Peekaboo Mitts

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My daughter has been knitting since she made a 3-inch-square doll blanket at the age of six. I love seeing which patterns catch her eye, and which yarns the now-16-year-old chooses. I call her Belle on the blog because she’s social-media shy even though she’s a teenager.

We at Knitcircus think a lot about making things coordinate flawlessly, like with the perfectly-paired Matching Socks Sets, but Belle tapped into a spirit of fun where things aren’t so matchy-matchy. Her lighthearted take on wristwarmers took a Mermaid Lagoon gradient, with three colors of blue on one end, and three colors of green on the other, and used one side for each mitt. She used the  Peekaboo Mitts pattern free on Ravelry, by Spiderwoman Knits, for her armwarmers.

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The version she made used one cake of Ringmaster Worsted yarn. This would work great with any Panoramic Gradient with two main colors like Brass and Steam, April Skies, Beach Glass, Thanks for All the Fish.

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It would look really fun in a really wild Panoramic Gradient like Over the Rainbow; one side would be red, orange and yellow and the other would be green, blue and purple. One the other hand, a Chromatic Gradient would give you a more subtle difference, a light and dark turquoise in Turquoise Pool, for example.

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The Rubik’s Cube travels everywhere with Belle; in any quiet moment, she may pull it out and start rolling the squares around. A favorite school-year pastime is handing it to another student to mess it up and then solving it. Her record is one minute four seconds!

Pattern note: Belle used 50g/approximately 125 yds on each mitt, making them about an inch longer than the original pattern.

 

 

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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.

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Monet

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!

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Cassatt

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.

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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,

Jaala

Come What May, by Susan B. Anderson

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Hi, Knitters,

I’m so lucky to have Susan B. Anderson as a friend (and almost a neighbor!). She is one of the most talented designers you’ll ever find, and one of the sweetest people. If you’ve ever gotten to take a class with her or meet at a knitting event, you’ll know that she’s just as lovely and down-to-earth in person as she is on her blog.

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photo: susan b anderson

We’ve been working on a project together for a while, and I’m happy to be able to announce that Susan has written a pattern exclusively for us, using a skein of Knitcircus Opulence fingering in Come What May to create an elegant shawl with a silvery beaded edge.

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photo:ryan berg for knitcircus

Susan tells the story of its inspiration best herself (from her blog):

As I sat with my friend, Jaala Spiro, having tea, pastries and knitting in my living room one morning she surprised me with several cakes of her lovely KnitCircus yarns. One of these cakes was the spectacular gradient called Come What May. There is just something about the rosy shade of pink moving into the sweet kiss of blush and ending with the lightest shade of gray.
The yarn cake was thrilling to hold in my hands and it was inspiring. I quickly cast on and knit the sweetest little lacey shawl that is not only simple and wearable but is a really fun knit to boot. The sections of the shawl keep you entertained while the gradient yarn motivates you to keep going to get to the next color.
The shawl is a semi-circular shape with stockinette, simple lace and eyelet sections that end with a beautiful eyelet ruffle. The shawl is finished with an elegant bind-off with silver-lined beads. The beads are always optional but they add so much to the look and feel of the finished shawl. The entire project is a pleasure to knit.
The yarn colorway is the single inspiration for the shawl so the name of the design has to be Come What May. The colorway, luxury yarn base, shawl design and beads are the perfect match.
Enjoy!
Susan

We’re just thrilled with the way the design came out, and are offering Come What May kits so you can make a shawl just like Susan’s, either with or without beads.

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photo: ryan berg for knitcircus

You can also find Susan’s beautifully-written pattern on Ravelry if you’d like to work from your stash.

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photo: susan b anderson

The shawl shows off the soft color changes of the gradient so nicely;  I created Come What May last February when I was so tired of bare trees and snow and just longed for the colors of spring. And Susan is holding a giveaway on her blog; comment and you could win a Come What May kit of your very own ( just through this afternoon, so hurry!)

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photo: ryan berg for knitcircus

Whether you just got a fresh pile of snow like we did or are already harvesting your rhubarb, I wish you all of the loveliness of spring,

Jaala

I Love Yarn Day, Kung Fu Knits and Secret Yarn

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I Love Yarn Day is this Friday! As part of the Yarn Group with TNNA, we’ve been looking forward to this for months. And we’ve got a big, big announcement coming out this Friday, so stay tuned. Here’s a spoiler: it has to do with a new kind of yarn and a totally unique dyeing process.

If you check out the I Love Yarn Day Facebook page, there’s a contest and all kinds of other events going on, including yarny Flash Mobs. (local knitters: do we have one? It seems like the Sow’s Ear might cook something up…)

Kung Fu Knits

As the mom of a sixth-grade boy, I know how hard it is to both knit for, and find great patterns for, kids this age. My son recently requested a hat; plain. And black. I talked him into a gray-to-black gradient, but it was a tough sell. Designer and Dark Matter Knits podcaster Elizabeth Green Musselman specializes in high-quality knits for men and boys. I love her men’s Dawson sweater, boys’ Langstroth (from the Cuteboysezwhat e-book)  and the super-fun Frankenfingers mitts. My daughter and I would both wear those in a hot second.

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photo: Cooperative Press

Elizabeth has written a new pattern collection, Kung Fu Knits, which ingeniously combines comics and martial-arts-themed knitting patterns for kids. The official synopsis:

It’s a familiar scenario: it’s freezing outside, and a nine-year-old boy wants to go out to play. His mother keeps piling him into more and more knitwear. Groaning ensues. Until that glorious moment when the boy realizes that knitting just might save the day.

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photo: Elizabeth Green Musselman
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photo: Elizabeth Green Musselman

Author Elizabeth Green Musselman says: The book is aimed particularly at boys aged 4–12 and the poor people who try to knit for them. It can be so hard to get kids this age to wear handknits.The comic book storyline at the beginning ties knitting into one boy’s martial arts adventure in the backyard. His mom just wants him to be warm, but these knits are also the tools for pure fun.

Knitted nunchuks! And throwing stars! A backpack to carry them in! And an entire kung fu uniform. (My son has declared these The Most Comfortable Pants Ever, and refuses to take them off when it’s cool out.)

The illustrations are by a local artist / kung fu teacher. All projects use Berroco Vintage.

The martial artist in our family is my daughter, and she would definitely wear every one of these garments, because she loves to be warm and comfortable. I can also totally see my five-year-old nephew rocking the adventurous outfit and knitted nunchucks.

You can order the Kung Fu Knits collection from Cooperative Press as either a print book or downloadable pdf.

Sasha’s New Look

We took Sasha to a real groomer, Tabby and Jacks, where they gently and patiently clipped her with scissors because the clipper panicked her.

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Now we can see her little face, instead of just a big pompon. I have to admit, I did love the big puff, but she can actually see what she’s doing now.

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What she’s doing now is napping. 😉

Oh, local knitters, The Knitting Tree is celebrating its Grand Opening tomorrow afternoon! They’ll have cheese and snacks and a chance to win prizes from 4-6pm. If you haven’t seen the beautiful new space, it’s definitely worth stopping.

Have a lovely Tuesday, knitters!

Industrial Revolution Scarf: New Pattern

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It was the first taste of a little bit of chilly weather, and it made me want to go all cozy with cables and textures. After tech editing, a photoshoot and some pattern layout, the Industrial Revolution Scarf is ready!

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Why Industrial Revolution? Well, mostly I was thinking about the name of the yarn, which is Brass and Steam, which got me thinking about people keeping nice and warm in steampunk-era London or the USA. This seems like the kind of handknitted cravat a gentleman inventor might wear, or a lady might tuck demurely under her overdress. OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

It works up quickly with just one skein of worsted weight yarn (of course, you can make it longer simply by continuing to repeat the special stitch pattern.)OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

You may remember the work-in-progress from the cabling tutorial I sent out last month!

As a special treat for l all you lovely knitters, I’m debuting it for free for just this weekend! Head to Ravelry for your free Industrial Revolution download.

And, of course, if you’d like to make it up in the yarn shown, you can click on over to the Knitcircus Shop for the Industrial Revolution Scarf Kit.

Happy knitting,

Jaala

Yuletide and Teal Door

Pattern and Kit Release!

Designer Elizabeth Morrison and I have teamed up to offer you a new pattern and kit! Elizabeth is known for her beautifully-written classically-inspired patterns. For this cowl, she was inspired by an ancient teal portico with wrought-iron scrollwork.

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The Teal Door Cowl is worked in Knitcircus Yarns’ Spectacular, a new fingering-weight superwash merino singles.

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Teal Door Cowl

You can purchase the pattern from Elizabeth’s Ravelry store, or the Teal Door Kit with printed pattern, Quoth the Raven yarn (black) and  Olden Door yarn (teal), a colorway designed just for this project. The yarn knits up with a wonderfully soft-drapey hand and the two-color technique means it’s doubly warm!

Charlie Brown or Wild and Woolly Tree?

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We finally got our tree!

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My family has cut a tree at Summers every year since I was five. You come in and are greeted by hale and hearty farmers in their Carhartts, climb the snowy hill and then take the track leading to your favorite trees (we usually get a fir).

This year, it’s been bitter cold, so we wanted to get the closest pretty tree we could find and get back quickly for hot cider and donuts. Unfortunately, everyone else had the same idea, so the closer-to-home fields were pretty well picked over. Then Li’l Buddy spotted an unusual tree on the next ridge; a pretty tree on top, with branches cut off below so it  appeared to be sitting on a big column. Mike and Lil’ buddy sawed away, we carried the tree down.

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One thing I love about Summers is that they put your tree through the baler (always fascinating to watch) and tie it to your car for you, leaving us free to check out the cider donuts and cider-soaked brats.

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Note: these dedicated guys were going to be out all day long. After a half hour in the seven-degree weather, we were done!

Then the tree project went sideways. We had made the classic mistake; the tree that looked perfectly reasonable in the outdoors turned out to be 12 feet tall. When we trimmed one foot off the top and three off the bottom, it turned out that all that was left were branches inexplicably pointing straight up, giving our tree a sad, skinny look. Li’l Buddy’s disappointment knew no bounds. So while he went out skating with friends, Mike and I tried to save Christmas.

I thought it might look better with our pretty tree skirt and some presents under it. Mike took a more direct approach. He fetched the cut-off branches from the garage and secured them into the tree, making a very wild and bushy but not sad and skinny tree. We didn’t think they would hold, but they did, and Lil Buddy was so happy when he returned that he ran right downstairs for the boxes of ornaments.

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happy tree decorators with their finished project

Even though it may not be the Perfect Tree, we’ve grown fond of our wild and bushy one (and there are more branches in the garage if they need substitutes).

Holiday Baking

The Yarn Harlot’s gingerbread post made me want to get a hedgehog cookie cutter!

We read Christmas in Noisy Village every year, where the most prized cookie cutter is a little pig.  Pippi Longstocking makes great quantities of pig-shaped Pepperkakor, which I promised the kids we would try this year. So purchasing a little pig cookie cutter is next on my list!

Our whole family is taking vacation next week (whooo!!!!) so it’ll be time to rev up the oven for some serious cookie baking. We’ll be making gluten-y and gluten-free treats like gingerbread from my mom’s recipe, GF and regular sugar cookies, GF peppermint pinwheels, regular chocolate/vanilla pinwheels, low-carb gingerbread with cream cheese frosting, GF banana bread (not necessarily Christmas, but we have three bananas that need using). Mike and the kids make homemade caramels, and getting the wax paper wrapping line going is one of my favorite projects of the season. We’ll make a second (and maybe third) batch of peppermint bark, a second batch of gingersnaps (all gone already!), and some kind of white chocolate bark inspired by this Martha one with dried apricots, cranberries and pistachios.

Happy holiday season to all of you wonderful knitters,

Jaala

New Pattern: My Darling Wristwarmers

Hey, Knitters!

my darling mitts in the snow
my darling mitts in the snow

It’s such a busy time in the Lair, working on a huge, secret project and getting the Gradient Club orders out, but last weekend, I took a little time to make my daughter a knitted treat. These little wristwarmers knit up so fast and were such potato-chip knitting (can’t make just one) that I had to share them with you.

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One of the schoolteachers in my grown-up knitting class brought in mitts similar to this and asked if she could knit some new ones. Knit flat, no thumb gusset, seamed up the side, worsted weight…as it turns out, perfect beginner mitts! When I bound them off, the finished purple mitts were instantly claimed by my darling daughter. She loves them, and I love that she loves them!

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So I called them My Darling Mitts, after my sweet tweenager. My li’l darlin’ girl hasn’t had an easy run of it, and has endured years of sickness and other health challenges. I don’t know if we finally found the right pieces of the puzzle or she’s just growing out of some of it (please, please, please yes) but she’s seemed really happy lately. Not sick, not sad, but energetic, hopping about, hugging us, crossing her eyes, making jokes.

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So here’s to my lil darlin.’ I wish everyone the best health and happiness for the new year. These mitts have some very happy mojo in them to pass on!

Take care,

Jaala

PS I forgot to mention that the yarn is Knitcircus Harlequin in the Tiny Princess colorway. You could easily substitute any light worsted yarn like Tosh DK, Berocco Vintage or Malabrigo Rios.