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Winner + Designer Spotlight: Staci Perry of Very Pink Knits

First off, we'd like to congratulate Mariaeb, our winner for this month's blog giveaway. We'll be in touch shortly to arrange for the delivery of your prize, a Nova Platina Deluxe Interchangeable Set.

Knitter's Pride has joined forces with Staci Perry of VeryPink.com to bring you monthly project-based tutorials featuring fabulous free patterns and Knitter's Pride products! Earlier this month, Staci released a new free pattern called Color My Cowl, and along with it, a free tutorial which features our Nova Platina needles and demonstrates how to master fair isle techniques to knit her new design. We got a chance to interview Staci to learn more about knitting, her design process, and the early days of Very Pink Knits. Enjoy!


When did you learn to knit? Crochet?
I was five or six years old when I learned to crochet, and I learned to knit shortly after that. My Great-Great Aunt Ida taught me, it's kind of a normal thing for Scandinavian and Scandinavian-American families to teach kids fiber arts at a young age. I knit and designed stuff ALL THE TIME growing up, then stopped through college, then started up again, and haven't stopped since. It's crazy to think that I've been knitting for over 40 years.

VeryPink Knits was one of the first knitting-related channels we know of from the early days of YouTube. How did you get started, and what has changed in the years since your channel launched?
When I started making videos, I was teaching knitting classes here in Austin at a yarn shop. My idea was to make videos so that the students in my classes would have a video to reference after they took a class with me. The first videos I released started getting views from all over the place, not just my knitting class students, and that was my motivation to make videos for a wider audience. My mission and format is mostly unchanged since the early days - I still teach knitting in short technique videos and longer tutorials. But the years I spent building up my audience now allows me to work with sponsors and other designers, which gives a lot of new flavor to what I present in my videos. I'm also WAY more comfortable on camera than I was seven years ago!
Free Pattern: Color my Cowl
What was the design process like for the Color My Cowl pattern which launched earlier this month?
That's a good question - you're making me think! It started with the idea for a fair isle tutorial, because I've had a lot of requests for one recently. My first objective was to make it an easy introduction to fair isle, but also a pretty pattern that looks impressive when it's finished, and a very "wearable" item. I use Excel when I design colorwork...I change the cell shape to squares, and start coloring. I finished a rough idea for the color pattern, then I started knitting. I always put needles to yarn very early in a design, because I will inevitably change and add things once I see how a design is actually looking as it's knit up. Sure enough, I ended up trashing half of my first color design once I saw it spelled out in stitches. I made some changes, then started to plan out colors for the samples that I would eventually show in the video. While I was doing this in Excel, I thought, "This would be fun to do with colored pencils". And that's how I got the idea to turn the cowl stitch pattern into a coloring page for knitters.

I often get questions about what software I use to design. I keep it pretty simple! Like I said above, I use Excel for charting colorwork. I also use Excel for charting stitch patterns like lace and cables. Oh, and I use Excel (as an actual spreadsheet) when I'm grading patterns into different sizes. The only other software I use is Google Docs. I take notes for each design using Documents, and the notes page eventually becomes the final version of the pattern that I turn into a PDF. I like using Google Docs because all of my docs are available to me across all of my devices.


What is your absolute favorite Knitter's Pride product, the one you would HAVE to have if you were stranded on a desert island?
Love it! That's tough, because my favorite Knitter's Pride product changes from week to week. But my two all-time favorites have to be Platina and Platina Cubics needles. Right now, if I was being shipped off to a desert island, I'd grab my Platina 16" interchangeable set, because that's what I'm using now on a couple of designs. And if I could, I'd jam my Knit Blockers into my suitcase while no one was watching so I could have those, too.




Many knitters might be intimidated by Fair Isle knitting. How would you convince someone to give it a try?
Hopefully, I'd be able to convince them to give it a try by having them watch the video tutorial! I think people look at different styles of knitting, like lace or fair isle or cables, and they think NO WAY. That kind of knitting is for other people, people who are better at knitting than I am. But after I show them how it's done, and they see that it's still just the simple knit stitch they know and love, they get excited to give it a try. I hope people have come to know me as the knitting teacher they can trust to give them projects that they can actually do, and enjoy, and finish. So, I'll work on convincing someone to give new techniques (like fair isle) a try by showing them how it's done, giving them a simple pattern to give it a go, and asking them to trust me, they can do this!

A Colorful Summer: Fair Isle Inspiration (& Giveaway!)

Ravelry is filled with colorful projects featuring eye-catching motifs and pleasing patterns. The color work technique is commonly referred to as "Fair Isle" or sometimes called "stranded colorwork." Though the results look complex, Fair Isle can actually be mastered by any adventurous knitter! Staci Perry of VeryPink.com shows the step-by-step process of mastering Fair Isle techniques in her new tutorial video featuring Knitter's Pride needles and her new free pattern, Color my Cowl:


Once you have mastered the techniques above, it's time to put them to the test! We've collected some of our favorite trending patterns on Ravelry to inspire you to give Fair Isle knitting a try this summer. Click the links below to view more pattern information!
Color My Cowl by Staci Perry
Wildflowers Cap by Mary Jane Mucklestone
Crofthoose Yoke by Ella Gordon
Ambiguous by Michelle Hunter

KARREE by Susanne Reese

Giveaway
This month, we're giving 1 lucky blog reader the chance to win a Nova Cubics Platina Deluxe interchangeable set! To enter, leave a comment on this blog post telling us what Fair Isle project you most recently completed or are looking forward to casting on!

We will randomly select a comment as our lucky winner to announce here on our blog on Friday, June 25. Good luck!

Winners + Spring KAL Recap

Our Spring KAL with Angela Tong has drawn to a close, and it's time to announce our prize winners! But before we do that, we'd like to share all of the amazing projects which our fans completed in our Ravelry group as part of this KAL.

First, we saw 12 completed Hishigata hats in a parade of beautiful colors!


Since our KAL included any pattern from Angela Tong's Ravelry pattern store, we saw some other inspiring projects for spring, too. Four participants knit the lovely Kouyou Shawl:


And three more adventurous knitters shared their projects which included a few Shizuku scarves and a Tekstur hat to round out the mix:


Angela also shared an informative tutorial showing how she swatches for in-the-round projects using a clever time-saving trick - click here to check it out! Also, if you missed our previous blog post about Charitable organizations accepting handmade donations, click here to learn more.

Don't forget to block your swatch with our Knit Blockers!
Photo by Angela Tong; click here for the full tutorial on Angela's blog.
Of course, it wouldn't be a KAL without some fabulous prizes, and here are our lucky winners:

Knit Blockers: TinaSanders
Marblz Interchangeable Circular Needle Set: HelenHG69
Allure Fiber Wash: LaurenS

We also have one more prize to give out this month for our May blog giveaway; congratulations to quiltdabbler, who has won Nova Platina Cubics Deluxe Interchangeable Set! We will get in touch with you shortly to arrange for the delivery of your prize.

Thanks to everyone who entered this month's blog giveaway and joined in our KAL!

Giveaway+ Designer Spotlight: Tanja Steinbach

On today's post, our designer spotlight goes international! We recently interviewed a German designer named Tanja Steinbach. Tanja is a key designer on the Schachenmayr design team, and she also self publishes her own designs in German. Tanja learned to crochet, knit and sew as a child and - skills which all contribute to her interesting approach to designing. We hope you will find inspiration in her designs and learning more about her process in today's interview. 

How long have you been knitting, and how did you get started designing?
I grew up in a family that was very DIY oriented; I started crocheting doll clothes before Elementary School using patterns from the magazine Nicole (I was 12/13 years old). From there, I learned to knit and to sew. I perfected sewing by learning to become a dressmaker, after which I studied at the Textildesign in Reutlingen. The program at Reutlingen also focuses on knitting techniques because the company Stoll is nearby. The campus has a lot of knitting machines and techniques centered around yarn, which is how I came back to yarn and knitting. After my graduation, I thought about working in the clothing industry, but in the end, I took a different path by entering the world of knitwear design. And if I took a look back, it was the right decision to start working for Coats with the labels Schachenmayr, Regia and Jaeger.

Where do you get inspiration?
I love my work because every day is so different. That's hard sometimes, but it it helps to be open to new ideas. Of course, I also am always on the lookout for new trends in fashion and color, which is also a good way finding new ideas outside of the world of yarn. Tradition & experience is an important base, specially in hand knitting, so vintage craft books are great inspiration tools. Also traveling to other towns, meeting with people or taking in an art exhibition brings new impulses. Keeping eyes and ears open and being open to trying new things is key! 

How did your Design Label come about?
I wouldn't exactly say that I have my own label, but I've worked for the last 20 years for the brands Schachenmayr and Regia at Coats (since 2015). The assignments have changed a little from time to time, but I play a role in the marketing and product development, as well as working in the yarn and design development. When my children were small, I worked part-time, but when they grew older, I began to take on design jobs as a freelancer. I started with TV spots and little book projects in early 2000. The Frechverlag was looking for patterns and designers to star their new handcraft book series, and that was how I made my first sock knitting book.  In the last few years, I have designed more patterns for books such as Jacquardstricken, Gestrickte Taschen, and  Wendemuster stricken. Currently, I am working as co-author for a book called Tücher stricken, will be arriving in stores in Autumn 2016. 



In June of last year, I started a blog where I can directly interact with other fiber enthusiasts, much like on Facebook and Instagram, which I love. My blog was an idea of a collegue and I'm very thankful that she encouraged me to start it! It began with a new knit-a-long for a German TV show called ARD Buffet“ in summer 2015; the pattern, Der Sommernachtstraum, is also availabe here on Ravelry as a free download in both English and GermanIt's been wonderful to see all of the resulting shawl projects from this KAL! 
The year before, I had started something similar for ARD Buffet, the Adventsschal 2014 knit-a-long which took place in December 2014. With a KAL such as this, a lot of projects tend to come in, and knitters often need some assistance - I thought that an independent platform such as a blog would be the perfect place for this! I also share lots of my patterns, tips and tricks on the blog. 
How do you balance your own design and blogging career with curating from your own Design Label?
Truly, I'm always looking for the right balance...work & passion are so close, so it's hard to me jump into other leisure activities.

What are you most looking forward to in 2016?
Right now, I am very happy with how things are going between work & life. I'm happy to be part of some knitting events this year such as the Schwabsburger Wollfest, where I'll be teaching my first-ever workshop, and Yarncamp in Frankfurt this October. And I am always looking forward to all of the interesting people I'll meet along the way, not to mention at these events. I may even start another KAL! 

Do you have any knitting horror stories/mishaps?

No! Util now, everything has been working out fabulously, but my personal nightmare is how quick some of my test knitters are able to knit in relation to how quickly I can complete a project. Sometimes I'm doubtful about my own speed of writing patterns and knitting samples......and the testers knitting at full speed and send it back to me so quickly! Sometimes I get a little jealous when I look at my own private projects! 

Giveaway
This month, one lucky blog reader will win a Nova Platina Cubics Deluxe Interchangeable Set! To enter, leave a comment telling us what kind of projects you like to knit or crochet in the summer months. Be sure to also mention your Ravelry ID or email address so that we can contact you if you win. We'll announce the winner on our next blog post on Friday, May 27. Good luck! 

Winner + Knit & Crochet for Charity: Where to Donate

Congratulations to LisaTknits, our first prize winner for the Spring KAL with Angela Tong that's happening now here in our Ravelry group! We will get in touch with you to arrange for the delivery of your prize, a Marblz DPN Set. Click here to learn more about our KAL on our previous blog post
Our Spring KAL is a great opportunity to knit items to donate to charity, especially if you're making the newly-released Hishigata Hat by Angela Tong! Knit in a bulky weight yarn with a pretty diamond cable pattern, this hat is a fun, fast project that can be donated to those in need.
The Hishigata Hat by Angela Tong
Of course, you don't have to limit your donation to projects made in our KAL, or just hats - there are plenty of organizations that are looking for hats, scarves, and other items year-round! Today, we'd like to spotlight a few of these organizations where you can donate your finished objects (FOs), though this is by no means a complete list! If you happen to knit or crochet for a particular organization that isn't listed here, we would love to hear about it in the comments! 

This project was launched last year to collect knitted and crocheted hats (or tuques, as they are known in Canada) for Syrian refugees arriving in Canada. Initially begun as a small group in Quebec, the project quickly spread throughout the country and even into the US with Purlescence Yarns in Sunnyvale, CA serving as a donation collection point for American crafters. While the project is focused mainly on hats, other donations of mittens and scarves are also accepted if they have a matching hat along with them.

This not-for-profit organization accepts knitted, crocheted or sewn caps for chemo patients which are distributed to over 450 cancer centers each month. They provide a set of guidelines for your handmade donation here on their website, as well as free and for sale hat patterns for knitters and crocheters

This organization accepts donations of sweaters, caps and blankets to distribute to children living in poverty worldwide. They prefer items which are knit with easy-care acrylic yarns and provide free patterns for making your donations. Donors can also use a pattern of their own choosing if they prefer.

This organization accepts donations of knitted and crocheted blankets and other accessories year-round; you can check their Current Needs section of the website to see which items they are currently looking for. 

Join Our Spring KAL with Angela Tong & Knitter's Pride

This spring, we invite you to knit along with Angela Tong over in the Knitter's Pride Ravelry group! Angela has a brand-new hat pattern out, the Hishigata Hat, which you can purchase on Ravelry for 20% off when your enter KPKAL at checkout. This coupon code is also good towards any pattern from Angela's Ravelry pattern store (located here), and all of these patterns are also eligible for our KAL! There will be some fabulous prizes up for grabs (more on that in a bit), and Angela will be sharing some great tutorials over on her blog throughout the course of the KAL.

Here are the details:

What: A Knit-A-Long for any and all of Angela's patterns from her Ravelry pattern store, located here. Enter KPKAL at checkout to save 20% on your Ravelry Pattern Purchase April 8-May 13.

When: This KAL is happening now through May 13, 2016!

Where: Join the fun by sharing your photos in the Knitter's Pride Ravelry Group and on Instagram using the hashtags: #KPtongKAL and #knitterspride.

Prizes: 
Knit Blockers: one lucky person who purchases an Angela Tong pattern between April 8-22 will be entered in this prize drawing (note, you must use this coupon code when you check out to be eligible: KPKAL).
Marblz Interchangeable Circular Needle Set: post your FO photos here in our Ravelry group to be entered in this giveaway; we will announce the winner in the thread on Monday, May 16.
Allure Fiber Wash: anyone who posts a photo of their WIP or FO for the KAL on social media using the #KPTongKAL hashtag will be entered to win an Allure Sampler Pack!
We also have a short interview with Angela to learn more about her new design!

Can you tell us more about your new pattern? 
My Hishigata Hat is a super slouchy hat knit in a bulky weight yarn. It's knit from the brim up and can be finished with a pom-pom or without. In Japanese, Hishigata, means diamond, a rhombus 

that has four equal lengths and diagonal lines that cross vertically. The 2 stitch cables used in the hat forms the diamond shapes on the hat.

What inspired it? What do you love about it?
I have been obsessed with knitting hats due to the unusually long cold season we have been having in the North East. I wanted to design a slouchy hat that can be knit up quickly. 

My oldest daughter likes to borrow my hats, so I made sure to include a size for knitters who wants to knit for their older kids, too. 
Do you have any special tips for knitters who will be participating in this KAL?
My preferred method of finishing a bottom up hat is to use double-pointed needles. For beginners who are not used to working with DPNs, it really only takes a little practice and some good needles. In my Craftsy Class, My First Mittens & Gloves, I teach knitters how to swatch in the round and to knit in the round with double-pointed needles. I begin the class using Knitter's Pride Marblz needles - they are smooth yet not slippery, perfect for a beginner using DPNs or even an experienced knitter. Click here to sign up for this class and save $15 off your registration!

What are you most excited about with hosting this KAL? 

Knitalongs are so much fun. I love seeing what yarn knitters will choose for the same pattern. It can really vary the look of the finished project so that will be exciting to see. 

Angela Tong is a designer, teacher, mother and food lover living in New Jersey. Her knit designs have been published in numerous magazines and books. She enjoys teaching weaving, knitting, and crochet. As a lifelong crafter, she has never met a craft she didn’t like. You can find her on Ravelry as AngelaTong (http://www.ravelry.com/designers/angela-tong) or follow her on:

Twitter: ATongDesigns
Instagram: ATongDesigns


APRIL BLOG GIVEAWAY
This month, we're giving away a Marblz DPN Set! Leave a comment on this blog post for your chance to win this prize - we will announce the winner on Friday, April 22 right here on the Knitter's Pride blog (be sure to also mention your Ravelry ID or email address so that we can contact you if you win).











Go Circular!

What was your first set of knitting needles? This is probably a question whose answer will reveal your age, as there has been a distinct progression in the materials and shapes of knitting needles over the last century, a span which is likely to include even needles inherited from long-departed relatives. One hundred years ago, long steel knitting "pins" (usually what we would call double-pointed) were the most common tools, almost always in tiny gauges. Fifty years ago, aluminum straight needles with a cap on one end, incised with the number size of the needle, were the standard - smooth but not slick, it could be a real struggle to slide stitches along these needles. Circular needles made of nylon extruded in a single length of fatter tip and slimmer cable had also made it to market, but their stubbornly coiled cables had a few kinks to work out, pardon the pun.
A selection of Knitter's Pride needles.
Over the last twenty years, there has been an explosion of materials, shapes and styles of knitting needles - here at Knitter's Pride, we use diverse materials ranging from rosewood and bamboo to chrome plated brass, acrylic, and carbon fiber, all of which are available in single point, double point, fixed circular and interchangeable needle options. With all of this diversity, however, the stereotype of two sticks and a ball of yarn is still the universal short-hand for knitting needles, even though many knitters knitters leave straight needles behind for the comfort and convenience of an interchangeable set of tips and cables once they have mastered the basics.
Shadow Chevron Stitch on single pointed needles - click for free washcloth pattern at VeryPink.com.
Single pointed needles are perfect for certain projects, like scarves or dishcloths - but they have limitations. If you are knitting a garment for anyone beyond toddler size, it will be difficult to comfortably fit your WIP onto a straight needle. Even it you are using a longer 14" length, the width of your garment will most likely be larger than that, even if it is going to be knit in pieces and seamed together. Your wrists are going to bear the weight of the garment’s fabric as it grows and you try to keep those stitches on your needles - ouch! Smaller items like hats, mittens and socks can be knit flat and then seamed to create a three-dimensional piece, but most knitters prefer to work in-the-round. Double-pointed needles (DPNs) are a good solution for seamless knitting, but they are a bit fiddly, particularly at the beginning of a project, and they are very easy to lose down chair cushions or in the airplane aisle.
So go circular! Our interchangeable needle sets provide knitters with a wide range of versatility so that the knitting experience can be customized to each project’s size, yarn, construction technique and stitch pattern. You can knit anything, flat or round, from the tiniest baby bootie to a lace Pi shawl, on a circular needle with the right cord length. When you knit a project on a circular needle, the cord bears the weight of the project while your wrists are free to create the stitches. When you’re done knitting for the day, you can slide the project onto the cord and avoid the row of stretched stitches that a work-in-progress develops on straight needles. Once your project is resting on the cord with the tips dangling, your project is portable; you are less likely to lose either your stitches or a needle.
The ever-popular mitered square scrap yarn blanket using Karbonz interchangeable needles.
How do you knit flat on a circular needle? Imagine your circular needle is a flexible straight needle with a cap on one end. First, cast on your stitches as you normally would. Next, instead of picking up a second needle, bring the other tip around to the right end and begin knitting. When you reach the end of the row, drop your working tip and turn the entire work around so that your working yarn is at the right end, ready to go. Bring the other tip around and knit on!
Now for the mysteries of knitting in the round. First, let’s think about why this is a great way to construct knitted garments: put simply, the human body is not flat. Creating tubes with our knitting is the best way to accommodate arms, legs, heads, necks and torsos. Many knitting patterns employ this technique - take, for example, the classic Icelandic lopapeysa. The body is a tube; each sleeve is also a tube, and at the top they joined them together (sleeve, torso, sleeve) to knit a patterned yoke up to the neck and then bound off. The only seaming required is at each underarm!
In-the-round projects on Knitter's Pride needles.
Learning to knit in the round opens up all kinds of possibilities for your knitting. Once you understand what’s happening in your knitting, it’s very easy. Begin by assembling the right combination of tips and cord from your interchangeable needles. For example, a hat or cowl is generally going to be best on a 16 inch cord; you really need the shorter tips of a Knitter’s Pride Special interchangeable set to comfortably form a 16 inch circle (shown below is our Karbonz Special Interchangeable Set). An adult sweater will be best on a 24-inch or 32-inch cord, depending on yourstitch count. To begin, cast on the number of stitches your pattern specifies.
Now comes the crucial step. Most patterns will now have a line that reads something like “Join to knit in the round, being careful not to twist.” What this means is that you will bring the end of the cable where your working yarn is back around to the beginning of your cast-on. Once you knit the first stitch of the cast-on with the working yarn of the last stitch of your cast-on, your work is joined in the round. But is it straight? If it is twisted, the only solution is to start over, so you want to make sure that it is straight. One way to do that is to knit a row flat before you join so that you have enough fabric to see that you have an untwisted tube below your needles. It will require a one-stitch seam to finish your garment at the end, but it is worth it!

Staci Perry demonstrates 3 sure-fire ways to join for knitting in the round in her most recent tutorial video:




And now the real magic of knitting in the round is revealed: If you’re knitting plain stockinette, you won’t purl again unless the pattern instructs you to purl for ribbing or some other textural effect. Knitting in the round creates a fabric where the “right” (or knit side, if you are working stockinette stitch) is on the outside, and the “wrong” (or purl side) is on the inside of the tube. Since you’re working on the outside, all you have to do is knit! It’s quick, it’s easy and it doesn’t require every brain cell you have, so it’s great for social or movie knitting.


Once you’re comfortable with knitting on circular needles, you can add to your repertoire of knitting techniques with Magic Loop and other specialty applications. In a future post, we will look at advanced uses of circular knitting needles!