Yarn Con Yarn! And last chance for Early Spring Yarns

Hi, Knitters,

We’re skeining, dyeing, labeling and packing as fast as we can to get ready for Yarn Con in Chicago this weekend! Belle will be accompanying me and we’re really looking forward to the sweet organizers and meeting/seeing Chicago knitters.

YARN CON COLORS

put me in the zoo

The Yarn Con people had a great idea and they asked a number of indie dyers to collaborate on a fun project before the show; custom Yarn Con colorways!  The yarns will be sold at the show as a way to help sustain the event, which has been getting bigger and better every year! (You certainly can’t beat free event parking in Chicago).

We got a little excited and I may have actually designed three colorways, including a whole new dyeing technique I’ve never tried before! The yarn above is a brand-new Speckle colorway inspired by the current Yarn Con logo colors. Everyone in the Lair loved it, and I couldn’t resist naming it Put Me in the Zoo, after the beloved children’s book.

The Speckle technique was so much fun, I’ve designed a number of colorways which will debut this Friday at 10:00 cst as part of the new Late Spring Yarn collection! DSC_0023smaller

More Yarn Con Colors: I designed a gradient using the deep red and pale blue from the Yarn Con logo. These are two colors I’ve always wanted to work with, so it was a lot of fun.

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Then we have a handpaint focusing on the deep red. This is a cousin to the popular Ruby Slippers colorway from the Wizard of Oz collection. DSC_0017 smaller

Yarn con has lots of great vendors, like Sun Valley, Fleur de Fiber, Sophie’s Toes and lots more, plus classes from the lovely likes of Andi Smith, Jen Lucas and more, so if you’re in the Chicagoland area, I hope you’ll stop by and say hi!

LATE SPRING YARN COLLECTION

The new collection will be up in the web store this Friday at 10:00 am, which means we have to say goodbye to some of our favorite Spring yarns until next year!

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If you’ve been thinking about a Robin’s Nest….DSC_0454

or maybe The Can Can Can….

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…or a New Day, order it in the next 24 hours or they’ll be gone!

The good news is, more Spring favorites and new colors including Speckle skeins and gradients will be available as part of the Late Spring Collection!

Happy knitting,

Jaala

Happy Accident, Snickerdoodles

Hi, Knitters and Crocheters,

This weekend, my dad is going to fulfill his dream of taking Li’l Buddy and some friends skiing up north, “While I can still ski!”

This knitter isn’t a big skiier, but I’m more than happy to come along for the ride to keep the party going, cook, organize and stand by with extra warm clothes if anyone’s forgotten anything. Mike and Belle get to stay home and enjoy a relaxing weekend with the pets.

Happy Accident

We didn’t plan for this, but due to a Lair snafu, we ended up with a 300-g ball of yarn! I figured, what the heck, I’ll dye it rainbow, because that’s fun.

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At first, when it was all wound up into a cake, we all just laughed, but then we started to like it. A lot.

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Our Big Rainbow has three full repeats of the Over the Rainbow IMG_1914[1]

Then we started thinking, you could make a whole small adult sweater, baby blanket or three-skein shawl with this baby!

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What do you guys think? Would you use or love a huge skein, or is it just too crazy-big? Please tell me your thoughts!

Snickerdoodles

This week, I made Snickerdoodles for the kids as an after-school treat. The best part was that Lil Buddy’s nearly-silent friend piped up when I asked what kind of cookies they wanted and clearly stated, “Snickerdoodles!”

That name is so fun to say, it can bring out even the shyest.

we always use the Betty Crocker cookbook recipe for these and they turn out great. Except no cream of tartar, because they make it taste a bit tinny in my opinion.

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These were gone within 48 hours.

Light the Lights

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Speaking of fun, the new color of the month is up, and it is delightful, if I do say so. We named it “Light the Lights,” from the Muppet show theme song, because these colors reminded us of their high-energy hijinks. Gonzo blue, Kermit green and Miss Piggy pink, anyone?

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Of course, it comes in Matching Sock Sets, 100g Cakes and 150g cakes for your knitting pleasure.

And no more waiting weeks for your color of the month! Now that we’ve re-vamped things in the Lair and Erin the fabulous Assistant Dyer is on the scene, we’re turning things around much faster.

Crossing my fingers for a fun, safe ski trip up north and hope you all have a wonderful weekend,

Jaala

Bahamas and Back Again

More notes from the Bahamas!

Internet faded in and out, but I did take advantage of my free time to check out StitchMaps, the new charting site developed by tech editor and author of Charts Made Simple, JC Briar. In the world of charting, it’s a revolutionary idea,where the stitches actually change the direction of the knitted fabric like they do in real life. Look at the beloved Feather and Fan chart in StitchMaps format! I joined and am excited to be able to use some StitchMaps for a couple of upcoming patterns, where I think they’ll really make the stitches easier to understand.

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photo: jcbriar for StitchMaps

 A Bit of the BahamasIMG_2495[1]

…And then there were the shoes. I’m a practical, Midwestern gal most of the time, and my list of summer shoes stops at #2, but the sensible Land’s End ones I’d purchased for the trip gave me instant blisters. Mike lost his glasses in a big wave, and they don’t just make him look distinguished, they help him see everything beyond his arm’s reach, so we took a scenic trip to the optician.

It just happened to be near a store with a shoe sale. I wanted to find something that we couldn’t get at home, an island shoe, and the prices were well within range. Something about the shiny and the strappy really got to me. Maybe Tim Gunn would mention the taste level, and truth be told, they gave me more grief than the first ones. I had to tape the straps and band-aid my toes to wear them, but I didn’t care, because these plastic, shiny, glittery shoes captured my shoe heart. Such was my lurve for them. I’m wearing them even today, when the Wisconsin temperature gets up to a balmy 66 degrees F.

Back at Home

Speaking of balmy weather, let’s talk about what won’t be: Opening Weekend for the local Little League baseball season. Little Buddy’s home opener on Sunday is expected to be forties and (hopefully not) rainy. I’m putting my podcast experience to use as the announcer for the game. (Haven’t told Little Buddy this yet, but I’ll need to give him some time to get over the embarrassment). Cross your fingers the rain holds off so we can cheer on our fave Boys of Summer!

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photo: west madison little league

In the Lair: Custom Orders!

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eat, pray, knit

Chris was busy while I was gone, and thank goodness for her keeping track of orders and getting yarn ready for dyeing! If you placed a Come What May order, you can be sure it’ll be dyed up within the next couple of days, and look for the rest of the Gradient Club packages next week before we leave for TNNA!

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maple leaves

She’s also been busy listing things in the store, including a brand-new Dyed-to-Order option for many of our most popular colors! Choose your set (Matching Socks or single gradient) and your yarn base and we’ll dye it up for you!

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mermaid lagoon

I’m also working on developing a couple of new gradients that we’re pretty excited about and looking forward to sharing them with you soon!

Hope everyone is enjoying the spring and that you’re seeing green and growing things,

Jaala

 

 

 

 

 

 

Leaf Lace, KAL’s and Good Times

In the Lairaerialist corrie lothlorien much better

It’s March, so we have a new featured color in the shop; it has to be green, of course, and my whizz-bang office manager Chris named this soft gradient Lothlorien. We both fell in love with this pale blue-green to deep forest shadows yarn. Available for a limited time on any of the in-stock fingering bases in the shop.

It’s a busy time in the Lair, with much excitement form Susan B Anderson’s lovely blog post; thank you so much, Susie! Have a great time at Vogue Knitting Live Seattle!

And we’re getting ready for new yarn clubs and Yarn Con in just a few weeks, so much dyeing, drying, processing and packaging going on! Amy J and I certainly appreciate Chris’ organization and energy in keeping it all rolling.

Weekend knitting:

As soon as the Olympics wrapped up, my sweater-knitting mojo seemed to wrap up, too. I’ve bound off the bottom of my Argo, but seem to have stalled at the sleeves. In true multi-knitter fashion, I of course decided that starting a small, easily-finished project might jump-start the knitting juice again.

While checking out all of the finished Ravellenics projects, I came across the Fingerless Gloves Leaves wristwarmer pattern, by Valentina Georgieva. What is it about leaf lace that’s just irresistible every single time?

This was a perfect chance to try out a worsted-weight 50-g gradient. I’ve been toying with making these part of the Kniticricus repertoire, and I have to say, it was pretty fun to knit. What do you knitters think? Would you like smaller worsted-weight gradients for matching mittens and such?

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This is how much I knit over the weekend; this morning I finished the top ribbing and am working on the thumb now.

And guess what? I posted my sweater on the Team Sasquatch Silver, Bronze and Agony of Defeat thread and got a message in my inbox telling me I’d won a prize; any pattern on Ravelry! Since I didn’t even know there was a prize, what a thrill!

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My choice? The Caviar Dress by Yoko Johnston, another Contiguous pattern. Not sure about making the whole dress, but I do love a good tunic-length sweater.

Weekend Fun

I’ve been making this Allrecipes hot chocolate with good success on the many frigid days of this winter.  Sunday morning, Belle and I hosted a hot chocolate party for Grammy and Buppa; I stirred the cocoa, sugar and milk, while she whipped up homemade vanilla whipped cream. We set the table with white plates and napkins and felt very sophisticated. One of these days, I’d like to try a hot chocolate with melted chocolate bar rather than a cocoa base.

KAL’s

Knitcircus is honored to support two upcoming KAL’s!

Sarah Wilson, The Sexy Knitter, encourages knitters to find their inner diva with her stylish patterns, and Knitcircus will be providing a prize; a choice of any one yarn from the shop for a Ravelry KAL finisher! The current KAL is for Sarah’s Lonicera Cowl and Grimhilde socks.

We’re also tickled to be part of the ongoing KAL in the Cookie Crumbs group, for fans of Cookie A’s gorgeous sock patterns! Watch for more info about the prize you could win there.

Cool Bag

photo:jstlaurent
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A sweet treat; I couldn’t resist this little Squirrel project bag, from Knitting by the Mile Designs. She’s got all sorts of fun, quirky fabrics, and if you’re a Dr. Who fan, will find many designs to love! My fingerless gloves-in-progress definitely enjoy their stylish ride!

Take care and knit away,

jaala

Knitcircus Podcast #34

Amy reveals knitting nuggets from Camp, Jaala can’t take her eyes off Dave the sheep shearer and everyone’s gearing up for serious fall knitting.

Listen on Libsyn or iTunes

Mentioned this podcast:

Amy’s Ireland Trip

Donegal tweed

Wisconsin Sheep and Wool Festival

Jennie the Potter

Green Mountain Spinnery

Argyle Fiber Mill

Kimmet Croft

Bleating Heart Haven

Sun Valley Fibers

Fiber Optic

Briar Rose Fibers

Trek Bicycle

Erik’s Bikes and Boards

The Fiber Factor

StevenBe

Modern Topdown Knitting, by Kristina McGowan

Knits at Home: Rustic Knitting for the Modern Nest, by Ruth Cross

The Art of Seamless Knitting by Simona Merchant-Dest and Faina Goberstein

Knitcircus YarnsMatching Socks Club and All Wrapped Up Club

 

 

 

Using Gradients: Triangular and Crescent Shawls

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Gradient Yarns look so enticing in a cake with all of the pretty colors showing, but sometimes it’s hard to picture how they’ll knit up. Here are some tips for
getting the most from your gradients with different shawl shapes.

Long-Striping vs. Short-Striping Yarns
Yarns like Knitcircus or Freia Fibers gradients have long stripes, approximately 75-100 yards in fingering weight skeins. Other yarns, like Noro Sock, may have shorter stripes that last a few rows, then change color.

Short-Striping Yarn
For a short-striping yarn, choose a plain or very predictable pattern. Short-striping yarns, like handpaints, tend to obscure complicated stitch
patterns, since they only last a couple of rows and most lace patterns need four or more rows to visually finish a repeat. For this kind of stripes, the yarn itself is the pattern; shown it off with a simple stitch pattern!

Patterns to Try
Silk Moon Crescent Shawlette, by Jaala Spiro
Boneyard Shawl, by Stephen West
Hitchhiker or Lintilla by Martina Behm
Simple But Effective Shawl, by Laura Chau
The Age of Brass and Steam, by Orange Flower

Long-Striping Yarn
Long-striping yarns look great in simple patterns as well, but because each color lasts longer, they can be paired with many lace/cable/texture patterns and look stunning. You should be able to see several repeats of the lace pattern per color, so it’s perfect for simple lace, but maybe not for a complicated knit-purl image of a windmill, for example. If the gradient gets darker, rather than

staying in approximately the same value, it will visually mask some of the complexity of the stitch patterns in the dark color. Using a pattern that begins simply and becomes more complex works perfectly when you begin with the darker portion of the gradient and let the lace emerge in the lighter sections.

Gradient Triangle Shawls
Most triangular shawls begin with a few stitches, and work their way up to two-three hundred. Depending how your shawl is constructed, it will either begin or end with she shorter rows. The most important gradient yarn consideration comes here; wherever the shorter rows are, that end of the gradient will appear longer than the other. A loose rule of thumb would be that the first half of the gradient will look much bigger and will seem to form the “ground” against which the other gradient stripes look more dramatic. An example: A four-color gradient used in a top-down triangular shawl will visually appear that the first color takes up half the shawl, while the second takes up 25% and the last two seem to be decorative ribbons at the edge. A bottom-up shawl will, of course, look the reverse. There is no right or wrong answer here, so choose the direction you would like to go!

Top-to-Bottom/Bottom-to-Top
Triangle Shawls
These are fantastic ways to use gradient yarns. You can begin at the bottom tip or at the top neck edge, and your gradient will slowly spread outward from the center or upward from the bottom. Any pattern with a repeated/predictable lace pattern works perfectly for gradients, and, as above, any pattern with a simple lace/cable pattern will look stunning in a gradient, especially if you make sure to work the more complex lace sections in the lighter stripes.

Patterns to Try
The Tehachapi Project, by Michelle Miller

Juniper Lemon Shawl, by Jaala Spiro

Haruni, by Emily Ross
Holden Shawlette, by Mindy Wilkes
Ishbel, by Ysolda Teague
Multnomah, by Kate Ray
Henslowe, by Beth King
Water Dragon, by Michelle Miller
Mystic Light, by Anna Dalvi
Traveling Woman, by Liz Abinante
Aranami Shawl, by Olga Buraya-Kefelian

Knit-on Edging
Patterns like Michelle Miller/Fickleknitter’s designs make wonderful candidates for gradients. The top-down portion of the shawl will look very similar to any other triangular shawl, with one main color forming the base triangle, and others getting progressively narrower as the triangle expands. With knit-on edgings, though, you do have to be aware that the color will most likely change while you work your way across the bottom edge, which means that any color changes will appear to be horizontal, contrasting with the vertical color changes of the first part. Some people may like, some people may hate the result, which will have a color shift highlighting the difference in construction between the body and knit-on edging.

Patterns to try:

Flambe, by Michelle Miller
Limestone, by Michelle Miller

Crescent and Half-Pi Shawls
Crescent and half-pi shawls look wonderful in gradient yarns, and will appear similar to triangular shawls. Half-pi shawls and crescents usually start with a few stitches or a smaller cast-on and increase through the body of the shawl so that gradient will appear more exaggerated in the section with the smaller number of stitches.

Patterns to Try:
Summer Flies, by Donna Griffin
Annis, by Susanna IC
Citron, by Hilary Smith Callis
Northern Lights, by AnneM

Have fun experimenting!
Jaala

Play Ball, Wind Yarn, Yarnover

Things have been hopping in the Lair, with Yarnover and two Yarn Clubs  not to mention spring springing…

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Last night, our plum tree began blossoming; this morning, the cherry tree joined in the fun.

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Yarnover was a blast; driving ninja Amy D got us safely to Minneapolis and back, and we stayed with her sister, the perfect hostess in every way (and by ‘perfect,’ I mean she got up at 5 am to make us coffee for the early setup on Saturday morning. Not only did she make the coffee, she gave us insulated coffee mugs–to keep). Yarnover knitters loved the Matching Sock Sets (two smaller gradient yarn cakes); they were all gone within an hour of the event’s start. So I’m dyeing up more in the Lair as fast as I can, and will let everyone know as soon as they’re up in the shop.

It was an amazing group of knitters all in one place, and we got to meet and chat with Mary Scott Huff, Annie Modesitt, Stephanie Pearl McPhee, Sivia Harding, and many more wonderful knitters. Of course, Amy mostly chatted with them, while I tried to cover my star-struck-ness by selling yarn or fluffing things in the booth. A huge thanks to the organizers of the event; everything went very smoothly and we had a great show.

I don’t have any photos, because  as someone with the same device said, “I have the dumbest smartphone in the world,” and it doesn’t take pictures (well, it does, but they do not resemble any recognizable objects or people). It was Little League Opening Weekend, so I left the camera with Mike, thinking I’d sadly miss the games.

Thanks to Amy’s determination and mad skillz, I actually got home in time to catch both boys’ games!

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There’s Li’l Buddy, ready for anything in the field.

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And Buddy D, being announced for his Little League debut! He walked once, struck out once, and hit the ball once, so experienced some of everything. 😉

We recently found out that Buddy D will be with us all summer, so are very happy. He’s playing flag football with Li’l Buddy, and will soon add swimming to his list of sports!

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Of course, it’s been very busy in the Lair, with packages going out last week for the Spring Sparkle Yarn Club, and this week for the Gradient Yarn club, but no photos of that until everyone has their treats in hand!

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Happy Spring, everyone!

Jaala