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Mother of Dragons Blanket

There are so many fine examples of girl power in literature. Katniss Everdeen from The Hunger Games, Elizabeth Bennett from Pride & Prejudice, Jane Eyre, Hermione Granger from Harry Potter, The Wife of Bath from The Canterbury Tales, Hester Prynne from The Scarlet Letter, Eowyn from The Lord of the Rings, Mulan… The list is endless and inspiring. While I always paid attention to strong female characters, I’m beginning to focus on it more since our daughter will be arriving in about a month. I want her to be strong-minded, to voice her opinions without fear of retribution, or forced to keep her statements to herself because of someone telling her “girls shouldn’t have their own opinions.” We speak to our son about strong male individuals often and I think it’s important to give him role models who aren’t only athletes and superheroes, but men who use their mind for the greater good.

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One of my favorite female characters has been brought to the small screen recently. She’s opinionated, she’s strong, she’s loyal, and she’s a leader. Daenerys Targaryen from George R. R. Martin’s Game of Thrones (also a hit HBO show) commands armies, walks through fire, longs to be the leader of the Seven Kingdoms, and is known as “The Mother of Dragons,” due to her three dragon companions (read more about her here). She’s absolutely fierce and “mother of dragons” has become a pop culture phrase similar to being called a “mama bear” when defending one’s children.

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In honor of dragon mamas everywhere, I’d like to introduce the Mother of Dragons Baby Blanket. Designed to be knit by a busy mama, this blanket is knit piecemeal square by square and to invoke an old-world design with a modern twist. It’s easy to throw enough yarn in your bag for a square or two when you have limited time and room, or if you’re like me, grab it to work on any time you get a few minutes to get a few rows in. 16 squares will get you a sizable 40″ x 40″ sized blanket, and the slip-stitch crochet seams done on the wrong side make for quick finishing. Topped off with an effortless garter-in-the-round edging means it’s simple to size the blanket up or down with more or less squares if you wish.

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Knitting up on US 7s in the soft and bouncy DK weight Dragonfly Fibers Traveller in the aptly named Daenerys color way, this yarn is superwash and a perfect shade of purple to remain gender neutral. Children LOVE texture, and the ribbing, textured vine pattern, and yarn overs sandwiched between garter ridges done on the bias make it a blanket they’ll drag behind them wherever they go for years to come. Work the whole blanket in this amazing shade or make each square a different color!

Unleash your inner dragon mama and start knitting! The Mother of Dragons Baby Blanket pattern is available for download here.

 

Embroidered Animals

I try to stay away from politics on my blog. That being said, regardless of where you stood on voting day or where you stand now, the truth is that we all need beauty in our lives to keep us going, regardless of whom we wanted to see in the Oval Office. Many of us use crafting as an escape – we make beautiful things to express our creativity and surround ourselves and our friends with squishy knitting, warm quilts, stunning samplers, or even a woven tapestry to hang on the wall. Crafting is one of the oldest ways to bring people together.

Embroidery is fascinating and I so admire people who do it well. I was particularly taken by the extraordinary work of UK illustrator Chloe Giordano and wanted to share it with you. I hope it puts a smile on your face amidst the headlines, the tweets, the posts, and the news. Where do you look for every day beauty in your life? Original article found here.


New Incredibly Intricate Embroidered Animals By Chloe Giordano

The queen of embroidery is holding her throne. UK-based illustrator Chloe Giordano (previously here and here) has a new collection of work, and it’s absolutely whimsical.

Chloe’s handmade embroidered animals have been stealing hearts across the web since 2013, when she uploaded a Tumblr photo of a tiny squirrel, intricately sewn in full colour. Since then, she’s threaded all kinds of woodland creatures, with a special focus on rabbits in her latest series of Instagram posts. Her technique is so meticulous that the animals look ready to leap right out of the frame, even though most of them are barely the size of a thimble.

 

Sainte-Chapelle Hat & Cowl

Stained glass windows have always been a source of fascination to me. While of course they stop people in their tracks with their sheer beauty, I get caught up in thinking about the people who built the churches they are often found in. Hundreds of years ago, entire villages helped raise up a church, the land had to be cleared, the architects called in for their expertise, stone masons laid groundwork, and stained glass windows were crafted carefully by hand to tell stories to the congregation which at the time was largely illiterate. All of those people are long gone, yet their work remains for us to admire and appreciate.

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Photo ©Chris Chabot

I first found myself in Sainte-Chapelle in Paris in 1998. To this day it remains one of my favorite churches due to both its ceiling and glorious stained glass windows. Built around 1240 in an astonishingly quick 7 years, Sainte-Chapelle is considered among the highest achievements of the Rayonnant period of Gothic architecture and was commissioned by King Louis IX of France to house his collection of Passion relics. Although damaged during the French Revolution, and restored in the 19th century, it has one of the most extensive 13th-century stained glass collection anywhere in the world. It is these amazing windows that inspired my latest design, the unisex Sainte-Chapelle Hat & Cowl.

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Knitting up on US 6 needles in the squishy, washable, and lovely Lorna’s Laces Shepherd Worsted in Charcoal and their brand new speckled-dyed Zoe, I loved how I never knew which color was coming up next as the yarn flew across my needles. With accents of corrugated ribbing, the Fair Isle pattern is easy to follow and would look equally lovely in 2 solids or a solid and variegated. This was a project I couldn’t wait to cast on for and I am delighted at the results!

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Both the hat and cowl take 1 hank of each color (2 of each for the entire set). The colors of Zoe change and catch the light just like those splendid Parisian windows, an homage to the craftsman whose work remains so admired today. The hat pattern debuted at this past weekend’s TNNA Sample It and is now available to all. Happy knitting!

Download the Sainte-Chapelle Hat & Cowl here.

Selbu Rose

I make no secret of my life-long obsession with Fair Isle knitting. It’s always been my favorite technique, it’s what I teach the most, and it shows up in my design work again and again.  For some people it’s diamonds, others prefer dark chocolate, but for me it’s Fair Isle knitting.

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Our summer family adventure to Sweden, Denmark, and Norway only fueled that fire and I could have spent years there exploring the knitting, the history, the drawers of knitted samples in the museums, and the yarn shops. We only had a few weeks, but it was a trip of a lifetime and our 5-year old son embraced it as much as my husband and I did. I hope someday we’ll go back. Our daughter, who is due in March, will sport a Scandinavian name, and I hope this inspires her to appreciate the traditions and history coming out of that part of the world.

I recently ran across this article from November written by a travel writer sent on assignment to Selbu, Norway. For my fellow Fair Isle nerds, this should instantly bring to mind one of the most popular Fair Isle knitting designs – the Selbu Rose. The photos are stunning, and perhaps it will inspire you and yours to book a trip to Scandinavia soon. Original article found here.


In September, I was sent on assignment for Korean Air’s Morning Calm magazine. My job was to hop across the border into Norway and photograph the story behind the iconic Norwegian knitting symbol called the Selbu Rose. I thoroughly enjoyed this particular assignment because I love exploring culture through lifestyle and tradition. Absolutely love documenting people who create and build and design with their hands. From farmers, fishermen, and chefs driving farm/sea to table movements to artists such as mosaic artist Luca Barberini preserving tradition while reinventing historic mediums and making them relevant again.

Considering Selbu itself is a tiny village in the middle of Norway close to Trondheim, this wasn’t a place one just flew into and tried to get the photos one needed on assignment. It was absolutely crucial for me to get in touch with someone on the ground before arrival.

This meant delaying my trip for a week but I was glad I did because Selbu’s Folk Museum runs very limited opening hours over the summer, and is only opened upon special request outside of summer hours. A blessing in disguise because, in addition to picture-perfect weather, I was able to connect with museum director Birgitta Odén, a wonderfully vibrant lady with a warm soul,  bright red hair, and a living manifestation of what it is to live and breathe a cultural tradition. In this case, the 8-point patterned star called Selbu Rose – from her sweaters to her car seat covers.

And she personally guided me around Selbu including airport pickup and drop off.

The rose pattern itself courses through the veins of village.  The official Selbu coat of arms is a silver background with three black selbu roses, patterns are carved into wooden fences, flags fly the rose, the rose is etched in concrete and made as the facade of glass windows, and the world’s largest mittens according to the Guinness Book of Records can be found here in Selbu.

Beyond novelties, Selbu is steeped in Norwegian history. It is home to the Norwegian Radio Museum where you can learn about the history of the radio from 1890 up to today. The main reason I was going, The Selbu Folk Museum, focuses on just how important knitting is to Norwegian culture and it focuses on the Selbu mittens and rose patterns. Other claims to fame are its farm museum at Granby Gård which chronicles Selbu emigration to American during the 19th century. Also chronicled in the museum is the story of one of the most notorious serial killers, Belle Gunnes, said to have killed close to 40 people during her lifetime including her boyfriends, suitors, and children.

Uhmmm. Back to knitting…

The article written by author and knitting expert Lela Nargi is now out in the November 2016 issue of Korean Air’s Morning Calm and a few photos were chosen to illustrate the piece. But I wanted to share a lot more photos from the assignment on the blog so here are some of my favourite photos from Selbu, Norway, to show you some of what I experienced during the trip.

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Scenes from Selbu

 

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Scenes from Selbu

 

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Getting there – Your best bet is to fly into Trondheim, rent a car, and drive 30 minutes to the village. To view more photos from Selbu, Norway, check out my image bank of photos.

Who Needs Postcards When You Can Knit?

I love when people get creative with their knitting! This man takes it to a new level and is an intarsia genius. Original article found here.


Guy Makes Sweaters Of Places And Then Photographs Himself In Those Places

Faraday Cowl & Giveaway!

UPDATE 1.9.2017: Congratulations to winners Azure, Linda and Cheryl. Please check your emails!

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Happy new year, dear readers!

My goodness, where does the time go? With the cluster that is Thanksgiving, Christmahanukwanza (or whatever you chose to celebrate) and New Years, I’m afraid my blog has been woefully ignored. Now that school has reopened after an almost 3-week break (did you hear my jubilant yell on Tuesday at drop off?), the guest bedroom sheets washed and put away, and every last pine needle vacuumed up from our living room, I’m happy to be back into the swing of things.

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While I’m feverishly working away on my 9th book and crossing freelance (mostly Fair Isle – hooray!) off my to-do list, I figured we should start the new year off right with a new, easy cowl pattern.

Meet the Faraday Cowl, a super bulky textured dream knit up using only knit and purl stitches. Faraday is designed to be easily picked up and knit wherever you are and is ideal for holiday-detox-Netflix-binge-watching your favorite show. Using two colors of the lovely and squishy Dragonfly Fibers Super Traveller in Mushroom Hunting and Limelight, this smooshy delight knits up quickly on US 10s and uses almost every bit of yardage. A wonderful stash buster or just an excuse to head to your LYS to pick up some of that super bulky you’ve been eyeing, this is a cowl to make for yourself after all that gift knitting. After knitting and gifting 5 cabled hats for my son’s teachers, 1 Fair Isle hat to our babysitter, 2 pairs of cabled fingerless wristers for the crossing guard and postal lady, a beaded lace shawl for my mom, and a lace cowl for a friend, I may just knit a Faraday up for myself in super bright anti-winter-blah colors.

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With a definite hint of snow in the air this morning, I knew today was the day to release this new cowl pattern. Let’s give 3 copies of Faraday away, shall we? Leave a comment in the comments section of this post telling me your favorite winter activity. 3 winners will be chosen at random on Monday, January 9.

Stay cozy, knitters!

 

Thankful

There’s a lot to be thankful for on any given day, but this is the time of year we sit and really think about it.

The list of things I am personally and professionally thankful for is miles long – a wonderful family who makes each day an absolute joy, the baby growing in my belly, the roof over our heads, the chance to teach a friend to knit on a quiet afternoon, to read a book in the sunshine, take a walk, eat a good meal, spend time with my amazing students, work on my new book, hang Christmas lights outside… the list goes on. I often find that the simple things make life worth living, so whether or not we as a country can agree on policy and politics, you’re going through a difficult time, or you can’t wait for the year to end, I encourage you to focus on the good and give thanks. We’re all in this together.

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I am especially grateful to you, dear readers. Friends, students, fans, fellow knitters – whomever you are, I am grateful to you and for you. I am delighted to be part of this knitted tapestry of life we find ourselves all in together. Thank you for knitting my patterns, reading my books and my blog, taking my classes both in person and at Craftsy, sending me emails with your finished projects, your tweets, Instagram comments and the outpouring of creativity each and every one of you shares with me. It makes my day, truly.

In honor of Thanksgiving and giving thanks, I’m doing something I haven’t done before. Please enjoy 25% off all hand sewn (by me while you’re all sleeping) TanisKnits project bags in my Etsy shop with the coupon code TANISKNITS25 at checkout now through Saturday, November 26th. Why are my knitting and crochet project bags better than the rest? Made with 100% designer cotton fabrics, my bags are fully lined with coordinating fabric, are machine-washable, roomy enough for a big project, and one-of-a-kind. Unlike other bags, I use fabric drawstrings instead of cheap nylon cording. There are no plastic toggles or zippers for your yarn to get stuck or snagged in. Please enjoy.

Happy thankgiving!