SpaceCadet Newsletter: No Resolutions

SpaceCadet Newsletter: No Resolutions

How are you doing on your New Year’s resolutions? Did you make any? Did you break any? This year, I didn’t want to do anything so heavy as make resolutions but instead, I decided to just try something and see how it feels. Just to try something.

And that something is how I start my mornings. Most days, I rush headlong into all the Stuff That Needs To Be Done. I have my tea or coffee, sure. I sit down and make my lists, sure. And while that time looks quiet from the outside, on the inside, my brain is already rushing and getting stressed. So I decided, starting last week, to start my mornings with some mental stillness. I have been knitting, first thing in the morning (I’ve never done that much before); I’ve been sitting in my favourite chair and reading my book; I’ve been getting out my journal and reflecting (not lists! just reflections). And I’ve been taking a little time contemplate what I’d like my day to look like, instead of just rushing into it and then being surprised how it’s turned out.

Usually, by now, my resolutions are goners — all broken several times over and feeling tainted. So far, this year, it feels different. I’m not pressuring myself, I’m not building it up into anything as big as a resolution. I’m just trying something… and trying it every day.

So far, so good. How’s your new year going? What have you resolved… or not resolved… or are just trying?

Newsletter

This is important: we all know that wool is an (almost) magical fiber and we cheer every time manufacturers chooses its wonderful natural properties over synthetic substitutes but, as demand has increased, the price of wool has been rising rapidly in the world markets. And that is beginning to have an effect on every industry that uses it, from clothing to housewares to Allbirds to, yes, yarn for knitting and crocheting. This article from the Wall Street Journal (Wool Is Cool Again and Prices Are Shear Madness)l explains the key details (and includes this most excellent quote: “… the sailors demanded merino. ‘It’s the only thing that doesn’t smell after two weeks at sea.’”)

My feet in Knitty-editor Amy Singer’s iridescent Birkenstocks at TNNA.
I nearly ran away with them!

And if you read that article above and don’t know what merino-rich Allbirds are, this article covers the rise of this “curiously fashionable footwear”, along with (my all-time, never-off-my-feet-in-summer favourites) Birkenstocks (above).

I love how often the fiber arts community comes together to do really good things. This month, Knitters Against Malaria is raising money for one of the most effective ways to prevent the disease: by providing mosquito nets to those most at risk. Every $2-3 finances a net that lasts 3-4 years and protects two people on average, and the campaign runs until Jan 31. Click here to join your fellow knitters and support this great cause.

If you ask an obvious question, you get an obvious answer. So why are these goats wearing sweaters? Because they’re cold, of course! But they look so adorable in them (my favourite is the one in the 80s throwback jeans jacket!) that they’re now the stars of their own pin-up calendar.

The SpaceMonster Club is Open (but only until Monday)

Take a look at the yarn below — it’s the SpaceMonster colourway that we sent out in October and maybe on first glance, you just see bright berry shade. But look a little closer… can you see how complex the colours are? And can you spot that we’ve included a lot of moodier, muted elements to offset the bright and add sophisticatoin? It’s the kind of wonderful yarn that will keep changing in your hands as you work with it, altering gently from stitch to stitch.

The truth is, there’s something really, really special about dyeing for the folks who join our clubs.  They’ve on a colour adventure with us and I want to share with them all the love and excitement we put into each colourway. To me, that’s an amazing honour!

Would you like to join me on this colour adventure?  The SpaceMonster Club is our worsted and bulky weight club, because big squishy yarns are smooshy and soft and so much fun to work with (they’re so quick!).  I mean, they’re what got me started knitting in the first place (you too?).  If you feel the same way I do, and you love colour like I do, click here to join us in all this lovely squishy yarny fun!


Upcoming Shows

Feb 23 — Indie Knit & Spin at the Ace Hotel in Pittsburgh PA

March 15-17 — The Pittsburgh Creative Arts Festival at the DoubleTree by Hilton in Greentree PA


Tea With Liz by Corrine Walcher

This time of year, my feet are cold all. the. time. Warm woollen socks go a long way to keeping them warm but when the socks have cables, somehow that feels extra toasty. These come in three sizes so you’re sure to get a good fit. Try them in SpaceCadet Oriana in Feather or Frigia

image © Corrine Walcher, used with permission

Irulan by Barbara Benson

But maybe you don’t live someplace as cold as Pittsburgh is right now…? Lucky you! In that case, I’m loving this delicate shawl that lets the simplest of stitchwork create an oversized motif that’s deceptively eye-catching. Try it in SpaceCadet Oriana in either Breathless or Crisp.

image © Barbara Benson , used with permission

Crisp Cables Hat by Lindsey Stephens

I think the thing I like most about this hat is that, when you look at it from the front, it’s all about those distinctive raised cables that look like the they’ve almost been etched onto the surface but then, from the back, they frame a most beautiful crown (have a look at my Instagram feed to see it). Designed in SpaceCadet Aurora, it’d look fabulous in either Blood Moon or Headstrong.

image © Stephanie Alford, and I gave myself permission


Well, as much as I like starting my day quietly, I think it’s time to get the started. First, I’m prepping yarn for a couple of designers we’re collaborating with and then a bunch of photos to do (so fun!). I hope you have just as lovely a day planned and, until next time, all my best!

SpaceCadet Newsletter: A Big Goof to Start the New Year!

SpaceCadet Newsletter: A Big Goof to Start the New Year!

If the start of the year is supposed to be a clean slate, a chance to start fresh, you don’t want to start it with that sudden sinking feeling of knowing that you totally goofed… but I did! The kind of big goof that had me staring at my screen in disbelief, then slapping myself on the forehead, and then scrambling to fix everything. This is not how the year is supposed to start…

The SpaceMonsters Club, as you know, opened in December and there was a wonderful flurry of activity as members renewed their subscriptions. Tons of them! And it warmed my heart because it told me that they’ve really enjoyed being part of the club — enjoyed it enough to come back for more!

But as I watched all those renewers sign up, I didn’t notice that hardly any new people were joining. A few here and there but… hardly any. Chalk it up to the holidays, to the rush of last-minute orders and then the busy-ness of seeing family and friends… but I just didn’t notice that hardly anyone new was joining the SpaceMonsters club…

Until an email came in a few days ago from Kate, asking if there were any spaces left… and that’s when I looked and saw this weird imbalance of hardly any new joiners and…

…SPOTTED THAT THE JOINING BUTTONS WERE BROKEN!

Broken. Not there. Lots of info on the page but… no way to join. What?!? The buttons had been fine! I’d checked them. What happened?!? I started digging, scrambling around in the back of my website like a crazed squirrel digging for nuts, when it suddenly dawned on me: the platform that my website is built with had done a big update a couple of weeks ago, a kind of end-of-the-year upgrade, that I hadn’t taken much notice of but which I now realised had left everything else on my website running except… it had completely removed the SpaceMonster joining buttons!

Oh, I was so embarrassed. People must have been coming to the site to join and… gahhhh, it was like my site wasn’t fully dressed!

After a little bit of scrambling (…and then some swearing …and then a cookie), I figured it out and got the codeworking again. And now the buttons are in place and everything in order.

So, if you’ve been wanting to join our awesome SpaceMonsters Club, to hop on board with all those happy renewing members, you can now do that that! And I’ll be keeping the club open an extra week (until Jan 14) to make sure you can. Click here to get in on the fun!

And if there’s a silver lining to every storm, what would this one be….? I’m telling myself starting 2019 with a big, embarrassing goof-up is a good omen, like rain on your wedding day. Start the year low and it’s bound to go up!

…right?

Newsletter


This story is absolutely lovely… When Clare’s husband died, her psychologist suggested knitting as therapy. When Ian’s wife died, he was left with her huge stash of yarn. And when that brought the two of them together… they found love after grief. Awwww!

If you’re a continental knitting, have you tried Norwegian Purling? It’s where you keep the yarn in back whilst purling. Intriguing, right? I haven’t tried it yet but a couple of days ago, the SpaceCadet crew were all watching this video and deciding they had to try it.

Have you heard about the Lots of Socks Initiative? The idea is to show support for the Downs Syndrome community by wearing two different colorful socks to highlight the uniqueness of those individuals affected by the condition. And because she designs lots of socks, Lisa Ross (creater of the Flickering Light shawl) reached out to a bunch of her fellow designers and makers to create a unique KAL (starting on Feb 1) to support this great cause! Click here to learn more and get involved

If you follow me on Instagram, you know I love my journals and fountain pens. If you’re like me, you might enjoy this article about the growing fountain pen community.

Three journals, two pens… and coffee!

Speaking of journals, did you see the awesome handmade journal covers that our SpaceMonster Club members received in December? They were custom made for us by StarKnits and I love that mine works perfectly with the A5 bullet journal I use for all my knitting and design notes. I love so much in fact that I recorded a little video to show the members how I use it. Want to see too? Click here!

I loooove these custom bullet journal covers we sent to our SpaceMonsters!

The SpaceMonster Club is Open (and the buttons WORK!)

See that yarn below?  There’s a story behind it — it’s about a squirrel that sits on my back porch and watches for me through the window, and another in the tree that chatters and chides him. I wrote the whole story out and shared it with our SpaceMonster Club members last month, as I do the stories behind all their yarns.

And that’s because there’s something really, really special about dyeing for the folks who join our clubs.  They’ve on a colour adventure with us and I want to share with them all the love and excitement we put into each colourway. To me, that’s an amazing honour!

Would you like to join me on this colour adventure?  The SpaceMonster Club is our worsted and bulky weight club, because big squishy yarns are smooshy and soft and so much fun to work with (they’re so quick!).  I mean, they’re what got me started knitting in the first place (you too?).  If you feel the same way I do, and you love colour like I do, click here to join us in all this lovely squishy yarny fun!


Upcoming Shows

Feb 23 — Indie Knit & Spin at the Ace Hotel in Pittsburgh PA

March 15-17 — The Pittsburgh Creative Arts Festival at the DoubleTree by Hilton in Greentree PA


Sole e Stelle Wrap by Clara Keegan

I was so excited when I saw that Clara, long-time club member and friend-of-SpaceCadet, had debuted her first design that I just had to share it. And what a debut it is! Designed in SpaceCadet Luna, our gorgeous silk-merino cobweb lace yarn, its amazingly ethereal stitchwork is instantly worthy of heirloom status. Congratulations Clara — it’s beautiful!

I Love A Theme Hat, Cowl, and Mitts by Corrine Walcher

When Corrine Walcher created the beautiful Dot Matrix sweater with one of our Linking gradient Sweater Sets, she had enough yarn left over that she used it to design this matching hat, cowl, and mitts! Perfectly named, the gradient effect looks amazing and the result is gorgeous! And as she says in her Instagram posts #nosuchthingasleftoveryarn

McCaslin Tunisian Hat by Robyn Chachula

I’ve always found Tunisian crochet fascinating… in theory… and the delightfully textured stitch pattern in Robyn Chachula’s latest hat design might just get me to try it! I absolutely love the way the stitches move the colour around and the worsted yarn will be lovely and warm. Now, I know I have a Tunisian hook around here somewhere…

Images © the respective designers, used with permission


Ok, today I am heading down to the studio to play with a new colourway that we planned out the other day. It’s always exciting to see if the dye will do what we expect it to (because sometimes it does and sometimes… heh!… it really doesn’t!). I hope you’ve got something fun planned for today and don’t forget to join the SpaceMonsters! Until next time, all my best…


SpaceCadet Newsletter: Are You Mad at Me?, She Asked

SpaceCadet Newsletter: Are You Mad at Me?, She Asked

The other day my sister texted me: “Are you mad at me?  I haven’t heard from you in weeks!”  It’s true — we usually talk a couple of times a week but ever since Black Friday, I’ve just been running and running and haven’t stopped once. 

I phoned her.  “No! No, nothing is wrong.  I just… well, I run a retail business and it’s the week before Christmas!”  We talked for maybe a whole five minutes — and it felt like a luxury! — before I had to go… to the studio, to the post office, I can’t remember.  The whole past month is a blur!

But you know what?  I am so grateful that’s a blur, because it’s all for such good reasons.  It feels great to be this busy (well, great.. and exhausting!) and it feels amazing to have so many people choosing our yarn as the gifts they give someone they love or as a treat for themselves.  And though I am seriously ready to spend Christmas just sitting still (I’ve forgotten what that feels like), I am also so grateful for this amazing end to the year, and to our fabulous customers who made it happen.   It is a wonderful reminder that everything we do is because of and for youThank you.

Newsletter
  • In past months, I’ve shared Sherwin-Williams’s and Benjamin Moore’s announcements of their colours of the year, and now it’s time to hear from the true colour authority, Pantone.  And their 2019 Color of the Year is…  Living Coral.  Watch for it to start appearing everywhere: in fashion, home furnishings, decor, and…  maybe yarn.  What do think?  Is Living Coral the colour for you? (Serious question!  Let me know!)
  • You are going to make some great food over the holidays, and this quick guide will help you make it look awesome in your Instagram photos.  And all the same principles can apply to your WIPs and FOs too!
  • The Ugly Christmas Sweater is a staple of the season, but one Finnish newspaper took it up a notch by commissioning a set of sweaters themed around some of the ugliest news events of 2018, to support their series of articles on the issues.  Scroll down to see the video showing their production.  Ugly as they are (and they are), I have to admit I do kind of like the designs.
  • Clara Parkes’s one-woman Instagram campaign to promote wool continues, and this week she voices her opinion of a billboard from PETA featuring a naked Alicia Silverstone and admonishing us to “Leave Wool Behind“.  Clara’s post and the comments are, as always, worth reading.

“But what do you want for Christmas?!?” It can be a hard question but even trickier if the gift-giver doesn’t know fingering from worsted.  What’s a knitter to do?  Fortunately, I’ve put together a collection of awesome gift ideas that make it easy for folks to give you exactly what your yarn-lovin’ heart desires!  Just direct them to this page here (don’t forget to mention your favourite colour!) and it’s all smooth sailing from there.

The SpaceMonster Club opens TODAY at noon!

See that yarn below?  See all the colous it contains?  You really can tell how much love went into it.  That’s because it’s a SpaceMonsters colourway and there’s something really, really special about dyeing for the folks who join our clubs.  They’ve agreed to come on a colour adventure with us and, to me, that’s an amazing honour!

Would you like to join me on this colour adventure?  The SpaceMonster Club is our worsted and bulky weight club, because big squishy yarns are smooshy and soft and so much fun to work with (they’re so quick!).  I mean, they’re what got me started knitting in the first place (you too?).  If you feel the same way I do, and you love colour like I do, set a reminder on your phone now and click here at noon (eastern) TODAY to join us in all this lovely squishy yarny fun!

Last Chance for Holiday Gifts!

And we’ve got amazing gift options in stock right now!

Flickering Light Kits

There’s just a few left!  But we’ve decided to have a little KAL starting Dec 26 — just something relaxed and casual to wind down after the holiday madness — so if you’d like to join in, you’ll want to grab a kit quickly!

And if you want to give one as a gift, be sure to order by 6pm today so we can get it in the post tomorrow.

Permutation Kits

A sweet little kit that makes a perfect gift — not only because the colours are beautiful, but because the pattern offers so many options!  Two different brims, three different bodies, and two different crowns, and you can decide if you’d like a straight or a folded brim — there are dozens of possible combinations!

Bound for Home Shawl Kits

The Bound for Home shawl is knit in sport weight, giving it a smooshiness that’s so comforting, it kind of snugs around you like your own personal blanket. And the colours are so delicious!  A wonderful project to cast on for those endless cold nights after the Christmas festivities, we’ve got a few sets in stock and just enough time to get them in the post!⠀

Plus Lots More Options!

I’ve put together a whole little holiday gift shop!  Click here to see what’s in stock and can be shipped tomorrow.  And if you miss that deadline, don’t worry — there are even a few options that will work right up through Christmas morning (click the “Last Minute!” button to see them)

If Christmas time is about giving, I want to share another opportunity for our community to support one of our own by doing what we do best.

So you remember a few weeks ago, I told you about the designer Heatherly Walker and encouraged you to help her recover from losing everything in the California wildfires by buying her patterns and knitting her designs? Well, at around the same that was happening on the west coast, knit & crochet designer Mary Beth Temple was facing the daunting task of rebuilding her life after Hurricane Florence tore through her townhouse on the east coast.

So I thought, what better way to help her as well than to share her patterns and encourage you to support her by simply buying her beautiful designsHere are three of my favourites:

Acorn Pullover by Mary Beth Temple

The first time I met Mary Beth was at TNNA, the industry trade show.  I spotted her as I was walking across the show floor and, recognising her face from social media, my brain said, “That’s Mary Beth Temple!”

Unfortunately, my mouth followed suit and I exclaimed with some sort of see-it-say-it simplicity, “Hey! You’re Mary Beth Temple!”

Transitions Knit Shawl by Mary Beth Temple

That’s exactly what I said.  Hey! You’re Mary Beth Temple!  And then realising I sounded like an idiot, I added, “But I’m sure you know that. “

To her credit, instead of rolling her eyes, she laughed and was absolutely lovely.  We chatted for awhile — at least until I proved that I was actually capable of speaking like a sensible adult — and then went on our ways.  But before she went, I added, “You know, if you ever forget who you are, just ask me.  I’ll be happy to tell you!”

Trio Knit Cowl by Mary Beth Temple

To this day, every time I run into her at a show, she starts with, “Who am I?!?”  And, always happy to help her out, I immediately reply, “You’re Mary Beth Temple!

images © Mary Beth Temple, used with permission

Ok, I have a TON of stuff to do today, so I’d better get going.  As we head into this busy week, I very sincerely wish you and yours a happy and peaceful holiday season.  And, until next time, all my best!

SpaceCadet Newsletter: The Lowdown on Wool Clothing

SpaceCadet Newsletter: The Lowdown on Wool Clothing

You remember a few weeks ago, I told you about my sister wanting to buy wool clothing for work, and not knowing where to get it?  (Or even how to ask about it!…  “when they manufacture merino…“)  I asked you guys to suggest places for her shop, and the response was fantastic!  So many folks emailed in and with such excellent suggestions that I not only was able to put together a great list of resources for her but, even better, I was reminded anew of what a wonderful community we have here.

So, first, thank you so much to everyone who wrote in or left a comment!  And second, quite a few folks asked if I would also share the compiled information here, which I think is a terrific idea.  So here’s the full list, with several companies getting duplicate mentions (which I think is a great sign) and a few companies that were completely new to me.  I know that you and I can make our own wool clothing (because: we are awesome) but I’m delighted to have such a great list of additional options.  (And just thrilled to pass so many suggestions on to my sister — thanks again!)

Photo by Kai Pilger

Where to get wool clothing:

• from Holly: Pendleton and Eileen Fisher.
• from Pamela: Talbots
• from Deborah: LL Bean, Woolrich, REI, Pendleton, Johnson Woolen Mills, and Eddie Bauer
• from Grace: Lands End, Winter Silks, LLBean
• from Paula: Brooks Brothers
• from Lillian: Banana Republic, or Anne Taylor. Nordstrom, or Nordstrom Rack
• from Melissa: Banana Republic, J. Crew, Gap, Brooks Bros. Boden is one of my favorites (search by “wool”).
• from Deb: Vogue Fabrics in Evanston, IL.
• Elizabeth suggested high end consignment shops
• from Elizabeth B: LL Bean, Land’s End, Macy’s, and Pendleton
• from Lisa C.: Eileen Fischer or Garnet Hill
• from Joanna: Land’s End and another from LL Bean
• from Stacey: Pendleton, Cos (https://www.cosstores.com/), Jcrew (you can search on their site by fiber content), Nordstrom (https://shop.nordstrom.com/c/womens-dresses-shop/wool)
• from Susan M: Pendleton.
• from Pat: Talbots, Pendleton, I’ve bought wool clothes in Macy’s
• from Beth G: Kühl
• from Mary Ellen: Eddie Bauer
• from Alison: Brooks Brothers, Bon Worth, Pendleton, Banana Republic
• from Rebecca: Orvis
• from Emmie: Orvis, Talbots, Woolrich, Lands’ End
• from Kate: Pendleton
• from Cisela: COS
• from Jocelyn: Neiman Marcus, Nordstroms, J Crew, or REI for hiking.
• And I got this suggestion as well, which I thought was excellent:
The ready to wear lines by most designers do include classic components made of good quality wool (Calvin Klein, Anne Klein, Lauren used to…). Check Canadian manufactured goods…they’ve been the most reliable for affordability, outstanding construction and fabric quality as of late.
Ideally, find a good tailor. Tailors are not just for men and they know how to cut and drape fabric to be most flattering . Imagine a jacket or skirt or slacks that actually fit and you can be comfortable sitting through a tedious meeting. You can start off with a jacket and skirt or pants and then add complementary pieces as you go. They will keep swatches and measurements on file so if you want a pair of chalk line slacks to go with your new charcoal blazer for a more relaxed look, they’re on it. They have access to a myriad of fine quality wool, wool gabardine, wool silk blends etc. There are wools so lightweight they are gossamer and the drape will make you swoon.
Keep in mind these will be well constructed pieces and if well cared for can last many many years. (I took apart some of my Dad’s suits and recut them for me and then my daughter did the same with them when I was done wearing them…third generation and they look brand new.)
I use the CPW formula when deciding on a higher cost purchase. Cost per wear. How many times a month will I wear this? How many years?  Great question from your sister!

Isn’t that a fabulous resource list?!?  Thank you all so much.  I can’t wait to share it with my sister!

 

Newsletter

If there’s a crocheter on your holiday list, top crochet designer Robyn Chachula (Crochet by Faye) has created a pop-up shop to sell her awesome Love Laugh Crochet range of t-shirts, mugs, bags, and other great gifts.  Everything is in very limited quantities, so don’t wait!  (I’ve already nabbed two mugs and a backpack for a couple of crocheters on my list)  Bonus: Robyn is offering us an exclusive 20% discount with the code LOVE.  Woot!

Speaking of woollen clothing, if you follow Clara Parkes on Instagram, you’ll know she’s been waging a campaign for winter-clothing manufacturers to use natural and appropriate fibers in their products (that is, fewer synthetic fibers and no cotton, thank you).  It’s been entertaining to watch her daily posts and stories but this one (where she penned an open letter to Deluth Trading Company deriding their ad claiming “Fleece-Infused: No Smelly Animal Fur Here, Just… Polyester Fleece” — under a drawing of a sheep!) created a bit of a firestorm in the comments.  Well worth reading!

And then Quintin McEwan, a shepherd at Cedar Grove Farm in Ontario spotted a Lucky Brand sweater with a tag claiming (…wait for it…) that “The World Needs More Fat Sheep” and “Not a Single Sheep was Sheered in the Making of this Garment”  (yes, you read that right).  He wrote a wonderful open letter to the company explaining that sheering sheep is a *necessary* part of good animal husbandry, and inviting representatives of the company to come to his farm and see for themselves.  Click here to read it and here to see the company’s (disappointing) response.  The good news?  They included their contact information (email and phone) and seem keen to… receive feedback.

Tis the season for those amazing holiday-themed stranded colourwork sweaters and that always makes me think of Scandinavian patterns.  If you’re the same, this article giving the history of that classic motif, the Norwegian Star, makes really interesting reading.  Make sure it’s snowing outside and you curled up next a roaring fire.

Ok, the clock is ticking and you are stuck for gift idea, you could always consider this.  It seems like a fairly quick knit and… erm… it’d certainly be a unique present.  ( Or scroll down, I’ve got great gift ideas below)

 

Ok, I’m going to be very honest here — the last couple of weeks have been both fantastic (you guys, what a response to our Holiday Specials!) and exhausting (a bazillion orders to ship out, plus a show last weekend).  And add to that the fact that a couple of weeks ago, our main skein-twister and parcel packer, my assistant Sara, slipped on the ice and broke her hand, and so the whole crew has been doubling down to cover the work she can’t do until her hand heals.  All this to say that the dates below may need to be a little flexible to accommodate things.  Keep your eye on your inbox, Facebook, and Instagram for updates.

The SpaceMonster Mega Yarn Club Opens Monday Dec 10…  Maybe.

It’s nearly SpaceMonster time and I couldn’t be more excited!  The SpaceMonster Club is our worsted and bulky weight club, and I absolutely love dyeing for it, because big squishy yarns are… well, they’re what got me started knitting in the first place (you too?).  They knit up so quick, they’re so much fun to hold, smoosh, snuggle, and wear.

If you feel the same way I do, or have someone on your gift list who would love to get in on the fun, click here and get on the club mailing list to make sure you’re the first to hear how to subscribe!

(Why “maybe”?   Well, things have been so crazy-busy that I may need a few more days to prep everything and open the club, so I’m allowing myself a little leaway.  Get on the list and keep your eye on your inbox, Facebook, and Instagram for updates.)

Prism Break Sets Available as Sweater Sets and Individual Skeins

When we put the Prism Break Mini-Skein Sets in the shop as our Black Friday Special, they sold out so fast it made my head spin(!) and lots of folks never got the chance to get one before they were gone.  Well, that special may be over but I’ve got good news: the same colourways are available as full-sized skeins, in either Sweater Sets or as individual yarns!

And using them in a sweater is easy.  The grey that runs through every skein allows them to flow into one another effortlessly: no jarring joins, no alternating skeins… You just change from one yarn to the next and they flow beautifully!  Choose from either our Radiant Spectrum or Deep Spectrum, on Celeste, Ester, Oriana (all fingering), or Lyra (sport), Astrid (DK), Vega (worsted) or Elara (bulky).

 

Flickering Light by Lisa K. Ross

No doubt you saw this beautiful shawl last week when I released SpaceCadet’s kits for it and they absolutely flew out of the shop.  They went so fast, in fact, that we had to quickly dye a couple of small batches just to have enough to bring some to last week’s show, and now there are only a few left in the shop.  An absolutely delicious project with intriguing details, it’s design in Aurora, our sumptuously soft 20% cashmere yarn.  Grab a bundle before they’re gone!

Judy’s Rainbow Scarf by Lindsey Stephens

If you got one of our awesome Prism Break Mini-Skein Sets on Black Friday, then you’ve already seen this simple-but-addictive design that Lindsey Stephens created specifically for them.  But even if you didn’t, this is the perfect project for that kind of depth-of-winter comfort knitting we all crave, and a fabulous way to use up your stash of SpaceCadet Mini-Skeins, no matter the colour!

Ithilmar by Heatherly Walker

The temperature in Pittsburgh today is not going to get much above freezing, so warm warm socks are an essential.  But does that mean they can’t be beautiful?!?  I love the delicate stitchwork and the colour.  Try it in SpaceCadet Ester in Sliver, Drizzle or Dark Skies.

images © the respective designers, used with permission

Ok, it may be freezing outside, but it’s time I got to the studio and got some work done.  Today I’m dyeing some gorgeous club yarns and if I get a chance, I may just take a little time to play with a special colour I’ve had in mind to celebrate mid-winter (I’ll let you know how it goes!).  In the meantime, I hope you have a wonderful day ahead of you and, until next time, all my best!

 

SpaceCadet Newsletter: This Industry…

SpaceCadet Newsletter: This Industry…

There’s something I want to tell you about this industry.  A couple of Sundays ago, we did Indie Knit & Spin, which is a fab little show here in Pittsburgh that is totally focused on indie makers like us.  The vibe is great, the show is fun, the location super-cool, and the customers are like friends because they’re all from our own local community.  I can’t help but walk away from the end of a day like that feeling great!  And then the next day, I met up with one of the other vendors — a fellow dyer who lives several states away and that I get to see only a few times a year — for lunch at a restaurant downtown.  It was a lovely afternoon and, as I headed home, I was on a total high from the effects of the two days together.  All the good feels.

But wait…  my lunch date…   she’s a direct competitor, right?  What’s up with that?  Well, yes, she is my competitor.  And maybe in another industry, we wouldn’t be laughing and talking at lunch as if we were coworkers in the same company.  But this is a really special industry.  It’s made up almost entirely of tiny businesses with just a few employees — even the biggest yarn companies are still quite small and family-run.  And the people in this industry are real.  There are very few corporate salaries, very few perks — we’re all in it because we love yarn (just like you do!), because we are all knitters and crocheters first, and because we love sharing our work directly with our customers and seeing what they make with it.  I honestly can’t think of another industry like it.

Here’s the thing: everything is about to get crazy, right?  At the end of this week, the retail world will explode with ads and emails and a million other ways of telling you to buy buy buy!  It’s going to be a little overwhelming.   And I’ve got some fun holiday offers as well, so there will be messages from me too, but as you’re choosing your holiday gifts, I hope you’ll think of what a special industry this is, how it’s made up of people who create things by hand and with passion, and who rely on customers like you who value that kind of personal connection.  And as we head into Thanksgiving, before all that craziness begins, I want you to know how grateful I am for you — that you read my (long!) newsletters, that you buy our yarn, and that you support this tiny little business that we love so much.  Thank you from the bottom of my heart.

Now, before we jump into the good stuff — this week’s fiber news — I just want to draw your attention to a couple things:  First, we really do have some fantastic holiday offers this weekend that I don’t want you to miss, so be sure to check out the SpaceCadet News section for the all the details, ok?  And then second, this season is about giving, and there’s someone in our industry who really needs your support, so please do read down to this week’s pattern picks to find out what I’m talking about.  Ok, are you ready for the latest news?  Here we go…

Newsletter

• I read with interest this article about a researcher who studied 400,000 knitters and “discovered what turns a hobby into a business” and, while I found it a little light on deep insight, what it did reveal is that most entrepreneurs in the knitting and crochet industry got started because of the encouragement of their crafting community.  And that, I think, is the takeaway and something we all know deep down: knitters and crocheters create incredibly supportive communities.

• Speaking of community, the first kind of community we all have is our families, but the current political climate can strain those bonds, especially around the holidays.  This cool interactive article uses a bot — yes, its own bot — in its aim to help you have a more peaceful holiday season by improving your skills navigating those tricky conversations with family members with differing political viewpoints.  You assign Angry Uncle Bot (“I have LOTS of opinions!”) a liberal or conservative bias and then start your conversation, choosing your best responses as you go along.  A fun exercise, even if I’m still not confident I want to wade into politics over the turkey this week.

• Or we can just rely on a good dog video to cut the tension, right?  I don’t know if I think this sheepdog is so dumb that he doesn’t know how his job is supposed to work or if he’s a genius who’s found the easiest way to get it done but, either way, he totally cracked me up.  Especially at the end.

• It’s nearly time for the annual Indie Design Gift-a-long, a great chance for you get discounts on patterns from awesome designers, participate in a huge KAL/CAL, play games and win prizes.  If the whole thing is new to you, Kristen Jancuk explains it all here, so read up and get ready — Nov 23 is nearly here!

Holiday Special Offers — This Weekend!

Black Friday (at noon eastern): The release of our new Prism Break colours and Special Prism Break Mini-Skein Sets.  Because you love those bright rainbow colours but then you somehow always seem to buy grey, right?  Don’t worry, we have a fix for that!  Keep an eye on your inbox.

Small Batch Sunday (at 2pm eastern and onwards through the day):  We’ve been dyeing some beautiful small batch colourways for truly unique gift-giving.  Watch for them to release on Instagram and Facebook throughout the day!

Cyber Monday (at 7:30am eastern): We’ve created kits for a very special holiday collaboration with designer Lisa Ross (below).  Watch your email inbox for all the details!

Upcoming Shows:

Saturday, Dec 1 — Holiday StitchEscape 2018, Columbus OH

The Holiday StitchEscape is a day filled with beautiful yarns and classes by outstanding instructors, surrounded by others who also love the craft.  The daytime activities include classes, a marketplace, and sit-n-stitch; evening events are designed for a ton of fun.  Find out more and get tickets here.

This week’s pattern picks are a little different, because one of our own knitting community is amongst the thousands who have lost everything in the wildfires in California.  I first met the designer Heatherly Walker at TNNA, where she was helping out in another friend’s booth.  And when SpaceCadet went to our first Stitches West and discovered our booth fixtures didn’t fit together the way they should, it was Heatherly, along with three of her six children, who came to our rescue: cajoling the stubborn fixtures, hanging up yarns, and helping us clear up the mess as the clock ticked down (too fast!) to the show opening.  She has designed beautiful patterns in SpaceCadet yarn, and photographed them amongst the soaring pines and scenic views around her home in Paradise.  So when I saw the name of her lovely town in news the other week, my heart stopped.

Her family got out — all the children and both she and her husband are alive and safe — but they have, of course, lost absolutely everything.  Two days after they escaped the fire, someone smashed the back window of their car and stole her 12-year-old daughter’s backpack, containing nearly all she had left in the world.

When tragedies like this strike, it can be hard to know what to do.  How do you help someone impacted by a disaster so far away?  What do they need?  What can you do?  Sometimes the answers aren’t so clear but when  the person in need is a designer like Heatherly, there’s a wonderfully easy way to show your support: we can simply buy her patterns!  It raises much needed funds and boost her designs on Ravelry, all while she is busy sorting out her circumstances.  Plus, you get some excellent new patterns too!

Heatherly’s work ranges from beautiful shawls to intricate colourwork (check out her mittens!) to her delightfully detailed socks.  These are the ones that jumped out to me when this week, but do click here and explore her whole catalogue. And then do the good by treating yourself to a pattern or two (or more!), knowing that you are part of a community that really is that supportive when one of its own is in need.

Tesseract by Heatherly Walker


(This stunning shawl deserves a little sparkle! Try it in SpaceCadet Lucina in Drizzle, Frigia, or Breathless)

Tridium by Heatherly Walker

(The perfect yarn for these socks: SpaceCadet Celeste in Dark Skies and Sliver)

Uru by Heatherly Walker

(Try knitting this gorgeous texture with SpaceCadet Oriana in Longing)

all images © Heatherly Walker, used with permission

Ok, there is so much to do before tomorrow so I’d better get going and get the day started!  I hope you have a great day ahead of you, I wish you a most wonderful Thanksgiving, and I’ll be in touch with fun stuff this weekend!

SpaceCadet Newsletter: In Which My Sister Needs My (Your!) Help

SpaceCadet Newsletter: In Which My Sister Needs My (Your!) Help

Last week I mentioned that I had a funny story to share: it’s about a question my sister put to me, and I’m hoping you can help me answer her…

My assistant Jade and I were driving across Pennsylvania to go to Indie Untangled when my phone rang.   I answered and told my sister that she was on speaker with the two of us.  “Oh good!” she replied, “My question is for both of you…”

Now, I should start by telling you that my sister is a non-knitter — she managed a garter scarf once, with bursts of inadvertent lace in random placements along its length, and then knit until she had so little yarn left that I don’t think she ever took it off the needle.  But she is very supportive of SpaceCadet and me and, by extension, of the whole knitting and crocheting community.  And from that, she is supportive of the entire wool industry at large.  But that’s not to say that she really knows much about it.

“…So my question is, where do you buy wool?

I was confused.  Did she mean where do I get the yarn we dye at SpaceCadet?  Or where does the mill get the wool it spins?  Or where does wool come from…?  I stumbled a bit and then asked her to clarify.

“No, no, I mean, when wool is manufactured…”  (Jade and I started to chuckle) “…I mean, when they make wool, where does it go? Who makes clothes with it?”

Photo by Rod Long

Wait, when they what?!? I stopped her, trying not let her hear me laugh.  “You know that they don’t manufacture wool, right?  You know it’s a natural fiber… grown on sheep on a farm, right?”  She did, but there was a definite haziness about how the whole process works that had me and Jade stifling giggles.  No, they don’t kill the sheep to get the wool.  Yes, it’s a renewable resource. Yes, wool is an excellent fiber: warm and wicking and fire-retardant and all kinds of good things.

“So, ok, who makes clothes with it?”  Ummm… knitters do!

“No, I mean, if you’re not a knitter and you want to buy wool clothing, where do you find it?  I’ve been looking and all I can find are cotton and polyester and acrylic.  All the wool clothing seems to be for hiking, but I want wool clothes for the office.  If it’s such a great fiber, why can’t I find any wool clothing for work?”

I’ll admit, I was stumped.  I spend most of my days in a messy dye studio…  I haven’t shopped for office clothes in years.  And to my shock, I realised I couldn’t answer her question!  I certainly could teach her how to make her own lovely woolen clothing, but I had no idea where to tell her to find quality, wool office wear.

“Shouldn’t it be everywhere?” she asked.  “I mean, it’s a really good fiber.  Shouldn’t everyone be making clothes with wool?!?”

Yes, I think they should.  And I suddenly felt so bad for all the non-knitters and non-crocheters out there, in a sea of mass-produced cotton and acrylic and polyester clothing, who never really experienced the wonderfulness of high-quality wool the way all of us do every time we pick up our projects.

But I still didn’t know the answer to her question, so I’m hoping you can help.  Where can someone buy good office wear made with wool?  Whether that’s individual brands or the stores that carry them, we’d both be really grateful for your suggestions.  Where would you go to buy wool clothing?  Let me know!

But first, I’ve got a bumper crop of interesting fiber news to share with you this morning.  So grab a cuppa and get comfortable and let’s dive right in…

Newsletter

Image © Hunter Hammersen, used with permission

I adore Hunter Hammersen’s sweet knitted acorns (above), the perfect way to use up those teeny-tiny leftovers from other projects.

• You remember that, last week, I shared the links to a new app called Making Things, which offers a subscription service to “unlimited access” to thousands of knitting patterns in their library?  Well, since then, there has been an explosion of heated discussions about the app, with some very strong feelings flying around both Ravelry and Instagram.  This thread on Ravelry grew to 120+ pages in just a week(!), and Casey (one of the creators of Ravelry) shares his thoughts here and here.   There’s also an interesting thread in the designers’ forum, quite a few posts on designers’ blogs (such as Kristen Jancuk’s thoughtful post), tons of comments left on Making Things Instagram posts, and the Making Things team updated their own About page with more information to answer some of the recent questions.   All in all, it has developed into quite a controversy and the conversations around it are both fascinating and exhaustive, so I leave you to dive in (or not!) and draw your own conclusions.

• Off topic but the Ace Hotel in Pittsburgh, where we’ll be vending this weekend at Indie Knit & Spin (see SpaceCadet News, below), is located on the same block as the world headquarters of Duolingo (a most excellent language learning app that is well loved in my family), so this news item caught my eye yesterday: Duolingo is adding Navajo (Diné) to its collection of lessons, to help preserve this endangered language.  Very cool!

This made me chortle (despite the typo).  If you’ve ever wondered where steel wool comes from, now you know!

• The Craft Yarn Council has created a wonderful campaign called Humans That Yarn to encourage new knitters and crocheters.  There’s a bunch of tutorials and free patterns to get folks started, but the thing I like most their video introducing the (wonderfully) wide array of people who incorporate the fiber arts into their lives.  Watch it!  (And then, forward the webpage to that friend who has always wanted to join us but never quite jumped aboard.)

• My friend Sarah Jordan designed this kippah/yarmulke in response to the shooting at the Tree of Life synagogue in Pittsburgh.  Sarah grew up at Tree of Life and knew several of the victims, and will be donating all proceeds from the sales of this pattern to Tree of Life to aid in its rebuilding efforts.  What a wonderful way to support a devastated community.

New Colourways: We’ve Got One Name… (that’s progress!)

 

We had some amazing name suggestions for this trio of new colourways that I shared with you last week!  And I wrote on Instagram that I think I’m settled on the name for the variegated colourway in the center (click here to read the story behind it), but I still haven’t decided on a name for the purple on the left.  Lots of great suggestions have been coming in on Facebook and Instagram — if you’ve got one, let me know!

We are test dyeing these again this week to check repeatability (so important!) and then they will be going in the shop as quickly as possible.  So many of folks have replied with responses of “I want these colours!” that I just can’t wait to share them with you.  Watch this space!

Upcoming Shows:

This Sunday, Nov 11 — Indie Knit & Spin, Pittsburgh PA

Indie Knit & Spin is always one of my favourite shows to do (because it’s local and all indie), it’s even better now that it’s at the amazing Ace Hotel.  Tons of yarn, plus a great place for lunch, and hipster-made coffee.  What’s not to love?

Saturday, Dec 1 — Holiday StitchEscape 2018, Columbus OH

The Holiday StitchEscape is a day filled with beautiful yarns and classes by outstanding instructors, surrounded by others who also love the craft.  The daytime activities include classes, a marketplace, and sit-n-stitch; evening events are designed for a ton of fun.  Find out more and get tickets here.

True Colors by Melanie Berg

I was looking through Ravelry this week and this beautiful pattern popped up in my feed somehow…  I don’t even remember where or what I was looking at, but I clicked on it immediately.  It’s a fairly straight-forward design but what an impact it has!  If you’ve got a stash of our Ombre & Gradient Mini-Skeins, cast this on quick!  And if you’re not, hop aboard — we planned out the next few month’s colours and I am super excited about the colour direction we’re about to take!

Simple mittens pattern by Anna Radchenko | WoollyWood Design

Interesting texture is the making of so many great knits and I absolutely love the way the stitchwork in these mittens create a modern and yet thoroughly timeless motif.  Designed for DK, they’ll keep you interested while you make them and toasty warm once they’re done!

Lyta by Simone Kereit

When it’s cold outside (and it’s cold now here in Pittsburgh!), I find myself reaching for something warm to keep wrapped around my shoulders.  Brioche, with its squishy-thick texture is exactly what I need, so this beautiful wrap jumped out at me right away.  I love the play of the colours here: warm vs cool, rich vs soft.  To create something similar, try our “Frigia” (currently in stock on these bases) and “Honey” (in stock on these).

images © the respective designers, used with permission

Ok, I’d better get my day started and I’m guessing you’d better as well.  Today, I have a meeting with the SpaceCadet crew to go over this weekend’s show and all the fun stuff we have planned for the upcoming holidays (so festive and fibery!).  I hope you’ve got a fun and busy day planned too.  And, until next time, all my best!