Spring Fling Fun!

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Thanks to everyone who came to the Spring Fling party and Saturday celebration. We had a blast!

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This fun group didn’t drink the Kool-Aid, but their yarn did, in my home-safe dyeing class! We had such a good time, and they all created such fresh spring colors.

 

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Just like when we have friends coming over for a dinner party, hosting a Studio party gives us a reason to spruce everything up and put up some fun decorations. We played up the Tea Party for the new Alice in Wonderland yarns.

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Shari drew up a friendly welcome sign, and we brought out the special Spring Fling colorway. We had a few left, so we’re leaving them up in the store just a couple days longer…

IMG_6478Ann showed us her masterful top using a Still Flying gradient  undyed yarn and a very cool slipstitch pattern. Beautifully knitted!

 

Saturday, the fun continued as John Loeffelholz led a group of intrepid knitters thorough the intricate process of knitting with sock machines. They don’t make these babies anymore, so you have to learn the ins and outs of these antique machines…

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Sorry this wasn’t the best photo, but the people in the Sock Machine class were totally absorbed the whole time, and learned a ton about coaxing their metal friends to perform. John is one of the nation’s experts on using sock machines, so we’re very lucky to have him in the area. Thanks, John!

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How cool is this thing?!?!?

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And they even made a sock at the end! Pat has a big smile for a job well done.

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The party continued in the store on Saturday, with lots of visitors out and about enjoying the gorgeous weather. This lovely young knitter drove over from Milwaukee to check out the yarns in person and show off her mad knitting skills. This was one of three pairs she’s working on! She loves that you just cast on and knit the Gradient Stripes and they do all the striping for you. As a new sock knitter, she said it gave her confidence.

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It was an event to remember, and we’re definitely doing it again next year. Happy spring everyone and thanks to everyone who came to see us!

Happy knitting,

Jaala

 

 

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Pickford Bandana

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Pickford was one of the most fun and satisfying patterns I’ve designed. Back in November, I started noodling around with the idea of a bandana cowl. Looking around at Ravelry at some of my favorite designs like Zuzu’s Petals and Starshower, I was surprised at the construction; they all start by knitting flat, then joining for knitting in the round once the shawl-in-progress is wide enough to fit comfortably around the neck. This creates basically shawls that  are fastened in the back, which is exactly what they were going for.

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That construction creates a shawl-like project that starts low on the neck and lies flatter on the chest. My neck is always cold and feels vulnerable, so I wanted my design to go up a little higher, keeping the neck warm, but not being tight. Even though I like my neck warm, I can’t stand anything tight, which makes me odd, I know.

Starting from a cowl construction instead of a shawl construction seemed like the best angle, and would be much simpler to knit. But it needed to get wider at the bottom for comfort and to create the bandana shape I wanted.

The first iteration of the pattern featured increases at the “point” every round, which made it pontier. I liked that one, and it’ll be coming out as a new pattern soon, but I wanted to try something subtler (if you visited us at Vogue Knitting Live New York, it was a sample in the Impressionist section of the booth). The next try increased every other round, and I liked that, too, (it’s the Over the Rainbow cowl I wear pretty much every day, and at the Knitting Pipeline Retreat), but the Pickford version made just the bandana cowl shape I envisioned for a worsted-weight cowl.

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This created just the warm, yet drapey and easy-to-knit cowl I had hoped for all along!

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Test knitter Alane made a darling Pickford  and gave me excellent pattern feedback. Thanks, Alane!

I love this construction so much, I’ve already got a lacy spring version on the needles. I hope you enjoy it, too!

Happy knitting,

Jaala

 

Sweater Trendspotting

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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,

Jaala

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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.

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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.

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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.

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

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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.

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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,

Jaala

 

Buffalo Wool and Indie Yarn Carnival

Hi, Knitters,

Good times; it’s finally fall! After a very warm start, we had a nice, chilly weekend here in Wisconsin, and it looked like everyone at Rhinebeck was wearing their sweaters! The Sheep and Wool Festival looked like a blast; I hope we’ll be there one of these years soon.

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mermaid lagoon gradient on buffalo wool Tracks

Speaking of Rhinebeck, we collaborated with the Buffalo Wool Company on an exclusive collection of Knitcircus gradients and Gradient Stripes on their gorgeous Tracks yarn.

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 The bad news is, the shipping went awry, and the yarns didn’t make it to Rhinebeck in time for the festival. The good news is, it’s available to everyone right now on their website!

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You can choose 100g gradients, nice big 150g gradients or Gradient stripes Socks sets!

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mermaid lagoon gradient stripes socks

The Buffalo Wool company is a family-owned-and-operated company who have been wonderful mentors to us and gave us a boost with our Kickstarter! We are proud to work with them and hope you’ll support and thank them for us by checking out the yarn!

Yarn Carnival

Another collaboration we’re really excited about is the Indie Yarn Carnival organized by Erin Lane Bags maker Lindsey Martin!

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This wonderful yarn club will feature a different exclusive yarn colorway and coordinating Erin Lane bag with each shipment. We’re thrilled to be in the company of Miss Babs, Mrs. Crosby Plays, Lydia Yarn, Must Stash and our friends at the Buffalo Wool Co. This club gives you a chance to sample yarns from all of these delightful companies. We’re tempted to purchase a membership ourselves!

Take care and happy knitting,

Jaala