Make Your Own Magic Yarn Ball

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

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

Make Your Color-Changing Magic Yarn Ball

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

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organizing by color

Some tried-and-true palettes are:

warm colors: reds. purples, yellows, oranges

cool colors: blues and greens

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

neutrals: browns, beiges, grays, cream, undyed

rainbow: crayon-box brights

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

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

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

Fancy Joins

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

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

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

Adding Treats

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

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

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

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

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

Have a great weekend,

Jaala

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

I Love Yarn Day, Kung Fu Knits and Secret Yarn

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I Love Yarn Day is this Friday! As part of the Yarn Group with TNNA, we’ve been looking forward to this for months. And we’ve got a big, big announcement coming out this Friday, so stay tuned. Here’s a spoiler: it has to do with a new kind of yarn and a totally unique dyeing process.

If you check out the I Love Yarn Day Facebook page, there’s a contest and all kinds of other events going on, including yarny Flash Mobs. (local knitters: do we have one? It seems like the Sow’s Ear might cook something up…)

Kung Fu Knits

As the mom of a sixth-grade boy, I know how hard it is to both knit for, and find great patterns for, kids this age. My son recently requested a hat; plain. And black. I talked him into a gray-to-black gradient, but it was a tough sell. Designer and Dark Matter Knits podcaster Elizabeth Green Musselman specializes in high-quality knits for men and boys. I love her men’s Dawson sweater, boys’ Langstroth (from the Cuteboysezwhat e-book)  and the super-fun Frankenfingers mitts. My daughter and I would both wear those in a hot second.

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photo: Cooperative Press

Elizabeth has written a new pattern collection, Kung Fu Knits, which ingeniously combines comics and martial-arts-themed knitting patterns for kids. The official synopsis:

It’s a familiar scenario: it’s freezing outside, and a nine-year-old boy wants to go out to play. His mother keeps piling him into more and more knitwear. Groaning ensues. Until that glorious moment when the boy realizes that knitting just might save the day.

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photo: Elizabeth Green Musselman

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photo: Elizabeth Green Musselman

Author Elizabeth Green Musselman says: The book is aimed particularly at boys aged 4–12 and the poor people who try to knit for them. It can be so hard to get kids this age to wear handknits.The comic book storyline at the beginning ties knitting into one boy’s martial arts adventure in the backyard. His mom just wants him to be warm, but these knits are also the tools for pure fun.

Knitted nunchuks! And throwing stars! A backpack to carry them in! And an entire kung fu uniform. (My son has declared these The Most Comfortable Pants Ever, and refuses to take them off when it’s cool out.)

The illustrations are by a local artist / kung fu teacher. All projects use Berroco Vintage.

The martial artist in our family is my daughter, and she would definitely wear every one of these garments, because she loves to be warm and comfortable. I can also totally see my five-year-old nephew rocking the adventurous outfit and knitted nunchucks.

You can order the Kung Fu Knits collection from Cooperative Press as either a print book or downloadable pdf.

Sasha’s New Look

We took Sasha to a real groomer, Tabby and Jacks, where they gently and patiently clipped her with scissors because the clipper panicked her.

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Now we can see her little face, instead of just a big pompon. I have to admit, I did love the big puff, but she can actually see what she’s doing now.

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What she’s doing now is napping. ;)

Oh, local knitters, The Knitting Tree is celebrating its Grand Opening tomorrow afternoon! They’ll have cheese and snacks and a chance to win prizes from 4-6pm. If you haven’t seen the beautiful new space, it’s definitely worth stopping.

Have a lovely Tuesday, knitters!

Trapeze, Calliope, and a KAL

Hi, Knitters,

Wow, what a day, I have not one, but two new yarns to introduce!

But first, some fall apple-picking fun:

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We grabbed my mom, my brother’s family the kids and even Sasha for an afternoon in the orchard last weekend. Can you believe the twins are in kindergarten now?! A good time was had by all, and caramel apples were had by the youngsters. We’ll be making sauce, crisp and maybe some pie this weekend. Does anyone have a favorite apple recipe?

Trapeze Cashmere

Now for the yarn! The first new one is unbelievable; a new 100% cashmere handspun. Fair-trade, spun by a women’s collective in Afghanistan, and probably the softest yarn I’ve ever felt.

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At TNNA this summer, I saw a booth with fair-trade cashmere from Afghanistan. They had samples. Just one touch and I was hooked; I knew we had to get some for our wonderful Knitcircus knitters! We arranged with the wonderful women who run this business to get a special, limited-run of worsted-weight 100% cashmere Trapeze yarn, and now we have it just for you!

The yarn itself is so special I had to develop the deepest, richest, most saturated colors. Every single skein is dyed on its own in a batch of one, with several different dyebaths layered over each other to achieve a color with boundless depth. We named them after precious stones that mirrored the colors’ depth: London Blue Topaz and Pink Tourmaline.

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To highlight the yarn’s specialness, I developed the London Blue Topaz pattern specifically to make the most of the yarn’s yardage and of course, to arrange around your neck and shoulders so you can feel Trapeze’s fantastic softness and drape.

The shawl uses what I think is one of the most elegant stitch patterns, Dayflower Lace, with a diamond-shaped construction.

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Here’s the Pink Tourmaline colorway, a deep, rich red perfect for holiday knitting. (This is the color I kept for myself!)

Calliope: Merino-Cashmere-Nylon DK

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Speaking of cashmere, we’re thrilled to introduce another new yarn, but this one will be available all year round! Calliope is 80% Superwash Merino, 10% Nylon , 10% cashmere, in a touchable, delightfully soft and springy yarn. It’s shown here in our new cozy fall color, Mr. Tumnus, and you can custom order it in any of our repeatable coorways. It’s 230 yards in a 100g cake, or 345 yards in a 150g cake.

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As part of the Calliope excitement, we’re also now offering all of our sport, dk and worsted-weight yarns in 150-g options, which was only available for fingering weights before.

Silk Moon KAL

We started off the autumn in style with a Ravelry KAL for the Silk Moon Crescent Shawl, now with a new fingering-weight version included in the pattern! I know a couple of people in the KAL are going to work it in fingering and keep on going to make larger shawls, and I can’t wait to see how they turn out!

The KAL just started, and we have our first weekly winner; Taine on Ravelry got her choice of patterns from my Ravelry Store.

This shawl knits up quickly in either fingering, dk or fingering weight yarn. I made this rainbow one below as my new Silk Moon for the re-release of the pattern and finished it in under a week!

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The lovely model in the photos here is Cindy, who joins us in the Lair to help with Ravelry groups, website and finances. She works at beloved LYS the Sow’s Ear and has lots of knitting expertise as well as the talent for creating and maintaining order, which I dearly love and appreciate. Cindy will be participating in the KAL and checking in with everyone every day!

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My Silk Moon is in Knitcircus Lap of Luxury silk blend in the colorway Over the Rainbow, which you guys know I can’t stop knitting with.

There’s still plenty of time to join us in the Ravelry group, and the prizes will be getting bigger each week. ;)

WASHCLOTHS for a GOOD CAUSE

Stephanie from Space Cadet Yarns just shared this project by a motivated knitter to send handknitted washcloths to be distributed as part of hygiene packs in Haiti. Good cause, and the time commitment is actually charity knitting I can do!

I’ll be knitting up a washcloth this weekend and hope some of you will join in the good, clean, fun. ;) If you post a pic of your washcloth in the Ravelry group, or a link to your project, i’ll give away a pattern of your choice as a reward for your good efforts!

Industrial Revolution Scarf: New Pattern

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It was the first taste of a little bit of chilly weather, and it made me want to go all cozy with cables and textures. After tech editing, a photoshoot and some pattern layout, the Industrial Revolution Scarf is ready!

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Why Industrial Revolution? Well, mostly I was thinking about the name of the yarn, which is Brass and Steam, which got me thinking about people keeping nice and warm in steampunk-era London or the USA. This seems like the kind of handknitted cravat a gentleman inventor might wear, or a lady might tuck demurely under her overdress. OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

It works up quickly with just one skein of worsted weight yarn (of course, you can make it longer simply by continuing to repeat the special stitch pattern.)OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

You may remember the work-in-progress from the cabling tutorial I sent out last month!

As a special treat for l all you lovely knitters, I’m debuting it for free for just this weekend! Head to Ravelry for your free Industrial Revolution download.

And, of course, if you’d like to make it up in the yarn shown, you can click on over to the Knitcircus Shop for the Industrial Revolution Scarf Kit.

Happy knitting,

Jaala

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…

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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!

SALE

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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!

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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,

Jaala