Join the A Secret Friend MKAL with One of Our Yarn Sets

Join the A Secret Friend MKAL with One of Our Yarn Sets

From Kristina Vilimaite, the designer of the delightful Bubbles of Joy shawl, comes A Secret Friend — a beautiful and colourful knit turned into a fun and exciting mystery knit-a-long!

Designed in SpaceCadet Oriana, A Secret Friend incorporates seven colours with garter stitch, mosaic slipped stitches, simple lace, and short rows to create a stunning asymmetric shawl that’s as intriguing to knit as it is eye-catching to wear. 

And we’ve created three gorgeous colour sets for you to make it with.  Cast on is coming up quickly on Feb 22 so click here to get your order in quickly!

What Makes You Buy a Pattern?

What Makes You Buy a Pattern?

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Moreso than any other time of year, Deepest Winter feels like the time for stranded colourwork (oh, those Scandinavian influenced circular yokes!).  If it’s something that’s always intimidated you, check out Kate Heppell’s Guide to Colourwork, full of great tips and even free patterns to try.

three images of colourwork knitting

A tricky thing about hand-knit and hand-crocheted garments is how to wash them.  Of course, when you’re the person who has put hours into making something, it’s not hard to find the motivation to lovingly hand-wash it.  But if you make a gift for someone else, they might be a little intimidated. I think this article is a great walk-through on how to wash hand-made garments in the washing machine… without destroying them!

Designer Kath Andrews recently released a pattern for a lovely yoked sweater featuring a slip stitch pattern and professionally tech edited in nine sizes.  And it sold only two copies.  She shared it on Twitter and asked, “I’m pondering what makes a pattern popular/sell well… What would encourage you to purchase this sweater pattern?”  Frankly, I wondered that too, so I put together a quick 1-question survey to find out.  If you take a moment to fill it out, your insight would be so helpful — and I’ll be sure to share the results with Kath!

 
Gathering the Winter Yarn Harvest

Gathering the Winter Yarn Harvest

PHOTO EXCLUSIVE: Did you know SpaceCadet yarn actually grows on trees?

You might be surprised to learn that we don’t actually dye our yarn*.  It’s a common misconception. No, SpaceCadet yarn grows naturally on our cultivated yarn trees.  And every few months, we go out to the orchard and gather the harvest…

It’s wonderful fun discovering what the trees have produced for us.  The colours change naturally with the seasons.  And we’re never quite sure just how that crop’s unique terroir — that unique combination of soil, sun, and weather — will affect what the trees produce.

Each skein is gently plucked from its branch, being especially careful not to damage the newly sprouted tags, and any windfall skeins are gathered and inspected for damage.  It’s such an exciting moment when we’ve gathered enough for a sweater!


Oh, the joy of finding a whole sweater’s quantity!


Each tree produces slightly different colours, known confusingly as a “dyelot”

Once we’ve collected all the skeins that are ripe, we load them into a sledge to carry them home from the orchard. When the trees are heavy with yarn, the journey back can be quite a workout. In the winter snow (as you see here), it’s a pretty easy job, but when those muddier spring days arrive, getting the yarn harvest home becomes a real challenge!

And there you have it, another successful Winter yarn harvest!  The Gradient Explorers trees were especially generous to us this year with these beautiful colours.  But we’ll be back again in a few months to see what the orchard is sprouting for the Spring…

*This is all, of course, a total lie. We dye every skein and mix every colour by hand in our studio. But we dream of cultivating a beautiful orchard of yarn-producing trees.  Don’t you?


This story went out to our newsletter subscribers first, along with the latest news in the world of knitting and crochet, some fabulous pattern pics, and updates on SpaceCadet club openings and Small Batch releases. 

And you missed all that!  You should be on this list! 👇

Are you ready for any knitting scenario?

Are you ready for any knitting scenario?

Just because it’s Friday afternoon, here’s a fun quiz!  How many of these must-have items do are in your knitting project bag? Let’s see!

The hardest part about dyeing yarn…

The hardest part about dyeing yarn…

The best moment of developing a new colourway is when we pull it out of the dyepot and it’s exactly what we hoped for.  That feeling is — and I’m being totally honest here — it’s downright thrilling!

I mean, picture it: you have an idea in your head for a new colourway and, in your imagination, it’s glorious…  so you calculate what you think the recipe will be to get those shades, and you mix them up using only the primary colours, which means the slightest change to the recipe — literally a few drops this way or that — could change everything…   and then you lower the yarn into a dyepot that’s far too dark and intense to know if you’ve got the colour right, and wait while it slowly comes up to temperature.

And then…  and then you pull out the skein for the moment of truth and…

BOOM!  You nailed the colourway!  Honestly, it’s the most heady feeling.

Followed immediately by the hardest part of developing a new colourway: choosing the name!  You may laugh at that…  I mean, how hard can it be to choose a name?  But when you’ve just gone through that whole process of calculating the recipe for that perfect colourway and held your breath to see if you got it right, there’s suddenly such a sense of responsibility to get the name right too.  And not just mostly right, not just right-ish, but absolutely perfect, nailed-it-on-the-head, everyone-loves-this-name right.  Coming up with colourway names feels big.

(This, by the way, is why the minis in our Mini-Skein Club bundles have dyelot numbers but not names.  With ten new colourways every month, I honestly think we’d collapse under the pressure of trying to come up with names for them all!)

In fact, it feels so big that I rope in the whole SpaceCadet Crew to help.  We start messaging back and forth, throwing words out at random to see what sounds good.  Often, we’ve already got a vague idea of what we want the name to reference: the colour might have been inspired by the change in seasons, by something I saw on a walk, or even an interesting event such as the Mars landing.  But getting from that vague idea to the absolutely-perfect name involves a lot of random words…  a lot.

Take us trying to come up with a name for the latest SpaceMonster Club colourway…

Me: “The SpaceMonster colours this month are all sunsets hues so I’m looking for a sunset-word…  Ideas please?”

Me (a little while later): “…You guys, have we ever had a colourway called Afterglow…?”

Me (immediately afterward): “Oh, answered my own question. Yes, in 2016. Gah.”

Cathy: “Eventide?”

Jade: “Could also be words to do with gold and summer solstice?”

Jade: “halcyon”

Jade: “golden hour?”

Jade: “splendor?”

Cathy: “Gloaming”

Sara: “Horizon”

Me: “Ooooh… horizon…”

Me: “the yarn looks like it’s on fire….”

Me: “Ah! Got it! Horizon Fire! Sara wins!”

(Phew…  and that was relatively quick.  Sometimes this goes on for hours…!)

I know you already knew that we put a lot of work into every skein: lovingly hand-dyeing each one in colours that we mix from primaries, and then tagging and twisting each skein by hand too.  But I’ll bet you never knew how much effort goes into naming each colourway too — truly, it’s probably the hardest part of the whole process.  I bet you never look at the name on a SpaceCadet tag the same way again!

What’s your favourite SpaceCadet colourway name? Or… the one that you’re most curious about? Send me a quick email to let me know — and I might walk you through the story behind it!


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If we think names for complex colourways are hard to come up with, the truth is that names for general colours are no less complicated.  Beyond the basics of ROY G BIV, there are millions of individual hues and, through history, humans have assigned specific, evocative names to thousands of them — think “caramel” vs “eggshell” vs “aubergine”.  My assistant Sara shared this fun quiz from Merriam-Webster that lets you test your colour-name knowledge and gives the background of each one as you go along.  It’s kind of tricky!  She got 12 out of 17 right — tell us how you do!

I often feel like the different fiber arts traditions are so separated but then I see something like this amazing outdoor cross-stitch art that my assistant Jade shared with me…  and it makes me look at yarn in a whole new way.  Suddenly I want to lay my whole stash out on the floor and choose colours to stitch into flowers and fish and butterflies.  So inspiring!

This is utterly mesmerizing!  Photographer Lior Patel used a drone to film from above a flock of over a thousand sheep during their migration from their winter to summer patures, and the result is nothing short of hypnotic.  My favourite bit?  They never, ever miss an opportunity to stop and eat. I feel you sheep, I feel you!

It’s true that there are no knitting police (there are no knitting police!) but there are a lot of knitters and crocheters who get very passionate about terminology, even when it overlaps.  Confusion often ensues… and so do strong opinions!  I enjoyed reading the responses to this thread about how different knitters term and work the Centered Double Decrease.


Upcoming Shows

As things open up, everyone has careful calculations to make about how comfortable they feel about attending in-person events… including yarn shows.  As I weigh up our show schedule for the rest of the year, the most key factor is the safety of the SpaceCadet Crew and our customers, so I need your input about shows in these changing times.

Please click below to share your thoughts in a completely anonymous, 2-minute survey.  Your input will help me so much!

Our Summer Limited Editions: Opening Soon!

Balmy summer days are made for the beach… and are the inspiration for this collection of gorgeous Limited Edition colourways.  Dyed in an exploration of beachy blushes, they’ll be opening for pre-orders soon, so watch your inbox.

Even better, they introduce our newest yarn, Callisto, a breathtaking fingering in 50% Alpaca, 25% Silk, and 25% Linen.  Seriously, you don’t want to miss this!

The pandemic continues to create delays at the mills so quantities will be limited.  If you’d like to get your order in first, click here and add your email to the early access list!


Ooh, one other quick thing before I go…  I’m looking for a little sympathy and I know you’ll understand…  The other night I cast on a new project, joined in the round, and had waded through nearly five hundred stitches of seed stitch, swinging that working yarn back and forth and back and forth, and I was nearly through it and ready to start the speedy stockinette when I realised…  I’d twisted the cast on!!!!  Gahhhhhh!!!!  I frogged the whole thing and last night I cast on again and was super careful this time when I joined.  Only about 520 more seed stitches left to go…

Ok, I’d better get the day started.  Today I’m taking some lovely colourway photos, packing orders, and then…  doing some bookkeeping.  Not as exciting as dyeing, but it’s got to be done.  I’ll be sure to take a break and knit a few rows just to get my fiber fix.  I hope you’ve got a lovely, colourful day planned and, until next time, all my best!

Transitions… And Other Thoughts

Transitions… And Other Thoughts

The other week, as I packed up the SpaceCadet trunk show and sent it off to a lovely yarn shop in Southern California*, I realised how exciting that simple act felt.

*(it’s The Altered Stitch in Valley Village — go see them if you’re local!)

In a way, it was strange to feel so excited — all I was doing was packing yarn and sweaters and shawls into a huge box, something I’ve done a million times before, but it’s something I haven’t done much in the past year.  When the pandemic hit, the orders from local yarn shops just stopped and, as much as that made me worry about SpaceCadet, it made me worry about the whole industry too.  Local yarn stores are where so many of us learned to knit and crochet, where we go when we need project guidance, where we find community… To see the activity from our yarn store partners dry up like that was really frightening.

But now, things are starting to feel different.  Yarn shops are opening up again…  and getting in touch!  In fact, I sent a wonderful collection of yarns to a store just the other day, and our trunk show is booked up solid for the next few months.  Even better, we’re doing a virtual trade show later this month and I’m thrilled to be able to show off our colourways to new shops who maybe wouldn’t have been able to travel to a live show.  Things feel good!  And I’m so grateful.

But one thing I’m aware of is that this is a really strange time of transition.  I’ve always felt that each of us went into the pandemic from the place of our own experience, meaning that the reality of the very same situation was incredibly different based on each person’s own background and medical history.  And I think coming out of it is just the same: each one of us has to approach the transition at our own pace based on our different needs.  I’m thinking about that not just for myself, but for my team as we work out our schedules and our customers as we think about upcoming shows.  It’s important to me to take that into consideration, to be patient, and to give everyone the space they need as we make this transition.

Most of all, I think the pandemic has taught us a lot about how many things that seemed normal actually weren’t working for so many people.  Whether it’s curbside shopping, flexible working, wearing masks when we’re ill, or any of the other adjustments we found we were able to make, I am so hopeful that we can emerge going forward with the very best of what we learned, and not simply go back.

Oh, and with yarn too. Onwards!


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Sometimes I talk about epic projects and by that I mean, maybe a really big wrap or a coat-cardigan but this project gives an entirely new meaning to the word epic.  It’s a knitted model of Sandringham (a royal residence in Norfolk, England that I used to live very near to!) which spans a full 18 feet and took Margaret Seaman two years to create, knitting around 10-12 hours per day!  Truly a sight to behold, it’s now on exhibition to raise money for three local hospitals.

I know you’ve seen those incredible scarves and blankets that track the temperature each day for a year, but have you seen this awesome chart tracking, in chronological order, the colours in every cardigan that Mr Rogers wore from 1969 to 2001?  It’s lovely to look at but I am waiting for someone to cast it on as a striped scarf or blanket.

Hands up if you love washi tape (and don’t feel bad if you don’t know what it is… but trust me, it’s addictive once you do).   If you’ve heard of bargello knitting or crochet, I think this article on how to adapt bargello to your washi tapes is fascinating.  It’s got me digging through my washi stash and my Mini-Skeins to start two bargello projects simultaneously!

(This next bit of news is entirely for my assistant Jill) I don’t know who needs to know this or how I didn’t spot this earlier in the year, but along with her wonderful Harry Potter: Knitting Magic book, designer Tanis Gray has released Star Wars: Knitting the Galaxy, the official book of Star Wars inspired patterns that is sure to delight every fan of the franchise from little kids right up to… well, fully-grown SpaceCadet Crew husbands!  (And dear reader, what this news means is that our lovely Jill now may not get to knit anything for herself for a long, long time)


Did you receive an email from me this week that was… nothing?  Yeah, it’s embarrassing but I made a tech goof-up and fooled the system into thinking it needed to send out an email template instead of an actual email.  Thank you so much to everyone who let me know — I appreciate you looking out for me!  (And besides being grateful, I’m secretly delighted to know that you do open my emails… even if it turns out I’ve got absolutely nothing to say in them! ::chuckle::)

How to Choose the Best Colourways for You

Here’s something fun: do you ever worry that the colourways you fall in love with aren’t actually a fit for who you are as a knitter or crocheter?  Have you ever fallen in love with a yarn and then been stumped by what to do with it?  I put together a super fun quiz* to let you know they colourways that will suit you best.  Plus you’ll get great tips to making the most of what’s already in your stash!
*that asks you a bunch of questions that have nothing to do with yarn and everything to do with your true aesthetic

(I’d love to know what you think of it — if you take it, please do send me a quick note and let me know!)

Industry Untangled, June 13-17

As I mentioned earlier, SpaceCadet will be at Industry Untangled, a virtual tradeshow from June 13-17 and we’d love to meet your LYS there!  If you’d like that too, please do let them know about it (you can just forward them this newsletter!) so they can go here to find out how to attend.


Ok, I’ve got a busy day ahead of packing a ton of boxes.  When the weather is this nice, I like to do it on porch, so please keep your fingers crossed that the sunshine holds all day!  I hope you have a lovely day planned too, with good weather and some fiber-time scheduled in.  And, until next time, all my best!