Tuesday, October 2, 2012

Tanis Gray- Capitol Knits Book and Giveaway!

The Capitol Shawl, Cover Photo
            We were so thrilled to recently receive a copy of Tanis Gray's "Capitol Knits." We love Tanis' lovely designs in the book (and her other work as well) and thought a guest blog and giveaway would be lots of fun. In light of the upcoming election, it's nice to put politics aside, and focus on the beautiful monuments that make our capitol city such a wonderful place to visit and in Tanis' case, live. Not only that, it reminds us of the rich history that has shaped our country into what it is today. Here is what Tanis had to say about Capitol Knits, designing, and living in our nations capitol:

           JBW- Can you give us a super quick (2-3 sentences) description of Capitol Knits for our readers who might be new to you and your work?

The Capitol Shawl, full view

          Tanis- Capitol Knits is inspired by the 
          city I live in, the nation’s capital, Washington, 
          DC. There is so much history and inspiration 
          here and it’s like living in a history book. I 
          wanted to combine my love for knitting and 
          my love of this city into a collection of 
          patterns, historical facts, interesting tidbits 
          and beautiful photos.

            JBW- You give a great description of how your love for Washington DC inspired you to create this book in the forward, can you re-cap that for us here?

            Tanis- It’s impossible to not be inspired by DC. The incredible architecture, what goes on here day-to-day, the people, the art, the foliage and the museums… It’s all part of our country’s beating heart and I’m lucky to have that be my backyard.

            JBW- Do you have a favorite design (or designs) from the book that you’d like to highlight for us?  What makes this design(s) your favorite?

The Lincoln Cardigan
           Tanis- I love the Lincoln Cardigan. Cables, lace, ¾ sleeves and top-down cardi construction are some of my favorite elements in a sweater. The Lincoln Monument is a favorite of many and where it’s situated, the history of both the building and what happened there is breathtaking. It’s also very special to me because that was the last thing I shot for the book. My model and I were up at 4:30am, trekking through the darkness to be there for sunrise, lugging cameras, knitting and clothes, freezing. We had it to ourselves and it was magical. It’s always so crowded and you could hear a pin drop when we were there. We stood on the same spot where Martin Luther King gave his “I Have a Dream” speech and soaked up the history, the silence and what we had accomplished together in making this book. My model is a good friend of mine and having her there on the journey with me made it even more special. It was one of those mornings I’ll remember forever.
Lincoln Cardi, back view

           JBW- According to your blog, it seems you’ve been 
           working in the knitting industry for quite a while. How did 
           you find your way into this industry?

           Tanis- It was a pretty crooked path. I went to RISD and 
           majored in Film, Animation and video. I had always had the
           goal of working for Pixar, but life can be funny and pull the 
           rug out from under you. I’d always been very crafty and got 
           a job freelancing for Martha Stewart and animation for 
           HBO’s Family Channel. I moved to New York City, began working in film and television in the art department, met 
            my husband and decided that leaving for work at 5am and getting home at midnight was not sustainable. I got the 
            job for Yarn Editor at Vogue Knitting, worked there for 4 
           years until my husband took his dream job in Washington, 
           DC and now here we are.

Constitution Hall Scarf
           JBW- What made you want to start designing knitting patterns?

           Tanis- My mom taught me how to knit when I was 8. I got very into knitting mittens and everyone I ever knew got at least 1 pair from me. We refer to this as my “mitten period.” Eventually, I learned how to tweak a pattern, make my own designs and knit exactly what I wanted. It was empowering. When I started at Vogue Knitting, my boss, Trisha Malcolm, encouraged me to design my first sweater and the rest is history.

           JBW- As a designer and author do you have any advice for those folks out there who are just starting to design on how to make a living doing what they love?

           Tanis- It’s a tough industry. The arts have always been under-appreciated and sometimes the submission process can leave you wondering if you should give up. I always tell people that your design wasn’t rejected because it was bad, it may not have fit into the story the Editors are trying to tell, or the technique wasn’t what they were looking for. You have to keep going, keep trying, keep learning, and keep exploring. I still take classes in knitting every now and then because you never know what you’ll learn. I think once you lose you thirst for knowledge; you simply cannot grow any longer as a designer and person. 
E Pluribus Unum Cowl

           JBW- Have you ever had a celebrity moment as a 
           designer? What was that like? (Or, if not, have you seen 
           your designs being worn on the street randomly? Tell us 
           about it.)

           Tanis- I’ve seen my designs on both the streets of New 
           York and DC on random people and knitted up in shops 
           as shop samples. Anthropologie is famous for knocking 
           off knitwear designs and they’ve “borrowed” a few of my 
            pieces. I really like when people do KAL (knit-a-longs) 
            with my designs because that’s what makes crafting wonderful. Knitting together with your friends in a group, chatting and stitching, all working on the same project 
            either together or online. Crafting is a global community 

           JBW- What is next on the horizon for you as a designer?

           Tanis- I have a few books up my sleeve coming down the pipeline and I’ll continue to do the social media for a few yarn companies and freelance for the knitting magazines and books. The knitting world is so small and I love being part of it and watching what’s coming up. I also want to get knitting needles in my son’s hands as soon as he is able.

Library of Congress Hat
           JBW- Do you have any fun “behind-the-scenes” photos we could use for the blog post?  

            Tanis- I live in a tiny apartment in the city with a husband, son and pug. My “studio” is any available space! No photos!

           JBW- And now for the lightening round! Where did you grow up?

           Tanis Gray-I grew up south east of Boston in a tiny little town called Norwell, right near the ocean and on the North River.

           JBW- What time do you start work?

National Gallery Shawl
           Tanis Gray- I have a toddler, so we’re pretty 
           much up with the sunrise and the day 
           begins. The second he’s down for a nap I 
           sit down and get as much work done as possible. The same goes for when it’s his bedtime and I get most of my work done at night.

           JBW- Tell us about your previous life—you 
           know, before knitting…

            Tanis Gray- I worked at Martha Stewart 
            briefly before she went to jail, then did 
            some animation for HBO Family and found my way to film and commercials working in the art department. That was fun but the hours are brutal and it’s very much a man’s world.

Summerhouse Hat and Mitts
           JBW- What is your favorite non-knitting hobby?

           Tanis Gray- I love sewing and aspire to be great at it. Maybe someday! I also really enjoy cooking.

           JBW- A little known fact about you?

           Tanis Gray- I have had a sleeping disorder my entire life. People always ask me how I manage to get so much done, especially with a little one running around, but when you don’t need much sleep, it’s amazing what you can accomplish!

           JBW- Your favorite book?

           Tanis Gray- I love The Story of Edgar Sawtelle by David Wroblewski. It’s one of those books that you either love it or hate it.

           JBW- Biggest accomplishment?

           Tanis Gray- Being a mom was always something I had dreamed and hoped for. It’s even better than I could have possibly imagined.

           Thank you so much to Tanis for the interview! Be sure to check out her knitting adventures via the following social media outlets:

           Website: www.tanisknits.com
           Ravelry Page: http://www.ravelry.com/designers/tanis-gray
           Facebook Page: https://www.facebook.com/tanis.gray
           Twitter Feed: https://twitter.com/tanisgray 

           If you would like to win a copy of Capitol Knits, please leave a comment on this post telling us what project from the book you would knit first. I'll choose a winner at random and announce it in this coming Friday's Blog post. Good luck!

           Hope you all are having a great week!

           PS. I apologize for the wonky formatting of this post. Blogger just changed their formatting and it's a mind-boggling learning curve. Hopefully all will return to normal soon! Thanks for your patience! :)


  1. Lincoln Cardigan, please! It has all the features I look for in a sweater.

  2. The Constitutional Hall Scarf is what I'd knit, without a doubt. All the patterns appeal to me, but this scarf is really me! I loved reading this interview. I'm fascinated by such talented and creative people and I love to know what inspires them, how they became successful and just a little bit of personal stuff. Great post about one of my favorite designers!

  3. E Pluribus Unum Cowl! I like the pattern and the versatility of it. It is casual, but at the same time, elegant.

  4. i would love to win a copy of capitol knits! i've had my eye on the union station infinity cowl for quite a while!

  5. I haven't seen the whole book yet but I love the garments -- and the photos! -- you've shown. The Lincoln cardigan might be my first choice.

  6. ooooh!

    it would have to be the Capitol Shawl!!

    I'm so in the shawl mode lately and that's simply gorgeous!

  7. I think I'd start with the National Gallery Shawl, influenced by that stunning photo!

  8. the national gallery shawl. i have the perfect yarns for it.

  9. I would love to knit the Lincoln cardigan for my daughter who lives in the DC area.

  10. Been on a shawl kick lately so I'd probably go with the Capitol Shawl. Or the National Gallery shawl. Both are so pretty!

  11. Library of Congress Hat! I looks so warm and comfortable.

  12. The Lincoln Cardi for my DD who lived in DC. and then one for me too.

  13. The Library of Congress Hat! Thanks for this great giveaway!

  14. The Lincoln cardi and the Constitution Hall Scarf would be my first choices. The shawls are gorgeous too and I'd probably get to those next. Thanks for the chance to win this wonderful book.

  15. I would knit the Capitol shawl first!
    Thanks for this chance to enter the giveaway.

  16. I love the E Pluribus Unum Cowl!

  17. I really want to knit the national gallery shawl. Gorgeousness.

  18. I really love the Lincoln Cardigan.

    knitterlydesigns on Rav

  19. I like the Lincoln Cardigan. It's beautiful!!!! I love the shorter sleeves very much too. I'm "forever" either pushing sleeves up or having to take a cardigan or jacket off at work because of the sleeves getting in the way.

  20. I would make the Constitution Hall Scarf. Thanks
    gussek on Ravelry

  21. Constitution Hall! I love this book--made many trips to DC for work over the years...Love every single design! Wow!

  22. I'd love to make the Lincoln CArdigan-just what I need.

  23. I fell in love with Lincoln Cardigan the moment I saw it! Thanks for the chance to win!

  24. I'm with everyone else on the Lincoln Cardigan, but I could see myself knitting almost everything in this book. One of the strongest collections I've seen in a long time!

  25. I could really use some new mitts and hats for the upcoming winter; the Summerhouse set totally fits the bill!

  26. Um, beautiful collection and presentation! To choose, wow! I love the Capitol Shawl and E Pluribus Unum Cowl, so I would have to start both :) Thank you Tanis and JBW for this opportunity!

  27. I have to pick one pattern? Ok, fine. I'd like to try the Constitution Hall Scarf

    MrsCampbell on Ravelry

  28. I'm going to "need" the Constitution Hall Scarf! I remember meeting Tanis at Looped Knits (my mentor shop) in D.C. Love her, love her knits, loved Looped!

  29. I would probably start with the summerhouse set.

  30. I would love to make the Lincoln Cardigan!

  31. Summerhouse Hat and Mitts are awesome and would be my first knit but not my last! these patterns are beautiful!

  32. ponguette on RavelryOctober 3, 2012 at 2:49 PM

    I'd probably start with the Constitution Hall Scarf because it mixes two of my favorite things, stripes and lace. Gorgeous pattern!

  33. I love the Constitution Hall scarf!

  34. I'd knit the National Gallery Shawl. It is beautiful!

  35. I'd make the Renwick Writers.

  36. I love the constitution scarf... or maybe I'll knit those cute fingerless mitts. Decisions, decisions.

  37. The E Pluribus Unum Cowl looks very interesting! It would be my first choice of a knit from this book.

  38. I just LOVE the scarf, but the cowl would probably win me over. You never know though! Gorgeous designs...

  39. I love the look of the E Pluribus Unum Cowl. All the patterns are great though, and I loved seeing the photos in DC, it's an incredibly interesting city and I hope to get back there one day.

    PS: Congrats to Laura on making the Top 20 under 40 here in Reno, couldn't have been a better pick!

  40. I would make the National Gallery Shawl as I enjoy lace knitting and wearing shawls!!

  41. The Lincoln Cardi first, then the National Gallery Shawl.

  42. I really like that Constitution Hall Scarf...

  43. Summerhouse Hat and Mitts!! That is a great looking hat and mitts, would love to give it a go. :o) Thanks!

    Sandie @ KnitzyBlonde . com

  44. Definitely the National Gallery Shawl. Awesome lace work!

  45. The Lincoln Cardigan would be my first project. I love everything about it.

  46. I'm definitely spoilt for choice - there isn't a pictured knit here that I wouldn't make but I'm first drawn to and love the geometric lines and openwork border of the Capitol Shawl. Beautiful designs. Congratulations.

  47. The lincoln cardigan is amazing!!! It would be first in line for sure.

  48. Love the National Gallery shawl. So beautiful...

  49. Probably the Capital shawl.

  50. I've been itching to do something stripy so I'll probably do the Constitution Hall scarf first.

  51. The National Gallery Shawl is gorgeous and caught my eye immediately. We just got back from DC last week. So much fun.


  52. I'd start with the Lincoln Cardi and who knows where I'd go from there. All of the styles are fantastic looking!

  53. I Love The E Pluribus Unum Cowl. That looks like a fun knit.

  54. The Lincoln Cardigan, it's just gorgeous. The Capitol Shawl and National Gallery Shawl are beautiful too, I would probably make those second.

  55. Mr. Lincoln has always been my hero....so I think it would have to be that cardigan - plus it is gorgeous!

  56. That Constitution Hall scarf looks intimidating but I'd love to try it!

  57. I would have to start with the Constitution Hall scarf since I am new to knitting.