SpaceCadet Newsletter: Gah! I Forgot!

SpaceCadet Newsletter: Gah! I Forgot!

It’s Set-Up Day at the Pittsburgh Creative Arts Festival and the SpaceCadet crew is about to come round and start packing up the cars with everything to go in our booth.  So I was sitting here, drinking my coffee (its a lotsacoffee day!) when I realised…  gah! We’ve forgotten something!

(One thing we didn’t forget to do? Create a bunch of gorgeous One-of-a-Kind Fades for our shows
this weekend in Pittsburgh and next weekend at Homespun Yarn Party.  Come see us!)

Every time we do a show, the situation is different — different booth size, different configuration, different access, and always different lighting needs.  This show is in a hotel ballroom  and, while I know it’s going to be lovely, ballroom lighting can be a little odd. It’s often a little dim (perfect for balls, I suppose, but less so for yarn) and often a little yellow.  So we bring our own lighting if we can to make sure that, not only can you see the yarn, but it’s actually the colour you think it is.

And I’ve just realised we totally forgot to plan for our lighting.  Just completely forgot.  Which you might not think is a problem but, in truth, lighting is the first part of the booth that we set up, so we have to know how we’re doing it before we can do anything else.  And this time, it’s even more crucial because our booth size for this show is unusual — it’s 9′ x 13′ — and so we’re doing a completely new booth configuration and… I just don’t know how the lighting will work with it.

Those fades though!!!

So I’m going to pour myself another cuppa and sit down with some pens and graph paper and see what I can work out.  Please cross your fingers for me!  But before that, I’ve got a lot of fun stuff to share you this week, so let’s dive in…

Newsletter

The wonderful designer Hunter Hammersen has something super-fun up her sleeve (and we might just be prepping some gorgeous kits for it…) but you can get an sneak peak of what she’s up to here.  And there are pom-poms! Woot!

View this post on Instagram

Yeah, so yesterday I told you you weren't using enough yarn…today I want to tell you you aren't taking enough time trimming your pompoms. ⁣⠀ ⁣⠀ When they come off the form, they ALL look a mess. It's only after you trim and fluff and trim and fluff and trim and fluff and steam and fluff and maybe do on or two more tiny snips that they really look their best. Like you should expect it to take at least half an hour of futzing about with it before it looks just right. I often set mine down and come back the next day for a final trim. But it's totally worth it. ⁣⠀ ⁣⠀ That second picture is what this looked like straight off the pompom maker, just to show you the difference some careful attention there at the end makes! ⁣⠀ ⁣⠀ I'll show you some more here in the next few days, but I mostly as examples of 'no, really, keep trimming them, they get so much better if you trim them!⁣⠀ ⁣

A post shared by Hunter Hammersen (@hunterhammersen) on

 

 

The craft industry seems to be constantly going through major changes but the news that the parent company of Interweave Press, F+W Media, filed for Chapter 11 protection on Sunday has really sent big waves through the knitting and crochet world.  The fallout will impact Interweave Knits, Interweave Crochet, Knitscene, and Spin Off, amongst a stable other craft magazine and book titles, as well as future events of the Interweave Yarn Fest, and the many writers, editors, designers, and teachers who work for and through F+W.  I first heard about it in this Instagram post from designer Miriam Felton, where her fellow designers and teachers discussed in the comments their concerns about collecting outstanding payments from the company.  And then I came across more info in this Forbes article and some really good analysis of F+W’s management history in this very enlightening Craft Industry Alliance article. How about you?  How do you feel about this news?  Does it seem like a big deal for such a giant of the industry to be in this position or is your knitting and crochet focus directed elsewhere?  I’d love to know your thoughts!

I loved this slo-mo video of a sheep being shorn that Clara Parkes posted on her Instagram feed this week and the thing I found most interesting was her point that the shearing process has never successfully been automated, meaning that “…every ounce of wool you see out there, every inch of that sock or that sweater, contains fibers that a human being… removed by hand.”  That’s something that sets wool apart not only from manufactured fibers like polyester and acrylic, but even from other natural fibers like cotton. And it’s a concept that took a few minutes for me to really let sink in!

I came across these cable-needle rings the other day and I am so enamoured of them!  Yes, cable needles you wear on your finger as rings, like the knitting badass you are.  Genius!


The Yarn Alliance Opens to New Members on March 21!
(woahhh…  that’s next week!)

Being part of the Yarn Alliance club is all about coming on a colour exploration — in gorgeous yarns dyed in exclusive colourways and shared with a wonderful community of fellow club members who are all part of the adventure too.  Plus we create beautiful coordinating skeins to double the fun.  And each parcel contains a wonderful club gifts created exclusively for the club by our community of amazing handmakers.  Oh, and a 15% coupon!

The Yarn Alliance is available for subscriptions only twice a year, and we always give early access to folks on our waiting list. There’s not much time, so click here and make sure you’re on it.  You’ll get an email a few days before subscriptions go live so you can join us!

Upcoming Shows

This weekend!!! The Pittsburgh Creative Arts Festival in Greentree PA
(probably even with lighting!)

Next Weekend! Homespun Yarn Party in Savage MD

 


Anker’s Sweater – My size by PetiteKnit

Colourwork yokes have been all the rage lately but sometimes simple is stunning, and I absolutely love the simple focus on texture in this beautiful sweater.  It’s designed in fingering weight held double but also works with DK, so you’ve got a lot of options.  And if you wanted to add colour, I’d love to see a slow colour progression that would come from using our Mini-Skeins held double but changing colour one at a time.  Wouldn’t it be stunning?

Wabash Bridge Convertible Shawl by Robyn Chachula

There’s so much about this crocheted shawl to love!  First, that it’s inspired by one of Pittsburgh’s iconic bridges. Second, it’s got buttons along the edge so you can wear it like a little cloak.  And third, it’s by the lovely Robyn Chachula, who has created some wonderful crochet kits in SpaceCadet yarn that she’ll be bringing to the Pittsburgh Creative Arts Festival this weekend.  I can’t wait to see how they turned out!

Mini Maximization by Sarah Jordan

Mini-Skeins are wonderful fun but, sometimes, they look so delightful that you aren’t sure what to cast on with them.  This pattern is designed specifically for that problem, by combining two sets to create this eye-catching shawl.  And if you’re a member of our Mini-Skein Club, the gradient is built right in — so getting a stunning result is super-easy and almost guaranteed!


Ok, I’d better finish this coffee and get going, because I’ve got to get those lights figured out before the SpaceCadet crew gets here.  In the meantime, I hope you’ve got a great day planned (with lots of knitting or crochet time in your schedule) and, until next time, all my best!

 

 

SpaceCadet Newsletter: Defeated by Purple

SpaceCadet Newsletter: Defeated by Purple

Here’s something I found surprising when I first started SpaceCadet: photographing purple is hard.  It’s hard. I mean, it’s my job to make sure every colour on our website is true life, insomuch as I’m able, and purple tries to defeat me every. single. time.  Apparently, this is a known thing amongst photographers (and one of them once kindly wrote in to explain the technical reasons for it and I can’t remember them now) and it’s not just me, which I found a relief to know.  But to be honest, that doesn’t make it any better when I am desperately trying and trying to get an accurate photo of a purple yarn and it just refuses to cooperate!

(l-r: Yes Dear, Fred While You’re Up, and That’s What She Said)

So, having learned this about purple, I had to laugh when I saw designer Corrine Walcher’s Instagram posts this week.  She’s designing a sweater in SpaceCadet Lyra and we sent her the yarn in our beautifully rich new purple “That’s What She Said”.  She sent me a direct message to say how much she liked the colour and that she would start posting photos.  And then…  purple did its thing.

 

 


Oh my stars!

“…and it looks absolutely nothing like I could get in this picture,” she says.  And then later, “…I really just have to stop trying to capture the color of this. It’s never gonna happen.”  And I couldn’t help chuckling, because I feel her pain.  Sometimes purple just will not cooperate and it’s good to know it’s not just me!

Still though, doesn’t it look like it’s going to be an amazing design?  I can’t wait to see it.  And if you want to watch her continued progress (and continued fights with purple), be sure you’re following her on Instagram at @gingyknits.

And if you need to see again what that purple really looks like, here it is…

(l-r: Honey, Yes Dear, Longing, and That’s What She Said)


Newsletter

  • If Instagram isn’t your thing but you’ve been wondering about the ongoing discussions there around race and inclusion, this article is a great place to start.  Or to catch up if you got a little behind — some of those conversations developed fast and the nature of Instagram stories sometimes made it easy to miss things and get lost.

 

  • This article from Ysolda Teague is a really useful guide to understanding what size to knit, including how to correctly take your measurements and even comes with a handy printable measurements chart!

 

  • Reading this article about knitting being used as the framework in concrete structures, I came across the sentence “Knitting is the new 3D printing” and it cracked me right up. Surely it’s the old 3D printing?  Or maybe just the cooler 3D printing?  Yeah, it’s definitely that.

 

  • I’m a bit of a podcast junkie, but it’s almost never knitting or crafting podcasts* (I don’t know why…  I’ve tried…  but I don’t like to knit to someone talking about knitting and I always end up turning back to something about economics or politics).  But Vogue Knitting has just started a new podcast called Knitter Views and I’m going to give it a try.  They’ve got an interview with Kaffe Fassett that I’m looking forward to — when I started knitting in the early 90s, he was my absolute hero.

The Yarn Alliance Opens to New Members on March 21!

Being part of the Yarn Alliance club is all about coming on a colour exploration — in gorgeous yarns dyed in exclusive colourways and shared with a wonderful community of fellow club members who are all part of the adventure too.  Plus we create beautiful coordinating skeins to double the fun.  And each parcel contains a wonderful club gifts created exclusively for the club by our community of amazing handmakers.  Oh, and a 15% coupon!

(this is the yarn & coordinate from January’s parcel — isn’t it lovely?!?)

The Yarn Alliance is available for subscriptions only twice a year, and we always give early access to folks on our waiting list. There’s not much time, so click here and make sure you’re on it.  You’ll get an email a few days before subscriptions go live so you can join us!

Upcoming Shows


Sagostad by Sofia Kammeborn

image © Sofia Kammeborn, used with permission

Here in Pittsburgh, it just keeps snowing — in a really sweet way, if I’m honest, with little flurries that make the world look like a snow globe.  And so when I spotted these adorable mittens, named “Fairytale Town” in Swedish, they seemed to capture everything that is delightful about this time of year.  Designed in fingering, I’d go for SpaceCadet Ester because it’s a wonderfully hard-wearing Merino/nylon combo, in Dark Skies for the main colour and maybe some of my Mini-Skeins for the coordinating colours.

Double Brim Coffee Beanie by Amy Leclerc

image © Amy Leclerc, used with permission

Few things are as satisfying as whipping up a hat in record-breaking time!  This lovely beanie incorporates crocheted seed stitch for textural interest and looks adorable with an added pom-pom.  Designed in worsted weight, I’d work it up in SpaceCadet Cressida in either Fat-Free Chocolate (because I love the combo of coffee and chocolate!) or Longing

Fading Waves Cowl by ChiWei Ranck

image © ChiWei at One Dog Woof, used with permission

I love the way this long cowl uses a mixture of colorblocking and fairisle stranded knitting to work one colour into another. This version uses strongly contrasting hues to make the transitions pop (click through to see a photo the cowl opened up) but I think it would be a lot of fun knit it in more blended colours.  Perhaps Look Up!, Feather, Frigia, and Sliver?  Or Longing, Sage, Wilt, and Honey?  So many possibilities!


Ok, I think it’s time I head down to the studio and get things started.  Today we’re going to take all of our amazing One-of-a-Kind colourways and create some gorgeous fades with them for our upcoming shows.  It’s going to be a ton of fun, and I might even grab my camera and share some behind-the-scenes shots with you.  No purple though!  I hope you’ve got a great day planned too and, until next time, all my best!

SpaceCadet Newsletter: a Yarn & Pattern Giveaway!

SpaceCadet Newsletter: a Yarn & Pattern Giveaway!

It’s deepest February and all I want to do is curl up on the sofa and knit.  Yesterday, we woke up to a winter wonderland — and some seriously treacherous roads.  The schools around here were closed and, even though the SpaceCadet crew were trying to organise how they’d get to work, I told them to stay home (“Don’t do anything dangerous for yarn…  It’s just yarn!“).  Everything could wait until tomorrow.  And so I got my wish: an hour or two of quiet time, curled up with my tea and knitting, and watching the snow.

Today I’ve woken up to cold, grey rain.  The beautiful snow is fading away quickly and the roads (thank goodness) are pretty clear…  and the work we didn’t get done yesterday now needs to be done today and in double-time.  So instead of starting my day slowly the way I’d like, I’ve poured myself some strong coffee to get things moving.  But first…  well, first I do have some fun stuff to share with you.  So let’s just take five, shall we?  I’ve got time for that if you do!

Newsletter

First, a giveaway!  When I reached out to Marceline Smith this week, she kindly offered two copies of her Pebbles & Pathways socks pattern for a giveaway, and I’m throwing in a skein of SpaceCadet Oriana to go with each of them.  Scroll down to see the pattern and get all the details!

 

image © Sara Schira, used with permission

Once Spring arrives, the gnomes will get busy in your garden (it’s absolutely true).  What better way to welcome them than with Sarah Schira’s Gnome de Plume MKAL?  The first clue goes out on March 11 (when it will surely start to feel like Spring, yes?) and, until then, all her gnome patterns are 25% off with the code “GnomeDePlume”.  Click here for all the MKAL details.

I am so so sorry to do this to you, but when I heard that researchers used the evolution of body lice to determine the point in history where humans began wearing clothes, I really did find it too interesting not to share.  Pick your tolerance level: this article gives a summary but does include images of lice and this article is longer but without any itch-inducing pictures.  I’m scratching like crazy either way.  Blech!!!

Did you see this cool video using a ball of yarn to illustrate issues around sexism and bro-culture in the office?  After years of working in an industry that was seriously male-dominated, it rings so true for me (despite the rather sugary-sweet conclusion).  And though it’s clearly about gender-based issues, if the recent discussions on Instagram around racial representation and inclusion feel at all unrelatable, I think viewing this same video through a race-based lens may help make the importance of those issues a little clearer.

image © Alasdair Post-Quinn, used with permission

Exciting news for lovers of double knitting!  The designer behind BuildingBlox and (undisputed Heavyweight Double-Knitting Champion of the World*), Alasdair Post-Quinn, is hosting a fabulous Week of Double Knitting Workshops from April 27 – May 5 in Cambridge MA.  Whether you’re brand new to this technique or want to take your skills to an advanced level, it’s an amazing opportunity to get away from everything and dive deep into this intriguing style of knitting with one of the world’s leading experts.  Click here for all the details.
*I totally made that title up.

Mini-Skeins on Their Way Soon!

Just a quick heads up to the members of the Mini-Skein Club that we are sending out February’s parcels this week, so keep your eyes on your mailboxes!

In the meantime, I’m trying to figure out how best to photograph this wonderful collection of hexagons that my assistant has knitted out of an (almost) entire year of our Ombre&Gradient Mini-Skeins (it starts with January 2018 at the bottom and goes up to November at the top).  They’re destined to become an epic garment when they’re sewn together but I want to create some sort of flat-lay image (or maybe a stop-motion video) that shows them in chronological order.  Any suggestions how best to lay them out?

 

Upcoming Shows

  • This Saturday, Feb 23 (11am-5pm) —  Indie Knit & Spin at the Ace Hotel in Pittsburgh PA

Here’s what’s got me super-excited about this show:

• first, it’s really special because it’s all indie makers
• second, it’s FREE entry but you can get first dibs on all the best stuff from your favourite vendors with an Early Access Pass for just $5
• and third, this year they’re doing a Happy Hour from 3-5pm (with a cash bar… woot!) and special goodies from the vendors.

 

Pebbles & Pathways Socks by Marceline Smith

Marceline says, “I love the small canvas and the endless possibilities of a knitted sock. Just enough stitches to draw you in, and small enough to take with you everywhere.”  And I couldn’t agree more!  When I reached out to her this week, she kindly offered two copies of her beautiful Pebbles & Pathways Socks pattern for a giveaway, and I decided to throw in a skein of SpaceCadet Oriana to go with each one!

To enter, all you have to do is make sure you are following both Marceline and me on Instagram (she’s HeyBrownBerry and I’m SpaceCadetYarn) and then leave a comment on this Instagram post telling me what YOU love about knitting socks (or what you hate — I’m ok with that too!).  And if you’d like an extra chance to win, tag a friend in an additional comment (tag as many friends as you like, but each tag must be in its own comment please).

For full sweepstakes details and an alternative method of entry, click here.

Vitamin B by Simone Kereit

Last week I shared how much I love innovative uses of popular techniques (such as brioche in this hat) so when I spotted this sweater from Simone Kereit’s new collection of designs incorporating brioche as a decorative element, I just had to show it to you.  I love how the brioche panel is so low-key — it’s there adding that distinctive two-colour interest but in a subtle way that simply accents the sweater’s shape.  (And my very favourite thing?  That sweet i-cord edging on the sleeve!)

Adira by Tamy Gore

When I spotted this gorgeous shawl on Ravelry, it nearly leapt off the page at me.  I love the use of strong colour, the slipped stitches and brioche to blend colour, and the short rows to create the shape.  This is a great design to go bold with!  I’d cast it on in Astrid in Sliver, Honey, Mars, and Dark Skies.

images © the respective designers, used with permission

Ok, it’s time I get this show on the road…  We’re packing yarn for Indie Knit and Spin this weekend, packing club parcels, and dyeing some fun club colourways. It’s going to be a busy day! I hope your day is just as full of (fun) stuff and, until next time, all my best!

SpaceCadet Newsletter: an Unforgettable Day…?

SpaceCadet Newsletter: an Unforgettable Day…?

Oh my stars, I had just made a cup of tea, curled up in my chair, and opened up my journal to start my day with a little reflection (and to-do list making!) when, writing the date at the top of the page, I realised it’s Valentine’s Day.  I’d almost forgotten about it!  

I think that either says something very sad about my love life or it means we’ve just been super-busy getting ready for our upcoming shows.  The truth is, we have been really busy.  We’ve got three exciting shows coming up in the next month or so (see SpaceCadet News below), we’re dyeing some beautiful club colourways (both for our own club members and through some great LYSs), and there are a couple of other secret things I can’t mention yet.

(we spent yesterday putting together some awesome colour combos… this is, l-r: Frigia, Wilt, Becalm, Fathoms Down, and Feather)

So you know what?  I’m going to go with it just meaning we’ve been really very busy! (Oh and I’m going to sneak out of the house as soon as I can to get my husband that card that I probably should have given him this morning…  oops!)

Whether you celebrate Valentine’s Day or not (or, whether you remembered it or not!), there’s nothing I’d rather do this morning than sit down and spend a little fiber-time with you (because yarn beats chocolate and roses any day of the year).  I’ve got a lot of interesting stuff to share with you, so go ahead and make yourself a cup of tea and let’s get to it!

Newsletter

The other day, I spotted this post from the fabulous designer, Hunter Hammersen, and though the image is not actually our yarn, the endorsement she gave at the end for SpaceCadet Oriana absolutely made my day:The 8 ply yarns wear like IRON and last forever. Love them to bits. Go buy lots of it so Space Cadet doesn’t ever discontinue it.”  See my grin?  It’s ear to ear!

View this post on Instagram

So for a good solid year after I broke my leg, I either had to wear this oh-so-stylish compression brace or my ankle was puffy enough that knit socks were tricky to wear. Which is *Something Of A Disappointment* if, say, you have a giant basket of hand knit socks that you love dearly and wear constantly.⠀ ⠀ But…just lately…the ankle has started behaving itself, and I'm back in my socks. These are particularly stretchy and so were one of the first ones back in rotation. I noticed they had a tiny little bit of a thin spot on one of the heels, so I patched it up before it went back in the basket this time.⠀ ⠀ I'm a firm believer in mending my socks. They take an age to knit, I'm not throwing them away before I absolutely have to. These are nine years old, and there's no reason they can't last many more years with just a bit of attention. Before you ask, I have a lot of socks so each one only gets worn once every few weeks at most (I try and enforce even wear by waiting until they're all dirty and doing one giant load of sock laundry rather than just wearing the same five socks over and over), and I'm picky about my sock yarn, and I knit socks with a seriously tight fabric…that's how I have nine year old socks.⠀ ⠀ So how about you, any old socks in your sock basket? Do you mend your socks? Or is that taking things a bit too far?⠀ ⠀ Oh and someone will ask, so the pattern is Gramercy, and the yarn is the now sadly discontinued Sock Plus 8 by Handwerks. The closest match I've seen to that base is @spacecadetyarn's oriana 8 ply. The 8 ply yarns wear like IRON and last forever. Love them to bits. Go buy lots of it so Space Cadet doesn't ever discontinue it.

A post shared by Hunter Hammersen (@hunterhammersen) on

I’ve been using this technique for a while to avoid a gap when joining in the round — and it’s super simple but, if you don’t know about it, it’s well worth sharing. 

I like to stand outside on clear nights and look at the stars.  This time of year, though, that’s an awfully cold habit to be in so maybe I’ll just gaze at these lovely constellation coat buttons instead.  Hmmmm…  maybe I need to cast on a coat for them…?

Have you met Jonah Larson, the 11-year-old crocheting sensation?  He taught himself the craft at age 6 and hasn’t stopped since.  If you click the link and watch the video, he’s absolutely amazing — his hook moves faster than my brain can think!

Oh, and if there’s someone in your life who forgot what today is (just like I did!) and needs to get you an awesome gift on short notice, you can always send them this link to save the day (wink).

Available Only Until Friday: Our Gunnison Colourway

We are honoured to be dyeing the latest colourway for Indie Untangled’s exclusive yarn series, Knitting Our National Parks, and naturally, I chose the Black Canyon of the Gunnison as my inspiration. 
 

image (left) ©Christin Healey, used with permission

You can see how we’ve incorporated deep browns, greys and terracotas of the canyon walls and added in layers of rust from that moody sky above with a shock of turquoise from the Gunnison River down below. And we are offering this beautiful Gunnison colorway on not one, not two, but four different bases, from fingering to worsted!

  • Lyra, a sportweight 100% Superwash Merino yarn with a sproingy cabled 8-ply construction. Each skein has approximately 270 yards per 100g, perfect for anything from socks to sweaters.
  • Vega, a worsted version of the cabled 8-ply Lyra, also with 100% Superwash Merino. It provides great stitch definition for sweaters. Each skein has approximately 215 yards per 100g.
  • Oriana, an 8-ply sock yarn with a high twist that gives it extra strength and durability. It is comprised of 90% Superwash Merino and 10% nylon. Each skein has approximately 420 yards per 100g.
  • Aurora, a luxurious 4-ply MCN with 70% Superwash Merino, 20% Cashmere and 10% nylon. Each skein has approximately 350 yards per 100g.

Gunnison is available for preorder on Indie Untangled only until Friday, February 15 and will ship the last week of March.  Click here to order your skeins!

And the best part is… 10% of sales will be donated to the National Park Foundation, which will go to the parks that need the most help after the recent government shutdown.  I’m a huge supporter of our National Parks and delighted to be part of this effort!

Upcoming Shows

 

Briochebubbles Hat by Raina K

One of the things I love most about knitting and crochet is how trends evolve and change over time, and this delightful hat is a great example.  We all know how hot brioche knitting is right now and I love how this design uses that same technique in a new way, creating little “bubbles” of brioche in bold colours for a really intriguing look. 

Cold Sand by Melanie Rice

Speaking of innovations, the way this beautiful cowl is elongated on one side creates a shape that’s a lot like a triangular shawl (but without that annoying habit of coming apart as you run for the bus!) and gives more space to show off its lovely textured stitches.  Try it in Lyra in Nine Stones, Sage, or Yes Dear for a natural look (or go bold with Tickled or Molten Cool!)

Adventurer by Elena Fedotova

And while we’re on the subject of interesting cowls, this one caught my eye first because of it’s fascinating texture but, when I read the description, I was really intrigued.  A two-loop infinity cowl worked in the round and using two alternating skeins, the pattern is simple but requires careful attention to prevent tangling of the yarn. The results, I’ll think you’ll agree, look worth it!

images © the respective designers, used with permission

Ok, my tea is all gone and it’s time I got myself down to the studio.  Today we’re finishing up a few photos that we didn’t get to yesterday and then we’ve got a bunch of lovely yarns to dye up.  It’s looking like a good day!  I hope your day will be just as fun and, until next time, all my best!

SpaceCadet Newletter: a Payphone, a Porcupine, and My Mother’s Birthday

SpaceCadet Newletter: a Payphone, a Porcupine, and My Mother’s Birthday

I’m going to start today by telling you a little story, and the reason for it is that I am absolutely delighted to announce that SpaceCadet is dyeing the next installment in Indie Untangled’s exclusive yarn series, Knitting our National Parks.  For our colourway inspiration, I chose this stunning image of the Black Canyon of the Gunnisen in Colorado, because it is such a breathtaking place that it instantly became one of my favourite national parks so, when Lisa asked me to choose one for this month’s colourway, I didn’t hesitate!  There’s a story about that — well, two actually…

View this post on Instagram

Colorado’s Black Canyon of the Gunnison National Park is a remote canyon, and a climbers paradise. The Gunnison River runs through the canyon, and with over 2 million years to work, it has sculpted this vertical wilderness perfectly. The trails in this area down to the river are strenuous, hard to navigate and unmarked, but they are gorgeous and it’s a place that is well worth the visit. Don’t worry — there are plenty of overlooks of the canyon below for those who just want to take in the view. Thanks for following along today! Photo courtesy of Christin Healey (@christinhealey). #usinterior #findyourpark #travel #colorado #blackcanyon #blackcanyonofthegunnison #nationalpark

A post shared by U.S. Department of the Interior (@usinterior) on

Now the Black Canyon is memorable just for its looks alone.  But on my first and only visit, it made an impression for other reasons as well.  I was 19 years old and my college boyfriend was shocked to discover I’d never been west of the Mississippi.  He’d grown up exploring the national parks with his grandparents, so he planned a month-long camping trip for the two of us that hit every park we could possibly fit into the timescale.  It was the first of many such trips and you’ll get an idea of how big an adventure it was when I tell you we drove from Ohio to the Pacific, by way of Seattle… and Tucson… and everything in between.  That’s a big trip.

But, you understand, this was before cellphones and before the internet.  We drove off in a Honda Accord, a pair of teenagers with a loosely-outlined agenda, a tentative return date, and a promise to call home regularly and let our parents know where we’d ended up.  And we did call them regularly…  sort of…  every few days or so when we found a payphone and remembered.  Looking back now, as a mother myself, I have no idea how my parents kept their cool.  

The day we arrived at the Black Canyon was my mother’s birthday and, of course, I was going to make sure I called her that day for sure.  We arrived late in the afternoon and walked along a trail to take in a first, quick look at the canyon.  There wasn’t much time before dark to set up camp, but even in those few minutes I was utterly blown away.  What a sight to behold!  The way the canyon walls drop away, the blackness below, the striation in the dark rock marbled with jagged white streaks —  it was spellbinding and, to this day, I just want stand there and look at it for hours.

But the sun was beginning to sink, so we found our campsite and pitched the tent.  And once my boyfriend started dinner, I wandered over to the visitor center to find the payphone and call my mother on her birthday.  When I got there, I was surprised to realise I couldn’t see one.  I walked all around the building once, twice…  where was it?  There’s always a payphone!  I found the ranger on duty and asked.  “No, there’s no payphone,” he replied.

Oh.

Now, it’s a really small park and the place was completely empty except for this one ranger, so I explained it was my mother’s birthday and asked if they had any kind of phone I could use, just for a minute, just to wish her happy birthday?  I’d be glad to pay, I said.

“Nope, we don’t have a phone.”  No phone? None at all?!?  “Nope.”  Oh no… what was I going to do?  My mother would be expecting my call.   The park ranger seemed entirely unaffected by my dismay but he did add, “Now, there’s one off the park a ways…”  I perked up.  He pointed out toward the road and said, “You leave the park and turn left onto the road…”  Uh huh.  I made a mental note.  “…and you drive about twenty miles until you come to a crossroads…”  Uh huh, twenty miles… what?!? “…and then you go left at that crossroads and about twenty miles on from there, you’ll come to a gas station.  There’s a payphone there.”

Forty miles?!?  Forty miles to get there?  And forty miles to get back?  Just to spend five minutes on the phone with my mother?!?  The sky was beginning to darken rapidly now.  The tent was pitched and dinner was already cooked.   It just didn’t make sense to drive all that way.  And so my mother lost out and, on her birthday, the only day she knew I’d call her, she never got that call.

That night, lying in our sleeping bags side-by-side, we were woken by a strange and slow plopping sound on the top of the tent. 

Plop

(silence)

Plop

(silence)

Plop

Photo by Levi Price

We laid there for awhile trying to figure out what i could possibly be, and finally unzipped the tent door and slowly slid out, both on our backs and looking straight up.  The night sky was incredible — so dark that you could see millions of stars, so many more than I’d ever seen in my life! For a moment, I forgot the sound that woke me up.

Plop

My boyfriend aimed a flashlight at the scrub oak we were under and there, only ten feet over our tent, was a porcupine.  I’d never seen one before, but it was about the size of a medium dog, with a fizzy belly and a halo of quills across its back, nonchalantly eating acorns and dropping twigs as it crawled along a branch directly above our tent.  It made a soft rustling sound as it moved, all the quills rubbing against each other, and the flashlight didn’t faze it at all — it never once stopped eating or even looked down at us.  Plop.

We watched it for a long while, still lying on our backs side-by-side and utterly bewitched.  And then slowly, we slid back into the tent.  After a few minutes of lying in the dark and listening to the plopping sound and the accompanying rustling above me, I began to wonder what happened if a porcupine were to fall out of a tree.  Do they land like a cat, always on their feet, or are they more like toast, always butter-side down?  It was quite a while before I fell back to sleep.

image by Nick Dunlap

Sadly, we never did get to explore the Black Canyon of the Gunnison the way I so dearly wanted to.  The next day, after another short walk around the canyon rim, we drove the forty miles to find that payphone and I finally wished my mother a happy birthday.  I was surprised at how she was sobbing, surprised at how furious my dad was.  I was 19 and filled up with excitement about all the incredible things I was doing and seeing.  She had spent the whole night waiting for my call and convinced herself we’d been eaten by a bear and no one would ever find us.  By the time we’d driven the all that way to find the phone, and then stood in the blazing midday sun in a gas-station parking lot listening first to my mother’s anguish and then to my father’s angry dressing down, neither of us had much of an appetite for adventure.  So we got in the car and drove on in silence.

I learned a few things that day: about seeing things from other people’s perspectives (even in the middle of my own adventures), and about staying in touch, and birthdays, and using a payphone whenever and wherever we found one.  But I also had gotten a glimpse of one of the most beautiful places I’ve ever seen in my life — just a glimpse — and I’ve been promising myself ever since that, someday, I’ll go back.

Indie Untangled’s Knitting our National Parks

Now, I can’t show you the colourway yet — it releases on Feb 1 and you’ll want to click here to go to Indie Untangled to see it.  But I just have to share this black and white image so you can see what an exciting colourway it is.  Just like the photo of the Black Canyon that inspired it, there is so much going on, and when you add in the colours…  oh, I can’t tell you how much I love this colourway!  Don’t forget to check it out on Friday.

Ok, are you ready to jump into all our fun fiber news?  Me too.  Go grab a cup of something warm (really warm — it’s cold here in Pittsburgh!) and let’s dive in!


Newsletter

I love this graphic illustrating the wool industry’s supply chain.  It’s from the International Wool Textile Organisation and I think my favourite thing about it is the last step: biodegrading.  Because discarded clothes made from synthetic materials (polyester, nylon, acrylic) act like the plastics they are and take for ever to decompose, but natural materials such as wool, silk, linen, and cotton degrade in far more… erm…  natural timescales.  Read more about how wool degrades here.

We’ve all seen it a million times but somehow, for me, it never gets old when the media gets knitting and crocheting all wrong.  Here are eight more instances to make you chuckle smugly.

Years ago, I visited a weaving studio in the beautiful village of Sixpenny Handley, not far from where I lived in Dorset, to see how they used weaving as a supportive activity for adults with learning disabilities and Downs syndrome.  As I watched the shuttles fly back and forth, I remember the director telling me how the repetitive nature of the activity calmed their clients and soothed their frustrations, something that immediately made sense to me.  And the programme was partially self-funded, by selling their own commissioned weavings (I bought a lovely handwoven bag).  Then few months ago, right out of the blue, I found myself wondering if the program is still running and found, to my delight, that it is.  Click here, here, and here to see some very special weavers in action or here to learn more about the program.

Speaking of Downs syndrome, don’t forget the Lots of Socks KAL to raise awareness of the condition.  It runs from Feb 1 to Mar 22, and there are tons of fun prizes!  Click here to get involved.


Spaces in the Gradient Explorers Open Today at Noon!

Each month, we dye a full-sized skein for our Gradient Explorers members that flows out of the previous month’s colour and then into the next month’s colour.  The idea is that, over time, we create a beautiful gradient fade that we can all explore together — us in the dyeing and our members in the knitting and crochet — and use those skeins either on their own, together in the gradient, or mixed-and-matched with our other colourways to create amazing fade possibilities.⠀

Look how many amazing fades we created based around three recent colourways (Sept, Oct, and Nov).  Each one uses those same three colours as a starting point and yet each still has a distinct personality!

We keep the Gradient Explorers to a really small group, opening it only when spaces become free, and we have a few spots available now that we will open today at noon (eastern). Interested? Set a reminder on your phone now and then click here at noon!⠀

 

Upcoming Shows

 

Bubbles of Joy MKAL — Fresh Kits in the Shop!

Designer Kristina Vilimaite is hosting the Bubbles of Joy MKALand, without giving anything away, I can tell you it’s an absolutely beautiful design that uses a lot of colour in gorgeous ways.  And I know it’s always be a bit tricky to choose colours for a mystery knitalong (how do you know what to pick when you don’t know what you’re making?!?) so we’ve put together these gorgeous kits to make it super-easy for you to cast on with confidence! 

When we saw how fast they were selling, we quickly put together fresh kits and they’re in the shop now.  The first clue in the MKAL releases on February 4th, so click here to choose a kit, and here to get the pattern, and join in the fun!


I love it when members of our community share their projects with us!  Susan recently emailed to share pictures of her beautiful vest that she knit from the middle three skeins from one of our Sweater Sets.  The pattern is Nancy’s Vest by Carol Sunday.  Isn’t it lovely?!?


Novemberist Hat pattern by Vanessa Smith

I’m not sure what it is about this beautiful hat that caught my eye first: the lovely colourwork, the big poofy pom-pom, the nifty little colour detail along the bottom edge of the ribbing…  or just the fact that it is really, really cold right now and anything that looks this warm and cozy is a sight for sore eyes at the moment.  (Plus a matching pair of mitts?  It’s a shoo in!)  And you know I love the combination of a highly variegated yarns with semi-solids in colourwork like this, so I think I’d try it in Astrid in a combination of Frigia and Nine Stones.

image ©Vanessa Smith, used with permission

Voy’s Beach pattern by Jennifer Beale

One thing that fascinates me about all the knitting patterns I look at is how one design idea grows and alters and morphs into another.  So I absolutely loved this unique take on the trend for colourwork and yoked sweaters, with the twist here being that the yoke interest is created through beautiful texture and the stranded colour is moved down into the bodice.  Such a refreshing change!  And now that I’ve spotted this, I have to wonder…  where will the current trend go from here?

image ©Jennifer Beale, used with permission

Hōtoke by Little Yarns

If you need to keep warm (and I do!), I don’t think there’s a sweater way to do it than with this adorable cowl adorned with a tiny cottage set in the woods.  The pattern is free in the latest issue of Knotions magazine and it’s designed in SpaceCadet Astrid in Gobsmack and Sliver but, for me personally, I’d love to see it in two shades of blue, Frigia and Feather, or the earthy tones of Nine Stones against ethereal Gentle.

Image ©Edsger Studio for Knotions Magazine, used with permission

Ok, I’d better get to work.  Today I’m…  wait for it…  trying to save my misbehaving laptop by wiping it completely and reinstalling Windows.  Sigh.  I’m hoping that will do the trick and it’s not a hardware failure — keep your fingers crossed for me, will you?  I hope you have a much more exciting day planned(!) and, until next time, all my best!

 

 

 

 

SpaceCadet Newsletter: My Non-Knitting Sister Contemplates… Circs?

SpaceCadet Newsletter: My Non-Knitting Sister Contemplates… Circs?

My sister does not knit. And, if you recall from a few months ago, when my sister was asking where to buy wool clothing, she’s not even all that familiar with the terminology (she asked about the “manufacturing” of wool… fortunately, she did see the funny side of it as I burst out laughing).

But the other day, she said something took me by surprise. “I think I want to take up knitting…” she said, “for my sanity.” Huh. That was a surprise.  In all these years of seeing me knitting, she’d never really been tempted.   But life gets crazy and, just like all of us, she does know that knitting and crochet have this magical meditative quality that can be so helpful. She continued, “It’s a stress reducer, right? I should try this?” Yes it is. Yes, you should.

“Oh good!” She said, “I thought so, so I went on your site a little while ago and I placed an order…”.

What?!?

The thing is, one of the perks of being the little sister of a dyer is that if you ask for yarn, she’ll probably give you yarn.  It’s, y’know, what family does.  But when I picked up my phone and looked, there was her name — right real next to a real order!

Now, she’s a total newbie when it comes to yarn, so she started with the only thing she understood: that merino is good and silk makes it even better.  So far, so good.  But she doesn’t understand yarn weight or construction, or the importance of matching your yarn to your needle size.  She just jumped in and…  friend, she chose Luna.

I explained gently that Luna is…  well, it’s kind of an advanced yarn. “What do you mean?” she asked.  “How can a yarn be advanced?  It’s got wool and silk and I like that.”  Yes, it does.  It’s also a cobweb lace yarn with over 1300yds/100g.  Each skein is over a quarter of a mile long!  It’s wonderful and airy and light and lacy and…  it is Not A Yarn For Beginners.

I asked her what size needles she has (just one pair, size US 5s).  Ahhhh, ok.  I’ll send her Lyra then!  It’s a great sport weight yarn, sturdy and stable and smooshy, and — most importantly — really easy to work with.  I told her I’d cake it for her and send it the next day.  See?  The perks of having a dyer for a sister.  I was confident we’d have her knitting in no time.

And then I asked, her needles…  are they straight or circular?  “Circular?!?” she said incredulously.  “Circular?  How does that work?!?  Is it… like a boat with one oar, going around in circles?”

Ohhhhh boy.  Ok.  Yep.  Maybe I’ll rethink the “knitting in no time” idea.  We’ll be taking this slow.  “Yes,” I said.  “It is!  But it’s ok as long as you walk around your circular needles in the other direction as you’re knitting.” 

Heh heh — I couldn’t help myself.  Sometimes there are downsides to having a big sister too.


Bubbles of Joy MKAL

Now, before we get to the usual fiber world news, I just want to take a moment to invite you to join the Bubbles of Joy MKAL with designer Kristina Vilimaite.  Without giving anything away, I can tell you it’s an absolutely beautiful design that uses a lot of colour in gorgeous ways.  And I know it’s always be a bit tricky to choose colours for a mystery knitalong (how do you know what to pick when you don’t know what you’re making?!?) so to make it super-easy, we’ve put together these gorgeous kits so you can cast on with confidence!

The first clue in the MKAL releases on February 4th, so click here to choose a kit, and here to get the pattern, and join in the fun!


Ok, are you ready to get back our regularly scheduled newletter?  I’ve got a ton to share with you this week!  Grab a cup of something warm and steamy and here we go…

Newsletter

I’ve mentioned before how passionately I feel knitting and crochet ought to be used in schools to teach math (and design and art and home ec…), so I was delighted when SpaceCadet club member Amy emailed to share this article about a college professor who is doing just that.  Sara Jensen, an assistant professor of Mathematics at Carthage College, explained, “What professional mathematicians think of as mathematics is entirely different from what the general population thinks of as mathematics.”  The general public associates math with calculations and equations where professional mathematicians think in terms of problem-solving and critical thinkingRead more here (and better yet, why not share it with an inspiring educator…  you never know what might come of it!)

It’s a new year, full of good intentions, and Marie Kondo seems to be everywhere at the moment (this cracked me up), so my mind has been on tidying up.  I think, for me at least, the key is doing little things fitted into my daily routine.  This article gives seven great ways to incorporate quick moments of organisational awesomeness into the every day.  What do you do keep your life tidy?

After that conversation with my sister, this article seemed perfectly timed: Carol Feller explains circular knitting techniques, complete with videos.  I’ve tried them all over the years except for Hiya Hiya Flyers, and my favourite by far is Magic Loop.  What’s yours?

Kristen Jancuk of MediaPeruana Designs is teaching her Swatch Scholar Challenge starting Feb 4.   You’ll learn her tips and tricks for swatching success and how to avoid common swatching mishaps. Five days and five free lessons to ensure your next project turns out exactly as you’d hoped. 

image © MediaPeruana Designs, used with permission


Spaces in the Gradient Explorers Open Next Thursday

Each month, we dye a full-sized skein for our Gradient Explorers members that flows out of the previous month’s colour and then into the next month’s colour.  The idea is that, over time, we create a beautiful gradient fade that we can all explore together — us in the dyeing and our members in the knitting and crochet — and use those skeins either on their own, together in the gradient, or mixed-and-matched with our other colourways to create amazing fade possibilities.⠀

Look how many amazing fades we created based around three recent colourways (Sept, Oct, and Nov).  Each one uses those same three colours as a starting point and yet each still has a distinct personality!

We keep the Gradient Explorers to a really small group, opening it only when spaces become free, and we have a few spots available now that we will open next week, at noon on Thursday. Interested?  Click here to get on the waiting list!⠀

Upcoming Shows

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

March 15-17 — The Pittsburgh Creative Arts Festival in Greentree PA


I love it when folks share their projects with me!  Here’s two great ones I spotted this week…

Shannon cast on her Mini-Skein Club yarns and I can’t believe how gorgeous they look.  I looove that fringe!

Carol knit this beautiful sweater with her Gradient Explorer skeins.  It’s a lovely simple design that really shows off the colour changes!


Starry Night by handmade by SMINÉ

This image has an empty alt attribute; its file name is Starry-Night-by-handmade-by-SMINÉ-.jpg

You know, after standing outside at 1am (in 5°F cold!) to watch the lunar eclipse earlier this week, the delicate motif and sparkling beadwork on this sweet starry hat caught my eye straight away. Designed in fingering, I’d choose a yarn with a little nylon to stand up to any friction from the beads, so SpaceCadet Ester in Frigia would be a good option, or go for Aurora in Drizzle for cashmere gorgeousness!

Marble Blouse by By Katerina

This time of year, every room in my house seems to be a different temperature (really? Is it just me?), so I am all about cardigans at the moment and the more adjustable, the better. I love that this cardigan will keep my back and shoulders warm, but has a more open front so I don’t get too hot or too cold. Crocheted in fingering weight, I’d try it in Ester and the colourway Drizzle is really calling to me right now. What would you choose?

XX-one by Hinterm Stein

If the way to a man’s heart is through his stomach, possibly the way to a woman’s heart is to add pockets to her garments. Pockets! Such a simple (and important) thing, and so often just inexplicably missing.  So you know that these awesome pockets were first thing I spotted in this lovely cardigan. That alone is enough to have me casting on, but when they’re detailed like this too? Irresistible! Designed in DK, it’d be lovely in Astrid. Try the colourway Frigia or Stroppy to really show off the detail.

images © the respective designers, used with permission

See?  I told you there was a lot to share this week!  I’d better get going — we’re dyeing a developmental skein for a fun collaboration that I can’t wait to share with you and I’m eager to see how the recipe in my head comes out in real life.  In the meantime, I hope you’ve got an exciting day planned too — stay warm, drink lots of tea, and, until next time, all my best!