Outpost Mitts

I listen to a lot of podcasts. When we’re out for a walk and my daughter is passed out in her stroller, I’m alone in the car driving to teach a knitting class, cooking, or when I’m knitting, chances are I have a podcast playing. I even have a few that I listen to with my son and it’s a fun way to get lost in a story together if we’re on the road. There are many I enjoy listening to, but one of my favorites is called The White Vault.


The White Vault takes place in Outpost Fristed, a place that exists in real life in Svalbard. While it brands itself as a horror podcast, it’s of a psychological nature rather than gore and blood. I don’t do gore or blood, but I do enjoy an addictive story that comes together like a puzzle and makes you nervous by using your own mind against you. I got my neighbor and a few of my friends hooked and the second season begins in a couple of weeks. I can’t wait to start listening!


Svalbard is a Norwegian archipelago north of Europe halfway between Norway and the North Pole in the Arctic Ocean. Remote and dangerously cold, I’d imagine there’d be a lot of knitting going on while this fictional exploration took place if I was part of the team. That got me thinking - if I was traveling to a remote corner of the Earth and could bring very little yarn with me, what would I pack and what would I knit? Sock yarn is the perfect answer with it’s generous yardage in each skein. It’d be easy to get a few projects out of a couple balls of yarn and the needles would be small. If I was stuck indoors in an icy wonderland, I’d be knitting fingerless mitts for everyone while figuring out how to get home in one piece.


I’m thrilled to introduce my new pattern, the Outpost Mitts. This color combination is one of my favorites, and it’d be easy to get multiple pairs of mitts out of 2 hanks. Combining The Lemonade Shop Simple Sock yarn with Hedgehog Fibers Sock (both merino/nylon blends) and knitting up on US 1.5 needles, this was a highly addictive knit.


Knit in the round from the bottom up (the pattern is designed to be knit on 2 circular needles, but magic loop or DPNs can absolutely be substituted), the easy Fair Isle patterns show off the speckled yarn. Dimension and texture is added with Latvian Braid and garter stripe detailing on each mitt, and the afterthought thumbs make it easy to adjust the length if you have longer fingers.


These mitts are so cheery and bright! With the first few official days of fall under our belts, I am excited to get to wear these soon once the temperature drops. Fingerless mitts are perfect for fall and winter, especially when driving or walking up to school. No matter how many pairs I have, it’s never enough!

Download the Outpost Mitts here.

Talas Cowl

The Shenandoah Fiber Festival is coming up soon here in northern Virginia from September 28th-30th. I look forward to this wonderful festival every year both from a professional point of view and a personal one. The business side of me enjoys finding new yarns and companies to work with that are local, scoping out the latest yarn I’ve been stalking on instagram, talking shop with companies and other designers, and being there as a professional knitwear designer, seeing many of my designs borrowed by companies and hanging up in booths. The other part of me looks forward to angora bunnies that I need to pet, apple cobbler to wolf down (seriously, what is in it that makes it so GOOD?!), seeing old friends, taking my kids and husband to roam around looking at yarn and animals as an anonymous fiber fan, looking for gifts, and enjoying the festive atmosphere. The festival gets bigger and better each year and it’s worth the trip.


At this very festival last year, I finally got to meet Aimee from Little Fox. I had been an admirer of her yarn - particularly her color palette - and was delighted to pick up some of her fibers to play with. Aimee is a local dyer and interior designer with a talent to make all her colors magically go well together. I am delighted to introduce one of two new patterns I’ll be releasing this season in her yarn.

Meet the Talas Cowl, a cabled, lacy, feather and fan delight. “Talas” means “wave” in Bosnian (we have a family friend who is Bosnian), a motif evident in the feather and fan portions of this generous cowl. Using tonal pinks in petal and pixie dust (how great are those color names?) on US 5 and 7 circular needles, this cowl combines two techniques I love to see together - lace and cables. The juxtaposition of cables - a clumping of stitches building a section up - with lace - a pulling apart of stitches leaving negative space - is something I don’t see often but is quite lovely.


I like my lacy cowls to have heft to them and this cowl is nice and tall at 25” high x 34” circumference when blocked. Add another rep in a third color, or just do one if you prefer something shorter. Little Fox’s Mere, a 100% superwash fiber, creates excellent stitch definition with perfect bounce. I will definitely use this yarn again! Lacy cowls are good for year-round wear, whether you’re combating an over-zealous air conditioner, or the winter chill. Cowls are harder to lose than shawls, and as I mentioned in my last post, excellent gifts.


Download the Talas Cowl here and be sure to check out the Shanendoah Fiber Festival! If you see me there, please say hello!

Catnip Cowl

Summer has the magical power of both slogging by day after day in the humidity and blinding sunlight, yet also somehow whooshes by so quickly you wonder what happened to July and August. You suddenly find yourself in the back-to-school aisle at Target, your cart laden with folders, notebooks, glue sticks, and crayons and shake your head in wonder to find yourself right back where you were a year ago. Is a whole new school year starting again already?

This summer I was up to my usual tricks, knitting madly away preparing for fall and winter releases. I always add in new designs in here and there, but when school is about to let out in June, I gather my lists and sketches, look at the yarn I want to work with, do my math, draw my charts, pull my needles, and get knitting. Summer slips by every year and I like to have a hefty pile of new knits to share when fall begins.


This summer I knit by the community pool, on my back patio, in the car while doing our annual drive up to New Hampshire, on the hiking trail when we stopped for a quick break, with my knitting group, always in bed at night while watching Netflix, and any time I could grab a few minutes to get some stitches worked. I may have been sunburned, covered in mosquito bites, and have a lapful of wool, but I wouldn't have it any other way. I always bring my knitting with me. Don't you?

I absolutely love working with local dyers (and we are lucky to have a lot of them in the DC Metro area). I met Kim from Kim Dyes Yarn at a fiber festival after a mutual knitting friend told us we should meet. I had taken both of my children with me to this festival, and my son found her first, drawn like a moth to the flame to the sparkle yarn. What can I say? He is his mother's child. After choosing 2 lovely shades of Sugar Cookies Sparkle Sock in Ziggy Stardust and Lady Mary (plus a hank my son picked out for me to make him some socks with), I had an idea for this twinkling yarn by the time we pulled out of the parking lot.


Meet the first new pattern for my fall/winter collection, the Catnip Cowl! I've been inspired by cats before (remember the popular Bad Kitty Cowl?) and this cowl was an ode to my long-gone favorite sparkle-loving cat, Igby. The combination of cats and waves of catnip make this an eye-catching, fun-to-knit design for any cat lover. It's playful with a bit of a Where's Waldo vibe, and designed so no floats need to be trapped.

The thing about cowls - and there are a LOT of new TanisKnits cowl designs coming your way shortly - is they are a universal perfect gift. Everyone has a neck, if you're off-gauge a bit, it shouldn't matter too much, you can make them as long/short/tall/wide as you want, they're significantly harder to lose than a scarf, and they are always appreciated. As a knitter, they're something smallish and easy to grab when you're heading out the door to tuck in your bag in case you get a free knitting moment. This cowl is designed to loop twice around your neck, but make it even longer for three loops around, or shorter for just one loop. I don't always have time to invest in a sweater or large shawl, but cowls are doable and a good way to learn a new technique.


Starting with a provisional cast on, this easy Fair Isle chart works up quickly on fingering weight on US 2 knitting needles. The entire cowl is knit in the round, then kitchenered at the end. There's some garter stripes here and there for added texture, and it'd be cute to do each chart repeat in 2 new colors or change up the background and foreground while keep the other the same. You certainly don't have to use sparkle yarn, but the world is a better place when we sparkle! Kim is at all sorts of festivals this fall, including one of my favorites that we hit every year, the Shenandoah Fiber Festival. Stop by her booth to see the cowl and pick your own colors, or snag a kit all ready to go!


I have so much more to share with you (I have also been on a serious Fair Isle mitten kick) and will be back to regularly blogging now that 1 of 2 kids are in school.

Download the Catnip Cowl here. Meow!



Come Away with Me...

I have been sitting on some news that I am tickled to finally get to share with you!


Over my many years of teaching, I've taught in many places - in yarn shops, in hotels, in schools, on lakes, in cabins, in churches, in TV studios, in cars and buses, on trains, via Skype... You name it, chances are I've taught there. Sometimes I feel like the character in Green Eggs & Ham - I will teach knitting with a fox, in a box, with a mouse, in a house, here or there, anywhere! Somewhere I have never taught but definitely wanted to was on a cruise ship.


I am absolutely delighted to announce that I'll be teaching with Craft Cruises setting sail to Alaska on June 15-22, 2019!!! This round-trip adventure into the land of the midnight sun starts in Vancouver and takes us along Alaska's inside passage, Tracy Arm, Juneau, Skagway, Glacier Bay National Park, and Ketchikan, all perfect places for glacier, waterfall, and wildflower viewing. The summer sun days will be long and the knitting will be abundant! All meals and shipboard activities, taxes and fees, welcome cocktail party, social gatherings, and yarn shopping info is included. I'll be teaching thrummed mitts or slippers, beginner Fair Isle, beaded lace, lace forensics, counterpanes, and advanced Fair Isle classes onboard.


Our ship will be Holland America's MS Nieuw Amsterdam, a 935' cruise ship. At 86,000 tons, this ship celebrates the glamour and history of New York City, formerly called Nieuw Amsterdam, with its inspired interior design and art collection.

Highlights include: 

  • Arrive a day early to explore Vancouver on a yarn crawl featuring a visit to the top yarn shops and a visit to the dye studio of Sweet Georgia Artisan Hand-Dyed Luxury Yarns
  • A visit to Vancouver is always a foodie trip, since you can dine on traditional Pacific Northwest salmon or at any number of this city's trendy restaurants or food trucks
  • Spend three luxurious days at sea with classes offered by knitting expert Tanis Gray
  • Cruise Tracy Arm Inlet where steep cliffs, waterfalls, blue ice and glacier-covered mountains surrounded by old-growth rainforest make this Alaska's most stunning cruising area
  • Shop for Alaska produced yarns, including Qiviut, in Juneau, Skagway and Ketchikan
  • Eat the best crab in Alaska at Tracy's King Crab Shack on the pier in Juneau
  • Ride the Mount Roberts Tramway up 1,800 feet to enjoy the expansive views of the Gastineau Channel in Juneau
  • Cruise into Glacier Bay National Park, which is one of the world's largest biospheres with its abundant marine wildlife, active glaciers and moss-covered forests
  • Take the White Pass and Yukon narrow-gauge train journey in Skagway where you will learn all about the gold rush
  • In Ketchikan sample all varieties of salmon and learn all about the salmon fishing industry
  • Visit the Saxman Totem Park and learn why Ketchikan is truly the totem capital of the world
  • Extend your stay and take the train to Seattle where you can hop on the Washington State Ferry to Bainbridge Island for a visit to Churchmouse Yarns and Teas and then swing by Pike Place Market and So Much Yarn for a true Pacific Northwest knitting adventure

I've mentioned before how I love retreats and knitting getaways because it removes us from our daily lives. We get to leave the relentless everyday schedule behind and be with our people, becoming more educated in our beloved craft! How excellent will it be to bring knitting with you, cruise along one of the most beautiful places in the United States, be with fellow crafty people, learn so many new techniques, have me at your disposal, eat, sightsee, relax, and have an incredible knitting adventure?


I am counting down the days until this wonderful voyage commences and I hope you'll join me. I have been to Alaska before and it's truly breathtaking. Add in knitting and it's the perfect trip!  I take knitting education very seriously, and consider it truly an honor to pass our craft on and educate students in a patient, relaxing, and exciting way. What better setting than this?

Learn more about the itinerary here, the classes here, pricing here, and the ship here.