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Summer Neckwear KAL With Laura Chau

Today is the first official day of the Summer Neckwear KAL with Laura Chau! Learn more about how to participate in our last blog post.

If you still haven't purchased your pattern it's not too late to save 25%! Choose any of Laura's neckwear patterns for the KAL and get 25% off the pattern with the coupon code: neckwearKAL15 through July 31, 2015. View all of Laura's neckwear patterns here.

Join the KAL in the Knitter's Pride Ravelry Group.

KAL Prizes
Throughout the KAL we'll be giving away lots of great Knitter's Pride Prizes. Here's a list of how and where, to win!

#1 Buy a pattern
Nova Platina Deluxe Needle Set: Purchase any neckwear pattern using the coupon code neckwearKAL15 by July 31 and you'll be entered to win this needle set! We'll announce the winner on Monday, August 3rd.

#2 Post to Instagram
Post a photo on Instagram of your KAL progress using #KPchauKAL and you'll be entered to win a Marblz Fixed Circular knitting needle. We'll choose a winner on Friday, July 31.

#3 Start a project page on Ravelry
Start a project page and use the tag KPchauKAL and you'll be entered to win a Marblz Fixed Circular needle. We'll choose a winner on Friday, August 14th.

#4 Finish Your Project
Post a photo of your finished project by August 21, 2015 in the Ravelry KAL thread and you'll be entered to win a Eucalan Gift Pack.



Giveaway Winner

Congratulations to Curlysheep, you're the lucky winner of a Knitter's Pride Nova Platina Cubics Deluxe Interchangeable Needle Set! Thanks to everyone who participated, and we hope you'll join us in the Ravelry group for the KAL!


Knitter's Pride KAL With Designer Laura Chau

We're excited to announce our first ever KAL, with designer Laura Chau!

Laura has released a new pattern today, an update to one of her best selling patterns, Just Enough Ruffles, the new pattern Just Enough Ruffles Light can be knit up with just one 400 yard skein of fingering weight yarn--perfect for those beautiful skeins of special sock yarn! 

Laura Chau Neckwear Knit-A-Long
What: A knit-a-long for any and all of Laura's neckwear patterns! See them all here on Ravelry. And now through the end of July we have a special discount code to save 25%: Use code neckwearKAL15 at checkout! 

When: We'll kickoff the KAL here on the Knitter's Pride blog and in the Knitter's Pride Ravelry group on Friday, July 24, 2015. 

Where: Join the fun by sharing your photos in the Knitter's Pride Ravelry Group and on Instagram using the hashtag: #kpchauKAL

Prizes: 
Nova Platina Deluxe Needle Set: Purchase any neckwear pattern using the coupon code neckwearKAL15 by July 31 and you'll be entered to win this needle set! 

We'll be giving away lots of great prizes throughout the KAL, and we'll be announcing more about those great prizes on July 24th when we kickoff the KAL!


We also have a short interview with Laura to learn more about her new design! 

Can you tell us more about your new pattern? What inspired it? What do you love about it?
The original worsted weight Just Enough Ruffles pattern was released in 2008, and it’s by far my most popular pattern! I was really proud to use a shape I hadn’t seen before, a lengthwise crescent shaped with short rows, with patterning along the curved edge. Of course it took a lot of trial and error to come up with the final numbers, but it’s simple to knit, fast, and fun! I’ve taken this opportunity to update the original pattern as well, adding new photos and tips!

I had a lot of people asking over the years how to adjust the original Just Enough Ruffles pattern for different yarn weights and sizes, so I decided it was finally time to release a fingering weight version, which I’m calling Just Enough Ruffles Light.
The construction is similar, but there are a few tweaks to make it work with a 100g skein of fingering weight yarn - perfect for all those stray special skeins that most people have in their stash! 


Like the original, this iteration took a few tries. I ripped and re-knit a lot before I settled on the final version. JER Light is also very easy to knit, and the thinner fabric is perfect for spring, summer, and fall. It’s a little more flexible than the worsted weight version, so there are lots of ways to wear it. I’ve also included lots of notes on how to adjust the pattern for even more yarn weights and sizes. 

What are you most excited about with hosting this KAL? 
I’ve never hosted a KAL before and I’m pretty excited about it! I would really love to see projects in progress, whether it’s JER Light or any other of my patterns. I find it so interesting to see what yarns and adjustments people use, and I would really love to help people out if they have any questions.

I tend to be quite shy and introverted, and I think there are lots of knitters like me - I really hope this KAL encourages some quieter knitters to come out and chat!

Giveaway
This month we're giving away a Knitter's Pride Nova Platina Cubics Deluxe Needle Set to one lucky person! To enter to win tell us which of Laura's patterns you plan on knitting for the KAL, we'll choose one lucky winner on Friday, July 24th! 

Winner + Charity Spotlight: Geek-a-long

The Geek-a-long is a yearly mystery blanket KAL hosted on the Lattes and Llamas blog and Ravelry group. Each Sunday, a free pattern for a geek-themed double-knit or crochet square is released; Megan-Anne and Jac ask only that participants consider a donation to the Child's Play Charity. Once again, Knitter's Pride is proud to be a benefactor, and we want to share a little bit more about the Geek-a-long with our fans this month.
Jac & Megan-Anne of the Lattes & Llamas blog.
Each year, Megan-Anne and Jac design 48 different squares which are centered around a fandom theme (this year, it's Mad Scientists); from these 48 squares, participants can choose 24 squares to create a 48"x72" blanket, which means that it's not too late to join in to this year's event! After 48 weeks of releasing square patterns, information about how to assemble the blanket and add an edging is shared on the Lattes & Llamas blog. All past square designs can be found here on the Lattes & Llamas website.
2014 Geek-a-long Blanket
Last year, the Geek-a-long event raised $3,440 for the Child's Play Charity, which is a game industry charity dedicated to improving the lives of children with toys and games in their network of over 70 hospitals worldwide. They hope to surpass this goal in 2015, and we look forward to watching their progress over on the Lattes & Llamas blog. Megan-Anne shares a bit more about this KAL in the mini-interview below. Enjoy!

What inspired you to start the annual Geek-A-Long event?
 I always wish that I had a really pretty story where Jac and I brainstormed for days over the perfect way to support our favorite charity. It’s the kind of story with a sepia filter and a montage in the middle with “Eye of the Tiger” playing. But the truth is, Jac had the idea for the GAL in the beginning of December, 2013 and it would be fair to say that my original involvement in it stemmed from a lost bet. I am ashamed to say I thought she was completely nuts. We were at Starbucks (so, basically a day ending in “y” around here), and she pitches me the idea to do a year-long KAL, AND to do it in double knitting (really cool, but takes twice as long), AND to release a color work chart for it each week, AND to cover as many nerdy fandoms as possible in the blanket, AND to have the first square come out on the first Sunday of 2014, and every Sunday there-after. I pointed out that was less than a month away, and told her just how insane I thought she was. She pumped me full of espresso shots until I thought it was a great idea, and we went home that night and sketched out about half a year’s worth of squares. I charted out 10 or so the next day and cast on. We had a huge stash of Cascade 220 sitting around, so we chose that for the blanket, and by a few months in Cascade generously stepped in as a sponsor and provided the yarn for the rest of the 2014 blanket as well as the 2015 blanket. The first year was rough because I had to do so many squares at once at the beginning of the year. We were slightly more prepared for year 2. And I can’t even begin to tell you how excited I am for year 3, it’s going to be amazeballs and it’s my favorite theme so far.

Tell us more about the charity the Geek-A-Long supports. 
From the moment Jac pitched me the idea, the concept was to use the project to raise money for Child’s Play. They provide video games and consoles for children’s hospitals and domestic violence shelters. I could go on about them all day, but I couldn’t do this amazing organization justice. Luckily, they describe themselves really well:
Here’s The Deal: Since 2003, we’ve set up and organized Child’s Play, a game industry charity dedicated to improving the lives of children with toys and games in our network of over 70 hospitals worldwide. Over the years, you as a community have answered the call and come together to raise millions of dollars. Child’s Play works in two ways. With the help of hospital staff, we set up gift wish lists full of video games, toys, books, and other fun stuff for kids. By clicking on a hospital location on our map, you can view that hospital’s wish list and send a gift. Child’s Play also receives cash donations throughout the year. With those cash donations, we purchase new consoles, peripherals, games, and more for hospitals and therapy facilities. These donations allow for children to enjoy age-appropriate entertainment, interact with their peers, friends, and family, and can provide vital distraction from an otherwise generally unpleasant experience.
WINNER

Designer Spotlight: Jana Huck + Giveaway

Jana Huck is a knitwear designer based in Luebeck, Germany; she is mostly known for her patchwork interpretations of the symmetry drawings by Dutch graphic artist M. C. Escher. Jana also designs garments and accessories and blogs in English and German at www.janukke.com.

She has a group on Ravelry, janukke Strickdesign, where you can join KALs and other knitting related activities. Hop over and have a look, Jana loves to hear back from knitters!

How long have you been knitting, and how did you get started designing?
I have been knitting for almost seven years now. Once I had figured out how to follow directions and how the knitting process works, I wanted to realize my own ideas. And it didn´t take long until I wrote them down so that I could share them with other knitters, which is ridiculously easy ever since the invention of the internet and Ravelry. I cannot say enough how wonderful it is to get in touch with other knitters and share ideas, inspirations, techniques and so much more!
On the Shore Blanket

Where do you get inspiration?
I draw my inspirations from everywhere. From life really, as cheesy as this is. Everything around me is intense and often pretty. I especially like to be inspired by nature, but I have also often been intrigued by architecture, graphic patterns, the art of M. C. Escher, and the work of other knitters, among other things.
Often the yarn itself is what makes me think of something. It can be anything, for example the way leaves are dancing in the wind on a tree in spring, something completely random like that. With that picture in mind I start knitting.
My goal for every design is that it is new and has never been seen before like this. All inspirations are merely jumping off points and become a thing of their own.

How did Janukke Strickdesign come about?
When I started designing I used the alias “janukke” on Ravelry. Later it became the label “Janukke Strickdesign”.
Swirlybird Shawl

How do you balance your own design and blogging career with curating Janukke Strick Design?
Ah, you are asking the hard questions! … That´s something I come back to every so often to reevaluate. Naturally, I am drawn to designing. That´s what I started out doing and what I enjoy. But caring for the public and social media part of designing is how knitters get to know my designs, so it is very necessary. And I enjoy talking to knitters tremendously – it´s how many new friendships developed over the years. So it´s a balance. Sometimes I feel I am focusing too much on knitting, then again I have the notion that I am not knitting anymore at all. So I guess the average is ok.

Do you have any knitting horror stories/mishaps?
Of course! Who hasn´t. But none of them are too entertaining. There´s the sweater that for some reason fell into my laundry unnoticed and got unintentionally felted, there are the beginner mishaps of choosing the wrong yarn (who knew merino would grow All That Much?) or the wrong pattern (eek, I look like I never heard of such thing as fashion).

What are you most looking forward to in 2015?
This year I have so many great plans that it´s hard to pick only one or two. I´ll be working together with yarn companies, meeting other knitters that I know through the internet, teaching workshops, … and I haven't even mentioned the many designs I cannot wait to get done and put out there. I already had my first small success this February with my new Sea Buckthorn shawl collection, which is a good start into 2015, I think.


Five Rings Cuffs
Giveaway
This month we're giving away a Rhine Needles & Crochet Hook Case to one lucky blog reader. To enter, leave a comment on this post sharing your favorite design from Jana Huck's Ravelry Page. Don't forget to leave us your Ravelry ID so we can contact you if you're our lucky winner!

Summer Fun with Pom Poms

Today, we're featuring three fun craft ideas for the Knitter's Pride Rejoice and Nirvana Pom Pom Makers. These are great crafts for using up those odd bits of leftover yarns and fun to do with kids, too! 



For our projects, we made larger pom poms using the 2.5"/8.5cm Nirvana pom pom maker and smaller pom poms using the 3/8"/3.5cm Rejoice pom pom maker. For instructions on how to make pom poms, take a look at this tutorial from our blog archive.  

Pom Pom Hair Tie
Our first project is a fun summer accessory for keeping the hair off your neck! All you'll need is a pom pom in the size of your choice (we used a small one) and a hair tie. 


Using the tails from your pom pom, secure the pom pom to your hair tie. Be sure to wrap a few times and tie some nice strong knots so that it won't come apart. 


Voila, you have an adorable pom pom hair tie! 


Pom Pom Flowers
Our second project is a great way to decorate your home throughout the year - and you won't have to worry about watering or wilting! We went outdoors to source a small branch to use with both large and small pom poms (in the example below, we use one of each size, but feel free to get creative!).


All you have to do is tie your pom poms to the branch using the tails; you can use a little craft glue to secure the ends in if you like. Using hot glue or other craft glue to secure each pom pom might be helpful with more slippery yarns like cotton. You can make several and put them in a vase for a lovely decoration! 


Pom Pom Garland
With our third project, you can add a little color to any part of your home! You can make your garland as long as you'd like, depending on where you plan to hang it. 

For our garland, we used 8 of the smaller pom poms and crocheted a chain approximately 4.5 feet long. 

To make sure your garland comes out fairly even, fold your crochet chain in half, and arrange the pom poms in the order you'd like them to appear. Remember that the ones at the center (on the left in the photo below) should be closer together since the crochet chain is folded.


Tie your pom poms to your crochet chain and trim the ends. Now you're ready to hang your garland! 


We used ours to brighten up a shelf in the kitchen! Where would you hang a pom pom garland?




Giveaway Winner
Congratulations to Shelley, you're the lucky winner of a Nova Platina Deluxe Interchangeable Needle Set! We'll be in touch to arrange delivery of your prize. Thanks to everyone who participated! 


Recent Events + Giveaway!

In March of this year, the Hobby & Handarbeit (commonly referred to as simply H+H) trade show took place in Cologne, Germany. This yearly event attracts 370 exhibitors and over 15,000 trade visitors from all over the world, and KnitPro is proud to take part by exhibiting our wide range of needles, hooks and accessories for knitters and crocheters (for those of you who might be wondering, Knitter's Pride products are sold outside of North America under the KnitPro brand).
This is also when we introduce our newest additions to the KnitPro product lineup, and we enjoy getting a chance to chat with visitors to our booth each year.
Another great thing about attending H+H is to get a peek at the emerging trends in the handcraft industry. This video from the H+H YouTube Channel does a great job of sharing some of the inspirational ideas we spotted at this year's show: 
More recently, our needles and hooks were found at YarnCon, which is an indie yarn and fiber festival which takes place each spring in Chicago, IL. 
In addition to being part of the yarn tasting area, Knitter's Pride products were found in the Gnome Creation Station, which was an area where visitors could knit or crochet a small gnome toy to be included in an upcoming art installation in Seoul, South Korea. 
The installation will be created by Anna Hrachovec of MochiMochiland, who recently put out a call to crafters near and far to donate their gnomes for the cause, dubbed #ProjectGnomeDiplomacy. You can read more about the project here on Anna's blog; we look forward to seeing it take shape later this summer! 


Giveaway
Use the widget below to enter this month's giveaway by signing up for our newsletter (if you are already a subscriber, simply enter your email address to confirm). Click here for a direct link to the entry form if the widget does not work for you!

Designer Spotlight: Heidi Gustad of Hands Occupied + Winner

Heidi Gustad of Hands Occupied
wearing the Faux Woven Cowl
This month, we are proud to have sponsored YarnCon, Chicago's Indie Fiber Festival. To celebrate, we're featuring another Chicago-based knitwear designer, Heidi Gustad of Hands Occupied. 

Heidi is a part-time librarian with a passion for all things crafty. On the Hands Occupied blog, you'll find knitting and crochet patterns and tutorials, project ideas for other yarn crafts, and plenty of inspiration, too! Crafters of all skill levels will find lots of useful information, from the Knewbies tutorials to tips and tricks geared towards more advanced knitters and crocheters. 

How long have you been knitting, and how did you get started designing
I first learned to knit at age 8 from my grandma who saw in me an anxious kid who could benefit from a relaxing hobby. Plus, I was a total freak for crafts as a kid - it made perfect sense. While I didn't fully latch on to knitting regularly until I was in high school, I have technically been knitting for almost 20 years, despite being 27.

I started designing my own patterns for myself in college, but it didn't occur to me to start sharing my patterns, let alone start publishing my patterns, until a couple years ago. I ultimately became a designer because of my blog, Hands Occupied. I started the blog when I was 23 as a way to more actively participate in the online crafting and DIY world. What I wanted to do from the beginning was really start a knitting blog, but I was too chicken. I blogged about general craft tutorials and inspiration for the first couple years of my blog. During those years I learned how to code so I could make my own changes to my site as needed, I learned how to take decent pictures, and I learned how to market my content online. What was missing from the equation those first couple years was the level of passion I feel for knitting and crochet design.
The Long John Cowl, a free pattern from Hands Occupied

About 18 months ago, I started blogging knitting patterns since, dammit, that's what I wanted to do. I think I just had to get to a certain age to get the confidence (and skills) I needed to finally take the plunge into design. The blog gave me a chance to put patterns out there for free, which gave my readers the chance to share what they liked or didn't like about a given design and let me know if I made an error in my pattern, which was a really effective way to learn quickly what pitfalls to avoid in designing! It was interesting how much my experience marketing general craft DIYs like Mod Podging fabric on a shelf helped in marketing my patterns. The photography experience and social media network have proven especially useful.

Where do you get inspiration?
I like to make patterns that are practical. Of my free blog patterns, the most popular have both been cowls that I designed during the deepest, coldest days of Chicago's last two winters. One, the Faux Woven Cowl, was designed to be virtually windproof for my husband's daily walks to and from the train he takes to work. And the Long John Cowl was inspired by my need for extra warmth on my own way to work, but it also rolls down to be worn as a neck warmer when my workplace is freezing. 

Outlander Chevron Shawl,
a free pattern from Hands Occupied
Since I like to design with an eye toward practicality, I'm often inspired by the yarn I'm working with. I love getting my hands on a new-to-me yarn, swatching with it, and having a spark of an idea when I understand how the fiber would behave as a garment. Sometimes I'll swatch with a laceweight and notice a fluidity to how the swatch lays/handles, and I'll know just the right type of garment to design with it. (Maybe this makes me sound crazy/artsy fartsy or doesn't make sense, but for me, there's just this gut feeling thing that happens with certain yarns that's super inspiring for me as a designer.)

How do you balance your own design/blogging career with your part-time job as a Librarian? Do you have any helpful hints for ways to maximize crafting time for those who are pressed for time? 
Pardon the pun, but at this point I could write a book about how complicated balancing my job as a Librarian and balancing my creative career is. (For a short version of the anxiety and compromise and whatnot that leading a dual career lifestyle entails, check out this post I wrote on the subject.) Most people assume I do all of my blogging and design work on top of a full time Librarian gig, but it's not the case. I chose a couple years ago to take a part time job that still required my library science Master's degree in order to achieve a better balance between my creative career and being a Librarian. That's the key. I still work way more than 40 hours a week, but based on what I can tell from friends' careers and my husband's most of us work way more than 40 hours a week. I just try to keep my Librarian job to around 20 hours, and design with the rest of it. Luckily audiobooks exist to help me keep up with all of the reading required of my bookish job. :)

The first few years I blogged, I was working full time in libraries and attending grad school. I also got married and moved to Chicago from Michigan in there one year too. That was shenanigans. I thought that it was necessary to be sleep deprived and ultimately a little unhappy in order to pursue any career, especially a creative one. I don't recommend that.
What I do recommend for finding more time to create, even if it's just for yourself, is this:
  • If you get a full hour for lunch, bring something you can eat in 15 minutes. Then plug in some headphones to zone out with your craft for the other 45.
  • If you can take transit or carpool, do! I bring knitting and crochet on the train all the time. I recommend avoiding DPNs since those can drop and roll away from you, but circulars and crochet projects can be your commuter crafting BFF.
  • If you get frustrated by a never-ending project, consider alternating working on those with an easy-to-finish project like a chunky hat or socks or mittens. Switching up your routine can help you feel more productive and avoid frustration, particularly when time isn't on your side.
  • Use a calendar. When I was in grad school, working full time and blogging too, I would schedule myself time to create, even in just half hour chunks. I'd try to create for a little while after work but before I shifted to homework time to help give myself a mental break.
  • If you're in school, particularly if you're taking online classes, knit while you watch your lectures. Crochet while you get reading done via audiobook. It takes some balancing, but you can find little bits of creative time without losing sleep!
Vintage Checked Mittens,
a free pattern from Hands Occupied
What are you most looking forward to in 2015?
I'm going to my first needle arts industry conference in May, and I couldn't be more pumped! I hear I will come away with some excellent design inspiration and lots of new friends.

Do you have any knitting horror stories/mishaps?
The first time I designed a baby blanket, I completely took for granted that what I thought was a piece of cake to make could just as easily be translated into a written pattern. That was a big, facepalm-inducing moment for me that helped me really understand the process behind designing and proofing a pattern. Nothing feels worse than when a dedicated reader and internet knitting friend ends up confused when they trust you and your work as a designer. Luckily, my blog readers are amazing and ended up teaching me a lot the first few months I released patterns on my blog. Nowadays, I've published a few patterns in print, have signed with a book agent and am opening my own indie pattern shop online, and thanks to the feedback from readers, I know what they like about my designs and how to work with a tech editor and test knitters!

April Blog Giveaway Winner
Congratulations to AnnBan, who won a Waves Crochet Set in this month's giveaway. We will get in touch with you to arrange for the delivery of your prize. Be sure to visit the Hands Occupied blog for another chance to win a fabulous prize from Knitter's Pride!