She used 100g of Greatest of Ease in the colorway I Am a Princess and This Is My Tiara, developed for our beloved Amy from The Big Bang Theory. We love the shawl shaping, the fun lace and how it shows off the gradient beautifully.
Thanks so much, Jessica and Knitscene handmade! (all photos: Knitscene Handmade)
Pickford was one of the most fun and satisfying patterns I’ve designed. Back in November, I started noodling around with the idea of a bandana cowl. Looking around at Ravelry at some of my favorite designs like Zuzu’s Petals and Starshower, I was surprised at the construction; they all start by knitting flat, then joining for knitting in the round once the shawl-in-progress is wide enough to fit comfortably around the neck. This creates basically shawls that are fastened in the back, which is exactly what they were going for.
That construction creates a shawl-like project that starts low on the neck and lies flatter on the chest. My neck is always cold and feels vulnerable, so I wanted my design to go up a little higher, keeping the neck warm, but not being tight. Even though I like my neck warm, I can’t stand anything tight, which makes me odd, I know.
Starting from a cowl construction instead of a shawl construction seemed like the best angle, and would be much simpler to knit. But it needed to get wider at the bottom for comfort and to create the bandana shape I wanted.
The first iteration of the pattern featured increases at the “point” every round, which made it pontier. I liked that one, and it’ll be coming out as a new pattern soon, but I wanted to try something subtler (if you visited us at Vogue Knitting Live New York, it was a sample in the Impressionist section of the booth). The next try increased every other round, and I liked that, too, (it’s the Over the Rainbow cowl I wear pretty much every day, and at the Knitting Pipeline Retreat), but the Pickford version made just the bandana cowl shape I envisioned for a worsted-weight cowl.
This created just the warm, yet drapey and easy-to-knit cowl I had hoped for all along!
Test knitter Alane made a darling Pickford and gave me excellent pattern feedback. Thanks, Alane!
I love this construction so much, I’ve already got a lacy spring version on the needles. I hope you enjoy it, too!
Katie took her 50g cakes in a different direction; she’s designing her own mitten pattern! She’s using our new manly color, Mithrandir, to make some teen-sized mittens. The pattern will give you options for teen and adult sizes too!
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.
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
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.
She 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!
Guess what, talented designer Elizabeth Green Musselman just released her Balinese Cardi pattern, making ingenious use of our gradient and kettle-dyed yarns!
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.
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.
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.
We got to see near-frozen waterfalls, hike along the otherworldly frozen landscape of Lake Superior shore,
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…
First of all, thank you for such a wonderful response to the newsletter on Friday! We’re excited to put all of our new Lair improvements to work on your orders. Yesterday, with our new system tweaks and with Assistant Dyer Erin aboard, we dyed more yarn than ever before in a single day.
I hope you all had a lovely weekend. Ours was pretty chill. Lil Buddy had a Futsal game both days. If you’re like me, and had never actually heard of Futsal, it was developed in the 30s-40’s in Brazil, and is basically soccer played with a smaller, heavier ball on a gym floor.Here he is in Saturday’s game.
Sunday’s game was during the big Packer football match. We left my parents and 92-year-old Grandma glued to the game, drove to Verona and walked in to the gym just before 4:00….only to find the futsal game was at 3:00. In my history as a soccer, baseball, basketball and judo mom, we’ve never blown a game before. Totally embarrassing. Lil Buddy was a good sport about it.
But I got to give my grandma her Sunday manicure, so definitely a silver lining there.
Brand New Bags
I asked in the Knitcircus Ravelry Group for advice on where to find a more structured project bag, and you guys really delivered! After checking out the wonderful shops you recommended, I purchased not one, but two new project bags, and I’m thrilled with both!
This one is by Birdlegbags. Mostly, I just can’t resist matryoshkas, but when it arrived, I was very impressed with the quality handmade product. It has a beautiful Millefiori bead on the closure,the strap was fussy cut to produce a perfect row of smiling faces and it has a little clip on the other side (not shown) with a carabiner for attaching to your belt!
It’s also lined with a beautifully-sewn lining with rainbow-colored knit stitches. I’m a big birdlegbags fan now!
The second box project bag came from Zigzagstitches; look at that delightful graphic print! This bag was also very professionally-sewn, with a grosgrain ribbon tab you could put a carabiner in and a pretty contrasting lining.
I’m so happy to have found these two stores. We’ve got a ski trip coming up this weekend; hack, no, I’m not skiing, I’m knitting and making big pans of lasagna! Can’t wait to use both of these.
We’re very excited about the new Dr. Who yarn club (so much so that Wet Processor Lena spends much of her break time searching for the perfect gifts for the Club members). It’s three packages/6 months of yarn inspired by the many regenerations of The Doctor and his plucky human companions.
The Doctor may have an enlightened view of the nature of time, but for Earth purposes, the Club membership is only open until tomorrow, so please hop on over and sign up if you haven’t yet!
I’m a huge fan of all of Hunter Hammersen’s patterns, and her new book shows a whole new side to her design talents. Curls uses a unique shawl construction Hunter developed to create versatile cowl/shawl pieces. Once you’ve grasped the idea, the pieces are very achievable, and she includes a variety of designs from very simple repeats to the deluxe lace wrap shown on the cover.
Chris gifted me with a gorgeous skein of handspun for my birthday, and I’m going to show it off with either Hunter’s Caesious simple wrapped-stitch pattern or the cozy cables of her Icterine shawl.
Well, off to dye up more yarn, have a wonderful Tuesday,
After a very busy holiday yarn season, we all took a week off to enjoy the holidays with family and friends.
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.”
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.
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:
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.
Knotted Pine, by Alicia Plummer; love these cables, with just enough texture and changes to keep it interesting.
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.
Olga Buraya-Kefelian’s patterns always intrigue me, and I’d love to try the unusual stitch in her Moko-Moko cowl.
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.
Dandelion Days cowl; big surprise, I love the combination of cables and lace in this compelling cowl.
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.
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.
Et Frais would make a perfect use for our gradient yarns in the 25g balls. That texture looks super fun.
Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays to all of your wonderful knitters. I hope you’re all having a lovely day, and I have one more gift for you!
This community means so much to me. You’ve been there for me through thick and thin, through the rise of Knitcircus Magazine, loss of the magazine and rebirth of the business as an independent yarn studio.
Dyeing self-striping yarn for all of you is truly the best job I could ever have, and your reception of the Gradient Stripes yarns was more than we hoped for. Knitcircus has grown tremendously in the past year, now employing six people, and it’s all thanks to this wonderful community.
As a token of my appreciation, please use the code merrymerry to download any pattern in the Jaala Spiro Ravelry store. Feel free to share with your friends!
Thanks so much to everyone who ordered from the store during the Second Harvest Foodbank fundraiser November 23-December 23rd! You donated enough for 150 meals, which made me so happy and proud yesterday when I gave them the funds.
I hope that you are all having a lovely holiday season and wish you all the best for a fantastic new year full of new hope, new opportunities and old friends. So please check out the Jaala Spiro Designs store and use the code merrymerry at checkout to download any pattern you’d like.