Newsletter: Taking the Studio Apart…

Newsletter: Taking the Studio Apart…

When I sent out my recent email about SpaceCadet’s COVID-19 plans, I had no idea what a wild week was in store for us (more on that in a minute) but I did say that I intended to keep sending out these newsletters because, even though I know this is an odd time to focus on something as frivilous as yarn, I also feel that there is a need amongst all this stress and uncertainty for a few moments of lightness.  And so I am writing this newsletter in the hope of bringing a little levity to your day.  I always tell you to grab a nice cuppa and join me, and I mean that especially today.  If your week has been at all like mine, I think we both need it.

Now, let me tell you about my week.  But as I do, I’m going to share photos of this lovely design, because loveliness really helps at times like this, doesn’t it?

This is Celestial Seas by Corrine Walcher.  And we have kits!

As you know from my previous email, we’d already implemented some pretty stringent protocols to reduce our exposure to COVID-19 but, late last week, the our governor ordered all non-life-sustaining businesses to close their operational premises by 8pm that same night. And so the SpaceCadet crew and I scrambled to get down to the studio (coordinating ourselve to be there only one-at-a-time) and collect as much of our stock and equipment as we could so we can continue mailing out yarn to our customers and club members from our houses. It was a surreal experience to see the studio go from full to nearly completely empty in just a few hours, and I felt so unsettled by the whole situation as I turned off the lights and locked the door that it almost made me want to cry.
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And though things were still in complete disarray, we had the SpaceCadet Studio 2.0 set up within a few hours, now split between three separate houses: dyeing in one, Mini-Skein breakdown in another, and stock and shipping in a third.  I knew it would be weird to work this way — not to mention quite a bit slower — but I was honestly blown away by the way the team pulled together so quickly and opened their own homes to make it happen.  I know I’ve said it before but it’s worth saying again (and again): I work with really good people.

Just look at that lovely yoke shaping!

Then just a few days later, the governor placed our county under a stay-at-home order, which means we are no longer allowed to leave home for anything other than essential tasks such as going to the grocery store or pharmacy.  And with our dyeing process now split between three of our houses… well, that creates a real challenge as to how we move the yarn through that process.  And to be honest, it’s one we’re still trying to resolve but, if there’s one thing I do know, it’s that our customers and club members are just about as awesome as my team.  You have stood by us before (when the studio flooded! when I had pneumonia!) and I have no doubt you’ll support us now as we find our way through this unprecedented situation.  I’m so grateful your patience and understanding as we work hard to get your yarn to you as quickly as we can.

Knit in fingering, Celestial Seas is just right for Spring! (Did I mention we have kits?)


Newsletter

I remember just recently reading a social media post from someone who was saying how it is often much better for larger busted women to learn to add darts to their sweaters rather than knit larger sizes overall.  And then a few days later, I came across this useful article about manipulating darts (in sewing) to fit your body.  Serendipity?  I think so!

You might remember there was uproar a few months back in the fiber arts world when Disney forced designer Allison Hoffman to discontinue selling an amazing baby Yoda crochet pattern that she had designed.  I found really interesting this article, which explores the deeper legal ramifications of Disney’s approach to the baby Yoda copyright issue within the larger crafting community. (In related news, that same designer has recently released an adorable amigurumi elephant pattern that, along with her previous bear cub pattern, it also includes instructions for elongated bunny ears.)

There’s lots of designers creating special offers and designs to keep us all entertained as we socially isolate, and I was pleased to see that the designer, teacher, author, and Knitty editor Kate Atherley has re-released her Knit Accessories: Essentials & Variations pattern book.  It’s all about knitting from stash: patterns for key accessories – scarves, cowls, hats, mitts and socks. And for scarves and cowls, there’s a guide to designing your own!  Find it here.

I’m sharing this article for no other reason than the fact that someone expertly knitted a ton of (unnecessary) desk accessories but then failed to tell the model how to hold her needles for the photo.  The juxtaposition of those two things cracked me right up!

This is really interesting: this article about how colour changes the perception of interior spaces walks through nine different ways to paint a room to affect how large or small it looks.  But I couldn’t help thinking about how those same concepts apply to knitwear design, particularly how we can use colour placement to make patterns more flattering.  Worth a read!


As I’m sure you know, all of our spring shows cancelled due to the pandemic, and with that we lost so much revenue that we rely on after the post-holiday quiet period.  Fortunately, quite a few folks in our wonderful community have been stepping in to lend us some support, from the organisers of Homespun Yarn Party, who hosted a really wonderful virtual show to help fill in that gap, to some of our own customers who placed orders almost as soon as the situation became apparent.  I am deeply deeply grateful to you all.

And then there is my lovely friend Melissa, the designer behind Encourage Better and A Knit With Me Podcast, who has taken her beautiful pattern for a hat called Drizzle, designed in SpaceCadet Lyra, and made it available to you for free!  And the point, of course, is to encourage you to order your own skein of Lyra to knit it in, giving you something lovely on your needles while you self-isolate… and giving us a chance to make some of that lost revenue in the best possible way — by sending you beautiful yarn!

(Drizzle takes just one skein, it’s a super-addictive knit, and I think it would look fabulous in sublime Sage, delightful Crisp, bold Tickled, or rich Oxblood)


Reversible Step One Cowl by Mary W Martin

Mary specialises in reversable knits and her latest foray does not disappoint.  Incorporating reversible slipped stitch cabling over two-colour garter stitch, just look how the stitchwork makes the colours pop against each other!  Even better, there’s a matching hat (and the set of two patterns are 50% off until April 13) and also The Reversible Step Series eBook to walk you through three different ways to create these beautiful cables.

House Dressing by Chantal Belisle

I’ve shared this fabulous design with you before but Chantal, the designer, works in the restaurant business and just lost her job, so I can’t think of a better time to share it again.  That and the fact that it’s one of my favourite designs ever — I mean, just look at those sweet little houses around the skirt!  The neckline is simple and flattering, the waist is beautifully shaped, and the capped sleeves make it perfect for spring. Designed in sport, choose a cheery colour in either SpaceCadet Lyra or Astrid and cast on!

images © the respective designers, used with permission


Ok, I’d better get the day started.  Even though we’re all stuck at home, there’s still so much to do!  I’ll be spending the day packing parcels, tagging skeins, and checking in with the SpaceCadet crew.  And I hope you get to spend some time with your knitting and crochet too.  Most of all, I hope you and yours stay safe and healthy, and if you are one of the people doing what needs to be done — the doctors, the nurses, the EMTs, the grocery store workers, pharmacists, everyone working in an essential service right now — I want to thank you, personally and from the bottom of my heart.

Until next time, all my best.  Stay safe and be well.

Newsletter: Double the Trouble!

Newsletter: Double the Trouble!

We’re about to do something kind of crazzzy…  In a few weeks, we’ll be vending at the Pittsburgh Creative Arts Festival and…. simultaneously going to Homespun Yarn Party in Savage MD!

For a tiny team like ours, that’s a huuuge stretch but we love both of these shows so much that, when we realised they were scheduled for the same weekend, the whole SpaceCadet crew decided immediately that we simply had to do both of them.  It means double the yarn, twice the samples, and two full booth displays (wait…  what?!?) but add in a couple of wonderful friends who are coming into town to help us out and, even though it’s going to be one crazy weekend, I’m confident that we’re going to have a blast at both shows!  If you’re coming to see us, please drop us a quick line to let us know so I can keep my eye out for you!

Speaking of shows, I’ve got something fun to share with you: my Six Tips for Attending a Yarn Show, a behind-the-scenes guide to getting the most out of the shows and festivals you plan to attend this year.  Now, if you’ve recently joined the SpaceCadet mailing list, you may have already seen this (or be about to receive it) but, if you’re not, it’s a great way to learn the best times to chat with your favourite vendors, how to time it so you shop without the crowds, and more!

Ok, I’ve got lots of other fun stuff to share this morning too so, go make yourself a nice cup of tea, curl up in a chair, and let’s dive right in!


Newsletter

image © Karen McKenna, used with permission

A couple of years ago, designer Karen McKenna used our yarn (SpaceCadet Celeste in Molten Cool) to create the Napa Valley Wrap which, to my utter delight(!), ended up on the cover of Crochet! magazine’s Fall Special issue.  And then I was equally delighted to see this week that that same wrap has just won first place in the Florida State Fair.  Congratulations to Karen! (She is re-releasing the pattern in mid-April and, if you join her mailing list now, you’ll get a 25% discount when it does)

Naturally, you’ve heard of temperature scarves (and blankets), where you choose colours for different temperature ranges and then knit or crochet a row each day to record the temperature.  But you don’t often read about them in a publication as big as the New York Times.  Last week, I did!

You may have seen a Little Free Library box out in the wild — that’s one of those little cabinets with a glass door and books inside, that acts as a kind of honesty-box library — but until you walk past the Wild Hand yarn shop in Philiadelphia, you may have never seen one containing yarn, needles, and patterns.  Every morning it fills up and, by every evening, it’s empty again… and serves as way to invite new customers into the shop.  Read more here.

The wool-lover in me is very, very pleased to read in this article that William and Kate recently took their little princes and princess to a farm for lambing.  Start that love of fiber early and right at the source!


Upcoming Shows

The Pittsburgh Creative Arts Festival
Pittsburgh (Greentree) PA — March 20, 21, & 22

Homespun Yarn Party
Savage MD — March 22


Water Bearer pattern by Jacqueline Cieslak

I love that Jacqui’s designs are incredibly size inclusive (this one goes from an upper bust measurement of 30″ up to 57.75″) but, more than that, I love how perfect this design is as we move between seasons.  The wave-like texture is beautiful, the long sleeves perfect for cooler spring days, and the pattern gives instructions for both cropped and longer styles. Designed in DK, I’d knit it in SpaceCadet Lyra or Astrid in the colourways Fathoms Down, Time Traveller, or Thrive.

La Casa Cowl pattern by La Oriana

Beautifully graphic and yet deceptively simple, this cowl’s lovely colourwork pattern is inspired by the floor tiles at the designer’s grandparents’ house.  It’s knit on size 15 needles for a quick result and looks just as interesting on the inside as it does on the on outside.  The specified yarn is a super-bulky but, if you don’t have that on hand, I’d be inclined to knit a test swatch holding double a bulky yarn from stash (like Elara).  I’d love to see how that heathered effect would look in this design!

Ahsoka by Rebecca Velasquez

If you’re looking forward to summer (and really, we’re at that time of year when it doesn’t feel too crazy to start thinking about it), then this is a perfect project to add to your queue!  The gorgeous lacework is so eye-catching while the waistband section lends shape and stability.  Available for free on the designer’s website, there’s also a paid version that offers schematics, stitch diagrams, and instructions to customise the pattern for specific body shapes.  I’d love to work it up in SpaceCadet Lyra in Crisp for a soft Spring colour, Blood Moon for something spicier, or Zazzle for a really bold statement.

images © the respective designers, used with permission

Ok, that’s it! My tea is all finished and it’s time I got myself down to the studio.  We’re going over colours for some upcoming club shipments (hooray!) and a few other fun things.  I hope you’ve got a colourful day planned as well and, until next time, all my best!

Newsletter: Defeated by Blues!

Newsletter: Defeated by Blues!

I’m pretty excited about today!  Let me tell you why…  For a while now, I’ve felt like we needed to develop more blues.  I mean, it’s kind of crazy that we don’t have a better palette of blues: it’s one of my favourite colours and look beautiful with so many other hues.  So a couple of months ago, we developed a series of blues that I just love, six gorgeous new shades of blue that work together and with the lots of other SpaceCadet colours.  I couldn’t wait to share them with you!

The plan was to release them in January, a palette of blues during that icy-cold month seemed perfect.  All I had to do was take each colourway’s “glamour” shot to go on the yarn page, so I set up the lights, picked up my camera, and grabbed the photos.

But when I looked at the images a few days later on my computer, they looked off.  There was a deep, electric turquoise that looked… weirdly baby blue.  And the navy was so pale it almost looked… well, nothing like navy.  I made an attempt to fix them in Lightroom… and then in Photoshop…  but there was simply no way.

Now, probably the most important thing I do is make sure that the yarn colours on our website are as true to life as I can possibly make them, so I decided to ditch those images and start over.  I set everything up again, double-checked all the settings on my camera and adjusted the lights, and began snapping photos.  But when I imported them into my computer, the results were just the same.

this is not what these blues look like!

I tried again, this time moving the whole set up from room to room, to try to get differing light effects: sunshine vs shade, studio lights vs natural, direct vs diffused.  I even set them on different backgrounds in case my original background was messing with the camera’s white balance.  Still, nothing worked.  And by now, a January release was looking a lot more like mid-February…  Well, I told myself, that will be fine.  February is still icy-cold.

But when the fourth photoshoot produced nothing better (and by now I was trying out every camera I could get my hands on, including my phone which I normally wouldn’t dream of using for a image like this), I gave up.  Never once in the history of SpaceCadet have I used a professional photographer (I mean, I’m a maker — I really believe in learning new things and doing stuff myself) but I could tell this was way beyond my skills.  I’d hand the yarn over to a professional, pay them for their time and skill, and get six colour-accurate photos back at the end.  I kind of hated giving up like that, but getting the colour right was worth it.

Now, here’s the thing… When I emailed the photographer and explained what had been happening, I asked him for pricing.  And when he emailed back, he said that he thought, since I am also a small business owner, it would probably help me the most if, in addition to taking the photos and colour-correcting the images, he also walked me through what he was doing and gave me pointers on how to improve my own photography for the future.

this is also nothing like what these blues look like!

What?!?  This is how he makes his living and there’s no reason for him to help me to do what he does so that I don’t need his services in the future.  But he is!  And that’s kind of blown me away and warmed my heart all at the same time.

So that’s what I’ve got planned for today, and I am so excited!  For the colour-accurate photos, for some (hopefully) improved photography skills, and to be able to release these beautiful blues at last.  And if you are excited about them too…   watch this space in the next few weeks!

But before I get going, I’ve got a bunch of fun fiber news to start the day off right.  So go grab a cup of tea and let’s jump in!


Newsletter

 

image ©Hunter Hammersen, used with permission

More interesting behind-the-scenes stuff in the life and times of being a knitting pattern designer: Hunter Hammersen reflected on some incredibly harsh feedback she received over the price of her new pattern for a little knitted envelope.  In this age of easy direct communcation, it’s an issue faced by almost every designer I’ve ever worked with (and, to be honest, I know many who have dropped out of the business for this exact reason), so the whole thread makes for interesting reading.  (Side note: I’m delighted to report that SpaceCadet yarn made the cover photo on the pattern — it’s the one that’s buttoned shut)

Have you always wanted a craft room all of your own?  Well, when you get it (when, not if), you’ll want to check out this awesome guide to hacking Ikea furniture to make the most of your craft space. I think the cutting table made from Lack end tables is my favourite!

The whole SpaceCadet crew has been on the hunt for awesome pattern ideas for the folks joining us in making an epic Mini-Skein Project in 2020 (want to join us? click here) and one thing that jumped out at me this week is the idea of using Latvian braids to add mini-skein colour to any project.  It’s not something I’ve tried before, but this colourful tutorial (and this one and this one) have really got me intrigued.  Have you tried Latvian braids before?  What do think of them?

I am absolutely blown away by these crocheted dog patterns It took me quite a while realise they really were crocheted (and also, frankly, it took me a moment to realise they weren’t actually real dogs!).  I’m not sure I’ve ever really believed there was a good use for eyelash yarn, but this is one for certain!


Upcoming Shows

Trunk Show at A Good Yarn in Sarasota FL — this weekend!

If you live in the central Florida area and would love to smoosh SpaceCadet yarn in person, get yourself to A Good Yarn in Sarasota!  We’ll be sending a ton of beautiful colourways, including full sets ready to make the stunning Rey’s Cardigan (below).  Don’t miss it!

The Pittsburgh Creative Arts Festival in Pittsburgh (Greentree) PA — March 20, 21, & 22

Homespun Yarn Party in Savage MD — March 22


Miari by Marie Amelie Designs

There’s something really eye-catching about this take on brioche knitting — just look at the way the texture pops and the colour glows!  The stitchwork is designed to incorporate three colours within two textures in a slightly off-kilter triangle shape that lends movement and interest to the whole design.

The Snuggle is Real by Maxim Cyr

I’m a sucker for a good pun so, quite frankly, this design had me at the name alone.  But beyond that, I can’t think of any better time to cast on a snuggly cowl like this than these cold days of winter.  Add in the fact that it’s lined and has drawstrings to make it even cosier, and it’s an absolute winner!

Valentino Wrap by Toni Lipsey

If you’ve ever crocheted a granny square/stripes, you know how addicting they are (how addicting? soooooo addicting) and this gorgeous design takes the granny in a fun and modern direction that I absolutely love!  Designed in DK, it’s an awesome option for members of the Gradient Explorers or an epic Mini-Skein project (SpaceCadet Minis are fingering, but the weight will be about right if you hold them double and the colour will look all heathered and lovely).

images © the respective designers, used with permission


Ok, my tea is all gone and it’s time for me to head over to the photographer’s.  Wish me luck!  I hope you have a wonderful day planned as well, with lots of colour and a little fibery goodness.  And, until next time, all my best!

Newsletter: Introducing Loop

Newsletter: Introducing Loop

Before we start, I just want to thank everyone who reached out to me last week after reading about my software-meltdown saga to offer commiserations and kind words.  I so appreciated hearing I am not alone in getting caught up in a software nightmare like that, and I loved reading your emails — and, most of all, knowing that I am surrounded by a wonderful, supportive community of club members, customers, and fiber friends.  You all brought a smile to my face during a pretty stressful week!

Speaking of having a smile on my face, did you see that my assistants Jade and Sara are prepping to release a beautiful new pattern called Loop?  It’s a wonderful new design with a unique construction that creates an eye-catching cowl in mere minutes. It’s a really easily memorisable pattern (“open skein, wrap around neck“) that I’m sure you’ll never tire of. You can see how delighted they are with their new FOs!⁣

You can see more photos, read all the details, and get yarn suggestions (heh!) by clicking here.  The best part was how much fun we had as we took these photos! Not just because we were all laughing at the idea of this new “pattern” they’d come up with but also because they’re both good friends.⁣

I⁠t’s great to work with great people. And I’m so grateful that I get to do that.


Newsletter

The Long-Tail Cast-On is one of the most commonly used but I have to admit it drives me nuts because I’ve always got too much (or worse, too little!) yarn left over when I get to the end of the required number of stitches. I was pleased to come across this article which gives four handy methods for measuring out your long tail to ensure that doesn’t happen.  I’m not sure they’ll turn me into a convert, but I’m willing to try.  (And if you’ve got a different method that you think is useful, please let me know!)

It’s always entertaining (and educational!) to take a behind-the-scenes look at any industry and this conversation on Twitter is no exception: knit and crochet designers discuss the most ridiculous reason someone has used to ask for a refund or free pattern

Architectural Digest has declared that bouclé is a hot trend to watch for.  There’s a retro feel to the textured fabric knit or woven with yarns that feature exposed loops of fibers and it certainly makes for an eye-catching look.  It might be fun to add a couple of bouclé cushions to my couch or perhaps even cast on a bouclé scarf.  What do you think, do you like the look of bouclé yarn?  Do you see it as a trend worth following?

If you’re a knitter who has held back from embracing crochet because you’re a little nervous about how to stitch crochet pieces together, this handy tutorial shows you how to use mattress stitch to do just that.  Just like in knitting, it really does create a beautiful seam!


Upcoming Shows

Trunk Show at A Good Yarn in Sarasota FL — the weekend of Feb 21 – 23

If you live in the central Florida area and would love to smoosh SpaceCadet yarn in person, get yourself to A Good Yarn in Sarasota!  We’ll be sending a ton of beautiful colourways, including full sets ready to make the stunning Rey’s Cardigan (below).  Don’t miss it!

The Pittsburgh Creative Arts Festival in Pittsburgh (Greentree) PA — March 20, 21, & 22

Homespun Yarn Party in Savage MD — March 22


Rough Sea by Julia-Maria Hegenbart

image ©Julia-Maria Hegenbart, used with permission

When I first saw this pattern, I clicked the link so hard I’m sure I nearly broke something.  But I just had to look at it up close — ohhhhh that texture…  And I love the line that the designer uses to open her description: “If you had made the sea, would you have made it calm?”  Nope, not if a rough sea looks this gorgeous!  Designed in fingering, this is a perfect candidate for Ester, which is lovely and soft to the touch but easily has a enough oomph to keep the sea as looking as rough as you like.  Try it in Drizzle, Fathoms Down, or Time Traveller for some gently undulating blues, greys, and greens.

Sarma Hat by Inese Sang

image ©Inese Sang, used with permission

Here’s another texture option that absolutely jumps off the page!  With an fascinating constrution that combines a fingering yarn with a laceweight held together to form a DK and then worked separately for the bobbles, it’s sure to be one of the most intriguing designs on your needles.  Knit this hat with the coordinating mittens and you’ll have an absolute showstopper set!

Edison Gradient Pullover by Kristina Smiley

image ©Expression Fiber Arts, used with permission

The thing I love most about this simple design is the delightfully subtle beauty of the yoke increases.  Usually those increases are hidden in some intricate texture or colourwork but, here, they are left unadorned and I think there is something gorgeously compelling in their simple symmetry.  Available for free for a limited time, the pattern is designed in sport and specifically for gradients, so it’s a beautiful option for stash-busting.  Lay your yarns out to find several that flow together and go chain on!


Ok, my cup of tea is empty so it’s time to get the workday started. We’re packing up club parcels today and dyeing some wonderful colours for our upcoming shows.  I hope you’ve got a great day planned with at least two scheduled-in knitting/crochet breaks (it’s important!).  And, until next time, all my best!

Newsletter: Going into Meltdown!

Newsletter: Going into Meltdown!

I’m going to share with you a little saga, because this week didn’t start out as planned…

The plan on Monday was to pack and ship the parcels for one of our clubs. With piles and piles of yarn all twisted and tagged and ready to be go in their boxes, I imported the club members’ addresses into our postage-printing software, got the label printer loaded, and hit print. And…. the software crashed.

this is a pretty harrowing tale — let’s soften it a bit by looking at lovely yarn, shall we?
this is the SpaceMonsters Club exclusive colourway, Oct 2019

And when I say “crashed”, well, I mean not so much crashed as spontaniously burst into flames, burned with the heat of thousand suns, melted into an oozing puddle at the bottom of the computer casing, and then cooled hissing and popping as it slowly hardened into a charred rock. Metaphorically speaking. The computer was fine, the printer was fine, but the software that was going to allow us to print labels for the scores and scores of club parcels that we needed to ship that day was utterly beyond saving.

I called the help desk and, to cut a very very long story short, it appears my computer had gotten stuck on an older version, which had been slowly growing more and more corrupt over time. David, the Tier 1 help desk guy had never seen anything like it. He passed me onto Carlos, the Tier 2 guy, who had also never seen it before but we got to work on it. He dialed in to my computer and we uninstalled the software, reinstalled it, moved to a different computer, came off wifi, tried a hotspot, hardwired it, went back on wifi, created a new profile, installed again… Everything we could think of and, all the while, he kept putting me on hold so he could check with his colleagues for more ideas (the hold music was Vivaldi’s Spring, which I love, but it was on a loop that repeated every 5 minutes and, by the time the whole ordeal was over, I would’ve gladly paid a month’s wages to never. hear. it. again).

SpaceMonsters Club exclsuvie colourway, Sept 2019

It took hours and hours. I mean, I had to find a cable recharge my phone twice during the call. At one point, Carlos and I got cut off and instead of calling him right back before he got stuck on another call, I took a huge risk and… used the bathroom, just because it had been that long since I’d been able to get away! Luckily, I got him again when I called back and we were able to pick up where we left off.

At long (long) last, we got the software running and we began running test labels. We checked every setting, one at a time, and ran new labels to test each one, choosing names at random from the list of club members whose parcels were still waiting to go out. Carlos chose a name, then I chose one, then he chose one… He was asking what kind of club it was and I was pointing out which club members had been with us the longest or shared the most awesome projects with us. And the software, thank goodness, just kept producing the labels.

He and I finally decided we were done. To be honest, I’m not sure the software is fixed, per se, but it is working and that was good enough for me and Carlos. It was 9:30pm, I’d missed my dinner and he’d stayed over the end of his shift by 30 minutes, but my computer was finally able to print labels again! After all that time, it was actually a little weird to say goodbye to Carlos. “We made a good team!” he said, and he was right — it felt like a real accomplishment.

SpaceMonsters Club exclusive colourway, April 2019

After we hung up, I looked at my phone’s call log: all together, I’d been on the phone for seven hours and fifty-five minutes. An entire work day!  I was exhausted. But I went to bed knowing the software worked and the labels were printing!

The next morning, I printed out all the shipping labels for the club parcels that should have gone out the day before, and it worked beautifully. As the printer happily spit them out, I rolled them up tightly as I sipped a calming cup of tea. Then, I casually clicked over and checked my email.

And there was a message from a club member letting me know the label I’d just printed for her had her old address and asking if we could send her parcel to her new address. But how did she know I’d just printed her shipping label…? And there at the bottom of her email was an automatic shipping notification sent by the postage-printing software — something it’s never done before and which I’d never asked it to send! And I suddenly thought back to all those test labels we’d printed the night before… so many of them using real customer addresses…

SpaceMonsters Exclusive colourway, June 2019

Sooooooo if, by chance, you recieved some mysterious shipping notifications from SpaceCadet earlier in the week… say, I don’t know, half a dozen in very quick succession… and you’re wondering what the heck was going on, please allow me to apologise. You were one of the club members that Carlos and I picked. I probably told him what a great club member you are, or about a project you’d shared with us. And then he and I hit print and print and print, without realising we were filling your inbox up with notifications. I’m so sorry.

I haven’t yet figured out how to control when those notifications go out and, after having logged eight hours on the phone with the help desk already, I haven’t had the energy to phone them and find out. I will — I just needed a little time first. But, in the meantime, if you get a strange shipping notification that looks different from what you usually receive, at least you’ll know what’s going on!


After all that, it was such a relief to get back to yarn. Lovely lovely yarn that’s smooshy and warm and cosy and nothing at all like software problems. So let’s leave all that nonsense behind and grab a nice cup of tea and dive into a big pile of yarny news and updates. Are you ready?

The SpaceMonsters Club Closes Tomorrow

Speaking of clubs, if you’ve been wanting to join in the fun of the SpaceMonsters Mega Yarn Club, there are only a couple of days left to join! And I always say that dyeing for our clubs feels more like dyeing for friends than for customers, and it’s so true — as my even conversations with Carlos demonstrated!

SpaceMonsters Colourways and gift from Dec 2019

The SpaceMonster Mega Yarn Club focuses on big, smooshy wosted and bulky weights in gorgeous colours, and the story behind their inspiration. Plus we create an optional coordinating colourway and there’s a fabulous gift every season (those are so much fun to come up with!).

I love designing colourways for the SpaceMonster Club, because the big, smooshy, worsted and bulky yarns we dye for it take colour in completely different ways than thinner yarns. So click here and join in on all that smooshy, colourful fun!

SpaceMonster Colourways and gift from June 2019


Newsletter

Images ©LuciaKnit, used with permission

These adorable itty-bitty amigurumi have completely blown my mind and I can’t stop going back and looking at them. They’re crocheted with sewing thread and a .35mm hook (that’s so tiny!) and, one presumes, some steely determination (though Lucia says they are easy to make). Are you up for a challenge? Grab some magnifying glasses and give them a try!

I came across this graphic illustrating “Knitters Knitcabulary” the other day and it made me smile. If you’ve ever heard a group of knitters chatting and someone said something that made no sense to you at all, your answer may be on there. There are a couple that were new to me!

As knitters and crocheters, we don’t take our clothes for granted the way other people do — we notice little construction details and complex stitches, even in store-bought clothes. But I have to admit, I’ve never thought much about zippers (maybe because I’ve never tried to make one from scratch?!?), so I found really interesting this article giving the history of the zipper’s invention. I had no idea that something so ubiquitous had such a rocky start. Fascinating!

Scroll down and you’ll find one of my pattern picks this week is a gorgeous pair of socks that use stranded knitting throughout. If that technique is a little intimidating to you (whether for socks or one of those gorgeous colourwork yoked sweaters), you’ll find this video tutorial an invaluable resource for a simple and easy way to catch those floats (no stopping to move balls of yarns around! wooot!)

Whoops a Daisy socks by Stone Knits

I know this pattern is called Whoops a Daisy but I have to admit that, when I look at it here in the depths of midwinter, I see snowdrops. And that’s actually perfect because, by incorporating stranded colourwork throughout, the pattern will produce the kind of toasty warm fabric that’s just right for this time of year. Worked cuff-down in fingering, thesee sweet socks would be great for using up some of our Multicolour Minis or scraps from your other projects. Be quick and you’ll get 15% off if you buy it before the end of January!

Reflector by Allison O’Mahony

This may look like a standard triangle shawl… until you look a little closer and realise that the colour changes on either side of the spine. Designed the show off the pairing of a variegated yarn and a coordinating semi-solid (if you’re in our Yarn Alliance or SpaceMonster Clubs, you’ve got plenty of those!), but I think it could also look amazing incorporating our Ombre&Gradient Mini-Skeins. And if you’ve never worked intarsia, the simple join at the spine gives a nice introduction to the technique without being overwhelming. Pick up the pattern with an introductory 15% off if you get it before the end of Saturday!

Daydream Shawl by Toni Lipsey

You can never have enough cosy wraps (hello, subfreezing temperatures here in Pittsburgh!) and I love the gorgeous texture and fabulous fringed edge of this one (seriously, all winter wraps should have fringes, right?). Crocheted in heavy weight yarn, it’s a quick and easy way to use up those wonderfully chunky SpaceMonsters skeins you’ve collected!  Find it on Ravelry here or for free on Toni’s website here.

Images © the respective designers, used with permission


Ok, well, my tea is all gone and it’s time I got today started.  I hope you’ve got a warm and cosy day planned, with lots of yarny breaks (…and no software problems!).  So, until next time, all my best!

Newsletter: The Wrong Season

Newsletter: The Wrong Season

One of the oddest things about running SpaceCadet is the unseasonality of it.  What I mean is, yesteday morning when I got up, it was 16 degrees Farenheit outside and, yet, one of my jobs for the day was to plan out our spring yarns.  I was supposed to concentrate on soft spring colours, light textures, and lacy patterns…  my head filled with those gentle spring breezes and the smell of new grass, baby bunnies and flower buds.  All while the vicious winter wind whipped around outside and relentlessly pushed a creeping chill in from the window panes.

I couldn’t do it.  Instead of thinking about warm days, I found myself wanting to curl my hands around a steaming cup of tea and wrap up in something thick and woolly.  Something very thick and very woolly.  Who can possibly think of spring in these depths of winter?  I know I’m supposed to, but I’d much rather think about the lovely, smooshy, warm yarn that we’ll dye for our new SpaceMonsters members.  Or cast on a quick and chunky knit with some of the gorgeous yarn we just sent our SpaceMonster members this past season.  I mean, it just feels right when it’s this unforgivingly cold outside.

Mirror Mirror, the SpaceMonsters Coordinating Colourway Oct 2019

So you know what?  I did made that cup of tea.  And pulled on a pair of cosy socks (with cashmere, thank you very much) and warm shawl around my shoulders.  And then, as I sat looking out at the winter-barren scene outside, I whipped out my phone and checked the weather forecast: it’s going to warm up over the weekend (to a balmy 40-something).  I think about spring then!


Newsletter

Susan Pierce at Shinywear makes fabulously adorable knitting familiars — everything from t-shirts and totes to pins, stickers, and even flasks (“I drink, therefore I tink”).  I love them all but I think my favourites are her Octopus (product knitter) and her Sloth (process knitter).  I mean, we all know exactly where we are on that spectrum, right?  :cough: teamsloth :cough:

Images © Shinywear, used with permission

Garter stitch is usually the first stitch a new knitter learns and then is quickly abandoned for more “real” knitting.  But of course garter is real knitting and I loved this article from Interweave that outlines five useful ways to use garter stitch.  My favourite is number four, which shows a really clever way to incorporate garter into ribbing.

Sheep and goats are the original weedwackers — they have been used for that purpose for millenia — and some cities in California are  incorporating this “unconventional fire prevention method” to help control the threat of wildfires.  Goats are being deployed to control vegetation, especially in areas with hilly or difficult terrain. A bonus: the animals eat invasive plants and grasses while only minimally grazing on native plants.  This article was an interesting read.

Imagine you join a local knitting group to make friends and socialise, a group which makes hats to sell and to donate to charity.  And one day, a rather famous chap named Archie wears one of your hats and suddenly sales shoot through the roof because the whole world seems to want one.  That’s exactly what happened to Make Give Live, a group based in New Zealand, when the Duke and Dutchess of Sussex (that’s Harry and Meghan) showed off their son in his adorable (double pom-pommed!) hat.  Read more and see pictures here.


The SpaceMonsters Club is OPEN!

The best part about opening the SpaceMonsters Club last week was seeing how many of our current members renewed their subscriptions — and so many did so fast!  That means so much because it tells me they love being part of the club!

And when we’re dyeing yarn as gorgeous as the latest colourway (below) and giving gifts as awesome as that adorable phone/tablet holder, why wouldn’t they?!?  But there’s nothing like being able to welcome new members to the club and renewing members back to make it all worthwhile.

SpaceMonsters Colourways and gift from Dec 2019

The SpaceMonster Mega Yarn Club focuses on big, smooshy wosted and bulky weights in gorgeous colours, and the story behind their inspiration. Plus we create an optional coordinating colourway and there’s a fabulous gift every season (those are so much fun to come up with!).

If you’re thinking about joining in the fun, now is the time!  The club is open for new subscription only for a limited time.  So click here to learn more and jump aboard!

SpaceMonster Colourways and gift from June 2019


Bloom by Melissa Thibault

This gorgeous sweater has two things I absolutely love: unexpected design details and the clever combining of variegateds and semi-solids.  The lace panel along the sleeves is delightful and that contrast line along the side seam finishes it off perfectly.  Even better, it’s sized all the way up to a 4XL so there’s an option for everyone.  Designed in fingering, I would crochet in Oriana (for that drape!) in Feather and Nine Stones, Drizzle and Fathoms Down, or Oxblood and Everything Was Better in Black and White.

Epone (sweater and cardigan) by Mélina Hami

It was the split cables laid sideways that made this sweater jump out at me.  I just really like the pattern they create.  But then, I read a little more detail about Mélina’s approach to sizing and I was really intrigued: each size comes with three bust measurements, what she calls a “triple bust option”, for a more customised fit (read more here).  Plus, this pattern includes a cardigan version as well!  Designed in sport, I’d knit it in Lyra in Stroppy or Thrive.

The Rebels’ Last Stand by Emily Ringelman

I had to include this — I just had to!  Inspired to create a “better quality ugly Star Wars Christmas sweater” (is that a thing…?  is it a… compliment?), the result is somehow downright glorious. And if you love it too but think it might be a bit overwhelming, I think I might be inclined to modify it by doing the colourwork on just the yoke, for an oh-so-subtle hint of Star Wars styling.

Images © the respective designers, used with permission


Ok, I’d better finish this tea and get back to work.  I hope you’ve got a wonderful day planned full of yarny goodness (and tea! and warm socks!).  And until next time, all my best!