Balinese Cardi and Snowshoeing

BalineseCardi_sleeve

Guess what, talented designer Elizabeth Green Musselman just released her Balinese Cardi pattern, making ingenious use of our gradient and kettle-dyed yarns!BalineseCardi_main1 (2)

We’re so thrilled about her design. Using the gradients on the sleeves and yoke makes a lovely  and unusual garment, especially with the handkerchief hems and gorgeous lace inserts. And, if you purchase the Balinese Cardi pattern on Ravelry, you’ll get a special secret code for free shipping on the Balinese Cardi kit in the Knitcircus store.

BalineseCardi_detail

Check out that sleeve detail; wow! This is truly a flattering design for all figures, and Elizabeth wrote it for bust sizes 32-54″, so everyone can cast one on.

BalineseCardi_collar (2)

Making Tracks

IMG_1939

A bit ago, Buppa, Li’l Buddy and a couple of his pals and I went up north for a weekend ski getaway. It was delightful, rustic and just enough adventure for all of us.

IMG_1997[1]

We got to see near-frozen waterfalls, hike along the otherworldly frozen landscape of Lake Superior shore,

explorers

and for me, try snowshoeing for the first time.IMG_1963

I’m not usually a sporty girl, but hiking through snow-covered woods is about my speed. My DH, being the lovely man that he is, gifted me a set of snowshoes, so now I can do it on our home turf! As soon as it’s above 0 degrees F,  I can’t wait to try…

Have a great weekend, and stay warm,

Jaala

Knitcircus Podcast #55

In this episode, Amy and Jaala have created a monster, they have a jingle sing-a-long, and they discuss the thousands of preventable deaths on television. Also, apparently neither of them owns a watch.

Listen on Libsyn or iTunes

Mentioned in this episode:

WRITE IN CONTEST: Come up with a good name for Knitcircus basic patterns and you can win a 50g ball of yarn

(Apologies, everyone, for getting this out after the Knit In. -podcast producer cindy)

WIP Wednesday, Rainbow Cowl and Knit-In

WIP Wednesday!

In the Lair, we love yarn, and sometimes even get a chance to knit. :) Here’s what the Lair denizens are up to now.

DSC_0927 DSC_0929

Jaala is working on a prototype for a simple 50g hat pattern in our Mermaid Lagoon colorway; almost done! Just the crown decreases left…

DSC_1037
Shari is working on arm-length hand warmers

DSC_1041

…and a Ribbed Ruffle Scarf.

DSC_1034
Chris is working on a Pogona by Stephen West, in a ball of Misti Alpaca Tonos.

DSC_1044

She also has a pair of socks in Freia Ombre Fingering (75% wool, 25% nylon) in Moab.

DSC_1046

She’s also working on another pair of socks in KFI Luxury Collection Indulgence Cashmere in 607. She thinks it looks like the Fourth Doctor Who’s scarf.

DSC_1048
Ryan is working on a hat & experimenting with a ball of our gradient stripe sock colorway Brew Crew. We’re very interested to see how the stripes knit up in hat form!

Rainbow Cowl, ho!

bestrainbow

Amy Detjen is just on fire writing patterns for us! I don’t know how we lucked out having her as a friend. We did the photoshoot for her simple brioche rainbow cowl today. Assistant Dyer Erin’s bright, warm personality made the cowl look fantastic and like she was just hanging out on a beautiful day. In reality, it was zero F with a freezing wind sweeping over the landscape and we had a getaway car running with the heat on in the parking lot. DSC_0948

We’ll be officially releasing this one on Friday and the people at the Knit-In will get a chance to see it in person and maybe win a kit!

Knit In

I’m excited, it’s the first time Knitcircus Yarns has been a vendor at the Knit In and they’ve moved to the Alliant Energy Center. The Knitter’s Guild is moving up in the world! Please come see us if you’re local,  check out Amy’s new pattern and just say hi. We’d love to see you. Marketplace hours are Saturday and Sunday 8:30-5:00. It does cost $15 to register for the event same day, $20 if you’re a non-member, so I’d suggest coming early and making sure to catch some of the special events. We’ll have plenty of sale things to make it worth your while, too…

Nine Tricks for More Productive Knitting by Amy and Jaala

Over the last 11 years, Jaala has knitted a fair bit, and Amy has been knitting for decades!  Some tricks, when we learned them, made that flashbulb go off in our minds, and some we learned by sad trial and error. Once you’ve ripped back half a sweater, you find the motivation to change your knitting habits!

IMG_2115

Amy in action

Come closer, because we’re about to share some of our best knitting tricks for faster and more successful knitting, and most of them don’t even require picking up your needles! Some preparation beforehand will save you time and trouble no matter what style of knitting grip you use.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Jaala models the beautiful sweater Amy knit her!

Tips for faster knitting

Much of successful knitting is a mental game; preparation is key! If you plan for a few research steps before you cast on, you’ll save a lot of gnashing of teeth in the long run.

Check Your Pattern

1. Research: Cut

Have a gorgeous sweater in your mind’s eye, maybe one you spotted in a store or on a passerby? Scan available databases to find the right one;  Ravelry is your best friend here. First, check the basic cut and construction. A key question: Will this look good on me? for example, an empire waist may draw attention to the bust and away from the stomach, which is great for some people (me!–Jaala).

If you find a sweater pattern you like, look on Ravelry project pages to see how other people look in the project, watching especially for people with your body type. (To find that, click on the Patterns tab in Ravelry, click on the photo of the pattern you like, and then click on the Projects tab that will come up third from the left in the navigation tabs.)

Look at the successes and the failures and decide for yourself whether your 100+ knitting hours will make you (or your intended recipient) look spectacular in that pattern. Don’t commit until you can answer with a resounding yes!

2. Research: Construction/Writing

Do you fear steeking, shy away from Contiguous necklines or hate the Kitchener stitch? Look at the Ravelry keywords for each project to decide without purchasing the pattern whether that one is for you. If there is a construction method you favor or would like to try, like top-down, in the round or triangular shawl construction, you can search patterns using that keyword.

Does the pattern have errata, or is the designer dependable? Look on Ravelry or the designer’s or publisher’s website to see if other knitters have found mistakes in the pattern. Taking a chance an a new or unknown designer can be exciting, but for peace of mind, it may be better to go with a pattern that 400 people have successfully completed than to the be the third one to try it.

Prepare for Success

Once you’ve chosen your perfect pattern, with just the right amount of lace or a body hugging fit, rally your materials!

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

photo: Elizabeth Morrison for Knitcircus

3. Choosing the Right Yarn

Depending on your knitting personality, getting the right yarn for your project can be a bit of a challenge. If  you are determined to use the exact yarn specified by the designer, you know it will act just as the pattern promises, but you may have to budget in advance. And you don’t want to be caught short with only one sleeve and no more yarn, so for a sized garment, going up a skein is usually the best bet. You can always make a matching hat with the extra, but trying to match a dyelot that’s been discontinued to finish that last bit can be a bummer. If you’re knitting a pair of socks or shawl, usually fingering-weight yarns can be substituted fairly easily. Just check your yardage compared to the yardage called for in the pattern and make a gauge swatch if you’re not sure.

If you’re a dyed -in-the wool (sorry, couldn’t resist) stasher, you may be determined to make that bag of alpaca yarn from 1993 fit your sleek, modern silhouette. Before you make that thrifty move, check again on Ravelry to see what kinds of yarn people have used successfully with the pattern. Will your yarn do what you want it to do? Stretch and drape, hold firm?

If your yarn content varies significantly from the pattern , so may your garment from the finished product. You may want to re-check your stash for something with the same or at least similar fiber content to make sure the project does what you want it to do. If you have an experienced knitting friend, this would be a great time to have her help you identify some key aspects of the pattern, like whether it’s meant to drape, be knit tightly to keep out the wind or hold architectural details like cables to show off stitch definition.

DSC_0786

photo: Ryan Berg for Knitcircus

 4. Prepare Your Yarn

Once you have your perfect yarn in hand, don’t just wind one skein into a ball, wind them all, and put them all together in a safe (but not hidden) place. You don’t want to slow the flow by having to clear off table space for your ball winder whenever you reach the next skein.

5. Pattern Wrangling

If it’s in a book or magazine, make yourself a copy so you can haul it around with you and doodle on it. If it’s a downloaded pattern, make sure you know where you stored it so you can find it again if needed! Then, once you purchase the pattern, read it. All the way through. Mark your size with a highlighter every place the stitch counts differ, if a hard copy. Mentally note all the places where you will have to do shaping and, say, lace at the same time. If you think you may need to alter the pattern (adding more or less inches through the trunk, for example) get that all figured out and marked in your pattern beforehand.

IMG_4079[1]

photo: Knitcircus

6. Choose Your Tools Wisely

Check which needles the pattern calls for and make sure you have them safely stored with your yarn, including both circulars and dpn’s or whatever the pattern calls for.

If your pattern has increases, decreases, short rows, remotely complicated stitch patterns or gussets, do yourself a favor and locate (or even better, treat yourself to) a set of stitch markers. Many a time, we have both thought we could easily remember where the stitch patterns changed or where the bust increase was only to learn several rows later that we’d chugged right past it. Regular safety pins, tiny slices of plastic straw or little loops of waste yarn can work fine in a pinch.

7. You Knew it Was Coming

Every single person that gives you knitting advice, be it your neighbor or Vicki Howell, is going to tell you to do a gauge swatch. They may even try to convince you it will be fun. Look, it probably won’t be, but you know what’s even more not fun? Frogging your beautiful completed sweater back because it would fit a porpoise or a preschooler or ripping out your would-be shawl that’s stiff and watertight.

For something that needs to fit, this is crucial! If you skip this step, you may have to start over after two days of knitting. There’s a reason everyone says to do a gauge swatch, and it’s because we knitters are infinite. The gauge for the pattern just happens to be the gauge gotten by the designer or the sample knitter that week. That’s the beauty of handknitting!

And your gauge may change over time. I (Jaala) always considered myself a loose knitter, until a test knitter trying to match my gauge had to go down two needle sizes. I guess I changed my approach over the years…

Exceptions: shawls, cowls or hats can get away without a swatch most of the time, but if you’re substituting yarn, it can still be a big help. Shawls and scarves are meant to drape and have a looser gauge, while hats generally need some structure. It wouldn’t hurt to do a gauge swatch where you try a couple of different needle sizes to find your perfect fabric.

So pull out those needles (and a glass of wine if needed) and cast on and work a nice gauge swatch, at least six inches wide and tall. Wash it, block it and then measure your gauge. And then tell everyone around you how important gauge is and how virtuous you were.

IMG_3453[1]

8. Study up on Cast Ons – do you need it to be firm? Loose? Provisional? Don’t hesitate to step out of your own comfort zone!

Here’s one of our favorites: the Cable Cast-On

While the Long-Tail Cast-On can be awesomely used for almost anything, the Cable-Cast-On means you don’t have to estimate how much yarn you’ll need for the CO row and fall short (done this many times). Also, unlike a Long-Tail Cast-On, it creates a Right-Side row, so will blend seamlessly with stockinette stitch. See a lovely article on how to do the Cable Cast on on Knitty (it’s the second method described). As the author mentions, Elizabeth Zimmerman says it looks equally well on both sides”.

As with most cast-ons, make sure to cast on loosely enough that your finished garment won’t have a tight, uncomfortable edge on hat brims, sleeves or sock cuffs. See a nice video of this technique by Gingerly4it on You Tube.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

9. Bind Off

When it’s time to finish your piece and you’re eager to cross the finish line, make sure to choose a bind-off that will do the job nicely. For a nice, firm edge, a regular bind-off is fine, but in general, you want to make sure your bind-off isn’t too, well, binding. A tight sweater cuff or hat brim can make all of your beautiful work a bear to wear.

For any kind of cuffs, lace projects or shawls, her’s our go-to bind off:

Jeny’s Surprisingly Stretchy Bind-Off. This bind-off uses an extra yarnover with each cast-off stitch to ensure a stretchy edge. You can watch the Knitting Blooms tutorial, or see the original article in Knitty.

There you go! Now you’re equipped to set sail on your next knitting project armed with practical tools to keep you going full speed ahead.

We’d love to hear any of your favorite knitting tips! Please comment and let us know what tricks get you through your knitting day. :)

Happy knitting,

Jaala and Amy

Knitcircus Podcast #54

Amy has a new job, guess where?! Jaala also has a few new employees, and we get to hear about them too.

News: Amy has designed a sweater with Knitcircus Yarn, and it has an exciting and unusual construction. Working title: Amy’s V-neck Yoke Sweater.

Curls-front-cover-square

A Giveaway! A copy of Hunter Hammersen’s Curls is going to be given away! To enter, shoot an email to amy.knitcircus@gmail.com and tell us who accompanies Amy and Jaala as they walk their dogs. We’ll announce the winner on the next podcast!

Listen on LIbsyn or iTunes

Mentioned in this episode:

Happy Accident, Snickerdoodles

Hi, Knitters and Crocheters,

This weekend, my dad is going to fulfill his dream of taking Li’l Buddy and some friends skiing up north, “While I can still ski!”

This knitter isn’t a big skiier, but I’m more than happy to come along for the ride to keep the party going, cook, organize and stand by with extra warm clothes if anyone’s forgotten anything. Mike and Belle get to stay home and enjoy a relaxing weekend with the pets.

Happy Accident

We didn’t plan for this, but due to a Lair snafu, we ended up with a 300-g ball of yarn! I figured, what the heck, I’ll dye it rainbow, because that’s fun.

IMG_1917[1]

At first, when it was all wound up into a cake, we all just laughed, but then we started to like it. A lot.

DSC_0484

Our Big Rainbow has three full repeats of the Over the Rainbow IMG_1914[1]

Then we started thinking, you could make a whole small adult sweater, baby blanket or three-skein shawl with this baby!

DSC_0489

What do you guys think? Would you use or love a huge skein, or is it just too crazy-big? Please tell me your thoughts!

Snickerdoodles

This week, I made Snickerdoodles for the kids as an after-school treat. The best part was that Lil Buddy’s nearly-silent friend piped up when I asked what kind of cookies they wanted and clearly stated, “Snickerdoodles!”

That name is so fun to say, it can bring out even the shyest.

we always use the Betty Crocker cookbook recipe for these and they turn out great. Except no cream of tartar, because they make it taste a bit tinny in my opinion.

IMG_1913[1]

These were gone within 48 hours.

Light the Lights

Light the Lights G of E (1)

Speaking of fun, the new color of the month is up, and it is delightful, if I do say so. We named it “Light the Lights,” from the Muppet show theme song, because these colors reminded us of their high-energy hijinks. Gonzo blue, Kermit green and Miss Piggy pink, anyone?

Light the Lights MSS (1)

Of course, it comes in Matching Sock Sets, 100g Cakes and 150g cakes for your knitting pleasure.

And no more waiting weeks for your color of the month! Now that we’ve re-vamped things in the Lair and Erin the fabulous Assistant Dyer is on the scene, we’re turning things around much faster.

Crossing my fingers for a fun, safe ski trip up north and hope you all have a wonderful weekend,

Jaala

Brand New Bag(s), Dr. Who and Curls

Hi, Knitters,

First of all, thank you for such a wonderful response to the newsletter on Friday! We’re excited to put all of our new Lair improvements to work on your orders. Yesterday, with our new system tweaks and with Assistant Dyer Erin aboard, we dyed more yarn than ever before in a single day.

Weekend Update

I hope you all had a lovely weekend. Ours was pretty chill. Lil Buddy had a Futsal game both days. If you’re like me, and had never actually heard of Futsal, it was developed in the 30s-40’s in Brazil, and is basically soccer played with a smaller, heavier ball on a gym floor.Here he is in Saturday’s game.

IMG_1896[1]

Sunday’s game was during the big Packer football match. We left my parents and 92-year-old Grandma glued to the game, drove to Verona and walked in to the gym just before 4:00….only to find the futsal game was at 3:00. In my history as a soccer, baseball, basketball and judo mom, we’ve never blown a game before. Totally embarrassing. Lil Buddy was a good sport about it.

But I got to give my grandma her Sunday manicure, so definitely a silver lining there.

Brand New Bags

I asked in the Knitcircus Ravelry Group for advice on where to find a more structured project bag, and you guys really delivered! After checking out the wonderful shops you recommended, I purchased not one, but two new project bags, and I’m thrilled with both!

IMG_1903[1]

This one is by Birdlegbags. Mostly, I just can’t resist matryoshkas, but when it arrived, I was very impressed with the quality handmade product. It has a beautiful Millefiori bead on the closure,the strap was fussy cut to produce a perfect row of smiling faces and it has a little clip on the other side (not shown) with a carabiner for attaching to your belt! IMG_1901[1]

It’s also lined with a beautifully-sewn lining with rainbow-colored knit stitches. I’m a big birdlegbags fan now!

The second box project bag came from Zigzagstitches; look at that delightful graphic print! This bag was also very professionally-sewn, with a grosgrain ribbon tab you could put a carabiner in and a pretty contrasting lining.

IMG_1821[1]IMG_1822[1]

I’m so happy to have found these two stores. We’ve got a ski trip coming up this weekend; hack, no, I’m not skiing, I’m knitting and making big pans of lasagna! Can’t wait to use both of these.

Wibbly-wobbly, timey-wimey

We’re very excited about the new Dr. Who yarn club (so much so that Wet Processor Lena spends much of her break time searching for the perfect gifts for the Club members). It’s three packages/6 months of yarn inspired by the many regenerations of The Doctor and his plucky human companions.

DR_WHO_SQUARE

The Doctor may have an enlightened view of the nature of time, but for Earth purposes, the Club membership is only open until tomorrow, so please hop on over and sign up if you haven’t yet!

Curls

I’m a huge fan of all of Hunter Hammersen’s patterns, and her new book shows a whole new side to her design talents. Curls uses a unique shawl construction Hunter developed to create versatile cowl/shawl pieces. Once you’ve grasped the idea, the pieces are very achievable, and she includes a variety of designs from very simple repeats to the deluxe lace wrap shown on the cover.

IMG_1826[1]

Chris gifted me with a gorgeous skein of handspun for my birthday, and I’m going to show it off with either Hunter’s Caesious simple wrapped-stitch pattern or the cozy cables of her Icterine shawl.

Well, off to dye up more yarn, have a wonderful Tuesday,

Jaala