About Knitcircus

When not knitting at Little League games, Jaala can be found knitting at beloved LYS The Sow's Ear, a Madison Knitters' Guild Board meeting or her own living room. She's taught both her kids to knit, and even to make tuna sandwiches for the rest of the family, so feels pretty good. If she could only figure out how to knit while typing, she'd be golden.

Sweater Trendspotting


Fashion-industry wisdom holds that what we see on the runways this year will be on the needles in a couple of years, and what’s on retail hangers this year will be on our needles even sooner. I took a pictorial tour of the fashion site Polyvore to get a sampling of this year’s retail trends.

  • As with handknitting, gradients are huge! Since we dye gradients, that’s fun to see. Some appear to be different skeins, some appear dip-dyed on the garment, and some fade softly like our cakes do.
  • Handkerchief, shark bite, shirttail, asymmetrical and mermaid tail hems are all definitely in vogue.I find these styles flattering to a lot of figures, so that’s nice to see.
  • Shawls, capes, ponchos and fringe are making a comeback. I wonder if we’ll see a return to the poncho handknititng craze of the mid-2000s?
  • Chunky yarns are huge right now (get it?) on the runways and in stores. I saw a lot of chunky combined with a cropped style to offset the yarn’s thickness. Chunky hats, cowls and scarves seem to be popular with handknitters this winter…
  • Both traditional-looking colorwork and cheeky takeoffs on the traditional seem to be making a splash. Good to know that our heirloom yoke sweaters won’t be going out of style!

It’s fun to see what stores are making with sweaters…what will we do?

Happy knitting,









Knitcircus Podcast #71


Amy and Jaala dish about their adventures at Vogue Knitting Live New York! Also affectionately known as the “Namedropping Podcast.”

Listen on Libsyn or iTunes

Mentioned this podcast:

Vogue Knitting Live New York

Knitlandia, by Clara Parkes

Savvy Girls Podcast

Laura Nelkin

Jill Draper

Knitting Ephemera, by Carol Sulcoski

Mason-Dixon Knitting/Ann Shayne and Kay Gardiner

Oink Pigments

Yarn It

Stella Task Lights

Matilda musical

Discovery Center Star Wars Costume Exhibit


Shetland Wool Week

Hazel Tindall

Tenement Museum

Donna Smith

Long Island Livestock Company

Franklin Habit

Lily Chin

Meg Swansen

Sasha Kagan


Japanese Stitch Dictionaries

IMG_5596[1]For my birthday, the thoughtful Mr. Knitcircus gifted me this Japanese Stitch Dictionary, and I’ve been poring over every page! This is my second Japanese Stitch Dictionary; the first contains 300 stitches. It’s been one of my most treasured possessions since I got it a couple of years ago.

So what’s the fuss about Japanese Stitch Dictionaries, you may ask. Why get a book in a language you can’t even read? Why are these books sought after by designers even though they’re way more expensive than perfectly good stitch dictionaries like these? It’s true, there are wonderful books out there, starting with Barbara Walker’s Treasuries on up to Melissa Leapman’s recent volume The Knit Stitch Handbook. Well, my knitting friends, I’ll answer all these questions and more!

First, the wonder of Japanese Stitch Dictionaries is that you don’t need to be able to read Japanese to learn how to work the stitches. They include detailed and ingeniously understandable illustrations of every single symbol used in the charts. My first book has them all in their own section at the back, and the new one even more helpfully starts with knit and purl, then groups the whole book so that every section including a new symbol is grouped together so that you can add understanding as you go. The instruction below shows you how to work a lifted stitch.


The charts in Japanese knitting books are the envy of designers everywhere. According to designers I’ve spoken with, whole country has a standardized chart system, so every chart uses the same symbols the same way. How much easier would it be if we could do that?! They have also come up with representations that, by and large, show how the stitch will look when finished.


One thing I found fascinating about this new book was discovering that the slanted stitches shown above aren’t k2tog and ssk as they normally would be in the US. They indicate that the presence of a decrease causes those stitches to slant in a certain direction, making it much clearer from the chart what your knitted fabric will look like.


You can really see the herringbone pattern this stitch will make!


As a designer and a medium-to-advanced knitter, I love getting inspiration form the stitch patterns. Japanese knitters clearly aren’t afraid to follow charts, do decreases on wrong-side rows or add a number of stitches together to form one repeat (as with the cable stitches above). They’re also much bolder about mixing textures, cables and lace together in one repeat.


They also have pretty creative ideas about wrapping and lifting stitches as shown in the pattern above and do a lot more with adding and subtracting stitches and working from the rows below to add textures than we normally see here.

IMG_5602[1]Here’s a fun combination of lace, cable and texture into one stitch pattern!

Some other fun elements that expand my mind when I read these books is the willingness of Japanese knitters to purl, leading to some very interesting stitches with purled backgrounds, to drop stitches on purpose, and to put patterns next to and even inside of each other to form complex knitted fabrics. If you want to challenge yourself to try, or at least think about, new ways to knit, I definitely recommend one of these stitch dictionaries!

For more stitch dictionaries, check out my search list on Amazon.

Happy knitting,



13 Knitting and Crochet Things We’re Excited About in 2016

Hey, Knitters and Crocheters,

Happy New Year! At the beginning of 2015, Knitcircus Yarns was still in my basement and now we have our beautiful Studio and Store! A lot can change in a year, so we’re getting out our crystal balls and gazing into what we think the new year will bring. This list will mix my and Amy’s personal knitting, events and collaborations we plan for Knitcircus Yarns and general innovations and tools we’re excited to try in the coming months.

Light the Lights G of E (1)

All of our efforts right now point toward Vogue; it’s coming in just a couple of weeks! It’s a huge step for us; the first time we’ve shown on the East coast, the first time we’ve flown to a show, first time shipping all of our yarn. We’re so excited to meet east coast knitters and have you get to see our yarn in person. We’re also thrilled to be the only place at the show people can order Stella Lighting lamps.

  • Crocheting!

Now that we have a yarn store, we want to make it a Crochet-Friendly shop this year. Katie is already working on our first crocheted store sample.

  •  Spinning.


We just started carrying roving, and from now on, all of our new colors and collections will include roving along with the already-spun yarns. We anticipate expanding from one kind of roving to several this year, and are looking forward to participating in Spinzilla this October! We’re hatching plans for Spinzilla events in the Studio Store and Ravelry group. Maybe Jaala will finally learn to spin..

  • Mystery KAL’s

One of our favorite designers Susanna IC has a Winter Mystery KAL starting in just a couple of weeks! We were thrilled to work with Laura Nelkin on her Mystery KAL for the M Club last fall, and can’t wait to see what designs she’ll create this year. We had so much fun collaborating with Anna Dalvi on the Lieutenant’s Heart pattern, and she always hosts stunning KAL’s for lace shawls. Lee Meredith‘s Twitter Mystery KALs definitely broke some new ground; her new VIP Club includes 6 hat patterns as mini Mystery KALs along with other treats.  And of course, Stephen West’s Mystery KALs are always a hoot.We hope to have time to participate in some MKALs this year, but even if time gets short, we’ll watch them unfold with glee. We may bring back the Knitcircus summer shawls KALs from a couple of summers ago, since they were so much fun….

  • Amy’s Going to Iceland

Iceland sunset cabin

She’s been to Scotland and Ireland; now Amy’s leading a tour to the gorgeous and yarn-friendly island. All of the knitters we’ve known who have visited love it.

Indy dyer, designer and  Yarn Market News writer Carol Sulcoski has a new book chock full of knitting history, tidbits and little-known facts. Amy and Jaala are likely to pepper the Knitcircus Podcast with some of these little nuggets throughout the year…


Delightful designer, teacher, knitblogger and author Susan B. Anderson has come out with a wonderful new book for new knitters or people who would like to share our skills. We know the teaching tips and projects will help us as a community to reach out and create more knitters in the world!

  • Meghan Babin is the new editor of Interweave Knits magazine. We’re looking forward to seeing her style and which direction she steers the magazine, always a knitting world leader.
  • Cabled Knits

Jaala keeps feeling the pull towards cables lately. She would love to improve her cable skills, start and finish a cabled sweater , make herself a cabled cowl and hat set, maybe out of the Renoir Impressionist yarn, Watermelon kettle dye, or Pigeon Chromatic Gradient. Check out her Cabled Knits Pinterest Board for inspiration.

  • Brioche


Amy’s go-to technique these days is brioche; she can knock out a project like the Chromatic Cowl without even thinking about it! She’s a big fan of Nancy Marchant‘s brioche techniques and books.

We always love this indy show, which just gets better every year! We look forward to seeing you Chicago-area folks there.

  • Studio and Store Trunk Shows

Now that we have a store, we can showcase yarns and accessories from other small companies, farms and little-known gems of makers. Watch for trunk shows this year for DreamFarm Jacob yarns, Sophie’s Toes hand dyes, Space Cadet Creations and more! If you know of someone you’d like to see in the store, please let us know.

Watch for some fun contests and events around October 17th to celebrate yarn!

What are you looking forward to this year? Please comment and let us know!

Happy 2016,

Jaala, Amy and the Knitcircus Crew




Best Knitting Treats

We double checked, and you’ve definitely been nice, so it’s time to get a little something for yourself, or some last-minute presents for your knitting friends. For this fun, gifty time of the year, we’ve put together a list of our favorite knitting stocking stuffers.

  1. Ann Budd Knits Stitch Gauge Ruler 20151215_100015Developed by designer, teacher and knitting-world phenom Ann Budd, this new gadget is genius. The photo doesn’t really do it justice, but here’s how it works: you position the little ‘v’s over your knitting and when they align perfectly, you know your gauge!! So very clever. Plus, it takes up pretty much zero space in your knitting bag. These are a great gift for your knitting group!IMG_20150924_124353
  2. Needle gauge:  (ours is nice: above). I keep one in my knitting bag and one in my desk drawer to have a needle checker available at all times. There are so many fun ones: our faves are rabbits and other cute animals from Leaf Pdx and recycled plastic nesting dolls from Succaplokki.il_570xN.557441283_hi7i

Amy’s favorite scissors
Amy here: Face it – very few of us actually need more pairs of scissors; we just need to locate the ones we have in abundance. However, these little guys made me change my mind. They have only a 1-inch blade, and they come with their own protective sheath.7250D

They are airplane safe! They won’t poke holes in your leg if you carry them in your pocket! These are fabulous little scissors.

  1. Knitters Against Swatches cards; these are hilarious for any mischievous knitters on your list. If you enjoy the game Cards Against Humanity, these will be a welcome knitterly addition. Options like “my stash” and “a drunken night of knitting” show knitting’s party side.
  2. Mason-Dixon knitting coloring bookcoloring-book-print-edTwo of everyone’s favorite knitbloggers have come up with their own coloring book. How could we not love this? Everyone at Knitcircus has decided to buy one and then give it to another person here as a gift.
  3. Knit Kit This is a classic knitter’s toolkit, with all kinds of useful tools inside. Small enough to hold in your hand, yet stocked with pretty much every gadget you need.It’s the standard for a reason!
  4. Knittrick App I can’t believe we just found this app! It’s exactly what every knitter needs. You put in the gauge you’re getting and it will re-calculate the pattern for you with new stitch numbers. If you want to make something bigger or smaller by using different sized needles/yarn or want to make sure your gauge will actually produce the size sweater you want, you’re golden with this app! You can’t actually put this in a stocking, but you should just get it for yourself because it’ll save you so much heartache.
  5. Pottery buttons; local talented potter Jenny Blasen makes buttons and sheep mugs for the discerning knitter (below). il_570xN.425051771_qbux
  6. Finishing Needles; everyone always needs more of these.The Chibi needles come in a delightful case and are the classic of the genre.div-001521
  7. Any knitting emergency can be faced when properly fortified. Fair trade chocolate is the perfect snack to prepare for steeking, make frogging less painful or simply gather energy for the next row. Above: Jaala’s favorite Divine chocolate in a special holiday flavor. Other delightful options include Equal Exchange, Shaman Chocolates, Rescue Chocolate (supporting animal shelters) or your local shop! Madison peeps know that Gail Ambrosius makes some of the best dark chocolate anywhere.

As the holiday season gets into full swing, we wish you all the best; don’t forget to do something nice for yourself here and there in the midst of all the preparations.

Happy knitting,

Jaala, Amy and the Knitcircus Crew