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Baby Blankets!

I love knitting and designing baby blankets. I enjoy thinking of the new baby that will be wrapped up snugly in it, possibly right after being born or on the drive home from the hospital. Babies are so new, so full of promise and delight.

L-R Clockwise: Kinderhook, Palone, Susannah, Enver

Our house is chock full of things to keep you warm – knitted baby blankets, swaddles, quilts, sweaters. Baby blankets make an ideal gift and can be passed down from baby to baby. Nothing pleases me more to see a blanket I’ve knit or quilted for someone in tatters, being dragged around behind a toddler and obviously deeply loved. Whenever I gift a blanket or quilt I press it into the new mom’s arms, look her in the eyes and say, “Use it. Do not keep this in a closet somewhere and think of it as ‘precious.’ Get it dirty, let them sleep with it, bring it on car trips, give it to the next baby, throw it in the washing machine, and let me know when it needs patching.” One of the things I love most about knitting is we live our lives in it – it’s not meant to be shoved to the bottom of the closet and not used.

L-R Clockwise: Antonia, Lorelai, Malcolm, Owen

Astrid turns 3 weeks old today. As I sit here slowly typing with one hand while snuggling her on my shoulder with the other, she reminds me why I knit for others. Everyone should be so lucky to be welcomed into the world with a new blanket, each stitch made with love.

L-R Clockwise: Neapolitan, Mother of Dragons, Finn

In honor of this little bundle snoring softly in my ear, with the purchase of any TanisKnits pattern, pick one of the above TanisKnits baby blanket patterns for free until Wednesday, March 29th at midnight with coupon code SNUGGLE. This includes Mother of Dragons, Neapolitan Baby Blanket, Enver Baby Blanket, Palone Baby Blanket, Owen’s Blanket, Malcolm’s Blanket, Antonia Blanket, Susannah, Kinderhook Blanket, Finn’s Blanket, and Lorelai (note – I have other baby blanket designs but they are not under the TanisKnits line and are not included in the sale. Offer good only with TanisKnits patterns, no exceptions).

Grab your needles, your positive thoughts, your superwash yarn and start knitting!

Embroidered Photographs

*Tap, tap.* This thing on?

I’m delighted to announce the arrival of our baby girl, Astrid. Astrid arrived a bit earlier than her scheduled c-section and we are settling into life as a foursome. I’m healing up, enjoying the blissful newborn stage, and I’ll be back to our regularly scheduled program soon.

More on that later, but in the meantime, I came across this interesting artist who embroiders on top of vintage photographs of unknown faces and was smitten with her colorful, unique work. I definitely wanted to share with you, dear readers. Original article found here.


Found Photographs Embroidered With Colorful Thread by Julie Cockburn

“The Conundrum” (2016), hand embroidery on found photograph, all images courtesy of Flowers Gallery London and New York

London-based artist Julie Cockburn transforms vintage photographs by embroidering across their surfaces, adding bright pops of thread to portraits that are either black and white or have faded over time. Using found images from eBay and flea markets, Cockburn obscures the faces of strangers, layering the portraits with multi-colored dots, geometric patterns, or ovals in varying gradients.

Cockburn will exhibit work with The Photographers’ Gallery at The Photography Show presented by AIPAD March 30 through April 2, 2017 on New York City’s Pier 94. You can see more of Cockburn’s embroidered images on her Instagram and Facebook.

“Quizitive” (2016)

“Honeydew” (2013)

“The Secret” (2012)

“Point of View” (2014)

“The Orthodontist” (2014)

“Viewpoint” (2012)

“Morphine” (2014)

“Troublemaker” (2015)

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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Scenes from Selbu

 

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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