Listen, I’m going to tell you a story that appears to be about Cleveland (also, about yarn but still, a lot about Cleveland) and you may be thinking to yourself, “Oh Stephanie, I’m not from Cleveland… I don’t care about this.” But stick with me because there’s something at the end that is for you too (or, if you really don’t want to read through this, you can skip on ahead to the bottom — I’m cool with that. Just check out the delicious yarn on your way down).
Last summer, sometime around July, I got a call from Erika, the owner of River Colors Studio in Lakewood Ohio (a suburb of Cleveland). I’d done a trunk show there a few years earlier and it had been a ton of fun — the shop is really beautiful and I’d met a lot of great knitters and crocheters that day.
Erika was calling with an interesting proposition — she wanted to create a yarn club for her customers, with monthly colourways each inspired by a different area in Cleveland. I knew it was a great idea immediately — Cleveland is made up of a patchwork of really distinctive neighbourhoods, and it’s the kind of city that sparks incredible loyalty in the folks who love it. This would be the perfect club for knitters and crocheters who live in one of those neighbourhoods, for Cleveland-natives who’ve had to move away, for newcomers just getting to know the city, for high-school grads leaving their hometown for college… for anyone who loves (or misses) the city they grew up in or have come to consider home. What a fantastic project!
And then Erika asked, would I like to be part of it? Would I be interested in being the dyer for the Colors of Cleveland club? Heck yes!
Now there’s a lot to love about this club (beautiful colours, delicious SpaceCadet yarns, detailed colourway notes) but, for me as the dyer, the best part is the collaboration. Instead of coming up with the colourways myself (as I do for all my other dyeing), River Colors Studio employee and long-time Clevelander, Rachel Metz, visits each featured neighbourhood and uses watercolours to interpret its vibe into a distinctive colour palette. Once that’s done, she sends it to me and I carefully study it to determine how to recreate it using our yarn dyes in primary colours.
And that’s actually a lot harder than it sounds because the nature of dyeing is different from painting. It’s one thing to dye a yarn freehand and simply see how it comes out, but it’s an entirely different thing to have a certain colour that you’re aiming for. Dyeing results are impacted by so many things — the fiber content and yarn construction, the hardness of the water, the speed with which it heats up, and on and on — and it can be incredibly difficult to get all those things to come together precisely enough to hit one specific hue exactly. So I warned Erika and Rachel: when you’re transferring a colour palette from one medium and technique (paint on paper) to a completely different medium and technique (dye on yarn), the results can be difficult to predict and hard to control, and that they should be thinking of this as more an interpretation of Rachel’s colour palettes than a literal translation.
They were completely on board with that — and the result has been an enormous amount of fun for me as a dyer, for them, and for everyone in the Colors of Cleveland club. Sometimes we’ve hit the colours exactly and other times the transition has been a little looser but always — always — the yarns are deliciously beautiful. I’m so glad Erika has asked me to be a part of the creation of the club and I can’t wait to see what the upcoming months bring!
Do You Love Cleveland? Or Know Someone Who Does?
Then click here to check out the club and start knitting or crocheting your city! There are options to pick up your yarn in person if you live nearby or to have it delivered to your door if you’re far away. And the club set up is just like our Mini-Skein Club: join whenever you like and leave when you have enough yarn (when you what?!?). It’s the perfect way to dip your toes in and see how you like it!
So You’re Not from Cleveland? You Don’t Care About It at All?
Ok, I hear you, and so I have a little favour to ask you. We have so enjoyed being part of the Colors of Cleveland project that we’ve already got something similar in the works for Pittsburgh. We’re changing it up so it’s a little different but we’re developing colourways and working on ideas now — look for more news in the autumn.
But what about your city? Do you live someplace with an interesting history, distinctive landmarks, and residents who just love the place they call home? Dyeing for this project has been so much fun that we’d love to explore other cities this way as well. If you think your hometown is a good candidate and you have a great, visonary LYS for us to partner with, then let us know! Email info(at)spacecadetcreations(dot)com with details of what makes your city special and who to contact at your LYS. You never know, you may just see your town re-interpreted in beautiful, smooshy SpaceCadet yarn!