When I first started Tangled Yarn one of the things I wanted to do was offer independent designers a place where they could sell their patterns. Tin Can Knits were the first indie designers I stocked after they contacted me about their book 9 Months of Knitting. I was impressed with their enterprise and loved their designs. They have gone on to self-publish a further five knitting books and have a become a firm favourite with knitters young and old.
Tin Can Knits are knitting friends Alexa Ludeman and Emily Wessel, both are Canadian born; Alexa still lives in Vancouver whilst Emily now resides in Edinburgh. They create irresistible knits and wonderful patterns together with over 7,000 km between them. I was lucky to catch up Emily this week for a quick chat...
How did your friendship with Alexa become the design partnership Tin Can Knits that we have come to know and love?
Alexa and I met while working at Urban Yarns in Vancouver, and became fast friends. We were both publishing individually, and one day Alexa said: “We should write a knitting book”. Our first book, 9 Months of Knitting was born, and our business launched.
I love the range of sizes you offer your designs in. Was this something you were set on doing from the start?
Our first book, 9 Months of Knitting, was a baby book, inspired by Alexa's firstborn, Hunter. So while we sized the hat and sock patterns from baby to big, the sweaters were initially only sized for baby-toddler. With our second book, Pacific Knits, we came up with the idea that the garments should be sized from baby to big, because Alexa wanted to knit them for her babies, and I wanted to knit them for me! So that was the beginning of what became standard. So many knitters loved the flexibility of this, and we loved that our patterns provided really high value for dollar. And there's a certain lovable cheesiness to matching baby-dad or baby-mama sweater sets!
Where do you find your design inspiration?
We find inspiration all around us, in landscapes, urban form, and our love for our families. We've written more about the process here.
Do you have a favourite design you’ve done?
I really love the Antler Cardigan (by Alexa) - it's such a versatile classic piece! And the Vivid Blanket is simple but very addictive and always brings a beautiful result.
Antler Cardigan by Alexa Ludeman
Vivid by Emily Wessel
Are there any knitting techniques that you’ve not yet used in any of your designs that you’d like to try?
This year we're really looking at colour! So there will be some colour-work-related techniques that we've not focused on in the past in our upcoming designs. We've also dubbed 2016 'The year to try something new...'. I've started to learn 2-colour brioche, and Tunisian crochet personally, but we're just encouraging all knitters to stretch outside their comfort zone and learn something new along with us.
You are both amazing teachers, tell us more about The Simple Collection and the idea behind it?
We've both taught knitting, and know it can be difficult for knitting instructors to find high-quality, professionally edited free patterns to feature in learn-to-knit classes. So we created The Simple Collection to fill this need, and to instruct beginner and returning knitters on all the basics of modern, seamless knitting. We also wanted to give back to the community that has been so supportive of our work, but providing some excellent 'vanilla' patterns!
The Simple Collection
How will you be celebrating Mother’s Day?
Well in Canada, Mother's day is celebrated in mid May, but now that I'm a mum here in the UK, this March will be my second mother's day! I think I cried a little last year when Max (actually my husband) bought me a card. I don't know what's in store for me this year, but I'll be relaxing and being pampered one way or another...! And probably knitting!
A huge thank you to Emily for taking the time to talk to me this week. If you'd like to discover more Tin Can Knits patterns we do stock quite a few here at Tangled Yarn, you can also visit Tin Can Knits website for great knitting tutorials and free patterns!