I Love Yarn Day, Kung Fu Knits and Secret Yarn

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I Love Yarn Day is this Friday! As part of the Yarn Group with TNNA, we’ve been looking forward to this for months. And we’ve got a big, big announcement coming out this Friday, so stay tuned. Here’s a spoiler: it has to do with a new kind of yarn and a totally unique dyeing process.

If you check out the I Love Yarn Day Facebook page, there’s a contest and all kinds of other events going on, including yarny Flash Mobs. (local knitters: do we have one? It seems like the Sow’s Ear might cook something up…)

Kung Fu Knits

As the mom of a sixth-grade boy, I know how hard it is to both knit for, and find great patterns for, kids this age. My son recently requested a hat; plain. And black. I talked him into a gray-to-black gradient, but it was a tough sell. Designer and Dark Matter Knits podcaster Elizabeth Green Musselman specializes in high-quality knits for men and boys. I love her men’s Dawson sweater, boys’ Langstroth (from the Cuteboysezwhat e-book)  and the super-fun Frankenfingers mitts. My daughter and I would both wear those in a hot second.

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photo: Cooperative Press

Elizabeth has written a new pattern collection, Kung Fu Knits, which ingeniously combines comics and martial-arts-themed knitting patterns for kids. The official synopsis:

It’s a familiar scenario: it’s freezing outside, and a nine-year-old boy wants to go out to play. His mother keeps piling him into more and more knitwear. Groaning ensues. Until that glorious moment when the boy realizes that knitting just might save the day.

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photo: Elizabeth Green Musselman
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photo: Elizabeth Green Musselman

Author Elizabeth Green Musselman says: The book is aimed particularly at boys aged 4–12 and the poor people who try to knit for them. It can be so hard to get kids this age to wear handknits.The comic book storyline at the beginning ties knitting into one boy’s martial arts adventure in the backyard. His mom just wants him to be warm, but these knits are also the tools for pure fun.

Knitted nunchuks! And throwing stars! A backpack to carry them in! And an entire kung fu uniform. (My son has declared these The Most Comfortable Pants Ever, and refuses to take them off when it’s cool out.)

The illustrations are by a local artist / kung fu teacher. All projects use Berroco Vintage.

The martial artist in our family is my daughter, and she would definitely wear every one of these garments, because she loves to be warm and comfortable. I can also totally see my five-year-old nephew rocking the adventurous outfit and knitted nunchucks.

You can order the Kung Fu Knits collection from Cooperative Press as either a print book or downloadable pdf.

Sasha’s New Look

We took Sasha to a real groomer, Tabby and Jacks, where they gently and patiently clipped her with scissors because the clipper panicked her.

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Now we can see her little face, instead of just a big pompon. I have to admit, I did love the big puff, but she can actually see what she’s doing now.

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What she’s doing now is napping. 😉

Oh, local knitters, The Knitting Tree is celebrating its Grand Opening tomorrow afternoon! They’ll have cheese and snacks and a chance to win prizes from 4-6pm. If you haven’t seen the beautiful new space, it’s definitely worth stopping.

Have a lovely Tuesday, knitters!

Baby Puppy and Gradient Clubs

We’ve always been a cat family, but with kids, never say never. Introducing Belle’s new puppy: Sasha!

baby Sasha
baby Sasha

Belle has wanted a dog for years, and with some help from Grammy and Buppa, she researched and found the perfect pup, a Shih Tzu girl, 10 weeks old. Her research even included a powerpoint presentation highlighting the breed’s friendliness, relaxed nature (did you know they were bred as lapdogs for Chinese royalty?) and hypoallergenic coat.

a girl and her dog
a girl and her dog

A very happy girl got her wish last week. And Sasha really is adorable. Her little legs are so short, her tail is actually longer, so when she trots after Belle wagging her tail, it looks like half her little fuzzy body is wagging.

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sleepytime

The little tail starts wagging as soon as she sees any person, and she loves to be carried and snuggle on laps. She’s so small she practically takes a bath when she walks into dewy grass.

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Welcome, Sasha. If any dog can make it in this cat family, it’s you! (Don’t worry, yarn mavens, Sasha’s not part of the Evil Lair scene).

Speaking of the Lair, it’s an exciting time: Gradient Club memberships for next year are now open!

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Eleven months, six packages of yarn showing up right to your door! Each Knitcircus Yarns package includes an exclusive self-striping, hand-dyed gradient colorway, notes about the color inspiration, list of suggested patterns and coordinating gifts.We’ll mix it up with colors to make everyone happy, with some warm, some cool and some neutrals.

Gifts will include products from companies like Lantern Moon, Knit Happy and hidden gems from Wisconsin sheep farms.  Below; Frabjous Fibers bag (treat from the first Summer Slice Club) with a happy gradient to give you an idea. Of course, the colors of the actual Club will be all new. 🙂

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Luxury fiber will be wool-based, featuring different blends like silk, cashmere, tencel and nylon. Luxury fibers will include favorites like Thrilling, Opulence, and Greatest of Ease, new yarns reserved exclusively for Clubbies, and early access to yarns not in the shop yet.

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This year I won’t be writing up patterns, since it just took too much time away from dyeing, which also makes this year’s Club a little more affordable! But I will ransack Ravelry every time to find and tell you about patterns I think would work perfectly with each month’s yarn.

 

Yarn weights include 4 skeins of fingering weight yarn and 2 skeins of heavier-weight yarn. Knitting-related treats in every package include collaborations with small woman-owned and fair-trade businesses, from one-woman operations to nationally recognized brands.

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And, just like last year, you can either purchase a year’s subscription and be all done, or sign up once and pay as packages are ready to ship (also a six-package deal, but you can break up the payments!). For the full year, please use the code WELCOME at checkout to get $10 off your membership!

Curiosity Satisfied!

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Guess what, Hunter Hammersen’s new book just dropped! If you’ve been waiting for the Knitters Curiosity Cabinet III like we have, you can check it out at Pantsville Press.

Happy Tuesday,

jaala

 

Hitch Blog Tour and Giveaway!

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Today I’m very excited to be part of the blog tour AND you can win a digital copy!

Hitch includes 29 patterns from different designers; you’ll find sweaters, scarves, hats, gloves, socks. And shawls!

As you may know, Stephannie Tallent, the editor of this volume, worked closely with me as a tech editor for Knitcircus magazine and helped develop our excellent templates and tech-editing workflows. She can edit a pattern like nobody’s business, designs gorgeous, intricate patterns and has a vision for beautifully-designed and executed garments of all kinds.

I was thrilled when Stephannie released her first book, California Revival Knits, and happy to get a chance to be part of this collection honoring the work of one of her favorite directors. If you look at the cover, my design, the Miss Fremont shawl, was lucky enough to get a cameo there!

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The Hitchcock film I like best is Rear Window, so I looked at Grace Kelly’s costumes, other sketches by costume designer Edith Head and other clothing of the time for inspiration. I was particularly struck by the full New Look skirt with flowers radiating from the waist, so took that as the inspiration for my shawl design.

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The Half-Pi shawl is a favorite shape of mine, so within that construction, I chose a lace pattern to echo the feminine floral of the skirt. Here you can see the original sketch, the lace swatch, and final shawl blocked and pinned. Believe it or not, this was designed before I began dyeing gradients, but you can see that the idea was definitely starting to unfold! The shawl is worked in Blue Sky’s Alpaca Sport Weight, 100% baby alpaca, which was a joy to knit, soft, fuzzy and drapey, so perfect for a shawl.

So many wonderful designers are represented in Hitch, which uses red, white and black to highlight the drama and suspense of the theme. Go check out all the Hitch Designs on Ravelry and tell me which one you’d like to knit first! Leave a blog comment, and the Random Number Generator will choose a winner for us Sunday evening, the 17th of November.

Want to participate in a Knit-A-Long or hear about more giveaways? Join the Hitch group on Ravelry.

The Full Blog Tour

9/28/2013: Sunset Cat Designs
10/5/2013: Knitting Kninja
10/05/13: Knit One, Heart Too Podcast
10/7/2013: Herrlichkeiten
10/8/2013: Knit and Travel
10/9/2013: Knit & Knag Designs
10/10/2013: Wooly Wonka Fibers
10/11/2013: Verdant Gryphon
10/15/2013: Impeccable Knits: Shifting Stitches
10/16/2013: Rewolluzza
10/21/2013: Knitwear Designs by Carolyn Noyes
10/22/2013: Peacefully Knitting
10/23/2013: Dark Matter Knits
10/24/2013: Turnknit: Dani Berg Designs
10/25/2013: SweetGeorgia Yarns
10/28/2013: doviejay knits
10/29/2013: Triona Designs
10/30/2013: Tactile Fiber Arts (you’re here!)
11/4/2013: A Knitter’s Life
11/5/2013: Catchloops
11/6/2013: Yarn On The House
11/07/2013: Ramblings
11/12/2013: Hazel Knits
11/13/2013: Knitcircus
11/19/2013: indigodragonfly
11/9/2013: Fyberspates
11/22/2013: A B-ewe-tiful Design
11/25/2013: knittingkirigami

What Would Madame DeFarge Knit Book Review and Giveaway

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 Heather Ordover knows her literature; the teacher and host of Craftlit Podcast has been helping knitters “Stick a Book in [Their] Ear[s]” for 274 episodes!

With her at the helm, this collection brings together designers inspired by literary figures from doomed lover Isolde to brave heroine Little Red Riding Hood to form-shifting Dr. Jekyll. The tone of What Would Madame DeFarge Knit blends a deep love of  the classics with a modern, irreverent spirit. While some designs, like Jane’s Ubiquitous Shawl, play it pretty straight with a historically-influenced lace pattern, others, like Frankenhood, offer a tongue-in-cheek project complete with light-up neck bolts.

With 21 accessory and garment patterns from socks to wraps to reversible cowls, there’s plenty to satisfy almost any knitter. My favorite is Chrissy Gardiner’s Wilhelmina Shawlette, a captivating triangular lace confection inspired by the heroine of Bram Stoker’s Dracula. Heather and her contributors don’t confine themselves to knitting, tossing in a crochet pattern or two, a number of recipes, such as for spicy pumpkin soup, and related craft projects, like cutouts for a full shadow-puppet reenactment of Peter Pan’s Mermaid Lagoon, inspired by Victorian family amusements.

The book purposefully remains black-and-white, with woodcut illustrations; it works well to look up the patterns on Ravelry as you go to see the projects in their colorful glory. If you’ve ever been moved by words in a book, had a crush on a literary character or spent time mentally decorating Pemberley, this volume will speak to you.

Thanks to the generosity of the folks at Cooperative Press, we have an electronic version of the book to give away!

TO ENTER
Please leave a blog comment about any of the following;

Your favorite project from the book

Which book might inspire you to design a pattern (not necessarily one that’s in this collection)

Another Cooperative Press title you’d like to check out as well as this one

How much you love Craftlit podcast (I know I do!)

The Random Number Generator will pick a pattern Monday morning, March 4th.

And Heather’s inspiration doesn’t stop with one book; watch for the companion volume, What (Else) Would Madame DeFarge Knit to hit shelves next month!

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Have a great weekend,

Jaala

Tiny Treads Review and Happy Valentine’s Day!

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Happy Valentine’s Day to all of you wonderful knitters. You make my heart happy.

My mom stopped by this morning to give me this treat; she’s pretty much the Queen of Hearts.

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She got the cookie stamp on her trip to Paris last year and saved it just for today. 🙂

Hope you all have a lovely day full of sweet surprises.

Book Review: Tiny Treads

Knitting socks for kids is such a treat; they don’t take too long and, if you’re lucky, they still think it’s really cool to have handmade things. One child at my kids’ school wears hand-knitted socks every day, and he (and his knitting mom) are a local legend in knitting. This book will give me a leg up on getting my own kids’ feet toasty in superwash!

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Joeli Caparco, who I already know is an excellent pattern writer, since she has edited some of my patterns, fits a lot of content into this book!

Before you cast on, she gives tips on knitting for kids, choosing yarns and washing kids’ socks to get you ready to fit and knit your kids. Size charts are given for both US and European sizes form tiny baby to kids US 7, which almost crosses into adult sizes. She doesn’t choose favorites, instead giving you a recipe for both top-down and toe-up socks, plus 10 patterns for socks, slippers and legwarmers with textured, cabled and lacy stitches to try.

The patterns really do provide a canvas for trying new techniques, from the simple knit-purl of Sandman to the more complicated charted cables of Crooked Styles and lace of Contrary Cockleshells (below).

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The pictures of toddlers on playground structures and chubby baby feet definitely enhance the enjoyment of this graphically-appealing book. Highly recommended for anyone with little feet in their lives!

Thanks so much to Cooperative Press for providing a review copy of Tiny Treads! Photos © 2012, Joeli Caparco, Luke William Johnson and Kate Heppell

Balm Knitalong Big Finish and Rabble Rousers Book Giveaway

Check out knitpurple09’s beautiful Balm to the Soul!

And jantaber’s colorful one!

Thanks so much to everyone who joined the fun in the Balm to the Soul/Bridge Over Troubled Water KAL; what a delightful group, and so many generous people making gifts for friends or prayer shawls. Everyone who finished a shawl will receive a copy of the Juniper Lemon Shawlette pattern as soon as it’s published. Hope to see you all back again for the Juniper Lemon KAL starting August 15th!

Rabble Rousers Book, by Hunter Hammersen

Hunter Hammersen, one of my favorite designers, has just published a fun new collection, Rabble Rousers; What to Knit When You’re Up to No Good. The accessories projects feature lace and textured patterns all one skein or less, so perfect for gearing up for holiday gifts! The book is available in physical and electronic forms, and anyone who purchases the physical book gets the e-version for free.

Fracas Hat

The collection includes the Clamor loose-fitting hat, Tumult textured cowl, Fracas lace-and-ribbed hat, lacy Uproar cuff, and mitt-and-cowl Ruction set. For knitting that’s up to no good, these look pretty good to me!

Tumult Cowl

Thanks so much to Hunter for giving an e-book to one lucky reader; to win, just comment about your favorite pattern here or any of Hunter’s work. The giveaway will run through this Friday, August 3rd.

Take care,

Jaala

Wednesday Book Giveaway: The Embellished Sock

A truly original look at footwear by designer Charles Gandy, The Embellished Sock, Knitted Art for the Foot will give you fun pictures to look at and projects to try! Ruffles, ripples, loops, snakes and tulips are some of the fanciful decorations you’ll find in this book, as well as tips and photo tutorials for techniques like Kitchener grafting and a Crocheted Provisional Cast-On.

 

The 18 sock patterns are accompanied by finishing tips and You Tube videos  to make sure knitters succeed at these over-the-top footwear projects.

One lucky winner will receive a copy of this book, courtesy of Acorn Creek Press and Charles Gandy.

To enter, please comment on any pattern from the book, or any of Charles Gandy’s other patterns.

Winner will be picked by Random Number Generator this Monday evening, July 30th.

Are you gearing up for the Ravellenics? Team Knitcircus is still accepting new members if you’d like to join the fun!