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.

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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

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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

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Goodness gracious, big cakes o’ yarn!

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

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

Little Baseball Love

outta there!

outta there!

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

Knitcircus Podcast #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.

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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

Kirsten Kapur Collaboration

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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.

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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.

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Emerald City

 

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Pigeon

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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 #45

Knitcircus Podcast #45

Amy’s jet-setting off, Jaala just got back, and both are fired up about warm-season knitting.

Listen on Libsyn or iTunes

Mentioned this podcast:

The National Needle Arts Convention

Stephannie Tallent

Lindsey Stephens

Amy Singer

Amy Herzog

Steven Be

Yarn Garage

Yarnover

Minnesota Knitters Guild

Stephanie Pearl Mc Phee

Franklin Habit

Carson Demers

Mary Scott Huff

Susan B Anderson

Louet Euroflax Linen

Toby Roxane Barna Everwear; London Underground Vol 2

Interweave Knits Summer

Green Gables Knits, by Joanna Johnson

Delancey by Molly Wizenberg of Spilled Milk Podcast

Liesl by Coco Knits

Blue Sky Alpacas

Over the Rainbow: Knitcircus featured May colorway

Bahamian Knitting

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Over Spring Break, our family was lucky enough to travel to the Bahamas for sea, sand and sunshine. We were sad to hear that folks back home had to endure more snow, and wished we could have teleported you all (especially the baseball teams) there!

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Nassau boasts the lovely-colored pastel homes of the Carribbean, and lots of flowering vines, that I think are bougainvillea. I won’t pretend that we lived like locals, but for a place always in danger of being overrun by tourists, we saw lots of signs of Bahamian pride in anything made or done locally.

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While the kids splashed, a good chunk of my vacation looked like knitting!

At home, I’m either dyeing up yarn, administrating the business or tending to my family, leaving very little time for knitting. Vacation gave us time to hang out as a family, and brought my knitting mojo back up to speed. I promised myself on the first of the three airplane rides that I could cast on anything I wanted and follow it wherever I wanted it to go, no pressure, no deadlines, just the fun of knitting.

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Turns out what my knitting mojo wanted was to knit a new pattern, a modified half-pi shawl, with simple-to-more-complicated lace panels. I’ve really been enjoying getting to work with our Corriedale Sock in the Fireflies colorway. As soon as it’s tested and written up, watch for the new pattern and kit for the Nassau shawlette!

Vacation gave me time to savor the new Twist Collective, with lovely patterns as always. Some of my faves  include the summery Calendula, by Helene Rush, sweet Belleville, by Anne Podlesak (the title made me laugh, because there is a small town in Wisconsin called Belleville, not usually thought of as a romantic destination), beautiful lace Ivyle, by Quenna Lee, and stately Aristea shawl, by Susanna IC. Susanna, Quenna and a number of other designers in this issue of Twist are Knitcircus alumnae, and it always gives me a thrill to see how they’ve gone on to become such well-known designers. I still feel a tug of pride (and sadness for the loss of the magazine) of being one of the first to recognize their talents!

One last shot from the Bahamas; we got up early to go shell-hunting on the beach several days, and one night, even got up at 4 am to see the Hunter’s Moon!

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Mike, who loves all things skyward, found out it happens only every six months, and we had a great view of it before stumbling back to bed.

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Here’s hoping some warm, tropical breezes blow toward all of you,

Jaala

 

 

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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