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Some BIG News!

This past summer my son was in camp and suddenly I had 5 mornings a week with 3 hours each day TO MYSELF for 8 WEEKS. Don’t get me wrong – being a mom is the best job in the world and my son is amazing, but as someone creative, sometimes I miss being able to make a huge mess on the table and not worry about the bits of metal, glass, etc being grabbed by tiny hands, or spreading my paints out all over the floor or getting involved in a project that I know I will work on 24/7 for a few weeks and my patient husband doesn’t mind just stepping around it.

my birthday quilt

my birthday quilt

To suddenly have 15 hours a week to do with what I pleased, I knew exactly what I wanted to do with those hours. I dusted off my sewing machine, found a few quilt patterns, researched fabrics and hatched a plan. What resulted at the end of the summer was 3 quilts done (one for me for my birthday, one for my son, one for a friend going through a very difficult time) with another cut and ready to be pieced for my husband. I LOVE quilting. The puzzler part of my brain adores the meticulous process of cutting and piecing, matching colors and fitting all those bits of fabric together to form a functional, beautiful object to keep you warm. It’s reminiscent of knitting, but the fabric is already made, rather than having to knit the fabric in the first place.

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After camp ended, my sewing craving wasn’t satiated – oh no. Instead it was ramped up x1000 and all I wanted to do was sit in front of my machine and sew late into the night. I’ve never been a big sleeper – I just don’t need a lot and have had a sleep disorder for years and years. I use this to my advantage knitting late into the night while watching TV on my computer, but instead of reaching for my needles, I found myself gravitating towards my sewing machine. After coming to the conclusion that we don’t need 57 quilts in our tiny house, and seeing my favorite project bag I bought years ago on Etsy suddenly fall apart, I decided to make myself a new bag.

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Most knitters have an obsessive personally – I’ve noticed this over years of teaching – and I am no exception. I was so pleased with my project bag that I couldn’t stop at just one. I started making them by the dozens. Everywhere I went with my bag people asked where they could get one and if they could buy the one I had from me. Why are my knitting and crochet project bags better than the rest? Made with 100% designer cotton fabrics, my bags are fully lined with coordinating fabric, are machine-washable, roomy enough for a big project, and one-of-a-kind.  Unlike other bags, I use fabric drawstrings instead of cheap nylon cording. There are no plastic toggles or zippers for your yarn to get stuck or snagged in – my biggest pet peeve regarding all the project bags I’ve bought from other people over the years.

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With the encouragement of a good friend, my husband cheering me on and long, sleepless nights to sew my way through, I hatched a plan to open an Etsy shop by October 1, starting with 110 bags. The result? TanisKnits project bags!

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I hope you’ll head on over to my new shop and find something to your liking. Keep your knitting happy and safe in a TanisKnits project bag!

Visit my new Etsy shop here.

Five (+ a Giveaway!)

UPDATE 9/26/14: Congratulations to winner, Julie Spiegleman!

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Our mailman is a great guy. When you run a business and work from home and get a zillion boxes like I do (Yarn! Fabric! Finished projects! Stuff for the next book!) he and I have become fast friends. I’ve been getting boxes from everywhere lately – Russia, France, Australia, Canada… Projects for my 7th book are beginning to trickle in and it’s EXCITING. What’s more exciting than that? Yesterday I got a box with my brand new book inside (along with a giant bag of candy, because my Editor knows me well).

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3 Skeins or Less: Fresh Knitted Accessories is my 5th published book. I wrote about it a couple of weeks ago when it became available for preorder, but actually holding the book in my hands, smelling the fresh ink, flipping through actual bound pages… It’s an experience that never gets old and makes my heart beat a little faster.

Can I just say how awesome this book is? It’s the kind of book I’d want to acquire immediately, even if I hadn’t been involved one bit. I have SO. MUCH. YARN, and a lot of that yarn is small quantities picked up from travels, exotic yarn shops near and far, colorways I simply shouldn’t live without and fibers that made me want to hug the skein all day long. Everything in this book is 1, 2 or 3 skeins of yarn – that’s it! There are full garments in here! Shawls! Hats! Mittens! Wristers! Socks!

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A friend was looking through the book yesterday after it arrived and was putting a sticky note on each project she wanted to make. This turned out to be a moot point as she realized she’d put a sticky note on every single project! That’s what I wanted out of this book – a book jam-packed with knitting to keep you busy all year-long. I want you, dear readers, to flip through and be saying “I want to knit that, and that, and that, and that…” THAT is what makes a great knitting book. As I look at my knitting library, my favorite books are ripped, dog-eared, stained, the binding is cracked and the edges worn. A good book is one you keep going back to again and again.

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I hope you’ll pick up my latest endeavor with an amazing collection of designers – Marjan Hammink, Ann Weaver, Susanna IC, Joan Forgione, Mindy Wilkes, Susan Anderson, Kirsten Kapur, Glenna C, Asa Tricosa, Sauniell Connally, Erica Schleuter, Heather Zoppetti, Carina Spencer, Carol Sulcoski, Judy Marples, Melissa LaBarre, Thea Coleman, myself, Carrie Sullivan, Cirilia Rose, Melissa Goodale, Margaux Hufnagel, Romi Hill, Faina Goberstein, Kelly Herdick and add it to your knitting library. I hope it becomes worn, the binding cracks and you love it as much as I do.

Let’s do a giveaway, shall we? Check out the finished projects in the book here. Which is your favorite and why? A winner will be chosen at random on Friday, September 26th (USA residents only, please).

Graphic Knits!

Fall is one of my favorite seasons. We finally get to bid adieu to summer and the aisles that were recently filled with swimming pool accoutrements, patio furniture and accessories for the perfect BBQ become laden with school supplies, lunch boxes and long-sleeved shirts. Fall also means a new slew of books and magazines from my favorite yarn and knitting companies! I love seeing the roster of fall books from Interweave and I was excited to get a copy of Graphic Knits (Interweave) by Alexis Winslow. Alexis was kind enough to sit down with me for an interview…
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Tanis (TG): Can you tell us a little bit about your inspiration for this book?
Alexis (AW): The garments in the book really reflect my own sense of style. Beyond that though, I made an effort to include patterns that would also be fun to knit. My idea of a fun knit is something with interesting twists and turns, or something that includes stripes of patterning, or maybe just the quick gratification of a big chunky knit. I also really enjoy seeing a garment develop before my eyes. I think this is why I gravitate toward seamless and top-down construction. It’s just so great to finish the knitting on a thing and realize that all you have to do is weave in the ends. Having to tackle a big sewing project after I just finished a big knitting project is not my idea of fun!
Barbet Turtleneck

Barbet Turtleneck

TG: Your book has some really bold, graphic stitch patterns and designs in it. What advice can you offer people who may have trouble choosing or knitting with colors?
AW: I get this question a lot! I say look at your wardrobe. What do you like wearing the most? You aren’t suddenly going to love wearing pink if you’ve never bought anything that’s pink. When picking color combos, let the yarn be your guide. Pick one color that is your absolute favorite–a color your very drawn to, and then the other colors should support (not compete with) the main color in some way. I love pairing a bright bold color with a neutral or a pastel version of the complimentary color. I have a background in painting, so I can get a little technical about this stuff, but it’s really just a personal preference.
Orly Cardi

Orly Cardi

TG:  I really love the Orly cardi. Which is your favorite garment in this book?

AW: It’s impossible to pick! Everyday I have a different favorite. Trilogy Cardigan is always at the top of my list though. I just started typing a list of some of my other favorites, and it was like half the book! I think I always go back to Trilogy because it has everything I love about hand knitwear design. The unusual construction of this garment is something that you would never see in a store-bought garment–it’s even unique to hand-knits, actually. Knitting this pattern is like sitting down with a good novel because the direction of knitting changes in every new section. It’s a lot of fun to see how it all comes together in the end. I’m so glad to hear that you like Orly. It’s also one of my favorites. Of course I love seamless construction, but Orly, much like Trilogy, is a great example of how a strategically placed seam can become a striking design element.

Trilogy Cardigan

Trilogy Cardigan

TG:  Tell us a little about the process of making your book?
AW: Well, making this book certainly wasn’t easy! I have a full-time job as a textile designer and also do all the graphic design work for CharitySub.org, so I had to fit the book into a very small amount of free time. I find designing to be a great release though, so I always looked forward to my time working on the book. I made most of the samples myself because it’s important for me to experience the written pattern as a knitter would–especially for some of the more unusual pieces. I figured out most of my design concepts for my proposal before I got the book deal, so it was really just a matter of picking my favorites and trudging through. I got a little bored in the middle though, and added a few new designs– Danae Mittens, Germander Shrug, and Trilogy Cardigan.
Germander Shrug

Germander Shrug

TG:  What is your favorite color combination?
AW: I love color, so this is a difficult question for me! I think I’m drawn to a different color combo everyday. Right now, I’m really digging navy and peach, but last week it was cinnamon and cream.
TG:  There are both accessories and garments in your book. Do you prefer knitting and wearing one over the other?
AW: I like variety in my knitting so I alternate big garment projects and little accessory projects. I wear everything that knit! Even in the summer, I’m usually wearing something hand-knit.
Woodstar Mitts

Woodstar Mitts

TG:  Fair Isle or intarsia?
AW: Fair Isle! I’m a printed textile designer and just I love all-over patterning. Fair Isle just speaks to my heart, I guess.
TG:  What advice can you give people who want to start designing with color who haven’t done so before?
AW: Color is a powerful thing in design. I think it’s key to push the limit just a little so that your designs are eye-catching, but don’t take it too far because garish color combos can repel people too. The most important thing to remember is that color should be used to accentuate your fabulous design work.
Bowerbird Wrap

Bowerbird Wrap

Thanks, Alexis! Check out Graphic Knits, available for preorder (and on sale) here.

Polarized

We’ve always been into buying local in our home. There’s a wonderful farmer’s market up the street, my LYS carries a lot of local fibers and my first knitting book was about yarns that are American from sheep to skein – 100% local to our country.

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The Fiberists is a local Virginian yarn company run by Spencer and Reggie. They approach the creation of their hand dyed yarn with a research based process and their inspiration comes from the work of influential naturalists and scientists and their discoveries of colors, forms and structures. Each color has both a scientific name and a more color-specific name. I love their yarn, their science theme, their colors and the guys themselves are great.

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I’ve done a few designs for them in the past (Ulee’s Hat, Kinderhook, Booker and Rimrock) and I’m pleased to introduce my latest, the Polarized Hat.

Using 1 hank each of diamond and graphite in their Curie Heavy Worsted, the yardage is generous enough to be able to get 2 hats out of it if you reverse the MC and CC. This hat combines a lot of my favorite knitting elements for a hat – highly contrasting Fair Isle color work, Latvian braids, corrugated ribbing, a tassel and a classic slouchy silhouette. This unisex design looks great on anyone and everyone!

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It’s hard to believe that winter is right around the corner (I’ve started my holiday gift knitting, have you?)… This hat is a quick knit that will keep the wearer warm and happy until spring and beyond.

Download the Polarized Hat pattern here.

3 Skeins or Less – Fresh Knitted Accessories

Having a new book come out is like finally let out a huge secret to the world. It’s no secret I’ve been working on it, but only a handful of people at Interweave have seen the completed book, been there with me each step of the way offering advice and doing their part to make this the best book it can be. Now my little book is all grown up, in print and ready to be released into the wilds of the knitting world…

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World, meet 3 Skeins or Less – Fresh Knitted Accessories. Book, meet the knitting world!

Faina Goberstein's Twigs Bolero

Faina Goberstein’s Twigs Bolero

What I like most about this book is the concept – everything in it is made of 1, 2 or 3 skeins or yarn. Simple, yes, but fantastic because it applies to ALL knitters. We all have 1, 2 or even 3 skeins of yarn lying around that we’re not quite sure what to do with. We’re perfectly okay with buying that 1 fabulous skein of super-duper luxury yarn, yet we have no idea what to do with it.

Marjan Hammink's A Case for Lace Socks

Marjan Hammink’s A Case for Lace Socks

This books runs the gamut of cleverness and creativity and all the talented designers stepped up to the plate with a fantastic design with limited yardage. We’ve got shrugs, socks, shawls, hats, mittens, fingerless wristers, scarves, cowls and even a cropped top! This books means you can go running to your yarn stash, pull out those lonely skeins and finally give them a home!

Kirsten Kapur's Delancey Cowl

Kirsten Kapur’s Delancey Cowl

Packed with 25 projects with designers including Romi Hill (check out her Tanis Shawl!), Cirilia Rose, Carrie Sullivan, Thea Colman, Heather Zoppetti, Susan Anderson, Kirsten Kapur, Susanna IC, Ann Weaver and Marjan Hammink (to name a few), I want to knit everything in this book. I am proud to have these designers be part of this book and how they brought their ingenuity and talent to the table. They all rose to the challenge of designing with only 1, 2 or 3 hanks and the result is a wonderful collection you’ll be knitting for years to come. You can see all 25 of the project on Ravelry here and the book is available for preorder (and on sale!) at Interweave here.

Thea Colman's Mixed Berries Hat

Thea Colman’s Mixed Berries Hat

I and honored to see my Momentum Mittens on the cover! Knit in 1 hank of String Theory Colorworks Momentum Self Striping, this sock yarn wouldn’t immediately strike someone as the perfect mitten yarn, but it absolutely is! I’ve always loved red and pink together, throw in some self-striping yarn, some cables and voila… A unique pair of mittens that won’t break the bank.

Susanna IC's Carmilla Shawl

Susanna IC’s Carmilla Shawl

I hope you enjoy my latest book with Interweave, 3 Skeins or Less – Fresh Knitted Accessories. It was one of the most fun books I’ve worked on and I am pleased as punch with the result!

Judy Marples' Leeside Shawl

Judy Marples’ Leeside Shawl

Go round up those single skeins and get knitting!

 

Everyday Lace Scavenger Hunt and Interview!

I love a good lace book, but I especially love when it’s unexpected lace. Yes, lace shawls are fantastic and so much fun to knit, but I like seeing lace in hats, shrugs, sweaters and socks (to name a few) – something other than a shawl.

My friend Heather Zoppetti just released her wonderful new lace book, Everyday Lace (Interweave, 144 pgs). Heather and I met in person while filming Knitting Daily TV and bonded over internet quizzes, Lancaster chatter and you guessed it – lace knitting. She was kind enough to sit down and answer a few questions for us…

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Tanis Gray (TG): Were you drawn to lace knitting immediately or like many knitters, did you shy away from it at first?

Heather Zoppetti (HZ): I was immediately drawn to lace. In my learn-to-knit pattern booklet, I wanted to jump ahead and make all the lacy things instead of the traditional “beginner” patterns.

 

TG: what’s your favorite type of lace to knit?

HZ: The more complex, the more I like it. I love how changing the order or combination of yarnovers and decreases can manipulate the fabric in various ways.

Engleside

Engleside

TG: What inspired the book?

HZ: Honestly, the inspiration for Everyday Lace came from a tiredness of shawls. I mean, I love knitting shawls and I love designing shawls, but I’m tired of them. I want knitters to realize that lace can be more than an edging. It can be used on all types of garments and accessories.

 

TG: Do you have a favorite pattern in your book?

HZ: My favorite is Narvon. It’s fun to knit and it looks great on all body types.

Narvon

Narvon

TG: What message do you want to convey to knitters with your book?

HZ: Lace can be applied to everyday wear and doesn’t need to be confined to the edge of a shawl.

 

TG: Any advice for someone who is about to jump into lace for the first time?

HZ: Be fearless! Many knitters are afraid of lace. My hope is that this book will inspired enough people to give it a try. I offer various information and tips that will help even the novice knitter get started knitting lace.

Salunga

Salunga

TG: Is lace knitting your first love or do you like another technique even more?

HZ: I’m in love with learning, so I love learning about all different techniques. However, with designing, I always seem to return to lace. If I had to choose another technique, I’d say my second love is cables…watch for more on cables from me in the future ;-)

 

TG: You have your own yarn line and I just used a hank of it for my Smithsonian Luce Cowl design! Can you tell us about it?

HZ: Yellowstone by Stitch Sprouts is my newest creation. It’s a deliciously soft sport weight 80/20 wool/silk blend. It’s perfect for everything and comes in nine colors inspired by the beauty of the American wilderness. It’s available now, so ask your local yarn store to carry it!

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Ok, for those of you following along for Heather’s Everyday Lace scavenger hunt, here are the questions (the first one is from Heather, the second one applies to me. Read here about the Scavenger Hunt)…

1. What’s the title of Chapter 3 of Everyday Lace?

2. What is the title of the book coming out in October by Tanis that Heather has a lace design in?

Rory Cardigan

It’s been a week, dear readers.

Saturday afternoon was my Smithsonian talk, pattern unveiling and lace class. There’s something pretty spectacular about teaching in a space full of so much wisdom, talent, grace and beauty. I’ll never forget it and was thrilled to be there! The event was well-attended with both familiar and new faces (and a lot of knitting going on).

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I’ve been waiting to introduce the Rory Cardigan until after the Smithsonian event, but I’m pretty excited about this design! A top-down raglan knit in one piece with no seaming and very little finishing, this is sure to be a favorite.

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I LOVE Alchemy Yarns (Gina and Austin, the owners, founders and brains behind the operation at Alchemy are amazing hand dyers and good people) and this 100% superwash hand dyed merino combined with this sweet feminine cardi are the perfect combination to usher in fall.

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I’m always surprised at the lack of sizing for children’s garments, so I’m pleased to offer up this cardi in sizes 12 months to 8 years. With techniques like the picot bind off, reverse stockinette, cables, i-cord, twisted stitches and some simple color changes, this little beauty can be worn all through fall, then brought back out for spring. It looks equally lovely with the wearer in both short and long sleeves, dressed up or casual. Being superwash (a must for a mom knitter!), no need to fret about it getting dirty, just throw it in the wash on cold delicate and air dry.

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I had a birthday on Tuesday, August 26th – 34 years old. In honor of this birthday, the Rory Cardi will be 34% off today (Thursday) only.

Download the pattern here. Happy fall!

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