Design Inspiration Revealed: Kirsten Kapur

Kirsten Kapur has built a successful business with her knitwear designs, Through the Loops. She has had patterns published in many knitting magazines and contributed to books The Joy of Sox, Brave New Knits, Knitting it Old School, Knit Local, My Grandmother’s Knitting, Craft Activism and Weekend Hats.

frozen lake web 3

Kirsten’s lovely textured Frozen Lake Shawl in the Knitcircus Fall Collection uses unusual shaping and a slip-stitch color pattern.

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

I have been obsessed with Knitcircus’s gradient colors since I first laid eyes on them. They lend themselves beautifully to shawls. So when Jaala approached me to create a design for the collection a shawl was the first thing that came to mind. I had seen a similar stitch pattern in a museum I visited in Denmark last April, and when the yarn arrived for the design I immediately set to work swatching versions of the stitch pattern to see what worked best. 

frozen lake web 2

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

Getting anything else done. I had so much fun knitting this one that I pretty much neglected all of my other responsibilities. 

3)      What was your favorite part of the process?

Watching each color emerge from the gradient. I loved seeing the different color combinations as the gradient mixed with the solid colored yarn


reverse side

4)      Your favorite thing about the finished piece?

I actually like the back of this design as much as the front. The stitch pattern looks different on the reverse, but just as interesting, so I think of the shawl as reversible. It was unexpected, but as the piece started to grow I kept stopping to admire the back as well as the front. I think this is due to the use of reverse stockinette on the right side rows.

–Kirsten Kapur


Through the Loops Designs

Frozen Lake Shawl on Ravelry

Frozen Lake Kit in the Knitcircus Store

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.


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!


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.


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


Wendy’s website Wendy Knits

Maple Leaves Gradient Cowl pattern on Ravelry.

Maple Leaves Gradient Cowl Kit on the Knitcircus website.

Design Inspiration Revealed: Susanna IC’s Vernice Shawl

KnitCircus_July2015_ConnieWardPhotography-115 (1)Susanna IC has built her reputation on beautifully-designed shawls, and has had patterns published in many leading knitting magazines, including Twist Collective and Wool People. She designed the stunning Vernice Shawl for our Fall Collection: in the first of a series, she shares her inspiration and design process for us in a mini-interview.


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

I wanted to create a smaller, one skein shawl with some fun textures throughout; something that would be quick to knit but still interesting to work on, a perfect gift project. Of course, this being a Knitcircus project, the design also had to play well with beautiful gradient yarns.


  1. What was the biggest challenge of designing this project?

The inspiration for Vernice came from the brilliant colors of the skein, which reminded me of the changing seasons, and the design progressed easily from there. I wanted to work with interestingly textured lace stitches that would reflect the colors and textures of autumn foliage. The biggest challenge came while trying to decide which color to start with.


  1. What was your favorite part of the process?

While the more difficult decision had to do with which color to work with first, the red or the blue, the color progression was also my favorite part of the design process. In the end, I decided to start with the blues to reflect the color of clear sunny sky and to finish with the reds that look much like autumn leaves.


  1. Your favorite thing about the finished piece?

I am very happy with the way the textured stitches interact with each other, creating interesting shapes throughout the lace border. I also like how versatile the size of this crescent is: it can be worn around the shoulders as a traditional shawl, yet at the same time the elongated shape makes it possible to wear open like a long scarf.

Here’s where you’ll find the:

Vernice Pattern

Vernice Kit

Knitcircus Fall Collection

You can find all of Susanna’s designs on Ravelry, join her Ravelry Group and check out her website,!

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

Go, Sports Knitting!


It’s football season again, and some of us at Knitcircus are super excited! Mainly Shari; Shari is in charge of every step of keeping track of and shipping out orders. Shari works really hard and doesn’t ask for much, so when she talked, I listened! So, for Shari, Cindy and all of you wonderful football, fans, we have new Team Colors Gradient Stripes!


We’re in Madison, WIsconsin, home of the UW-Madison Badgers, so every weekend around now the whole town starts sporting red and white. We were so excited to get these colors out, that we didn’t have time to knit up socks! Shari whipped up the mini-scarves on a knitting machine.

Shari and I had a Sock-Off to try to see who could knit more in one evening. She won!



Here’s the start of my Badger Tracks socks!


And Shari’s Lambeau Leap!


Here it is modeled by Shop Dog Sasha….


So if you’re a Packer Backer, check out Lambeau Leap! All of our Team Colors (two-color sock sets) will be expedited and dyed within the next two weeks if you want to get them in hand for your gameday knitting!

Take care and have a wonderful weekend,


Ready for Fall Knitting!

Hi, Knitters,

My knitting mojo is back. It’s finally September!!! That means it’s real knitting season, even if it’s 90 degrees outside right now.



Of course, we’re all really excited about the new Impressionist Yarns, which is a new technique we’ve been developing this summer to unveil this fall! One of my Assistant Dyers, Erin, told me about a dyeing technique she had tried on fabric; we tried it on yarn, then ended up using a completely different approach to get a similar effect. The final product is a gradient with pops of exciting colors throughout. It’s exciting to knit because you never know what color the next stitch will be!

So I grabbed one of our first prototypes and started knitting up a scarf; I thought that Seed Stitch would be a fun way to make a reversible fabric with the Impressionist yarn.

Renoir Scarf

Renoir Scarf

This became the Renoir Scarf we released along with the new colors last week. It’s an easy free, reversible pattern to make the most of this or any of your favorite DK-weight yarn. This one that I kntted was in the shop for about two days, then my 92-year-old grandma came for a visit. She admired the scarf, so I gave it to her! My grandma loves color, so I knew it would be a perfect fit.

the lovely Emily

the lovely Emily

Here’s the Renoir Scarf modeled by our other Assistant Dyer, Emily! Both of our Assistant Dyers are in the Textile Design program at the UW and plan to complete their studies at the Fashion Institute of Design in New York. We’re very proud of them; watch out, fashion industry!



Each of the Impressionist yarns is unique, but they all follow a general gradient pattern. This soft colorway was named for one of my favorite Impressionists, Mary Cassatt. Her paintings of intimate moments between mothers and daughters were pretty groundbreaking at the time.


I knew we had a kind of quiet, recover-from-the-first-week-of-school weekend planned, so I took a Gauguin colorway to make another scarf. I’ve never been so excited about Seed Stitch! I feel like I could keep on knitting these scarves until the kids head off to college!IMG_4080[1]

Progress so far….

As it turned out, Lil Buddy has been down with a fever all weekend and I spilled hot coffee on my leg, creating a pretty exciting swollen, red knee, so I’ve gotten a little more down time to knit than we anticipated. He seems to have more energy today, so that’s a relief. Moral of the story: always have your knitting ready!

Hope you’re all having a good weekend and staying cool,


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,