Back in August we enjoyed knitting along with the beautiful Tin Can Knits baby blanket, Little Tern (part of A Year of Techniques), and I'm delighted to share a short interview with Emily Wessel - half of the design team behind the fabulous Tin Can Knits brand, in partnership with Alexa Ludeman.
JAC: How did you come to have this incredible design collaboration? Where did you meet?
EW: Alexa and I met in Vancouver when we were working at Urban Yarns, a knit shop. I essentially thought, "WOW Alexa is super cool, I wonder if she’d be my friend?!" (you know people like that?). Anyways, she was willing. We kinda jumped into business together without knowing each other very well, and have been extremely lucky that the partnership has been a good one.
JAC: You are now based in Edinburgh, while Alexa is in Port Moody, Canada. Does the distance between you help or hinder your partnership?
EW: I think that the distance may have hindered our partnership in the beginning, before we were 100% comfortable working together, and accustomed to our roles and work flow with Tin Can Knits. There were times when I would drop off the map if I had a tough week, and I think this probably caused frustration. But over time we have learned to really trust each other and communicate the vital things in a timely fashion.
JAC: If you weren’t a knitwear designer, what else would you like to be?
EW: I was trained and worked in Architecture before going a little into left field and starting Tin Can Knits, and that field still interests me. I’d like to try my hand at illustration and textile / pattern design. I’d also like to be a travel photographer who lived on the road, a writer, or an ocean-going sailor. Haha... those ideas may have to wait until the kids are a bit bigger.
JAC: Now that our intrepid knitters have mastered a provisional cast on, which of your other patterns would you recommend they try?
EW: The Apple Pie Hat is a lovely hat with a doubled brim, which uses the provisional cast on. The Lush Cardigan also begins with a provisional cast on at centre back. And the Harvest Cardigan has a similar detail to begin the garter collar and edges; that’s a free one you can try.
JAC: What’s the last thing you learned to do in knitting / crochet? Was it easy for you?
EW: I’m currently learning to use a knitting machine! And I’m also learning to spin. The knitting machine is especially exciting to me; I am hoping it will allow me to create some wardrobe pieces for myself; knitting for myself is one of the things that fall to the bottom of the list with design as my job! Spinning is something that I’m venturing into as I want to develop a deeper knowledge of fibres and yarn.
JAC: Are there any other new knitting techniques that you’d like to learn?
EW: I’d like to REALLY learn brioche. I learned the very most basics when I made this Stephen West hat for Max last year (it’s still his favourite!) but I’m not comfortable with the procedure yet. I have Stephen's Briochechevron Blanket on my list of items I’d love to make, but it’s such a gigantic and epic project I’m not sure if I’ll have the bravery to CO any time soon! But it WOULD be an excellent stashbuster…
JAC: Are there any techniques you won’t touch with a bargepole?
EW: I don’t think so… I’m more about practical project length. I’m not great at projects in skinny yarn that take forever, and I’m also not a big fan of knitting miles of stockinette. I’d love to wear a Featherweight cardigan, but I’m never going to want to knit it. That’s why I’m intrigued by how I can combine machine and hand knitting to make lightweight pieces for myself that don’t require amounts of time that I consider unreasonable.
Thank you so much for taking time out of your busy schedule to catch up with us Emily! I can't wait to see what you and Alexa release next. :) Tin Can Knits have a brilliant website full of helpful tutorials, and inspiring projects and KALs. If you haven't already seen it, I highly recommend looking at their Strange Brew pattern - a recipe for your own colourwork yoke sweater.