Ravelry Roundup: Best of Spring Patterns

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

–Jaala

Hi, Everyone,

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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–Chris

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

 

Handpaint Classes in the Lair

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

When: Saturday, May 17th

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

CLASS SCHEDULE

Handpainted Skeins

10:00-12:00

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

Cost: $35

Class limit: 8 people

Food-Based Dyes

1:30-3:30

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

Cost: $35

Class limit: 8 people

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

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

Knitcircus Podcast #43

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

Listen on Libsyn and itunes

Mentioned this Podcast:

Vogue Knitting Live Seattle

Knitcircus Yarn Shop

Lorilee Beltman

Amy Singer

Clara Yarn

Emily Ocker’s Circular Cast-On

Cat Bordhi’s Personal Footprints for Insouciant Sock Knitters

Lovely Knitted Lace, by Brooke Nico

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

Wild Ginger Restaurant

Amy’s Craftsy Class

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

Schoolhouse Press Jamieson Spindrift sale

Laura Nelkin Beadle Needle Video

Kitchener Stitch

Yarn Con Chicago

 

 

Knit and Dye All the Things

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Hi, Knitters,

Knitting : trying to become a monogamous knitter

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

March-April Yarn Club Ready

matching socks club

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

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

Fish Lips Kiss Heel

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

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

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

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

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

Yarn Con

yarns everywhere

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

Mmmm, Pie

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

Take care,

Jaala

 

 

 

Books Galore and Scandinavian Inspiration

Lace 1 by Stephannie Tallent-1

Hi, Knitters!

First, I just wanted to let you all know that my friend Stephannie Tallent has a new e-book going live, The Wild West: Volume 1 Lace! Stephannie was a tech editor for Knitcircus Magazine and her designs combine impeccable technique with pretty and well-thought-out patterns. Stephannie is an expert at cables, twist stitches, colorwork and lace. In this follow-up to her California Revival Knits, she’s broken the collection up into smaller books based on technique, so you can pick and choose your favorites!  Just for the next couple of days: preorder the book on Ravelry and use the code LACE1 for $3 off!

HAPPY HOME COVER

This last week, I must have a touch of spring cleaning fever. My mom, the maven of all things home beautiful, had taken this book out of the library and let me borrow it form her: Happy Home, by Charlotte Hedeman Gueniau.  Charlotte’s lighthearted, bright but clean style captivated my imagination, so over the weekend our family made some changes inspired by her book.

Inspired by the bright textiles, we revisited Belle’s homework area and made it more cheerful.

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Lil Buddy’s space got a re-vamp to keep up with our skater boy.IMG_1405[1]

And some shelves from the kids’ room made a welcome behind-sofa storage for shoes and sports equipment by the back door.

Charlotte’s company, RICE, provides colorful, fun homewares compliant with the UN’s Global Compact for labor and materials. I loved looking at all of the storage, brightness and lively ideas in the book!

In fact, it got me hungry for more Scandinavian design, and starting ideas jumping for a new yarn collection.

IMG_1395I pulled out some fun books: Learn to Knit, Love to Knit, 55 Christmas Balls to Knit, Northern Knits Gifts, Shades of Winter, and Knitalong. Learn to Knit, Love to Knit for its cheerful colors, CHristmas Balls for the Scandinavian colorwork and stories, Northern Knits Gifts for the cheerful practicality of Scandinavia, Shades of Winter, photographed at Sweden’s amazing IceHotel, and Knitalong is just pure fun.

photo:Chris Furuya

photo:Chris Furuya

Here’s a sneak peek at some samples for upcoming colors from Knitcircus! And, of course, we’ve been busy in the Lair, so watch for a shop update tomorrow morning.

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Friday Fiber and Food

Fiber Love

Amy J, Chris and I have been dyeing, drying, packaging and administrating like crazy, so here are some behind-the-scenes Yarn and Lair pictures for Friday.

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if you’re wondering, we mark cakes with different-colored stitch markers to show which yarn base we used so we don’t have any mix-ups!IMG_1099

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We add a little mini-skein to every box, and your lovely orders have been keeping Amy busy skeining up these fun little guys!

it's always Fashion Week around here

it’s always Fashion Week around here

And Chris has only been in the Lair a little while, but already contributing ideas to make things more efficient and more fun! So here’s a flash sale, courtesy of her!

Happy Pi Day! To celebrate, we’re having a flash sale in the Knitcircus Yarn Shop- buy 3 skeins of regularly-priced yarn, get 14% off your purchase. Use coupon code MmmPi, good through 3/15 (to give our overseas customers time to see this). May we interest you in some Lemon Meringue?

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Food Love

I’ve mentioned my favorite foodie podcast, Spilled Milk,, many times on the Knitcircus podcast, and Molly also has a lovely blog called Orangette which I’ve loved for years. Matthew wrote a very fun book, Pretty Good Number One, about his family’s eating adventures in Tokyo which made me want to take my kids there right away!

Knitting blogs are no problem, but I wanted to get more food blogs going and found this list on Saveur of the best food blogs for this year. A bunch of these are going to foodify me for sure!

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I knew Anthony Bourdain had made a career of travelling and eating after the success of his bad-boy memoir, Kitchen Confidential, but hadn’t realized he’d written more books. Just finished reading Medium Raw, a collection of profiles, stories, interviews and rants. Very tasty.

Huh, just saw that Kitchen Confidential was made into a tv show in 2005 with Bradley Cooper and Nicholas Brendon (Zander!). Has anyone seen this? It actually looks pretty good.

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Recommended by local reviewer (and friend) Stephanie Bedford: Bread and Butter, by Michelle Wildgen, the story of three brothers in the restaurant business in a medium-sized city. On the flip side of Kitchen Confidential, not as much about coke-fueled all-nighters as about making a go of it in a tricky business and navigating relationships in a family determined to stick together.

Sorry, no photo, but through this long winter, we’ve been making this delicious hot chocolate from AllRecipes. We prefer our hot chocolate with several servings of homemade whipped cream, renewing it as each spoonful melts…

Last Sunday, Belle and I hosted a hot chocolate party for Grammy and Buppa; she whipped the vanilla cream while I whisked the chocolate. We set the table with white plates and napkins and felt very sophisticated.

Happy weekend, everyone, and wishing you lots of tasty food and fibers! I’ll be hanging out at the Knit-In tomorrow morning just enjoying the scene, so please say Hi if you’re in the marketplace!

Jaala

Knitcircus Podcast #42

Knitcircus Podcast #42

Jaala just came up from the Lair, and Amy’s leaving on a jet plane!

Listen on Libsyn or iTunes

Mentioned this podcast:

Vogue Knitting Live Seattle

Churchmouse Yarns and Teas

Yarn Con Chicago

Shetland Spindrift Yarn

The Fiber Gallery

Lorilee Beltmann

Dreambird Shawl

Hitchhiker

Martina Behm

Divergent book

Jack Reacher

Medium Raw book

Jamie Oliver

Fingerless Gloves Leaves by Valentina Georgieva

Ivy vest by Kay Dahlquist

Adrian

Adriana by Julie Weisenberger

Richard Castle mysteries

Fantastic Fiction

Sarah Wilson/Sexy Knitter KAL

Cookie Crumbs Ravelry Group

Lovely Knitted Lace, by Brooke Nico

Green Gables Knits, by Joanna Johnson

Hitch Giveaway Winner

And Lmecoll on Ravelry was the winner of HITCH: PATTERNS INSPIRED BY THE FILMS OF ALFRED HITCHCOCK, generously provided by editor Stephannie Tallent and Cooperative Press! She’s been notified.

Thanks to everyone who entered!

Leaf Lace, KAL’s and Good Times

In the Lairaerialist corrie lothlorien much better

It’s March, so we have a new featured color in the shop; it has to be green, of course, and my whizz-bang office manager Chris named this soft gradient Lothlorien. We both fell in love with this pale blue-green to deep forest shadows yarn. Available for a limited time on any of the in-stock fingering bases in the shop.

It’s a busy time in the Lair, with much excitement form Susan B Anderson’s lovely blog post; thank you so much, Susie! Have a great time at Vogue Knitting Live Seattle!

And we’re getting ready for new yarn clubs and Yarn Con in just a few weeks, so much dyeing, drying, processing and packaging going on! Amy J and I certainly appreciate Chris’ organization and energy in keeping it all rolling.

Weekend knitting:

As soon as the Olympics wrapped up, my sweater-knitting mojo seemed to wrap up, too. I’ve bound off the bottom of my Argo, but seem to have stalled at the sleeves. In true multi-knitter fashion, I of course decided that starting a small, easily-finished project might jump-start the knitting juice again.

While checking out all of the finished Ravellenics projects, I came across the Fingerless Gloves Leaves wristwarmer pattern, by Valentina Georgieva. What is it about leaf lace that’s just irresistible every single time?

This was a perfect chance to try out a worsted-weight 50-g gradient. I’ve been toying with making these part of the Kniticricus repertoire, and I have to say, it was pretty fun to knit. What do you knitters think? Would you like smaller worsted-weight gradients for matching mittens and such?

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This is how much I knit over the weekend; this morning I finished the top ribbing and am working on the thumb now.

And guess what? I posted my sweater on the Team Sasquatch Silver, Bronze and Agony of Defeat thread and got a message in my inbox telling me I’d won a prize; any pattern on Ravelry! Since I didn’t even know there was a prize, what a thrill!

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My choice? The Caviar Dress by Yoko Johnston, another Contiguous pattern. Not sure about making the whole dress, but I do love a good tunic-length sweater.

Weekend Fun

I’ve been making this Allrecipes hot chocolate with good success on the many frigid days of this winter.  Sunday morning, Belle and I hosted a hot chocolate party for Grammy and Buppa; I stirred the cocoa, sugar and milk, while she whipped up homemade vanilla whipped cream. We set the table with white plates and napkins and felt very sophisticated. One of these days, I’d like to try a hot chocolate with melted chocolate bar rather than a cocoa base.

KAL’s

Knitcircus is honored to support two upcoming KAL’s!

Sarah Wilson, The Sexy Knitter, encourages knitters to find their inner diva with her stylish patterns, and Knitcircus will be providing a prize; a choice of any one yarn from the shop for a Ravelry KAL finisher! The current KAL is for Sarah’s Lonicera Cowl and Grimhilde socks.

We’re also tickled to be part of the ongoing KAL in the Cookie Crumbs group, for fans of Cookie A’s gorgeous sock patterns! Watch for more info about the prize you could win there.

Cool Bag

photo:jstlaurent

photo:jstlaurent

A sweet treat; I couldn’t resist this little Squirrel project bag, from Knitting by the Mile Designs. She’s got all sorts of fun, quirky fabrics, and if you’re a Dr. Who fan, will find many designs to love! My fingerless gloves-in-progress definitely enjoy their stylish ride!

Take care and knit away,

jaala

Knitting in Color

Time to cast on! What color to choose?

Of course, we make this choice every single time. What color will look good on me, him, or her? Which shade will make my cables pop or let my lace shine? But I always wondered, which colors are the most popular?

As someone who dyes yarn, I wondered what color knitters choose most often. I love orange and blue, and would pretty much dye nothing but blue and green if left to my own devices, but when knitting for myself, I tend to choose reds or purples. But I want to dye yarns that knitters really want to use, and not subject them to my favorite colors all the time! So what are knitters choosing when they cast on?

The answer is out there, and of course, it’s on Ravelry. I ask myself what we would do without Ravelry pretty much daily. Under the Projects tab, they had projects broken down by color category.

And the amazing thing about Ravelry, and knitters, is that we’ve finished so many projects that I rounded them to the nearest 25 thousand. Luckily, the Lair was happy to provide colors to make this color lineup for you!

Here it is:

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So there it is; the knitters have spoken!

Some of these surprised me; orange looks like an acquired taste, and gray must go with everything. Are we using pink for baby projects, or do we really love a strong hot pink for ourselves to wear with a little black dress?

Did any of these numbers surprise you or confirm your dearest opinions? I’d love to hear about it in the comments!

Sweaterrific, Reynard and Millie

This Olympics was a little rough around the edges, but I’m going to miss watching the amazing slopestyle skiers, graceful ice dancers and plucky skeleton riders. I especially rooted  for the Olympians with kids!

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But thank goodness for the Ravellenics; I never would have had the confidence to try the Contiguous method, which I now love, and to even attempt a full Argo sweater in 18 days without this event! The sweater lacks sleeves, but I honestly came much closer to finishing than I would have guessed.

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sweater selfie

You may notice a little ring of lighter brown at the bust; the kettle-dyed yarn didn’t come out as dark as I wanted, so I dipped the whole body in a pot of dye yesterday; planning on touching it up in the next couple of days. While it dried, I felt so weird without a sweater to knit that I cast on my next project, DownEast, be Alicia Plummer. This experience may have converted me to a sweater knitter!

Exciting News: Reynard

Guess what? Kirsten Kapur used a set of Knitcircus Matching Socks for her new Reynard socks pattern! I’m a huge fan of Kirsten’s work; her Cladonia and Andrea’s Shawl  are two of my favorite designs of all time, and she creates beautifully-thought-out patterns for everything from sweaters to hats to wristwarmers, using lace, cables and colorwork. 

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photo: Kirsten Kapur for Through the Loops

These cuff-down socks start with a lovely picot cast-on, then you get to do the gorgeous twist-stitch section with a subtle bobble. The design makes a pretty wave at the bottom of the patterned section.

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photo: Kirsten Kapur

Once you work that part, you’re done with the charts and can enjoy watching the colors change as you work your way down the foot.  I just love that intricate twist-stitch pattern on Reynard and she showcased the yarn beautifully. Thanks so much to Kirsten for choosing to work with Knitcircus Yarns!

Pattern Play

Speaking of desirable patterns, if you haven’t seen it yet, Susan B. Anderson has a lovely new doll e-book published by Quince and Company, called Millie, Mary and Morgan.

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Photo: Carrie Bostick Hoge for Quince and Company

I was able to see and touch the little dolls when visiting Susie a couple of months ago and they are just the pinnacle of everything a handknitted doll should be. They’re the perfect size to hold and play with, have sweet little faces and she crafted such cunning details into the clothes. The little sweaters have their own buttons (but not too many, so easy to get on and off), you can do colorwork or stripes in the skirts; of course, they need fancy dresses, and the tiny shawls are the kind of accessory that would have made my 8-year-old self jump up and down.

And right now, she’s holding a giveaway with a copy of the e-book and six skeins of Quince and Company yarn!

It looks like we’re getting another taste of the polar vortex, so everybody stay warm and drive safe,

Jaala