The Friday Five: Tanis Gray
What is your personal history with knitting and Star Wars?
I’m a huge Star Wars fan. I’ve always been a nerd—a proud nerd!
My mom taught me to knit when I was eight years old. I have a sleep disorder and wake up early. My dad taught me how to use the television and my mom taught me how to knit so I could amuse myself while they slept. I went on to graduate from the Rhode Island School of Design and have worked for Vogue Knitting, Martha Stewart, and then in film and television art departments. I got tired of the hours so started designing and publishing my own knitting designs. Star Wars: Knitting the Galaxy is my eleventh book. I love making things—it allowed me to find my people.
What elements make a compelling knitting project and how does the Star Wars universe fit within that?
What I like about knitting is that it’s multi-faceted. There are infinite knitting techniques, colours, and designs to create and use. You can work with what you already have or buy new yarn. You can make a quick hat or a bigger project like a sweater. People can find their favourite characters in Knitting the Galaxy and try something new, maybe even a technique that’s new to them!
My son is a BB-8 fan—there’s no pressure like the pressure from your children.
What projects will people find in the book?
There are garments, accessories, toys, and home décor. There are 28 patterns in total. We run the gamut of skill level. It’s really important to me that all skill levels are equally represented and that there is more than just one pattern for beginners. Knitting is sticks and string—it’s not a huge leap to make a scarf and then move up to a sweater.
With the pandemic, it’s the perfect time to try something new and most people are better at knitting than they think. And, I’m big on size inclusivity. I received tons of emails after I released my Harry Potter knitting book from people so excited they could finally knit a sweater in their size. In Star Wars, everyone comes in different shapes and sizes. We have patterns that fit children but also adults up to a 70-inch bust. Everyone in the family can have something. I also like to keep things unisex. All for one and one for all!
The designs in the book include a jaw-dropping beaded lace shawl with the Rebel symbols on the back, a Darth Vader pullover, Rey’s vest and arm warmers, sock and mitt patterns.
If someone at home is not a Star Wars fan, you’ll know someone who is. Gift knitting is a great thing. Long after I’m gone, my kids will fight over my knitting. Our crafts will outlive us.
What patterns didn’t make it into the book?
Lucas Films sees all the submissions. There are many stages of approval and things will get knocked off the list as we go. Some patterns get made but don’t get to the photography stage for one reason or another. We go through a four- to five-month period where everyone is knitting for the book. I work with the designers and knitters whose work I admire or who can offer a different technique. I want to include stuff that people will want to make. I have a lot of knitting books that are beautiful but the patterns are fussy. I want you to live your life in these knits.
You also published a book of Harry Potter knitting patterns in 2020. Are you planning more pop-culture-influenced knitting books?
I am! I’m working on two now that haven’t been announced yet. One is a sequel to one of my books and the other is a new franchise. I want to knit what I love. I’ve been watching Star Wars since I was in the womb. You have to love the subject matter or else the patterns fall flat. If you’re latched on to the characters, that makes the book super strong. There is so much research that goes into my books, the love and joy make for a better book. It’s work but it’s still fun. We also sprinkle the book with film stills, behind-the-scenes photos, and trivia. I love these books because I get to nerd-out and then share that with people.
We have to make our own joy, especially now. I hope this book brings people some light in a really dark time.
Learn more about Gray’s work on her website. Star Wars: Knitting the Galaxy is available through independent book stores and online retailers.
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