Sweaters for each of my three kids. What’s a Kindergarten Sweater, you ask? Let me tell you!

Trek Sweater Pattern

An Intriguing Idea

Someone once told me they dressed their kid in the same type of outfit the first day of Kindergarten as the first day of Grade 12. This seemed like a fun idea to me but, as a knitter, I thought I should take it one step further and knit a sweater. I will, in theory, knit the same sweater for them to wear in for Grade 12. Wish me luck.

1999 Sweater Pattern
Hunter’s Kindergarten sweater was a 1999 in Rainbow Heirloom Sweater ‘princess rockstar’.
Bowline Sweater Pattern
For Jones I knit a Bowline sweater in yellow, his favourite colour. The yarn is Hedgehog Fibers DK in ‘pollen’, so it is a little off gauge.

When Lindsay of Hello Stella created the Van collection (which includes a donation to a good cause) I knew it was the PERFECT palette for a Kindergarten sweater. I have wanted to knit the Trek sweater since Emily first designed it, so away I went!

I love this warm palette and the tweedy quality of those black neps.

An Adjustment for Gauge

Since the Trek sweater pattern is written for DK weight yarn and the Van collection yarns are sock weight, I used the stitch counts from the adult size XS, but customized the lengths for Bodhi. Part way through the yoke I panicked, worried it was going to be too deep, so for the middle ‘box’ section I used the smaller chart. I worried for nothing, it fits the way I did it, but those few extra rounds just following the pattern would have been just fine too.

Check out our tutorial about knitting a garment at a different gauge for tips on how to make this sort of an adjustment.

Bodhi is my third kid and she has been WAITING for her chance to go to school with the big kids since Hunter’s first day of school. She is so ready for this!

Trek Sweater Pattern
And she got a new haircut for Kindergarten too!

Strange Brew Directory

September 26, 2019

This post is a directory of the Strange Brew knits that Alexa and I have done over the course of the past couple of years! We’ve had so much fun with this recipe, and we hope you will too. Each of the posts below includes charts that you can apply to your own Strange Brew sweater!

Our Strange Brew colourwork yoke ‘recipe’ pattern is useful and flexible, but without an example (or a dozen examples!) you could find yourself staring at the blank page, uncertain what to put on your yoke!

If you’re embarking on a ‘design it yourself’ colourwork yoke, check out our tutorial series dedicated to the techniques and methods for Strange Brew.

strange brew example sweaters

Have we knit SO MANY strange brew sweaters? Yes, yes we have!

Sparkly dots and short sleeves! Cute!
A bold graphic pattern, and saturated tones.
A steeked cardigan for Bodhi with some serious fall vibes!
A little bit like 2-tone coffee beans?
Quick, simple motifs in vivid colours! Charts here.
Cropped and detailed; in this yoke I experimented with green and pin combinations!
This colour combination was outside my comfort zone, but I love it!
Simple and classic with a retro holiday mood!
Simple but perfectly satisfying!
Designed without a plan, this yoke was an adventure!
Icicles for Hunter
Snowflakes for Bodhi!

One More Time

September 20, 2019
Woman on a step wearing a handknit sweater with a colourwork yoke.

Last year I knit John a Strange Brew colourwork yoke sweater. It was nominally a Christmas gift, but really I made it because, despite the fact that John had been my loving partner and prime cheerleader for years while Alexa and I built Tin Can Knits, he STILL didn’t have a hand-knit sweater… only a single sadly scratchy scarf. That’s a knitterly fail if ever there was one!

2 adults wearing matching handknit sweaters

But wouldn’t you know it, once John’s sweater was knit, what happened? In spite of my drawer full of other lovely sweaters, I mostly wanted to wear his. All the time. So the unthinkable had to be thought. I would make myself the same sweater! We would match. Because what’s worse than a hand-knit sweater? Matching hand-knit sweaters on middle-aged lovers. (hahaha side-note… I LOVE saying “LOVER” out loud, because it makes Alexa cringe every time).

Just kidding, it’s really the best! Our kids are still a bit too small to know the hot sting of parent-inspired shame, but soon we will be embarrassing them nonstop, so we’ve gotta get started now, working on suitably ridiculous wardrobe.

2 adults in matching sweaters. The man is kissing the woman on the cheek.

The gory story of the design development for this yoke pattern was covered in the original post. If you’re interested you can find the charts there to make a matchy sweater of your own!

What I want to show you today are some alternative colour options that I considered. You might find these palettes inspiring if you’re planning a yoke sweater like Strange Brew , Marshland, Spotlight or one of the many beautiful colourwork yokes out there!

Adult woman in handknit sweater with a colourwork yoke
This smile shows how happy I am with my new sweater! I made it relaxed and cozy with 3-4″ of positive ease.

developing a colourwork yoke palette

A knit sleeve next to bits of yarn in various colour combinations
A sleeve plus the yarns that I brought to the table (the sidewalk) for consideration! I spent A LONG TIME hunched over these yarns photographing various options.

To choose a palette for my copycat yoke, I began by pulling out my worsted and aran weight stash! I worked the body and sleeves of the garment in a tweedy grey, so I just had to select 3 colours that would work alongside it.

testing the palette

Once I’d selected some combinations that I thought might work, I used a graphics program to trial out the colour placement roughly on a sketch of the yoke patterning. This gave me a little closer idea of what the garment might look like with the colour combinations I’d shortlisted.

After some deliberation, and a call out to Instagram to see what the knitters thought about my colour combinations, I was pretty sure I was going to go with one of the light pink + rust options. But then I hesitated. The sleeves and body were finished, so all I had left was a delicious yoke to knit, but for some reason I wasn’t getting started.

A handknit colourwork yoke close up

back to the drawing board…

When it came down to it, what I REALLY loved about John’s knit was that cobalt blue. So I had to go back to the drawing board, and find a combo that allowed the cobalt to shine! In the end I pulled out some of my DK weight stash, trusting that it would work just fine with the worsted weight main colour. That gave me access to a crispy crunchy golden brown, and a more purple-toned deep navy. All told, I’m glad I went back in the cobalt direction! It feels more ‘me’.

I think we’d all agree it’s a little too matchy, buuuuuuuuuttttt… This oversized sweater is REALLY delicious to wear.

An adult woman wearing a handknit sweater with a colourwork yoke.
An adult couple wearing matching knit sweaters and laughing.

more play with colour

Did any of the colour combinations I explored inspire you? You could use your favourite palette above to make one of the designs from the Strange Brew collection – these combinations would work well for Marshland, Almanac, Fleet or Cartography.

Marshland Sweater (link to pattern for sale)
Marshland Sweater
Almanac sweater (link to pattern for sale)
Almanac Sweater
Fleet hat (link to pattern for sale)
Fleet Hat
Cartography sweater (link to pattern for sale)
Cartography sweater has all-over colourwork patterns

Fall is for Hats

September 19, 2019
I knit up this family of Gather hats in Rainbow Heirloom Sweater in ‘golden north’ and ‘auld lang syne’, Sweet Fiber Merino Twist DK in ‘Dusted Rose’ and Tanis Fiber Arts Purewash DK in ‘mint’

There is something about September and the changing leaves that makes me want to cast on HATS. I mean, not just 1, not 2, but whole families of hats! In early autumn it’s not even cold enough here in Vancouver to warrant such a hat desire yet. In fact, I could probably wait until the end of November. Maybe it’s the hustle and bustle of back to school that leaves me wanting a small and manageable project, maybe it’s the end of a long summer of sweater knitting, whatever it is, I’m craving hats.

So I gather up the precious single skeins from my stash, take a look around at the people I love, consider their possible head warmth needs, and then get started churning out hats like there’s no tomorrow!

Noel, rocking a pom!

Pattern Love (6 years later)

I first designed the Gather hat for Knit City… was it 2013?! Knit City is an event I have loved from the beginning and a big part of that is how Amanda and Fiona work to bring the knitting community together. This year I took a new look at this old favourite and knit up a whole family of hats!

Olivia was all smiles in the field of flowers!

Every so often I re-fall-in-love-with a pattern. I really enjoy the smocking stitch, mostly because it looks pretty and complicated, but it couldn’t be simpler (we even have a tutorial for that here if you don’t believe me). I enjoyed putting this unusual palette together, a golden yellow, dusty pink, an emerald and a minty green. It’s pretty far outside my usual colour scheme but I really like it and immediately wanted to create a Strange Brew yoke with the combination.

After knit four Gather hats I decided to give this old favourite a new layout with new photos.

Matching hats for the win!

There are more TCK hats to choose from if you are on a hat kick like me!

Antler, Hunter, Beloved, Penny, Tall Dark and Handsome, Rosewater, Clayoquot, Stovetop, Fleet, Precipitation, Snap


September 12, 2019
Oaken Shawl
Meet Heidi, our newest TCK model!

oaken shawl and blanket

Lately I’ve been inspired by heavy weight lace. It may seem like those two things shouldn’t go together, light delicate lace with an ample woolly yarn, but I promise you, they do! This new design combines the delicious texture of garter stitch with rhythmic, geometric lace, for a project that’s a joy to knit, and cozy to wear.

Oaken brings together heavy lace and simple stitches to keep you warm as the leaves fall and the days shorten. Knit yourself a toasty shawl to put on with your winter coat, or as a blanket to keep your lap warm as you relax with a good book.

oaken details:

Sizing: Shawl: 68” wide by 28” long
Blanket: 35.5” wide by 43” long

Yarn: Worsted / aran weight yarn
Shawl: 620 yards in a single colour as shown Or 350 yards in each of MC and CC to work in two colours (Sample shown in Sweet Fiber Canadian in ‘golden’)
Blanket: 500 yards MC and 390 yds CC as shown Or 850 yards if worked in a single colour (Sample shown in Hinterland Range in snow’ and ‘maple’)

Suggested Needles: US #9 / 5.5mm (or as required to achieve gauge)

different drapes

For the heavier weight Posy shawl (the pale yellow shawl pictured above) I knit a single ply sock weight yarn together with a strange of lace weight mohair, both from La Bien Aimee. That combination (the same one I used for the Love Note sweater) created a fabric with a soft, flowing drape. The lace shone and I loved the mohair halo.

Oaken, however, is designed in a more rustic yarn worked at a firmer gauge. The Oaken shawl is made in Sweet Fiber Canadian, a decidedly woolly yarn (and can we talk about that colour?!). Canadian is light but warm, giving the lace a crisp quality and the shawl, overall, has more structure than the soft drape of Posy.

For the blanket I used Hinterland Range. We used this lovely yarn to make the Antler pullover, and fell in love. Range is a 50/50 Canadian Alpaca/Wool blend, really soft and warm with a slight alpaca halo. The Oaken blanket is worked from the centre (with Judy’s Magic Cast-On) outward to the edge, and can be made in a single colour or using two as I have done. I picture it folded neatly on my couch waiting for company that is feeling a bit of a chill!

Dotty Strange Brew

September 6, 2019

Recently I was sorting through my MASSIVE pile of works-in-progress (commonly known as WIPs), and I came across this a nearly finished kid sweater. While some projects didn’t make the cut, this one seemed ready to be finished and worn! This little motif was a concept knit I started while we were developing designs for the Strange Brew collection.

It needed sleeves, but to polish it off quickly, I decided to just add few rounds in ribbing, bind off and call it good! And as it turns out, it fits Neve, and is super cute! Who knew that no-sleeves would work? I guess now I do!

Inspiration and ideas

Inspiration came from undone57’s scrappy Playdate cardigan

This colourwork concept was inspired by a scrappy Playdate cardigan made by undone57 (she’s BRILLIANT at adapting patterns, and putting together exquisite finished knits… we featured some of her beautiful projects here).

The idea of using the simplest possible colourwork patterns – just stripes and dots, was intriguing to me. So I cast on, and found myself a colour palette that I liked. Instead of simply 3-row stripes with a single row of dots, I alternated 3-row stripes with 5-row stripes, in which the ‘dots’ changed colour each round, to maximize the ‘sparkly’ effect of tiny contrast dots.

3-row stripes (with a single row of CC dots) alternate with 5-row stripes (which have 3-rows of CC dots) for something simple but with depth.

The icy pale blue is a common theme in this sweater, it is both the main colour used for the body and the CC ‘dot’ colour throughout the yoke. It’s a light and bright ‘pop’.

She’s getting so big! I finished this, but can see it will only fit VERY BRIEFLY! I suppose this serves me right for leaving it in a pile in my cupboard for a year before finishing it; and there are usually more wee ones around me to gift it along to.

combining yarns of different weights in colourwork:

Colourwork can be daunting for newbies, as it requires a pretty extensive stash! I suggest heading to any stash of wee leftover balls from other projects and try combining yarns of different weights.

Yarns: De Rerum Natura Ulysse in ‘ciel’, Brooklyn Tweed Loft in ‘sap’ and ‘tartan’, Jamieson & Smith 2ply Jumper Weight in ‘123’.

In this case, I used 3 yarns of slightly different weights. Ulysse is 202 yards yds / 50g, or 4 yds per gram; the thickest of the yarns I used. Loft is 275 yds / 50g, or 5.5 yds per gram, the thinnest or lightest yarn of the three. J&S 2-ply Jumper Weight is 125 yds / 25 g, or 5 yds per gram, placing it in between the others. Due to different natures of the yarns, a yards / gram comparison doesn’t tell the WHOLE story. But my beautiful finished knit DOES prove that despite the apparent difference in weights, these yarns work perfectly well together!

I highlight this to help you extend your view on your stash. If you allow yourself to mix yarns of adjacent yarn weights, how would this open up the door to making more exciting colourwork combinations?

a chart for this Strange Brew knit

This little T-shirt was worked following the Strange Brew colourwork yoke sweater recipe. I worked the top-down version, following the sock weight instructions for the 1-2 year size. Increase 1 was worked before I started the pattern. Then, as you can see from the chart below, I worked increase rounds 2 and 3 on pattern rounds 5 and 16 (both single-colour rounds).

I separated for body and sleeves on pattern round 32 (also a single-colour round). I continued the patterning down onto the body (working rounds 33-48 on the body stitches).

The little ‘cap sleeve’ ribbing is just 6 rounds! I thought it looked REALLY silly, when I was knitting it, but when Neve put it on, it was adorable! Now I’m curious how a cap sleeve like this would work for my size; I may have to try it.

The obligatory tongue-out toddler pose… Really, this is most of what I get when I try to take a decent photo of the kids lately!

For more info on how to use Strange Brew to create your own colourwork yoke design, check out our blog series here!

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