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.

Hibiscus Stripe Pattern and July Color

IMG_3486[1]

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!

IMG_3465[1]

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!

8JIngRk

 

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.

IMG_3511[1]

IMG_3510[1]

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

IMG_3451[1]

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

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

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.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

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,

Jaala

 

 

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.

sasha

sasha

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

IMG_2404

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

 Cherry Love

cherries!

cherries!

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

july 1 015

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.

july 1 011

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

Knitcircus Podcast #47

Knitcircus Podcast #47

Amy’s back from Ireland! She talks sheep roadblocks and Irish coffee, and Jaala’s got the 411 on tons of summer fun. Special guest Susan Spiro (Jaala’s mom) reveals craft treasures of Paris.

Image

Podcast 46 winner!

Many of you correctly told us that you can find little pigs hidden throughout the environs of beloved LYS The Sow’s Ear. Alert listener Chaitanya won the Come What May gradient cake!  She was chosen by the Random Number Generator and has been notified.

Listen on Libsyn or iTunes

Mentioned this podcast: 

Celtic Journeys

Sow’s Ear Yarn and Coffee Shop

Chris Byslma

Shetland Wool Week

Stephen and Steven Bus Tour

Knit in Public Week

Paris:

Le Bon Marche

Le Marais

Montmartre

Marche St. Pierre

Summer Knitting Fun

Sure, knitting seems like a winter sport, what with the sweaters and the wool, but we all know that love of knitting carries on through all seasons. Summer weather gives us a chance to travel, meet up and try unusual projects.

From Worldwide Knit In Public Day to Mystery-Alongs, Stitch’n’Pitch events, fiber festivals, knitting vacations, shop hops and special events, summer offers plenty of opportunities for knitters to enjoy knitting and the company of other knitters.

header-logo2

Tomorrow! Worldwide Knit in Public Day

June 14-22

manx yarnies 2013, Isle of Man, photo: Isle of Man Courier

manx yarnies 2013, Isle of Man, photo: Isle of Man Courier

World Wide Knit in Public Day (KIP) was started in 2005 by Danielle Landes to be celebrate the second Saturday of June. Now it’s expanded so much it starts Saturday (tomorrow) with events running around the world for a whole week! And when they say “worldwide, they’re not just talking about the US and Canada, but Brazil, Cambodia, Italy, Chile, South Africa, Spain…

Marshall Islands KIP, photo: Jambo Arts

Marshall Islands KIP, photo: Jambo Arts

Knit in Public Day is the largest knitter-run event in the world. Each local event is put together by volunteers who bring fresh ideas into planning the location and activities.

In the past some people have used this event to show the general public that ‘not only grannies knit!’. Knit in Public Day gives local knitters a chance to showcase who they are and what they represent.  Different groups who normally don’t meet with each other can find new knitters in their community through a shared KIP event.

This year’s KIP is coming right up!  And people have signed up with events from Michigan to Qatar, Latvia to Mexico, so check it out! The site is a bit tricky to navigate, but if you go to the Find a KIP page, there are two lists; the one on the left shows all of the countries plus the US, so to look for an event in your state, scroll all the way to the bottom past the UK and check for your location. The list on the right does not include US state listings.

Mystery-alongs

 

Magnify Mystery-Along, by Laura Nelkin, photo: Gale Zucker

Magnify Mystery-Along, by Laura Nelkin, photo: Gale Zucker

Many knitters like to while away the sunny hours knitting something they’ve never even seen a picture of before! Mystery Knitalongs provide daily or weekly “clues” which create a new pattern, usually incorporating different designs or unusual construction. Shawls could include several different lace sections, for instance. While shawls are most often offered, Mystery-alongs can also include socks , blankets, hats, and other accessories.

TTL Mystery Shawl  image: Kirsten Kapur

TTL Mystery Shawl image: Kirsten Kapur

The lighthearted approach to knitting, with a fun surprise clue and a community of knitters experiencing the mystery together, make mystery KAL’s a perfect summer activity. Favorite designers like Ysolda, Stephen West, Laura Nelkin,  Anna Dalvi, Lee Meredith and Kirsten Kapur all host Mystery-alongs. To find out when new ones start, check out the Upcoming Mystery KAL Group on Ravelry.

A Selection of MKAL’s in progress or starting soon:

June 1- Summer Travels by Cindy Garland

June 1- TTL Mystery Shawl 2014 by Kristen Kapur

June 1- June Mystery Knit Along by Cilla Webb

June 1- Solid Socks Mystery June/July 2014 by Phyll Lagerman

June 4- Addiction- Shawl by Three Bags Fulled

June 7- Da Can You Hear Me MKAL by Meagheen Ryan

June 8- String Theory Mystery KAL by Janet Avila

June 9- Chaussette Mystere- Bamboo Folie by Annie Lussier

June 10- Magia Mystery Shawl KAL by Laura Nelkin (will have beads)

June 21- Ocean Breeze- Boo Knits

June 21- Urban Survival by Josh Ryks

June 23- Mystery Shawl 2014 by Jenna Krupar

July 1- We Are But Stardust by Rebecca Hill

July 1- Clue Sock and Clue Shawl by Verybusymonkey

July 6- Mary Lennox by Kate Poe

July 24- Heart on Fire by Lily Go

Fiber Festivals

photo: Wisconsin Sheep and Wool Festival

photo: Wisconsin Sheep and Wool Festival

Of course, summer would hardly be summer without fiber festivals! Sheep and wool festivals offer an unparallelled opportunity to see the source of much of our yarn in the form of sheep, alpacas, etc and to marvel at the skill involved in herding, tending and shearing them, as well as taking fiber classes, learning new knitting techniques and shopping the yarn-filled marketplaces. A wonderful resource for all of us, Clara at Knitter’s Review has compiled a calendar of all kinds of fiber-y events. Here’s a sampling:

June

14-15 Jasper County Fairgrounds, Colfax, IA Iowa Sheep and Wool Festival
27-28 Mitchell’s Lakeland Livestock Centre, Cockermouth, Cumbria, England 10th Annual Woolfest

July

11-20 Inuvik, Northwest Territories, Canada Canadian North Great Northern Arts Festival
17-19 Kintaline Farm, Benderloch, Scotland Gaelic Wool Festival
25-27 Castel Farms, Charlevoix, MI Fiber Arts Festival
27-Aug. 2 Medomak Retreat Center, Washington, ME Maine Fiber Arts Retreat

August

1-10 Historic Abingdon, VA Virginia Highlands Festival
2-3 Gib & Lou Reese Ice Arena, Newark, OH Mid-Ohio Fiber Fair
3-8 Halcyon Yarn, Bath, ME FiberME 2014
7-10 Renaissance Schaumburg Hotel & Convention Center, Schaumburg, IL Stitches Midwest
9-10 Rheault Farm, West Fargo, ND Fiber Arts Festival
13-17 Allegan County Fairgounds, Allegan, MI Michigan Fiber Festival & Workshops
22-23 Salt Lake County Equestrian Park, South Jordan, UT Great Basin Fiber Arts Festival
30-31 Bethel, MO World Sheep and Fiber Arts Festival

Stitch and Pitch

cropped-header-9501

Stitch N’ Pitch brings together two favorite American pastimes, baseball and knitting. Come to a ball game and knit, crochet, embroider, cross-stitch or needlepoint while you cheer for the home team! Our hometown team, the Mallards, offered free bobbleheads to registered Stitch ‘n’ Pitch knitters. :)

Stitch'n'Pitch photo: SNP

Stitch’n’Pitch photo: SNP

Still upcoming:

June 15 8-10pm: Atlanta Braves vs LA Angels

June 23: San Francisco Giants vs Padres

June 25: Binghamton Mets vs Reading Fightin’ Phils

July 13: Chicago Bandits vs Pennsylvania Rebellion

Shop Hops/Yarn Crawls

photo: needlework unlimited store

photo: needlework unlimited store

Shop Hops, trunk shows and special events combine the fun of being out and about with the coolness of supporting your local yarn shops. Many stores offer special custom colorways, patterns or indy yarns just for the event, and you can often find delicious refreshments, too! Thanks again to Knitter’s Review for most of the events listed below.

June

26-29 Hew Haven, CT to Putney, VT I-91 Shop Hop Connecticut

June 27-28  Knitcircus yarns Trunk Show; Sow’s Ear Yarn and Coffee Shop

August

3-11 Chicago, IL * Chicago Yarn Crawl
9-24 Northern Colorado & Southern Wyoming Hot August Knits Yarn Crawl

8-10             Ohio and Northern Kentucky                        i-75 Yarn Crawl

September

1 Reed Point, MT * Great Montana Sheep Drive
13-21 Colorado Front Range Yarn Along the Rockies (Yarn Crawl)
19-20 Central Pennsylvania College, Summerdale, PA 29th Annual Knitter’s Day Out
19-21 Greater Boston Area Yarn Crawl Boston Yarn Crawl

Stephen and Stephen Bus Tour

Steven and Stephen graphic: StevenBe

Steven and Stephen graphic: StevenBe

Talk about some crazy summer fun! Knitting party guys StevenBe, owner of two Minneapolis yarn stores, and Stephen West, pattern designer from the Netherlands, will be hitting many stores this summer to meet with knitters around the USA! Watch for special custom colors and yarns at every stop.

June 18 Yarn Garage- Rosemont MN

June 19-20 Yarn Harbor- Duluth, MN

June 21- StevenBe- Minneapolis, MN

June 22- Yarnology- Winona, MN

June 23-24- StevenBe- Minneapolis, MN

June 25- John Fluevog Shoes- Seattle, WA

June 26-27- Makers’ Mercantile – Kent, WA

June 28-29- A Verb for Keeping Warm- Oakland, KA

June 30-July 1- Knit This, Purl That! – Pleasanton, CA

July 2, 5- Knitterly- San Francisco, CA

July 2- John Fluevog Shoes- San Francisco, CA

July 6- Hill Country Weavers- Austin, TX

July 7- Madtosh Crafts- Fort Worth, TX

July 8-9- Fancy Tiger Crafts- Denver, CO

July 11-12- Loops- Tulsa, OK

July 15-17- In the Making- Birmingham, AL

July 18-20- A Good Yarn- Sarasota, FL

July 22-23- Bella Filati-Southern Pines, NC

July 25-27- TKGA Show- Manchester, NH

July 29-31 NYC NY

August 1-2- Windy Knitty- Chicago, IL

August 3-4- String Theory- Glen Ellyn, IL

August 7-10- Stitches Midwest- Schaumburg, IL

Knitterly Vacations

Whether you’re carving out one day for a lovely knitting workshop, cruising on a ship with a talented instructor or boarding a bus to take in the hill country with your knitting in tow, fiber vacations abound!

June

6-10 Coast of Maine Maine Knitting Cruise with Bill Huntington
9-19 France Jean Moss Handknits Knit France Tour
10-13 The Brumder Mansion,Milwaukee, WI Wisconsin Knitting Retreat
12-15 Sunshine Mountain Lodge, Allenspark, CO Men’s Rocky Mountain Knitting Retreat
13-15 Arrowhead Ranch Conference Center, Lake Arrowhead, CA Griffin Dyeworks Fiber Retreat
15-22 The Dunloe, Killarney, County Kerry, Ireland Knitting Retreat in Ireland
19-22 Kahler Grand Hotel, Rochester, MN Zombie Knitapocalypse Retreat
20-22 Enka Middle School, Candler, NC Friends & Fiberworks’ Summer Retreat with instructors Franklin Habit & Abby Franquemont
20-22 Brickhouse Bed and Breakfast, New Bethlehem, PA Summer Knitting Retreat, tel. 814-229-1598
23-25 Coast of Maine Maine Knitting Cruise with Mimi Bird

July

3-7 Holiday Inn Conference Center, Marshfield, WI Meg Swansen’s Knitting Camp
10-14 Holiday Inn Conference Center, Marshfield, WI Meg Swansen’s Retreat 2.75
11-20 Inuvik, Northwest Territories, Canada Canadian North Great Northern Arts Festival
12 Brunswick City Park Building, Brunswick, MD Beat the Heat Fiber Retreat
16-19 Coast of Maine Maine Knitting Cruise with Bill Huntington
17-20 Sunday River Ski Resort, Newry, ME Maine Fiber Arts Retreat
17-20 Whitehead Light Station, Whitehead Island, ME Island Knitting Retreat
17-21 Holiday Inn Conference Center, Marshfield, WI Meg Swansen’s Knitting Camp 2
20-27 Alaska Alaska Knitting Cruise
24-28 Holiday Inn Conference Center, Marshfield, WI Meg Swansen’s Retreat 3
25-29 Courtyard Marriot, Halifax, Nova Scotia, Canada Port ‘O Stitches Shoreline Urban Cadre with Jane Thornley
27-30 The Brumder Mansion,Milwaukee, WI Wisconsin Knitting Retreat
27-Aug. 2 Medomak Retreat Center, Washington, ME Maine Fiber Arts Retreat

August

15-27 Baltics Baltic Knitting Cruise with Galina Khmeleva and Donna Druchunas
16-19 Kettle Pond State Campground, Groton, VT * Vermont Knit and Fiber Camp
16-30 Ireland Ireland Knitting Cruise
27-Sept. 14 Copenhagen to New York Transatlantic Knitting Cruise with Mary Jane Mucklestone

Wherever your summer takes you, have fun, enjoy, and don’t forget your sunscreen–and your needles!

by Jaala Spiro and Chris Furuya

Baby Puppy and Gradient Clubs

We’ve always been a cat family, but with kids, never say never. Introducing Belle’s new puppy: Sasha!

baby Sasha

baby Sasha

Belle has wanted a dog for years, and with some help from Grammy and Buppa, she researched and found the perfect pup, a Shih Tzu girl, 10 weeks old. Her research even included a powerpoint presentation highlighting the breed’s friendliness, relaxed nature (did you know they were bred as lapdogs for Chinese royalty?) and hypoallergenic coat.

a girl and her dog

a girl and her dog

A very happy girl got her wish last week. And Sasha really is adorable. Her little legs are so short, her tail is actually longer, so when she trots after Belle wagging her tail, it looks like half her little fuzzy body is wagging.

sleepytime

sleepytime

The little tail starts wagging as soon as she sees any person, and she loves to be carried and snuggle on laps. She’s so small she practically takes a bath when she walks into dewy grass.

453

 

Welcome, Sasha. If any dog can make it in this cat family, it’s you! (Don’t worry, yarn mavens, Sasha’s not part of the Evil Lair scene).

Speaking of the Lair, it’s an exciting time: Gradient Club memberships for next year are now open!

il_570xN.610899831_5qw9

Eleven months, six packages of yarn showing up right to your door! Each Knitcircus Yarns package includes an exclusive self-striping, hand-dyed gradient colorway, notes about the color inspiration, list of suggested patterns and coordinating gifts.We’ll mix it up with colors to make everyone happy, with some warm, some cool and some neutrals.

Gifts will include products from companies like Lantern Moon, Knit Happy and hidden gems from Wisconsin sheep farms.  Below; Frabjous Fibers bag (treat from the first Summer Slice Club) with a happy gradient to give you an idea. Of course, the colors of the actual Club will be all new. :)

IMG_2453[1]
Luxury fiber will be wool-based, featuring different blends like silk, cashmere, tencel and nylon. Luxury fibers will include favorites like Thrilling, Opulence, and Greatest of Ease, new yarns reserved exclusively for Clubbies, and early access to yarns not in the shop yet.

IMG_0768

 

This year I won’t be writing up patterns, since it just took too much time away from dyeing, which also makes this year’s Club a little more affordable! But I will ransack Ravelry every time to find and tell you about patterns I think would work perfectly with each month’s yarn.

 

Yarn weights include 4 skeins of fingering weight yarn and 2 skeins of heavier-weight yarn. Knitting-related treats in every package include collaborations with small woman-owned and fair-trade businesses, from one-woman operations to nationally recognized brands.

cabaret chocolate and flowers

And, just like last year, you can either purchase a year’s subscription and be all done, or sign up once and pay as packages are ready to ship (also a six-package deal, but you can break up the payments!). For the full year, please use the code WELCOME at checkout to get $10 off your membership!

Curiosity Satisfied!

kcc3-front-cover

Guess what, Hunter Hammersen’s new book just dropped! If you’ve been waiting for the Knitters Curiosity Cabinet III like we have, you can check it out at Pantsville Press.

Happy Tuesday,

jaala

 

Kirsten Kapur Collaboration

Image

photo: Kirsten Kapur for Through the Loops

What an exciting day! The wonderful Kirsten Kapur, of Through the Loops, collaborated with us so we can offer a special kit for her  new Puschkinia sock pattern. She ingeniously used the gradient to create a higher-contrast colorwork edging, then the colors slowly change and the contrast gets softer as the sock progresses.

Image

photo: Kirsten Kapur for Through the Loops

The kit is like the socks, bringing two different things together to form a harmonious whole. The whole in this case is the pattern, yarn, special treat and free shipping! So, to create the kit, you first go to the Through the Loops Ravelry Store and purchase Puschkinia, at the end of which is a coupon code for free shipping in the Knitcircus store. Then you purchase the Puschkinia kit, choosing any of the three colors Kirsten handpicked for her kit options. Choose from Pigeon, the soft blue Kirsten used, Emerald City or Fashion Week. Kirsten worked with the Thrilling yarn base, with Merino Superwash and silk, and you can choose that one or the Corriedale Sock, Greatest of Ease or USA-made Triumphant, since all have comparable yardage.

Image

Emerald City

 

Image

Pigeon

Image

Fashion Week

We were lucky enough to have Kirsten design socks with our yarns before; the gorgeous twist-stitch Reynard socks using the Bears Love Honey colorway. She’s so talented, it’s an honor to get to work with her, and I know you guys will love the pattern if you try it. Right now, Kirsten’s offering a Mystery KAL which looks like a blast! She just gave out the clue yesterday, so it’s the perfect time to join if you’re looking for a shawl to work up this summer.

Thanks so much to Kirsten for partnering with us, and have a great day, knitters!

Jaala

Knitcircus Podcast 46

Jaala’s got rainbow sock fever and Amy’s high on German short rows…

Listen on Libsyn or iTunes

Image

 

WIN fabulous prizes! Email Jaala (jaala@knitcircus.com) and tell her what you can find hidden at the Sow’s Ear yarn shop and you could win a cake of the popular Knitcircus Come What May colorway in 100% superwash Merino! Winner will be announced on the next podcast.

Mentioned this podcast:

Marly Bird‘s Yarn Thing Podcast

Knits that Breathe: 12 Breezy Projects to Keep You Cool, by Julie Turjoman

Floral Knits, by Martin Storey

Delancey, by Molly Wizenberg

52 Timeless Toys to Knit, by Chris de Longpre

Knitcircus Over the Rainbow sock set

CocoKnits Liesl Tunic

The Sow’s Ear 

Rhubarb Crisp recipe (Mods: I used 6 cups rhubarb, doubled the oats, halved the flour for the topping–Jaala)

Banoffee Pie

Continuum show

Castle show

Gray’s Anatomy

Motive show

The Tonight Show with Jimmy Fallon

Wendy D. Johnson (Jaala says: my apologies, you can only hear “D. Johnson on the audio) Socks from the Toe Up book

Dream Bird Shawl, by Nadita Swings

Leftie shawl, by Martina Behm

 

 

May Rainbows and Rhubarb

 

ImageOkay, I’ll admit it, I always had a secret desire to dye a rainbow. At first I squelched it, because it reminded me of sticker collecting in fourth grade and I figured knitters are more sophisticated than that. And then I squelched it because sometimes rainbows can have political meaning, and I didn’t want to make people feel left out. And then I feared that the colors would run and it would turn out muddy. But one day in the Lair, I was feeling playful and Chris had prepared some extra yarn for new colorways and so we just went for it! The result: Over the Rainbow, and I’m head over heels.

I chose my favorite classic dye color for each shade (of course, we have seven different reds, five yellows, six blues, etc…) and lined them up in the skein. Rainbow purists can and should point out that my rainbow doesn’t follow the classic ROY-G-BIV arrangement, and this was purposeful, mainly to safeguard the yellow from the other, deeper colors. And this rainbow made it though washing and drying with all of the colors still vibrant. The fourth-grade rainbow lover in me came skipping out and gleefully claimed the first set.Image

This color combination made me so happy that I immediately cast on, and after just two weeks of Little League baseball, finished the first one on the way to a tournament. Two weeks may not be impressive for you speed knitters out there, but for me it’s pretty darn good. And no second sock syndrome here! The lure of the colors pulled me right through cast-on and I’m just about ready to turn the heel on the second one.

 

Image

The cherry tree in our side yard is a-bloomin’. Hope we’ll get a good sour cherry crop again!

New in the Lair

My dad presented us with this rhubarb bouquet yesterday. Spring is really here! We do like rhubarb around here; one year, Belle asked for a rhubarb cake for her birthday! Since her birthday is in the fall, it was a little tricky….
This year, I was thinking of trying this Apple Pie Bar recipe from Roxana’s Home Baking and substituting cooked, sweetened rhubarb. But it’s hard to resist a good, old-fashioned rhubarb pie….
Are you all getting rhubarb? If so, please share what you’re making with it! I’d love to know.

Take care and have a lovely weekend,

Jaala

Curiosity Inspired: Designer Hunter Hammersen

Designer Hunter Hammersen has been one of our favorite ones to watch since she published her first pattern in Knitcircus way back when. Now she’s ready to release the third volume in her extremely popular Knitter’s Curiosity Cabinet series. Just before the National Needle Arts convention, we caught up with Hunter to find out what makes this curious and talented knitter tick.

Image

Wow, Volume #3 of the Knitters’ Curiosity Cabinet comes out soon! Please tell our readers when they can expect to see it, and can you give us some hints about what they’ll find in there?

I kind of can’t believe it myself!  I swear it feels like I was daydreaming about the idea for these books just last week, and here we are with number three about to come out.  Volume III should be making its debut in June.  It is similar to the first two in that I used vintage natural history prints to inspire socks and accessories.  But this time instead of working with images of plants (Volume I) or butterflies (Volume II), I turned to prints of sea life.  I’ll confess I was a tiny bit concerned I wouldn’t be able to find images that I liked (drawings of dead fish were not what I had in mind), but I shouldn’t have worried.  The drawings are beautiful and amazingly colorful.  The colors in this one are the brightest yet!

I love your Curiosity Cabinet series. This has been a rich vein of inspiration for you, and we knitters are the luckier for it! How did you get drawn into the Curiosity Cabinet idea?
Curiosity cabinets are just so nifty I really can’t help but love them.  I’m sort of a shameless history dork (I was most of the way through a Ph.D. in history when I threw it all away for the glamorous life of knitwear design), so their role in the history of science is fascinating.  And I have some rather pronounced magpie tendencies (I have a hard time going for a walk without picking up rocks or feathers or some other little treasure).  That combo more or less dooms me to loving everything about curiosity cabinets!
I’ve found they really tend to resonate with a lot of other people too.  Some folks love the history, some are drawn in by the science, and some are just excited by the look of them and all the marvelous opportunities for exploration that they offer.  And a surprising number of people have come up to me and told me about their personal collections of little treasures too!
Of course, all of the patterns incorporate your signature refined look, sometimes with twist stitches and cables. You seem to have taken the design inspiration as a starting-off point, not literally copying the illustrations you choose. Can you pick a favorite pattern from the series and break down for us how your project evolved from the picture to a wearable object?

It’s always such a fun process.  For these books, it all began with the prints, which meant I had to start by finding them!  That involved spending lots of time on etsy and ebay and various used book stores searching out the books in which they were originally published (there are reproductions out there, but I decided I always wanted to work with the originals for these books).

Once I’d tracked down suitable images, the next step was to find the perfect yarns for each.  It was important to pick yarns that were true to the beautiful, vibrant colors in the images.  And, because each print was the source for two patterns, I needed to find two bases and two colors for each print.  I think finding just the right yarns was one of the hardest parts of the whole book!

When the yarn came, the fun part started.  I swatched.  That’s a very short sentence to describe a very long process.  I swatched a lot.  I rely on sample knitters to make the pieces you see in the books, which means I can’t design on the needles.  I have to plan everything out based on swatches, notes, and some serious time with a calculator and a spreadsheet.  So the swatching stage is a long one.ImagePadina paviona socks photo: Zoë Lonergan

The trick is to find a stitch or a shape that captures something about the image that I find intriguing or want to play with, but not try and recreate the picture itself.  Sometimes it’s a pretty direct translation, like with the Padina paviona socks.
Image
Padina paviona socks print inspiration.
Sometimes it’s a bit more abstract, like with the Pelagia noctiluca hat.
Image
Pelagia noctiluca hat, photo Zoë Lonergan
Image
Pelagia noctiluca hat inspiration print.
In any case, it’s always great fun to find that balance between something that stays true to the inspiration piece, but makes for a great project.
I understand that knitting didn’t really take hold for you until you discovered socks. What about that experience hooked you?
You’ll laugh, but you have to remember, I was a total novice.  I was missing two very important pieces of information.  I didn’t know yarn could be wound into tidy balls, and I didn’t know how to join on a new skein when my first one ran out.  My previous project had been a lacy scarf.  I wanted it out of thicker yarn, but the longest yarn I could find was laceweight, so I knit it with four strands of laceweight held together.  I didn’t know you could wind yarn into balls, so I was working with four opened up hanks of yarn (one on the back of each dining room chair).  It was a jumbled tangled mess, and I found it hugely frustrating.  So at first, socks appealed because the yarn came in those handy little balls and you didn’t need to worry about joining on more yarn!

Of course eventually I came to realize all the other nifty things about socks (portable, versatile, comfy) and knitting in general, but at first it really was that they took away all the frustration of my previous project long enough for me to pay attention to the knitting and realize I liked it!

What’s on your needles right now, or is it a secret? It’s only sort of secret.  I’m in the middle of revamping many of my early patterns, so I’ve been reknitting a few of those items.  I’ve been chatting about those reknits over on the blog, so they’re not secret.  But I’ve also got loads of swatches for some upcoming books underway (really I’d say half my knitting time goes to swatches), and those are super duper top secret, at least for now!
What’s next for you?

Short term, I’m gearing up for the launch of Volume III.  You’d think I’d have it down by now, but the weeks surrounding the launch of a new book are always a bit of a zoo!  Once that’s taken care of, I’ve actually got a few more books in various stages.  One is well underway (as in, I have a drawer full of samples and just need to sweet talk some friends into having a little photo shoot).  The others are not quite so far along, but I am hard at work on them!

Image  Image

To find more of Hunter’s designs, check out her Ravelry designer page and website and find her books at Pantsville Press.