About Knitcircus

When not knitting at Little League games, Jaala can be found knitting at beloved LYS The Sow's Ear, a Madison Knitters' Guild Board meeting or her own living room. She's taught both her kids to knit, and even to make tuna sandwiches for the rest of the family, so feels pretty good. If she could only figure out how to knit while typing, she'd be golden.

Bahamian Knitting


Over Spring Break, our family was lucky enough to travel to the Bahamas for sea, sand and sunshine. We were sad to hear that folks back home had to endure more snow, and wished we could have teleported you all (especially the baseball teams) there!


Nassau boasts the lovely-colored pastel homes of the Carribbean, and lots of flowering vines, that I think are bougainvillea. I won’t pretend that we lived like locals, but for a place always in danger of being overrun by tourists, we saw lots of signs of Bahamian pride in anything made or done locally.



While the kids splashed, a good chunk of my vacation looked like knitting!

At home, I’m either dyeing up yarn, administrating the business or tending to my family, leaving very little time for knitting. Vacation gave us time to hang out as a family, and brought my knitting mojo back up to speed. I promised myself on the first of the three airplane rides that I could cast on anything I wanted and follow it wherever I wanted it to go, no pressure, no deadlines, just the fun of knitting.



Turns out what my knitting mojo wanted was to knit a new pattern, a modified half-pi shawl, with simple-to-more-complicated lace panels. I’ve really been enjoying getting to work with our Corriedale Sock in the Fireflies colorway. As soon as it’s tested and written up, watch for the new pattern and kit for the Nassau shawlette!

Vacation gave me time to savor the new Twist Collective, with lovely patterns as always. Some of my faves  include the summery Calendula, by Helene Rush, sweet Belleville, by Anne Podlesak (the title made me laugh, because there is a small town in Wisconsin called Belleville, not usually thought of as a romantic destination), beautiful lace Ivyle, by Quenna Lee, and stately Aristea shawl, by Susanna IC. Susanna, Quenna and a number of other designers in this issue of Twist are Knitcircus alumnae, and it always gives me a thrill to see how they’ve gone on to become such well-known designers. I still feel a tug of pride (and sadness for the loss of the magazine) of being one of the first to recognize their talents!

One last shot from the Bahamas; we got up early to go shell-hunting on the beach several days, and one night, even got up at 4 am to see the Hunter’s Moon!


Mike, who loves all things skyward, found out it happens only every six months, and we had a great view of it before stumbling back to bed.


Here’s hoping some warm, tropical breezes blow toward all of you,




Ravelry Roundup: Best of Spring Patterns

Knitters, I’m proud to present Chris’ first blog article! She’s a real yarn enthusiast, and knits prodigiously, so has a great eye for projects. She sifted through all of the lace patterns out there to bring you our top picks for spring. Enjoy!


Hi, Everyone,

I’m a strong believer that you should knit with the best yarn you can possibly afford (even if that sometimes means I’m eating ramen because I decided to splurge on some vicuna. Don’t judge me; you’d do it too.) The right yarn, together with loving blocking, can turn even a garter stitch scarf into a thing of beauty. But I’ve had the privilege today of going through the lace projects on Ravelry, and picking out some favorites I’d like to knit up. I’m very excited about Knitcircus yarns, so I picked out the yarns I’d want to pair the patterns with, but of course you may have special skeins stashed which would fit perfectly.

If you want easy-ish lace, you should consider The Age of Brass and Steam. Mostly stockinette with increases, it features a few garter ridges (work one wrong side row as knit instead of purl) and eyelets (yo, k2tog, repeat) to make something that looks much more complicated than it actually is. Let the yarn do the work for you. I’d pair it with our Brass and Steam on a shiny base- perhaps Pirouette?


Berkeley, CA combines the best of a feather-and-fan base and stripes to break up a variegated colorway- but I think it’d be gorgeous on a gradient. I’d work it up on a color that has a lot going for it- possibly Eat, Pray, Knit?


Tiny Princess needs a pattern that has both the sensible, down to earth goodness, and the fancy knitting skills, to properly honor Amy Detjen. Lilac Wish is perfect for that. It’s mostly stockinette with garter ridges, perfect for knit night- but has a border of dainty lilac leaves, to keep your interest and impress the people that see it.


I’m only recently learning not to block my lace by pinning it down and stretching it to within an inch of its life, but the French Cancan is perfect for that. Yes, absolutely, pin it down and stretch it out so that the lace gets to show off- but there’s also a cable in there to poof up. Impressive-looking? Yes. Easy? Very. It’s mostly stockinette, with some shaping, some yarn-overs and k2togethers, and a simple braided cable. I think it’d look gorgeous on Fireflies.


I’m a huge fan of DyeForYarn (seriously, go check them out)- their bases are buttery and their dyework is stunning. I’m so happy to see they’re fantastic designers, too, when I finally connected that the Crescent over Lothlorien that I loved so much, was their design work. I completely understand and love you anyway if you decide to buy some of their yarn- I certainly would- but I also think it would be gorgeous worked up with our Lothlorien. It’s mostly reverse stockinette, with stockinette stems and some lace for the leaves.


I fell in love with a skein of yellow sparkle base by Alicia Goes Around, and thought it went perfectly with Felicia Lo’s Shattered Sun. There’s little I wouldn’t do for Sweet Georgia yarns- but can’t you imagine it on our Lemon Meringue?


If you saw us at Yarn Con, you saw my kerchief in Masquerade, dyed up on Khione Image

The garter stitch emphasizes how gradual the gradient is, and it’s super easy to do- cast on one stitch, increase one at the beginning of each row, work until you run out of yarn, bind off. But that’s hardly lace, you say! Well, no, but it’s the beginning of the super-popular Aestlight shawl. And, as a bonus, it has a crochet version- the Magnificent Mantle. Image

It could just as easily turn into a Rock Island, though- although that, I’d love to see worked up on Fog Comes On Little Cat Feet


I absolutely loved making Summer Flies on a handspun gradient gifted to me. And while Knitcircus doesn’t offer handspun just yet, this color is very close to our Baby. And do use the cashmere. This project is worth it. It alternates mostly-stockinette with some eyelets for butterflies, with knit-togethers and yarn-overs for visual interest. It’s the most complicated pattern on this list so far, but I still managed to knit it while walking and having a conversation, so it definitely makes this list of “easy, but looks impressive because it’s worked on a gradient.”


Royal Tulips is one of those projects that is super impressive on a kettle dye/semisolid, but showstopping on a gradient. Leafy stalks flow into a border of blooms, and once you’ve got the hang of the repeat, it’s almost zen watching it flow out. I’d choose something that starts with a natural hue and goes to the drama- Robin’s Nest would be perfect.


All of these so far have been horizontal knitting- either cast on at the neck or at the base of the spine, and work up or down until you’re done. The Storm Warning is an interesting take on garter stitch- cast on at one end, increase until you’re halfway through the skein, then decrease until you’re done, with some lace along the edge and the same method of horizontal cable you learned with French Cancan. Beads give it extra pop, but are optional. I think it’d be gorgeous on most double gradients, but I’m most eager to knit it on April Skies or Shades of Gray- on Pixie Dust, if possible!


If you’re not a fan of cabling, perhaps Semele is more your thing? The leaf lace repeats are a little tricky at first, but by the time you’ve made the first, it’s really easy to keep going- and the gradient will keep all the stockinette interesting. I’d do it on a double gradient of Holly Leaves- on something with a lot of slink, so the silk or the tencel.


And, of course, I wore the Leftie at Yarn Con, made up on a skein of our Fashion Week and some undyed leftovers. Most people make Lefties with one solid color background, and lots of leftovers for the leaves and stems. The most common comment I got about it was “Wow, how many colors did you have to use to make that?” My response? “Just two- one gradient and some undyed leftovers.” Not everyone believed me- it was so complicated looking, but was basically garter stich with some increases and the very occasional short row.



Read more of Chris’ knitting adventures on her blog, Chris Furuya.


Handpaint Classes in the Lair


It’s so much fun dyeing things up in the Lair we wanted to share it with you! If you’re near Madison, Wisconsin (or might be passing through), please join the party and leave with yarn in your own gorgeous color choices! Both classes taught by Knitcircus dyer Jaala Spiro.

When: Saturday, May 17th

Where: The Knitcircus Dyeing Studio (otherwise known as the Evil Lair) on Madison’s near West side. Please note: the Lair is in my home, so is not guaranteed accessible. Please let us know if you have mobility challenges and we will do our best to accommodate.


Handpainted Skeins


Use professional acid dyes to create your own saturated colors! A quick background on choosing harmonious colors, then you paint your own skeins. Each person will have two undyed skeins to paint.

Cost: $35

Class limit: 8 people

Food-Based Dyes


Learn to use Kool-Aid and food coloring for permanent colors you can create in a home kitchen! Each participant will create a kettle-dyed “handpaint” with Kool-Aid and and true handpaint with food coloring. 

Cost: $35

Class limit: 8 people

TO REGISTER: please email jaala@knitcircus.com with the subject line DYEING CLASS. Please include your name, preferred class and Paypal email, or let us know if you prefer to pay by check. The first 8 respondents will be registered for each class. Please also indicate which yarn weight (fingering, DK, worsted or chunky) you would like for your 2 skeins per class. We will let you know the location and answer any questions you may have.

If you have a small group (no less than 6 or more than 10) and would like to book the dyeing studio, please shoot us an email and we’ll arrange a private class!

Knitcircus Podcast #44

Back so soon! Jaala goes all Yarn Con and Amy’s stashbusting continues apace.

Listen on Libsyn or iTunes.

Mentioned this podcast:

Yarn Con Chicago (And the Knitcircus Greatest Show on Earth sale!)

Yarn Hollow

Blue Tulips

Sun Valley Fiber Farm


Chicago Knits Magazine

The Amazing Thing About the Way it Goes, by Stephanie Pearl-McPhee

Studio S

Celtic Journeys



Amy’s Secret Destash: Rainbowbeard on Ravelry (Direct link here)

Wonderful Wallaby

Ella Rae yarn

Socks from the Toe Up, by Wendy Johnson

Melissa Leapman’s Knit Stitch Pattern Handbook

Wendy Bernard’s upcoming Stitch Dictionary

West Wing

Diners, Drive-Ins and Dives






Yarn Con Love

What  a show! The Yarn Con organizers really knocked it out of the park this year! In fact, so many yarn lovers came to the party Saturday that we didn’t even get a snapshot of the booth before the show! People were just snapping up the gradients, matching socks and special sale skeins.  Here’s a peek at the booth Sunday; that’s all the gradients we had left!

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So many wonderful knitters arrived in person! What a treat to get to meet Mary, who knitted up a pinata’s worth of projects with her gradients! The hat, two cowls, and pair of socks were all completed in the last couple of months.

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Sara ordered three special gradient skeins to make her Sugar Maple, and it was so exciting to see the way it knit up!

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This dedicated knitter picked up several mini-skeins to add to Blankie, his amazing queen-sized-blanket-in-progress. (Chris is helping hold it up.)


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Yarn Con and Autumn Forest

We’re working like crazy packing up lots and lots of yarn for you for our trip to Yarn Con Chicago this weekend! We’re debuting two new bases, and lots of our old favorites will be on sale.

And even though its name evokes another season, the green leaves sure seem like spring to me! Released today: the Autumn Forest shawl, worked in just one skein of Knitcircus Aerialist. We’ll have plenty of kits at the show, or if Chicago isn’t in your neck of the woods, you can purchase the pattern on Ravelry.


This fun pattern is worked from the top (neck) down, with a central lace panel and paired increases in the center and sides. 




Knitcircus Podcast #43

Amy photographs every daffodil in Seattle and Jaala still hasn’t seen one! Plus, miles of Kitchener Stitch and why toe-up socks are so great.

Listen on Libsyn and itunes

Mentioned this Podcast:

Vogue Knitting Live Seattle

Knitcircus Yarn Shop

Lorilee Beltman

Amy Singer

Clara Yarn

Emily Ocker’s Circular Cast-On

Cat Bordhi’s Personal Footprints for Insouciant Sock Knitters

Lovely Knitted Lace, by Brooke Nico

Wild West Lace E-book Volume 1, by Stephannie Tallent

Wild Ginger Restaurant

Amy’s Craftsy Class

Mary Rowe Knitted Tams Schoolhouse Press Booklet (out of print but coming soon; scroll to bottom of page)

Schoolhouse Press Jamieson Spindrift sale

Laura Nelkin Beadle Needle Video

Kitchener Stitch

Yarn Con Chicago



Knit and Dye All the Things


Hi, Knitters,

Knitting : trying to become a monogamous knitter


Whew, during the Olympics, I made a bunch of time to knit each day, and somehow my knitting time has melted along with most of our snow. (Still some out there, and a little fresh flurry yesterday). Since time is fleeting, I decided to get serious about trying to be a one-knitter-one-project kind of gal. To that end, I’ve been making a little progress on the sleeve of my Argo.Since this is my first top-down, one-piece sweater to reach this point, have discovered that this means you’re dangling (and periodically spinning to unwind) the whole rest of the sweater while working the sleeve rounds. Anybody come up with a clever fix for this? Or is this exactly why people like the old school, knit-it-in-pieces sweater?

March-April Yarn Club Ready

matching socks club

So, now that we have three people on the Knitcircus team, it’s much faster to dye things, since I can, you know, spend my time dyeing yarn instead of packaging and creating spreadsheets. Thank goodness for Chris and Amy J!

IMG_2441[1]This means that all of the Early Spring matching Socks sets are done and all of our regular members have packages in the mail. (the Lemon Meringue gradient on top was just for fun, and does not reveal the secret colorway inside) If you haven’t and would like to get just a taste of the Club, you can purchase just one and it’ll be in the mail very soon!

Fish Lips Kiss Heel

photo copyright Patty-Joy White, the Sox Therapist on Ravelry

photo copyright Patty-Joy White, the Sox Therapist on Ravelry

In the process of researching good patterns to make with the Sock Club yarn, I found out about the pattern/e-book that’s causing a stir on Ravelry, the Fish Lips Kiss Heel, by the Sox Therapist. One night last week, I made the 16-page tutorial/e-book my bedtime reading, and fascinating material it is! As usual, I’m late to the party, as the 1162 of you with finished socks can attest, but wow, so cool!

I’m a huge toe-up fan, as you may know, because toe-up design means you never have to leave any good yarn behind (I’m still sad about knitting a top-down sock that got rid of a whole color in one of my gradients). The FIsh Lips Kiss incorporates Patty-Joy’s versions of a short-row heel which are much easier and prettier to make than the traditional short rows, and a fit method which seems foolproof.

I’m agog to try the Fish Lips Heel, but determined not to start that project until I finish my pair of Fingerless Gloves Leaves. At least if I can’t achieve true single-minded knitting, I can only cast one a project when I finish another one! Right now; doing some Secret test-knitting for an upcoming pattern, just testing that the mathematical progression of increases actually works like I think it does.

Yarn Con

yarns everywhere

We’re very busy in the Liar getting ready for Yarn Con! It’s in Chicago, April 5-6, and I hope to see some of you wonderful readers there! Please do bring any finished objects you’ve made with the yarn, because you wouldn’t believe how thrilling it is for us. So we’re making many, many yarns which we’re trying to get up into the shop while we can. Then when we pack up and head to Yarn Con, they’ll all be down for a little while as we hobnob with wonderful Chicago knitters!

Mmmm, Pie

Not related to knitting, but I’m just having a craving for a slice of the Union’s black bottom pie (a vanilla custard pie with a layer of semi-sweet chocolate on the bottom). Unfortunately, though the Union’s physical upgrade has made it much prettier, they seem to be making it now with all boxed stuff and it’s not nearly as tasty as the old-fashioned homemade version. I think we’ll have to make it ourselves if we want a really good pie. Has anyone tried or can recommend a good homemade custard pie recipe? I know this is obscure, but you never know what expertise knitters hold!

Take care,





Finished Objects and a Travelling Circus

Hi, Knitters,

Super Sewing Winners

Thanks  to everyone who entered the Sewing Giveaway! The winners are: Mollie Make Woodland Friends: Valerie, 50 Pincushions: Nancy, and Super Stitches: Carmen. The lucky winners have been notified.

Finished Objects

Spending so much time dyeing up yarn has cut into my knitting time! Not that I’m sad about that, but it doesn’t give me time to knit so many projects, and we wanted to see how the yarn behaved in some popular patterns. Generous knitters from the Knitcircus Ravelry Group volunteered to knit up some patterns with Knitcircus Yarns and we’re so grateful that they did! Check out this lovely FO Gallery.


Orange Flower Yarn’s Brass and Steam, worked by Kristahyde on Ravelry; she spurred us to create the gradient Brass and Steam, which is now one of our regular repeatable colorways. Thanks so much, Krista!


Magrathea, by Martina Behm

Designer Martina Behm has given us so many wonderful shawl projects! Here’s Magrathea knitted by Lindaran on Ravelry, using a skein of Thrilling in the Lemon Meringue colorway.



More Martina Behm, with Hitchhiker, by Bassoongrlspam, in a Khione double gradient.



And a third Behm: Leftie, by knotjusthats, in the Fashion Week gradient with undyed yarn for contrast.



Monkey Socks, by Somesylvie, pattern by the delightful Cookie A. This knitter worked the Matching Socks Set in color Eat, Pray, Knit, from opposite ends!


Travelling Knitcircus

Knitcircus Yarns’ Business Manager, Chris, has been keeping track of your orders lately. Her curious mind wanted to know where the yarn is travelling, so she made this fun map of where all of you wonderful Knitcircus Yarns fans live. Here she is:

Hi everyone!

It’s been about a month since I’ve joined the team, and I’m having a lot of fun listing new things Jaala dyes, ensuring the photos of them are as accurate as possible, labeling them, packing them, and sending them out to you. I’m impressed by all the exciting places that you live, so I’ve been creating this Google map to visualize where we’ve sent yarn in the last three months. Don’t worry, we’re not listing any names or addresses, just city names. I hope you find this as much fun to play with as I found it to make!

google map

Google maps: Knitcircus!



Hey, Knitters, sometimes I need to hit the refresh button, especially after a long, cold winter like this one. So this entry will be the first of an occasional blog series sharing some places that inspire me. I hope you get a little jolt of fresh energy from it, too!



Check this out; a sleeveless top with a lined peplum! And a paper mache stork, of course.  

The store Anthropologie always uses materials in unexpected combinations and I love to see what their collection of designers have been up to. Every so often, my mom and I browse together as a special treat, so that’s we did this past Sunday afternoon. What fun! Thanks to Anthropologie for letting me take pictures with my phone while Mom and I exclaimed over our latest finds.

The people who create the windows and indoor atmosphere for Anthropologie have the best job ever. Look at this birdhouse assemblage!



As a dyer, naturally I’m always on the lookout for color, and this dress pretty much made every muscle in my body relax with the promise of spring (yes, here more than a wisp of hope than even a promise, but a girl can dream…).



The juxtaposition of color with blue-gray in the same print=fascinating! I’d definitely like to try a self-striping colorway in these colors.


Again, loving these soft peach-pink shades.

Then they have so much fun with visual contrast, like this striped AND floral skirt!



This use of materials is totally wild. See how it’s a little hard to make out what’s going on in the skirt of this dress (below?)Image


Well, it turns out that they’ve somehow die-cut the polka-dot material and overlaid it on top of a bright floral print. That is crazy cool. Maybe just a little crazy.



From a knitting-construction point of view, I got a kick out of this sweater. There’s a little crocheted flower doily at the center and the rest of the sweater is picked up and knitted outward in a circle. The front just continues the circle, in a shape we handknitters have seen before (Knit,Swirl anyone?) but is still unusual and fun.


Fresh from my color crush and the cheerful inspiration of Happy Home, I loved these vases with oversized ceramic flowers. And, well, I love red-orange. See pillows below.





Maps always seem to beckon to exotic destinations. What a great idea to make it a bedcover!

This corn-fed Wisconsin girl can’t fit into Anthropologie’s  designer clothes, but my mom and I do splurge on an embroidered dishcloth, latte bowl or fancy French soap every so often. I always enjoy their curated displays of books, and around the holidays, love to get my mom recipe books featuring French patisseries or a peony-scented hand cream. The book The Happiness Project gave me hours or new ideas for making our lives more fun, for instance. If you like memoirs/self help books, I highly recommend it!