SpaceCadet Newsletter: Launched From a Slingshot!

SpaceCadet Newsletter: Launched From a Slingshot!

At this time of year, I always feel like I’ve been launched from a slingshot.  It starts in May as we finish our spring shows and turn our focus to prepping for the TNNA tradeshow in June — and then suddenly, the show is upon us (too soon! every year!) and it’s a wonderfully exhilarating/exciting/exhausting weekend and so much fun and so much work and so little rest.  As soon as we get home, we take a few days off for some much needed sleep (zzzzzzzzz….) before we get busy dyeing alllll those orders for the LYSs that we met at the show.

Everything else practically comes to a halt: the newsletter goes on a little break, social media comes to a stop (my social life comes to a stop), and everything that isn’t necessary slows right down while we focus on making sure our customers get their yarn.  And then all of a sudden, I look up and it’s the middle of July.  How did that happen?!?

This year’s TNNA was amazing — our best ever — and I put that down to how many of our customers reached out to their LYSs and asked them to stop by and see us!  So many yarn shop owners told us they had come to see us because of a customer recommendation.  Thank you so very much for making that happen — I cannot tell you how grateful I am.  Or how excited I am to send lovely SpaceCadet smooshiness to an LYS near you! Woot!

But while we’ve had our noses to the grindstone at the studio, lots of interesting stuff has been happening in the world of yarn and fiber.  So grab a nice cuppa and a comfy place to sit, and let’s dive in…


Just in case you’ve been living under a rock (as I have!), Ravelry recently introduced a new policy banning posts in support of the Trump administration. The news made the national and international papers, and late night talk shows.  You can read the policy in full here, and Ravelry’s Mary-Heather further clarified their position in a July 1st post on the front page.  There have been a lot of strong feelings and discussion about the situation on social media — most of which, to be honest, I missed completely but, after I caught up a bit, I shared SpaceCadet’s position here.

Yarn overs are probably the simplest of increases, so I didn’t think there would be all that much to say about them.  Boy, did this article prove me wrong.  All you ever (ever ever) wanted to know about YOs  …and then some!

Knitting yarnovers into April’s SpaceMonster colourway

This cracked me up: reading a random article (that popped up on a feed somewhere)about behind-the-scenes secrets of airline pilots, I wasn’t surprised that they are not allowed to read on long flights… but it made me laugh that the article also specified that they aren’t allowed to knit.  Is that just the author being funny, or has that really been an issue?  I’m seriously hoping for the latter!

This doesn’t surprise me in the least: research from New Zealand shows that wearing wool is better for your skin’s health — including eczema — than wearing synthetics (and better for the environment, but you knew that already).  To test it, the researchers “created special garments that had the upper back portion split in two, with one half made from wool and the other polyester,” which volunteers then wore for weeks.  Interesting reading!

I’ve followed Brother Aidan (the knitting monk) on Instagram for a long time and so was really interested when I came across this article profiling him (and others) as part of the slow fashion movement within religious communities.

Open Now: The SpaceMonsters Mega Yarn Club!

We recently sent out the last parcel of last season’s SpaceMonster Club and I was reminded just how much I love creating colourways for our club members.  This latest colourway and its coordinate, Refresh and Renew, had the whole SpaceCadet crew swooning and the SpaceMonster members snapped up the extra skeins superfast (and we’re dyeing even more for them right now!).  You can see why we love it so much, right?

And the SpaceMonsters members get a gift each season and, this time, it was this absolutely fantastic backpack, custom screenprinted for us by the awesome folks at Commonwealth Press here in Pittsburgh.  Perfect for carrying a project (and a ton of other stuff) on summertime adventures!

Subscriptions for the new season of the SpaceMonster Mega Yarn Club are open for only a few more days (closing on Mon July 15th at midnight).  The SpaceMonster Club is an awesome way to explore fabulous colour on our smooshy worsted and bulky yarns in gorgeous club-exclusive colourways. Subscriptions are available only twice a year, so click here now to join in on the fun! ⁠

All images shown here are of past colourways and are for illustrative purposes only. Yarns, colourways, and gifts for new subscriptions will be different (but still awesome!).

Spring Quartet by Anna Johanna

Warm days call for simple practical designs that are fun to knit but not too heavy — on either your body or your brain capacity(!).  I love this super-cute cardigan with its sweet eyelet motif and easy shaping.  I’d make it in either our lightest merino fingering, Celeste (with a whopping 490 yards/100g!) or our bamboo-rich Maia, that drapes like a dream and is so light it practically floats.

cancun boxy lace top by erin kate archer

When a design combines super simple shaping with fun stitchwork, the result is perfect for summer, and this top is a great example.  I love that even though it’s nothing more than two rectangles joined together, the constantly changing lacelike stitchwork keeps it interesting and creates enough “air conditioning” to keep things cool.  Designed in DK, I think I’d actually be inclined to hold two strands of fingering together, maybe (again) Celeste and Maia, but this time in the same colourway because the two yarns together create a matte/sheen effect that play off one-another gorgeously (see three examples below).

Maia & Celeste paired in the same colourway

One Skein Shrug by LeRoo Crochet

I love shrugs because they hit that summertime sweet spot of just-enough-and-not-too-much, whether you need a little warmth in an overly air-conditioned office or something to throw over your shoulders when the temperature drops as the sun goes down.  What makes this design nicer than most shrugs is that it comes in four sizes for a better fit.  And a lovely mesh texture to keep things light and airy.  Designed in fingering, I’d crochet it in SpaceCadet Oriana for a cotton-like drape.

images © the respective designers, used with permission

Ok, I’ve got another busy day planned today — we’ve got orders to fill and club colourways to dye — so I’d better get the day started.  I hope you have a few fun things planned for your day too.  And until next time, all my best!

SpaceCadet Newsletter: Wow! You Made Such a Difference!

SpaceCadet Newsletter: Wow! You Made Such a Difference!

This is such an exciting day!  We are packing my car with every single SpaceCadet colourway to go to TNNA, the knitting & crochet industry’s tradeshow, where we will be showing off our yarns and kits to local yarn stores (LYS) from around the country.

One of our wholesale colour combos, which of course you can buy too! (l-r): Longing, Sage, Drizzle, Wilt, Time Traveller, and Honey

And the most exciting part is that, since asking for LYS referrals in my last newsletter, our TNNA appointment calendar has filled right up — Friday is now completely booked and there’s only limited spots available on Saturday and Sunday.  And I know that is down to everyone who so kindly reached out to their LYSs over the last couple of weeks and recommended SpaceCadet to them.  Wow, what a difference that makes!  Thank you so much!!!  I absolutely cannot wait to meet the owners and buyers of your local shops and get SpaceCadet yarn into them so you can smoosh see it person!

Another colour combo: Fat-Free Chocolate, Sliver, Feather, Plume, Gentle, Sage

So, I’d better get back to packing (we’re at the stage where it’s only the tiny things to remember but it feels like a million of them and I’m so scared I’m going to forget something really important — you know that feeling?).  But before I do, I’d love to take five minutes and share a little fiber news (and a cup of tea) with you.  So go get something nice to drink too and let’s dive in…


While we prepped kits for TNNA, the SpaceCadet crew were discussing circular needle length (I prefer long for magic loop, but hmmmm…  I am now thinking of stocking up on 12″ circs for swatching, designing, and smaller projects worked flat).  So it was timely that I also came across this handy checklist on how to pick the right circular needle length.

(l-r): That’s What She Said, Fred While You’re Up, Yes Dear, Sliver, Blood Moon, Dark Skies

Ever look at a hammock and think, “I should be able to knit that“? Well, Erin Kate did!  And there’s a pattern and some hilarious photos of her making it on the biggest “needles” you’d ever want to work with.

It goes without saying that I’d rather stay home and knit than go to a bar or club (or, I’m perfectly happy to knit in a bar, if it comes to it.  You too?).  This article about the intersection of the knitting, clubbing/bar, and gay scenes in New York City was a really interesting read.  But I have to admit my favourite bit was the corrections at the very end — you know a bunch of folks emailed the NYT to tell them they’d mixed up knitting and crochet! Ha!

Sometimes it’s the simplest things that stump you, isn’t it?  So I loved this video tutorial about how to make an adjustable ring for crocheting the round.  It’s so simple that it’s almost too simple, so being able to watch it done makes all the difference.

Into the bags and off to TNNA they go!

Opening June 28: The SpaceMonsters Mega Yarn Club
So get on the waiting list now!

The SpaceMonster Club, our worsted and bulky weight club, opens to subscriptions only twice a year and your next opportunity to join in will be on Fri June 28, when we will open the doors for two weeks only!  Spaces start going early but if you click here and put your name on the waiting list, I’ll make sure you get first dibs.  Nice, huh?

The SpaceMonsters is a great club, full of fun smooshy yarn that offer an exciting colour challenge but work up quickly for (almost) instant-project gratification. Plus we include a super-cute (and exclusive) gift at the end of each season to make it extra fun!   So get on the waiting list now!

Adaly by Corrina Ferguson

When Corrina Ferguson asked me for three skeins of SpaceCadet Vega (in Troublemaker, Headstrong, and Windswept), I knew she was designing something really special.  Two of those are colours that maybe maybe shouldn’t work together (the cool dark magenta of Troublemaker and the spicy warm rust of Headstrong…) but when they’re paired with the variegated Windswept, everything suddenly comes together!  The two semi-solids play off one another beautifully in those big garter stripe sections and I love how the eyelets force the colour of the variegated yarn to shift and change.  If warm colours aren’t your thing, you could go for cools in Stroppy, Feather, and Flow; or neutrals in Fat-Free Chocolate, Drizzle, and Nine Stones.

Myristica by Marie Amelie Designs

The crescent shape caught my eye and then I spied that this beautiful shawl incorporates stripes going both horizontally and vertically.  And of course, I imagined it knit in either our Ombre&Gradient Mini-Skeins or the beautifully changing colours of the Gradient Explorers.  Paired with a contrasting semi-solid, the colours would slowly change and morph as the shawl grows — the kind of knitting that’s impossible to put down!  Just one more row…

Join the Mini-Skein Club here, or get on the waiting list for the Gradient Explorers here.

Thia Tunic by LeRoo Crochet

Summer time is all about cool coverups and I absolutely love this one, crocheted as a simple rectangle with the neck hole left in the middle, then seamed up the sides.  The vertical panels are slimming and add visual interest, but I think I’d like it just as much worked in a single colour to bring attention to the loose and airy stitches.

images © the respective designers, used with permission


Ok, it’s going to be big day and there’s a ridiculous amount to do, so I’d better write a (loooooong) list so I don’t forget anything, and then get my day started.  I hope you’ve got a great day planned with lots of fun stuff (but maybe a shorter to-do list than me) and, until next time, all my best!

SpaceCadet Newsletter: I need your help for TNNA!

SpaceCadet Newsletter: I need your help for TNNA!

Things are wildly busy here at SpaceCadet because, in just two weeks, we are headed to TNNA, the knitting industry’s tradeshow.  It’s a super-exciting weekend and the best part is the opportunity to meet with LYSOs (local yarn shop owners) from all over the country to show them our yarns and kits — so that you can have local places to see (and smoosh and buy) SpaceCadet yarns in person!

It’s true that local yarn shops are the backbone of this industry that we all love so much. They’re an amazing resource to knitters and crocheters, offering classes and instruction, guiding customers to the right yarns for their projects, putting on retreats and bringing in top teachers from far and wide, and encouraging creativity and innovation in all of us.  The internet and big-box stores are no substitute for LYSs, and we’d love to see SpaceCadet yarn in more of them!

look at the great SpaceCadet kits your LYS could be carrying!

So would you help me with this please?  We’ve gotten our very best shops through customer introductions so, if there’s a great LYS near you that you’d like to see carry our yarn, please let me know about it!  I’d love to reach out and introduce SpaceCadet.  And the next time your in your LYS, please ask them to carry SpaceCadet.  Yarn shops really do listen when their customers tell them what they like.

And if you’re an LYSO or yarn shop employee yourself, please click here and give us your details.  We’ll be in touch soon!

Ok but, before I get busy with TNNA prep (more TNNA prep!), it’s time for our regular wander through the fiber world.  I’ve got a cup of tea today, you go grab something to drink, and let’s take five minutes to start the day off right: with the latest news from the yarn-world…


This made me giggle: poor, lonely, little No Stitch!

Soooooo… you’ve got a huge stash? Not sure how you’ll work through it? Maybe the images in this article will give you inspiration — it explores the work of two Polish artists who use yarn to create massive 3D sculptures that are at once beautiful and mesmerising.

Several readers shared this fascinating article with me, about a physicist who is exploring “the mathematics and mechanics of ‘the ancient technology known as knitting’.” Personally, I just loved thinking of knitting as technology, which of course it is. And patterns (especially the pre-internet everything-printed-on-one-page patterns) are a masterful use of code.

Speaking of physics, I think I could watch this video all. day. long. And every time I see it, I wonder if there’s a scientist-designer who could turn those those pendulum rhythms into a cable pattern…? It could be super-cool, don’t you think?!?

Luckdragon Shawl by verybusymonkey

It’s rare that I think cabling really works on a shawl, but this lovely design is absolutely one of those times!  There’s so much texture in every panel that I know I’d never get board and the results look admirably complex without being crazy making.  Designed in fingering, I think this is an excellent option for using up your SpaceCadet Mini-Skeins.

Pick your side by Agata A. Piasecka

The the thing that made this amazing brioche dress jump out at me is the way one side of the dress is a perfect negative of the other and so it can be worn either way (click through to see it reversed).  I love that it’s seamless — and I adore the leaf detailing on the sleeves.  If you’re an experienced knitter looking for a challenge that gives an amazing result, I think this design may be it!

Parallelism by Kyle Vey

As much as this image made this shawl jump out at me, the really intriguing thing about this design is something you can’t quite see here: the subtle texture of the stitches (click through to see more detailed images).  Slipped stitches work into a subtle mosaic pattern, and crossed stitches create the stripes that run the length of the piece. Using two skeins of contrasting yarn, its specially designed for a gradient shift, so this is another great candidate for your Mini-Skein Club stash. So grab a bundle of your minis and a nice contrasting semi-solid and cast on!

images © the respective designers, used with permission

Ok, the whole team is having a meeting today to go over TNNA prep, so I’d better get going.  It’s such a perfect temperature today that… hmmmm… maybe we’ll have the meeting outside.  I hope you have a great day planned (and maybe the chance to get outside today too?).  And until next time, all my best!


SpaceCadet Newsletter: Yarn that Rattled?!?

SpaceCadet Newsletter: Yarn that Rattled?!?

It isn’t always that a returned order puts a grin on my face but one that we received this week really did.  Actually, it first put a perplexed look on my face.  Because when I picked it up at the post office, the box… rattled.

Ummmm, what?  Yarn doesn’t rattle.

When I got back to the studio and opened it up, I found it did contain yarn, carefully wrapped and in perfect condition.  And on top of the yarn was a note and a box of cookies.  Spicy pecan cookies, which looked absolutely delicious.  And which rattled.

The note was from Karen, a lovely customer of ours and a member of two of our clubs, whose parcels had gotten a little confused.  We’d sent a replacement…  it seems perhaps it wasn’t necessary…  and now she was returning the extra yarn with a little something for us as well.  And her note explained she understood how difficult running a small business is — every little bit counts — and so she was including a treat for us for our troubles.

Can I tell you how touched I was?  I think I sat and looked at those cookies for a whole minute without moving.  The thing is, it is absolutely not necessary to send cookies with a returned parcel (not at all!) but receiving it was more than a simple mid-afternoon treat.  It was, in a way, proof of why we do this: it was the connection between two makers, between dyer and knitter or crocheter.  And while that connection usually flows in one direction — in a parcel from us to our customers — on that day, it flowed back again.

And that connection is everything about why we do this.  There’s an enormous amount of love and dedication that goes into every skein we dye and every parcel we send out.  We do it so the work of our hands can become the work of your hands — like for like, maker to maker.  And when that connection is returned back — through a conversation at a show, through an emailed reply to the newsletter, or through a completely unexpected box of cookies — I speak for the whole SpaceCadet crew when I say, it means the world to us.

(Thanks, Karen)

Ok, I’ve got a lot of juicy news and interesting stuff to share with you this week, so shall we get to it?  I’ve got a nice cup of coffee to get the morning started, you go grab something for yourself, and here we go…


I absolutely loved this article about breaking up with the needle size suggestions on the ball band (such a good idea!).  We get asked about needle sizes all the time and, while we’re happy to make suggestions, I’m always a little flummoxed, because there are no set rules about yarn and needle size. One of my favourite combos is our light fingering Celeste, which has 490 yards/100g on… wait for it… US size 8 needles.  So many people assume a yarn that thin requires something tiny, like 0s/1s/2s, but knit on size 8s, it makes a fabulously light and airy fabric.  So I’m in complete agreement: forget the “rules” and break up with the ball band!

Bluprint, the company that was formerly Craftsy, sent a letter to its course instructors that has angered many of them and caused great embarrassment.  In short, Bluprint promoted its classes with the promise that students could access teachers directly with questions, but then didn’t actually make a large portion of those questions visible to the teachers who were supposed to be answering them. When they finally shared this information, many of those teachers found thousands of unanswered questions dated as far back as a year ago, and a group of them (including many names you’ll know) have written an open letter to Bluprint (and its parent company, NBC Universal) demanding a public apology.  Meanwhile the teachers have had to issue their own explanations and public apologies to their students for not answering questions they were never given access to. Read more detail here.

These adorable space-themed page flags make me feel all happy inside.

In the last month or so, there’s been a lot of discussion around pattern (and yarn) prices, designer income, and accessibility to folks of all income levels.  For the most part, that discussion has been happening on Instagram (and especially in Instagram Stories), which makes it incredibly difficult to share and discuss outside that platform.  But I’m grateful to Lisa for pointing me to this post by Hunter Hammersen that gives an excellent, in-depth look at the realities of designer income.  I also came across this post by Louise Tilbrook and this Twitter thread by Sarah Dawn, both of which give passionate view points.  And this post from Heather Zoppetti — the owner of Stitch Sprouts, author, and a designer published regularly in all the major knitting magazines — discusses the difficulty in making a living as a designer and her decision to take a day job. Interesting reading.

If you don’t follow me on Instagram, you won’t have seen the amazing Year of Gradient from 2018’s Mini-Skein Club Ombre&Gradient Mix that my assistant Jade has knitted.  Each month, she made one hexagon from each mini in that month’s bundle (which still left her with plenty of yarn for other projects) and her goal is to join them all up together in a wrap that is sure to be stunningly eye-catching!

(doesn’t a year’s worth of gradient look amazing?!?)

But first, we laid them all out together on my deck to capture the full glory that is a year of the SpaceCadet’s Mini-Skein Club!  (Can I tell you, by the time we were done, it was so hard to fit the whole thing in one shot!  It’s a ton of colour!)

Each month for our Mini-Skein Club, we dye an Ombre & Gradient Mix that flows from last month’s colours into the next month’s colours, to create a Never Ending Gradient. It’s seriously so cool! To find out more, click here.

Casual Cadence by Lisa K. Ross

I love the kind of knitting that lets your mind relax and get into the rhythm of the stitiches and this shawl does exactly that with simple textures to keep things relaxed while showing off the changing colours of the yarns.  A perfect match for SpaceCadet Mini-Skeins (especially if you mix and match from the Mulitcolour Mix!), Lisa is offering our newsletter readers an exclusive 20% off the pattern with the code SPACECADET through the end of June.  Woot!

Wingspan by Kyle Vey

It’s been hard to miss this incredibly innovative design on Ravelry and social media of late but, if you haven’t spotted it yet, allow me to fix that for you.  Designed to mimic a pair of feathered wings, the shawl can be worn draped to draw attention to the unusual shape or wrapped to look more subtle.  It’s so much easier to understand if you click through to see all the photos.  I’d love to see it it worked up in the SpaceCadet’s Ombre & Gradient Mini-Skeins, where you can start the colour anywhere in the gradient and control the colour changes yourself.

Open Waves Top for Women by LoopinglyMade

With the warmer weather, the hunt is on for cool cover-ups that look stylish but let the breeze flow through, and this crocheted top caught my eye immediately.  Its straight-foward shaping keeps the stitchwork simple and I love the V-neck styling.  Designed in sport, I think I might be inclined to play with my gauge a little and try holding double our bamboo yarn, Maia, in two different colours for an interesting effect in a nice light fabric.

Ok, I’m about to run a bunch of labels for orders and club parcels that are going out today and I’d better get busy with it!  I hope your day is filled with fibery goodness the way mine will be and, until next time, all my best!

SpaceCadet Newsletter: Barking at Sheep and Other Adventures

SpaceCadet Newsletter: Barking at Sheep and Other Adventures

If you aren’t on Instagram every day, you might not have spotted that the recent discussions around race and inclusiveness have expanded to conversations around pattern pricing and accessibility for all incomes.  It’s been fascinating and thought provoking to say the least, with some distinctly differing viewpoints emerging in teh conversations, and something I’d really like to share with you.  But, because it’s on Instagram and mostly being discussed in IG Stories (which aren’t easily sharable or linkable), much of the discussion is really hard to reference outside of IG.

So, if you’re curious, I suggest you explore IG (and especially the stories) for yourself. I know it will feel like jumping into a fast-moving conversation that’s already in mid-flow (because that’s exactly what it is) but that’s probably the best way to catch up on the debate.  In the meantime, I am collecting linkable sources around this conversation (blog posts, regular IG posts, and so on) to share with you in an upcoming newsletter.  And if you have seen any particularly interesting posts that you think are worth sharing too, please do send them to me — I’d really appreciate it!

Ok, I’ve got a nice cup of tea and a bunch of stuff to tell you about, so go find a comfy place to curl up and let’s jump right in, ok?


Years ago, I was on holiday with friends in the west of Ireland when we came across a lamb that was stuck in a peat bog and separated from its mother, both of whom were bleating pitifully and continuously to one another but completely unable to reunite.  We debated for several minutes as to how to help them and came up with no solutions when, without thinking, I walked toward the lamb, crouched down, and started barking loudly like the meanest dog you ever heard.  It did the trick.  The lamb, who had been thoroughly stuck, was suddenly very much unstuck and at its mother’s side in a heartbeat, and the two trotted off together, very happily and relieved.  And I had completely forgotten about that until I watched this rather hilarious video of a man in California who left his back gate open and, upon discovering his garden had been invaded by scores of sheep, didn’t know how to get them back out.  He tries to convince and cajole them (and eventually succeeds) but I found myself thinking, “Just start barking!”  And my very favourite part of the whole story?  The sheep grazing behind his house are brought in by the local government to clear overgrowth in an effort to curb wildfires.  Brilliant!

I was completely intrigued when I came across this recent Google Doodle depicting Ruth Asawa creating what appeared to be crocheted hanging… lamp shades? artworks? bug-catchers? I wasn’t sure so I clicked through and was so glad I did.  Ruth was a Japanese-American artist whose looped wired pieces were inspired by “plants, the spiral shell of a snail, seeing light through insect wings, watching spiders repair their webs in the early morning”.  Her life story is inspiring, and well worth a read.

The knitting/crochet/weaving pattern website, Patternfish, is closing its doors.  It will stop selling patterns at the end of this month, and keep customer’s purchased patterns available for download until the end of June. If you’ve got patterns stashed there, be sure to download them before then.

Ok, I’m a little biased because Carnegie Mellon University (CMU) is here in Pittsburgh but I cheered when I saw this news item about how researchers used knitting to create “soft robotics.” The goal was”to design robotic form factors that are lower cost, less dangerous and in some cases even wearable.”  They do it by sewing innovative “tendons” (otherwise known as… ahem… lifelines!) into the fabric and attaching them into motors that then pull to reshape the fabric.  Watch the video, it’s interesting stuff!

One of the things I really love doing is taking photographs of patterns designed in SpaceCadet yarn.  If dyeing is my creative outlet, then photography is a creative outlet on top of my creative outlet! At any rate, Simone Kereit of OwlCat Designs sent me her Briochearrow shawl (you remember it from a few weeks ago?) and we got such lovely shots of it that I really want to share them with you.

The thing I like about these photos most is that I think they really let you see the beauty of those brioche stitches, and the way the variegated colourway (Molten Cool) shifts and changes.  Isn’t it beautiful?  Have you tried brioche yet?


Tudor Windows Pullover by Corrine Walcher

image © Stephanie Alford

If you’re getting a sense of déjà vu, it’s because designer Corrine Walcher was so impressed when our model wore her beautiful Tudor Windows cardigan backwards that she has reworked the pattern into a pullover.  And I think it’s absolutely lovely!  I mean, I know your eye is drawn to that cable panel but do zoom in on the raglan shaping — it’s so beautiful!  Designed in SpaceCadet Lyra for its incredible stitch definition, it’s shown here in Yes Dear, a wonderfully versatile green.  Click here to see the full range of colours.

Various by Hunter Hammersen

image © Hunter Hammersen, used with permission

I am such a sucker for a really great hat crown, and this one certainly fits that bill!  There’s something about it that’s so organic, it’s almost irresistible.  Knit with only one colour at a time, the intricate patterning is created through clever use of slipped stitches.  I’d love to see it with in a beautifully busy variegated, such as Windswept, against a deep semi-solid, like That’s What She Said.

Castle in the Sky by Lisa K. Ross

image © Lisa K Ross, used with permission

Now, the inspiration for these socks has something to with Jack and the Beanstalk but, living in Pittsburgh — the city that has more bridges than anywhere else in the world — you know I immediately saw those same steel and stone structures in its stitchwork.  Whether you think it looks like beanstalks (no) or bridges (yes), you have to admit, they do look like a lot of fun to knit!  Try them in Fizz or Crisp for a bright result or in a more subdued Longing.

Ok, there’s a lot of stuff on the agenda today (dyeing, a little bookkeeping, and our TNNA booth to design!), so I’d better get a start on things.  I hope you have a wonderful day ahead of you (no bookkeeping!) and, until next time, all my best!

SpaceCadet Newsletter: Your Suggestions on My Tensioning

SpaceCadet Newsletter: Your Suggestions on My Tensioning

You remember the other week I was discussing the way I tension my yarn, and wondering whether I ought to change it for something more…  efficient?  So many of you wrote in to reassure me that my tensioning technique was just fine as it is (thank you! I appreciate that!).  And so many others shared their own techniques (and that was so helpful and enlightening!).

  • Susan said, “Wow! That has to be the most complicated tension hold I have ever seen… All teasing aside, if it works for you and you have beautiful stitches, why change?”  And then shared her much more simple tensioning method, “around pinky and over the index.” (which, I suspect is a very common way to tension?)
  • And another Susan explained, “As to old dogs and new tricks… I usually beg off teaching people who knit English style how to knit Continental style. That’s simply because muscle memory is so strong, people have a really hard time learning a knitting system that’s different from the one they’re used to. Good luck learning a new tensioning system!”
  • Designer Emily Connell said, “I love the tensioning discussion. Personally, I’ve found from teaching a lot of people how to knit and knitting techniques that the first way it feels ok to hold the yarn is usually what will stick long-term. I also find that most people aren’t successfully able to rebuild new muscle memory for a different tensioning method…I learned to knit by throwing, and I held the yarn around my pinky finger for just a tiny bit of tension. However, I changed methods to picking/continental a few years later and wound up with a whole new system of tension… Now it goes over and under all my fingers and then circles my pinky. …My thought is that if what you’re doing is working and isn’t causing any physical pain, then no need to worry about finding a more efficient method.”
  • Cassandra wrote, “I am trying to teach crochet to some Girl Scouts and their leaders and no one can seem to wrap their brain around holding the yarn in their non-dominant hand for tension and doing nothing else with that hand, except to hold the immediately worked project as they go along. I keep telling them their dominant hand, holding the hook, is the one doing all the work making the stitches, but I keep seeing them having a problem with trying to wrap the yarn around the hook ala knititng fashion or not understanding how the yarn moves through their fingers.”
  • Lisa reassured me, “I think everyone tensions in their own unique way!” (and I think she’s right!)
  • Samantha pulled out her knitting to check her own tensioning style, “Let me see… under the pinky, up between the pinky and next finger, then over the other fingers and wrapped twice around the index finger- and this is continental style in my left hand. Techniques are so interesting, and hard to change I think unless you find a more comfortable way. We do what works, right?”  We do indeed.

And then the funniest thing happened.  I was sick last week — really sick, couldn’t get out of bed, couldn’t walk up the stairs without gasping (did you notice there was no newsletter last week? yeahhhhh) — and so I did what makers do and cast on a new project while I let my body rest.  This project was crochet and, as I worked on it, I realised that the way I tension crochet is how I would tension my knitting if I knitted Continental.  But I can’t knit Continental and, every time I try, my knitting explodes into a heap of mess in my lap.   And yet there I am, flying through my crochet stitches with my hands holding my yarn in the same configuration that feels impossible when I do it for knitting.  Now, how do you figure that?!?

I’m beginning to think it’s all in my head.  I’m also considering having (another) serious try at learning Continental.  Which would, of course, alter my gauge, so the only logical thing to do is cast on a new project, right?  Heh! Such a hardship.

But before I get started on that (rather massive) endeavour, I’ve got a ton of fun stuff to share with you, so let’s dive in…


At one of our recent shows, I fell in love with these gorgeous shawl pins from MAB Elements.  Handcrafted by Michelle Barrett in Ohio, each piece is unique and designed to show off the distinctive colors and shapes of the individual stones.  And Mother’s Day is right round the corner..  just sayin’…

Did you see these crocheted Converse sneakers?!?  So cool!  Although, there is a part of me that feel like I ought to be able to make them for myself, the truth is that I know I never would and they’re just too adorable to pass up.

Closet Case Patterns are consciously working to expand their sizing range and, to that end, they’re asking for help developing accurate measurements in larger sizes.  If you’re size 12 or up (hips greater than 42″), you can participate by filling out their sizing survey with your measurements.  Incidentally, I’d love to know your favourite knitting and crochet designers who do larger sizes really well.  Please let me know!

As we head into the warmer months, it’s worth sharing this little tidbit: wool is a great warm-weather fabric!  (Back when I worked in corporate — waaaaay back — I had a beautiful summer weight wool suit that was absolutely my most comfortable warm-weather outfit.)  As Woolmark points out, “In warm environments, wool fabrics can feel up to two times cooler to touch than synthetic fabrics, because wool conducts more heat away from your skin… Wool fabrics can move 25% more moisture away from your skin than polyester fabrics.”  Good to know!

Spring weather is so much fun — warm, then cold, then storms, then sunshine.  And I guess I was on a weather-themed kick when I was looking at patterns this week.  Here’s to beautiful spring days and lots of lovely knitting and crocheting time to go with them!

sunchaser by Jenny F

This gorgeous design incorporates two of my favourite things — bold colour changes and slipped stitches — to create a super fun shawl that looks like an absolute delight to make.  Worked tip to tip, it alternates simple garter with those more interesting slipped stitch sections before finishing with an tidy i-cord bind off.  Designed in DK, you could recreate it in either Lyra or Astrid in the colourways Sliver, Dark Skies, and So Life Gave You Lemons.  Or be really creative and use your SpaceCadet Mini-Skeins held double for an incredible colourplay.

Stormfront by handmade by SMINÉ

I just think this is such a gorgeous design!  If, like me, you love to sit and watch the dark clouds build as those summer thunderstorms roll in, you’ll see how beautifully this simple three-colour design encapsulates that feeling. Designed in worsted, try it in SpaceCadet Vega using the colourways Dark Skies, Drizzle, and Gentle.

Sunflower Jumper by Robyn Chachula

What better way to welcome the return of warm weather than wrapping yourself up in a gorgeous field of crocheted sunflowers?!?  Robyn Chachula’s eye-catching design can be worn off the shoulder or on, or even wrapped up and worn as a cowl.  Versatile and gorgeous!  Designed in sport, it’d be lovely in SpaceCadet Lyra in Wilt, Feather, Frigia, or Faded Promises.

images © the respective designers, used with permission

Ok, I’ve got an awesome day lined up: a little yarn wrangling, a little photography, and then I get to work on updating our wholesale information for TNNA in June.  So, I’d better finish my tea and get the day started.  I hope your day is just as fun and, until next time, all my best!