Balinese Cardi and Snowshoeing

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Guess what, talented designer Elizabeth Green Musselman just released her Balinese Cardi pattern, making ingenious use of our gradient and kettle-dyed yarns!BalineseCardi_main1 (2)

We’re so thrilled about her design. Using the gradients on the sleeves and yoke makes a lovely  and unusual garment, especially with the handkerchief hems and gorgeous lace inserts. And, if you purchase the Balinese Cardi pattern on Ravelry, you’ll get a special secret code for free shipping on the Balinese Cardi kit in the Knitcircus store.

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Check out that sleeve detail; wow! This is truly a flattering design for all figures, and Elizabeth wrote it for bust sizes 32-54″, so everyone can cast one on.

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Making Tracks

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A bit ago, Buppa, Li’l Buddy and a couple of his pals and I went up north for a weekend ski getaway. It was delightful, rustic and just enough adventure for all of us.

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We got to see near-frozen waterfalls, hike along the otherworldly frozen landscape of Lake Superior shore,

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and for me, try snowshoeing for the first time.IMG_1963

I’m not usually a sporty girl, but hiking through snow-covered woods is about my speed. My DH, being the lovely man that he is, gifted me a set of snowshoes, so now I can do it on our home turf! As soon as it’s above 0 degrees F,  I can’t wait to try…

Have a great weekend, and stay warm,

Jaala

Knitting in the New Year

Happy New Year, Knitters!

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paper chains made by Belle

After a very busy holiday yarn season, we all took a week off to enjoy the holidays with family and friends.

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With Christmas and Hannukkah so close, it was a whirlwind, with matzo ball soup and candles at my parents’ then  our family’s traditional homemade Swedish Meatball Christmas Eve dinner here. Every year, we make up a new 12 Days of Christmas song to reflect the events of the year, so this one included “nine baseball players,” “three weeks of clouds,” and “A Sasha under the tree.”

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this little hat was a gift from my mom, handknit and fairly traded

After The Best Christmas Ever(tm), with brunch at our place and dinner at Mom and Dad’s, we took a whirlwind trip to Michigan to check out Mike’s dad’s tree, 12 feet tall with more than a thousand ornaments. Little Buddy found the pickle.

Then two days and two cakes of celebrating Li’l Buddy’s birthday. German Chocolate cake is a family tradition, and it’s an old-fashioned one, with egg separating both for the cake and the frosting. But man, is it worth the time. The kids who came over for a sleepover (just a few this year) got homemade chocolate cupcakes with ganache.

And then it was New Year’s Eve, and frankly, my dears, we were partied out. I snuggled up in our new flannel sheets with a laptop and Dr. Who (season 3, David Tennant, now my favorite Doctor) while Lil Buddy hung out with friends and MIke and Belle puzzled the evening away.

IMG_1703 If you’re puzzlers, I highly recommend this particular one, the Fairytale Fantasia. I have never seen a more intricate, detailed picture, though its complexity isn’t for the faint of puzzle-heart.

And now it’s 2015! Today we’re back to work in the Lair for one big day before the weekend, doing exciting end-of-2014-things like inventory and taxes. But we’ve got a new year of yarn creating and knitting!

Knit this Year 

I took a few luxurious moments to revisit my favorite projects on Ravelry, and though my knitting time is limited these days, a girl can dream! Here’s what I’m hoping to work up this year:

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Moyen Age; this is my dream sweater to knit for myself this year. I just find this delicate design by Hada Knits captivating, and it looks good on all of the Ravelers who’ve posted photos.

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Knotted Pine, by Alicia Plummer; love these cables, with just enough texture and changes to keep it interesting.

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My mom loves the Manly Scarf in progress Mike, so she requested a version for herself using the 100% cashmere Trapeze yarn I dyed for her for Christmas. A (Wo)manly scarf! This pattern uses a classic texture pattern for a timeless effect and it’s perfect car or waiting room knitting.

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Olga Buraya-Kefelian’s patterns always intrigue me, and I’d love to try the unusual stitch in her Moko-Moko cowl.

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Of course, Susie Anderson is on the list, with her 50-Row Shawl I’ve been itching to try. A worsted-weight shawl would be so comfy in the winter.

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Dandelion Days cowl; big surprise, I love the combination of cables and lace in this compelling cowl.

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In fingering, I’m going to try the Ici Paris Beret for my mom; she loves Paris, and I’ve been curious about the Eiffel Tower Stitch for years.

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I want the Zag-Edged Scarf for myself; the combo of garter stitch and a nice edging looks like a sure winner for the actual knitting time I have, which is usually while playing Big Bang Clue or watching Modern Family with our own family.

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Et Frais would make a perfect use for our gradient yarns in the 25g balls. That texture looks super fun.

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The Accelerating Stripes mitts, of course, would make a perfect canvas for some Gradient Stripes action. Belle would love a pair of these.

For socks, I always use Susie Anderson’s How I Make My Socks or Wendy Johnson’s toe-up basic slip-stitch heel pattern, but this year I’d like to try the Fleegle heel with the Time Traveler Socks and some nice patterning with RPM, like Cindy did in our KAL earlier this year.

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Kirsten Kapur creates lovely patterns and I’d love to knit up her Snow Drops and Snap Peas shawl, as well as my perennial favorite, Cladonia.

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What are you knitting this year?

Have a great one,

Jaala

Working like Elves

Hi, Knitters,

Wow, it always seems like the holiday season trots by so fast, like a speeded-up jingle sleigh. We’ve been working like elves in the Lair, trying to go as fast as possible to fill everyone’s orders. We bought in a new person, Lena, to do wet processing (rinsing, steaming, etc) and that’s helped us speed up dyeing significantly. If you’ve ordered dyed-to-order yarn, please know that we are doing everything we can to get it to you soon.

Christmas Home

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Last weekend, our family went to Summer’s Christmas Tree Farm to find our lovely tree. Belle was under the weather, so we chose a precut fir, but still got to let Sasha sniff all around and have our traditional cider donut and brats cooked al fresco by the Appleberry Farm folks. You can see decoration in progress in the pic above.

Mulberry Street

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About the my new patterns,the Mulberry Street Hat and Cowl; I apologize, at first the Mulberry Street Cowl pdf hadn’t loaded properly, but it’s up there now, so please click over to Ravelry and download it you haven’t yet! I hope these quick knits will help you through your last-minute gift list. :)

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Holiday Fun

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The kids have been stumbling out first thing in the morning (and it is early, because middle school around here starts at 7:20) to find the little treats I stash in the pocket for the Advent Calendar. My cool friends had one similar when I was young and I swore I would one day make one for my own kids. I actually created this felt one when they were little (maybe three and four?). It’s so fun to see that The Yarn Harlot made one this year! Of course, her ornaments are way more beautiful and complicated than mine.

Lil Buddy already put the pickle ornament in the last pocket for Christmas Eve. We’ve adopted the tradition of the finder getting a special treat on Christmas morning after hearing about it at a relatives’ house.

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A little treat I’m doing for my family is a new holiday desktop for our living room computer each day. Above is today’s, from Wallpapers in HD.

Every year for the last few, we’ve had fun putting our photos (including cats and now dog, of course!) into Elf Yourself and laughing along as the velvet-clad cancers jump and jig away.

Have a happy weekend, everyone!

Cyber Week Deals and Second Harvest

Hey, I’m sure it’s just me, but I hate when my inbox gets flooded with messages for people vying for my business on Black Friday and Cyber Monday. But I do love my customers and we do have some very special, limited-edition prices going on, combined with a way to help families have more to eat this holiday season. So here goes!

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We’ve got some beautiful kettle-dyes and handpaints in the store, and all are 30% off! We’ll be adding new ones every day this week.

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And every single ready-to-ship yarn in the shop is now 10% off!

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That includes Matching Socks Sets, 100-gram cakes, and 150-g cakes like the Hummingbird colorway below.150g3

And, because it’s the holidays, we’ll donate $1 to Second Harvest Food Bank for every order we receive between now and December 23rd. One dollar is three meals, so three people get to eat every time you buy yarn. That’s something we can all feel warm and happy about!

Take care,

jaala

Hat and Cowl Knitting, Sale Yarns and Holidays Yes

The holidays approacheth! I love hosting, getting out the good china, and making pumpkin pies (I think I might need to practice that one this weekend so the T-day ones are perfect…)

Here’s wishing all of you US knitters safe travels, enjoyable times with family and friends and plenty of time to knit over the holiday.

Cold Weather; Knit Faster!

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Look at this awesome t-shirt my mom got for me! This pretty much sums it up…You can find it at Northern Sun. If you’re more girly, this is a unisex style, but I think it’s perfect for layering in the Lair. :)

On My Needles

During this latest cold snap, I realized that the handknitter has no knits! I love wristwarmers and wear them all winter whenever my hands aren’t in buckets of rinsing yarn. I’m working on a pair of the new Gradient Stripe Handwarmers for myself in Hummingbird.

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I’m also working up a quick textured hat and cowl set for myself to keep out the winter wind. Patterns coming soon.

Over the long weekend, when I’m not hosting, feasting and playing indoor mini-golf (new family tradition) I’m thinking about whipping up Kirsten Kapur’s One Day Beret for my sister-in-law and trying some simple ornament designs to surprise the kids…

What are you all knitting? Lots of holiday gifts?

Let It Snow

It’s been very January-like here, with a couple of inches of snow staying on the ground.

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Sasha was excited because the whole backyard was covered with something she could eat. She kept bounding around, snuffling at the ground, then licking her muzzle.

Sale Yarns and Holiday Orders

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More knitters have ordered yarn from us in the last two months than ever before, and we are immensely grateful! I’m dyeing up yarn as fast as I can (including on weekends) and if you’ve ordered yarn, you’ll still get it by Christmas.

We’re making sure to put up ready-to-ship yarns every day between now and December 21st, and to help your holiday jingle,we’ve added many Sale items to the store; just as soft and knittable as all the rest, but unusual colors, or with small color spotting, one knot, etc.

Indie Gift-a-Long

Wow, 293 independent designers are participating this year! This is a great chance to get literally thousands of wonderful patterns on sale, and they’ve got tons of activities, KAL’s and chances to win goodies in the Giftalong Group on Ravelry.

Have a lovely weekend and stay warm,

Jaala

Favorite Knitted Gifts

November is here, so the knitting world is experience a giant virtual cast on party for gifts! Whether you’re trying to create a sweater for your dad, dishcloths for everyone in your book club, or a shawl for a friend, you’re probably experiencing the excitement of choosing patterns to knit.  Now may not be the time to experiment wildly; I know I like tried-and-true patterns if I’m on a deadline.

Cindy and I have compiled lists of our favorite go-to patterns for giving to loved ones.

Silk Moon Crescent Shawlette

Silk Moon Crescent Shawlette

Of course, the first is my own Silk Moon Crescent Shawlette pattern; the garter stitch and easy-to-predict increases make this an easy knit to complete. It’s 400 yards of any weight yarn.

Wendy D Johnson’s Toe Up Sock Patterns. Anything by Wendy Johnson is going to be a solid hit. Her toe-up slip-stitch heel vanilla sock is my go-to sock pattern anytime.

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Wendy Johnson’s Toe Up Socks

Grandmother’s Favorite Dishcloth

This one’s a classic for a reason! The first knitted dishcloth I ever saw was actually this pattern made by Mike’s grandma, so the title in my case is literally true! After you make one, the pattern is so intuitive that you can basically take this along anywhere and turn out lovely dishcloths surprisingly fast.

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How I Make My Socks by Susan B Anderson. You all probably know by now this is my very favorite top-down sock pattern. Susie has knitted a drawer full of socks with this pattern, and many happy knitters have used it for perfect socks.

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photo: susan b anderson

I also love her Tiny Tree and Waiting for Winter Mittens/Mitts.

Tiny Reindeer by Anna Hrachovec

Tiny Reindeer by Anna Hrachovec

Anna Hrachovec’s Mochimochi Land patterns; I’ve knit many tiny adorable toys for my kids from Anna’s patterns. Pretty much any one can be turned into an ornament, from snowmen to desktop computers!

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Of course, hats and cowls make great winter gifts, and for a limited time, I’m offering the Wisconsin River Valley Cowl – a super easy pattern perfect for gift knitting – free to kick start the season! This works up quickly with just one 100g skein of your favorite worsted-weight yarn.

Cindy’s Picks

Knitcircus web, finance and outreach expert Cindy can knit up a storm. She’s famous around these parts for knitting a pair of socks for everyone in her extended family one year.

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She loves Koolhaas by Jared Flood; works for men or women!

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Gaptastic Cowl by Jen Geigley; chunky and stylish knit!

Some of Cindy’s other favorites include:

Autumn by Jane Richmond

Marram Hat by Mimi Codd

Storm Warning by Liz Corke

Indie Gift-a-long

Have you heard about the Indie Gift-a-long? This is an awesome event for knitters; starting on November 13th, many talented independent designers are offering patterns on sale, and if you join the Ravelry group for the Giftalong Knitalongs, you can win prizes, too! Wonderful designers like Stephannie Tallent, Lee Meredith, Adrienne Ku, Dani Berg, Corrina Ferguson, Alicia Plummer, Laura Chau and many more are participating! You can see a list of all 293 designers here.

Happy holiday knitting,

Jaala

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