Coventry Cowl & Lancaster Recap

Teaching at retreats is a magical experience. To me it's like diving right into the pool, rather than sitting on ledge just dangling your feet in. One of my favorite things about these kinds of events are the groups of people. Some friends meet up every year and it becomes part of their tradition, while others take a chance and fly solo, quickly getting absorbed up by a bunch of knitters happily welcoming them into their group. Sometimes it's a mother/daughter team, each traveling from afar to meet up and knit together. There is throw-your-head-back laughter, tears of joy, eating, hugs everywhere you turn, and my goodness is there knitting!


I was happy to teach at the Lancaster Knitter's Retreat a couple weeks ago in Bird-In-Hand, PA in Lancaster County. My family and I have visited Lancaster County a few times and enjoy the crafts, the beautiful scenery, learning about the Amish, and I'm a total sucker for a handmade soft pretzel. The retreat is put on by Wendy and Bob, owners of the wonderful Lancaster Yarn Shop, a very classy and chic shop tucked right into the heart of the county. It's one of my favorite shops and was right down the way from the retreat hotel. This was the 4th annual retreat and it was sold out!


I love teaching large groups with varying skill levels. As a teacher, there is nothing better than seeing that lightbulb moment students get, watching people sit down with a bit of trepidation and leaving with a confident smile. I love standing next to people in the breakfast line talking about their progress, getting high fives and hugs from someone who thought lace was something they could never grasp, or having folks come by after dinner for a bit of extra help. We're submerged in nothing but knitting and friendship for a few days. Phones are put away, newspapers go unread, and we find ourselves in a delightful and crafty bubble for a brief moment.


One of the classes I taught (one of my favorites) was beaded lace. I designed a retreat-exclusive project for the students and now I'm happy to make the pattern now available to all! Introducing the Coventry Cowl, a beaded garter lace extravaganza. This cowl begins with twisted ribbing and is knit back and forth in rows rather than the round to avoid lots of purling. The design cinches in at the top so the cowl tapers slightly and lays more open once around the neck. The edges are mattress stitched together at the end and after a good blocking, the lace will open up and the beads will twinkle and shine!


I love knitting lace on worsted weight, giving it a more modern look and a bit more substance. This cowl takes 1 hank of Neighborhood Fiber Co Studio Worsted and is knit on US 6 and 8 needles. While any 6/0 beads will do, I'm a fan of Miyuki.

I see this cowl and think of the great time I had teaching 50 amazing students. Each project I design and knit has a story attached to it, a memory, or reminds me of something going on in my life at the time. This cowl reminds me of Lancaster, new friends, soft pretzels, and fond memories.

Download the Coventry Cowl here.

Chez Moi Cowl

The Maryland Sheep & Wool Festival is almost upon us! I look forward to this delightful fiber festival every year, as does my whole family. There's sheep, sheep dog trials, any type of fiber you can imagine, yarn companies, indie dyers, knitting friends, festival food, root beer, brooms (yes, handmade brooms), plants, trinkets, notions, people spinning, people knitting, people shearing animals... I get excited just thinking about it! Wear your sunscreen and pack your water, and of course - BYOK.


If you get a chance, stop by the Spirit Trail Fiberworks booth and take a gander at my latest design, the Chez Moi Cowl. "Another cowl," you say? Well yes, because I think cowls make the perfect gift since everyone has a neck and you don't have to worry about fit, and to a certain extent, gauge. They're the best on-the-go project and don't require tons of yarn.

Knitting up on US 4 circular knitting needles, this cowl is started with a provisional cast on, then at the halfway point the colors are reversed. It knits up tall and is then folded over with right sides facing out and the live ends kitchenered together creating a seamless, completely reversible cowl with an unparelled squish factor.


Since Fair Isle naturally makes a double-thick fabric, this cowl will be 4 layers thick of amazingly soft loveliness when folded over. Knit in Spirit Trail's Sunna yarn, a superwash merino, cashmere, and silk blend, I love the tone on tone colors and the inviting house motif. Inspired by my son as a little boy always asking me "to leave the light on," this is for anyone who knows that home is where the heart is.


I'll be roaming around Sheep & Wool with my family, hoping to come home with some fiber and memories of good conversations with friends. Hope to see you there. xoxo

Download the Chez Moi Cowl here.

Spring Break Cowl

I have a lot of Spring Break memories.

Sometimes it would be my mom and I heading up north to New Hampshire with my dad staying behind to work and my brother gone to college. She and I would spend a lot of time knitting together and it would still be cold enough to have a fire at night. She'd make me hot chocolate, get the fire going, and we would sit with our knitting, happily stitching away.

Another year was spent on Daytona Beach and I'll guarantee you when you think bathing suits and partying, that couldn't be further from the truth. Picture instead a bunch of RISD kids huddled under a beach umbrella studying feverishly for our Art History final exam, which would be 50% of our grade (I rocked that test, by the way). Why not study on sand instead of snow?


When I entered "the real world," Spring Break became a thing of the past until my son started school and we began visiting my parents in Naples, Florida when we had a break in the school calendar. This past Spring Break was spent going to the zoo, walking the shore looking for shells, visiting the botanical garden, walking the swamps, playing in the pool, and exploring. I was also fortunate enough to teach a Fair Isle workshop at the wonderful Four Purls in Winter Haven, Florida. We tend to do a LOT when we vacate our everyday routine, and through this delightful family trip, wherever we went, I brought my knitting with me.


One of my students was knitting with a sparkle yarn one evening a few months back and after researching the company, I was excited to learn that it wasn't all that far away in Maryland. I reached out to the company and before I knew it, I was having lunch with Beth from Susquehanna Knitting Company and talking about doing some projects together. I wound some of her Susquehanna Sparkle Silk DK, a twinkling DK with a squishy combination of super wash merino, silk, and stellia. I knew it would be Fair Isle (duh) and I knew it would be coming along to Florida with me.


I knit on the plane, at the beach, by the pool, in the car, before the workshop, in the evenings. I'm a knitter - that's just what we do. Have knitting, will travel. Begun with a provisional cast on and kitchenered together at the end, the Spring Break Fair Isle cowl is knit in the round as a tube on US 7s so there is never a visible wrong side. The stranded color work is a 4 patterned section rep completed twice, and designed to use up almost every bit of yarn. Plus, it sparkles. The colors are Florida, it was super easy to pick up and put down without fussing over where I left off, and I already had it around my neck when we got back to northern Virginia and it was cold. I love this design for the memories it carries, the colors, and the sparkle. It is a project designed to come along with you on your Spring Break - or any break.


Susquehanna Knitting Company has made a beautiful limited edition kit available at a discount using the colors I chose for the original design - Seagrass, Prussian, and Peony, chose a neutral combination, or you can make your own. Head over to her website here for more info.

Download the Spring Break Cowl pattern here and share your favorite Spring Break story in the comments!


Oranssi Cowl

I'm beginning to see a few signs of spring around our yard... My lone purple hyacinth peaked its head up last week, the daffodils are in full force, and today one of my pink tulips looked like it might make a guest appearance. Despite still needing a down coat, fingerless mitts, and cowl in the morning for our walk to school, spring is undeniably on its way. 

oranssi cowl1.jpg

I'm delighted to introduce to you my newest design, the Oranssi Cowl. Oranssi is Finnish for orange, and while I don't wear much of that color, when it's combined with its compliment and split complementary colors of blue and yellow, it takes on a new identity. Inspired by Finnish textiles, this close-fitting cowl is a perfect transition knit as we head into spring.

oranssi cowl2.jpg

Knitting up on US 6 needles and knit in Biscotte Yarns soft, stretchy, and washable DK Pure with 1 hank of each color, this Fair Isle color work extravangaza is flanked by multi-colored corrugated ribbing. The middle section is my favorite, and I think of this design as having "chapters," with each section introducing a new stranded color work design. Add in new colors for each chapter, use only 3, or put those leftover bits and bobs to work giving it the look of a knitted sampler. I love this bright pop of color on a drab morning and have gotten so many compliments on it as I was knitting it up.

oranssi cowl3.jpg

Keep your eyes out for myriad new TanisKnits heading your way over the next few months. I'm working with some new models and new yarn companies, all of which I'm very excited about. One of these new companies is Spirit Trail Fiberworks (I recently designed Chickaloon in their Luna yarn and have 2 more designs coming up with them) whom I'll be teaming up with in May for a dyeing and Fair Isle workshop in Sperryville, VA. You'll learn Fair Isle with me in the morning and knit an exclusive design for the workshop, then Jennifer will take over to teach dyeing for Fair Isle. Details for that very limited availability workshop is on my events page up top. We hope to see you there!

Download the Oranssi Cowl here.