Newsletter: The Emails that Changed My Mind

Newsletter: The Emails that Changed My Mind

Something interesting happened last week.  The folks on the Yarn Alliance mailing list will have already heard this story but I wanted to share it with everyone because it was such a big revelation for me.

A couple of members of the Yarn Alliance emailed to ask if it was time to renew their subscriptions.  And the truth is that it was time…  in fact, the time to open the club for renewals and new subscriptions was supposed to have happened back in March but, just one week before I was planning to open the doors, states here in the US started to shut things down.  Suddenly tons of people were losing their jobs, worried about loved ones, or getting ill, it just didn’t feel right to start cheering about a yarn club.

I honestly wasn’t sure what to do.  I thought perhaps it would be better to just let this season’s opening slide and wait until the next season’s opening, in the hopes that things would be better for everyone.  But then those two emails came in, from members who said had so enjoyed  being part of the club and didn’t want their subscriptions to end.  Reading that made my heart soar — and shook me out of my indecision.

It should have been obvious to me all along that when times are difficult, we all find comfort in our knitting and crochet: in the rhythm of the stitches, in the feel of the yarn, in the way the colours lift the spirits.  And it’s always better when we do it together, whether in person at knit night or safely distanced in the shared experience of a club. So instead of being a time to shy away from opening the Yarn Alliance, I realised that now is exactly the time to share it.

And so I opened the Yarn Alliance this week.  I’m keeping it low key because it still doesn’t feel quite right to shout about it too loudly, but I’m excited to be able to share this upcoming season with all our renewing members — and hopefully a few new ones as well.  Somehow, those emails have given me a positive feeling about the future — for when it’s safe to end these shutdowns and venture out into the world again — and I’m excited to embark on a new season and dye new colours, with a sense of hope and positivity.  Will you join me?

Lots to lovely fibery news share with you today.  Are you ready?  Let’s dive in!…


Newsletter

When I think of llamas, I think of their fiber but, apparently, when virologists think of llamas, they think of protection against coronaviruses.  This fascinating article outlines how scientists are investigating the way llamas’ antibodies defend against a coronavirus infection, including the one that causes Covid19, and coming up with ways they can be adapted to protect humans.  Apparently, shark antibodies work in similar ways but, for some reason, the scientists prefer to do their work with llamas.  Do you think it’s because they also make really nice fiber?

This looks like fun: Sweater Jumpstart is a free five day challenge to explore raglan sweater construction by knitting a mini-sweater with designer Kristen Jancuk.  It starts on Monday, so go grab some needles and leftover yarn, and get started by signing up here.

When the humans are locked down, mean streets of the city belong to… sheep?  These videos capture a shepherd leading his flock through the center of Samsun, a city on Turkey’s northern coast — much to the surprise of local residents!  Make sure that when you click play you have the sound on — it’s really quite something.

Very sad news for the knitting and crochet world: TNNA, the industry trade organisation, is no more.  Their annual summer trade show was cancelled earlier in April due to the coronavirus, and then last week they announced the organisation would be suspending operations across the board, saying “TNNA currently cannot continue the membership operations you have come to expect with what little resources we have left.”  While there’s been remarkably little discussion of it online (there’s some here and here), it’s a huge blow to the industry as a whole and means it will be that much harder for LYSs to discover new yarns and for yarn companies to get into new LYSs.  How can you help?  It’s actually really simple: word of mouth is the best recommendation so just mention your favourite dyers (such as, I don’t know… say, SpaceCadet) to your LYS the next time you’re shopping.  I promise, both the shop and the dyers will really appreciate it.

I have two small problems at the moment: 1) my mask hurts my ears and 2) swatching always feels like a waste of time (or yarn… or both).  But when I came across this quick and simple pattern, I realised it would solve both at once: it ties my mask behind my head and takes the pressure off my ears and it offers provides me with a gauge swatch that actually feels useful!  Best of all, it calls for two fingering yarns held together, so I get the chance to play with colour combinations for my new favourite technique!


Mother’s Day is this weekend and if you’ve lost track of time (who hasn’t?!?) and need to get something for your mother quick, let us step up and save the day for you!  A gift subscription to one of the SpaceCadet’s yarn clubs is a fabulous gift: available right up to the last minute, we’ll send her a parcel of gorgeous yarn delivered right to her door every month.  …And even if you can’t be with her, you’ll still be able to let her know how much she means to you.

There are two great options, so whether she prefers full-sized yarns or minis, you know you’re giving her something she loves!

(if you’re not sure about those, let her decide: a gift card is always a great idea!)


Bukett by Linnea Ornstein

I actually drew breath when I saw this stunning pattern!  I absolutely love the spray of short row flowers bursting at an angle across the shawl but, even better, the whole pattern is garter stich  — meaning you can acheive this amazing effect with the simplest of techniques.  Designed in sport weight, I’d love to see the flowers knit using our Mini-Skeins held double to add extra colour combo punch.  Hands up, club members: who’s up for it?

Interlock by Hunter Hammersen

Hunter’s designs are always beautiful and this one is exactly that.  Incorporating the magic of holding yarn doubled to create its intriguing colour effect, it incorporates delightful open cables.  As ever, the pattern features wonderful instructions, including a photo tutorial and suggestions to modify it from a one-colour version to a three-colour version..  Best of all, it’s free at the moment for folks who join Hunter’s mailing list!

Raspberry spring lace cardigan by Lein Knits

It might have been the name of this cardigan that caught my eye — I’m so ready for spring! — but I think it was actually that beautiful crocheted lace that looks just perfect for the upcoming season.  An incredibly simple design, it’s worked in three pieces starting with the back, and each front worked together with the sleeves. And even though it was designed in much heavier yarn, there’s a part of me that’s tempted to do a gauge swatch with some fingering or lace held together and see if I couldn’t create a version that’s just incredibly light and summery.

all images © the respective designers, used with permission

Well, it’s time I got my day started.  We’ve got some beautiful club parcels and orders to pack up, and then I need to check through a few dyeing recipes and get them right.  I hope you have a some knitting or crochet breaks planned into your day, and all your loved ones are well.  And to all the mothers, I wish a very Happy Mother’s Day.
Until next time, all my best!

Newsletter: The Trouble with Tangles

Newsletter: The Trouble with Tangles

If I’m perfectly honest, sometimes when we are prepping some of our yarns — maybe it’s a club colourway, maybe it’s some of our one-of-a-kinds for a show — sometimes I fall so deeply in love with them that I have to sit down and have a little talk with myself about the fact that they are going to go away.  I am going to send them to customers, I don’t get to keep them.  They are going to go to their new homes and that is all right.  I’m not sure I completely believe that last bit but sometimes I have to have these conversations with myself.

Pyxis in Sage and Molten Cool

And I had one of those conversations as I was prepping our laceweight pairs for this weekend’s Virtual Trunk Show at The Artful Yarn.  We have so many beautiful one-of-a-kind skeins of our lovely Pyxis that, sitting in the middle of a huge pile and holding up one after another, I found myself swooning (see them in the SpaceCadet News section).  I knew all these pairs were destined for the show so, after I’d finished selecting them, I just had to go back to our stock shelves and find a laceweight pairing for myself.

After much digging, I decided on a skein of Sage and a skein of Molten Cool, with the intention to knit them held doubled. That’s them in the photo above — don’t they look absolutely delicious together?!?

But then take a look at the next picture of them caked up.  You may spot that cake on the left is smaller.  And, perhaps you are wondering why?  The reason is that every knitter’s worst nightmare happened: within a few turns of the ballwinder, the skein of laceweight tangled.

Pyxis in Sage and Molten Cool

“Don’t let it see your fear,” I thought and tried at first to just casually work through it, turning the winder slowly and fiddling with each wrong-way loop as I came to it.  But after a while, I realised the loops were multiplying into knots and forming a dreaded clump, so I had to lift the skein off the swift and start working it by hand. I pulled this tangled loop out of that tangled loop and slowly… carefully… the clump began to separate. But after a while I found myself going cross-eyed, so I spread the skein out on the floor with its tidy loop and on one side and messy clump of knots on the other and took a break.

When I returned to the skein a little while later, my breath caught in my throat.  The tidy loop had completely disappeared and the messy clump had taken over the entire skein. It was nothing but one giant knot.  And there hiding in the doorway, was my husband, looking throughly ashamed and apologising profusely.  He’d tried to help…  he thought if he just started winding, it would pull itself free…  and he’d got the yarn caught in the ballwinder and had very obviously set me back by hours

And he felt terrible.

All’s well that ends well.  It really did take hours but I’m relieved to report that the yarn is untangled at last.  And when I knit a swatch with the two skeins held double, the colours created a marled effect that is so stunning that I just can’t stop gazing at it. (Seriously, zoom in and just look at all those little flecks of colour — they’re gorgeous!)

Pyxis in Sage and Molten Cool, held doubled

And even better is what came from that little fiasco along the way: now that we know our marriage can survive the horrors of a full-blown laceweight tangle, I kinda think maybe a global pandemic and national shutdown pales in comparison…?


Newsletter

For as long as we’re all staying home, Ellen Thomas, the designer at The Chilly Dog, is providing live knitting/fiber arts lessons on her YouTube Channel every Saturday at 11 a.m. In the last couple weeks, she’s shared her latest weaving project and taught Reverse Knitting. you can even ask her questions and she’ll answer as she’s livestreaming.  You can find her YouTube channel here and a playlist of her past live lessons here.

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.)

You’ve heard of temperature scarves and blankets (or maybe you’ve even made your own), but I absolutely love this temperature dress.  I mean…  it might not have worked, y’know?  But it really really does!

If you’re wanting to make facemasks and looking for information on how to do it, I think this face mask tutorial round up is a great resource.

You might feel concerned that you’ll run out stash(!) during the shutdown, so conserving every inch of yarn is important.  We all know the long-tail cast on is a common culprit for yarn wastage, so check out Jill Wolcott’s step-by-step guide to figuring out how much yarn you’ll need.  Useful stuff!  (and ahem… don’t worry, if you do run out of stash yarn, SpaceCadet is here for you!)


Virtual Trunk Show at The Artful Yarn, Chagrin Falls OH — April 24-26
Launch Party starts LIVE Friday Apr 24 at 5pm

It’s not possible for us to go in real life to the trunk show we’d scheduled at The Artful Yarn, so we’re holding a Virtual Trunk Show instead!  It’s going to be a blast, with a live Zoom chat, lots of lovely SpaceCadet yarn, and maybe even cocktails (byob, naturally).  It’s going to be exclusive to the customers of The Artful Yarn so, even if you’ve never shopped there before, you might want to join their mailing list (click here and look for the popup).  They offer online shopping and great virtual events and… you might even get an invite to the trunk show!

Want to see some of the Laceweight Pairs we’ve put together for the trunk show?  Here you go!  (See why I had to have that little chat with myself?)

Can you imagine the gorgeous marling these will create when you work them held double? So gorgeous!


Indira Cowl and Indira Mitts by Vanessa Smith

The lovely textures of this gorgeous cowl and mitt set are made even more eye-catching by the way the softly mottled colour, which is created by (…wait for it…) knitting two yarns held double.  In this case, it’s a fingering held double with a laceweight and the effect is distinct and just so beautiful.  Featuring a double-braided cable, simple lace, and fisherman’s rib, it will keep you intriged from cast on to bind off.  Buy the pair and you’ll even get them at a discount!

Daciana by Corrina Ferguson

It was the stripes that I spotted first.  They’re just so happy (and the world needs as much happy as it can get right now!).  Worked top down in DK, you can work the stripes using your SpaceCadet Mini-Skeins, held double to approximate a DK weight while adding some gorgeous marled colour at the same time. For the main colour, choose either Lyra or Astrid, and cast on some happiness!

Detour Sweater by conceptcreative.store

Talk about eye-catching!  I did a double-take as soon as I saw the fabulous texture of this stunning yoked sweater.  Worked in the round and seamless, it features waist shaping, bust darts, and an adjusted back for a better fit.  It can be worked in either shorter or longer lengths, with full sleeves or three-quarter length, and there’s even instructions for increasing the length to a sweater-dress.  Designed in fingering, I think I’d crochet it in Oriana (because it has such incredible drape!) in Crisp for springtime vibes, Faded Dreams for some gentle colour, or Tickled if I’ve lost my mind.

images © the respective designers, used with permission

Ok, I’ve got a super busy day ahead so I’d better get going.  The weather is forecast to be a little bit warmer (hooray!) so I’m going to set up on my porch for some photography to get ready for the Virtual Trunk Show and then a ton of parcel packing.  I hope you’ve got a lovely day ahead of you, and that you and yours are safe and well.  And until next time, all my best!

 

Newsletter: A Little Reflection

Newsletter: A Little Reflection

Things feel so weird at the moment, don’t they?  I mean, with most of the country under stay-at-home orders to flatten the curve, days seem to blend into each other (what day is it?), it’s easy to be distracted by the latest headlines, and any feelings of productivity are especially elusive.  So I’ve been finding comfort in little things that have nothing to do with the current world situation.  Spring’s first buds are bursting into bloom and the birds are joyfully heralding warmer temperatures, and I’ve been enjoying both as I drink my coffee on the porch.  And I’ve been starting my day with the ridiculously upbeat Italian Cooking Music playlist on Pandora (a combination of opera and 1950’s Italian-ish pop hits) — it makes me instantly happy!

And when I realised that I was getting to the end of each day feeling like nothing much had been accomplished, I created a little printable day tracker, not for planning my days (which feels weirdly stressful at the moment) but for reflecting each evening on what was good about the day: what I accomplished (turns out, I am getting stuff done), what I enjoyed most, and what I’m grateful for in that moment.  The truth is, I’ve found that filling that out in the evening makes a really big difference to how I view my day.

And then I thought… it might be helpful to you too!  So I’ve put it online so you can download it and print it for yourself.  Just click here, enter your email address, and I’ll send it to you.  (If you’re already on the mailing list, don’t worry — I’ve got you covered. Check your inbox for an email with the link all ready for you.)

I know there’s a lot going on right now, a lot to keep on top of.  Sometimes, when the big things feel… well, just too big, it helps to turn our focus to smaller things, even if only for a little while.  So I hope doing this little daily reflection tracker makes your days seem a little brighter, just the way it has for mine.

(and here’s the other thing that makes a day a little brighter)

Newsletter

It comes as no surprise to you that I love colour. (You too?  Fancy that!)  So I really enjoyed this article detailing nine colours that are named after specific people.  Well, I enjoyed it until I got to the last one, but that’s just me…  I’m squeamish.

I know social isolation might not be your favourite thing right now (it’s so important though!), but I couldn’t help cracking up when I saw Ikea’s new instructions for how to stay home.  Now that I’ve read through them, I think I understand it better.  In fact, I think we can do this!

This is wonderfully funny: with the UK on lockdown, the streets of Llandudno in Wales are so quiet that a herd of wild goats have come down from the surrounding hills to explore the town (and perhaps wonder where the townspeople are?).  The news footage shoes them roaming around like a gang of rowdy teenages, jumping on walls and eating shrubs and flowers. Too funny!

Turns out, wool is a great choice for the environment.  Well, you knew that already but apparently it’s even better than that: a recent study looking into whether the machine washable finish applied to superwash wool added to the pollution problem created by microplastics.  And the results showed that wool biodegrades rapidly in a marine environment, and superwash wool does so even more rapidly than untreated wool.  Like you needed another reason to love it, right?

Virtual Trunk Show at The Artful Yarn, Chagrin Falls OH — April 25

It’s not possible for us to go in real life to the trunk show we’d scheduled at The Artful Yarn, so we’re holding a Virtual Trunk Show instead!  It’s going to be a blast, with a live Zoom chat, lots of lovely SpaceCadet yarn, and maybe even cocktails (byob, naturally).  It’s going to be exclusive to the customers of The Artful Yarn so, even if you’ve never shopped there before, you might want to join their mailing list (click here and look for the popup).  They offer online shopping and great virtual events and… you might even get an invite to the trunk show!

 

Update on SpaceCadet Orders and Club Shipments

Last week, I sent out emails letting folks know that having our studio split between three houses means it’s taking longer to get their parcels out to them. To be honest, I was a little nervous about it — I hated the idea that we might be letting our club members and customers down.  But the replies we received were just so wonderful.  So many people wrote back to tell us that they were fine to wait if it meant we all stayed safe.  When I mentioned it to my assistant Cathy about it, she agreed, “Oh my gosh! Made me sooooo encouraged!”  So from me and her and the whole crew, thank you — that kind of support and kindness means so much.

(Frigia and Becalm, so spring!)

And there’s good news: even though it turns out my living room is extremely ill-suited to being our packing room (seriously, I’m literally jumping over boxes and yarn to get the job done!), we got a ton of yarn out this week.  The Gradient Explorers went out earlier in the week and the Yarn Alliance will be picked up today.  In between those, we packed up a bunch of individual orders, and I’m planning to get a whole bunch more of them packed today.  And if you’re waiting for your Mini-Skein Club order, it’s the club that takes us the longest to prep as we twist all those adorable minis by hand, so we’re working on it and I hope to have them out next week.

Little by little, we’ll make this crazy situation work — and thank you so much for your patience as we do!

Codroy Valley by Jennifer Beale

What drew me to this design first was, of course, this lovely asymmetrical colourwork band but, if you click through, you’ll find it also has a beautiful top-down circular yoke.  And, just to add to the adventure, the sweater itself is knit flat, the colourwork band is knit in the round, and there’s a small steek at the hem.  I know, right?  So intriguing!  Try in SpaceCadet Vega in Longing for a classic look, Crisp for something Spring-fresh, or Honey for a little warmth.

Njord cowl by Emelie Litwin

Beautiful two-colour brioche is the first thing you see in this lovely cowl but what caught my eye is the way those stitches fade away toward the bottom.  To me, it kind of looks like the brioche is melting, don’t you think?  And I even love the almost-checkerboard effect of stitches below that as well! Designed in fingering, go for neutrals with Sliver and Dark Skies, cotton-candy brights with Tickled and Plume, or natural shades in Longing and Crisp.

Luna Sweater by Courtney A. Clark

I love a pretty circular yoke and this crocheted version is no exception!  Sized from Small to 5X, it’s top-down, seamless, and with some beautiful vertical texture.  It even has a turtleneck option if Spring is a little slow to arrive where you are.  I think I’d make it SpaceCadet Vega in Thrive or Becalm for a little gentle colour interest.

images © the respective designers, used with permission

Ok, my coffee is finished so it’s probably time to get my day started (wait, what day is it again…?).  I said I had bunch of orders to get packed and that gives me a wonderful feeling of accomplishment (I love sending yarn out to you guys!), so I’m keen to get on that.  I hope you have a lovely day as well, filled with family (at home or virtually), a little knitting or crochet time, and a few quiet moments of reflection this evening.  And until next time, I wish you good health.

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.
⁣⁠
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!