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8th Grade Knitter!

The below local(ish) story is a wonderful example of knitting and a great idea creating a future businesswoman!


BALTIMORE —A Baltimore City middle school student who became the CEO of a business she started has created a product that earns her thousands of dollars, and she only wants to build from there.

Eighth-grader Lily DeBell’s knitting is helping her spin a huge amount of success, and it’s all centered around legwarmers.

“In seventh grade, you do a unit where you learn about economics and entrepreneurship, and then you learn about those skills through creating a business model,” Lily told 11 News reporter Jason Newton.

A year later, the Roland Park Elementary-Middle School student’s business, called Lily’s Legwarmers, offers products that are created with organic materials, such as wool and Alpaca fleece. That’s her biggest selling point.

“Synthetic fibers aren’t breathable and don’t trap and release heat in an organic way, which is bad for dancers because they need heat to warm up their muscles and make them more flexible to lower their risk of injury,” Lily explained.

Her class work included research, marketing and cost analyst, earning her a $25,000 prize in a nationwide challenge by the Network for Teaching Entrepreneurship. She beat high school and college-aged challengers in that competition, which is an impressive feat to her teachers.

“We’re dealing with a young lady who not only has an incredible sense of self, but possibility,” said Lily’s teacher, Karl Sanzenbacher.

Those possibilities are endless.

“I want to hire more labor. I want to get insured and find a wholesaler, and after that, I’d like to expand our products and just keep growing the business and make more sales,” Lily said.

The middle-schooler said she is working to partner with about five area senior centers. Her hope is to hire residents to help her with the knitting.


Nyra Cowl

This past spring I taught a workshop at The Knitter’s Nook in Columbus, Indiana. The entire city is an architectural gem and I had an amazing time teaching, meeting new knitters and making friends that will last a lifetime. One of these friends was Nyra, the owner of Knitter’s Nook. Nyra and I clicked instantly (she picked me up at the airport waving a hank of yarn and that bonded us forever) and I was sad to say goodbye to her and her wonderful family when the workshop was over.


In honor of Nyra, I designed the Nyra Cowl, a faux-cabled (it’s really lace!) cowl with wrapped stitches knit in the round with 3 hanks of Shibui Staccato fingering weight yarn. I have been in love with Latvian Braids forever and they work well dividing up the lace sections. It would also knit up beautifully in sock yarn or even DK for a bigger cowl.


Originally designed as a workshop exclusive, I’m pleased to finally offer this cowl up to knitters everywhere. This would make a great gift for the upcoming holidays! Stay tuned for more small projects ideal for holiday knitting coming each week until the season is upon us.


Download the Nyra Cowl here.

Knitting with Glass

I ran across this article last week and it amazed me! Next time you find yourself knitting with something you are less than thrilled with and find difficult to work with (cotton, mohair, linen!) remember this article and remind yourself that those tricky fibers are nothing compared to this!


The impossible craft of knitting with glass

ART / OCTOBER 16 2014

Seattle-based artist Carol Milne literally knits with glass. That is, she creates beautiful glass sculptures depicting yarn-like strands that loop around knitting needles. With glass having a melting point of roughy 815°C, how can she possibly manipulate the material into these intricate formations?

The secret lies in a technique invented by Milne in 2006 which involves aspects of knitting, lost-wax casting, mold-making, and kiln-casting. First, a model of the sculpture is made from wax which is then encased by a refractory mold material that can withstand extremely high temperatures. Next, hot steam is used to melt the wax, leaving behind an empty cavity in the shape of the artwork.

Pieces of room temperature glass are then placed inside the mold which is then heated to 1,400-1,600 degrees Fahrenheit depending on the type of glass. To conclude, the piece is slowly cooled over a period of several weeks, followed by a careful excavation process, where Milne delicately chips away like an archaeologist to reveal the final piece.

In Lieu of Rhinebeck…

This past weekend was the Rhinebeck Sheep & Wool Festival. When we lived in New York City, driving up the morning of, spending the day there, stuffing ourselves to the gills with chicken pot pie, fried artichokes and apple cider, then driving home the same night in a food coma with a trunk full of wool was easy. We didn’t have to worry about where to stay, what to do if all the restaurants had crazy wait times, rabid knitters or bathroom lines.

Great Falls

Great Falls

Earlier this week I finally got home from filming my third season of Knitting Daily TV (read about that in last week’s post) and all I wanted to do was spend time with my family. Northern Virginia is place rich with history, museums, trails and scenery. The leaves were stunning and we hiked our way to Great Falls on Saturday, then to the Claude Moore Colonial Farm on Sunday.

In the same vein as Williamsburg but on about 1/15th the scale, the Colonial Farm at Turkey Run is a living history museum that portrays family life on a small, low-income farm in 1771, just prior to the Revolutionary War. The popularity of the Farm is due in large part to its continuing focus on authenticity and its ongoing encouragement of both child and adult visitors to participate in the daily activities of an 18th century family farm. Experiential learning is a growing trend with most museums and the Farm has been a leader in this. Williamsburg is an entire town and an experience while this is much more focused on the life of one family on a much smaller scale.


Colonial Woman Making Soap


Plants Drying Out for Cooking, Dyeing, Soap & Decoration

Colonial-Era Looms for Ribbons & Ties

Colonial-Era Reproductions of Looms for Ribbons & Ties

We were lucky enough to go on a weekend during their thrice-yearly Market Fair, with activities for kids, authentic shopping, historic demos and tradespeople out practicing their craft. Obviously, I drifted to the yarn stall immediately! The lady and I talked extensively about the natural dyeing process of yarns and she was prepping to start spinning at her wheel. I’ve tried a lot of the natural dyes she had out on display and it was interesting to see a few of them in the natural form, rather than getting it as a powder ready-made. We shared tips and ideas and I was pleased she knew so much.


Yarn Stall


Roving for Spinning Demo


Yarn Dyed with Natural Ingredients


Herbs, Plants and Bugs for Natural Dyeing


Yarn-Related Images from Colonial Books

Around the corner from the yarn stall was a man making rope. “Making rope?” you ask? Yes! He was fascinating to listen to and he showed us all sorts of materials he had used to make rope (oddly similar to drop spindling, but with different materials and done without the spindle) such as white birch, mahogany bark, jute, hemp, animal intestines (yes, intestines) that made almost a wavy-like rope, flax, corn husk, birch, strawberry vine… Pretty much name it and this man had tried making rope out of it. I never knew so many materials could be made into rope and he demoed a few techniques that were the same as in knitting as far as twisting and plying. I left with a length of rope he gifted me and I’ll never take the rope section at Home Depot for granted again. Making rope is more tedious than making yarn and in some cases, the lives of Colonial people depended on good, strong rope for bridges, bundling crops at harvest time and strong fences to last throughout all seasons.

Rope Stall

Rope Stall


Choosing Materials

Different Types of Rope

Different Types of Rope

Further down we came across men making both circular and rectangular baskets out of white birch strips. He wasn’t as chatty as the rope or yarn people, but he had clearly been making baskets for years and each was unique. What’s so great about places like Williamsburg, the Claude Moore Colonial Farm and other historic experiences, is the people stay in character and stay true to their time. Ask them if you can take a picture with your camera and they may ask “what’s a camera?” This can be frustrating if you’re asking about something they’re demoing, but they were less strict about it at Claude Moore and more willing to share information than other places we’ve been to. Very family friendly, inexpensive and authentic lunches, fire pits, sword demos, puppet shows and animals made this a day we all really enjoyed. Definitely stop by if you’re local.

Starting a Circular Basket

Starting a Circular Basket

Finishing a Rectangular Basket

Finishing a Rectangular Basket

Am I sorry I missed Rhinebeck? Sure, but not really. We had an amazing time as a family, got plenty of beautiful fall weather time outside, learned a lot and went to bed happy. Rhinbeck will be there waiting for me next year.

Over the next few weeks I’ll be introducing a bunch of new patterns here on the blog, ideal for holiday knitting… Stay tuned!


Wire Trees

I saw this article online with stunning trees made out of wire. While it’s not knitting-related, it does remind me of lace knitting, yarn overs, dedication to your art and the sheer beauty of wonderful craftsmanship. Enjoy!


Dense Wire Tree Sculptures by Clive Maddison

by Christopher Jobson

Dense Wire Tree Sculptures by Clive Maddison wire trees sculpture

Dense Wire Tree Sculptures by Clive Maddison wire trees sculpture

Dense Wire Tree Sculptures by Clive Maddison wire trees sculpture

Dense Wire Tree Sculptures by Clive Maddison wire trees sculpture

Dense Wire Tree Sculptures by Clive Maddison wire trees sculpture

Dense Wire Tree Sculptures by Clive Maddison wire trees sculpture

Using nothing but wire, sculptor Clive Madison creates tangled trees that grow from wooden bases into dense clusters of leaves and branches. Each piece is made by hand without glue or solder, using single strands of wire that start at the base and terminate at the top. You can see many more pieces on his website, and several are available through Lee Champman Gallery. (via Ghost in the Machine).

Hampton Cowl & Knitting Daily!

It’s been a busy week here at TanisKnits. On Sunday I flew out to Ohio to film my third season of Knitting Daily TV with Vickie Howell! I’ve always enjoyed working on Knitting Daily TV as it gives you a chance to meet new designers, hang out with designers you admire, learn new things, see old friends and work on a big project together. My old segment, “Tools of the Trade” was switched up this year and became “Stitch Sampler,” where I teach viewers interesting stitches. I love teaching and this gives me a chance to go beyond the classroom walls and right into your living room. Getting a chance to be Vickie’s cohost (and I’m in every episode) is a wonderful thing. Here are a few highlights!


I also released a new pattern for autumn this week, the Hampton Cowl. Knit in Dragonfly Fiber’s Super Traveler yarn with 1 hank of each color, this cowl is designed to be an ideal beginner Fair Isle pattern as well as a quick knit. I chose a variegated and a solid, but any colors would work! I always love the combination of corrugated ribbing and Fair Isle with a bulky yarn and it’s so satisfying to knit because to goes so fast. My friend Louisa from Knitting Daily TV was kind enough to be my model and we ran out into the wilds of Ohio between takes of the show for our photo shoot.





Download the Hampton Cowl pattern here. Happy fall!


Work Space

I’ve been asked a lot about my work space lately, especially with the opening of my brand new Etsy shop. People assume I have this amazing, magical, grand-scale, sparkly studio all to myself. And it’s true.


Except for the grand-scale part.


We live in a row house built in 1939 when people apparently were very short and didn’t need closets. My “studio” is what my neighbor (since we all have the same layout) uses as her closet and I can pretty much stand in the middle and touch both walls with my arms outstretched. However, necessity is indeed the mother of invention and I make it work. The best part? I am able to have all my books readily available, Ikea makes tiny desks, I have a window and most importantly, a door I can close and walk away from if I need to. My sewing machine lives in our living room in the corner and that’s the best place for it right now.


Welcome to my studio, fellow knitters! What does your space look like?