Catching Up & Space Case

March truly came in like a lion and went out like a lamb. With this month quickly approaching its end, I realized that I haven’t blogged in a while and have much to share.


At the end of February, I taught a weekend workshop on Lace Forensics and Stranded Colorwork at Crazy for Ewe, a lovely little shop in Leonardtown, Maryland. Nestled right in the heart of their historic town, Ellen has created a social place for knitters to hang out and enjoy our craft. With excellent monthly KALs, and cool window displays, many of her loyal students had interesting personal histories. I love hearing stories from knitters - when you take the time to listen, people will often take the time to share. During weekend workshops when I do so much talking and instruction and often come to the edge of losing my voice, I love sitting back and listening to people talk about how knitting has woven itself into the fabric of their life. I look forward to coming back to teach there.


In mid-March I taught at the beautiful Aspen Wye River, the location where President Clinton negotiated a peace accord with Benjamin Netanyahu and Yasser Arafat in 1998. Although there was a bite in the air and we experienced much rain, it was the perfect weekend to cozy up in the library by the fire, or one of the wonderful little nooks the property offers and knit away together. It was the migration season for Canadian geese, so hearing thousands of them chatter to each other on the river at night while sitting by the outdoor fireplace, then see them take flight in the morning before class in a massive cloud felt like witnessing a miracle. Run by Dianna of The Knitting Boutique, her customers were quick studies as I taught Mosaic Knitting and lectured on the History of Knitting. Teaching intimate retreats in a secluded location is one of my favorite teaching experiences, because I get to know the students on a personal level, eat meals with them, share stories in pajamas, and trade recommendations for future knits we want to cast on. I saw old faces and new, and look forward to coming back again next spring.


This past weekend I taught Stranded Colorwork in Charlottesville, Virginia. Susan and Blair of Magpie Knits have created a haven for knitters that made it one of my new favorite shops. With an excellently curated collection of fiber (a few hanks of Farmers Daughter may have come home with me), beautifully decor, great students, and a feeling of warmth and welcome from the second I walked in the door, it was a delightful weekend. Situated right in the heart of the action on the main street in Charlottesville, the area was charming, with great restaurants and shops which I enjoyed with my family who tagged along. On Friday evening we had a cast on party for the workshop the next day, and on Saturday I taught class at the Common House. Located in the historic Mentor Lodge, which was originally a social club for the African American community of Vinegar Hill built in 1913, the Common House is committed to honoring the history of the local community. With super slick decor, amazing art on every wall, eclectic furniture, and great food, what a memorable place to teach at! I met some very interesting people and look forward to returning there in the fall.


At this workshop, I introduced a new Fair Isle pattern, the Space Case Cowl. Knit in one long tube with a purl ridge, the latter half is tucked inside like a Matryoshka Doll with right sides facing out. The provisional cast on is then removed and joined with Kitchener stitch, creating a double sided, 4 layers-thick (since stranded color work creates a double-thick fabric) squishy delight. Knit with 1 hank in each color of Neighborhood Fiber Co.’s Studio Worsted in Cleveland Park and Charles Centre on US 8 needles, this cowl is an ode to any space enthusiast. On one side, motifs of launching space ships, Saturn, and crescent moons delight, and on the other the phases of the moon parade across tucked between exploding stars. I’ve always had a deep fascination with space, especially moon phases. The 2 colors of the NFC yarn are perfect and make me feel like the part of me that wanted to be an astronaut as a child got her due.


Today, I’m delighted to release this pattern into the wild with a 20% discount with code SPACE. The coupon will be good through the end of March!

Download the Space Case Cowl here and prepare for liftoff in 3….2….1…

Deviating Cowl & A Giveaway!

We’ve had quite a swing of temperature over the past couple of weeks. Constant school delays and cancellations due to subzero temps, then the next week strolling around in short sleeves is always a shock to the system. This is the time of year I keep a pile of cowls and shawls by the door in all different weights. I never know what I’m going to need for the walk to school until the morning air hits me when we first open the door.


As we’re beginning to make that transition into spring (the tulips have started peeping out), it reminds me that we’re entering the perfect season for lace! Whenever I teach lace I find myself face-to-face with at least a few students who are terrified of this technique. They think they’re not good enough knitters (they are), they think they’ll screw it up (it’s just sticks and string), and they think that it’s a technique reserved only for experts (it most certainly is not). Sure, you can take lace to an extreme and knit super fancy crazy hardcore patterns, but sometimes lace is as simple as an eyelet motif. I always tell my students that lace is simply a series of holes on purpose, with increases and decreases placed to make it aesthetically pleasing. I stayed away from lace for years, never thinking I was good enough to get it right and once I tried it, I was hooked.


Introducing the Deviating Cowl, a simple lace infinity cowl broken up into sections of zigzag lace, easy mesh, garter ridges, and stockinette stitch knit the long way in the round. Knitting up on US 3s and 5s with Dragonfly Fibers’ Damsel, a sport weight 100% superwash merino that has lovely drape, this is a great travel project. The lace is exciting enough that it keep you interested, yet simple enough to predict and pick up and put down without having a difficult time finding your place in the pattern. With each hank coming in at 335 yards, this cowl only needs 1 hank of each color. Add more reps and more colors if you can’t settle on just 2!


The kind folks at Dragonfly are giving away 1 hank of Flannel Pajamas and 1 hank of Silver Fox in Damsel to make your very own Deviating Cowl! I’ll provide the pattern and one lucky winner will get both to make their very own cowl. Answer the below trivia question correctly the comments for a chance to win. Open to US residents only. Winner will be chosen at random on Thursday, February 14th.

What is Luna Lovegood’s father’s first name?

Can’t wait to knit it? Download the Deviating Cowl here.

4 New Patterns

I am freshly back from teaching at A Good Yarn in Sarasota, Florida. I had heard a lot about this wonderful yarn shop and was excited to be the first teacher in their new space. Susan Post has curated a wonderful collection of lovely yarns, and the sunshine and warm weather were a much-needed bonus! Teaching 4 workshops in 2 days usually means I come home with no voice, but I truly love traveling to new shops and teaching knitters who are excited to learn new techniques. I’ve said it a million times - knitting has survived so long because it’s our duty as knitters to continue to pass on information and share our love for good fiber and knowledge with each other!

VK Live also happened, and while I wanted to be there, I have yet to figure out a way to be in two places at once. I had 4 patterns debut last week and wanted to let you know about what’s new here at TanisKnits…

The Suburban Warrior Cowl debuted at A Good Yarn for the Fair Isle 101 class. Knit with 1 hank of each color in Flying Goat Farm’s Tresna, this was deigned to be the perfect first stranded color work cowl. I spoke a lot about what I call “faux isle” - the technique of using a variegated (or a gradient like I did in my popular Ziggy Stardust Cowl) combined with a solid. It’s not only a great way to use your hanks of variegated that wouldn’t work well with lace, but a way to make it look like you did more color changing than you actually did! I loved watching a room full of people knitting this in all different color combinations. They were all gorgeous! Easy garter edging makes this a quick, addictive knit and I love that this is a local yarn. I have plans to knit another for myself in super brights.


Another A Good Yarn debut was my Agate Hat. An intermediate cabled hat, the ribbing turns directly into twisted cables that come to a thoughtful and well-executed crown. I dislike when cabled hats end abruptly and weirdly in the crown decreases, so I always make sure the top is as lovely as the body of the hat. Inspired by nature, especially trees, this beanie has over 8 different cables and 7 different decreases, and is easy to read in a color-coordinated chart. It’s a surprisingly quick knit since every other round is only knits and purls and uses just 1 hank of Dragonfly Fibers’ Traveller, another local yarn. The cables are all small enough that you can enjoy cabling without a cable needle like I do if you wish.


My mitten kick continues with my new Shooting Star Mittens. Knit in one of my favorite local yarns, Little Fox’s Vulpine, these beauties need just 1 hank of each color. Inspired by a meteor shower my mom took my brother and I to as children, they make me remember lying in the grass on a blanket on Pine Street in an old soccer field, watching the shower with school friends late into the night. The stars shoot across the public side of the mitts, while an inverted design of the starry skies runs across the palm side. A feminine picot hem adds prettiness and stability to the cuff and the fiber is luxurious and perfect for mittens.


Finally, I was part of a group of 8 designers with Primrose Yarn debuting new patterns at VK Live. My Balustrade Cowl was inspired by the shadow of a neighbor’s fence when I was out walking with my daughter one afternoon. A mix of corrugated ribbing and stranded color work make this a doable project for all levels. Using 2 hanks of each color in Marquess MCN DK and Vintage DK Tweed, I always love mixing super brights with more neutral shades. The tweed adds a bit of texture and is designed to help you master 2-handed color work knitting. I love how large this cowl is - you can pull it up over your head like I did in my photo (look at me, actually modeling my own work for a change!) and wear it more like a snood, or let it drape around your neck. Either way, it’s a statement!


Another new pattern will be coming out next week, but for now we’re all caught up! Have a wonderful rest of the week and enjoy your knitting.

Download the Suburban Warrior Cowl here, the Agate Hat here, the Shooting Star Mittens here, and the Balustrade Cowl here.

Mill Wharf Mittens

When I was in high school and my dad was traveling for work, my mom would peek around my doorframe while I slogged my way through hours of homework and say, “Mill Wharf?” I’d drop everything, change out of my school uniform, and off we’d go to our favorite restaurant in the next town over.


Mill Wharf sits on the edge of the Atlantic in Scituate, Massachusetts on Scituate Harbor. We’d always eat upstairs - a casual dining area complete with a wood-paneled bar, taxidermied fish on the wall, model ships in glass cases, and captain’s wheel. If we were lucky, we’d get a window seat and watch the fishing boats come in and out of the harbor, loaded with the day’s catch. My mom always got fish and I’d always get a cheeseburger, and we’d talk about our days, my brother who had gone off to college, and my dad who was away for work. My mom and I had countless meals at Mill Wharf and some of my fondest high school memories are of us sitting by the windows and talking. I’ll always think of it as “our place.”


Having grown up next to the ocean, I’ve always preferred the off-season. To me, a gray, choppy, dark ocean is far more beautiful than its summer counterpart. I prefer the cold wind whipping through my hair, being wrapped in a warm coat, and smelling the salt in the air. The beaches are barren, there are no tourists or beach chairs to weave my way through, and the mournful cries of the seagulls searching for their next meal while they fight their way against the wind is oddly comforting.


Near Mill Wharf is a long rocky jetty that culminates in a grand old lighthouse. My high school friend Malley and I would carefully pick a route to the very end and sit next to the lighthouse - sometimes for hours - talking and trying to figure our how to navigate our way through high school and life. The waves would pound the jetty and sometimes we’d end up soaked or with a scraped knee, but I never minded. Malley and I are friends to this day, and when I go home to visit and see that jetty, it makes me think of her.


These two places will always remain important to me. They remind me of a certain time in my life where I knew I was on the brink of something, but wasn't sure how to navigate there yet, or even where “there” was. They bring back that feeling of hurtling 500 mph towards the future and being terrified of making wrong decisions and being scared to leave home and become an adult. Most importantly, they remind me of evenings spent with my mom next to a huge picture window watching the boats, and of having grown-up conversations with a side of silliness.


I’m happy to release the Mill Wharf Mittens, a DK-weight stranded color work project that’s an ode to my mom and our evenings together at Mill Wharf. Using Primrose Yarn Co’s Jasper DK, a springy 100% superwash merino hand dye in Lake House and The Terror, these colors remind me so much of a churning Atlantic in the winter. I really like the ply on this yarn and it gives the motifs excellent stitch definition. With a picot hem, Estonian Braid detailing at the cuff, and traditional thumb gusset shaping, the surprise is on the inside where fish bones swim across the palms. With a lighthouse, choppy waves, sand dollars, and fish motifs, this is truly an homage to my New England roots. They’re a little piece of home that I can carry around with me.


I often get asked about how to block mittens properly. It doesn’t take long and it can make a HUGE difference in your finished work. I start by getting out my mitten blockers - my favorites are from Knitting Left on Etsy (they also make sock blockers). Handmade out of varnished birch, they come in multiple sizes and are extra awesome because they have sheep carved right into them (they do have other styles - follow her in instagram to check them out). They come in a handy bag so it’s easy to keep everything together, included the separate thumb blockers. Throw your mittens in cold water with some wool wash for 15-20 minutes. When I take them out I knead out as much water as possible (do not wring out your knitting - that can twist your stitches and they’ll dry that way), roll them in a towel and stand on them. This squelches out as much water as possible. After that, I put my mitten blockers in the wet mittens on a blocking board (remember they’ve been varnished, so they’re water proof and won’t warp) followed by the thumb blockers. I lay them out under a ceiling fan to dry and voila! It can take a bit for them to completely dry… Remember that stranded color work is a double-thick fabric, so it’s usually a day on one side, a day on another (longer if you don’t use a fan) plus maybe even a day inside out to be certain they’ve dried all the way through. I could talk about blocking all day, and I cannot stress the importance of it.


And mom? Let’s go to dinner together at Mill Wharf next time I’m home.

Download the Mill Wharf Mittens here.