Confession of a Process Knitter


Everyone knows there are two kinds of knitters, the Process Knitter (who chooses projects based on what she wants to learn) and the Product Knitter (who chooses projects based on what she wants to wear or gift). Of course, we all cross from one to the other depending on the needs of the project. If it’s gift season, we may knit six pairs of Susan B. Anderson’s Waiting for Winter Mittens to give as presents to all of our cousins, then on December 26th cast on a Crazed Scandinavian Cowl because we want to see if we can handle that much colorwork.

When I first started knitting in 2004, there weren’t all that many knitting patterns. I remember staring fascinated at the Lady Eleanor entrelac shawl, because I’d never seen anything like it and couldn’t imagine how it was worked. You had to find patterns in print magazines or books from the library and my Interweave Knits collection was a treasure to keep and protect. So, once I got the basics, I began experimenting with my own patterns to try to get the shapes I wanted or to stretch my fledgling lace skills.

With the internet now, and the wonder that is Ravelry, we have access to every known knitting pattern (373,061 and counting). You Tube tutorials instantly show you how to work entrelac or any other technique. And we have wonderful designers like Laura Nelkin, Susan B Anderson, Veronik Avery, Kate Davies, Kirsten Kapur, Ysolda Teague and so many more creating beautifully written, edited, tested and photographed patterns every day. Why would we ever need or want to come up with something else, when we have everything at our fingertips?

This question has made me feel guilty as a knitter and a designer. I enjoy creating patterns and love when knitters make them, but let’s be honest, mine are never going to be on the level of a Nora Gaughan . Why should I strike out on my own when I’ve never knit an Owls, or even a Clapotis? I want to respect other designers by knitting their projects, and sometimes I get there. I’ve knit Waiting for Winter and a Zuzu’s Petals,Turn a Square, Dashing, many Mini Mochimochi.…When it’s kid baseball season and I have time but not attention, I love tried-and-true patterns like Wendy Johnson’s Toe-Up sock or the beloved Hitchhiker.


But the truth is, when I get a little precious space to really knit, not just pass the time, I run through everything on Ravelry and it’s not quite right. I want that shape, but a different gauge, and without buttons, and I want to try this kind of increase, and instead of stockinette, I want a lace. Or maybe a diagonal textured pattern. Or I could combine a texture and a lace. And maybe I want it to be reversible….

The truth is, I want the process. I love the steps, from looking through several stitch dictionaries and placing bookmarks to winnowing down to three different stitch patterns, to swatching them and finding the one I like, only swapping out stockinette for yo/k2tog every fourth row. Then it’s time to cast on the wrong number of stitches for the neck opening and rip it out and finally find the right number that works with the repeat and has the right amount of structure. Next, I try a different needle and finally get the drape the way I want it. Then I adjust the lace pattern for more stitches…

When I finally bind off, this project has done what I wanted it to do. I know a little bit more about knitting and solved the challenges I set for myself. It may not be the next Central Park Hoodie, or even worth publishing to the world, so I’ll leave that to the pros. I thoroughly enjoyed the process.

Keep on knitting,


Buffalo Wool and Indie Yarn Carnival

Hi, Knitters,

Good times; it’s finally fall! After a very warm start, we had a nice, chilly weekend here in Wisconsin, and it looked like everyone at Rhinebeck was wearing their sweaters! The Sheep and Wool Festival looked like a blast; I hope we’ll be there one of these years soon.


mermaid lagoon gradient on buffalo wool Tracks

Speaking of Rhinebeck, we collaborated with the Buffalo Wool Company on an exclusive collection of Knitcircus gradients and Gradient Stripes on their gorgeous Tracks yarn.


renoir impressionist

 The bad news is, the shipping went awry, and the yarns didn’t make it to Rhinebeck in time for the festival. The good news is, it’s available to everyone right now on their website!


cassatt impressionist

You can choose 100g gradients, nice big 150g gradients or Gradient stripes Socks sets!


mermaid lagoon gradient stripes socks

The Buffalo Wool company is a family-owned-and-operated company who have been wonderful mentors to us and gave us a boost with our Kickstarter! We are proud to work with them and hope you’ll support and thank them for us by checking out the yarn!

Yarn Carnival

Another collaboration we’re really excited about is the Indie Yarn Carnival organized by Erin Lane Bags maker Lindsey Martin!

Instagram Idie

This wonderful yarn club will feature a different exclusive yarn colorway and coordinating Erin Lane bag with each shipment. We’re thrilled to be in the company of Miss Babs, Mrs. Crosby Plays, Lydia Yarn, Must Stash and our friends at the Buffalo Wool Co. This club gives you a chance to sample yarns from all of these delightful companies. We’re tempted to purchase a membership ourselves!

Take care and happy knitting,


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,