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Bake Knit Sew

‘Tis the season, dear readers! I’m excited to share with you a new book called Bake Knit Sew, by Evin O’Keeffe, author of the 2014 Blog Awards Ireland award-winning craft blog. Check out her blog here.

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Bake Knit Sew showcases a year of creativity in baking, knitting, and sewing. Over 50 full-color photographs shot on location in scenic Cork, Ireland make this book a feast for the eyes as well as an inspiration in the kitchen and at the craft table. Twelve baking recipes, seven knitting patterns, and five sewing projects are yours to make your own.

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Inspired by her Irish-American Grandma’s recipe box and craftiness, this book showcases a year of creativity in baking, knitting, and sewing. In this age of mass consumption and branding, there is magic in being able to create something unique and special. Something all your own, from the heart. The materials were carefully chosen from local artisans in Ireland and Nova Scotia who sell globally online, most of whom are woman-owned and operated. The recipes were perfected over generations, then given a modern twist and tested by volunteers. Each knitting and sewing pattern was tried and tested as well. Finally, this book was funded by an enthusiastic crowd of Kickstarter backers.

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While Evin lives in Ireland, she grew up local to where I am now in Virginia. I love Evin’s aesthetic and have long been a fan of her blog.  I’m excited to be a stop on her worldwide blog tour!

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What I liked most about this book was it appeals to people who “cross-craft,” like me. So many of us not only knit, but we sew, we quilt, we take photos, we bake, we crochet, we appliqué, we decoupage, whatever! Crafty people tend to have multiple interests, so I liked the variety this book provides. The instructions were easy to follow, the photos were clear and the projects were simple.

We tried our hand at the Snickerdoodle recipe, a favorite around here, especially amongst the 3-year old set. I chose this particular recipe to test out because I liked that we had all the ingredients in the cabinet. Need cookies in a hurry? These are perfect and chances are, you have everything on hand already! You can tell by the last photo that they were meant with great approval by management.

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Evin’s fantastic book is available here and she has generously supplied a discount code for you. Type in the discount code BLOGTOUR for 10% the entire order.

Follow along on the rest of the blog tour:

Monday, November 10 – Reckless Knitting
Tuesday, November 11 – Fibre Friends
Wednesday, November 12 – Jen’s Kitchen
Thursday, November 13 – The Dublin Knit Collective
Friday, November 14 – Crafty Tails
Saturday, November 15 – The Writer’s Journey
Sunday, November 16 – Lisa Bogart Thoughts
Monday, November 17 – Moonstruck Quaint previously Glass of Win
Tuesday, November 18 –  TanisKnits
Wednesday, November 19 – Lilly Higgins
Thursday, November 20 – Calso Cooks
Friday, November 21 – By Eline
Saturday, November 22 – Yarn Poetry
Sunday, November 23 – Live and Let Pie

Butterfly Effect Pullover

I’ve always found the concept of the “butterfly effect” fascinating. We read a short story about it in 5th grade and since then, I’ve always enjoyed reading about it.

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In chaos theory, the butterfly effect is the sensitive dependence on initial conditions in which a small change in one state of a deterministic nonlinear system can result in large differences in a later state. The name of the effect, coined by Edward Lorenz, is derived from the metaphorical example of the details of a hurricane (exact time of formation, exact path taken) being influenced by minor perturbations such as the flapping of the wings of a distant butterfly several weeks earlier. The butterfly effect is exhibited by very simple systems. For example, the randomness of the outcomes of throwing dice depends on this characteristic to amplify small differences in initial conditions—the precise direction, thrust, and orientation of the throw—into significantly different dice paths and outcomes, which makes it virtually impossible to throw dice exactly the same way twice. It is a common trope in fiction, especially in scenarios involving time travel. Additionally, works of fiction that involve points at which the storyline diverges during a seemingly minor event, resulting in a significantly different outcome than would have occurred without the divergence, are an example of the butterfly effect.

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I started swatching out a cable a while back that looked like a butterfly. The concept of the butterfly effect can be applied to knitting as well… Change a stitch here and there and the outcome of your final project can vary greatly from the original idea.

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The result? A top-down raglan pullover with butterfly-esque cabling motifs on the torso and sleeves. An open placket ensures no fussiness over a tight collar (something my son hates) and the classic fit makes it unisex. Generously sized from 0-3 months all the way through 12 years, this is the kind of knitting I love to bring with me when we’re traveling. Throw it in your carry-on while you fly or pack it in the front seat while you’re driving to your holiday(s) destination! The cable motif is an easy 21 rounds and a great introduction to cabling.

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Knit in the Knitting Boutique’s scrumptious DK weight Potomac yarn (merino, silk and baby camel, oh my!) on US 5′s, this pullover has no finishing, no seaming and because it’s top down, it’s easy to add length to the torso or sleeves while kids are still growing. Sample pictured is size 18 months.

The Butterfly Effect Pullover can be downloaded here.

The Wilson Collective

The Wilson Collective is a collaborative art and framing gallery, and makers studio located in the beautiful coastal community of Portsmouth, Rhode Island.

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I am delighted to be their first guest teacher on Saturday, November 8th. Not only do I get to go back to my old stomping ground of Rhode Island where I attended RISD, but it’s always a treat to be surrounded by a new group of students interested in learning about color work knitting. As a knitter, and especially as a knitting teacher, I see it as my duty to pass on knowledge and get everyone knitting, trying color work (even if they’re scared!) and watch our wonderful knitting traditions spread like wild-fire and be passed down for future generations.

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If you’re in the area, head over to 1 King Charles Drive in Portsmouth, RI (401.245.0690) and join us from 10am-2pm. We’ll talk all things Fair Isle knitting, I’ll sign books, you can pick up a handmade TanisKnits project bag, eat, drink, be merry and design your own fair isle hat! Supplies are included in the class fee and you’ll leave bursting at the seams with knowledge of color work knitting and with your own hat design ready to be knit.

I’m excited to be coming back to Rhode Island, to meet new knitters and be the first teacher at the incredible Wilson Collective! See you there!

American Gift Giving + Giveaway!

UPDATE 11/7/14: Congratulations to winners Gillian and Shing! I have contacted you via email, so check your inbox!

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Beth Moriarty, the brains behind Planet Purl, has interviewed me for her podcast so many times I am the “crowned queen of the Party Line.” I take my reign seriously, so my first order of business is to turn the tables on Beth and interview HER about her new book, American Gift Giving!

AGK-book-coverBeth says, “Knitters are some of the nicest people on the planet, no doubt due to the soothing nature of knitting. They are also a generous lot, gifting loved ones with hand knit gifts, with love worked into every stitch.  Thirteen American designers celebrate their favorite places with small projects perfect for gifting and  inspired by the beauty of  America — from the NY to Key West to Alaska and points in between.  I’ve also included five yummy regional recipes as well as travelogues for an armchair tour of some of my favorite places. Happy knitting, traveling and cooking!”

Beth was kind enough to sit down with me, answer a few questions and generously offer up a book giveaway!

Tanis Gray (TG): What inspired you to make this book?

Beth Moriarty (BM): When I travel, I’m always seeing building details, carpet and drapery fabrics, artwork, and colors where I think “Oh, that would make a beautiful ….” All three of my books are about finding inspiration in your favorite places. Gift knitting is something really special, though, in that it’s an opportunity to make a small project and share that inspiration with someone else.

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Silver Screen Sachets

TG: Do you have a favorite type of gift knitting?

BM: I love to make things for the house (pillows, throws, kitchen sets) if I know the person really well and have seen their home. It’s something they’ll see/use every day. Otherwise, it’s usually hats or scarves/cowls/mitts or if they are up the hierarchy of gift-giving, a matching set. For husband, son and daughter-in-law, I let them pick sweater designs and colors since I’ll need to measure and fit and they don’t care if it’s surprise.

TG: Do you personally give and receive a lot of hand knits?

BM: I give them but have never gotten one. And yes, that’s really really sad. On the years I haven’t handmade holiday gifts, I get “you didn’t knit this year?” from the recipients.

TG: Do you have a favorite project in this book?

BM: Oh gosh, that’s tough. I am looking forward to getting a couple back after the trunk shows to use for myself. The Mendenhall Draft Stopper will be perfect for the front door of my drafty cabin and was photographed there. The Mondrian Pillow Cover is photographed on a living room chair in my home in Florida and will look great there. And the shaping on the Red Riding Hood with it face-framing “fur” sits so nicely, everyone who has tried it on wants to steal it, but it’s mine!

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Mendenhall Draft Stopper

TG: Whom is this book aimed towards?

BM: There are projects for less experienced knitters and those ready to try something new. The great thing about small projects is that the investment in time and money is pretty small. For a new technique or skill, they are a nice introduction. Like the Mondrian Pillow Cover — it’s intarsia but in large straight blocks. Or the Silver Screen Sachets — small squares of simple lace, easy repeat beading, and small intarsia design.

TG: What advice do you have for people about to start their first project or knitters looking to break free from the plain old scarf?

BM: Graduate from squares/rectangles to tubes. It will open up a whole new world. There are easy ways to knit in the round. I have videos on YouTube for doing it with one circular needle for larger circumference and 2 circular needles for smaller circumference. Tubes are great. Open on both ends it can be a cowl, arm warmers or leg warmers. Drawstring at the top end and it’s a hat. Drawstring at the top and stitched closed on the bottom and it’s a bag. A small bag can be a soap holder, a large one a purse or project bag. It’s no more work (and maybe less) than a rectangle and so versatile.

TG: Any advice for people looking to start designing their own knits?

BM: Design things you like. There are computer programs that can help with the math if you’re designing garments. And a good technical editor is an absolute must if you plan to sell or publish your patterns.

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Mondrian Pillow Cover

TG: What is your favorite part of the country?

BM: My freshman year at college in Mississippi definitely converted me to a Southern girl. My vacation cabin the Blue Ridge mountains of North Carolina is my favorite place in the country. So far!

TG: Have you finished your holiday knitting yet (be honest!)?

BM: Almost. But I started on Christmas day last year (don’t mock me). I still have ends to weave and some seams to sew, but otherwise done.

TG: What makes a hand knit gift so very special?

BM: Anyone worthy of a handknit gift understands that the gift is really of your time and love. My nieces have told me that when they wrap a handknit scarf around their necks, they feel my love. One of my sisters and one of my nieces told me that when they’re sick, they like to wrap up in one of my afghans. They feel snuggled and loved. A gift card to Starbucks can’t do that!

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Red Riding Hood

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Thanks, Beth! And now for the exciting part! Beth has been kind enough to giveaway not one, but TWO copies of her new book!

Answer this question in the comment section to be entered to win (US residents only, please):

What do you want for the holidays this year?

A winner will be chosen at random on Friday, November 7th.

Demmit Hat

Oh, cashmere, how do I love thee? Let me count the ways…

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Before I go all Shakespeare on you, dear readers (too late) I’m excited to share this new design with you, the Demmit Hat. This hat is special to me for many reasons, one of them being the yarn. The YARN! Stunning 100% cashmere bulky weight from Pepperberry Knits ensures your head will be kept warm (did you know that 100% cashmere is one of the warmest fibers and is even warmer than wool?), it’ll last, it’s beautiful and goodness, is it ever soft! Hand a knitter a ball of cashmere and you’ll have a very happy knitter.

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Unsatisfied by the monochrome muted colors of factory produced cashmere yarn, Pepperberry Knits founder Heidi Hennessy, began experimenting with color by hand plying single strand cashmere on her trusty Ashford Traditional spinning wheel.  What turned out was a stunning multi-tonal yarn that gave even the simplest projects a richness of character and depth of color.  Word got out about her bold, rich in color hand plied cashmere among her local knitting community and not too long after, she was selling her exclusive yarn to yarn shops, traveling to trade shows and selling on the web around the world.

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Today, the team at Pepperberry Knits creates its 100% cashmere yarn in the same tradition of how it all started.  Their highest quality fiber is still plied at their facility in Boise, ID with their hands caring for every skein they make.  Their love of luxury fiber, rich saturated color, fresh design and hand knitting continually drives them to create fashionable and intuitive knitting patterns and new colors of cashmere yarn to share with the worldwide knitting community!

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The Demmit Hat knits up on US 10 needles and uses 2 hanks of Pepperberry’s Soft Spun Solid Bulky. Because of the thickness of the yarn and the large needle size, you can knit this hat quickly making it yet another ideal holiday gift knit for some special. Twisted stitches, a lace leaf pattern, reverse stockinette and a spiraling, slouchy crown ensure an interesting knit packed with techniques.

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Pepperberry has been kind enough to offer up a coupon for 15% off their Bulky to make this hat! Head over to their website and use the coupon code DEMMIT15 and the 15% discount will be taken off at checkout (they also have free shipping on orders over $100). Coupon is good from Monday, November 3rd through Sunday November 9th.

Photographed in Aurora, Ohio, my friend Louisa (whom this hat is named after) and I trekked through the woods behind the studio where we film Knitting Daily TV to shoot this hat. Cashmere and a great friend to share it with? That’s my idea of a perfect fall day.

The Demmit Hat can be downloaded here.

8th Grade Knitter!

The below local(ish) story is a wonderful example of knitting and a great idea creating a future businesswoman!

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BALTIMORE —A Baltimore City middle school student who became the CEO of a business she started has created a product that earns her thousands of dollars, and she only wants to build from there.

Eighth-grader Lily DeBell’s knitting is helping her spin a huge amount of success, and it’s all centered around legwarmers.

“In seventh grade, you do a unit where you learn about economics and entrepreneurship, and then you learn about those skills through creating a business model,” Lily told 11 News reporter Jason Newton.

A year later, the Roland Park Elementary-Middle School student’s business, called Lily’s Legwarmers, offers products that are created with organic materials, such as wool and Alpaca fleece. That’s her biggest selling point.

“Synthetic fibers aren’t breathable and don’t trap and release heat in an organic way, which is bad for dancers because they need heat to warm up their muscles and make them more flexible to lower their risk of injury,” Lily explained.

Her class work included research, marketing and cost analyst, earning her a $25,000 prize in a nationwide challenge by the Network for Teaching Entrepreneurship. She beat high school and college-aged challengers in that competition, which is an impressive feat to her teachers.

“We’re dealing with a young lady who not only has an incredible sense of self, but possibility,” said Lily’s teacher, Karl Sanzenbacher.

Those possibilities are endless.

“I want to hire more labor. I want to get insured and find a wholesaler, and after that, I’d like to expand our products and just keep growing the business and make more sales,” Lily said.

The middle-schooler said she is working to partner with about five area senior centers. Her hope is to hire residents to help her with the knitting.

Nyra Cowl

This past spring I taught a workshop at The Knitter’s Nook in Columbus, Indiana. The entire city is an architectural gem and I had an amazing time teaching, meeting new knitters and making friends that will last a lifetime. One of these friends was Nyra, the owner of Knitter’s Nook. Nyra and I clicked instantly (she picked me up at the airport waving a hank of yarn and that bonded us forever) and I was sad to say goodbye to her and her wonderful family when the workshop was over.

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In honor of Nyra, I designed the Nyra Cowl, a faux-cabled (it’s really lace!) cowl with wrapped stitches knit in the round with 3 hanks of Shibui Staccato fingering weight yarn. I have been in love with Latvian Braids forever and they work well dividing up the lace sections. It would also knit up beautifully in sock yarn or even DK for a bigger cowl.

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Originally designed as a workshop exclusive, I’m pleased to finally offer this cowl up to knitters everywhere. This would make a great gift for the upcoming holidays! Stay tuned for more small projects ideal for holiday knitting coming each week until the season is upon us.

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Download the Nyra Cowl here.

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