Working like Elves

Hi, Knitters,

Wow, it always seems like the holiday season trots by so fast, like a speeded-up jingle sleigh. We’ve been working like elves in the Lair, trying to go as fast as possible to fill everyone’s orders. We bought in a new person, Lena, to do wet processing (rinsing, steaming, etc) and that’s helped us speed up dyeing significantly. If you’ve ordered dyed-to-order yarn, please know that we are doing everything we can to get it to you soon.

Christmas Home

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Last weekend, our family went to Summer’s Christmas Tree Farm to find our lovely tree. Belle was under the weather, so we chose a precut fir, but still got to let Sasha sniff all around and have our traditional cider donut and brats cooked al fresco by the Appleberry Farm folks. You can see decoration in progress in the pic above.

Mulberry Street

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About the my new patterns,the Mulberry Street Hat and Cowl; I apologize, at first the Mulberry Street Cowl pdf hadn’t loaded properly, but it’s up there now, so please click over to Ravelry and download it you haven’t yet! I hope these quick knits will help you through your last-minute gift list. :)

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Holiday Fun

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The kids have been stumbling out first thing in the morning (and it is early, because middle school around here starts at 7:20) to find the little treats I stash in the pocket for the Advent Calendar. My cool friends had one similar when I was young and I swore I would one day make one for my own kids. I actually created this felt one when they were little (maybe three and four?). It’s so fun to see that The Yarn Harlot made one this year! Of course, her ornaments are way more beautiful and complicated than mine.

Lil Buddy already put the pickle ornament in the last pocket for Christmas Eve. We’ve adopted the tradition of the finder getting a special treat on Christmas morning after hearing about it at a relatives’ house.

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A little treat I’m doing for my family is a new holiday desktop for our living room computer each day. Above is today’s, from Wallpapers in HD.

Every year for the last few, we’ve had fun putting our photos (including cats and now dog, of course!) into Elf Yourself and laughing along as the velvet-clad cancers jump and jig away.

Have a happy weekend, everyone!

Cyber Week Deals and Second Harvest

Hey, I’m sure it’s just me, but I hate when my inbox gets flooded with messages for people vying for my business on Black Friday and Cyber Monday. But I do love my customers and we do have some very special, limited-edition prices going on, combined with a way to help families have more to eat this holiday season. So here goes!

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We’ve got some beautiful kettle-dyes and handpaints in the store, and all are 30% off! We’ll be adding new ones every day this week.

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And every single ready-to-ship yarn in the shop is now 10% off!

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That includes Matching Socks Sets, 100-gram cakes, and 150-g cakes like the Hummingbird colorway below.150g3

And, because it’s the holidays, we’ll donate $1 to Second Harvest Food Bank for every order we receive between now and December 23rd. One dollar is three meals, so three people get to eat every time you buy yarn. That’s something we can all feel warm and happy about!

Take care,

jaala

Hat and Cowl Knitting, Sale Yarns and Holidays Yes

The holidays approacheth! I love hosting, getting out the good china, and making pumpkin pies (I think I might need to practice that one this weekend so the T-day ones are perfect…)

Here’s wishing all of you US knitters safe travels, enjoyable times with family and friends and plenty of time to knit over the holiday.

Cold Weather; Knit Faster!

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Look at this awesome t-shirt my mom got for me! This pretty much sums it up…You can find it at Northern Sun. If you’re more girly, this is a unisex style, but I think it’s perfect for layering in the Lair. :)

On My Needles

During this latest cold snap, I realized that the handknitter has no knits! I love wristwarmers and wear them all winter whenever my hands aren’t in buckets of rinsing yarn. I’m working on a pair of the new Gradient Stripe Handwarmers for myself in Hummingbird.

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I’m also working up a quick textured hat and cowl set for myself to keep out the winter wind. Patterns coming soon.

Over the long weekend, when I’m not hosting, feasting and playing indoor mini-golf (new family tradition) I’m thinking about whipping up Kirsten Kapur’s One Day Beret for my sister-in-law and trying some simple ornament designs to surprise the kids…

What are you all knitting? Lots of holiday gifts?

Let It Snow

It’s been very January-like here, with a couple of inches of snow staying on the ground.

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Sasha was excited because the whole backyard was covered with something she could eat. She kept bounding around, snuffling at the ground, then licking her muzzle.

Sale Yarns and Holiday Orders

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More knitters have ordered yarn from us in the last two months than ever before, and we are immensely grateful! I’m dyeing up yarn as fast as I can (including on weekends) and if you’ve ordered yarn, you’ll still get it by Christmas.

We’re making sure to put up ready-to-ship yarns every day between now and December 21st, and to help your holiday jingle,we’ve added many Sale items to the store; just as soft and knittable as all the rest, but unusual colors, or with small color spotting, one knot, etc.

Indie Gift-a-Long

Wow, 293 independent designers are participating this year! This is a great chance to get literally thousands of wonderful patterns on sale, and they’ve got tons of activities, KAL’s and chances to win goodies in the Giftalong Group on Ravelry.

Have a lovely weekend and stay warm,

Jaala

Favorite Knitted Gifts

November is here, so the knitting world is experience a giant virtual cast on party for gifts! Whether you’re trying to create a sweater for your dad, dishcloths for everyone in your book club, or a shawl for a friend, you’re probably experiencing the excitement of choosing patterns to knit.  Now may not be the time to experiment wildly; I know I like tried-and-true patterns if I’m on a deadline.

Cindy and I have compiled lists of our favorite go-to patterns for giving to loved ones.

Silk Moon Crescent Shawlette

Silk Moon Crescent Shawlette

Of course, the first is my own Silk Moon Crescent Shawlette pattern; the garter stitch and easy-to-predict increases make this an easy knit to complete. It’s 400 yards of any weight yarn.

Wendy D Johnson’s Toe Up Sock Patterns. Anything by Wendy Johnson is going to be a solid hit. Her toe-up slip-stitch heel vanilla sock is my go-to sock pattern anytime.

Wendy Johnson's Toe Up Socks

Wendy Johnson’s Toe Up Socks

Grandmother’s Favorite Dishcloth

This one’s a classic for a reason! The first knitted dishcloth I ever saw was actually this pattern made by Mike’s grandma, so the title in my case is literally true! After you make one, the pattern is so intuitive that you can basically take this along anywhere and turn out lovely dishcloths surprisingly fast.

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How I Make My Socks by Susan B Anderson. You all probably know by now this is my very favorite top-down sock pattern. Susie has knitted a drawer full of socks with this pattern, and many happy knitters have used it for perfect socks.

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photo: susan b anderson

I also love her Tiny Tree and Waiting for Winter Mittens/Mitts.

Tiny Reindeer by Anna Hrachovec

Tiny Reindeer by Anna Hrachovec

Anna Hrachovec’s Mochimochi Land patterns; I’ve knit many tiny adorable toys for my kids from Anna’s patterns. Pretty much any one can be turned into an ornament, from snowmen to desktop computers!

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Of course, hats and cowls make great winter gifts, and for a limited time, I’m offering the Wisconsin River Valley Cowl – a super easy pattern perfect for gift knitting – free to kick start the season! This works up quickly with just one 100g skein of your favorite worsted-weight yarn.

Cindy’s Picks

Knitcircus web, finance and outreach expert Cindy can knit up a storm. She’s famous around these parts for knitting a pair of socks for everyone in her extended family one year.

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She loves Koolhaas by Jared Flood; works for men or women!

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Gaptastic Cowl by Jen Geigley; chunky and stylish knit!

Some of Cindy’s other favorites include:

Autumn by Jane Richmond

Marram Hat by Mimi Codd

Storm Warning by Liz Corke

Indie Gift-a-long

Have you heard about the Indie Gift-a-long? This is an awesome event for knitters; starting on November 13th, many talented independent designers are offering patterns on sale, and if you join the Ravelry group for the Giftalong Knitalongs, you can win prizes, too! Wonderful designers like Stephannie Tallent, Lee Meredith, Adrienne Ku, Dani Berg, Corrina Ferguson, Alicia Plummer, Laura Chau and many more are participating! You can see a list of all 293 designers here.

Happy holiday knitting,

Jaala

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