Design Inspiration Revealed: Wendy D. Johnson’s Maple Leaves Gradient Cowl

Designer Wendy D. Johnson is a multitalented sock-knitting guru, the author of Wendy Knits Lace, Socks from the Toe Up, Toe Up Socks for Every Body and Wendy Knits.

Fall patternsShe designed the amazing Maple Leaves Gradient Cowl for our Fall Collection, which graced the cover!

1)      How did you choose the kind of project you designed?

Lately I have been all about colorwork cowls. Being a woman of “a certain age” a stranded colorwork sweater is just too warm for me to even consider wearing, but I love knitting stranded colorwork. Cowls are the perfect solution, because they are incredibly handy and versatile in the winter. I like them better than a scarf for outdoor wear because they stay put better, and they are easily popped on indoors if the room is a little chilly.

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2)      What was the biggest challenge of designing this project?

My biggest challenge was charting the large leaf motif so that it actually looked like a maple leaf!

3)      What was your favorite part of the process?

I love, love, love knitting colorwork with a gradient and a semi-solid because it makes the finished piece look far more complex than it really is. Watching the pattern emerge as I knit is always my favorite part of knitting colorwork, and it is why I can knit it so quickly: I’m so eager to see the design come to life that I knit faster!

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4)      Your favorite thing about the finished piece?

I love how perfectly suited the yarn is to the design. The finished cowl has an almost velvet look to it because of the depth of color in the yarn.

SampleExcelChart

Here’s a snippet of one of the charts that reveals my dark secret: I chart all my colorwork designs using an Excel spreadsheet and a dingbat font! I never sketch with pencil and paper first, I always start with a blank spreadsheet!

–Wendy D. Johnson

Links:

Wendy’s website Wendy Knits

Maple Leaves Gradient Cowl pattern on Ravelry.

Maple Leaves Gradient Cowl Kit on the Knitcircus website.

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Knitcircus Podcast #64

In which Amy gets all Scottish, Jethro gets pony-sized and Jaala  sneaks in some tv.

Listen on Libsyn or iTunes

Mentioned this episode:

Di Gilpin

Ysolda Teague

Alice Starmore

Jamieson and Smith

Jamieson’s of Shetland

The Art of Slip Stitch Knitting, by Faina Goberstein and Simona Merchant-Dest

Knitcircus Fall Retreat

Susan B. Anderson 

Knitcircus Fall Collection

Buffalo Wool Company

Rhinebeck Sheep and Wool Festival

Keys to the Castle! And Speckle Yarn and Studio Events

Hi, Knitters,

It’s a whirlwind of activity here as we’ve been sending out Trunk Shows for June (Yarnology, Strings Attached and the Yarnover Truck, whooo!), preparing for TNNA (luckily, I’m just attending, not vending), working on our Kickstarter campaign (still time to get in on the exclusive rewards if you haven’t yet!), getting ready to release a new collection this Friday (yay!) AND packing up for the big move June 1st. And all without our beloved Amy D, who’s leading a group of knitters around Ireland as we speak. 🙂

STUDIO NEWSIMG_2897[2]

Maybe not the prettiest photo, but the prettiest things to me! These are the official Keys to the Studio, so we can come and go at will. Our landlord, Tom, is determined to get everything done so we can move in on time. This is no easy task! He’s in the middle of having the ventilation system installed, tiling and plumbing the bathroom, finished putting in extra electrical for our stoves and is about to knock out a wall!

Grand Canyon Speckle
Grand Canyon Speckle

And here’s the Exclusive Grand Canyon Speckle colorway for our wonderful backers! Getting the pale color to show up was a challenge, but I”m very happy with the way it turned out and hope you’ll love it, too.

paint chips of the world, unite
paint chips of the world, unite

Today, we have the fun job of picking out colors for the new spaces…no bashful grays here!

We have a new page on our website for Studio Events! Please check it out for classes, events and general good times.

Finally, I’m very excited to announce one of those Events; the Knitcircus Studio Open House! We’ll celebrate having our doors open and our new digs on Saturday, June 27th, from 12-4:00 pm. If you’re local to Madison, Wisconsin, please join us for gourmet treats, our fresh new store and a special sale event!

Take care , knitters,

Jaala

Grand Canyon Shawl and Studio Update

grand canyon shawlWe’re very excited to present the Grand Canyon Shawl, an exclusive knitting pattern for Kickstarter backers! The Grand Canyon sunset photo I used for the colorway also inspired this design, which showcases different layers and textures  like the striated rock formations in the real Grand Canyon.

more grand canyon
more grand canyon

The shawl begins with a garter-tab cast-on, then moves through a relaxing stockinette section with periodic increases, changing to Vine Lace and finishing with a chevron lace pattern and garter edging.

Our lovely Assistant Dyer Erin modeled for this shoot, and our Yarn Processor, Ryan, took the photos. I got lucky having such a multifaceted crew! Everyone whose pledge reward includes the Grand Canyon shawl or the Shawl Collection will get this super-secret pattern via email or Ravelry once the campaign finishes up. I hope you enjoy it; I had a lot of fun designing it with you in mind!

Moving Right Along…

Our landlord, Tom, has been keeping renovations going at a quick pace at the studio-to-be and we just got word this morning that he finished up all of the electrical work. Plumbing is still in the works and I’m going to pick up a new double utility sink for dyeing hopefully tonight and another tomorrow. We’re heading over there now to take more measurements for the second sink area.

I can’t believe TNNA is next weekend and then we’re going to be moving in!!!!! I’ll be in Columbus for TNNA, so please flag me down and say hi if you’re there! This year, Knitcircus is sponsoring the Designer Dinner, hosted by the one and only Marly Bird so we’re pumped about the party.

Thanks so much for all of your Kickstarter support; this couldn’t happen without you! Please spread the word if you have friends who might be interested, because we still have 16 days to make our stretch goals and stock the new space with yarn, working machinery and furniture.

And, good for her, but sadly for us, Amy D headed with a group of knitters to Ireland this morning. Safe travels and good knitting, Amy!

Happy knitting,

Jaala

Knitcircus Podcast #58

It’s up!

Jaala has some HUGE news and Amy is about to go to Ireland.

Thank you to Mary R! She both gave Jaala a shawl and helped keep her from crying of exhaustion.

Listen on Libsyn or iTunes

SPOILER ALERT: TV talk starts at 21:10 and ends at 24:19

Linky Things

Kickstarter Off and Running

Wow, our Kickstarter got off to a rollicking start! Thanks so much to everyone who got us past halfway in the first two days. Everyone in the Lair is so excited and we take turns checking the site and seeing how far we’ve come. It’s so heartwarming to see the names (secret to everyone by me) of our friends and wonderful customers supporting us in our big move!IMG_2782

Inspired by our new address on Grand Canyon Drive, we’re releasing a new yarn every day with exclusive Grand Canyon colorways just for our Kickstarter backers! Above: the Garnd Canyon gradient.

evergreen kettleOur building is called the Evergreen, so this exclusive kettle dye evokes spruce branches. Tomorrow: Pixie Dust sparkly handpaint!

I don’t know if you guys know how Kickstarter works (I was perviously hazy on the details myself), but you pledge to support a project you like (such as ours) and you get to choose a Reward at different levels. When you pledge to a project, you can proudly say that you’re a project Backer. The Kickstarter Reward is often very close to the price of purchasing something from our store, plus a little more for exclusivity. So you basically purchase the yarn, and we get to use the money we raise for our specific project! The catch with Kickstarter is that the funding is all or nothing. Even if we come up only $100 short, we don’t get a penny if we don’t reach our goal. So, even though you’ve gotten us off on a great foot, we’re still biting our nails until the project is fully funded.

Even if you just want a couple of minutes of entertainment, I hope you ‘ll hop over and check out our Kickstarter video. We had sooooo much fun shooting it! Belle and I agreed we want the few seconds of Amy in the big hat on a continuous loop on our living room computer. Kickstarter also features lots of other creative projects that are fun to look at (I backed the Little Free Library!).

Have a lovely weekend,

Jaala

Biggest News Yet: Knitcircus Studio and Kickstarter Project

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Knitcircus is making a huge move! Thanks to the support of our customers, we’re getting out of the basement and into a professional space.

Microsoft PowerPoint - Evergreen Office Park - Datasheet

Just a couple of years ago, it was only me in the basement pursuing my dream of long-striping gradients, then one part-time person, then three, now we have the delightful Amy D and a total of six people in the Lair, three full-time. Our new space, the Evergreen Building on Grand Canyon Drive, will allow my workers to expand their hours, improve our workflow and make your yarn faster!

Most exciting, the space has room for a small retail store, classrooms for retreats and a central area for events. We can start giving back, hosting events and bringing more people in to the knitting/craft community!

But the big move doesn’t come so easily, and we’re going to need your help. The space needs improved electric, plumbing, ventilation and some new equipment, as well as covering downtime for the move itself. That’s why we started a Kickstarter project.

The way Kickstarter works is, you “back” the project by pledging funds, and in return, you get a “reward,” so it’s essentially buying special products to help fund the project. We’ve got rewards starting at $3 and up, and we’ve worked hard to make sure that you’re getting a bang for your buck!  We’re making exclusive yarns and patterns available through this project that you’ll never find anywhere else. Plus, you get chances to tour the studio (with homemade baked goods), book special classes with me or Amy, have a techniques video made just for you or even have us knit you a pair of socks!

Most fun for knitters, we’re making exclusive gradient, kettle and speckle, colorways just for Kickstarter!

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Inspired by our new address on Grand Canyon Drive, I’ve created the Grand Canyon colorway. IMG_2782

It’s already a staff favorite and I hope a lot of people take advantage of the Kickstarter, because we won’t get to make it again!

Every day for the first six days, I’ll be posting photos of the new colorways and after that, we’ll unveil the new Grand Canyon Shawl pattern, again, just for Kickstarter participants.

We’re all really excited, but it’s making me nervous, too. This is a big commitment and I know it’s going to work, out, but your help will make essential improvements happen. A new stove, utility sink and ventilator aren’t glamorous, but they are needed! Please visit Kickstarter and show us that you’re ready to come visit the Knitcircus Studio to shop, take classes, hang out and even get a peek behind the scenes at the dyeing studio! We can’t wait for you to join the fun. 🙂

Jaala