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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

That Which We Can Control

May 28, 2020
Beloved Bonnet Pattern

This pandemic is hurting people all over the world right now. When it comes to weathering this storm, Alexa and I are among the most privileged, and we know that many people are suffering more severe hardships and losses. It was this knowledge that inspired us to donate some of our sales to local charities last month, and we are grateful for the ability to help where we can.

While I work to remain aware of my privilege, I must admit to feeling waves of stress and anxiety wash over me these past months. Life’s uncertainties have come into sharp focus, and the sense of control I had has completely evaporated. My family’s usual routine has been upended altogether, and we’re all a bit off balance.

Terraced flats and a leafless tree

With my routine turned on its head, the constants I previously assumed are no longer reliable. The future has lost its trustworthiness. I know that trustworthiness was an illusion, but frankly, it was a comfortable one. It allowed me to feel comfortable taking risks, making plans, and working creatively.

Beyond that, I miss some simple things that brought me joy before. I miss seeing my friends in the flesh. I miss dreaming up new designs in the myriad of excellent coffee shops within 10 minutes of my apartment. I miss feeling the hum and excitement of Edinburgh.

With many aspects of my life uncertain, I am yearning for some stability. These are not easy times to be sure, but knitting is easy, right? I know how to do that – and that’s a little something I can control.

Finding Comfort in Simplicity

Usually I’m more of a designer than a knitter. It’s the challenging side of the craft – the stitch-by-stitch hunt for new ideas, motifs, and methods – that excites me. But now that I’m ankle-deep in a rising tide of uncertainty, I feel like I’ve become a knitter once again. With my mind, body, and emotions processing so many changes, I’ve been reaching for knits that are simple. For me, it’s comforting to work on a project that I can see the end of –something I know will come out beautifully.

Beloved bonnet pattern
This Beloved bonnet is knit in Qing Fiber Merino Single in ‘bone’ . Project details here.

With that in mind, a Beloved bonnet for a new baby in the family was a perfect starting point.

This project reminds me of a cherished children’s book you are happy to read over and over again. You begin with an i-cord, increase following an easy-to-memorize pattern, reach the turning point before you know it, and then decrease back to end with the other i-cord. The second half of the knit seems to accelerate as the rows become ever shorter, culminating in a sweet conclusion with only two little ends to weave in. You can find all the techniques for this bonnet in our in-depth Beloved tutorial.

Beloved Bonnet Pattern
This rainbow of Beloved bonnets was a joy to make. Find all the yarn details on our Ravelry project page.

Once I finished the first bonnet, I couldn’t bring myself to stop. I used leftover sock-weight yarns, held doubled to get gauge. Beloved is designed in DK weight yarn, but if you work in worsted, aran weight (or holding sock-weight doubled as I have), it comes out just a little bit bigger.

Beloved Bonnet Pattern

After I had my fill of bonnets, I knit a couple pairs of The World’s Simplest Mittens. With Scotland’s on-again/off-again spring weather, my kids often wear their mittens well into May, and I was happy to have more on hand.

The World's Simplest Mittens Pattern
Max’s mittens were made using a vivid and difficult-to-photograph combination of neons!
The World's Simplest Mittens Patterns
Neve’s little mittens were made using our free pattern, The World’s Simplest Mittens. For yarn details, see our Ravelry project page.

With these mittens done, I pulled out some beautiful handspun yarn and got started on a simple, striped Flax sweater for Neve.

Flax Sweater Pattern

While everything seems more out-of-control and out-of-the-ordinary than I am used to – and while I’m on the phone with loved ones half a world away – these kinds of simple, trusted projects bring me comfort and help me bear my fears a bit more bravely.

Are You Reaching for Your Needles?

Are you finding comfort in needles and yarn these days?

What projects are you most drawn to for stress relief in a sea of uncertainty?

~ Emily

Simple Tin Can Knits patterns:
Snap Hat Pattern Antler Pullover Pattern Wheat Scarf Pattern

A Strange Brew for Hunter

May 7, 2020
smiling child in colourwork yoke sweater
Hunter smiling in her hand knit colourwork yoke sweater. Backdrop is beach and water.

growing into your personal style

Do you remember developing your sense of style? I’ve never really been great with clothing style, or perhaps I should say that I’m more confident at fashionably clothing others than myself. I remember deciding in High School that layering was the way to go. I would wear a plain 3/4 length sleeve shirt under a t-shirt, with bell bottoms (remember when those came back for a hot minute in the late 90s?) and I was pretty sure that was the coolest outfit that was still comfortable, so it was a win.

Flash forward and I’m watching Hunter decide for herself what she wants to wear. She has the same struggles I did, she sometimes wants to be fancy, but realistically reaches for the clothes that are comfortable. I’m so pleased she still loves her handmade sweaters (for now), but she has more specific requests these days (you can read about her black Antler pullover here).

Strange Brew recipe pattern

inspired by Emily

I started this sweater while Emily was churning out Strange Brew yokes at an unbelievable rate. It seemed like she had a new sweater weekly (it definitely wasn’t weekly, but she finished the body and sleeves on the knitting machine so it felt super fast). Find a list of all our Strange Brew knits (all of which include charts, so you can make them for yourself!) here.

I was so inspired by Emily’s knits, I cast on immediately to try out some ideas that had been percolating.

Close up of colourwork yoke. Hunter faces the water and her curly hair is loose.

strange brew recipe with minor modifications

The central motif on Hunter’s yoke was one I had been wanting to try out for a while. I knew I wanted the motifs above and below to have a sort of ‘fade in’ quality, and the background would be light. I had a few ideas for how to do the ‘fade’ so I cast on to do some experimenting.

The yarn is Brooklyn Tweed Peerie in colourways ‘vintner’, ‘muslin’, and ‘mesa’. Not my usual colour jam, but I’ve been broadening my colour palette horizons lately! Here are the charts I used:

Colourwork chart

This knit mostly follows the Strange Brew recipe. I knit the 8-10 year size and started it from the top down. The increases come between the motifs. I worked the short rows after the yoke pattern, before the split for body and sleeves. The body is a cropped length and I added short rows to create a high-low hem. The sleeves were meant to be a bit longer, but she grew a bit as I was knitting and when it was done she declared that was how long she like them, so I left it alone. I might need to lengthen them next year to add a bit of wear, but we shall see.

Strange Brew Yoke Recipe

a well loved knit

This sweater has been a great success because it is already in heavy rotation. If you look close you can see it need a bit of a de-pilling and at least the cuffs could use a wash. That’s what I like to see in a sweater knit for a kid – lots of love!

Hands Ever Moving

April 21, 2020
Beloved Bonnet Pattern

UPDATE: Thank you so much to all the knitters who purchased during our fundraiser. We were able to raise $14621.50 USD which we rounded up to $15,000 split between our two charities of choice! Knitters are amazing!

The world is full of uncertainty and we know many of you are in no position to think about knitting right now. While our own families have suffered only minor inconveniences so far, our hearts are heavy for those in vulnerable and less privileged positions who are suffering in real, deep, lasting ways.

The situation feels daunting, but donating to support vulnerable people in our communities is a small thing we can do. Proceeds from all Tin Can Knits patterns and ebooks sold (either from our website or Ravelry) from Friday, April 17 to Friday April 24 (ending at midnight PST) will be donated to two charities local to us: Share Society and Saheliya

Beloved bonnet pattern
Knitting has always been something that brings me comfort in times of added anxiety.

To keep my hands moving I have been churning out Beloved bonnets, knit in little leftover balls of yarn, with no particular recipient in mind. If you’re like Alexa and I and find yourself with a little extra time and a lot of extra anxiety and sadness, maybe you are leaning a bit more heavily on your knitting too. Maybe, like us, you’re focusing on small pieces of beauty and simple actions that you know well, outcomes you can trust in, rhythmic and habitual things that might make you feel a little better.

We’ve designed a lot of simple things over the years, and these are the kind of projects we are reaching for now:

Teeny Tiny Things

April 2, 2020
tiny brown colourwork yoke with white pattern
Tiny new baby Emma in her rainbow striped onesie and the Snap hat I made for her.

It has been a while since I knit really tiny things for my own little ones. I had almost forgotten the sheer joy of whipping up the littlest of sweaters or the most wee hats for a really fresh new babe! My cousin recently welcomed her second child a month early (everyone is doing great!) and I gleefully knit a few really small things for the new addition to the family.

Snap hat pattern.

It is somewhat impractical to knit a sweater that baby can wear right away. I mean, they do grow SO VERY fast so it will really only fit for a few weeks. And with newborns ranging in size so widely, it might not even fit that long! When I knit baby gifts, I usually knit our smallest size (we call it 0-6 months, but it leans more towards the 6 months side), but for some reason this time I was taken with the idea of making very smallest things for Emma to wear when she first got home.

Emma in a yellow sleeper wearing her Snap hat.

As is my tradition, when Holly texted to say she was in labor, I cast on a hat. I figured it might be a fast one, so I decided on a Snap hat. I went to my stash of bits and bobs, pulled out a bright and cheery palette, and cast on. I cast on 4 fewer sts than the smallest size, and knit an inch less before starting the decreases. It seems VERY small to me, but it was still a smidge too long at first!

Strange Brew pattern

If this Strange Brew sweater looks small, it is! I had one beautiful skein of Earl Grey Fiber Co Oolong in ‘stay golden’ and a little ball of La Bien Aimee DK in ‘blush’ (leftovers from my Penny sweater) so I was ready to go! I cast on for the smallest size, but I knit the yoke a few rounds shorter and changed the last increase before splitting for the sleeves so I would have 4 fewer body stitches and 2 fewer stitches at each sleeve. I knit the body and sleeves an inch shorter than the smallest size too.

Colourwork chart for Emma's little sweater.
Here is the chart I used for Emma’s tiny sweater.

This faded Flax I knit following the instructions for the smallest size, but knit in DK weight yarn rather than worsted, on US6 / 4mm needles, so it’s just a little bit smaller. I used 3 colourways of specked DK weigh yarn and used the fading technique from the amazing Andrea Mowry.

Flax pattern.

Lastly, when I found out Emma was coming early, I cast on a Flax Light. The other sweaters were small, but would they really be small enough?! The yarn is the prettiest skein of Woolberry Fiber Co Berry Cashmere in ‘ocean mist’. To make it super small so she can wear it immediately, I cast on 4 fewer stitches at the neckline, had 1 fewer stitch in each section at the set-up round, and only worked 7 increase rounds. The yoke is only 3″ deep and the body and sleeves are 5″. It is impossibly small and light, but is woolly and warm and I know Holly and Emma will love it!

A tiny blue sweater in progress against a grey background.
The tiniest of sweaters in progress. This is a Flax Light, with a few modifications to make it even more wee.
Flax Light Pattern
It fits! For now…

So, now Emma has a tiny little wardrobe to start her off in life. A bit of love from her Aunty Alexa to wrap around her!

Grand knit plans

March 18, 2020

I really love a good plan. I would say I am also pretty happy to abandon said plan if something shiny crosses my path OR if the plan, which seemed super smart while I was dreaming it up, just isn’t quite as good as I thought it was!

For 2020 (I know, it’s March already), I made myself a grand knitting plan. Really it is more of a reminder system, so that I check in with my goals and see if I am meeting them or if they need adjustment. I didn’t accomplish all of the things I intended in 2019, many because I didn’t start early enough. I don’t want that to happen again this year! If it’s written down I figure I have a better chance of success so here it goes…

Prism hat pattern
These are only 4 of the dozens of Prism hats we knit up for Mad Colour. I think I have a few of these in my future!

A Stack of Hats

A couple of years ago there was a bit of a baby boom among my close friends and family. This was a great joy to me because I love a baby cuddle! Mine had grown into children, but I was able to borrow the new babies from time to time, which suited me just fine. This year I plan to knit hats for all the growing kiddos in my circle. Kid hats are fast, fun, and are the perfect project for the precious single skeins I have collected over the years. So, this goal is very doable, I just need to keep it going through the year in order to have everyone hatted in the fall. A couple of hats a month should do it!

Clayoquot pattern hack post
Mum wears her hand knit sweaters with great pride, I am always happy to knit for her!
This is her modified Clayoquot sweater (details on the mods are here)

Love Note for Mum

Next up is knitting for my Mum. I gave her a few TCK sweater samples this year and has been wearing them non stop this winter. I am thrilled! I want to knit her a Love Note for Christmas 2020. This is another reasonable goal, as long as I don’t leave it entirely to December! I’m having a tough time choosing the colour. Mum has always loved red (also making it rather festive), but has been really into mustard lately… I think I’ll need to ask her in a slick way that won’t give away the plan.

Sweaters for the Kids

For my kids I am feeling somewhat practical… or at least as practical as a knitter can be. I mean, knitting is pretty much the slowest possible way to clothe a person right? My goal is to make each of them a sock weight sweater. Their wardrobes could use a good light-yet-warm pullover that they can throw on in the fall, layer up when it gets really cold in the winter, or wear on summer evenings when we go camping. Something simple and not too fussy. Possibly a Flax Light, or maybe a Compass sweater. Or maybe just a trio of Strange Brew sweaters to keep things interesting! Three sock weight sweaters is no small goal. These are slower knits so I’m hoping to keep them going throughout the year, with a goal of finishing all three for the beginning of October.

Marshland sweater pattern

One for Gary Too

Next on my knit list is Gary. He sort of has a Marshland sweater (it’s half his and half mine), but it’s a bit too warm for him. Worsted weight with colourwork make it very cozy and Gary runs warm. So I plan to make him a sock weight sweater too. I am thinking something dark for the main colour with a bit of colourwork in a single CC at the yoke. My plan is to work this one from the bottom up so I can get cracking and deal with the thinking part later.

Knitting Plan recap:
A whole bunch of kid hats
A Love Note for Mum
3 sock weight sweaters for the kids
1 lightweight sweater for Gary

dissatisfied child in hand-knit sweater
“What, really Alexa, that’s your plan?!”

Emily’s Commentary on Alexa’s plan

OK, so as much as I love Alexa’s inexhaustible knitting ambition, I think I need to intercede and suggest that all of the above (except the stack of hats perhaps) will NOT happen, because Alexa will, in fact, be busy designing lovely new garments and accessories for our next collection, that’s right, isn’t it, Alexa?! Hahahaha – I love a plan too, but I especially love telling my business partner when her plans are utterly preposterous and unrealistic!

Tell me your plan!

Are you a knitter with a master plan? Or do you prefer to go one project at a time? Do you make boundlessly optimistic lists like the one Alexa has described here? Any tips for keeping on track? What are your knitterly goals for 2020? Tell us all about it in the comments!

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