Ravellenic Winter Games

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In a little over two weeks the world will be watching as the Olympic torch makes its way into the arena in Pyeongchang, South Korea. Athletes from all corners of the globe will come together to celebrate and compete in the 2018 Winter Olympics! I’m not sure about you, but I love the Olympics. I love seeing each country’s opening ceremony uniform, hearing stories of overcoming obstacles and following dreams, and learning about the individuals representing each country. Plus, I get to watch all the snowy competition from the comfort of my couch, preferably with a knitting project in my hands.

Though we won’t be representing our countries in the Olympics, us knitters, crocheters, spinners, and weavers can get into the spirit and compete for some bragging rights in the 2018 Ravellenic Winter Games! If you’re unfamiliar with the Ravellenic Games, let me bring you up to speed. A few years ago, Ravelry.com created a challenge for all fiber crafters that coincided with the Olympic games. There were teams that you could join and events that you could participate in with the main goal of bringing the fiber arts community together much like the Olympics brings the world’s athletes together.

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     Participating in this event is simple and open to all skill levels. You basically pick an event, create a project page for it, and post your finished project in the correct “Finish Line” thread in the Ravelry group. You can join a team, or not, depending on your availability and how much you want to commit. You can sign up for as many events as you like; there is no penalty for not finishing a project in the given time. Casting on cannot be done before the Opening Ceremony, and everything must be cast off before or during the Closing Ceremony. Check out and join the Ravellenic Winter Games 2018 Ravelry group to get more information.

I’m brainstorming which events I’d like to sign up for and which yarns I’d like to use. It’s going to be hard to decide, but a few that are catching my attention are: Shawl Skating, Mitten Moguls, WIPs Dancing, Freestyle Spinning, Sweater Skeleton, and Sock Hockey. All of these events have separate conditions and rules, so be sure to read the initial post in each thread before starting.

If you’re planning on participating, we’d love to hear what projects you have planned! Are you joining a team or are you going to be an independent “athlete”? Keep an eye on the KnitCircus Facebook and Instagram for updates on all of our Ravellenic projects! Good luck and have fun!


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Kindness is Everything/Kindness KAL

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Wow, we’re still in the middle of the Peace Project KAL, so it’s hard to realize that the New Year will be here in a flash. I’m thrilled to say that this year will bring another round of the Kindess KAL! It was so heartwarming to see how many people participated last year and to appreciate all of their different Kindness KAL projects with creative color and yarn combinations. The new KAL will feature a new Kindness KAL shawl pattern (not published yet) and will run from February 1-April 1 2018.

I’m really happy with the new Kindness colorway this year (there was a pile on Liz’s desk this morning and I had to pick it up and pretend-eat it, I love it so). The soft grays flow into sky blue and rich purples.  Purple has traditionally been associated with magic, and I also associate it with forgiveness and kindness, any emotion that expands the mind and spirit. Hopefully you will all enjoy it, too!

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These days, we need acts of kindness more than ever. The way the KAL will run isn’t set yet; if you have ideas of how people can contribute time, talent or money to organizations through the KAL, please leave a comment here or on instagram (@knitcircus_yarns).

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The inspiration for this colorway’s name came from the Madison, Wisconsin mothers who created these yard signs.  If you like what you see, you could get one for your own window or yard!

You don’t have to wait for the KAL; use this color for any favorite project! But do mark your calendar to knit along with us for Kindness starting February 1.


Knitcircus Podcast #117

The podcast in which Amy and Jaala rattle on about not much of anything.

Listen on Libsyn or iTunes

Topics of note:

Events: Vogue Knitting Live in Chicago – March of 2018

Book: Arne & Carlos Christmas Balls

Book: Sequence Knitting

Knitcircus Colorway: Wild Rumpus

Pattern: Elizabeth Zimmermann Baby Blanket

Comedian: Michael McIntyre

Comedian: Jim Gaffigan

App: 36 Questions

Recipe Book: Tassajara Picnics Recipe Book

Podcast: Driftless Knitting

Last Minute Knits!

The Christmas season is my favorite time of year, but it never fails to sneak up on me. I always start making lists and thinking about what gifts to buy and which to make well in advance, but time inevitably flies by. Here it is, the beginning of December and Christmas is only a couple weeks away. If you’re like me and you have a few items left on the “To Make” list, never fear. We have some great ideas for projects that are knit in our squishy superwash merino worsted weight yarn called Ringmaster. They’re quick and easy, so you should have no trouble finishing before the holidays!

The Pickford cowl is a pattern designed by our very own Jaala Spiro. This cowl mimics the look of a triangular shawl wrapped around your neck, but there are no ends to manage! It looks great knit in our gradient, speckle, and Impressionist yarn as well as our self-striping skeins of Ringmaster. Plus it only takes one ball of yarn! Shown in Birds of a Feather gradient.


If you’re in need of an interesting, but simple hat pattern, the Blufftop Hat is just the thing! This beautiful textured hat is subtle enough to let the yarn truly shine, yet fun and fast to knit. Add a pom-pom or leave it plain! Shown in Happy Little Trees Ringmaster gradient.


We recently saw an Antler Hat by Tin Can Knits made up in our Shades of Gray gradient colorway and fell in love! The stitch definition is just wonderful and the cables in that hat pop beautifully. Again, one skein of Ringmaster worsted is all this hat takes!

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Speaking of Tin Can Knits, their Barley Hat pattern is also a great gift knit! Simple, but fun and interesting, this hat is mostly stockinette with a garter section thrown in for added texture. There are a few examples of the hat knit in our speckle and gradient colorways, but I have a feeling it would be just delicious in our Impressionist Speckle yarn too!

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Last, but certainly not least, is Zuzu’s Petals. This lovely lacey cowl looks delicate but is warm as can be around your neck. It shows off all the colors of our gradient yarns and is so fun to knit! Be sure to follow the worsted weight instructions in the pattern and this project is sure to fly off your needles!

Zuzu's Petals


These are just a small selection of patterns that would be great for our Ringmaster yarn, but there are so many more ideas on Ravelry and in our store! Happy holiday knitting!


Love is Love

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Our newest color, Love is Love, is a thank-you to all of the brave individuals in the knitting community and in our families and friend circles who have the courage to be who they are and love the person who makes them happy.

We believe that rights of LGBT individuals are human rights and that, when they are able to perform their best at school, work and home, without restriction, discrimination or threat, we all benefit. So in perpetuity, we’ll be donating 10% of the purchase price of this colorway to the Human Rights Campaign.

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This colorway was tricky to create; the more colors in a gradient that are very different from each other, the more difficult it is to apply the dye without areas of muddy overlap. The red, yellow and orange bit isn’t too hard, but there’s just no way around it; green and purple make an unappealing brown.

There was no way around it, we thought, but then we came up with a different solution; applying the green as two separate colors, blue and yellow layered over each other. Voila! Now we could create a rainbow with all of the colors in the right order, all caked up and ready to go.

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We hope you love this color as much as we do.


A New Member of KnitCircus Yarns!

On a busy Saturday morning here at the KnitCircus yarn shop, I look around and realize how lucky I am to work in a place like this. Every day I am surrounded by beautiful yarn, helping people pick out something special, and gathering skeins to be sent to their new homes. My name is Jennifer and I have recently joined the KnitCircus Yarns family. For the past nine years I have lived in Winona, MN going to school and then working at the local yarn shop there called Yarnology. It was a dream come true to combine my career with my passion for fiber arts, something I am thrilled to be continuing here at KnitCircus. A few months ago, my fiancé and I made the move to Madison and have started settling in to our new home.

I thought it’d be nice to take a little time to introduce myself since I am new and will hopefully be meeting many of you at our new shop location. I’ve been a knitter since I was eight years old, taught by my industriously crafty German grandmother. I picked it up and put it down throughout my childhood and became truly addicted seven years ago when I was a Junior in college. I never looked back. A few years after that I learned to spin yarn and recently I’ve started dabbling in knitwear design. A lot of my pattern ideas and names, and even my Instagram and Ravelry handle (@driftlessknitter) is influenced by the beautiful Driftless region of the Midwest that I’m lucky to call home. With the rolling hills, lakes, mighty rivers, and valleys there isn’t a shortage of inspiration around here!

Most of my free time goes to knitting, but my second hobby of choice is sitting down with a good book and reading. I’ve loved books and stories my whole life, so I decided to study literature in college. That degree taught me to write well, communicate, and think critically, all useful things to have in your toolbox when working at a small business.

The last few weeks here at KnitCircus have been busy in the best way. I’ve been learning a lot, not only here in the store, but also in the dye studio. And I’m looking forward to when we will host classes and knit nights so I can get to know the lovely knitters in the area. If you’re local make sure to come say hello and if you’re not, well you might have to plan a yarn-cation to Madison!

Jennifer with yarn

Knitcircus Podcast #115

In which Amy and Jaala race from pillar to post, looking for a quitet place to record a podcast.

Listen on Libsyn or iTunes

Topics in this episode…

TV Show: The Flash

Silly Shopping Reference: Ikea

Event: Knitcircus Holiday Kickoff Party

TV Show: The Great British Bake-Off

Cook Books: Tassa Jara Recipes

Kitchen Appliance: Instant Pot

Cooking Site: This Old Gal

Pattern: Rye Socks, by Tin Can Knits

Amazing Resources: Minnesota Textile Center

Event: Small Business Saturday

Event: Ravellenics


Knitcircus Podcast #114

In which Amy and Jaala tell of their new space and discuss important things.

Listen on Libsyn or iTunes

Topics in this episode…

Event: Vogue Knitting Live, Seattle

Famous Knitter: Andrea Mowry

Famous Knitter: Stephen West

Famous Knitter: Gudrun Johnston

Pattern: Chilliwack Mitts, by Cable and Strings Designs

Pattern: Badlands Mitts, by Kathryn Folkerth

Pattern: Mostly Harmless Hat, by Jaala Spiro

Event: Knitcircus Holiday Kick-off Party

Event: Vogue Knitting Live, New York

Famous Knitter: Meg Swansen

Famous Knitter: Alice Starmore

Pattern: Gradient Solutions Sweater, by Elizabeth Morrison

Pattern: Waiting Up for Santa Stocking, by Katie Doyle Krot



Picking Speckles for Fades Part 1

Hello, friends,

Customers in the shop have been wondering how to choose beautiful combinations for their Fade projects. Since putting complementary colors together is pretty much my job, I’d like to share a few strategies I use when thinking about creating gradients.

There are three approaches I’d like to show you: gradient, balanced complements and color value.

Let’s start with gradients today. As you might imagine, the easiest way to think about a gradient is one basic color (say, blue) with one end very light, moving to a much darker shade of the same color. Check out the Tangled Up in Blue gradient yarn below.


When you’re picking out colors, having things in the same color family from light to dark tells a very coherent color story. If you have speckles that aren’t quite the same color, a great strategy is to look at the color’s value. Value means the light or darkness of a color on a grayscale.

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These semisolid skeins are lined up in order of lightest to darkest by value. If you want to check your lineup of colors to see if it’s going from light to dark, line them up and take a photo with your phone. Then add the grayscale filter and it will show you the skeins’ value. Sometimes colors surprise you!

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Let’s start with a nice gradient in the same color family. All of these colors have other elements, but they have green in common. Darkest to lightest, they’re What Kind of Bird Are You, Tiptoe Through the Tulips, Easy Being Green and Growing Like a Weed.

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If you want to be a bit more adventurous, choose yarns that are not exactly the same color, but that all come from either the warm or cool side of the spectrum. Cool is blues, grays, greens and blue-purples like the group shown above, with the lightest Mistress of Myself, middle Cloud Nine and darkest Great Blue Yonder.

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The warm side of the spectrum includes reds, pinks, red-purples, warm browns, yellows and oranges. You can see that the three colors above don’t exactly have matching base colors, but there are coordinating elements from each (the purple in the middle Fig & Prosciutto shade goes with the darkest shade, Don’t Fence Me In and the pink speckles in the lightest color Moonrise Kingdom echo the pink in the middle shade. The fact that they’re all warm colors makes the color story stronger.

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Here’s a more adventurous palette blending two different dyers’ yarns. These have disparate base colors, but all share elements of warmth.

Play around with your own stash skeins to create gradient warm and cool color stories you’ll enjoy knitting!




Knitcircus Podcast #113

In which Amy and Jaala speak excitedly about almost nothing.

Listen on Libsyn or iTunes

Topics in this episode…

Knitting Book: This Thing of Paper, pattern Rubrication

TV Stuff:

Event: Knitcircus Holiday Kick-off Party

Pattern: Rye Socks, by Tin Can Knits

Pattern: Kalari Shawl, by Ambah O’Brian