Make Your Own Magic Yarn Ball

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Here at Knitcircus, we use a many-step process to create self-striping gradients that change colors effortlessly as you knit. It’s all one continuous yarn, with no knots ever! But there’s a fun and easy way to create your own special color-changing balls of yarn at home. A Magic Ball uses smaller lengths of yarn joined together to make one fun color-changing skein! Another way the term “Magic Ball” is used is to describe a yarn ball with little treats wrapped inside, so the recipient gets little gifts and surprises as they knit.

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Today, I’ll show you how to make both!

Make Your Color-Changing Magic Yarn Ball

Magic Yarn Balls are about the best stashbuster ever. The first step is to find all of those beloved balls left from previous projects, mini-skeins, even scraps a couple of feet long. It will be easiest to knit with your Magic Ball if all of your yarns are a similar weight (fingering, sport, worsted, etc). So you may want to organize by weight first, then play with color groupings you like. This should be fun, so take some time to place different colors together and see what you like. The way the colors interact may surprise you!

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organizing by color

Some tried-and-true palettes are:

warm colors: reds. purples, yellows, oranges

cool colors: blues and greens

jewel tones: deep, saturated versions of red, blue, green, teal, purple

neutrals: browns, beiges, grays, cream, undyed

rainbow: crayon-box brights

tropical: yellow, green, peach, orange, pink, magenta

earth tones: browns, grays, deep greens, pale blues

Once you have your yarns and colors, start joining them together to make your Magic Ball! I like to vary the lengths so it’s a surprise, but you can also have fun by making all of the yarns the same length (say, 5 yards) to create stripes for planned pooling projects, etc. Just start winding your yarns onto a ball-winder or wind by hand (if you want to put treats inside, read the section on Adding Treats before you start winding). To make your yarn ball look extra special, you can wind each section going in a different direction, as Susan B. Anderson describes in her Everlasting Yarn Balls video tutorial.

Fancy Joins

You can use an overhand, square knot or whatever you usually use for knotting when knitting to join your lengths of yarn together. If you want to get fancy and make your ball knot-free, here are some techniques to try.

Spit Splicing: This joining method works well on yarns with some felting potential. It probably won’t work as well on superwash or synthetic fibers. Originally done by using spit and rubbing the two yarn ends together in the hands to felt them together, it can be done with plain water as well. 🙂 Very Pink Knits has a video tutorial on Spit Splicing here.

Russian Join: If you want to make near-seamless transitions in your Magic Ball, you can use the Russian Join method shown in the Knitting Any Way tutorial here. This takes significantly more time than simple knotting, so recommended for a yarn with relatively few changes.

Adding Treats

You can make a Magic Gift Ball by using any existing yarn and re-winding it so that surprises are hidden inside. Carla Krantz has a great Pinterest board with different ideas. You can take small objects and wrap them almost invisibly inside the yarn, or make wrapped packages so many that the yarn can barely contain them! If you’re winding up your magic Joined Ball, you can add the treats as you go.

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Some examples of knitting-related treats are shown here, but of course, you can tailor your special ball to the passions of the intended recipient. A good strategy is to wind the ball around the largest gift, adding the others as you go.

Note: lots of people add things like teabags, small figurines, etc to their yarn balls; your imagination is the limit! But don’t add perishable food items, especially things like chocolate, that can melt. Your friend in California may be very sad when she gets the now-sticky yarn you sent from frozen Nunavut.

You can also decorate your yarn ball with easily-removable pins, buttons, ribbons and other treats for a delightful presentation. Ellen Bloom made this adorable one for the book Knitalong:

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Making Magic Balls is a fun and creative way to make something one-of-a-kind and usable out of those special small amounts of yarn in your stash. If you make some, please let us know in the Knitcircus Ravelry Group so we can ooh and ahh!

Have a great weekend,

Jaala

Trapeze, Calliope, and a KAL

Hi, Knitters,

Wow, what a day, I have not one, but two new yarns to introduce!

But first, some fall apple-picking fun:

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We grabbed my mom, my brother’s family the kids and even Sasha for an afternoon in the orchard last weekend. Can you believe the twins are in kindergarten now?! A good time was had by all, and caramel apples were had by the youngsters. We’ll be making sauce, crisp and maybe some pie this weekend. Does anyone have a favorite apple recipe?

Trapeze Cashmere

Now for the yarn! The first new one is unbelievable; a new 100% cashmere handspun. Fair-trade, spun by a women’s collective in Afghanistan, and probably the softest yarn I’ve ever felt.

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At TNNA this summer, I saw a booth with fair-trade cashmere from Afghanistan. They had samples. Just one touch and I was hooked; I knew we had to get some for our wonderful Knitcircus knitters! We arranged with the wonderful women who run this business to get a special, limited-run of worsted-weight 100% cashmere Trapeze yarn, and now we have it just for you!

The yarn itself is so special I had to develop the deepest, richest, most saturated colors. Every single skein is dyed on its own in a batch of one, with several different dyebaths layered over each other to achieve a color with boundless depth. We named them after precious stones that mirrored the colors’ depth: London Blue Topaz and Pink Tourmaline.

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To highlight the yarn’s specialness, I developed the London Blue Topaz pattern specifically to make the most of the yarn’s yardage and of course, to arrange around your neck and shoulders so you can feel Trapeze’s fantastic softness and drape.

The shawl uses what I think is one of the most elegant stitch patterns, Dayflower Lace, with a diamond-shaped construction.

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Here’s the Pink Tourmaline colorway, a deep, rich red perfect for holiday knitting. (This is the color I kept for myself!)

Calliope: Merino-Cashmere-Nylon DK

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Speaking of cashmere, we’re thrilled to introduce another new yarn, but this one will be available all year round! Calliope is 80% Superwash Merino, 10% Nylon , 10% cashmere, in a touchable, delightfully soft and springy yarn. It’s shown here in our new cozy fall color, Mr. Tumnus, and you can custom order it in any of our repeatable coorways. It’s 230 yards in a 100g cake, or 345 yards in a 150g cake.

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As part of the Calliope excitement, we’re also now offering all of our sport, dk and worsted-weight yarns in 150-g options, which was only available for fingering weights before.

Silk Moon KAL

We started off the autumn in style with a Ravelry KAL for the Silk Moon Crescent Shawl, now with a new fingering-weight version included in the pattern! I know a couple of people in the KAL are going to work it in fingering and keep on going to make larger shawls, and I can’t wait to see how they turn out!

The KAL just started, and we have our first weekly winner; Taine on Ravelry got her choice of patterns from my Ravelry Store.

This shawl knits up quickly in either fingering, dk or fingering weight yarn. I made this rainbow one below as my new Silk Moon for the re-release of the pattern and finished it in under a week!

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The lovely model in the photos here is Cindy, who joins us in the Lair to help with Ravelry groups, website and finances. She works at beloved LYS the Sow’s Ear and has lots of knitting expertise as well as the talent for creating and maintaining order, which I dearly love and appreciate. Cindy will be participating in the KAL and checking in with everyone every day!

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My Silk Moon is in Knitcircus Lap of Luxury silk blend in the colorway Over the Rainbow, which you guys know I can’t stop knitting with.

There’s still plenty of time to join us in the Ravelry group, and the prizes will be getting bigger each week. 😉

WASHCLOTHS for a GOOD CAUSE

Stephanie from Space Cadet Yarns just shared this project by a motivated knitter to send handknitted washcloths to be distributed as part of hygiene packs in Haiti. Good cause, and the time commitment is actually charity knitting I can do!

I’ll be knitting up a washcloth this weekend and hope some of you will join in the good, clean, fun. 😉 If you post a pic of your washcloth in the Ravelry group, or a link to your project, i’ll give away a pattern of your choice as a reward for your good efforts!

Patterns and Stitch Markers

 

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Hi, Knitters!

Look at my desk; it’s pattern-writing time.I actually got the whole morning to write up a new pattern yesterday, and didn’t dye any yarn until after lunch. We’ve been very busy in the Lair, with a new shipment going out to Fiddlehead Yarns, (celebrating their 35th anniversary) and a big trunk show headed to Knitche, so this was very unusual!

It made me remember how much I love designing. Of course, I love dyeing, too, but I didn’t realize I had several ideas for patterns pent up that were just waiting for a chance to get on the computer. You Gradient Club members will have your last pacages, with one of my patterns, in the mail next week.

As we rev up for Fall Knitting Season, I’ll be rolling out a number of fun patterns for you, starting with this almost-finished Brass and Steam scarf.

With a combination of textures and cables, it works up quickly with either one or two skeins of Ringmaster Worsted. After working with a lot of lace lately, I really enjoyed knitting this one up, and there’s just one more color change left in my version of the scarf. We just need another round of testing, then this baby will be ready to go to warm up some people this fall!

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And now, since I’ve got this on the needles, I’d like to talk about one of my favorite little knitting helpers, Stitch Markers!august 29 2014 017

 

I’m a big fan of the locking stitch makers (“safety pin”) type; you can find Clover ones just about anywhere. I found this purple one above on Etsy, but honestly, this model only has a few good clips in it, then it breaks. Anyhow, I’m using the purple maker above to tell me which is the right side, in this case, the side where I’ll be making my cable crossings. This particular pattern is reversible, so it can be tricky to tell which side is which. 

You can also see the round, brass-colored markers pretty often along the needles. (These came from the Knitting Tree, but if you want to find something similar online, I love the ones with little beads from Velvet Hippo). I have them placed any time I’m switching from one texture or cable pattern to another, so sometimes there are only two stitches between them! I used to think it was cooler to just keep it all in my head, but then I found myself with textures spilling onto each other’s spaces, and then when I ripped it back, I didn’t feel cool at all.

When I’m doing lace knitting, I place them between every single lace repeat, even if it’s only five stitches wide, and always after the side borders, even if they’re three garter stitches and you do the same thing EVERY ROW. Somehow, I seem to be able to mess that up when interruptions come my way…. These little beauties have saved me tons of time re-knitting.

 

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 Thank you, my little marker friends!

Home

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My kids go to different schools , so Belle has already been back in class for a week, while Lil Buddy still has a few days of freedom left! Soccer has started back up, which he loves, and of course, that leaves plenty of time to cuddle Sasha.

Looks like it’ll be nice and cool here this weekend, so I’m looking froward to doing some yardwork, hanging with the kids (maybe a Devil’s Lake day trip?) and hopefully finishing my Brass and Steam scarf!

Have a great holiday weekend,

Jaala

 

 

Stitches Midwest

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Sasha says good morning! To get to this point, she has to try several times to jump onto the low couch, then run along all the way and climb over the arm of the chair. It’s pretty amusing to watch. She’s pretty much totally charming and amusing at all times. She really isn’t supposed to be on the furniture, though…

STITCHES

The whole Knitcircus team worked heroically to prepare for Stitches, and we literally finished processing, caking and labeling every skein in the Lair! Here’s Chris and I on the way to our first exhibition at Stitches Midwest.

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I was really impressed with the organization of this big event. As soon as we pulled up, someone was ready to help us in with a big cart. We were right in the middle of the action in the 500 row.august 22 2014 274

 

It was so much fun to get to meet knitters in real life who have made such beautiful projects with our yarn!august 22 2014 278

Check out this beautiful cowl Mary made in the Pigeon colorway!  With my Cloudburst, we were color twins.

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Wendy is knitting the Sand Castle colorway from the Matching Socks Club in Hermione’s Everyday Socks pattern. It looks so beautiful in the textured pattern! I just loved creating this color and was thrilled to see how it’s working up.

 

We got to meet Emily from the Knitting Butterflies podcast in person!

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i’m sorry I don’t remember this fabulous knitter’s name, but check out her amazing Daybreak in an Eat, Pray, Knit gradient and matching kettle dye.

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Chris welcomed everyone into the booth and gave them all the lowdown on the yarn, while I talked to people and rang up orders. We were lucky to have Angela with Purl & Loop next to us; she’s possibly the sweetest person in the world! If you ever want to make adorable needlefelted projects, please think of her.

Fairy Yarn Mother was on our other side, and Susan from Susan’s Fiber Shop had a huge display right across form us, so we got to be in a little Wisconsin neighborhood. We discovered Fringe Association for the first time and were delighted to get to meet Liz from Appletree Knits. We both make gradients, but since she concentrates on silk and lace, and we focus on wool and fingering-to-worsted, we complement each other perfectly.

We had a very successful show and will definitely be back. Thank you to everyone who visited us and we hope to see you next year!

SALE

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We’re switching things up in the Lair and now are only creating handpaints and kettle dyes in colors coordinating with our gradients, so all of the sumptuous colors we have right now are on sale!

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Everything that we brought back form Stitches is up in the shop, and all of the kettle dyes and handpaints are up to 25% off! It’s the perfect time to kick-start your stash for the fall knitting season. 🙂

Have a great weekend,

Jaala

 

Knitcircus Yarns: Coming to an LYS Near You!

Hi, Lovely Knitters,

A lot has changed in the Lair lately, and we’ve been so busy dyeing yarn, we haven’t gotten a chance to tell you about it!

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Beloved LYS The Sow’s Ear introduced us to their yarn rep Kim at TNNA this year, and she decided to carry our line! That means that, as she travels all around the Midwest, she tells LYs’s about Knitcircus Yarns and they place wholesale orders through her. So now you can not only find our yarns online, but can pet the gradients and get pattern advice in person from LYS’s! 

You Can See Our Yarns At These Shops Now:

The Sow’s Ear, Verona, WI

The Sow’s Ear hosted an amazing event to celebrate bringing in the yarn line, and it was so wonderful to see so many knitters come and support us and the Ear. They only have 2 sock sets left! But you can always go in and tell them that you’d like a certain color and they’ll add it to their next order.

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Trillium Yarn and Fibers, Morristown, NJ

Trillium is designer Kirsten Kapur’s LYS, and the wonderful Beverly was actually the first to place an order with us at TNNA. Her first order flew out the door, but look for more gradients in the next week or so.

Sifu Design Studios and Fine Yarns, Chicago, IL

For their Yarn Crawl next week, Sifu will be unveiling a trunk show including the lots of colors of the Corrina Shawl, a store-exclusive matching Socks colorway for the Mermaid Sock pattern and the newly-released Cable and Fan shawl pattern.

Hank and Purls
Hank and Purls

Look for Knitcircus Yarns at these yarn stores starting in August and September:

Silver Creek Cabin, Buffalo, MN

Kirkwood Knittery, St. Louis, MO

Hank and Purls Creative Nook and Knittery, Rochester, MN

The Yarn Basket, Carroll, IA

Blue Heron, Decorah, IA

Knitche, Downers Grove, IL

Twisted Loop, Prior Lake, MN

Prairie Hand Knits, North Platte, NE

Imagiknit, Hastings, NE

Prairie Yarns, Fargo, ND

Athena Fibers, Sioux Falls, SD

Bodin’s, Bayfield, WI

Fiddlehead Yarns, Kenosha, WI

circus is in town
Click this map to zoom in and out, and for directions to our stores!

Kim is giving us just about all of the yarn stores we can handle, but if you have a beloved East or West Coast yarn shop interested in Knitcircus, let us know and we may be able to make something happen. 🙂

Hibiscus Stripe Pattern and July Color

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First, Sasha is about four months old now, and just getting more fun. Belle has really stepped up and never complains about taking care of her. Starting this weekend, puppy class for our puppy!

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Race to the Cookie Jar: July Colorway

We invited members of the Cookie Crumbs Knitalong Ravelry Group to help us create and name our July colorway, and they came up with a fun one!

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Based on the group’s suggestions and votes, this running shoe colorway was most popular, and they named it “Race to the Cookie Jar.”

So here’s our new yarn! Thanks to all of the Cookie Crumbs members that participated in this fun project.

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Here’s a new treat we’ve discovered that Mike and I are both a little addicted to.

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If you thought Nutella couldn’t be improved upon (like me) here’a a lovely surprise. Justin’s Chocolate Hazelnut Butter is like an even more sumptuous and grown-up version, with more chocolate punch and the texture of real hazelnuts. It’s not exactly budget-conscious, but a little goes a long way! (Of course, you can see we’ve already eaten most of this jar….)

Hibiscus Stripe Shawl

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I’m very excited to introduce you to my new shawl pattern, Hibiscus Stripe! I wanted to create kettle dyes to complement the gradients so you could stripe them all the way through and never hit a patch where they looked too similar. For this one, I took the soft purple of the gradient colorway and made it a bit darker so that it’s similar, but always distinct in the stripes.

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The pattern was super fun to create; I wanted to take the structure and shape of the Silk Moon Crescent and make it even more intuitive.

 Hibiscus Stripe makes the same crescent shape, but this time all of the increases are inside the body of the shawl in a very easy-to-memorize sequence.

And, of course, what’s not to love about garter and stripes! OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAOf course, we’re working diligently in the Lair getting ready for Stitches Midwest, and are even planning to release a new gradient yarn color there. All I’ll say is that it’s called Diva. 🙂

Take care, knitters,

Jaala

 

 

A Few of My Favorite Things

Some things I love this summer:

Puppy Love

I had my doubts about a dog, but Belle is really stepping up her responsibility, and Sasha really could not be cuter or more fun. She loves every single person that comes to meet her.

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sasha
alert puppy!
alert puppy!

Little Library Love

photo: Little Free Library site
photo: Little Free Library site

Madison has a delightful program with tiny house-shaped bookstands that have popped up around the city in front yards, schoolyards and unexpected places over the last few years. The Little Free Library is just what it sounds like; open it up, take out a book or magazine, or put one in! We have one right on our block, there’s at least one on the way to school, and two in the school garden, so we have lots of chances to find new-to-us books, magazines and poetry.

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One of my favorite Little Free Library finds so far; the House on Mango Street, by Sandra CIsneros. I’ve heard of it for a long time and finally got to read it; short vignettes beautiful and heartbreaking. Easy to pick up and put down and worth every minute.

Kitty Love

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We had a dry spell, and Squeak found the perfect place to nap. Come on in, birdies, the water’s fine!

 Cherry Love

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cherries!

Our energetic little cherry tree is full of fruity goodness! Traditionally, our first cherry dish is sour cherry ice cream, which made last night. Tart, creamy, with sweet chocolate chunks…yum! Next we’ll probably do a cherry pie or tart.

150-g Gradient Love

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Goodness gracious, big cakes o’ yarn!

New in the Lair: a lot of popular shawls, like all of Martina Behm’s, require 150 g of fingering weight yarn, and our gradients just came in 100g skeins. You asked for bigger gradients, and we listened! I love the heft and longer color runs of these new cakes!(The Shades of Gray in the middle left shows you how much bigger they are than our usual 100-g skeins.) Grab one here.

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My newest knitting project; designing a shawl with one of these babies! Super fun.

Little Baseball Love

outta there!
outta there!

I guess this is the time of year to feel proud of my Little Buddy; his regular season Little League team had playoffs this weekend, and in their second game, he hit his first home run! They made it to our local Little League Championship, so we’re crossing his fingers for a good game tomorrow evening.