Newsletter: Introducing Loop

Newsletter: Introducing Loop

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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


Upcoming Shows

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

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

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

Homespun Yarn Party in Savage MD — March 22


Rough Sea by Julia-Maria Hegenbart

image ©Julia-Maria Hegenbart, used with permission

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

Sarma Hat by Inese Sang

image ©Inese Sang, used with permission

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

Edison Gradient Pullover by Kristina Smiley

image ©Expression Fiber Arts, used with permission

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


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

Newsletter: Going into Meltdown!

Newsletter: Going into Meltdown!

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

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

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

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

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

SpaceMonsters Club exclsuvie colourway, Sept 2019

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

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

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

SpaceMonsters Club exclusive colourway, April 2019

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

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

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

SpaceMonsters Exclusive colourway, June 2019

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

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


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

The SpaceMonsters Club Closes Tomorrow

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

SpaceMonsters Colourways and gift from Dec 2019

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

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

SpaceMonster Colourways and gift from June 2019


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Images ©LuciaKnit, used with permission

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

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

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

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

Whoops a Daisy socks by Stone Knits

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

Reflector by Allison O’Mahony

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

Daydream Shawl by Toni Lipsey

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

Images © the respective designers, used with permission


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

Newsletter: The Wrong Season

Newsletter: The Wrong Season

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

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

Mirror Mirror, the SpaceMonsters Coordinating Colourway Oct 2019

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


Newsletter

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

Images © Shinywear, used with permission

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

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

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


The SpaceMonsters Club is OPEN!

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

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

SpaceMonsters Colourways and gift from Dec 2019

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

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

SpaceMonster Colourways and gift from June 2019


Bloom by Melissa Thibault

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

Epone (sweater and cardigan) by Mélina Hami

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

The Rebels’ Last Stand by Emily Ringelman

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

Images © the respective designers, used with permission


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

SpaceCadet News: The Joy of… Stocktake?!?

SpaceCadet News: The Joy of… Stocktake?!?

I’ve always felt there’s a positive side to nearly everything in life.  Not always, of course, but most things can have a positive aspect, if you look hard enough. I have to admit, however, that I was always stumped by stocktake — that odd, annual ritual that every retail business has to conduct.  I simply couldn’t see the positive side of having to stop work in order to perform the exceedingly tedious job of counting and recording every single item in the building.  I’m remembering especially the year that I worked for a company whose stock consisted mainly of thousands of tiny screws…

shudder

But I have to tell you that stocktake feels a little different when what you’re counting is hundreds of skeins of beautiful yarn!  All in glorious colours that you’ve created yourselves.  This week started with the SpaceCadet crew stopping all our other work to slowly through every single skein the building, carefully counting and recording each one before packing it gently back in its bag.  And even though the work was technically just as tedious as other stocktake, it didn’t feel like it at all.  It was joyful, it was fun…  we’ve even stopped calling it stocktake and started calling it “Pet All the Skeins Day”!

See? There really is a positive side to nearly everything…!

Ok, I’ve got a lot of great fiber news to share this morning, so go grab yourself a cuppa and let’s get started…


Newsletter

How do you join a new yarn in your knitting?  There are a bunch of different methods and, to be honest, I’ve never really known which one is best.  But this incredibly comprehensive analysis of every style I’ve ever heard of (plus a few more!), complete with test swatches and lists of pros & cons, certainly makes it much easier to decide.  There are a few that I think I’m going try.  What about you?

The other day I came across this article about Ikea’s move to using responsibly sourced wool for their rugs.  As a dyer, the parts I found most fascinating were watching the video and seeing how their yarn is dyed (at minute 3:53) and the acres and acres of skeins drying in the sun (minute 4:02).  It makes our little hand-dyeing studio look like a doll’s house in comparison!  Genuine question: can anyone tell me what breed of sheep that is in the video being shorn?  I don’t know, but I’d like to.

I am always delighted when the textiles in animated movies are portrayed in a technically correct way (and a little twitchy whenever they’re not) but, after reading this article about the effort it took to create the costumes for Frozen 2, I realise it’s almost (…almost) as hard as making them by hand in real life.  I have a renewed appreciation for what I’m seeing on the screen!

It’s so cold outside at the moment that only the cosiest handknits will do for me.  I love that Vicki Howell did this little round up of the warmest stitches in both knitting and crochet.  Light a fire, pour a cup of tea, and cast these on!

Speaking pouring a cuppa, I came across this article and I cannot tell you how perfect it felt.  It is completely spot on both in terms of how often the British make tea (almost every time they turn around — I once counted up how many cups I typically drink in a day and it was 8-10!) and also how very socially important it is to make tea for others.  It is imperative to make tea for everyone around you whenever you get up to make tea for yourself, and you’d almost never ever allow anyone to step foot in your house for more than a few minutes without offering them a cuppa (including contractors, workmen… perhaps even burglars?).  The article nailed how this small act forms so much of the social cohesion of an entire nation.

Oh, did you hear that?  It’s the clock running out on about half of the New Year’s resolutions that were so earnestly declared just a week ago.  And usually, I’m amongst that number but, this year, I’m trying something different.  A friend gave me a Commit30 planner and the idea is that you make a resolution commitment for each month, and stick to it for just 30 days, before moving on to the next one.  I mean, a whole year feels pretty overwhelming but… a month? I can do that!  What are your favourite planning tools?  I’d love to hear so please click here and let me know!


The SpaceMonsters Club Opens on Tuesday

I love designing colourways for the SpaceMonster Club, because the big, smooshy, worsted and bulky yarns we dye for it take colour in completely different ways than thinner yarns.  The dye hits them and soaks in sloooowly and has a lot more time for the colours to mix and blend and produce all kinds of amazing effects.  Want to see what I mean?  Here’s December’s colourway, “Nature’s Planetarium”…

Just look at all that depth of shade, all those amazing layers of colour popping out from underneath other layers!  And add to that the fact that these lovely thick yarns are going to knit and crochet up super-quick, and you can see why I love them so much.

The SpaceMonster Mega Yarn Club focuses on exactly those kinds of yarns: big, smooshy wosted and bulky weights in gorgeous colours.  Plus we create an optional coordinating colourway and there’s a fabulous gift every season (those are so much fun to come up with!).  The doors will open on Tuesday but, if you’d like first dibs, click here and get on the club mailing list to get an early-bird link!

 

Are You Joining our Epic 2020 Mini-Skein Project?

Did you see my assistant Jade’s stunning Northeasterly wrap she made from the Mini-Skein Club’s 2019 colours? She cast on in January and worked patiently through each month as they come along. And even though we both knew (of course) that each month flowed into the next, there was something absolutely magical about seeing the whole year’s gradient flow come together on her needles, right before our eyes…

Isn’t it amazing?!?

And now, she’s prepping to cast on for her 2020 Mini-Skein project.  Would you like to join her? Whether you join the Club and work with each new bundle as they arrive in the new year, or you work from stash, I know both she and I would love to see you cast on an epic project alongside her!  It’s super casual and simple to get started: all you have to do is say you’re in.  Click here for details.

(It’s too late to sign up for January’s bundle but you are more than welcome to hop in with February’s colours instead.  And I honestly feel like having a little variety in the cast-on colours will just make seeing everyone’s projects all the more interesting!)

documenting Jade’s Northeasterly, from January to November 2019


Stepaside by Jennifer Beale

It was not the pockets on this sweater that I spotted first.  It was those lovely colourwork panels — I mean, they’re so eye-catching, aren’t they? And the way they actually turn a corner to run from the hem up to the shoulder and then down to the sleeve.  But then, as I looked closer, I realised I was also looking at pockets.  Pockets!  So, that’s it… I’m sold!  Even if there is steeking, and that’s a bit scary — it is, I get it — but I say that pocket-love beats steeking-fear every time.  The best news is that there’s a six-month KAL starting right now and running through July, so you’ll have lots of friends to hold your hand when it’s time pull out the scissors!

Pühalepa Hat by Raina K

When I first spotted this hat, it almost looked like argyle but, on closer inspection, I realised it’s actually a beautiful nature motif: Pühalepa flies from the Island of Hiiumaa in Estonia.  I love the little pop of colour along the cast on edge and, underneath that pom-pom, the crown is absolutely stunning (click through and scroll down the pattern photos to see it).  Even better, there’s a beautiful matching yoked sweater. I’d love to see this knit in Drizzle with Honey, Fat-Free Chocolate with Gentle, or Feather with Wilt.

Bifrost Top by Rebecca Velasquez

This gorgeous top is all about the colour and, when I looked at it, I immediately thought what a wonderful pattern it would be for showing off either your Gradient Explorers or Mini-Skein Club yarns!  The intriguing construction is worked sideways in two pieces, then seamed at shoulder and back folded at front edge and seamed to create sleeves.  Designed in DK, you could use SpaceCadet Lyra (sport/dk) or hold a fingering weight double (try any of our Mini-Skeins) to create a similar effect and amazing colour.

images © the respective designers, used with permission


Ok, that’s it for now.  I’ve got a meeting coming up shortly and then I have to get to the studio to check how a few colourways came out.  I hope your day is filled with fibery goodness too (and lots cosy finished objects — stay warm!).  And so, until next time, all my best!

SpaceCadet Newsletter: Holiday Traditions

SpaceCadet Newsletter: Holiday Traditions

My house is filled with pine and twinkling lights and, though our tree is bare right now, on Christmas Eve we will honour our familty tradition by baking gingerbread and saltdough ornaments to decorate it as the night draws in.  I know it’s not the way most people do their  decorating, but it is such an cosy way to welcome the holiday — turning the whole house from quiet anticipation to joyful celebration, all in one bustling, boisterous, family-filled day.

And just before that, we have the solstice, a celestial event that I always take time to quietly savour because it means we are at deepest midwinter — the longest night of the year and the turning point as the Earth slowly, slowly tilts back to the light and towards summer.  On the 21st of December, I will light a few candles, pour a cup of tea, wrap up in nice warm blanket, and gaze out the ice-frosted window at the deep darkness and the winter stars — and wait to see if I can feel the moment the Earth shifts.

And maybe I’ll cast on a little something with Luminary, our special solstice colourway — yes, I grabbed a skein for myself before they sold out (which they did in just a few hours!).  We got all the Luminary orders shipped out super-quickly so, if you were one of the lucky ones who got a skein too, I hope you’ll cast something on tomorrow along with me.  I’m thinking maybe a hat or mitts, with the yarn held double to be extra quick and super warm.  What will you be casting on?

And even if you didn’t manage to get any of that special colourway, I hope you’ll get the chance to take a moment in the hustle and bustle of this busy season to slow down and to quietly savour all that is wonderful about this time of year.  A little time to sit with the people you love most, to knit or crochet, and to hold the cold and the dark night at bay as we all tilt gently back toward the light.

I want you to know how much all our customers and club members mean to me, and how grateful I am for your support throughout the year.  And from the bottom of my heart, I wish you and yours all the best of the season.


Newsletter

Have you seen the announcement of Pantone’s Color of the Year for 2020?  It’s Classic Blue, chosen because it instills “calm, confidence, and connection…  re-centers our thoughts… brings a sense of peace and tranquility to the human spirit…”  I have to say, I like those sentiments as we head into a new decade.  And I’m personally pretty chuffed because, without knowing about Pantone’s decision, we’d already developed a whole range of gorgeous new blues to ring in 2020!  (Aren’t they beautiful?  Now they just need names…)  Look for them to release in January…

all these lovely new blues coming next month (doesn’t the one on the right look just like the Color of the Year?)

There’s been a lot of heated discussion on social media lately around size-inclusivity and value in pattern publishing, with strong opinions on all sides.  Many in the crafting community have been urgently calling for designers to widen their patterns’ size ranges while some designers have been making the point that it’s a more complicated request than it might first seem, especially when combined with demands for tech-editting, test knitting, in-pattern tutorials, etc.  This post from designer Kristen Jancuk raised some compelling points, and I was particularly interested in Knitty editor Amy Singer’s responseSerious question: what do you think is a fair price for a quality, tech-editted and tested sweater pattern in a wide range of sizes?

Speaking of online controversies, did you hear the saga of the Baby Yoda?  Designer Allison Hoffman had begun selling an amazing baby Yoda crochet pattern, called The Child, when it went viral on the internet and caught the attention of Disney.  After receiving a cease-and-desist notification, Allison removed the pattern entirely from Ravelry and all of her social media, causing a near-stampede amongst her fans who hadn’t had a chance to buy a copy.  But there’s much more to the story than that: issues around copyright and pattern sharing, and the possible future re-emergence of the pattern.  This article gives a great insight to whole situation.

This cracked me up: if you’ve run out of time to knit or crochet gifts for the holidays (ahem…  I’m raising my hand) and are giving gift cards instead, Vicky Howell shows you how to use scrap yarn to knit tiny sweaters for the gift cards themselves.  Which is kind of the same thing as a handmade gift, right?  …right?!?

You may need to see this this week (it’s kinda game-changing… you can thank me later).


Join Us to Create a Year-Long Mini-Skein Project

Did you see my assistant Jade’s stunning Northeasterly stole she made from the Mini-Skein Club’s 2019 colours? She cast on in January and has worked patiently through each month as they come along. And even though we both knew (of course) that each month flowed into the next, there was something absolutely magical about seeing the whole year’s gradient flow come together on her needles, right before our eyes…

documenting Jade’s Northeasterly, from January to November 2019

As the year draws to close, she’s planning which pattern to cast on for her 2020 Mini-Skein project.  Would you like to join her? Whether you join the Club and work with each new bundle as they arrive in the new year, or you work from stash, I know both she and I would love to see you cast on an epic project alongside her!

It’s super casual and simple to get started: all you have to do is say you’re in.  Click here for details.

 

The 12 Days of Yarnmas

My friend Michelle at Craftyflutterby is running a super-fun giveaway during the twelve days of Christmas (from Dec 25th to Jan 5th — did you know that’s the real “twelve days”?), to celebrate our shared love of yarn crafts.  And in that holiday tradition of sharing, she’s asked SpaceCadet to be part of it too!

There will be a fun photo prompt game and a prize box that includes a Shawl Pin and End Minder Set from Crafty Flutterby Creations and some beautiful yarn from SpaceCadet.  I can’t wait to see what you guys come up with!  Click here for details.


Fox Hat | Revelue by Eva Norum Olsen

It’s not that often that a pattern makes you gasp but, for me, this one certainly did!  The sweet little fox faces are what caught my eye first, of course, but I think what absolutely makes the pattern is the adorable fox tail at the crown.  Even better, it’s part of a coordinating set: there’s a hat pattern for kids and adults, plus mittens, a pullover, and baby leggings.  When I showed it to a friend, she immediately replied, “I need yarn for that, stat!”  I sent her Lyra in Dark Skies, Drizzle, Headstrong, and a skein of natural (undyed) — and I can’t wait to see the result! Would you like some too?

Mountain Vector by Makenzie Alvarez

This time of year, I am never without a shawl around my shoulders and the cosier the better.  This lovely wrap is knit in DK for an almost-blanket-like warmth, and it’s intriguing colourplay offers myriad possibilities.  Go for two semi-solids as in the original design for a simple and graphic look, but I like the idea of contrasting a semi-solid against a variegated for some real colour punch.  SpaceCadet Lyra or Astrid are great yarn choices or, for a beautiful heathered effect, hold fingering yarn doubled (maybe some of our Mini-Skeins!) and you’ll get a stunning result.

Cherry Bobble by AbbyeKnits

Last week I shared a hat with a stunning crown and this week comes this equally gorgeous design from the same designer.  With beautiful texture, it features cables and bobbles that seem to mimic tassels and a crown that’s almost a flower.  Cast on now in SpaceCadet Lyra or Astrid and you’ll be able to start the new year in a style that’s sure to turn heads!

image © the respective designers, used with permission


The weather forecast tells me that Pittsburgh will finally claw its way above freezing today, for the first time in days!  But right now it’s still bone-chillingly cold, so I’m going to pour another cup of tea to warm myself up a little more before heading out and getting the day started.  I hope your day is filled with wintery delights and holiday joy (and plenty of tea and handknits) and, until next time, all my best!

SpaceCadet Newsletter: Introducing Luminary, a Limited Edition Colourway for the Solstice

SpaceCadet Newsletter: Introducing Luminary, a Limited Edition Colourway for the Solstice

I have to admit, as much as love all the holiday events that happen this time of year, I hold a very special place in my heart for the winter solstice, the point when the northern hemisphere is tilted its furtherst from the sun, marking midwinter and giving us the longest night of the year.  To brighten that long, dark night, we light candles, moving the flame from wick to wick until the whole world seems to glow again. And warmed by their light and wrapped up in blankets, there is something delightfully cosy about arriving at the depth of the season and, at the same time, something so hopeful about knowing that we now begin the long, slow journey back to the light of summer.  I have always taken a little time on the twenty-first of December to slow down and reflect on the astronomical change that day brings.

And with the solstice just around the corner, on a whim we decided to dye a special colourway to celebrate.  Something that would be perfect to cast on in that moment of quiet reflection and inspired by the light of those lovely candles.  The result is Luminary, dyed in the golden yellows of the flame, the gentle orange glow of the wick, and the creamy wax of the candlestick, on three bases: our sparkly Lucina, beautifully smooth Ester, and wonderfully squishy single-ply Capella.

Now, because it was entirely spontanious, there are very limited quantities — only enough of each base for a sweater or two — and when they are gone, they are gone.  But then, just like candles on midwinter’s eve, their beauty might just be in their brevity.  These skeins are dyed and ready to ship.  Click here today at noon (eastern) and, with a little luck, the post office will deliver them to you in time for the solstice!

But there’s a few hours between now and then, and I’ve got a nice hot cup of tea and lot of fiber news to share, so why don’t you grab a cuppa too?  Find a nice spot to curl up and let’s dive in…


Newsletter

If someone in your life isn’t quite sure what to get you for the holidays, let me suggest something from Hannah’s Ideas in Wood.  We met Hannah at TNNA and fell in love with her beautiful creations.  Personally, I’d squeal if I found one of her yarn boxes (above) under the tree — it features a built in needle sizer, a swatch ruler, and acts like a yarn bowl, all in one!  And her lovely phone stands (below) hold your device upright so you can read your pattern or a book while you work on your project, and then come apart and fold flat to go in your bag.  All while looking just gorgeous.

If you are thinking of ways to celebrate the season in style without creating extra waste, I love the idea of adopting furoshiki, the Japanese art of wrapping gifts in fabric.  Crafty types like you and me always have spare fabric (or lots of spare fabric?) around the house, and your gifts are sure to stand out from all the rest.  This article will guide you with video tutorials, including several no-sew methods (hooray!).

I was intrigued as soon as I saw the title of this art exhibit: Crafting Democracy: Fiber Arts and Activism.  Hosted at The Sculpture Center in Cleveland OH, the exhibit “seeks to highlight examples of contemporary craft activism that have recently soared, placing them into conversation with their historical precedents.”  Open now through Jan 10.

Someday, when I have a crafting room all of my own (Santa, are you listening?…  all of my own), I’ll have these super-cool knitting and crochet knowledge posters on my wall.


Perfect Holiday Gift: Bespeckle Hat Kits
In stock and ready to ship!

Our Black Friday OOAK Bespeckle Kits sold out super-fast but, if you missed out, there’s good news: we’ve dyed more of these fun kits in our beautiful standard colours too. Including the first one below, which is allllll about our home city of Pittsburgh (here in the studio, we’ve been calling them our “yinzer kits”… hands up if you know why!)⁣⁠


They make perfect holiday gifts because they’re quick to knit up for the non-knitters on your list but so sweetly packaged in their little zippered pouches that they’re ready-to-go gifts for the knitters in your life as well. Click here to check them out!⁣⁣

Each kit contains:⁣⁣⁣⁠⁣⁠
• one 100g skein of Capella in a hand-dyed semi-solid main colourway ⁣⁣⁣⁠⁣⁠
• one 50g skein of Capella in a beautiful variegated contrast colourway for the speckles and pom-pom⁣⁣⁣⁠⁣⁠
• a pom-pom tool to make things super easy!⁣⁣⁣⁠⁣⁠
• a toggle set to make your pom-pom removeable⁣⁣⁣⁠⁣⁠
• a download code for the Bespeckle pattern by Hunter Hammersen(a $7.45 value!), with her wonderfully detailed step-by-step photo tutorials on making the pom-poms and placing the speckles⁣⁣⁣⁠⁣⁠
• all packaged in a sweet reusable zipped pouch


Honeydew Cloche by AbbyeKnits

I am such a sucker for a beatifully worked crown and so I fell in love with this hat the minute I saw it.  In fact, as I sit here looking at the picture, I keep trying to think of other things to mention about it — maybe the colour or the rest of the design — but I’m coming up blank because, really, it’s all about that crown!  The pattern includes a photo tutorial on the easy slip stitch that creates the lattice pattern, and I think it will definitely look best in a lighter hue to show off the stitchwork, something like Thrive, Drizzle, Gentle, Nine Stones, or Breathless.

Bronwyn Shawl by Toni Lipsey

Creating big, cushy crocheted stripes in beautifully coordinated colours is always a winner.  What I love most about this shawl (besides how darned gorgeous it looks) is that how airy the stitchwork is without looking too lacey for winter, and then that lovely wide panel that changes the balace of the colour pairing completely.  Such a beautiful design!  I’d make it in Molten Cool with Yes Dear, Vortex with Sage, or Windswept with Sliver.  It’s available in a printable pdf version here and on Ravelry, you can also find it for free here.

Latticework by handmade by SMINÉ

All this week, I’ve been craving cosy cosy cosy knits, and I can think of nothing better than a double-layer cowl with an intriguing design that creates plenty of air pockets to hold in the warmth!  And the thing that really made me fall in love with this design is that it’s also available in a crocheted version.  Designed in dk, I’d work it up in the blue-on-blue pairing of Frigia and Feather, the sublime combination of rust and neutrals in Headstrong and Nine Stones, or a more graphic look of Drizzle and Life Was Better in Black and White.

pattern images © the respective designers, used with permission

Well, my cup of tea is empty and there’s orders to be packed, so I’d better get a move on.  I hope you have a lovely day planned as well, filled with smooshy yarn and a little downtime to enjoy it.  And, until next time, all my best!