Hat and Cowl Knitting, Sale Yarns and Holidays Yes

The holidays approacheth! I love hosting, getting out the good china, and making pumpkin pies (I think I might need to practice that one this weekend so the T-day ones are perfect…)

Here’s wishing all of you US knitters safe travels, enjoyable times with family and friends and plenty of time to knit over the holiday.

Cold Weather; Knit Faster!

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Look at this awesome t-shirt my mom got for me! This pretty much sums it up…You can find it at Northern Sun. If you’re more girly, this is a unisex style, but I think it’s perfect for layering in the Lair. :)

On My Needles

During this latest cold snap, I realized that the handknitter has no knits! I love wristwarmers and wear them all winter whenever my hands aren’t in buckets of rinsing yarn. I’m working on a pair of the new Gradient Stripe Handwarmers for myself in Hummingbird.

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I’m also working up a quick textured hat and cowl set for myself to keep out the winter wind. Patterns coming soon.

Over the long weekend, when I’m not hosting, feasting and playing indoor mini-golf (new family tradition) I’m thinking about whipping up Kirsten Kapur’s One Day Beret for my sister-in-law and trying some simple ornament designs to surprise the kids…

What are you all knitting? Lots of holiday gifts?

Let It Snow

It’s been very January-like here, with a couple of inches of snow staying on the ground.

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Sasha was excited because the whole backyard was covered with something she could eat. She kept bounding around, snuffling at the ground, then licking her muzzle.

Sale Yarns and Holiday Orders

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More knitters have ordered yarn from us in the last two months than ever before, and we are immensely grateful! I’m dyeing up yarn as fast as I can (including on weekends) and if you’ve ordered yarn, you’ll still get it by Christmas.

We’re making sure to put up ready-to-ship yarns every day between now and December 21st, and to help your holiday jingle,we’ve added many Sale items to the store; just as soft and knittable as all the rest, but unusual colors, or with small color spotting, one knot, etc.

Indie Gift-a-Long

Wow, 293 independent designers are participating this year! This is a great chance to get literally thousands of wonderful patterns on sale, and they’ve got tons of activities, KAL’s and chances to win goodies in the Giftalong Group on Ravelry.

Have a lovely weekend and stay warm,

Jaala

Podcast #52

Amy is back from Vogue Knitting Live Chicago, and Jaala talks about her new yarn!

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Mentioned this episode:

Listen on Libsyn or iTunes.

Favorite Knitted Gifts

November is here, so the knitting world is experience a giant virtual cast on party for gifts! Whether you’re trying to create a sweater for your dad, dishcloths for everyone in your book club, or a shawl for a friend, you’re probably experiencing the excitement of choosing patterns to knit.  Now may not be the time to experiment wildly; I know I like tried-and-true patterns if I’m on a deadline.

Cindy and I have compiled lists of our favorite go-to patterns for giving to loved ones.

Silk Moon Crescent Shawlette

Silk Moon Crescent Shawlette

Of course, the first is my own Silk Moon Crescent Shawlette pattern; the garter stitch and easy-to-predict increases make this an easy knit to complete. It’s 400 yards of any weight yarn.

Wendy D Johnson’s Toe Up Sock Patterns. Anything by Wendy Johnson is going to be a solid hit. Her toe-up slip-stitch heel vanilla sock is my go-to sock pattern anytime.

Wendy Johnson's Toe Up Socks

Wendy Johnson’s Toe Up Socks

Grandmother’s Favorite Dishcloth

This one’s a classic for a reason! The first knitted dishcloth I ever saw was actually this pattern made by Mike’s grandma, so the title in my case is literally true! After you make one, the pattern is so intuitive that you can basically take this along anywhere and turn out lovely dishcloths surprisingly fast.

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How I Make My Socks by Susan B Anderson. You all probably know by now this is my very favorite top-down sock pattern. Susie has knitted a drawer full of socks with this pattern, and many happy knitters have used it for perfect socks.

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photo: susan b anderson

I also love her Tiny Tree and Waiting for Winter Mittens/Mitts.

Tiny Reindeer by Anna Hrachovec

Tiny Reindeer by Anna Hrachovec

Anna Hrachovec’s Mochimochi Land patterns; I’ve knit many tiny adorable toys for my kids from Anna’s patterns. Pretty much any one can be turned into an ornament, from snowmen to desktop computers!

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Of course, hats and cowls make great winter gifts, and for a limited time, I’m offering the Wisconsin River Valley Cowl – a super easy pattern perfect for gift knitting – free to kick start the season! This works up quickly with just one 100g skein of your favorite worsted-weight yarn.

Cindy’s Picks

Knitcircus web, finance and outreach expert Cindy can knit up a storm. She’s famous around these parts for knitting a pair of socks for everyone in her extended family one year.

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She loves Koolhaas by Jared Flood; works for men or women!

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Gaptastic Cowl by Jen Geigley; chunky and stylish knit!

Some of Cindy’s other favorites include:

Autumn by Jane Richmond

Marram Hat by Mimi Codd

Storm Warning by Liz Corke

Indie Gift-a-long

Have you heard about the Indie Gift-a-long? This is an awesome event for knitters; starting on November 13th, many talented independent designers are offering patterns on sale, and if you join the Ravelry group for the Giftalong Knitalongs, you can win prizes, too! Wonderful designers like Stephannie Tallent, Lee Meredith, Adrienne Ku, Dani Berg, Corrina Ferguson, Alicia Plummer, Laura Chau and many more are participating! You can see a list of all 293 designers here.

Happy holiday knitting,

Jaala

Over the Rainbow for New Gradient Stripes!

Hi, Knitters,

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I couldn’t wait to tell you that we’re ready to offer four more colors, and  now the Harry-Potter-Inspired House Socks collection is complete!

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Introducing: Brave at Heart. I  Proud crimson stripes with magnificent gold. Whether you’re fighting evil or standing up for your friends, you’ll go roaring through these socks in no time at all! Along with Wit and Learning, Just and Loyal and Cunning Folk, Brave at Heart celebrates the different strengths of magic and muggle folk alike.

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You can tell I’m a geek at heart! The next striping sock set is The Shire: Beautiful, springlike colors evoke the gardens of a peaceful land. Colors slowly change from pale to ripe peach to pale and ivy green.

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The next: Autumn Forest. This was September’s popular color of the month, now translated into Gradient Stripes.  We could never match Mother Nature’s paintbrush, but this is our homage to it. Autumn Forest begins with a cheerful leaf green, before striping to warm chestnut brown, then passing through a brilliant orange to a golden yellow.

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Finally: Over the Rainbow. Rainbow stripes! Yellow, orange, red, hot pink, purple, blue, and finally green stripe with each other. Whoo!!!!

I’m having so much fun creating these new colors and knitting up socks of my own! I can’t wait to see what you all do with them. :)

Happy weekend,

Jaala

Magpies, Homebodies, Nomads, Curls and Yowza

Hi, Knitters,

This time of the year makes me smile. I love the cold, crisp air and leaves on the ground, the opportunity to cook soups and stews (we had homemade chicken soup, lentil soup and beef stew this week) and the chance to wear handknits daily. It’s also a precious few weeks between kids’ sports seasons, so we can actually be at home both weekend days.

Cirilia Rose’s New Book

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photo courtesy STC Craft/Jared Flood

Now is the perfect time to curl up with a new book, and  designer Cirilia Rose has just come out with a lovely one: Magpies, Homebodies and Nomads; a Modern Knitter’s Guide to Discovering and Exploring Style.

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photo courtesy STC Craft/Jared Flood

Author Cirilia Rose (above) introduces the concept of a “bricoleur;” drawing on a rich array of geographic and historic sources to create originality. As Brand Ambassador for New Zealand mill Woolyarns, former Creative Director for Skacel Collection, host of The Fiber Factor and former photo stylist and media person for Berroco, Cirilia brings lots of style experience to the table.

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photo courtesy STC Craft/Jared Flood

The text shares Cirilia’s passion for curating her own style, watching trends and putting together a story for photoshoots. She translates her world travel, packing experience and styling into a thoughtful, organized explanation of how you, as a knitter, can choose colors and styles to create your own stylish persona.

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photo courtesy STC Craft/Jared Flood

She divides the book into three sections, the Magpies, Homebodies and Nomads of the title. Magpies text and patterns focus on using precious bits of yarn or decoration, Homebodies on both home decor projects or pieces to wear around town, and Nomads on styles inspired by Cirilia’s travels to places like Amsterdam and Iceland and versatile pieces to anchor your packing for trips.

The book includes 25 women’s sweater, accessory and home decor patterns, all with Cirilia’s distinctive, fashion-forward style. The Coterie Cardigan, Heima slippers and L’Arbre hat and mitts modeled by Cirilia above all called out to me. The sweaters definitely trend toward smaller figures (not all of us can go without undergarments) but there’s plenty to try among the accessories for every body type. You can find all of the patterns on Ravelry here.

Stories from Cirilia’s life and travels enrich the book, like a section on thrift shopping, and I loved the Canon section on recommended reading for both fashion and knitting techniques. Magpies, Homebodies and Nomads gives us a unique and engaging book from one of handknitting’s young stars.

Thanks to Stewart, Tabori and Chang for letting me review it!

Curls

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Just wanted to mention that Hunter Hammersen has a new book out, too, that will be available for preorder today! Curls explores all different ways of creating fun, gauge-free shawls.

And one last fun pattern:

photo:Susan B. Anderson

photo:Susan B. Anderson

Susan B. Anderson just released one that looks like such relaxing fun to knit! The Yowza Weight-It shawl incorporates worsted weight yarn, garter stitch and ruffles in what looks like a delightful way. I really, really want to cast on for this, but I have to finish at least ofne of the deadline projects on my needles first!

What a fun time to be a knitter!

Jaala

New Gradient Stripes Colors, Yarn Clubs & Gramma Nancy’s Giveaway

Hi, Knitters,

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Happy Halloween!

Lil Buddy carved that pumpkin up there, while I sorted through the innards for the seeds. Roasted pumpkin seeds are a delicacy we enjoy just once a year! I put them on a tray with parchment paper, olive oil and seasoned salt and bake at 400 degrees for about 15 minutes, stirring once halfway through. Both of my kids are old enough that they’re going off with different friends tonight. They’re just getting so grown-up!  It’s a pretty cold day for our poor trick-or-treaters, though; we woke up to snow on the ground. Lots of layers under those costumes…

New November Gradient

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I couldn’t resist announcing this one day early; the new color for November is Defying Gravity. It has wonders like you’ve never seen! It’s all grand- and it’s all green! Defying Gravity begins with a bold emerald, then fades to a smoky forest green. A gorgeous color to show that nobody in all of Oz- no wizard that there is or was- could ever bring you down.  The one shown is a 150-g double gradient, meaning it starts and ends with the same color. You can also, of course, order regular Matching Socks sets and 100g gradients.

New Gradient Stripes Colors!

More new colors are joining the lineup; it’s just so much fun making these!

 

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Race to the Cookie Jar; a cheerful variation of the color developed by the Cookie Crumbs sock knitting group, stripes from yellow to yellow-green, to green-blue, before ending on several shades of blue.

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Captain America: Red fades to white, then to blue in a series of thin stripes. For Truth and Justice!wit & learning 2

 

Wit & Learning are the celebrated virtues of these colors; classic blue stripes with silvery gray, creating a gradient effect. We think they’d be very cozy in a library or a plush easy chair, snuggled up with a good book.Third in the Harry Potter House Colors series.

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Vampire Boyfriend fades in a series of thin stripes from a pale red to scab rust, before ending in a deep red-black. It would look just as good defending the Hellmouth as it would standing up to the Volterra, or cracking open a bottle of O Negative in Bon Tomps. Care for a bite?

Yarn Clubs Out!

We promised they’d be done by the end of the month, and they are! All of the second All Wrapped Up club packages, first Firefly packages and half of the first Matching Socks club packages went out today. The rest of the Matching Socks will be headed your way on Monday.

Aran Knits Winner

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The winner of the Interweave Knits Aran Lace Knitting with Stephannie Tallent DVD is Suzanne. Thanks so much to Stephannie for the giveaway and to everyone who entered!

New Giveaway

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New Giveaway! We have a copy of Gramma Nancy’s Animal Hats (and Booties, too) courtesy of Potter Craft. Nancy Nielsen made hundreds of hats for her son-in-law’s Navy shipmates over the years and has collected a menagerie of road-tested patterns for babies and kids!

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If you’re interested in winning a copy of this, please leave a comment about your baby and toddler knitting; who and what are you knitting? What’s your favorite baby gift to knit? The Random Number Generator will choose a winner next Tuesday, November 4th.

Take care, have a happy and safe holiday and stay warm,

Jaala

 

Make Your Own Magic Yarn Ball

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Here at Knitcircus, we use a many-step process to create self-striping gradients that change colors effortlessly as you knit. It’s all one continuous yarn, with no knots ever! But there’s a fun and easy way to create your own special color-changing balls of yarn at home. A Magic Ball uses smaller lengths of yarn joined together to make one fun color-changing skein! Another way the term “Magic Ball” is used is to describe a yarn ball with little treats wrapped inside, so the recipient gets little gifts and surprises as they knit.

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Today, I’ll show you how to make both!

Make Your Color-Changing Magic Yarn Ball

Magic Yarn Balls are about the best stashbuster ever. The first step is to find all of those beloved balls left from previous projects, mini-skeins, even scraps a couple of feet long. It will be easiest to knit with your Magic Ball if all of your yarns are a similar weight (fingering, sport, worsted, etc). So you may want to organize by weight first, then play with color groupings you like. This should be fun, so take some time to place different colors together and see what you like. The way the colors interact may surprise you!

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organizing by color

Some tried-and-true palettes are:

warm colors: reds. purples, yellows, oranges

cool colors: blues and greens

jewel tones: deep, saturated versions of red, blue, green, teal, purple

neutrals: browns, beiges, grays, cream, undyed

rainbow: crayon-box brights

tropical: yellow, green, peach, orange, pink, magenta

earth tones: browns, grays, deep greens, pale blues

Once you have your yarns and colors, start joining them together to make your Magic Ball! I like to vary the lengths so it’s a surprise, but you can also have fun by making all of the yarns the same length (say, 5 yards) to create stripes for planned pooling projects, etc. Just start winding your yarns onto a ball-winder or wind by hand (if you want to put treats inside, read the section on Adding Treats before you start winding). To make your yarn ball look extra special, you can wind each section going in a different direction, as Susan B. Anderson describes in her Everlasting Yarn Balls video tutorial.

Fancy Joins

You can use an overhand, square knot or whatever you usually use for knotting when knitting to join your lengths of yarn together. If you want to get fancy and make your ball knot-free, here are some techniques to try.

Spit Splicing: This joining method works well on yarns with some felting potential. It probably won’t work as well on superwash or synthetic fibers. Originally done by using spit and rubbing the two yarn ends together in the hands to felt them together, it can be done with plain water as well. :) Very Pink Knits has a video tutorial on Spit Splicing here.

Russian Join: If you want to make near-seamless transitions in your Magic Ball, you can use the Russian Join method shown in the Knitting Any Way tutorial here. This takes significantly more time than simple knotting, so recommended for a yarn with relatively few changes.

Adding Treats

You can make a Magic Gift Ball by using any existing yarn and re-winding it so that surprises are hidden inside. Carla Krantz has a great Pinterest board with different ideas. You can take small objects and wrap them almost invisibly inside the yarn, or make wrapped packages so many that the yarn can barely contain them! If you’re winding up your magic Joined Ball, you can add the treats as you go.

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Some examples of knitting-related treats are shown here, but of course, you can tailor your special ball to the passions of the intended recipient. A good strategy is to wind the ball around the largest gift, adding the others as you go.

Note: lots of people add things like teabags, small figurines, etc to their yarn balls; your imagination is the limit! But don’t add perishable food items, especially things like chocolate, that can melt. Your friend in California may be very sad when she gets the now-sticky yarn you sent from frozen Nunavut.

You can also decorate your yarn ball with easily-removable pins, buttons, ribbons and other treats for a delightful presentation. Ellen Bloom made this adorable one for the book Knitalong:

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Making Magic Balls is a fun and creative way to make something one-of-a-kind and usable out of those special small amounts of yarn in your stash. If you make some, please let us know in the Knitcircus Ravelry Group so we can ooh and ahh!

Have a great weekend,

Jaala