SpaceCadet Newsletter: Sabotage! (Almost)

SpaceCadet Newsletter: Sabotage! (Almost)

This week, we packed up the last parcel in the current season of the Yarn Alliance and, to be honest, it was bittersweet.  Why?  Well, maybe because this season is coming to an end or…  maaaaaybe because we all love the colourway so much. So much.  It’s beautiful and, without giving anything away, it’s exactly the favourite colours of a couple of members of the SpaceCadet crew…  who just may have threatened to sabotage packing day so that the parcels couldn’t go out and they could keep all the skeins to themselves.  I’m not kidding.

(Don’t worry — they got themselves under control and didn’t sabotage it and all the parcels went out in the end.  Though it was close there for a minute!  And I can’t wait for our current members to open their boxes and see this colourway because it is rich and layered and nuanced and gorgeous!!!)

Now, I can’t share a photo of it here because it would spoil the surprise (but look for it on my Instagram feed over the weekend) so I’ll share a few from our previous parcels instead.  And really, they’re pretty darned nice too, don’t you think?

The Yarn Alliance is open for subscriptions through this weekend only, so if you’ve been thinking about joining, this weekend is your last chance!  Click here or scroll down to the SpaceCadet News section for all the details.

Today looks like it’s going to be a beautiful day and I’m not sure how many of these lovely mornings we’ll have before the weather turns, so I’m heading out to the porch with my coffee to watch the world wake up.  In the meantime, I’ve got a bunch of fun fiber news to share with you so grab yourself a cuppa too and let’s start this day right!

Newsletter

This just blew me away: fiber artist Andrea Hunter creates felt artwork out of wool that is simply breathtaking and I’m amazed by the effects.  Some of her pieces look like oil paintings, some like watercolours, some like chalks.  Check them out here.

Photo by Mikaela Shannon

You’ve heard the battle cry for pocket-equality, right?  Clothing manufacturers have long refused to include pockets in women’s clothing designs or, where they have added them, made them so small as to be nearly useless.  This (visually fascinating) article illustrates the problem perfectly and lends impartial evidence to something we all know to be infuriatingly true.  (Bonus: here’s a cute “coatigan” pattern that features integrated pockets!)

I think knitters and crocheters can all relate to the need to keep our hands busy, right? When security stopped a woman  from bringing her knitting needles into the court room of the Paul Manafort trial, she turned to finger knitting instead.  “My hands always have to be busy. I hate to waste time, I have to be productive,” she said.  I can relate! (But I have to admit, the way the article uses the terms “knitting”, “crochet”, and “sewing” interchangeably made the story a wee bit confusing for me)

After I linked to an article about yarn bombing, a reader named Lisa emailed to share her thoughts on the impact of yarn bombing on the natural environment and wildlife, and particularly on the impact of acrylic and synthetic yarn.  I found her points persuasive.  “How do I feel about yarn bombing? Although it is pretty to look at, I now view it as litter and a form of vandalism. Wildlife can easily become entangled… Acrylic yarns are much worse than natural fibers, but even wool with a high twist is dangerous.”  And, she asked, what becomes of old yarn bombings? Who is responsible for maintaining them or  removing them when they become shabby?  Interesting questions — if you have thoughts on it too, I’d love to hear them!

Also interesting is the whole concept of synthetic fibers: acrylic, polyester, nylon, and the like.  Even though they are everywhere and we rarely give them a second thought, Lisa points out, “Polyester is plastic…   how long does [it] take to break down?”   Looking at the alternatives, I was fascinated by this article about new “biodegradable textiles grown from living organisms” such as bacteria, algae, yeast, and fungi.  And while these exciting new possibilities solve some practical problems, I have to admit I’m partial to one of the original (and best!) biodegradable textiles from a living organism: wool!

Our Upcoming Shows & Events

The Yarn Alliance Open Only Through Sunday!

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 nifty 15% coupon!

So if you want to join our Yarn Alliance community, click here to get your spot.  I can’t wait for you to come aboard!

Syncope Shawl by Veera Välimäki

I don’t know what it is about this shawl but I am just crazy about it!  It’s so simple — just two colours — and yet so high impact.  Garter stitch blended with syncopated brioche creates and amazing contrast that is downright mesmerising.  I’d go for Gobsmack with Sliver, Frigia with Dark Skies, or for a really bold option, Fizz and Look Up!

Mindfulness by Elena Fedotova

There are several key elements that can make a design instantly compelling and this one has two of the best: great texture and the chance to combine colours beautifully.  Designed in fingering weight, its thick stripes give plenty of space for the stitchwork to shine without being lost in the colour changes.    Here its shown with a strong colour contrast but I think I’d be inclined to try it in colours more closely related, such as Headstrong with Blood Moon, Breathless and Frigia, or Wilt and Thrive.

Dragonfly Bandana Cowl by Maria Bittner

Every day this summer, I’ve watched dragonflies dancing in the sun spot right in front of my porch, as many as ten at a time, and so I couldn’t resist the sweet dragonfly motif on this lovely crocheted cowl.  Designed in these bright and happy stripes, it looks just as adorable (maybe more so?) in a semi-solid.   I’d try it in Stroppy, Feather, or Thrive.

all images © the respective designers, used with permission

Alright, today I’m headed down to the studio to check out the yarn we’ve been dyeing for SVFF and our other upcoming shows, so I’d better finish up and get going.  I hope you’ve enjoyed starting your day with me and, until next time, all my best!

SpaceCadet Newsletter: Butterflies in My Stomach

SpaceCadet Newsletter: Butterflies in My Stomach

Most people hide the things that make them nervous — they try to look calm, cool, and collected, even when they’re feeling fluttery and anxious.  I’m no exception but I don’t mind telling that the the time that gets me the most nervous is when we open a club for new subscribers.  Well, I’m also excited — really excited — but I can’t help but wonder, will anyone turn up?  Will they want to join… or renew?  As as the opening date gets closer, I get more and more nervous.

Last Friday, the Yarn Alliance opened and I had that same feeling of nervous-excited energy in my belly when 9am rolled around.  I opened the subscriptions and suddenly saw the new joiners and renewing members come in.  It was such a good feeling!

But even better than that?  I realised that so many of the notifications coming through were for existing club members renewing their subscriptions.  And so many of those renewals were for a full year instead of just six months.  And that means the world to me, because it says that we are doing things right — so much so that our members want to stay a part of the club for as long as possible!

We’ve had an existing member get a gift subscription for her daughter (what a great gift!).  Another member jump in and renew before she was sure her current membership was due, just to make sure she didn’t miss her spot (it was and she didn’t!).  And lots of other returning members whose names and faces I’m so glad to have back for the next season.

So first, thank you all so much for joining and renewing.  I’m absolutely delighted and so looking forward to the fun we have to come!  And if you haven’t joined but are thinking about it, subscriptions are open only until next weekend, so click here or scroll down to the SpaceCadet News section for all the details.

Now, I’ve got a nice cup of coffee  and a ton of fun fiber news to share with you so find yourself a comfy spot to curl up in and let’s dive in!

Newsletter

Here’s something that just warmed my heart: staff at this doctor’s office in New Zealand put knitting needles and yarn in the waiting area, and patients have been collectively knitting baby blankets for the local hospital’s neonatal unit while they wait for their appointment.  Seriously, can there be any better proof that fiber arts make the world a better place?

I want one of these rings sooooo much!  (Not because I knit a hat the other week and wrote “size 6s” in all my notes and then, after doing all my calculations, discovered they were actually size 5s…  nope, not because of that at all).   So, erm… if anyone finds a spare $160 hiding their couch cushions…  help a knitter out?

Did you know that there is a Color Of The Year?  There is!  Pantone (the colour experts) make their annual announcement and so do Sherwin Williams (no colour slouches themselves).   For 2018, Pantone went for a purple (and I can see why it was their choice) and Sherwin Williams chose a stunning teal.  But for 2019, Sherwin Williams’s choice has me rather perplexed: they’ve chosen Cavern Clay, a kind of terracotta-ish brown that is inspired by “a renaissance of the 1970s”.  Honestly, I don’t know if the 70s deserve a renaissance or if this is a colour I’d want on either my walls (or my yarn!), but maybe they know something I don’t…?  What do you think?  Is Cavern Clay your colour of the year?

If you are a Doctor Who fan (and if you’re not, I think you should be!), check out this archived BBC record of the pattern for the original Doctor Who scarf.

Our Upcoming Shows & Events

The Yarn Alliance is Open for New Subscriptions!

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!

So if you want to join our Yarn Alliance community, click here to get your spot.  I can’t wait for you to come aboard!

sequences by Lori Versaci

Sometimes the most stunning designs are so simple.  This gorgeous shawl uses sequence knitting in a monochrome palette to create a stunning effect that is completely mesmerizing!  But as beautiful as it is in this photo, I just love the way it looks when knit with colour — click through to see what I mean and then start diving into that stash!

Hyalite Falls by Simone Kereit

I’ll admit it, I’m a bit of a sucker for a really gorgeous cowl.  Not just because it’s such a practical way to stay warm when the weather turns and not just because they always work up so quickly, but also because a cowl adds just a touch of colour right by your face, exactly where you want it.  And I love this beautiful example and the way it combines a semi-solid with a gradient flow for maximum effect.

Regenbogenschwester by Silke Terhorst

Sometimes simple is the best way to get to stunning, as this beautiful geometric shawl shows.  Crocheted with a lovely window-like motif that repeats from top to bottom, the result is light, airy, and focused on the beauty of the yarn and stitches.  Designed in fingering, it’s a perfect candidate for that stash of SpaceCadet Mini-Skeins — start with one month of the Ombre&Gradient Mix and see how far you want the colour shift to go!

all images © the respective designers, used with permission

Ok, I’ve got a super-busy day planned and I’m excited to get started!  First, a little computer work — emails and whatnot — and then down to the studio to dye yarn for our upcoming shows.  Oh, and colourways for some awesome designer collaborations we’ve got coming up (can’t wait to share them with you!).  So I’d better get going.  I hope you’ve got an exciting day planned as well and, until next time, all my best!

SpaceCadet Newsletter: Sharing My Day-to-Day

SpaceCadet Newsletter: Sharing My Day-to-Day

Last week, I included what I called a Non-Podcast in my newsletter, and the response put a grin on my face that lasted all week.  Even though it was just a few minutes of me sharing the quiet of my morning, so many folks got in touch and shared their own morning thoughts, and they were lovely to read.  Thank you so much!

And lots folks thanked me for sharing the recording through the newsletter rather than through social media (as I’d first intended), because they don’t use it.  And you know what?  I hear you.  I’m a fan of some social media and certainly not others.  Twitter just feels like lots of people shouting these days and Facebook drives me nuts the way it seems so cluttered and slow to load.

But I have to tell you, I do love Instagram: it’s simple and clean and makes it so easy to share stuff that I use it to post a lot of little day-to-day moments on it.  If you’re not familiar with it but still want to catch those quick glimpses of this dyer’s world, just click here.  Then you can scroll down to see my posts or, if there’s a pink-purple circle around my profile picture (as above), click on it and you’ll get to see images from my day that will appear for only the next twenty-four hours.  It really is a great way to share!

Speaking of sharing, I’ve got a ton of fun fiber news to share this morning.  So find your quiet morning spot, curl up with a cup of tea, and let’s take a look!

Pom-poms have been having a moment recently (I can’t decide whether to add one to either of my two new hats) but have you ever considered a rug made of pom-poms?  This 30 second tutorial shows you how to make one and the end result looks truly decadent.  What a great way to use up all those bits of yarn leftover from your other projects!

(And if pom-poms are your thing, this site teaches you how to turn them up to 11.  I mean, seriously, a rabbit pom-pom?!? Too cute!)

This is interesting: we’ve seen yarn shows combine with quilting and sewing, and knitting trips held on cruise ships… Now Vogue Knitting is pairing knitting and cooking for its “Cook & Create” event, featuring Jo Packham, the creator/Editor-in-Chief of WHERE WOMEN CREATE magazine, and Chef Steve Ballard of Sonora Grill and Thai Curry Kitchen in Ogden, Utah, for a weekend of knitting and cooking classes.  What do you think?  Is this the future of creative retreats?

A member of our SpaceCadet community (hi Michelle!) emailed this cartoon and it just cracked me up.  You know you’ve thought about it!

Something I just have to share with you: SpaceCadet yarn made the cover of 1-2-3 Crochet!  Many months ago, we dyed several skeins of Celeste in Molten Cool for designer Karen McKenna to create a shawl with and, like all collaborations with designers, I sent the yarn off knowing it would be a long while before we saw the result.  Imagine my delight when she got in touch to let us know that her shawl — and our yarn — had been chosen for the cover of this special issue from Crochet! magazine.  The pattern is profiled in my pattern picks below and the magazine hit newsstands last week, so I just had to take a moment to share my excitement with you!

Our Upcoming Shows & Events

The Yarn Alliance Opens on Friday!

Oooh!  It’s getting exciting!  The InterStellar Yarn Alliance opens for new members on Friday, and I sent an email last night with first-dibs access to our renewing members and the folks on our waiting list (if that’s you, check your inbox!).  And it’s been so much fun watching our members renew their subscriptions and seeing who is going to join us for the upcoming season.  Welcome  — I’m so excited to have you aboard!

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!

So if you want to join us, set a reminder on your phone on Friday morning at 9am (eastern)!  Then click here to get your spot.  I can’t wait for you to join us!

Summer Dreamer pattern by Kalurah Hudson

image © Kalurah Hudson, used with permission

It may be September but summer is holding  tight (the heat and humidity have been brutal this week!) so it feels entirely appropriate to feature this gorgeous design which evokes every good thing late summer has to offer.  I love the texture (its rare to see cables and lace work so well together!), the clean colour shift, and that delicate picot edging.  Written in two sizes, it’s worth casting on to hold onto every last drop of summer.

Tracery by handmade by SMINÉ

image © handmade by SMINÉ, used with permission

As much as I just waxed lyrical about summer, winter is coming and I can’t imagine a better pattern to welcome in that new season than this stunning hat.  Inspired by the open stonework of medieval buildings, its intricate cables recreate their delicate beauty and keep the knitting interesting with every round.  Oh, and that pom-pom!  Didn’t I tell you they are having a moment?!?

Napa Valley Shawl by Karen McKenna

image © Annie’s Publishing, used with permission

And I know I mentioned it above but I just have to feature this lovely shawl as one of my pattern picks for this week.  Not only because it put SpaceCadet yarn on the cover(!), but because it’s a beautiful design.  Deceptively simple, it keeps most of the work relaxing and straightforward and saves all the detailed stitchery for that gorgeous edging.  Plus, it’s beaded for a little extra bling!  Designed in Celeste in Molten Cool, its colour changes will keep you fascinated with every stitch.

 

Well, I’ve got a busy day ahead — the SpaceCadet Crew is meeting up to sort through some amazing yarns for a special Holiday collaboration we’ve got planned with designer Lisa Ross (she of the gorgeous colourwork) — so I’d better get moving.  I hope your day is filled with exciting events too and, until next time, all my best!

 

 

 

SpaceCadet Newsletter: In Which I Fail at Non-Podcasting

SpaceCadet Newsletter: In Which I Fail at Non-Podcasting

I have a friend who lives many time zones away and, because our schedules don’t often mesh, we’ve gotten in the habit of staying in touch through voice memos, which we record on our phones and then text to one another.  It means that it doesn’t matter if one of us wants to talk when the other is still asleep,  and we get to hear the sound of each other’s voices and all those background noises that make us feel like we are really in each other’s company.  It’s an odd but delightful way to stay in touch.

The outside of my new hat.  I love it!

The other morning, I was sitting on the porch, drinking my coffee and recording a voice memo to my friend, when I realised that what I was sharing with her, I also wanted to share with you.  I had been telling her about a new hat I had knit — one I had figured out right there on the needles — and how surprised and delighted I had been to discover I actually like the inside of the hat almost more than the outside.  So after I had sent my message off to her, I rerecorded it and saved it on my phone, with the intention of later finding a way to share it through social media.

I guess what I was doing was a little bit like a podcast (even though I really don’t want to do an actual podcast).  Call it a Mini Non-Podcast…  super short, totally spontaneous, and possibly never to be repeated.  My first thought was to share it on Instagram, but then I realised that wouldn’t work, because my message was about six minutes long and Instagram’s time limits for posts and stories are much shorter than that.  But what about Instagram Live?  That might work!

The inside of my new hat.  I’m not sure but I think I might like it even better!

Now, there’s a problem with that and the clue is in the name: Instagram Live is supposed to be live, and my mini non-podcast was recorded.  I thought about trying to just re-say it live, but I knew that wouldn’t go well.  When I’d originally recorded it, I was in the moment and it was authentic; if I then tried to re-do it, I’d trip over my words and lose all the realness of it.  But I had a grand idea: what if I played the recording over Instagram Live?  Maybe to a background of my hands knitting?

So many times in our lives we do things that seemed like a great idea in the moment that, with hindsight, really really weren’t.   I pressed the “live” button and began to knit as the recording played and, at that odd mid-morning timeslot, twelve people tuned in live (Hello, you twelve! Did you wonder what on earth I was doing?).  When the recording finished, I stopped the live stream and then went back to check how the recording-of-my-recording worked and…  it was Not Good.  My voice sounded like it was coming out of tinny phone speakers (as, of course, it was).  The cars that drove past during the original recording competed with the cars that went by on the re-recording, making it sound like I was calmly knitting on the median of a major highway.  And the sounds of nature created a similar double-bird effect that was downright bizarre!  It was a complete Non-Postcasting fail! I deleted it.

The thing is, though, that I had really enjoyed being able to share my thoughts and knitting with you when I made the original recording.  The day was fresh, the coffee was tasty, and it just felt good to chat.  I might do it again sometime, if I can find a good way to put it up on social media.  In the meantime, I’ll post my recording here.  The whole point of this newsletter is to spend a little early morning time sharing fiber arts goodness together so, really, it kind of fits right in, doesn’t it?

(If you don’t see the recording right there above, click here to listen to it.  And if you have any suggestions of good ways to share any future recordings on social media, please do let me know!)

Ok, and now, let’s get on with our regularly scheduled newsletter.  I’ve got a lot of fun stuff to share…

Newsletter

Corrine Walcher has started her countdown to Rhinebeck with a gift for everyone who is keen to start their Rhinebeck sweater too: between now and August 31, all of her sweater and top patterns are 15% off, no code needed.  You can see all of her designs here, but this one is my favourite: Dot Matrix, which she designed in one of our Sweater Sets (in the colourway Perilous).  Want to see how it knits up in a more neutral colourway?  I love TipsyTarsier’s version knit in the grey ombre of Downpour!

In the category of Crazy Things that Make Me Smile Every Time I See Them is ChiliPhilly, who crochets the most amazing hats and costumes(…?) and then dances(…?) in them on his Instagram feed.  Hard to describe but hilarious and weirdly hypnotic.

Just recently, I have seen more talk online about possible ways the new trade tariffs will impact the crafting industry and I’ll admit I don’t know enough about them to have any answers.  But JoAnn Fabrics recently termed the tariffs a “Made In America Tax” and created an online petition calling on lawmakers to exempt craft tools.  It’s an interesting approach (framed in terms of the impact on small, independent makers and charities) to come from a big box store and the reaction has been swift and vocal.

So many people in this world don’t seem able to so much as walk and chew gum at the same time, but YOU and I can do better than that — we can walk and knit or crochet at the same time, right?  I chuckled to myself when I came across this Knit and Walk event at the Nordic Knitting Symposium (watch the lady at the very end trying and nearly failing to stay in her lane).  If the Olympics can include a skiing-and-shooting combination, surely this must be a contender for future Games?  (with bonus points if your project is lace or intarsia!)

Our Upcoming Shows & Events

The Yarn Alliance Opens on Sept 7!

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!

Triptych by Audrey Borrego

I have often encouraged my readers to fearlessly mix yarns of different fiber contents (such as our Mini-Skeins or the wonderful pairing of Maia & Celeste) but this gorgeous shawl takes that one step further by mixing yarns of different weights — and to beautiful effect!  Look closely and you’ll see the change in texture as it flows from lace to fingering to DK.  And in some bold cable work and a lovely crescent shape and the result is simply compelling!

(Also, if you download this pattern, do read Audrey’s very interesting and thought-provoking notes on gauge.  I agree with everything she said!)

image © Audrey Borrego, used with permission

Fade Me, Seymour pattern by Ann Konzen

I love mosaic knitting because it looks soooo complex but is deceptively straightforward and, with this lovely cowl, you’ve got a beautiful opportunity to try it.   Creating a graphic, almost pop-art effect with its stitchwork, the pattern is designed for the pairing of a semi-solid yarn with a variegated.  Be sure to choose two colourways with a clear contrast and cast on a little mosaic magic!

image © Ann Konzen, used with permission

Caitriona Shawl pattern by Margo Bauman

Incorporating both vertical and horizontal elements (the eyelets and colour changes), this lovely triangular crocheted shawl is designed to invoke the plaids and kilts of Outlander.  And though that inspiration suits the beautiful neutral palette in the sample, I think it would look equally amazing worked up in bright berry or hot spice jewel tones.  Mini-Skein Club members, get ready to go raid your stash!

image © Edsger Studio (edsger-studio.com), used with permission

Ok, it’s starting to heat up (today is going to be in the mid-80s!) but would you believe I am heading down to the studio to work on some beautiful new Autumn and Holiday colourways we’re dyeing?  It feels kind of crazy, but it’s true!  So I’d better get moving.  I hope you’ve got something equally fun to look forward to today and, until next time, all my best!

SpaceCadet Newsletter: I Never Get the “Good” Yarn!

SpaceCadet Newsletter: I Never Get the “Good” Yarn!

This week I did something I almost never do.   Have you ever noticed that, whenever I share my knitting projects, I’m always using one-of-a-kind colourways in my photos? That’s because I always feel like I shouldn’t take stock from the shop to work with myself, so I only let myself to take the skeins that have breaks or mill knots or something weird that we wouldn’t allow into the shop. And, inevitably, that means I am working with our oddest colourways!⠀

the brim of my hat (in Lyra in Mars) along with my notebooks & adorable project bag (ever-present tea not pictured)

But this week, I had an idea for a hat (yes, another one!) and I really wanted to work with a nice semi-solid to show off the stitch pattern I have planned for it.  So I had a long talk with myself and finally decided I could take a skein out of the shop …just this once. And I’m so glad I did! First, because I love love love this rich red and second because… well, because it’s ok for me to share the nicest skeins with myself once in a while, right?

And I’m so glad I did!  That red called Mars and it’s just a joy to work with.  I believe there were about 10 other skeins in the shop when I stole mine so if you’d like to cast on something this bold and fun too, click here to grab one!

(Oh, after my newsletter last week, when I shared with you about the two hats I inadvertently knit in entirely the wrong weight yarn, quite a few folks got in touch to ask what the pattern was.  And I realised that, in telling the story, I’d forgotten to mention that I’d just been making the hats up as I went along.  But I’ve written the pattern down and my assistant Jade is testing it now — in the right yarn even!  If she gives it the go ahead, I’ll get it edited and released — which is something I hadn’t planned on but am now really kind of excited about.  I’ll let you know when I do!)

the hat I shared with you last week

In the meantime, I’ve got some great stuff to share with you this week so grab a cup of tea and quiet spot to sit, and let’s get to it!

Newsletter

I’ve often said — and I am earnest in this belief — that if we could get the whole world knitting or crocheting, we’d achieve world peace.  And, ok, maybe we wouldn’t achieve it but they way fiber arts pull people together and help disparate groups relate means we’d be so much closer.  Take this video, for example, showing Brazilian criminals learning to crochet in prison.  The pride of of them describes as he masters new stitches and finishes his projects…  I totally get it!

British crafters: the voting for the British Knitting and Crochet Awards are live now until 30 August.  If you’ve got a local yarn shop, designer, or yarn brand that you’d like to see recognised, click here to vote.  (And I’m wondering, is there a similar set of Awards for North America?  Anyone know?)

I came across this Instagram post asking how local yarn shops can compete against the growing number of yarn shows, and I found the discussion in the comments really interesting.  And while the post is discussing the situation in the UK, I think the same question could be asked in the US just as legitimately.  To my thinking, LYSs are the backbone of the industry we all work in and need our support and yarn shows provide an exciting event that keeps everything interesting.  There must be good ways to keep them mutually supportive and, if you work at a yarn shop (or a yarn show), I’d love to hear your thoughts!

my forest so far — isn’t it sweet?

Ok, this is not fiber related but I think it is so incredibly genius that I just have to share it with you.  You know that your phone can be both a help to your productivity and a real hindrance to it, right?  I mean, when you’re working on something that requires your full attention, that’s the time when your brain starts telling you to check your phone, right?  Forest is a fantastic little app designed to help you resist that urge by growing a tree during the time you’ve told it you want to concentrate.  Leave your phone alone and the tree is added to your forest, but click out of the app to check something else and…  your tree dies!  There’s even a group setting where your team can grow a forest together and if anyone checks their phone during a meeting or work session, the trees for the entire team get chopped.  I’ve been using it for a couple of days now and I LOVE it! Available for iOS and Android, click here to check it out.

Our Upcoming Shows & Events

Swatching with June’s Yarn Alliance Colourway

The other week, my assistant was playing with some texture, using the July Yarn Alliance colourway to do it.  It was a lovely mix of purples, soft browns, creams, and a touch of blush that all swirled into each other.  When she cast on a very narrow swatch, they started to do this cool striping effect and I just had to share with you!

Now, widen swatch and of course the striping disappears.  What will it do?  Well, it depends on the stitch you choose and that’s why swatching is so valuable.  But it’s fun to see how it came out here!

The Yarn Alliance is opens to new members on Sept 7th, and I give first dibs to folks on the waiting list.  Click here to get on it!

Wild and Free pattern by Annie Lupton

You remember a couple of weeks ago when I was discussing crochet?  One of our readers wrote in to suggest this gorgeous shawl, knit with garter, stockinette, and eyelet sections in the body and then worked with a lovely crocheted lace edging.  Annie recommends a yarn with drape to make the most of the shape and edging, so I’d recommend either Oriana or Maia, both of which have incredible drape and, if you happen to have a gradient set from in our Mini-Skeins, all the better!

Pixham pattern by Jimenez Joseph

Even though it feels like summer will never end, September is right around the corner (I know, right?!?) and, when it arrives, we’ll all be wanting those sorts of sweaters that are warm-but-not-too-warm.  Not only does this one fits the bill perfectly, but I’m also intrigued by the detailing: see how it’s taking the yarn from several rows together to create a single oversized knit stitch?  So cool!

Assateague pattern by Emily Connell

Here’s another beautiful choice for when it starts to cool down.  Yoked sweaters are still so trendy but this design turns that on its head by breaking away from the usual stranded colourwork and going for a bold, graphic look.  Designed in two colours of fingering weight, I think it would look even more eye-catching in a semi-solid pair with a contrasting set of Mini-Skeins to bring a stunning gradient flow into the mix, don’t you?

images © the respective designers, used with permission

Today we’re packing up a bunch awesome club parcels and orders, so I’d better finish my tea and get to work.  I hope this little update of fun fiber news has gotten your day off to a great start and, until next time, all my best!

 

SpaceCadet Newsletter: I Learn the Value of Swatching

SpaceCadet Newsletter: I Learn the Value of Swatching

This week, I got a classic lesson in the importance of swatching.  Uh oh…  (I almost heard you say it!).  But really, I shouldn’t have needed it…  Actually, when I think about it, perhaps it’s more of a lesson in the importance of holding onto your skeins’ labels.  Either way, it was a lesson and I learnt it.  Let me explain.

(The first hat. I hadn’t finished off the live stitches at this point, so they’re held on that stitchmarker)

A few weeks ago, I had an idea for a hat — a sweet little thing with a rolled brim and a simple wave pattern — so I grabbed an old skein of Lyra and cast on.  It was already caked (I have a lot of yarns sitting around that I caked for one thing and then got distracted by another) and the tag tucked into the center confirmed it was Lyra in a one-of-a-kind colourway.  I whipped out that hat in a couple of days and it’s lovely, but I decided I wanted to knit it again with a little more slouch.

So I grabbed another skein — again, already caked up but this time the tag was lost.  No matter, I knew this was Lyra too, in an experimental colourway that’s a little like Breeze but with a lot more green.  I did some math, increased the cast-on stitches just slightly, and away I went.  Knit knit knit, finish off and… Woah! It was slouchy.  In fact, it was a lot more than slouchy — it was really loose.  What?  I’d increased by only a few stitches…  it didn’t make sense!

So I cast on again, this time decreasing from the original by about the same number of stitches and using an absolutely gorgeous colourway from a few years ago, all blues and purples and browns.  Again, it was already caked and, fatally, again I’d lost the tag.  When I was finished and tried it on…  it was nearly as loose as the second hat!  Not as bad (it did have fewer stitches) but still nothing like the first one.  What the heck?!?

(ill-fated: the second hat is on the left, the third hat is on the right)

It wasn’t until I’d faced these two little catastrophes that I finally decided to pull out my tape measure and check my gauge.  The first hat measured 18st over 4″, and the second and third both came to 21st over 4″…   and that difference added a full 3-4″ to the cast-on brim!  It turns out that, without the tags with only my (spacecadet!) memory to guide me, I’d chosen two skeins of Vega, our worsted yarn, for the second and third hats — not Lyra, which is a sport weight!  No wonder they were coming out so crazy!

Swatching first would have told me there was a problem.  Keeping the tags would’ve helped a lot too.  Either way, I’ve learned a useful lesson.  And I do have three really lovely hats — one of which fits me perfectly and two others which will go to someone with curly hair that doesn’t like to be crushed.  And now that I know what the problem is, I’m going to go find a skein of actual Lyra and cast on… the slouchy version of a hat I’ve knit three times now!

But before I do, I’ve got a ton of fun stuff to share with you.  So grab a comfy spot to sit and something nice to drink and let’s dive right in!…

Newsletter

We’ve discussed before the value of knitting and crochet as educational tools so I really really enjoyed this article by Sara Jensen, an assistant professor of mathematics at Carthage College.  She says, “The subjects discussed here – abstract algebra and topology – are typically reserved for math majors in their junior and senior years of college. Yet the philosophies of these subjects are very accessible, given the right mediums.”  Interesting read!

Needle-felting is like a kind of magic (the kind of magic you have to do very carefully so you don’t stab yourself but, still…) and, every time I try it, I’m amazed at how good the results are.  But these needle-felted cats are so incredibly realistic they’re downright mind blowing.

Craftsy is becoming Bluprint and I’m not sure what changes that will bring in the future, so I’ve been being a little more conscious of watching the classes I meant to get around to but never did!  Next up for me is The Ins & Outs of Grafting, a free hour(ish) long class about mastering Kitchener stitch (because I still have to sit and think it out every. single. time!)

When I’m working in the studio, I often listen to podcasts while I work, usually about current events or TED talks.  I recently came across this talk by Magda Sayeg about how she started the yarn bombing trend a decade ago.  I’ve never yarn bombed anything…  have you?  What was it?  And how long did it last?

Our Upcoming Shows

Check out the Latest Yarn Alliance Parcel!

A few weeks ago, we sent out the latest colourway to the members of the InterStellar Yarn Alliance and it’s so summery and fresh that I just have to share it with you.  To be honest, I sometimes find it hard to dye a yarn that feels right at the height of summer. I want colours that are as bold as the days are hot without feeling oppressive.  It can be tricky.  But when I showed this to my assistant, she said immediately, “Oh, it’s like the Summer of Love!”

It has a coordinating colourway as well, called “Peace and Love”, and the gift was a fabulous shawl pin from my friend Michelle at Craftyflutterby.  The Yarn Alliance is closed to new members right now, but opens again on Sept 7th, and I give first dibs to folks on the waiting list.  Click here to get on it!

Double Dipper by Lisa K. Ross

If you like working with gradient yarns, then this design gives you double the fun!  Worked with two gradients running in opposite directions, it combines squishy garter with simple geometric lace for intriguing (but not overwhelming) knitting.  If you’ve got a stash from our Mini-Skein Club, try pairing the spicy reds of your latest bundlSe with the burnished gold-greens from a few months previous.  Bonus for Mini-Skein Club Members: to celebrate the awesome use of Minis in Double Dipper, Lisa is created a 50% off code for any of her patterns, exclusively for the current members of the club.  If you’re on the list for the July or August parcels, check your inbox!

Loro pattern by Lesley Anne Robinson

Brioche is all the rage right now and I love the way this shawl takes that technique and innovates on it to create a really intriguing texture.  Using chevrons to offset the brioche’s vertical stripes and garter stitch to match it’s squishiness, the result is something with the visual impact of lace but a lot more warmth.  Designed it fingering, it would look fabulous in our Mini-Skeins combined with a semi-solid for contrast.

Slow Curves pattern by Joji Locatelli

It doesn’t necessarily take Mini-Skeins to create a gradient — full skeins can be just as effective!  Joji’s Slow Curves uses four skeins of fingering knit in short-row wedges and employing clever use of colour to create this stunning shawl.  Its gentle curve and sweet eyelets set the colours off perfectly.   If you picked up a set of our Faded Collection, this may be the project you’ve been waiting for!

images © the respective designers, used with permission

Today I’m starting out by photographing some club yarns before the sun gets too high in the sky, and then I’m heading down to the studio to dye  some lovely yarn for a few orders.  Then, I’m going to come home and…  cast on that fourth hat!  I hope your day is full and productive and, until next time, all my best!