How Tin Can Knits can help you learn to knit… free!

Meet Emily Wessel and Alexa Ludeman…

picsthe talented design team behind Tin Can Knits!

The two British Columbia natives are now based 7,000 km apart – Alexa in Vancouver and Emily in Edinburgh, Scotland. They have produced several books of patterns, often inspired by and named for the beauty of Emily and Alexa’s respective surroundings. As a knitter myself, I am impressed by their clear instructions and elegant designs, and I’m excited to feature them here!

Emily and Alexa have just launched The Simple Collection, a series of free patterns easy enough for beginners but so beautiful, experienced knitters will likely be tempted by them as well. Eight patterns will be published over the next six months. The first two patterns, Wheat – a textured, reversible scarf and Malt – a simple, modern baby blanket, were released last month. With detailed tutorials and handouts designed for knitting teachers, the patterns will include mittens, a hat, socks and two sweaters – all sized “from baby to grandpa.” What a fabulous idea! Emily kindly answered my questions on behalf of Tin Can Knits.

Read on to learn more about the collection and the creative women behind it, then leave a comment and enter to win a free e-book of their recent collection of designs, “Handmade in the UK!”


“Malt” is a simple yet sophisticated baby blanket

What was the inspiration behind The Simple Collection?

There are many ways to learn to knit. Some people learn from family members, others take a class, and Alexa (the odd duck) taught herself to knit from a book. We wanted to create a set of beginner patterns and tutorials that would be accessible to as many knitters (and knitting instructors) as possible. Both Alexa and I teach knitting, and we are always on the lookout for patterns to recommend our beginners and tutorials to direct them to when they get stuck without us. The Simple Collection is intended to fill this need in a comprehensive manner, with high-quality patterns sized from baby to big!

Tell me about your partnership, living 7,000 km apart. How do you make it work?

Alexa and I met while working at our local yarn shop, but we didn’t start Tin Can Knits until after I moved home to Vancouver Island. Soon after that I moved to Edinburgh, putting an ocean between us! We have always worked over the phone, Skype or via email, so by now this seems normal. The only real killer is the time difference; there are often early morning/late night meetings.

As well as being business partners, we are great friends, so we miss each other, but we chat once or twice a week, and it’s not all business! Seriously, though, working in partnership, especially as designers, entrepreneurs, and as women with families, is amazingly beneficial. We support and encourage each other, believe in each other, pull each other up when we are down, and our design work is much better for the collaboration. Every businesswoman and designer has moments of doubt, and it is amazing to have a supportive partner to buoy up your spirits during those moments, and a partner to consult when making big decisions. After working with Alexa for three years, I genuinely wouldn’t want to be doing it on my own!


“Antler” – a cable yoke cardigan inspired by the elk of the Canadian Rockies

We wouldn’t be in business if it weren’t for knitters!
We love knitting and design and we have been able to make it a career because of the wonderful knitting community that embraces our work.”


“Gramps” – an old-man style sweater for a tiny person

The instructions with your patterns are wonderful. Some of your additional pattern support goes right into details like how to weave in loose ends – the kind of thing experienced knitters take for granted, but can stump a beginner. Do you usually keep beginners in mind when designing all your patterns, and why is that?

Before The Simple Collection, our patterns had been largely created for those who already know how to knit. They have really been written assuming a knowledge of knit and purl and often include instructions like ‘knit in pattern as established.’

With the Simple Collection we wanted to create a set of patterns and tutorials that took nothing for granted: to really educate beginners so they would be ready to tackle our slightly more complex patterns like the Antler cardigan, the Raindrops pullover or Gramps. At its core, knitting is a very simple craft, but there are a wide variety of skills and techniques you collect as you gain experience. The Simple Collection is a set of very clear patterns and tutorials which guide knitters as they gain the basic skills so they can progress to more complex patterns.

Most of your patterns can be made for any size from newborn to large adult. It must be difficult to design a pattern in such a wide range of sizes!


“Campfire” can be made large or tiny

I saw a hat pattern the other day and it had one size and I thought ‘that must be nice.’ It seems that since we decided to size all of our garments and accessories in a wide range that it’s the natural way to do it. Why wouldn’t a little munchkin look just as good in a sweater as her mama does? While it is a bit more work we believe it’s well worth our time and effort, and it makes our designs more valuable to our customers. Nothing is cuter than a little baby and a big man in matching sweaters!

Where does the design process for a garment or accessory begin? Where does your inspiration come from?

Inspiration can come from anywhere! It’s a terrible cliché, but Alexa and I often joke that we have our best ideas in the shower. Sometimes we get emails from each other that start with ‘I just got out of the shower and….’ you know it’s going to be a crazy design or a big idea like ‘let’s size everything from newborn to 4XL!’ Alexa has her babies to inspire cute garments for little ones, and I often am inspired to design because I am seeking the perfect addition to my wardrobe. We are also inspired by the beauty of our surroundings. Pacific Knits was about our love of the ocean, forest and urban hipster vibe of Canada’s west coast, and Handmade in the UK is an aesthetic response to the beauty and awe I find in the historic urbanity and pastoral landscapes of the little island nation I now call home.


“Low Tide,” a sand and sea-inspired design from the Pacific Knits collection

You describe The Simple Collection as “a way to give back to the knitting community that has been generous and supportive,” could you elaborate on that?

We wouldn’t be in business if it weren’t for knitters! We love knitting and design and we have been able to make it a career because of the wonderful knitting community that embraces our work. From the shops that carry our books to the many knit-alongs and forums on Ravelry, we are thankful that knitters enjoy our designs and support us by buying our books and sharing our work with others. Because the knitting community has supported our work so generously, we want to give back! We are offering the Simple Collection for free so that knitters (new and less-new alike) and knitting teachers can use it as a resource.


“Estuary” from the book Handmade in the UK

When you get some free time away from designing, knitting and producing your books and patterns, what other things do you enjoy doing?

Alexa knits a lot in her (small amount of) free time, while with running after 2 1/2 year old daughter Hunter and 9 month old son Jones, and watching her hubby coach ultimate Frisbee.

My husband and I go cycling around Edinburgh on Saturday mornings, and we enjoy movie nights and going on picnics or hanging out in the pub on rainy evenings.

What’s coming up next for Tin Can Knits?

We have several (super-secret) plans for upcoming books and projects, but right now we are focusing on the Simple Collection, and on providing great support for our existing catalog of books and patterns. We will be exhibiting at KnitCity in Vancouver (October 26-27, 2013), and I hope to be back in Canada to visit at that time! I am also in the early planning stages for a teaching and book signing tour up the west coast of the US in October 2013, which is very exciting!

Thanks, Emily and Alexa, for this interview and for producing such wonderful designs!


HUK-Cover-220highAre you a knitter already, or is this the year you’ll learn to knit? Which design is your favourite? Leave a comment below to enter the draw to win your own Handmade in the UK e-book!

The giveaway will close at midnight, July 10. One winner, by random draw, will receive an e-book from Tin Can Knits.  Good luck!


All images courtesy of Tin Can Knits, used with permission.

Update:  the giveaway winner is Noreen Slank. Congratulations!


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85 Responses to “How Tin Can Knits can help you learn to knit… free!”

  1. July 6, 2013 at 2:45 am #

    The Low Tide – is such a pretty pattern, I would love to knit that leaveless gardigan!
    I found your lovely blog from SITS Saturday Sharefest – and am subscribing your newsletter for not to miss any of the lovely inspiration!
    Nina @Thoughts and Images Along the Way
    Nina recently posted..Mindful MorningsMy Profile

  2. Jennifer Essad
    July 6, 2013 at 7:58 am #

    Hi – I am drawn to the baby blanket, Malt – probably because first) I am a beg/inter knitter 2) due to needing a baby gift for a shower. I am so happy I fell upon your site – best of luck to you to in the future and fingers crossed for the contest!

  3. Sue Knutsen
    July 6, 2013 at 8:16 am #

    I love the garments (particularly ‘Low Tide’!) and the little model is adorable!!!

  4. Anne Marie
    July 6, 2013 at 3:02 pm #

    I’ve been knitting since I was 4 years old. I’d love to make myself Low Tide.

  5. Marla
    July 6, 2013 at 3:04 pm #

    I like the Tin Can Knits Pop Blanket Pattern but what I love most are the many variations of technique that are suggested with the pattern. Not every knitter knits the same way and different methods are useful to find what works best.

  6. DeborahDW
    July 6, 2013 at 3:26 pm #

    I am hoping to cast on for Bonny as soon as I finish the 4 shawls and 2 sweaters I currently have on needles

  7. Heather J
    July 6, 2013 at 3:45 pm #

    I love Gramps but my fav has to be Low Tide! I love the look of the garments gorgeous

    lotsofhermies on Rav

  8. Thuan
    July 6, 2013 at 3:54 pm #

    Antler cardigan-unisex baby to adult for the whole family. Easy classic cables. Amazing.

  9. Murphy
    July 6, 2013 at 3:59 pm #

    I’m a knitter, and I love so much from Tin Can Knits. I love the look of Lowtide, although Antler looks great for winter.

  10. Connie K.
    July 6, 2013 at 4:09 pm #

    Low Tide is my favorite – but I’ve never met a Tin Can Knits pattern I didn’t like. Thanks for the chance to win.

  11. July 6, 2013 at 5:16 pm #

    Ooh! So excited to read the interview. I adore the design aesthetic. I think that Winding Way socks in particular are calling my name. Raindrops is also calling to me. I recently helped a friend finish up two Gramps cardis (for twins) when her wrists started flaring up. I have referred new knitters to the Simple Collection for info and inspiration. Thank you for the interview, Kate.

  12. Linda
    July 6, 2013 at 5:37 pm #

    My favorite pattern is “Windswept.” Thanks for the chance to win the eBook.

  13. Michelle Mitchell
    July 6, 2013 at 5:45 pm #

    I am an intermediate knitter and LOVE tin can knits designs. I just taught my mom to knit and the patterns in the simple collection will be a helpful and fresh inspiration in the process of helping her learn… since I want to knit them too (definately NOT just for beginners)!! Thanks for the contest! -ariesandewe on Ravelry

  14. Barb
    July 6, 2013 at 6:06 pm #

    All of their designs are wonderful but Estuary is my favourite – I wear it a LOT!

  15. sara
    July 6, 2013 at 6:50 pm #

    My favorite patterns are Botany and Vivid…although they are all beautiful patterns

  16. Hippo
    July 6, 2013 at 7:02 pm #

    Windswept is gorgeous and going into my favorites. I adore raindrops as well.

  17. Debbie
    July 6, 2013 at 7:28 pm #

    What a great giveaway. Winding way socks would be great to try. I am currently knitting the vivid squares and I am loving it.

  18. Rebecca S,
    July 6, 2013 at 7:50 pm #

    I already know how to knit, but I need to do more before I’m taken over by the yarns!

    I love Estuary.

  19. Katie
    July 6, 2013 at 7:50 pm #

    I love the Bonny tank. Tin Can Knits is awesome. Thanks for the interview!

  20. July 6, 2013 at 8:02 pm #

    Love low tide and the antler cardigan.
    Rosebud is in my queue, too. I think I have the perfect yarn for it now.
    Thank you for the interview! Fun read.

  21. Alice
    July 6, 2013 at 8:09 pm #

    Hard to choose, but if I had to I’d pick Raindrops

  22. Shannon Baas
    July 6, 2013 at 8:22 pm #

    I would love to learn to knit.

  23. Purlescence
    July 6, 2013 at 8:59 pm #

    I really like Low Tide. It’s very light and sweet.

  24. Priya Shashank
    July 6, 2013 at 9:02 pm #

    I am a knitter from India, have been knitting for the last 20+ years. I love all the patterns in this ebook, but I especially like vivid, would love to knit that blanket sometime.

  25. kelly
    July 6, 2013 at 10:13 pm #

    Low Tide is soooo pretty!!!

  26. Jennifer
    July 6, 2013 at 11:26 pm #

    These two,people sound so interesting. Wish I could meet. Them.

  27. July 7, 2013 at 3:11 am #

    I think Vivid looks lovely and Gramps is cute.

  28. Tanya S.
    July 7, 2013 at 4:38 am #

    So many awesome patterns by these ladies, but my top favorite from this book would have to be Vivid. Or Lush. Or Windswept. Or…

  29. July 7, 2013 at 5:47 am #

    Great post! I love Lush
    Karen recently posted..Ingen ændring alligevel!My Profile

  30. Stacey B.
    July 7, 2013 at 6:49 am #

    I am a knitter. It is hard to pick a favorite. I’d like to knit Windswept!

  31. Zabbers
    July 7, 2013 at 7:10 am #

    I love the idea of the Simple Collection, but my favorite pattern from Handmade in the UK is either Thistle or Winding Way!

  32. July 7, 2013 at 7:30 am #

    My fav is the Estuary Shawl–really evocative of waves in shallow water. Noreen 1009 on Ravelry.

  33. Megan
    July 7, 2013 at 7:45 am #

    I love the Gramps cardigan! So adorable! I started knitting near the end of last year and I am totally hooked.

  34. Alice S
    July 7, 2013 at 7:50 am #

    Looking in the book, the vivid pattern would be perfect for a keepsake afghan. My cousin is loaning my daughter her wedding dress with the request to make keepsakes for the two of them after the wedding. :)

  35. Rose Scott
    July 7, 2013 at 8:47 am #

    I love Estuary — it reminds me of time spent in my husband’s country, Scotland.

  36. Justine
    July 7, 2013 at 9:39 am #

    I love TCK! I’ve made a couple of their patterns already and have one in progress. I would like the make the Lush cardigan for my daughter.

  37. Chainoffools
    July 7, 2013 at 10:08 am #

    I love them all but windswept is really beautiful.

  38. knittingdancer on Ravelry
    July 7, 2013 at 11:29 am #

    I like the Estuary Shawl pattern.

  39. Elizabeth
    July 7, 2013 at 11:41 am #

    I’ve been knitting for a few years and I love Tin Can Knits. I’m nearly finished with a LowTide Cardigan which I can’t wait to wear and I think it’s my favorite, but I’ve a lot more Tin Can Knits in my queue. More please!

  40. littleredyarn
    July 7, 2013 at 11:57 am #

    I love “Raindrops”. I think that’s a great transitional sweater.

  41. Woolyshroom
    July 7, 2013 at 1:44 pm #

    Low Tide is definitely my favourite. I love your designs, Tin Can Knits, they’re lovely.

  42. Lynette O
    July 7, 2013 at 3:39 pm #

    I’ve been knitting for several years & Tin Can Knits is one of my favorites. My favorite pattern is Thistle.

  43. Jennifer
    July 7, 2013 at 4:57 pm #

    I’m a fan of almost all the patterns that tincanknits produces! I’d love to win this prize.
    jwallace on rav

  44. Jennifer Houle
    July 7, 2013 at 6:12 pm #

    I am absolutely torn as to which is my favorite. I totally would knit Lowtide for myself, as well as for several friends, but campfire would be beautiful for my my boyfriend, as well as for a good friend of mine and his son…who are totally coming to visit me at the campground I live at (which is where we met as kids)…the day of the drawing, 14 years since the last time we saw each other.

  45. Kately
    July 7, 2013 at 7:26 pm #

    So love the look of estuary. It is on my want to make list; have been enjoying looking at all the new designs and they are so pretty

  46. Jan da Silva
    July 7, 2013 at 8:45 pm #

    I’d love to cast on a “Lush” sweater. I think it’s gorgeous.

  47. lindaran (on Rav)
    July 7, 2013 at 9:46 pm #

    These are such lovely designs – Estuary is a particular favorite!

  48. susan
    July 8, 2013 at 12:45 am #

    I love all of their patterns and my favorite changes. Now that it’s summer, Low Tide is hte one, but when cooler weather happens, it’ll be Snowflake. Or Antler. Or Thistle. Or whatever pattern they next put out. Thanks for this giveaway and a very interesting interview and I really hope I win!

  49. Jodi
    July 8, 2013 at 1:55 am #

    My current favourite is the Antler Cardigan.

  50. alisonj
    July 8, 2013 at 5:35 am #

    Love everything about TinCan! I’m particularly drawn to Windswept right now, and Antler is in my queue waiting for the right yarn! The range of sizes for which the patterns are written makes them so versatile!

  51. Christiane
    July 8, 2013 at 6:08 am #

    Beautiful patterns, the Lush cardigan is my favourite but I love all the others too.

  52. Merry
    July 8, 2013 at 6:19 am #

    I LOVE Low Tide. Off to Ravelry to look up the pattern…..
    wahoomerryf on Rav

  53. July 8, 2013 at 6:33 am #

    Tincanknits are great designers, I´m a 52 yr knitter and learn a lot with their designs.
    One of my favorites is Low tide

  54. Nidhi
    July 8, 2013 at 6:57 am #

    Lush is very pretty!

  55. July 8, 2013 at 8:28 am #

    Honestly, I love everything about your website, so hard to choose just one! Thank you for your collaboration of bringing knitting to the forefront of everyone’s mind. It is not a lost art and infact I see more and more women (and men) getting involved each day. Thanks for your inspiration

  56. Mary
    July 8, 2013 at 8:59 am #

    I love “Gramps”, and the model is cute too! I think Estuary would also be a great knit.

  57. Rachel
    July 8, 2013 at 12:02 pm #

    I really really wanted this ebook from the time it came out. Even from when the first patterns were prereleased actually. I love botany shawl, and estuary, and so all the others.

  58. Maria
    July 8, 2013 at 12:33 pm #

    I love love love Estuary the shawl, and the gorgeous Lush cardigan.
    I have been a knitter for two years now, and am still yet to knit my first cardigan!
    Could Lush be the first? :)
    Maria aka Purlygalore

  59. Chris M
    July 8, 2013 at 1:04 pm #

    My friend florapie just turned me onto your blog. I love Tin Can Knits patterns. I did their Branching out shawl and it was great.

  60. Chia
    July 8, 2013 at 1:57 pm #

    I like Campfire because of its versatility with sizing.

    monkalicious on Ravelry.

  61. July 8, 2013 at 2:04 pm #

    Tincanknits are great designers. I really like SnowFlake, it is so elegant and modern.
    Suzanne Tremblay recently posted..DéliquescenceMy Profile

  62. July 8, 2013 at 7:58 pm #

    I’m a knitter and in some ways am still a beginner, but I have no fear of new techniques. I love Estuary

  63. karen
    July 8, 2013 at 10:13 pm #

    love estuary and low tide looks great too!

  64. July 9, 2013 at 4:21 am #

    So many designs to choose from but I do like Lush which is one I have queued on Ravelry :D

  65. Michelle Mitchell
    July 9, 2013 at 4:21 am #

    I love tin can knits! This is a great giveaway!! Thank you! It’s a really tough decision, but I think I would start with windswept and work through them from there! :D

  66. Pat
    July 9, 2013 at 8:16 am #

    Yes, I knit. And crochet too. My fav from the book is Low tide, I see it with a round yoke, black and sexy. I love sexy knits.

  67. Andrea
    July 9, 2013 at 9:14 am #

    All lovely. My favorite is probably windswept.

  68. Mihaela D.
    July 9, 2013 at 10:19 am #

    I love the Bonny tank

  69. angie s.
    July 9, 2013 at 11:22 am #

    I have had myeye on low tide, or bonny in the new book.

  70. Lyndy
    July 9, 2013 at 12:01 pm #

    I think the Antler Cardigan looks so warm and cozy!

    I really like A lot of Tin Can Knits patterns.

  71. Dctangles
    July 9, 2013 at 4:21 pm #

    Love these designs.

  72. kelly
    July 9, 2013 at 7:50 pm #

    How about favorite from each category; Sitka Spruce (hat), Vivid (blanket), Pop Blanket (wait, that’s two blankets), Low Tide… too many faves to choose!

    kmhs on Rav

  73. Joy
    July 9, 2013 at 11:39 pm #

    I’d love to win a copy of this book I wouldn’t need to spend any more time on Ravelry cause I’d have far too much knitting to enjoy! Can’t decide on a single pattern but I do keep coming back to antler.
    Joyo on ravelry

  74. July 10, 2013 at 4:34 am #

    Thistle will be one of my next projects. I made a lush cardigan and LOVE it!

  75. Fran
    July 10, 2013 at 5:42 am #

    Absolutely love this book. I have purchased two Tin Can knit patterns already, gorgeous! Would love to win this also.

  76. Claudia R
    July 10, 2013 at 6:19 am #

    I NEED to relearn ALL my old needle points

  77. ikkinlala
    July 10, 2013 at 7:14 am #

    I’m a knitter already, and I love ‘Gramps.’

  78. Kari B
    July 10, 2013 at 10:01 am #

    I love Low Tide and Snowflake – those are next on my list.

  79. Colleen W
    July 10, 2013 at 3:07 pm #

    I am a basic knitter. Like blankets and such. Would love to start branching out though to other items.

  80. Genevieve
    July 10, 2013 at 4:07 pm #

    I love lush, loch & vivid!

  81. Veronica Garrett
    July 10, 2013 at 4:37 pm #

    Low Tide is my favorite.

  82. Kiel
    July 10, 2013 at 5:19 pm #

    I love all the patterns I have seen from Tin Can Knits so far! I just started knitting this year, and I would be so thrilled to win a copy of this ebook! :)
    MamaLemon on Ravelry

  83. Lily Kwan
    July 10, 2013 at 11:55 pm #

    This is the year I’ll learn to knit.

  84. Rolene
    July 12, 2013 at 7:20 pm #

    The Vivid blanket fascinates me. I want to knit this now!


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