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.

Patterns and Stitch Markers


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Hi, Knitters!

Look at my desk; it’s pattern-writing time.I actually got the whole morning to write up a new pattern yesterday, and didn’t dye any yarn until after lunch. We’ve been very busy in the Lair, with a new shipment going out to Fiddlehead Yarns, (celebrating their 35th anniversary) and a big trunk show headed to Knitche, so this was very unusual!

It made me remember how much I love designing. Of course, I love dyeing, too, but I didn’t realize I had several ideas for patterns pent up that were just waiting for a chance to get on the computer. You Gradient Club members will have your last pacages, with one of my patterns, in the mail next week.

As we rev up for Fall Knitting Season, I’ll be rolling out a number of fun patterns for you, starting with this almost-finished Brass and Steam scarf.

With a combination of textures and cables, it works up quickly with either one or two skeins of Ringmaster Worsted. After working with a lot of lace lately, I really enjoyed knitting this one up, and there’s just one more color change left in my version of the scarf. We just need another round of testing, then this baby will be ready to go to warm up some people this fall!

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And now, since I’ve got this on the needles, I’d like to talk about one of my favorite little knitting helpers, Stitch Markers!august 29 2014 017


I’m a big fan of the locking stitch makers (“safety pin”) type; you can find Clover ones just about anywhere. I found this purple one above on Etsy, but honestly, this model only has a few good clips in it, then it breaks. Anyhow, I’m using the purple maker above to tell me which is the right side, in this case, the side where I’ll be making my cable crossings. This particular pattern is reversible, so it can be tricky to tell which side is which. 

You can also see the round, brass-colored markers pretty often along the needles. (These came from the Knitting Tree, but if you want to find something similar online, I love the ones with little beads from Velvet Hippo). I have them placed any time I’m switching from one texture or cable pattern to another, so sometimes there are only two stitches between them! I used to think it was cooler to just keep it all in my head, but then I found myself with textures spilling onto each other’s spaces, and then when I ripped it back, I didn’t feel cool at all.

When I’m doing lace knitting, I place them between every single lace repeat, even if it’s only five stitches wide, and always after the side borders, even if they’re three garter stitches and you do the same thing EVERY ROW. Somehow, I seem to be able to mess that up when interruptions come my way…. These little beauties have saved me tons of time re-knitting.


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 Thank you, my little marker friends!


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My kids go to different schools , so Belle has already been back in class for a week, while Lil Buddy still has a few days of freedom left! Soccer has started back up, which he loves, and of course, that leaves plenty of time to cuddle Sasha.

Looks like it’ll be nice and cool here this weekend, so I’m looking froward to doing some yardwork, hanging with the kids (maybe a Devil’s Lake day trip?) and hopefully finishing my Brass and Steam scarf!

Have a great holiday weekend,




Stitches Midwest

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Sasha says good morning! To get to this point, she has to try several times to jump onto the low couch, then run along all the way and climb over the arm of the chair. It’s pretty amusing to watch. She’s pretty much totally charming and amusing at all times. She really isn’t supposed to be on the furniture, though…


The whole Knitcircus team worked heroically to prepare for Stitches, and we literally finished processing, caking and labeling every skein in the Lair! Here’s Chris and I on the way to our first exhibition at Stitches Midwest.

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I was really impressed with the organization of this big event. As soon as we pulled up, someone was ready to help us in with a big cart. We were right in the middle of the action in the 500 row.august 22 2014 274


It was so much fun to get to meet knitters in real life who have made such beautiful projects with our yarn!august 22 2014 278

Check out this beautiful cowl Mary made in the Pigeon colorway!  With my Cloudburst, we were color twins.

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Wendy is knitting the Sand Castle colorway from the Matching Socks Club in Hermione’s Everyday Socks pattern. It looks so beautiful in the textured pattern! I just loved creating this color and was thrilled to see how it’s working up.


We got to meet Emily from the Knitting Butterflies podcast in person!

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i’m sorry I don’t remember this fabulous knitter’s name, but check out her amazing Daybreak in an Eat, Pray, Knit gradient and matching kettle dye.

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Chris welcomed everyone into the booth and gave them all the lowdown on the yarn, while I talked to people and rang up orders. We were lucky to have Angela with Purl & Loop next to us; she’s possibly the sweetest person in the world! If you ever want to make adorable needlefelted projects, please think of her.

Fairy Yarn Mother was on our other side, and Susan from Susan’s Fiber Shop had a huge display right across form us, so we got to be in a little Wisconsin neighborhood. We discovered Fringe Association for the first time and were delighted to get to meet Liz from Appletree Knits. We both make gradients, but since she concentrates on silk and lace, and we focus on wool and fingering-to-worsted, we complement each other perfectly.

We had a very successful show and will definitely be back. Thank you to everyone who visited us and we hope to see you next year!



We’re switching things up in the Lair and now are only creating handpaints and kettle dyes in colors coordinating with our gradients, so all of the sumptuous colors we have right now are on sale!


Everything that we brought back form Stitches is up in the shop, and all of the kettle dyes and handpaints are up to 25% off! It’s the perfect time to kick-start your stash for the fall knitting season. :)

Have a great weekend,



Cables Away: Cable with Confidence this Fall

It’s chilly for August in the midwest right now, which makes it hard for my kids to jump in the lakes, but easy to get revved up about autumn knitting! Of course, lace knitting can be alluring all year round, but in fall, my knitting  always turns to cables and textures from our rich Aran traditions. Today, I’d like to talk about cables, including how to cable without a cable needle and make your cables reversible.


Autumn colors, cables and textures!

Cables draw the fabric together, making it denser and warmer. Working it with a larger needle, as shown keeps it soft and drapey, but in the past, sweaters with cables and textures knitted at tight gauges helped keep the water out and seafarers safer.

Cabling is knitters’ friend, providing a stylish and finished look to projects, while actually being easier to work than it appears. I know that I was terrified to try cables, then my neighbor Cindy showed me how to work a simple 4-stitch cable and I felt like I had been given one of the secrets to the universe. Of course, if you desire a challenge, there are all kinds of complicated braidwork and Celtic circles to try, which require keeping your wits about you and a row counter close at hand.


As you probably know, cables are created by periodically taking stitches out of their usual lineup and working them out of turn to create the characteristic cable crossing. You can work cables with as few as two stitches or as many as your needles can handle. Cables are often created using paired stitches, so are usually multiples of two stitches (four and eight are probably the most common), but odd numbers of stitches can be used to good effect. A general cable rule is that you perform the cable crossing row as many rows apart as your cable is stitches wide, so for a four-stitch cable, you cross every four rows; for an eight-stitch cable, you’d cross every eight. A more “relaxed” cable will appear if you go longer between crossings, a tightly twisted one if less.

Cables are performed by slipping the desired number of stitches off of the left hand needle and onto a cable needle just before working them, holding that needle either to the front of back of the work, working the remaining stitches in the cable (usually half the total number), then working the stitches from the cable needle. Cable needles can be a simple double-pointed needle or special needles with an indent in the center for keeping the stitches on more easily. 

A great, classic pattern to start with cables is the Irish Hiking Scarf, where many a knitter tried crossing stitches for the first time. The Fetching mitts, Natalie Larson’s Star-Crossed Slouchy Beret and Milo kid’s vest are also great places to begin cabling. And the most loved sweaters, the Mondo Cable, Kate Davies’ Owls and Central Park Hoodie, will never let you down.

For the more experienced cable knitter, sweaters like Mari Muinonen’s Sylvi, Ysolda Teague’s Vivian, Cirilia Rose’s Aidez and Thea Colman’s Dark and Stormy provide plenty of challenge and stunning finished objects. Jared Flood’s Umaro blanket or Koolhaas hat would make lovely gifts this winter. For shawls, Sue Berg’s Krokus or Mademoiselle C’s French Cancan, with their braided borders, would make a perfect cable-and-lace project.


If you like to go out on your own and find cables to try with your favorite patterns, Barbara Walker’s Treasuries, especially Volume 1 and Volume 2, include many exciting cable stitch patterns. Vogue Knitting Stitchionary Volume 2 and 50 Fabulous Aran Knit Stitches can give you lots of ideas.

 If you want to design your own cabled hats and cowls, remember that they’re knit in the round, so you’ll need to translate stitch instructions so that every other round will be worked with a knit background rather than purl to create a stockinette fabric. Be careful with socks, as cables can sometimes create too much bulk on the foot or pull the fabric tight. Often, using twist stitches work better for adding texture to socks, or keeping the cables to four stitches or less and alternating with lace can keep the fabric lighter.


So, you can slip stitches onto a cable needle and hold it to either the back or front, then work those stitches, creating a cable crossing. What if, like me, you went on vacation away from your usual supplies and your LYS, decided on a whim to start a cable project and didn’t have the extra cable needle (or dpn) with you? Well, my friend, fear not. You can still cable! You just have to be willing to take live stitches off of your work and rearrange them in progress.

This cabling-without-a-cable-needle technique works best with cables of eight stitches or less. As a rule, the fewer the number of stitches, the easier it is to work. I’ll demonstrate below with an eight-stitch cable. Please note: the two stitches on the end are garter edge stitches and not involved with the cable at all.


For instance, here I’m working an eight-stitch 1×1 ribbed cable. Instead of sliding off just the first fours stitches, as I would with a cable needle, I’m going to slide all eight of my stitches off of the needles.


Now all of them are off! This is rather unsettling, not a good time for interruptions.


Because I want the first four stitches to go in back of the second four, I slip them onto the left hand needle. If you were working a shorter cable, it might be good at this time to just use your fingers to stretch the remaining stitches and manually slip them onto the left hand needle. SInce I’m working with more stitches, I’ll use the right hand needle to pick them up, and will then slide them back onto the left hand needle.

So here I have slipped all four stitches temporarily onto the right hand needle  (remember, the two others are just edge stitches).



Getting ready to slip them back onto the left hand needle.IMG_0369[1]

All eight are now on the left hand needle, in the proper lineup for creating my cable.


Now we’re ready to knit all of the stitches in pattern off the left hand needle just like normal. They will be a little tighter than usual from being stretched, so be extra patient and/or move them slightly more toward the needle tips than you usually would.


Voila! The cable is knit! 

I hope that you’ll all enjoy some good cabling weather this fall, and encourage you to try something new! Please do let me know via Ravelry (jaaladay) or by commenting on the blog if you’ve got a cable project going.

Yarn used throughout was Knitcircus Ringmaster, 100% superwash Merino wool, in the Brass and Steam colorway. 





Knitcircus Yarns: Coming to an LYS Near You!

Hi, Lovely Knitters,

A lot has changed in the Lair lately, and we’ve been so busy dyeing yarn, we haven’t gotten a chance to tell you about it!


Beloved LYS The Sow’s Ear introduced us to their yarn rep Kim at TNNA this year, and she decided to carry our line! That means that, as she travels all around the Midwest, she tells LYs’s about Knitcircus Yarns and they place wholesale orders through her. So now you can not only find our yarns online, but can pet the gradients and get pattern advice in person from LYS’s! 

You Can See Our Yarns At These Shops Now:

The Sow’s Ear, Verona, WI

The Sow’s Ear hosted an amazing event to celebrate bringing in the yarn line, and it was so wonderful to see so many knitters come and support us and the Ear. They only have 2 sock sets left! But you can always go in and tell them that you’d like a certain color and they’ll add it to their next order.


Trillium Yarn and Fibers, Morristown, NJ

Trillium is designer Kirsten Kapur’s LYS, and the wonderful Beverly was actually the first to place an order with us at TNNA. Her first order flew out the door, but look for more gradients in the next week or so.

Sifu Design Studios and Fine Yarns, Chicago, IL

For their Yarn Crawl next week, Sifu will be unveiling a trunk show including the lots of colors of the Corrina Shawl, a store-exclusive matching Socks colorway for the Mermaid Sock pattern and the newly-released Cable and Fan shawl pattern.

Hank and Purls

Hank and Purls

Look for Knitcircus Yarns at these yarn stores starting in August and September:

Silver Creek Cabin, Buffalo, MN

Kirkwood Knittery, St. Louis, MO

Hank and Purls Creative Nook and Knittery, Rochester, MN

The Yarn Basket, Carroll, IA

Blue Heron, Decorah, IA

Knitche, Downers Grove, IL

Twisted Loop, Prior Lake, MN

Prairie Hand Knits, North Platte, NE

Imagiknit, Hastings, NE

Prairie Yarns, Fargo, ND

Athena Fibers, Sioux Falls, SD

Bodin’s, Bayfield, WI

Fiddlehead Yarns, Kenosha, WI

circus is in town

Click this map to zoom in and out, and for directions to our stores!

Kim is giving us just about all of the yarn stores we can handle, but if you have a beloved East or West Coast yarn shop interested in Knitcircus, let us know and we may be able to make something happen. :)

Hibiscus Stripe Pattern and July Color


First, Sasha is about four months old now, and just getting more fun. Belle has really stepped up and never complains about taking care of her. Starting this weekend, puppy class for our puppy!


Race to the Cookie Jar: July Colorway

We invited members of the Cookie Crumbs Knitalong Ravelry Group to help us create and name our July colorway, and they came up with a fun one!



Based on the group’s suggestions and votes, this running shoe colorway was most popular, and they named it “Race to the Cookie Jar.”

So here’s our new yarn! Thanks to all of the Cookie Crumbs members that participated in this fun project.



Here’s a new treat we’ve discovered that Mike and I are both a little addicted to.


If you thought Nutella couldn’t be improved upon (like me) here’a a lovely surprise. Justin’s Chocolate Hazelnut Butter is like an even more sumptuous and grown-up version, with more chocolate punch and the texture of real hazelnuts. It’s not exactly budget-conscious, but a little goes a long way! (Of course, you can see we’ve already eaten most of this jar….)

Hibiscus Stripe Shawl


I’m very excited to introduce you to my new shawl pattern, Hibiscus Stripe! I wanted to create kettle dyes to complement the gradients so you could stripe them all the way through and never hit a patch where they looked too similar. For this one, I took the soft purple of the gradient colorway and made it a bit darker so that it’s similar, but always distinct in the stripes.


The pattern was super fun to create; I wanted to take the structure and shape of the Silk Moon Crescent and make it even more intuitive.

 Hibiscus Stripe makes the same crescent shape, but this time all of the increases are inside the body of the shawl in a very easy-to-memorize sequence.

And, of course, what’s not to love about garter and stripes! OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAOf course, we’re working diligently in the Lair getting ready for Stitches Midwest, and are even planning to release a new gradient yarn color there. All I’ll say is that it’s called Diva. :)

Take care, knitters,




A Few of My Favorite Things

Some things I love this summer:

Puppy Love

I had my doubts about a dog, but Belle is really stepping up her responsibility, and Sasha really could not be cuter or more fun. She loves every single person that comes to meet her.



alert puppy!

alert puppy!

Little Library Love

photo: Little Free Library site

photo: Little Free Library site

Madison has a delightful program with tiny house-shaped bookstands that have popped up around the city in front yards, schoolyards and unexpected places over the last few years. The Little Free Library is just what it sounds like; open it up, take out a book or magazine, or put one in! We have one right on our block, there’s at least one on the way to school, and two in the school garden, so we have lots of chances to find new-to-us books, magazines and poetry.

mango street

One of my favorite Little Free Library finds so far; the House on Mango Street, by Sandra CIsneros. I’ve heard of it for a long time and finally got to read it; short vignettes beautiful and heartbreaking. Easy to pick up and put down and worth every minute.

Kitty Love


We had a dry spell, and Squeak found the perfect place to nap. Come on in, birdies, the water’s fine!

 Cherry Love



Our energetic little cherry tree is full of fruity goodness! Traditionally, our first cherry dish is sour cherry ice cream, which made last night. Tart, creamy, with sweet chocolate chunks…yum! Next we’ll probably do a cherry pie or tart.

150-g Gradient Love

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Goodness gracious, big cakes o’ yarn!

New in the Lair: a lot of popular shawls, like all of Martina Behm’s, require 150 g of fingering weight yarn, and our gradients just came in 100g skeins. You asked for bigger gradients, and we listened! I love the heft and longer color runs of these new cakes!(The Shades of Gray in the middle left shows you how much bigger they are than our usual 100-g skeins.) Grab one here.

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My newest knitting project; designing a shawl with one of these babies! Super fun.

Little Baseball Love

outta there!

outta there!

I guess this is the time of year to feel proud of my Little Buddy; his regular season Little League team had playoffs this weekend, and in their second game, he hit his first home run! They made it to our local Little League Championship, so we’re crossing his fingers for a good game tomorrow evening.

Knitcircus Podcast #48

Amy scandalizes her airplane seatmates and Jaala abandons baseball socks for potato-chip knitting.

Listen on Libsyn or iTunes

Mentioned this podcast:

Sow’s Ear Yarn and Coffee Shop; Knitcircus Trunk Show starting July 12th!

Blackberry Ridge Woolen Mill

Clara Yarn

Steven and Stephen Bus Tour

Meg Swansen’s Knitting Camp

Orphan Black 

The Big Bang Theory

Downton Abbey

German Twisted Cast-On

Outlander Series

Gregor the Overlander

Steven Colbert

Vogue Knitting Chicago

Stitches Midwest