Come What May, by Susan B. Anderson

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Hi, Knitters,

I’m so lucky to have Susan B. Anderson as a friend (and almost a neighbor!). She is one of the most talented designers you’ll ever find, and one of the sweetest people. If you’ve ever gotten to take a class with her or meet at a knitting event, you’ll know that she’s just as lovely and down-to-earth in person as she is on her blog.

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photo: susan b anderson

We’ve been working on a project together for a while, and I’m happy to be able to announce that Susan has written a pattern exclusively for us, using a skein of Knitcircus Opulence fingering in Come What May to create an elegant shawl with a silvery beaded edge.

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photo:ryan berg for knitcircus

Susan tells the story of its inspiration best herself (from her blog):

As I sat with my friend, Jaala Spiro, having tea, pastries and knitting in my living room one morning she surprised me with several cakes of her lovely KnitCircus yarns. One of these cakes was the spectacular gradient called Come What May. There is just something about the rosy shade of pink moving into the sweet kiss of blush and ending with the lightest shade of gray.
The yarn cake was thrilling to hold in my hands and it was inspiring. I quickly cast on and knit the sweetest little lacey shawl that is not only simple and wearable but is a really fun knit to boot. The sections of the shawl keep you entertained while the gradient yarn motivates you to keep going to get to the next color.
The shawl is a semi-circular shape with stockinette, simple lace and eyelet sections that end with a beautiful eyelet ruffle. The shawl is finished with an elegant bind-off with silver-lined beads. The beads are always optional but they add so much to the look and feel of the finished shawl. The entire project is a pleasure to knit.
The yarn colorway is the single inspiration for the shawl so the name of the design has to be Come What May. The colorway, luxury yarn base, shawl design and beads are the perfect match.
Enjoy!
Susan

We’re just thrilled with the way the design came out, and are offering Come What May kits so you can make a shawl just like Susan’s, either with or without beads.

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photo: ryan berg for knitcircus

You can also find Susan’s beautifully-written pattern on Ravelry if you’d like to work from your stash.

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photo: susan b anderson

The shawl shows off the soft color changes of the gradient so nicely;  I created Come What May last February when I was so tired of bare trees and snow and just longed for the colors of spring. And Susan is holding a giveaway on her blog; comment and you could win a Come What May kit of your very own ( just through this afternoon, so hurry!)

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photo: ryan berg for knitcircus

Whether you just got a fresh pile of snow like we did or are already harvesting your rhubarb, I wish you all of the loveliness of spring,

Jaala

Balinese Cardi and Snowshoeing

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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.

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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.

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Making Tracks

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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.

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

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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

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.

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

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Shari is working on arm-length hand warmers

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…and a Ribbed Ruffle Scarf.

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

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

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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.

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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!

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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!

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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.

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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!

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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:

Knitting in the New Year

Happy New Year, Knitters!

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paper chains made by Belle

After a very busy holiday yarn season, we all took a week off to enjoy the holidays with family and friends.

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With Christmas and Hannukkah so close, it was a whirlwind, with matzo ball soup and candles at my parents’ then  our family’s traditional homemade Swedish Meatball Christmas Eve dinner here. Every year, we make up a new 12 Days of Christmas song to reflect the events of the year, so this one included “nine baseball players,” “three weeks of clouds,” and “A Sasha under the tree.”

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this little hat was a gift from my mom, handknit and fairly traded

After The Best Christmas Ever(tm), with brunch at our place and dinner at Mom and Dad’s, we took a whirlwind trip to Michigan to check out Mike’s dad’s tree, 12 feet tall with more than a thousand ornaments. Little Buddy found the pickle.

Then two days and two cakes of celebrating Li’l Buddy’s birthday. German Chocolate cake is a family tradition, and it’s an old-fashioned one, with egg separating both for the cake and the frosting. But man, is it worth the time. The kids who came over for a sleepover (just a few this year) got homemade chocolate cupcakes with ganache.

And then it was New Year’s Eve, and frankly, my dears, we were partied out. I snuggled up in our new flannel sheets with a laptop and Dr. Who (season 3, David Tennant, now my favorite Doctor) while Lil Buddy hung out with friends and MIke and Belle puzzled the evening away.

IMG_1703 If you’re puzzlers, I highly recommend this particular one, the Fairytale Fantasia. I have never seen a more intricate, detailed picture, though its complexity isn’t for the faint of puzzle-heart.

And now it’s 2015! Today we’re back to work in the Lair for one big day before the weekend, doing exciting end-of-2014-things like inventory and taxes. But we’ve got a new year of yarn creating and knitting!

Knit this Year 

I took a few luxurious moments to revisit my favorite projects on Ravelry, and though my knitting time is limited these days, a girl can dream! Here’s what I’m hoping to work up this year:

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Moyen Age; this is my dream sweater to knit for myself this year. I just find this delicate design by Hada Knits captivating, and it looks good on all of the Ravelers who’ve posted photos.

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Knotted Pine, by Alicia Plummer; love these cables, with just enough texture and changes to keep it interesting.

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My mom loves the Manly Scarf in progress Mike, so she requested a version for herself using the 100% cashmere Trapeze yarn I dyed for her for Christmas. A (Wo)manly scarf! This pattern uses a classic texture pattern for a timeless effect and it’s perfect car or waiting room knitting.

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Olga Buraya-Kefelian’s patterns always intrigue me, and I’d love to try the unusual stitch in her Moko-Moko cowl.

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Of course, Susie Anderson is on the list, with her 50-Row Shawl I’ve been itching to try. A worsted-weight shawl would be so comfy in the winter.

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Dandelion Days cowl; big surprise, I love the combination of cables and lace in this compelling cowl.

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In fingering, I’m going to try the Ici Paris Beret for my mom; she loves Paris, and I’ve been curious about the Eiffel Tower Stitch for years.

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I want the Zag-Edged Scarf for myself; the combo of garter stitch and a nice edging looks like a sure winner for the actual knitting time I have, which is usually while playing Big Bang Clue or watching Modern Family with our own family.

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Et Frais would make a perfect use for our gradient yarns in the 25g balls. That texture looks super fun.

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The Accelerating Stripes mitts, of course, would make a perfect canvas for some Gradient Stripes action. Belle would love a pair of these.

For socks, I always use Susie Anderson’s How I Make My Socks or Wendy Johnson’s toe-up basic slip-stitch heel pattern, but this year I’d like to try the Fleegle heel with the Time Traveler Socks and some nice patterning with RPM, like Cindy did in our KAL earlier this year.

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Kirsten Kapur creates lovely patterns and I’d love to knit up her Snow Drops and Snap Peas shawl, as well as my perennial favorite, Cladonia.

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What are you knitting this year?

Have a great one,

Jaala

Mulberry Street Hat and Cowl Patterns

Happy Holidays!

As a thanks to all of you wonderful newsletter and blog readers for a happy yarn-dyeing year, I offer you two free patterns for quick-knit accessories.IMG_4307

The Mulberry Street Hat, worked in a simple Garter Rib, makes a great gift for friends and family, coming in all sizes form child to extra-large adult. I put the snowball pompom on becasue pompoms life my spirits every time I see them. It’s fun to put on something that makes you smile during the cold (and busy) winter months.

Without the pompom, in a nice brown, gray or navy, the ribbed pattern would work for even the manliest of men.cowl closer

The Mulberry Street Cowl is worked with just one skein of a worsted-weight yarn and is long enough to wear long for style or double up for warmth.both squarecowl goodHappy knitting and enjoy!

Jaala

PS We are working overtime in the Lair to try to finish all of the yarns you’ve ordered in time for the holidays. If you’re waiting, please know that we’re doing everyhting we can to speed things up!