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Lancaster Hoodie & Giveaway!

UPDATE 6/25/14: Congratulations to winner Kate M! Check your email, Kate M!

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Traveling is difficult with a young child. Sleeping is an issue, a weird bed, a new place, new sights, sounds and people. We’re fond of “mini trips,” a 2 or 3 day excursion not too far from the house so we’re not gone for too long. We recently went to Lancaster, Pennsylvania, home to delicious pretzels, Amish folk, lots of animals and some really beautiful scenery. I knew we’d have about 6 or 7 hours roundtrip in the car, and the husband likes to drive so that means I get some knitting time in. I grabbed a design I had done all the math for and was ready to cast on…

mini road trip knitting

mini road trip knitting

We had a great time in Lancaster, visiting quilting shops, wooden toy shops, eating pretzels, drinking homemade root bear, taking Callum to Dutch Wonderland and checking out the LYS. If you find yourself in Lancaster County, head over to the Lancaster Yarn Shop, situated nicely right in the center of the town of Intercourse. I picked up some locally spun, natural yarn and a hank of something special you’ll hear more about later this summer.

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Lancaster Yarn Shop owner Wendy Ellis and I

I am spoiled to have a great local hand dyer, Shalimar Yarns close by over in Maryland. I had some lovely Missy Bulky on hand and knew it was destined for a top down, raglan style child’s hoodie with some fair isle around the midsection. small_sweater1 What I like about this yarn is it’s a bulky, so it knits up fast and beautiful on US 10s. I love the subtleties you can only get from a hand dye and the contrasting colors of blue raspberry and tequila sunrise look great together for either gender. small_sweater2 Topped off with an elf-style hood and chunky buttons easy for small hands to manipulate, this is a cute hoodie for everyone! Sized from 6 months all the way up to 12 years, the wide size range ensures you’ll find the fit you need for all shapes and sizes. small_sweater5Being a top down raglan, you start at the neck, work your way to the end, finish off the sleeves then do the hood last. How adorable would it be to make matching ones for siblings? As always when knitting for kids, if they are old enough to help, let them pick out the colors for the hoodie or the buttons. They’re more likely to wear it if they had some input. Get started now for that “back-to-school” hoodie for the fall!small_sweater7 Named after the county we visited, the Lancaster Hoodie is available for download here.

As always, let’s do a giveaway, shall we? Answer this trivia question (open to readers worldwide) to be entered to win a digital copy of the pattern: About how many Amish people are there living in the US currently?

A winner will be chosen at random on Wednesday.

Malcolm’s Blanket & Giveaway

UPDATED 6.18.14: Congratulations to Nancy, Jamie and Sophiesgirl for winning a copy of Malcom’s Blanket! Check your email for further instructions…

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As you read this dear readers, I am winging my way across the country to the Interweave Studios to film a DVD. More on that in a later post, but look up and wave as planes pass over you! I’m on one of those knitting sleepily and drinking caffeine like it’s going out of style.

I’m excited to share this new pattern with you because it’s been a long time in the making.

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Malcolm (Photo by Tovah Moreno-Blank)

Many of you know about our harrowing birth story with our son who just turned 3. Callum was born 2 months early with a host of problems after an emergency c-section. He was kept in the NICU for a month and it was touch and go every day. I look back on that month spent in a windowless room, growing immune to the beeps and alarms, the rushing of footsteps and the fluorescent lighting as I sat next to my son in his isolate incubator awaiting text results, not being able to hold him more than 20 minutes a day. I’d walk through the lobby and see the happy moms who got to take their children home after giving birth and want to find a corner to go and scream at the top of my lungs. Like many things in life, unless you’ve been in that situation when your world is crumbling, you have no idea what it feels like.

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I met Honey while teaching. Teaching is a funny thing… You go into it with a bunch of students, you share an experience, you bond over knitting and you hope to see them in another class and watch their skills grow and grow. Every now and then you meet someone super special and you have an instant connection. I suppose all friendships are like that, but when I’m in “teacher mode” I’m so focused on making sure everyone is happy, they’re comfortable and they’re getting the technique to think “hey, I could be friends with this person outside of class.” Honey took a number of classes with me and I liked her right from the get go, especially when she invited me over to knit and watch Game of Thrones. A woman after my own heart.

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When Honey told me she was pregnant I immediately started flipping through the baby patterns stored in my brain wondering what I would knit her. I was even more excited to learn that she too would have a son and she was moving right down the street from us. She had taken a lace baby blanket class with me and struggled to finish, so I knew I would knit her that pattern.

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I wouldn’t wish our birth experience on anyone, so when Honey texted me to tell me that she was having a similar situation with her son coming 6 weeks early, I sprinted to my LYS, bought some Lorna’s Laces Worsted Superwash and Knit. Like. The. Wind. I have never knit a blanket so fast, and while I knew things would be dicey for a while, just as they were with us, I wanted her to have it for Malcolm in the hospital. Knitting says so much on its own – I am thinking about you and your family. Someday we’ll look back on this and think “how the heck did we survive that?” I’ve got your back for whatever you need. I will do whatever I can to help you get through this. You will be ok. He will be ok.

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Many months later, I’m happy to say that Malcolm is thriving (and so cute!). I like to name projects after people who are important to me, and always name something after a friend has had a baby in honor of them. This is a special case because Honey and I were in the trenches together, sharing a similar birth experience. Meet Malcolm’s Blanket, an elegant, heirloom-style baby blanket named after Honey’s sweet little boy. Knit on US 7s and using 5 hanks of gorgeous hand dyed Zen Garden Serenity Worsted (a merino, cashmere and nylon superwash blend) in Blue Hawaii, this is a great project for anyone expecting a little one. The pattern has a good rhythm and makes for good TV or travel knitting. Walking through the woods to photograph it with my son running beside me gathering rocks and bugs, it reminded me just how far we’ve come. I look forward to the day when Callum and Malcolm will run and play together.

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In honor of Callum’s recent 3rd birthday, I’ll be giving away 3 copies of the Malcolm’s Blanket pattern (open to residents worldwide). Leave a comment on the blog answering this trivia question: The name “Callum” is of Gaelic origin and means what? Bonus points if you know what his middle name “Finnegan” means.

Three winners will be chosen at random on Wednesday.

Download the pattern here.

Warrior Shawl & Giveaway

UPDATE 6.11.2014: Congratulations to winner Evie! Evie, please check your email for your pattern!

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Breast cancer is scary. Let me rephrase that… All cancers are scary, but one that has its lazer-like focus on mostly women (yes, men can get breast cancer, too) and being a woman myself, it adds in an extra scariness factor.

I was approached by a student and friend, Eileen Mitchard earlier this year about doing a design for the cause. I assumed she meant a design that would call attention to the disease, but it turned into so much more than that.

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Breast in Show is a live stage musical written by Lisa Hayes with music and lyrics by Joan Cushing.  The show was conceived of by Eileen and is based on interviews conducted with patients, medical personnel and family members by Ms. Mitchard, Ms. Hayes and Ms. Cushing over a period of  two years. Show synopsis: Welcome to the “Chemo Café,” where strangers become friends sharing an unforgettable journey of laughter and tears on the road to healing. Join these warriors on a life-affirming rollercoaster of emotions in this original stage musical.

I immediately knew my answer would be “yes.” I’m a huge fan of women helping women, but the thing that’s so frightening about this particular type of cancer, is that we’re all connected to it somehow. We all have known someone who is currently fighting the battle against breast cancer, has fought it in the past, is getting ready to fight it, has sadly lost their battle, knows a friend of a friend going through it, an aunt, a sister, a mother, a grandmother… This disease is everywhere and we’ve all been touched by it in some way. Eileen herself is a fighter, having fought her own medical battle regarding her heart and winning.

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I lost a friend in January to cancer. While it wasn’t breast cancer (it was cervical cancer), she was one of the three women instrumental in teaching me to knit. I knew her almost my entire life and when I read about chemo and how it often makes the recipient cold, I immediately put all of my knitting aside and knit a cozy shawl for her. She told me how much she loved it and how she wrapped it around her neck while receiving treatment. She came to mind when Eileen and I were throwing around ideas for what to knit for the show and I knew a shawl would be the perfect design.

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There’s something special about shawls. They wrap the wearer in warmth, yes, but each stitch is so much more than just one stitch. As I knit the shawl for my friend who lost her battle, I thought of her with every single stitch that flew across my needles. The art of packing a shawl with good intentions, thoughts and good vibes is called knitting a “prayer shawl,” and the Warrior Shawl is coming from the same vein. The shape is reminiscent of wings, while the “spine” going down the middle reminds us to stand strong and fight our battles. The border is made of hearts and it would be easy to add a bit of sparkle and throw some beads on there.

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In Breast in Show, the survivors become “warriors,” so what better way to honor these women than to call this design the Warrior Shawl? Knit in Dragonfly Fiber’s stunning handdyed superwash, Traveller DK, this shawl can be knit for yourself, a friend, a survivor, someone undergoing their battle currently or a prayer handed over to someone who simply needs one. Eileen is encouraging everyone to knit their shawl and wear it to the show, which will be playing at the 2014 Capital Fringe festival in DC July 10 -27, 2014.

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More information on the show can be found here.

What I’m most proud of in this shawl is that 100% of the pattern proceeds are going towards funding the show. As I knit it, I thought of my friend, now gone but certainly never forgotten. She would have loved this shawl and I would have loved knitting one for her.

You can also join the Warrior Shawl KAL (knit-a-long) hosted by Fibre Space in Alexandria, VA on Ravelry. Anyone can knit-a-long, it’s virtual so you don’t have to be local. Join us!

Pattern available for download here.

One lucky winner will win a copy of the Warrior Shawl pattern. Leave a comment on this post about how breast cancer has touched your life. A winner will be chosen at random on Wednesday.

New American Knits Giveaway!

UPDATE 6.6.14:  Congratulations to Emma, the winner of New American Knits. Emma, please check your email for further instructions.

Yes, Massachusetts was the 6th state and I did indeed grow up in Norwell.

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It’s no secret I’m a fan of our great country.

Yes, a country – like people – is always a work in progress, but I’m proud of the ingenuity that continues to come from our fellow citizens. One of my very favorite things about knitting is that it’s truly universal. Sure, some of us may be continental knitters, other English, we may have a few “pit knitters” who tuck the needle under their armpit, or throw it around their neck like the do in Portugal, but we all end up with a knit stitch that looks universally the same. I used to teach in a women’s shelter when we lived in New York and only half the women spoke English. The great thing about volunteering there was it didn’t matter what I spoke or what they spoke – we communicated through our knitting, a lot of them told me they forgot their troubles for a couple of hours and we bonded over our craft, like so many millions of women have done before us.

I was excited to get my hands on a copy of Amy Christoffers’ new book, New American Knits (Interweave / F+W; $24.99). I was immediately drawn to the title and was interested to see what Amy’s take on classic American sportswear patterns was.

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I was lucky enough to work with Amy when she had a garment in my Knitting Architecture book. I loved the cardigan inspired by the Arts & Crafts Movement she designed and knit. She was recently announced as the new Design Director for Berroco and you can read her blog here. Talk about a talented lady!

I found this book to have quite a few designs I’d want to knit. I like “sporty” knits and am very much a cardigan girl. This book has a great balance of both cardis and pullovers with a few accessories like a cowl, shawl and fingerless mitts thrown in coming to total of 20 patterns. I liked the yarn choices and the palette was nicely paired with the photo location. All of the garments would be ideal wardrobe staples and are classic enough that they can be worn for years to come. In true Interweave fashion, the charts were easy to read, the schematics clear and readable and the garments had a nice array of sizes provided. I wear a lot of jeans and t-shirts with over-the-top sparkly jewelry, and a lot of these designs would fit into my style.

A few of my favorites from the book:

New_American_Knits_-_Benton_Cardigan_beauty_shot_medium2I really want to knit this red sweater. I love cables and calling for a worsted means it would knit up pretty quickly!

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New_American_Knits_-_Rockwell_Hat_beauty_shot_medium2

New_American_Knits_-_Hopper_Cardigan_beauty_shot_medium2And now for the giveaway!

Leave the answer to this trivia question in the comment section of this post to be entered to win a copy of this fantastic book (USA residents only, please): Massachusetts became part of our nation as which number state (I am from Massachusetts. Bonus points if you know the town I grew up in)?

A winner will be randomly chosen on Friday, June 6th.

 

 

 

 

Bring on the Sparkle

If you’re a frequent TanisKnits reader, you’ve probably come to recognize some of my knitwear models. There’s my son of course, my son’s gorgeous and amazing preschool teacher, knitting friends, playground mom friends, friends from college and high school, friends who are actually models and 2 little girls that frequent our lives on a weekly basis. I find time and time again, people you know and are comfortable with make better models, hands down.

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Brynna and Rory are the daughters of a dear friend, Mary Beth, and both have modeled for me before. Both girls come with their mom to our house on Wednesday evenings for dinner and playtime, while their mom and I chat it up in the kitchen. I met their mother in a knitting class I taught and she quickly became not only one of my favorite students, but a great friend, especially when we learned we lived a few blocks away from each other on Capitol Hill.

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Even though we’ve moved across the river to Virginia, it’s only a handful of miles away and we see them often. They come here to crash on Wednesday evenings before I teach and they head off to Irish Step Dancing class. I’ve enjoyed getting to know them better, watch how they and my son interact, watching them growing into wonderful young ladies and get some adult time with another crafty mom while they play.

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School and Irish Step have recently come to and end for the summer season. While we’ll continue our visits at the water spray ground and random playdates during the hot months, I wanted to send them off with something special, something very THEM. I dug through my yarn and came across a lone skein of Cascade’s Cherub Aran Sparkle in “striking purple.” A bright fuchsia-colored yarn with SPARKLES for 2 girls under the age of 8? I can’t think of a better yarn to use to make them a little something special until we return to our breakneck pace in the fall.

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Wanting to make them something they could share and wear, I decide to knit each of them up a headband with a botanical theme. I knit up 2 and realized I had more than enough for 2 more. 4 headbands out of 1 skein? Yes! I love yardage that seems to go on and on forever and this didn’t disappoint with 240 yards. Cherub Aran Sparkle meets all the standards I have when knitting for other people’s children – it’s incredibly soft (the metallic strand doesn’t make it itchy like some yarns with metallic in them can be with 54% nylon, 42% acrylic, 4% metallic), it’s superwash (hooray for yarns that can go in the washer and dryer!), it had over a dozen colors to choose from, many of which were ideal for these self-described “girly girls,” the yardage was generous, the price point was great and most importantly, I knew both girls would love it!

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Knitting up swiftly on US 7s, the patterns are easy to adjust for any head circumference. Shorten or lengthen the cord ties, or add or subtract lace reps to fit your needs. There are 4 botanical-themed bands to choose from, with a few leaf patterns, a daisy and some interesting edges happening. Knit 1 or all! How cute would these be for a flower girl at a wedding, birthday party favors or just for dress up?

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Happy summertime!

Download the free pattern here.