Big-box store yarns

The cowl is Tin Can Knits’ Oats, a unisex freebie from this most generous duo of designers, Alexa Ludeman  and Emily Wessel. It’s part of their Simple Collection. And the hat is Elena Nodel’s Cherry on Top. Elena lost her battle with cancer in June of 2017. She left behind her loving husband and a young daughter. She made her mark in the knitting universe.

Maybe neither Nodel nor the Tincans would think it’s cool that I knit their patterns in 100% acrylic, Deborah Norville Everyday Soft Worsted Solid, by Premier Yarns. But my niece, an avid (and successful) young hunter needed blaze orange. When you need that color there aren’t too many Indie dyers who want to touch it. So, not carrot. Not apricot meringue. Blaze Orange. In Michigan, you can buy it at Meijer’s. And lots of other big box stores.

My niece is now visible in the woods from far off. That’s the important point. Visible to other hunters, that is. Deer are missing the long cones of the eye that allow eyeballs to see blaze orange. Basically, deer are red-green color blind.  So, blaze orange is a good color to hide yourself from them.

Cherry on Top has really  wonderful crown decreases. It is stunning in what the pattern calls for–Malabrigo Rios.

Here’s a closer look at Oats. It’s an easy, quick knit. This cowl is especially perfect for new knitters looking to knit their first cowl. It’s also perfect for mature (ahem) knitters looking for an easy knit.

Big Box acrylics are also great for preemie knits. Our guild donated half-a-bazillion of these little guys to a local hospital this year. Here’s mine, knit from an unidentified easy-care acrylic.

My Black Sheep Knitting Guild distributed the preemie hat cap pattern. If you search around on Ravelry you’ll find all sorts of easy caps like this one. Look for “preemie caps” or “fruit caps.”

And then there are the various Caron Cakes. I wasn’t especially drawn to the Caron Cakes in worsted. I thought the color changes a bit clunky. And I don’t like the feel of the yarn. But I fell for the DK weight Cupcakes:

Two cupcakes made their way into my basket at Michael’s.

The rainbow-like cupcake is still waiting to decide what it wants to be when it grows up. But the pink/gray cupcake turned into this:

It’s Victoria Myers’ “The Only Hat Your Teen Wants.”  I don’t know if it it will be the only hat your teen wants, but one of my 30-something stylish nieces liked this hat and chose it in an early “round” of my holiday pick-your-gift.

I was surprised by this yarn. I’ve knit with acrylic quite a bit. Knitting with this felt like knitting with yarn infused with sections of Brillo Pad. I found it shockingly rough. It also worked up ridiculously stiff. This was not initially a slouch. Initially, the hat was fully able to stand upright and at attention on its own–even with the weight of the pompom. After completing the hat, I threw it in the washing machine and then in the dryer. It softened up quite nicely with rough treatment! (I did have to rake the pills off the hat though.)

The second surprise was that, looking at the cupcake unknit, I didn’t notice that there were speckles of the red throughout the skein. I actually think that was a nice touch.

The hat pattern is a winner. An obviously simple knit, but a nice slouchy hat. I especially like the way the cupcake worked up with the bands of color.

So, though I don’t often knit with big box store yarns, to all yarns there is a season. All these projects worked out well. I still need to plan a project for my second cupcake.

The many grains of tincanknits


These are the large size of tincanknits Rye pattern, part of their free Simple Collection. It’s a collection designed to teach knitters the “basic ingredients” of knitting various items, sized from baby to large adult. Each pattern is complete with tutorials to help knitters over any rough spots. And each of the eight patterns in the collection echoes the same design theme: stockinette with a band of garter stitch.

I knit my Rye with 260 yards of Plymouth Encore. They look pretty goofy off the foot, but tuck the tootsies in and they’re very comfy. I knit these in worsted weight, rather than the Aran weight the pattern calls for. They are still more cabin socks or, better yet, bedsocks. But this cold winter they’ve worked out really well.

The Simple Collection patterns are named after the world’s grains. The cowl in the collection is Oats. I knit mine in Gecko Yarns CashAran superwash, 80% merino, 10% nylon, 10% cashmere. This is the “desert wisp” colorway.


I decided to knit the small-sized cowl because I’ve grown to really appreciate the extra warmth that a fairly close-fitting cowl provides. The pattern includes directions to knit a cowl with more generous circumference.

And then there’s Barley. What an excellent hat!


Sized for adult, or for a newborn (and all sizes in between). Mine are knit in Lion Brand Martha Stewart Crafts Extra Soft Wool Blend, a worsted weight yarn with too many words in its name.

Image 23In addition to Rye, Oats, and Barley, the Simple Collection includes Wheat (a scarf), Malt (a baby blanket), Maize (fingerless mitts), Flax (a pullover sweater), and Harvest (a cardigan),

Tincanknits is a collaboration of British Columbians Alexa Ludeman and Emily Wessel. They’ve been energetically creating great patterns and pattern collections for several years now. Their generous release of this free collection is helping to cement their growing influence on the community of knitter worldwide.