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You Asked, I Deliver!

So many readers have asked to get their hands on the lace cowl I’ll be teaching at the Luce Foundation this weekend at the Smithsonian!

Luce Cowl

Luce Cowl

Well you asked, dear readers, and I’m here to deliver!

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Introducing the Luce Cowl, knit in 1 hank of Stitch Sprouts Yellowstone yarn on US 7s! Pattern available for download here.

You’ll also notice a few new changes here at TanisKnits. I have a new logo (!!!) and background, which I am over the moon about. I also have made it easier to navigate over at the upper right with new icons to follow me on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, Pinterest, LinkedIn and my Etsy shop opening in late September (more on that later – it’s not what you think!). There’s also an envelope icon so you can easily contact me directly.

Hope to see you Saturday!

Luce Foundation

No matter where you live, you know the name “Smithsonian” and the weight, power and history that name carries behind it.

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The Smithsonian Institution, established in 1846 “for the increase and diffusion of knowledge,” is a group of museums and research centers administered by the United States government. Originally organized as the “United States National Museum,” that name ceased to exist as an administrative entity in 1967. Termed “the nation’s attic” for its eclectic holdings of 137 million items, the Institution’s Washington, D.C. nucleus of nineteen museums, nine research centers, and zoo—many of them historical or architectural landmarks—is the largest such complex in the world.

Many months ago, a woman working at The Luce Foundation – a wonderful center which is home to more than 3,000 paintings, sculptures, miniatures, craft objects, and folk art pieces from the collection of the Smithsonian American Art Museum and residing in the same building as my favorite museum, The Portrait Gallery – emailed me telling me she was a knitter and that she loved Capitol Knits. She was happy to discover that I was local to the museum and invited me in to teach lace and speak about my work this coming weekend, August 23rd at 1:30pm.

Luce Cowl

Luce Cowl

What I love the most about the collection of Smithsonian museums is that they are FREE FOR ALL. I am a huge believer that art, history, artifacts and knowledge should be free whenever possible. No little girl or boy should grow up wondering what a real painting looks like, how tall a dinosaur may have been, how much the Hope Diamond truly sparkles or what Julia Child’s kitchen actually looked like. My mom knew when she was a child after looking at Van Gogh’s Starry Night in a book that she wanted to be an artist. How great would it have been for her if she lived near DC and was able to go see a Van Gogh in person?

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Van Gogh’s Starry Night

The Luce Foundation has made one of my many career dreams come true by inviting me to be part of their amazing center for an afternoon. If you’re in the area (the Red Line’s Gallery Place Metro stop is very close), come and listen to me speak, get a copy of a new lace pattern I’ll be introducing – The Luce Cowl – and if you’ve never knit lace, sit in on the free class I’ll be giving afterwards. There’s nothing like being able to share knitting stories, knitting techniques and knitting camaraderie in a place that believes that knowledge is power. More information is available here.

Hope to see you there!

Owen’s Blanket

When we moved to the DC area 5 years ago I didn’t know anyone other than my in-laws and my husband. Moving somewhere new without knowing anyone is scary (if you’ve never done it, it’s a bit like being tossed into the deep end of a pool without a floaty and sub par swimming skills). I started teaching almost immediately at my LYS and that helped me learn to navigate the Metro (a piece of cake after riding the subway in New York and the T in Boston for so many years), meet other knitters, have a place to go hang out to knit and get me out of the house and away from my comfort zone.

small_owen1I was teaching cabled mittens one evening when one of my students and I learned we lived a few blocks away from each other on Capitol Hill. I liked Kim right from the start – no-nonsense, both adventurous and ambitious in her knitting, honest, funny, smart, interesting and one of those people you know instantly that you’ll end up being friends with. Kim rocked her cabled mittens, drove me home that night and we’ve been friends ever since.

small_owen2I’ve written before about our harrowing birth story with our son. During that amazingly difficult time, I could count the number of people who stuck by us through it all on one hand. These few people helped with whatever we needed without question – picking my mom up from the airport, driving us back and forth since I couldn’t drive for weeks after my emergency c-section, dropping off food, visiting me, holding my hand, walking at a snail’s pace with me around the block while I tried to heal, listened, checked in… I’ll never be able to adequately thank these friends of mine who waded through that river of pain with me and helped me climb to the other side. One of these people was Kim.

Kim and Owen

Kim and Owen

It’s hard to believe Kim and I have been friends for 5 years. We’ve knit at each other’s house countless times, made the biggest batch of strawberry jam imaginable, a smaller batch of blueberry jam once we learned our lesson, hung out, and taken many, many mom walks. Once my son finally came home, Kim broke the news that she was pregnant with her first child, daughter Ellie. Ellie is the spitting imagine of her gorgeous mama and I designed the Eleanor Jean Mitts after her. Recently, Kim and her husband Andrew welcomed son Owen to their family.

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Even though Kim and her beautiful family still live on the Hill and we moved across the Potomac to Virginia, we see each other when we can. I miss our mom walks and I miss being able to drop everything, ride my scooter to her house and knit late into the evening while both of our husbands were away for work. I know once our kids are a little older and we have a little more freedom, we’ll pick up right where we left off.

small_owen4My new design, Owen’s Blanket, is named after Kim’s son. Knit in my absolute favorite color in 800 yards of Colour Adventures Sweet Aran 100% superwash merino yarn, it’s knit on US 8s and is an ideal project for first time lace knitters. Kim is very fit and active, so I shot it outdoors in honor of her and her sweet son.

small_owen5Owen, you’ve got a great mama. I’m lucky to have her as a friend.

Download the Owen’s Blanket pattern here.

 

Sockupied & A Giveaway!

UPDATE 8/4: Congratulations to reader Lorinda! Check your email for further instructions!
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It’s always fun to cheer on fellow knitters when they release a new book! It’s especially fun when the author is someone you’ve worked with and consider a friend. Anne Merrow and I have worked together in the past on the Knitting Daily TV set and she’s just released a new book, Sockupied.
Now available for the first time in book form, Sockupied brings you a collection of 20 sock patterns specially chosen from its first 10 issues of the magazine! This unique book features 6 toe-up patterns as well as standard top-down construction, and projects that include basic socks for beginners. Inside you’ll find patterns featuring cableslacecolorwork, and textured patterns. Enjoy projects from your favorite sock designers Cookie A, Star Athena, Ann Budd, Cat Bordhi, Deborah Newton, and others!
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Sockupied Edited by Anne Merrow Interweave/F+W; $24.99

Anne was kind enough to sit down with me for an interview about this wonderful sock book she edited…
Tanis Gray (TG): Some knitters think of projects as socks and everything else. Why do you think sock knitting is so beloved?
Anne Merrow (AM): What’s not to love? :) For me, it was the yarn. I love sock yarn, and I love buying 1 skein and knowing that’s plenty for a project. But they’re also accessible for any skill level. You could put together a whole knitting curriculum just based on socks.
Sockupied - Ann's Go-To Socks beauty shot
 TG: How many socks do you think you’ve knit in your lifetime and any favorite patterns stand out?
AM: Not enough, based on my yarn stash! Really, just a few dozen. Our readers put me to shame. One favorite is Deb Barnhill’s Speed Bump Socks, which were simple but addictive.
TG: Can you tell us about your process of deciding which socks would make the cut for the book?
AM: It was difficult! We looked for a good variety of easy and challenging, toe-up and top-down, and major techniques (cables, lace, colorwork). Some we couldn’t use because they were simply too long, which isn’t a concern in digital publishing.
Sockupied - Cataphyll beauty shot
 TG: What advice do you have for someone looking to knit their first pair of socks?
AM: We’ve had a couple of great posts with knitting advice on the blog, but here’s my basic info: http://www.knittingdaily.com/blogs/inside_e-knitting_magazines/archive/2013/10/29/socks-for-beginners.aspx
TG: Are you a fan of knitting 2 socks at once or do you knit them one at a time?
AM: I really only knit 2 at a time. I tend to put things down for a long time and then forget what I was doing, at least if they’re two at a time they match!
Sockupied - Muscadine Socks beauty shot
 TG: How long have you been knitting socks?
AM: Since about 2001-2002. I’ve told this story before, but… My Dad asked for a pair of socks for Christmas, and I learned to knit socks to make them. He promptly felted them. It took a few years before I learned about superwash.
TG: There are so many types of sock heels! Can you talk a little about this?
AM: Sock heels are pretty ingenious. One thing I say at every photo shoot is, “Feet are weird!” They turn a corner and have this bulbous thing at one end. So whether it’s with short rows or picking up stitches along an edge or both, there has to be some way of making this flat fabric curve in several ways at once. I think the fact that there are so many ways means that there isn’t a single perfect way, and knitters invent their own. It’s also something you really need to experiment with to see what fits you best.
Sockupied - Our Paths Cross beauty shot
 TG: Could someone looking to tackle their first pair of socks find something their speed your book?
AM: Absolutely. Ann’s Go-To Socks (the first in the book) is both really basic and really addictive. Ann Budd is a sock knitter beyond compare, yet when she starts a pair of socks for herself, this is the recipe she builds on. Speed Bump Socks are a close second—they add a really easy to memorize stitch pattern to the basic sock structure.
TG: What’s your favorite pattern in the book?
AM: Favorite I’ve knitted so far? Speed Bump Socks by Deb Barnhill. On the needles now? Muscadine Socks by Star Athena.
Socks I’m most eager to make when I can really focus on my knitting? Tied: Cataphyll by Hunter Hammersen and Our Paths Cross by Lorilee Beltman.
Sockupied - Speed Bump Socks beauty shot
Thanks, Anne!
I’ll be giving away a copy of this book to one lucky blog reader. Answer the trivia question below in the comments section (US residents only, please) to be entered for a chance to win. A winner will be chosen at random on Monday:
Where was the oldest pair of socks found?

Sockupied is available here. Until then, happy sock knitting!

Dragonfly Fibers Visit

I was lucky enough to find myself at Dragonfly Fibers earlier this week in Kensington, MD!

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It’s always interesting visiting hand dyers… They all have their own methods, their own colors, own bases, different set ups and different vibes. I’ve long admired Dragonfly and getting invited up was a great way to spend an afternoon. Embracing local yarn companies creates such a great sense of camaraderie in the small world of knitting. Dragonfly has some of the loveliest color ways and Kate and Nancye are pretty fantastic ladies.

After watching Kate work the dye baths for a bit, I got the grand tour. Pots of hot yarn and dye boiling away, doing their thing? Walls of gorgeous yarn in bright colors you want to roll around in and drool on? Awesome women running a company and doing a great job? Check, check and check. A few photos from my trip:

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Yarn in the dye bath

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Transforming yarn from cone form to hanks and getting them into the proper yardage

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dyes and fibers, ready to mix

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BEAUTIFUL! Yarn in the dye pot

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yarn drying on the racks

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so much color!

I can’t say much about it now, dear readers, but there’s an exciting adventure coming up with the wonderful women of Dragonfly. I’m looking forward to working with them on a big project and to telling you about it soon!

Check out all the gorgeousness Dragonfly has to offer here!

Columbus Recap

If you’re like me and you’re a lover of architecture, you must go visit Columbus, Indiana.

I was thrilled to teach my first solo travel workshop and was hosted by the wonderful Nyra Miller at Knitters Nook. Indiana is so different from DC. I’ve been living in cities for so long, I forget what it’s like to drive everywhere, to live near people you grew up with and to know everyone. I don’t even know my neighbors (which is pretty typical for city living)!

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The wonderful customers and students of Knitters Nook made me feel like a knitting rock star and were so warm and welcoming that I’m hoping I’ll get to visit them again soon. I taught them knitted lace (lace on both sides), slipped stitches, beading and knitting, cabling, turned picot hems and chart reading. As always, when you get a bunch of knitters together, there’s a special feeling of camaraderie and sharing of tips and tricks that firms up my belief that knitting is one of the best things in the world. I enjoyed getting to know them all over the weekend and left feeling like a member of the family. They truly embraced me and the weekend was even better than I anticipated.

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Myself and Knitters Nook owner, Nyra Miller

And the architecture!!!!  Columbus is a city known for its architecture and that is a title well deserved. J. Irwin Miller, 2nd CEO and a nephew of a Co-Founder of Cummins Inc., the Columbus-headquartered diesel engine manufacturer, instituted a program in which the Cummins company paid the architects’ fee, provided the client selected a firm from a list compiled by Miller. The plan was initiated with public schools and was so successful that Miller decided to defray the design costs of fire stations, public housing, and other community structures. The high number of notable public buildings and sculptures in the Columbus area, designed by such individuals as Eero Saarinen, I.M. Pei, Robert Venturi, Cesar Pelli, and Richard Meier have led to Columbus earning the nickname “Athens of the Prairie.” Six buildings, built between 1942 and 1965, are National Historic Landmarks, and approximately 60 other buildings sustain the Bartholomew County seat’s reputation as a showcase of modern architecture. National Geographic Magazine once devoted an entire article to the town’s architecture. I wish I had more time to explore, but here are a few highlights from my camera…

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Loved the color of these exhaust pipes!

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The Miller House, my favorite thing on our architecture tour

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“Chaos” sculpture

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The landscape architecture at the Miller House was as stunning as the house itself!

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This huge sculpture reminded me of dinosaur vertebrae!

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I’d never get any reading done at this library – I’d be too busy staring at the amazing ceiling!

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“C” for Columbus bike racks all over town.

Thank you, Nyra and Columbus! I had so much fun knitting with you, teaching, learning about your city and immersing myself in your beautiful architecture! Hope to see you soon.

No Longer A Chrysalis

There’s a really interesting window at the Museum of Natural History.

We’re frequent guests there, roaming around the dinosaur bones, the giant (fake) Wooly Mammoth, the artifacts, bugs and (a favorite of my son’s) the huge, creepy octopus. I prefer the room with all the sparkly gems, with the guard who nervously watches the small children running around the Hope Diamond.

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© Eric Carle

The window I’m talking about is the butterfly window. Tucked in a corner behind the bug exhibit, this small area has butterflies in various states of their life cycle. Eggs, caterpillars, pupas (or chrysalis) and finally butterflies. Butterflies are a big deal in our house… Ever read “A Very Hunger Caterpillar” by Eric Carle? We always shout out “a beautiful butterfly!” when we get to the last page (I could recite that book for you, dear readers, we’ve read it so many times). We also have a butterfly bush in the backyard, whose big, purl flowers attract butterflies of all colors. Sometimes there are so many on the branches that it seems to vibrate.

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I recently got my hands on a hank of The Knitting Boutique’s Sassafras Worsted, a lovely blend of bamboo and merino, and a hank of Shibui’s Silk Cloud, a mohair and silk blend. Held together, you get a beautiful luxury combination of sheen with a slight halo. Yes, please.

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Inspired by this stunning yarn combination and the butterflies in our backyard and at the museum, I designed the No Longer A Chrysalis Cowl. With one hank of each yarn held together, the background of reverse stockinette truly makes those butterflies pop. A fun knit with wrapped stitches, pulled up stitches, increases and decreases makes this a great knit for anyone who loves butterflies.

small_butterfly3Fly away, friends and get knitting!

Download the No Longer A Chrysalis Cowl pattern here.

 

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