New Stripes, New Shop, New KAL

Wow, Knitters,

I’ve got so much that’s new and exciting to share with you! it’s hard to know where to start.

New Shop

First, and very big news to us: we have our own Knitcircus Yarns web store now! You can purchase 100g Gradients, 150g Gradients, Matching Socks Sets and Gradient Stripes Socks right from our site now. Whooo! Big props to Webmistress Cindy for her hard work getting it all prepared for you.

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New Stripes

The new Gradient Stripes socks are flying off of our virtual shelves, and I’m dyeing them up as quickly as I can so that you can start playing with them! We sent many, many packages out the door in the last two days, so if you live nearby, you may have your sock sets in hand soon! More are heading out today because we really want you to be able to knit with them.

New Knitalong

We can’t wait to see what you’re knitting, so we’ve started a KAL in the Knitcircus Group to bring everyone together to share and enjoy progress on their Gradient Stripes socks. We’ll have weekly prizes and surprises, and Webmistress Cindy is putting together a list of good sock patterns to use. Just post progress pics in the progress thread to be eligible to win! Note: if you would like to work the KAL with original Matching Socks Sets gradients, of course you can!

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Webmistress Cindy has already knitted most of her first sock! She knits fast. She’s using a prototype for the Sand Castle colorway that has a little less contrast in the blue section than the for-sale colorway will.

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Susie Anderson’s finished sock so intrigued me that I wanted to try the Tropical Sunset colorway for myself.

Gradient Stripes Giveaway!

Speaking of Susan B Anderson, she’s doing a fun giveaway on her blog right now, in fact, two giveaways for the new Gradient Stripes Socks! She talks about the yarns and shows her finished sock on her video podcast, and has a really creative idea for the giveaways. It’s so fun that she’s doing videocasts now, because Susie’s personality just shines and she’s one of the dearest people I know. I’m so lucky to live near her, but now knitters in far-flung places get to be charmed by her, too!

Bye, Bye, Baseball

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In kid news, Lil Buddy’s fall baseball season wrapped up; unfortunately, he hurt his hand right before the last day of play, but still had a blast with his fall tournament team. What a talented and fun bunch of kids.The World Series starts next week, so that will be the last hurrah. I can’t wait to make the traditional homemade caramel corn….

It warms the cockles of my heart that he still wears my handknits in public; above he’s sporting two-years-ago’s Gryffindor hat. :) Belle has a new hat, a variation on the Valentina I made for her last year, but I haven’t gotten to snap a pic yet.

Happy Friday Pet Pics

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Of course, I couldn’t have a blog post without including some cute pet pics! Sasha and Squeak are good friends and enjoy napping together when they’ve worn themselves out chasing and play-fighting.

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Buppa purchased an early holiday present for Lil Buddy; new ski boots! And Squeak got the box.

Announcing: Gradient Stripes Sock Yarns!

Hi, Knitters,

Have I got some big news to share with you! We’ve been working on this for weeks and weeks and finally get to tell you about our brand-new Gradient Stripes Sock Yarns!

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Mulberry Street Gradient Stripe; photo by Elizabeth Morrison

Sock knitters have told us that they really enjoy our long-striping Matching Socks gradients, but they wished for something that would move along a little faster, so we listened. We’ve developed a unique dyeing process to bring you the enjoyment of long-striping gradients paired with short, fun-to-knit stripes. Sock knitters asked for a gradient sock with shorter stripes, and we’ve delivered!

Our office manager, Chris, identified a new approach to dyeing and with many different experiments, I figured out how to make it work. The main color of the sock will slowly change as you knit, from almost completely one color to almost completely another.

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Come What May Gradient Stripe; photo: Elizabeth Morrison

We’re really excited about this, and are pretty sure we’re the only ones offering a sock that both stripes every few rows and changes color over the life of the project. The yarn does it all for you; no having to change yarns or weave in ends or slipping stitches at the beginning of the round.

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photo: Elizabeth Morrison

Of course, so many ideas started hopping around in my head like little chicks as soon as we got the technique in place, because the new medium allows me to present highly contrasting colors and play with just a few shades as well as subtle shifts between many colors as in our usual Matching Socks Sets.

Just like our original Matching Socks sets, all of the Gradient Stripe Sock Sets come as two separate 50-gram cakes, already wound and ready to use. Just like their counterparts, every single stitch and stripe will be mirrored exactly in both socks. We’re offering them in our two most popular fingering yarn bases, Opulence (Merino/nylon/cashmere, 420 yards in the set) and Greatest of Ease, (Merino/nylon, 400 yards in the set).

Now, to introduce the colors!

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Andromeda Gradient Stripe; photo: Elizabeth Morrison

The Andromeda Gradient Stripe sock above translates the popular Andromeda colorway from the Corrina shawl into a gradient stripe. The smaller stripes slowly and subtly shift from sapphire blue to lake blue and end with a teal green. As we ramp up the Gradient Socks over the next few weeks, we’ll offer interpretations of all of our regular repeatable colorways.

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Candy Cane Gradient Stripe; photo: Elizabeth Morrison

The Candy Cane stripe was one of the first ones I tried. Last year around holiday time, I really wanted to make a candy-striped sock, but didn’t succeed; now my peppermint-sock dreams came true!

It doesn’t have to be Christmas-related; the color works very well as a team color, too; of course, in Madison, Wisconsin, the UW colors are red and white. So this one also looks very much like Go, Bucky to me. As more colors roll out, we’ll showcase lots of different team colors so you can make socks to cheer on your favorite school or pro ball team.

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The Great Pumpkin Gradient Stripe; photo: Elizabeth Morrison

The Great Pumpkin was lots of fun to dye, with such deep, contrasting colors. There’s just enough time to work these up before Halloween, and they make great team colors all year round (the Sow’s Ear’s town, Verona, sports orange and black).

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Hummingbird Gradient Stripe; photo: Elizabeth Morrison

Hummingbird is a fun one, and perfectly autumn-toned. The stripes work their way from moss green to steel blue to a deep plum.

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Mr. Tumnus Gradient Stripe; photo: Elizabeth Morrison

If you prefer subtlety or want to knit for a fashion-shy man, Mr. Tumnus will do the job perfectly; the stripes keep your knitting flying along, but the finished product looks nicely understated.

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Just and Loyal Gradient Stripe; photo: Elizabeth Morrison

Our next color isn’t understated at all! Just and Loyal is the first in our line of Harry Potter Hogwarts-house-inspired socks. We can’t wait until the others are ready for you!

Just and Loyal also works great to put  zip in your day if you simply like bumblebees or the fun of a high-contrast stripe.

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Mulberry Street Gradient Stripe; photo: Elizabeth Morrison

Our headliner and a very pleasing colorway to knit: Mulberry Street. Mulberry Street features a pink-red changing to Cabernet and then a gorgeous, saturated blue. Inspired by one of my favorite books as a kid; we had a mulberry tree in our yard growing up, and I always thought that Dr. Suess must have known about that. Knitting these stripes will definitely remind you of the magical possibilities all around if you  “keep your eyelids up, and see what you can see.”

Knitalong

We can’t wait to see what you knit with the Gradient Stripes, so we’re hosting a Gradient Stripes Knitalong in the Knitcircus Ravelry group. The KAL thread is open now, and you can start as soon as you receive Gradient Stripes to knit with! I’ll be dyeing them as fast as I can to get you started. :) We’ll be talking about different toe-up and cuff-down patterns that work well with striping yarns. And, of course, there will be weekly prizes and surprises.

I’m so excited to finally get to share our new yarn line with you, and hope you’ll enjoy knitting with Gradient Stripes as much as I enjoy creating them!

Have a lovely weekend,

Jaala

Bahamas and Back Again

More notes from the Bahamas!

Internet faded in and out, but I did take advantage of my free time to check out StitchMaps, the new charting site developed by tech editor and author of Charts Made Simple, JC Briar. In the world of charting, it’s a revolutionary idea,where the stitches actually change the direction of the knitted fabric like they do in real life. Look at the beloved Feather and Fan chart in StitchMaps format! I joined and am excited to be able to use some StitchMaps for a couple of upcoming patterns, where I think they’ll really make the stitches easier to understand.

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photo: jcbriar for StitchMaps

 A Bit of the BahamasIMG_2495[1]

…And then there were the shoes. I’m a practical, Midwestern gal most of the time, and my list of summer shoes stops at #2, but the sensible Land’s End ones I’d purchased for the trip gave me instant blisters. Mike lost his glasses in a big wave, and they don’t just make him look distinguished, they help him see everything beyond his arm’s reach, so we took a scenic trip to the optician.

It just happened to be near a store with a shoe sale. I wanted to find something that we couldn’t get at home, an island shoe, and the prices were well within range. Something about the shiny and the strappy really got to me. Maybe Tim Gunn would mention the taste level, and truth be told, they gave me more grief than the first ones. I had to tape the straps and band-aid my toes to wear them, but I didn’t care, because these plastic, shiny, glittery shoes captured my shoe heart. Such was my lurve for them. I’m wearing them even today, when the Wisconsin temperature gets up to a balmy 66 degrees F.

Back at Home

Speaking of balmy weather, let’s talk about what won’t be: Opening Weekend for the local Little League baseball season. Little Buddy’s home opener on Sunday is expected to be forties and (hopefully not) rainy. I’m putting my podcast experience to use as the announcer for the game. (Haven’t told Little Buddy this yet, but I’ll need to give him some time to get over the embarrassment). Cross your fingers the rain holds off so we can cheer on our fave Boys of Summer!

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photo: west madison little league

In the Lair: Custom Orders!

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eat, pray, knit

Chris was busy while I was gone, and thank goodness for her keeping track of orders and getting yarn ready for dyeing! If you placed a Come What May order, you can be sure it’ll be dyed up within the next couple of days, and look for the rest of the Gradient Club packages next week before we leave for TNNA!

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She’s also been busy listing things in the store, including a brand-new Dyed-to-Order option for many of our most popular colors! Choose your set (Matching Socks or single gradient) and your yarn base and we’ll dye it up for you!

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I’m also working on developing a couple of new gradients that we’re pretty excited about and looking forward to sharing them with you soon!

Hope everyone is enjoying the spring and that you’re seeing green and growing things,

Jaala

 

 

 

 

 

 

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.

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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!

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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.

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

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

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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!

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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!

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Google maps: Knitcircus!

Make Your Own Gradient Sweater

I’ve been working on own version of the 30-Day Sweater Challenge sweater, and am making a gradient with several complementary skeins!  Learn more about it, the Sweater Challenge and some Knitcircus Yarns prizes to win on the skype segment Johnny from NSAD recorded! I wanted to share this technique with the 30 Day Challenge knitters and anyone who would like to make a gradient or striped sweater using whole skeins.

Make Your Own Gradient Sweater

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Use skeins that shade from light to dark to create your own gradient top-down sweater! Match arms and body stripes with the ratio below.

Materials:
Yarn for your sweater, wound into cakes or balls
pencil
calculator
food/postal scale
chosen pattern or 30-day sweater guide

begin

First, figure out how many yards are in a skein of your chosen yarn. Say you’re using a sport weight and one skein is 100g/3.5 oz and 300 yards.

Calculate your total number of skeins. For example, if I’m doing a sweater for a  size 36″ bust, I would want 1500 yards total, or 5 skeins. Note: this number comes out even, but there may be some waste yarn involved in getting all of the stripes to come out exactly even, so when it doubt, buy an extra skein!

Yoke:

The first skein is easy; usually you will use at least one complete skein for the neck/yoke of your sweater before you split off the arms. So your first skein will be knit just as usual following the 30-Day guidelines.

Arms and Body:

Here’s where it gets a little more tricky. You’ll need to do an extra calculation for the parts where the arms and body are knit separately.

Use your chosen pattern or the 30-Day Sweater materials to find out what your Body both Front and Back total number of stitches are:___________

Find out what your total Arm stitches will be once you have split them off and cast on extra stitches (add both sides):_________

Let’s say for our example that our knitter’s sweater calls for 140 stitches around the Body and 60 total stitches for both sleeves.

You need to make a ratio of the numbers, putting the sleeve number on top and the body number on the bottom.

___

Our example is:

60/140

You need to simplify the fraction (remember 5th grade math?): our example would simplify to 6/14ths, or 3/7.

Then divide your yarn into those fractions. (A cheater’s tip; if you don’t feel like crunching a lot of numbers, most of these numbers will come out fairly close to 25% for each sleeve, 50% for the body. If you want to divide this way, you may just need to pull back slightly on your Body knitting so that your sleeves will have enough yarn to match the Body when knit).

If each skein is 100 g, then 1/7=approximately 14 grams (round up or down to the nearest whole gram). So for our example sweater, the total gram weight for the sleeves will be: 42 grams per skein for the sleeves.

Yours is:    _______grams/skein

Use a ballwinder and swift, if you have one to create a ball for the sleeves (if you wish, divide this number in half to make a cake for each sleeve as I did for my sweater). To find out how much you have left in the Body ball, weigh the Body ball from time to time, not the smaller one, so you don’t have to take it off your ballwinder!

For my sweater, I decided to just knit the sleeves straight down, to minimize calculation, But if you are knitting an A-line sweater whose body increases while the sleeves decrease, simply repeat the same process above for each successive skein.

Using your Body yarns, knit away until your Body is all done, then use your Arm cakes to knit your arms to exactly match the color change rows in your body. If you’re knitting the sleeves one at a time, I recommend jotting down how many rows you needed for each color so you can easily remember next sleeve.

Keep on stitching, and soon you’ll have a one-of-a-kind gradient sweater designed by you!

Knitcircus Podcast #34

Amy reveals knitting nuggets from Camp, Jaala can’t take her eyes off Dave the sheep shearer and everyone’s gearing up for serious fall knitting.

Listen on Libsyn or iTunes

Mentioned this podcast:

Amy’s Ireland Trip

Donegal tweed

Wisconsin Sheep and Wool Festival

Jennie the Potter

Green Mountain Spinnery

Argyle Fiber Mill

Kimmet Croft

Bleating Heart Haven

Sun Valley Fibers

Fiber Optic

Briar Rose Fibers

Trek Bicycle

Erik’s Bikes and Boards

The Fiber Factor

StevenBe

Modern Topdown Knitting, by Kristina McGowan

Knits at Home: Rustic Knitting for the Modern Nest, by Ruth Cross

The Art of Seamless Knitting by Simona Merchant-Dest and Faina Goberstein

Knitcircus YarnsMatching Socks Club and All Wrapped Up Club

 

 

 

Using Gradients: Socks

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Stripy Socks

Making stripes in socks can be a challenge, unless you’re very familiar with the jogless jog technique, so clever knitters and yarnmakers have come up with lots of ways to create stripes using the yarn itself! Different yarns are made to give different striping effects, from just a few stitches of each color to long-striping yarns with just a few color changes.  We’ll focus on long-striping yarns in gradients today.

Gradients

The short answer for gradients and socks is: yes! A long-striping gradient (with say, 4-7 color changes over the whole sock) will show off any pattern just fine.  The length of the color blocks within the gradient should make it possible to see lace, cable or other patterning without visually breaking it up too much. Any repetitive stitch pattern  responds well to gradients.

Some favorite sock patterns to try:

Hermione’s Everyday Socks, by Erica Lueders

Monkey, by Cookie A.

Jeck and Zora, by Regina Satta, available as free Ravelry downloads

Nutkin, by Beth LaPensee,  from Knitzi.com

Spring Forward, by Linda Welch, from Knitty, Summer 2008

BFF sock, by Cookie A., from Knit.Sock.Love

Cuff-Down Socks

Because gradients themselves are so much fun to work, you may want to just stick with a basic, vanilla sock recipe to watch the colors unfold.

Sock recipes:

How I Make My Socks, by Susan B Anderson (on her blog)

Sock recipe: A Good Plain Sock, by Stephanie Pearl McPhee, from Knitting Rules

Basic Sock Pattern, by Ann Budd, in The Knitter’s Handy Book of Patterns

Choose Colors to Highlight Your Pattern

As with any yarn, the more subtle the stitch pattern, the better it will respond to a light color. Part of the reason textured Aran sweaters looks so great is their traditional cream color! So, if your heart desires a subtle knit-purl textured diamond pattern, you would be well-advised to choose a pale-blue-to-gray gradient over a maroon-to-black gradient.

Loving Lace

Very deep browns, blacks or navy are a hard sell for any textured pattern, but a graphic lace pattern will make any color look great.

Patterns to try:

Hedera, by Cookie A., from Knit.Sock.Love

Cadence Socks, by verybusymonkey, available as a free Ravelry download

Embossed Leaves, by Mona Schmidt, from Favorite Socks

The Secret Fan, by Adrienne Fong, from Bellybuttonknits Designs

Blackrose Socks, by Suzi Anvin, from Knitty, Winter 2008

Duckies, by Samantha Hayes, from Aquaknits site

Toe-Up Socks

Many of you are more familiar with cuff-down sock construction, but toe-up socks allow you to knit until all of your yarn is gone, which helps gradients tremendously.  If you’ve never tried toe-up socks before, I urge you to give it a go! You can try them on as you work, no grafting is needed, and you’ll get to enjoy every stitch of your gradient.

Patterns to try:

Gusset Heel Basic Socks, by Wendy D. Johnson, Socks from the Toe Up

Diagonal Lace Socks, by Wendy D. Johnson, Socks from the Toe Up

Serpentine Socks, by Wendy D. Johnson, from Socks from the Toe Up

Skew, by Dana Holden, Knitty, Winter 2009

Mojo, by Donyale Grant, Some Knitting Required site

Socks on a Plane, by Laura Linneman, from La La’s Knits

Crimple, by Michelle Hunter, from Knit Purl Hunter

Firestarter, by Yarnissima, from Yarnissima site

Afterthought Heel

If you do a sock pattern with an Afterthought Heel, your heels will be the same color as the toes of your sock, so you’ll have a gradient with contrasting heel.

Patterns to try:

Afterthought Heel Socks, by Laura Linneman, available as a free Ravelry download from La La’s Knits

Sweetheart Socks, by Nikol Lohr, Knitty Winter 2011

Frick-N-Frack, by Jenny Lee, from Jenny Lee Knits

Watching the colors change makes knitting with gradients go really fast. Have fun!

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