Newsletter: I Need Your Help Please!

Newsletter: I Need Your Help Please!

You know how you feel when there is so much going on that you are wildly excited about and yet you don’t even know where to start?  That’s been my life the past couple of weeks.

I think it started at TNNA, the industry tradeshow, a couple of weeks ago, where we saw so many exciting new knitting and crochet toys tools that I wanted to buy them all!  Then I was packing orders and spotted how many fantastic Celeste-and-Maia combinations we had hiding away amongst our One-of-a-Kind yarns and how perfect they’d be for our upcoming KAL, so I had a sudden brainwave to share them with you in a shop update.  Terribly last minute, I know, but they’re too beautiful not to share!  (Look for an email on that update at 10:30am today.)   And then we were packing the SpaceMonster club parcels and it hit me like a slap: with the excitement of the KAL and shows and all the stuff going on this month, I’d completely forgotten that it is time to open the SpaceMonster Club for new subscriptions!  WHAT?!?  Ok… ok…  deep breath, Stephanie…  remember the company is called SpaceCadet for a reason. More on that soon, but if you’ve been waiting to join the awesome SpaceMonsters Club, subscriptions openings are coming!

So there’s a lot of cool stuff to share with you today but, before we get to that, would you help me out with something please?  TNNA filled my head with a ton of great ideas: new colours, new yarns, new techniques…  so much cool stuff, it could keep me busy for a lifetime or two (and if your stash looks like mine, I know you know that feeling!).  But before I jump into All The Things All At Once, I’d be so grateful if you’d help me narrow my focus.  Please click here and help me get on the right track by answering a few quick questions.  I’d really appreciate your help!

 

Newsletter

My lovely friends Amy and Scooter from Ross Farm Fiber (awesome heritage-breed yarn) stopped by our booth at TNNA (always makes my day to see them!).  And I was thrilled to get a mention in their podcast, the Transient Wool Merchants, (even if they spent several seconds completely forgetting about me! Ha ha ha ha! Listen to the first few seconds as they keep saying, “Who are we forgetting…?”).  But I’m excited by how impressed they were with our Celeste and Maia pairings that we’ve been prepping for the KAL — they’re right, it’s amazing how differently those two yarns take the colour.  Are you joining us for the KAL?  Click here to read the guidelines and jump aboard!

Did you see this article on the way spies used knitting as a tool for wartime espionage?  So interesting!

Quick, before you do anything else, just grab and pen and draw a circle.  Now, look at how you drew it: from the top or bottom, clockwise or counter? This article is not at all about fiber arts but I found it fascinating nonetheless: the way we draw simple shapes is culturally conditioned and has a lot to do with what language we speak.

I chatted with a lot of designers at TNNA (so fun!) and the crochet designers all asked if I supported crocheters.  Even though I am personally more of a knitter, I enthusiastically said, “Yes!” because besides obvious (crochet is just as legit as knitting), I’ve always loved what crochet does with variegated yarns.  It moves the colour vertically as well as horizontally, and the result is strikingly different.  I loved how this article illustrates the way the same yarn comes out in knitting, crochet, and weaving.  So cool.  (And SpaceMonsters: you’ll find out soon why this is especially appropriate for you! :wink:)

Today is the Summer Solistice — the longest day of the year!  I used to live very near to Stonehenge, where the solistice is a really big deal, so I have a real soft spot for the 21st of June.  If you want to see what it’s all about, click here.

 

Our KAL Casts On on Friday!

I’m so excited — Friday is Cast On Day and it’s almost here!  Lots of folks have been busy sharing pictures on Ravelry and Instagram of their yarns as they come out of their parcels, and wound into cakes and even as they turn them into swatches.  With a KAL like this one — all about combining two very different yarns in one project — swatching is such a crucial step in really getting to know your yarn.

This is pair of yarns I’ve chosen: the show exclusive we did for Pittsburgh Knit & Crochet (yep, I stole two skeins for myself!) called “Astronaut Ice Cream” and I just love it!!! Look how different the colourway comes out on the two yarns (and how shimmery that Maia is!).⠀

Shop Update TODAY at 11am:
One-of-a-Kind Pairings for our KAL!

I was hunting through the studio to fill some orders and realised a lot of our One-of-a-Kind Celeste and Maia would pair beautifully together for our upcoming KAL. I know it’s a totally last minute thing but they’re just to good not to share!

There’s only one of each pairing and it’s first come first served so, quick, do this:

  1. have a look through the images below to find your favourite One-of-a-Kind pairing
  2. then set a timer on your phone for 11am eastern
  3. and click here when that alarm goes off and grab your favourite colourways before they disappear!

Ready to check out the colourways?  C’mon, here we go!

(By the way, this photoshoot was so fun!  First, tea and knitting just go together, right?  Second, apparently tea and photoshoots go together too — did you notice that the amount of tea in the cup keeps going down?  That was me.  Third, I totally got my steps in that day just going up and down the darned stepladder! See a behind the scene photo here)

 

Ready Player One by Barbara Benson

If you’re joining us for our Combining Yarns KAL, I love this pattern as an option for Maia and Celeste!  Mixing lace with mosaic should not work (really, it should not work!) but it totally does and gives you the chance to use the two yarns to their best advantage.  I’d do the main section in Celeste so the colour really pops, and then the lace edging in Maia to show off that amazing sheen and drape.  And where they mix in between?  Magic!

Collusion by Hunter Hammersen

Here’s another pattern that could be really intriguing as part of our KAL.  If you do the main body in Celeste for stretch and memory, and layer Maia as the floats for sheen and visual interest, I think the the effect will be amazing!  And even though it looks terribly complicated, I have it on good authority that the pattern is not hard, so you’ll look seriously impressive without actually making yourself go cross-eyed!

Shetlandesque Stole by Melissa Leapman

When I found out Melissa Leapman was designing in SpaceCadet Cressida (in Nine Stones, above) for Interweave’s Fall issue of Love of Knitting magazine, I let out a little squeal!  And the result is as beautiful as I’d hoped.  With plenty of length to keep you warm this winter, it’s the cabled detail in the edging that really catches my eye.  Not too much, just enough…  perfect!

 

As we get ready for the KAL, I discussed some great reasons to swatch that go beyond just getting gauge.  If you shy away from swatching (who doesn’t?), it’s worth reading!

Ok, well, the weather is perfect and I’ve got a busy day of dyeing ahead (oh, and I have to cake up my skeins for the KAL!), so I’d better get going.  I hope you have a wonderful day planned as well — don’t forget to check out the shop update at 11am (because One-of-a-Kind yarn is sure to make your day extra special!).

And until next time, all my best!

Six (Good!) Reasons to Swatch Besides Getting Gauge

Six (Good!) Reasons to Swatch Besides Getting Gauge

We’ve spent the whole week sending out parcels filled with gorgeous combinations of Maia and Celeste and, as I see the fabulously creative pairings folks have come up with, I am realising that this is going to be a super fun KAL!  And, with the yarn arriving on customer’s doorsteps, it’s time to start thinking about swatching.

*sound of a record scratching*

Why yes, I did just used the words “super fun” and “swatching” in the same breath!  I know we all think swatching is about getting gauge (and it is) and may be a little boring and frustrating (and it is) but it’s also about so much more than that.  And for this KAL, where we’re combining two very different yarns together in one project, swatching is a really important step toward to getting to know how your two yarns play together and how to bring out the best in them.

But if you’re not sold on the idea of swatching, that’s ok — you’re not alone.  Lots of folks feel the same way.  So before you run away and pretend I never even mentioned the s-word, let me take a moment to share with you…

Six (Good!) Reasons to Swatch Besides Getting Gauge

To Check for Colourfastness

I sometimes come across a misconception about hand-dyed yarn: that it’s not as colourfast as commercial.  And so I’m always happy to explain all the steps we take to make sure your SpaceCadet yarn won’t bleed or crock.  Almost all professional, experienced hand-dyers employ professional-grade dyes and multi-step processes to ensure their yarns are fully set and colourfast, so you can feel confident of that when you buy from them.

But some newer dyers may not know to take so many steps, and full-time dyers can make mistakes, so it is always worth checking your yarn is colourfast before casting on your project, particularly if you’re using multi-hued or high-contrast yarns.  Soaking a whole skein to see if it bleeds is pretty impractical, but a swatch is perfect for this.  Cast on a few inches, knit or crochet a quick square, and then give it a bath.  If the dye hasn’t set properly, you’ll know pretty quickly, and it’s a lot better to find out after knitting a quick swatch than after working for hours on a full project

To Check for Pooling

Pooling happens when the different colours in a variegated yarn start to stack on top of each other with each row you knit.  The resulting pools of colour are something that some folks love but lots of other folks want to avoid.  Because pooling depends on the size of your stitches (needles) and the width of your project, swatching won’t give a definitive answer to how the colour in your yarn will behave in your final project, but it will give you a much clearer idea.

You can tally how long the colour repeats will work up at your gauge, and then quickly see what effect adjusting needle sizes makes.  You can anticipate whether your yarn will create long bands of colour or short bursts, and then try out different stitches to move the colour around: switch from stockinette to garter to slipped stitches and so on to see how the colour works in each one.  Creating a small swatch is a quick and easy way to get a feel for how the yarn is likely to behave before you cast on a bazillion stitches.

To Try Out a Pattern’s Techniques

Many patterns recommend swatching in stockinette — and that can work just great — but when a pattern recommends swatching in the particular stitch that the design is worked in, you have the chance to get familiar with the techniques you’ll be using… before you’ve got 250 live stitches!

Once you’ve knit enough swatch to check your gauge, take that opportunity to go a little bit further and try out any tricky steps that you see in the pattern.  Is there an increase or decrease you’ve never tried before?  Feeling a little nervous about joining in a second colour?  Try it out in your swatch — you’ll work out the kinks quickly and be a lot more confident when you cast on the full project.

To Test the Weight of the Fabric on Different Needle/Hook Sizes

So many times I get asked, “What size needles is this yarn for?” and I’m always excited to talk about all the fabulous results you can achieve when you get creative with needle and hook sizes.   There are no set rules and no yarn is for just one size of needle or hook.  One of my favourite things to do is to take fingering yarn (which most ballbands will tell you is “for” size 1 or 2 needles) and knit it on size 8s.  The resulting fabric is light and airy, perfect for summer shawls and cardigans.

And your swatch is the perfect place to test that out!  Cast on with the needle or hook size you think you’re supposed to use, and then take it up a few sizes.  Do that several times and see what happens to the fabric.  Does it become a thing of beauty or does it lose its structure?  Can you imagine it in a completely different garment than you’d first planned?  Suddenly your gauge swatch goes from something a tool for fitting into someone else’s recipe to one that opens you up to new possibilities!

To Get to Know that Yarn You’re Going to Spend Hours (and Hours!) With

Knitting or crocheting a whole sweater takes a lot of time…  and, if you’re going to put that many hours into a project, you want to make sure that you and your yarn get along really well.  Swatching is your chance for the yarn to “talk” to you and let you know what it’s really best suited to.  Before you make a decision about the project it will become or the techniques you will use with it, you’ll want to spend a little time getting to know it — and that’s what swatching does.

You might find it argues with your wooden needles but glides on your steel needles.  You may discover it blooms into an almost completely different yarn once you soak it.  Or blocking may transform your swatch so much that you decide on whole new project.  Swatching is like a sneak peek into the future!  Such a valuable thing to do.

To Try Combining Yarns

So often at shows, when I show a customer Maia and Celeste side-by-side and tell her that they play beautifully together, I see the slightest twinge of doubt go across her face.  And I get it — they’re such completely different yarns, how could they work together?  It’s all well and good for me to say it, but nothing beats testing it out.

And so what do you do?  You swatch!  You try combining them in stripes — first thin and then thick.  You test them in mosaic stitch and slipped stitches.  You compare stockinette vs garter, linen stitch vs moss, single crochet vs treble.  When there’s only a few inches to knit, you have time to really explore how two yarns work together.  And then you can choose a pattern that will really enable them bring out the best in each other.  The swatch is what ensures your final project will be all that you hoped for!

The SpaceCadet Combining Yarns KAL

Did I just mention Combining Yarns?  Why yes I did!  And we’re about to start a fabulously fun KAL that’s all about exploring the idea of combining two yarns in one project.

We’re focusing on Maia, our beautifully sublime 80% bamboo fingering yarn, and Celeste, a lovely and light merino yarn, and lots of folks have been coming up with amazing colour combinations for the KAL.  We’d love for you to join us!  You can read all about it here, join our giveaway on Instagram, and choose your fabulous colour combo of Maia and Celeste by clicking here.

A Giveaway, Shop Update, and All the Details on Our KAL!

A Giveaway, Shop Update, and All the Details on Our KAL!

I am super excited by the response we’ve had as we prep for our summer KAL.  It’s all about exploring the amazing effects that you can acheive by combining SpaceCadet Celeste and Maia yarns and so many people have embraced the idea — I’m just over the moon!  If you’re in (or just thinking about it), here are all the details you need…

A Giveaway to Kick Things Off!

KALs are always the more fun with friends, so please won’t you help me spread the word?  And you’ll get a chance to win a $25 gift certificate and super-cute SpaceCadet project bag to use for the KAL!  Sound good?

Entering is easy!  Just follow me on Instagram and leave a comment on the giveaway post (click here to go to the post)

Plus, once you’re entered, you can get additional entries (woot!) by doing one (or both!) of the following :

  1. Tag a friend in the comments of the Instagram post. Each friend tagged is one additional entry!
  2. Repost the Instagram post with the hashtag #SpaceCadetCombiningYarnsGiveaway

I’ll announce the winner on June 16.  Good luck!

For full sweepstakes rules and alternative method of entry, click here and see “Official Rules for Combining Yarn KAL Kickoff Sweepstakes”

Today: Shop Update on Maia and Celeste

motionmailapp.com

Next, let’s get some supplies for the KAL!  You’ll want Maia and Celeste to get the most out of this KAL, and you can work from stash or… we’ve dyed a bunch that’s going in the shop update today at noon (eastern)!   So when that timer gets down to zero, click here for Maia and here for Celeste to grab your favourite colours before they go.

Plus Limited Editions!

We have the most fun dyeing when we let our imaginations run wild, so we’ve created not one but two Limited Editions for this shop update — and they are bursting with colour and just gorgeous!  Scorch is saturated with the colours of fire and heat, and Deluge is shades of cool, refreshing water.  The same colourway looks so different dyed onto both Celeste and Maia and yet blends together perfectly.  Combined in one project — matte and sheen, vibrant and iced — the effect will be stunning!

Official KAL Guidelines

Structure is the spice of life    …have you ever heard that phrase?  No?  Oh.  Well, anyway, a KAL is always more fun with a few guidelines to keep everyone on the same page.  Here’s how the Combining Yarns KAL will work:

  • To get the most out of the KAL (and to be eligible for prizes), you must combine two different SpaceCadet yarns in one project.  We’re suggesting Maia and Celeste (because they’re awesome together) but you can get creative and combine any two SpaceCadet yarns you like.  It’s all about exploring the way different yarns combine!
  • Choose any pattern you like, so long as you can combine yarns in it.  Large or small, from a cloak to a shawl, they’re all welcome.  I recommend striping patterns because the yarn changes are build right in, but you can pick whatever suits your fancy as long as you’ve got a plan for incorporating both yarns.  Need pattern ideas?  Don’t worry — we’ve got you covered in the next section.
  • We’ll be casting on on Friday June 23 and binding off on Sunday August 27.  You can work at your own pace but if you want to be eligible for the grand prize at the end of the KAL, you’ll need to be bound off (and posting your finished object photos) by Aug 27.
  • Swatching is highly encouraged ahead of time!  It’s worth it to get to know the two yarns before you launch into your project, because they can sometimes give unexpected results.  Use your swatch to play with striping, test your project’s trickier stitch patterns, get to know the yarns’ textures and, of course, get gauge.
  • Project updates and discussion will be in the SpaceCadet group on Ravelry.  Look for progress threads to go up there regularly during the KAL and then jump in with your photos and updates.  We’ve got a great community of folks who’d love to see them!
  • But I’m on Instagram more often than I’m on Ravelry, so please share quick updates with me there too.  Tag me @spacecadetyarn and use the hashtag #SpaceCadetCombiningYarnsKAL so everyone else can find your updates too!
  • There will be giveaways and prizes along the way!  We’re still working out the details, but we’ve got fun stuff planned — from gift certificates to yarn to swag.  And we’ll finish with a grand prize for a project voted on by all the participants, so make sure you’re giving us updates and lots of photos along the way!

Pattern Suggestions

Ok, so are you starting to think of pattern ideas?  We’ve got a whole thread on Ravelry dedicated to sharing great pattern suggestions for the Combining Yarns KAL!  Click here to browse it, and here are my own favourite picks from it:

Shawls

Sweaters

My Tips for Working with Maia & Celeste

And finally,  here are my top tips for working Maia and Celeste together:

Go for big needles. I can’t tell you how many conversations I’ve had with customers who’ve picked up a fingering weight yarn and said that they don’t like working with little needles.  But don’t be fooled — just because the yarn is fingering, that doesn’t mean you have to use tiny needles.  In fact, both Maia and Celeste do amazing things on bigger needles.  Try them on size 8s (US) and you’ll find they create a wonderfully light and airy fabric that drapes beautifully and feels just so summer-y!

Think about different textures.  The two different yarns lend themselves better to different types of textures, so think about that as you choose your pattern.   Both of them work beautifully in stockinette stitch, so you’ll never go wrong with that.  But consider Celeste for garter or any area that needs good stitch definition.  And Maia’s smoothness makes it perfect for lace or any area that needs great drape.  The short answer?  Swatch first to test the yarns out in the textured sections of your pattern

Aim for contrast.  These two yarns are so delicious together when they’re used in a way that highlights the differences between them: the matte vs sheen, the bold colour vs soft.  So choose a pattern that creates a lot of play and spotlights the contrast between the two yarns.

What to Do Next

Ok, if you’re ready to jump on board, here’s your next steps:

  1. Come over to the Ravelry thread to let us know you’re in the KAL, say hi to everyone, and to give (or get!) pattern ideas
  2. Set a reminder on your phone to check out the Shop Update at noon today (eastern).  Then, when the time rolls around,  click here for Maia and here for Celeste to get your favourite colourways.
  3. And make sure you enter our giveaway for some awesome  SpaceCadet swag!

See you in the KAL!

 

 

 

SpaceCadet Newsletter: Something That Confused Me, Plus Three Stunning Patterns…

SpaceCadet Newsletter: Something That Confused Me, Plus Three Stunning Patterns…

As the weather has been getting warmer, I find I like spend the first few minutes of my day sitting on the front porch, drinking my coffee and listening to the songbirds call the world to life.  This morning, I’ve cut a few peonies to put on the table (they’re stunning! I’ll show you on Instagram later today).  Sometimes I knit…  most days I don’t have time… but it’s good to take five minutes to slow down and start the day off right.

That’s how I always imagine you as I write this newsletter: taking five minutes to relax, curled up with a nice cup of tea or coffee, and just enjoying all the fiber-y news I’ve collected to share with you.  Whether you’re at work or at home, on your commute or on your porch, I’d love to see where you read your SpaceCadet newsletter: please take a quick photo of the spot where you read it and share it with me on Instagram using the hashtag #FiveMinutesWithTheSpaceCadet.  And if you have friends who’d enjoy this newsletter too, please tag them too!

Ok, I’ve got a ton of great stuff for you today, so let’s jump right in…
Newsletter

 

Weaving is hot at the moment — I’m seeing it everywhere, whether it’s on great big (expensive!) floor looms or beginner-friendly hand-looms.  And for those of us who have huge stashes (who, me?), they are an awesome way to blast through that yarn fast.  Sometimes though, when I see those smaller looms, I wonder what you can make besides placemats.  But then I fell in love with this woven ribbon cushion cover on the Purl & Loop blog.  It’s still the size of that same placemat but feels completely fresh and new.  I don’t have a stash of linen ribbon, but I can see a few of these in my future woven in Capella, our single-ply worsted.

Being a knitter or crocheter is about way more than making stitches:  there’s the math, there’s understanding fiber and yarn types, and there’s taking the all-important finished object photos.  Can I be honest?  I hate seeing someone put hours and hours of work into a really great project and then take photos that don’t show it off to its best.  But I know posing for great photos can feel really hard.  Here’s a great rundown of ideas to make your next photoshoot look awesome — even if it’s just you and a friend shooting with your phone in the backyard.

Picking up stitches can be tricky, particularly when the stitches turn a corner (I find the spot where arms join bodies especially difficulty prone) so this tutorial on closing the holes that can result was a really useful read.

Ummm…  I’m a little confused…  Kniterate ran a Kickstarter campaign for a computerised knitting machine that it says is revolutionary but I feel like I’ve seen in the past lots of knitting machines that will connect with a home computer for automated machine knitting production.  I freely admit I have no experience with knitting machines though, so I don’t really know.  Can anyone tell me how this is different?  Is it really revolutionary?  (Also, I’m chuckling at some of the reviews calling it “3D printing for knitting” — why yes, knitting machines kind of have been like 3D printing, all along)

My current favourite Instagrammers:

  • Purl & Loop (who make the looms for that awesome cushion cover above and have a beautiful feed)
  • The Goulet Pen Company (though they make it really hard for me to hold onto my money!)
  • Corrina Ferguson (who has designed some beautiful stuff in SpaceCadet lately and does a lot of math behind the scenes)
  • Rebecca Velasquez (who creates some really lovely photographs of yarn and crochet)
  • Bubba Loves Rue (because I can’t have a bad day after watching one of these videos!)
  • Oh, and SpaceCadet (are you following me? Because this week I gave a behind-the-scenes glimpse at just how glamorous I look when I’m mixing dyes!  Spoiler: I don’t)

Announcing our Summer KAL!

I am SO EXCITED to tell you about this!  I’ve known for a long time what a magical combination Maia & Celeste are, but I’ve never really known how to share that with folks unless they’re standing in our booth and I can show them the two yarns together.  But then the SpaceCadet crew and I had the idea of doing a summer KAL all about combining Maia  and Celeste together in one project.  The magic is in the way the two yarns take the dye — Celeste is deep and intense, Maia is soft and iced — and how that plays against each other in one project.  Further details coming in Friday’s blog post, so keep your eyes open for that.

In the meantime, come over to our thread on Ravelry where everyone is sharing pattern ideas that will combine Celeste & Maia beautifully. Say hello, let us know you’re in for the KAL, and get some project ideas (right now, the SpaceCadet crew all seem to be favouring Saco Stripes — it works beautifully in Maia).  It’s going to be tons of fun!

Shop Update: Fri June 2

(and it’s perfect for the KAL!)

Since we’re doing a KAL, it only made sense to do a shop update in Maia and Celeste!  We’ve been dyeing like crazy — our standard colourways plus not one but two special Limited Edition colourways that you won’t want to miss! They’re on both Maia and Celeste, beautifully variegated and full of colour, and are going to look amazing knit together.  I can’t want for you to see them.

The update goes live this Friday, June 2 at noon (eastern) — set a reminder on your phone now, and then click here for Maia and here for Celeste to grab your favourite colours (and the Limited Editions) before they go!

Does Your Local Yarn Shop Carry SpaceCadet?

If they did, you could go and see the colours in person (and pet the fibery goodness!) any time you want!  We’re going to TNNA next week, so if your LYS is going to the show to place their wholesale orders, please forward them this email and ask them to come see us in booth 117.  And if they aren’t, go ahead and send them this email anyway and ask them to get in touch — we’d love to hear from them, and we’ve got a great wholesale information pack to send.  And you’ll be the superstar who made the whole thing happen!

Confetti by Veera Välimäki

The whole SpaceCadet crew has been hunting high and low for patterns that suit the combination of Maia and Celeste, and I just love this one because, besides those sweet stripes that will look amazing as they shift from matte to sheen, it’s got a delicious A-line shape that will make it the kind of sweater you’ll go back to time and again (don’t you love those?).  If you’re joining our KAL, I think Confetti is a practically perfect pattern choice!

Zostera by Kelly G.

What makes Zostera a fantastic choice for Maia and Celeste?  So many things!  First, the textured panels (the darker green sections in the photo above) will show up beautifully in matte Celeste.  Then there’s the lace panels (the cream sections) that will positively glow when knit in bamboo-rich Maia. But look closely — do you see that between those two sections, there’s a panel where the yarns are knit together?  That’s going to look amazing, both yarns highlighting each other’s best qualities.  Seriously, I can’t wait to see someone choose this pattern for our KAL!

Poison Ivy by Svetlana Gordon

I can’t stop looking at this amazing scarf that’s both a riot of falling leaves and yet knit seamlessly in one piece.  Perfect for that wildly variegate skein you’ve been wondering what to make with, or for your stash of SpaceCadet Mini-Skeins, this is a project that with be fascinating with every single stitch from start to finish!  Quick — go check your stash.  You know there’s a yarn that’s just been waiting for this pattern!

With the weather getting warmer here in Pittsburgh, I’m thinking about different yarns than I did a few months ago. I find that when the weather changes, I want to knit all the light and airy things. Summer knitting feels completely different from the rest of the year to me!

Are you the same? Do you have a favourite yarn that you gravitate to as the weather warms up?

What’s Your Go-To Summer Yarn?

Click the link and let me know!

Ok, well, the morning is moving on and my five minutes of quiet are up, so I guess it’s time I got busy in the studio.  I hope you’ve enjoyed this little break — and have great things planned for your day.  So until next time, all my best!

The Beauty of Combining Yarns

The Beauty of Combining Yarns

“You’re so creative!”  How many times have you heard that when someone sees what you’ve knit or crocheted?  The thing is, it’s really true.  Whether you’ve just followed a pattern to the letter, or you’ve modified it a little, or you’ve designed something yourself from scratch, the fiber arts is that they push us all a little out of our comfort zones.  We all feel the urge to try a new technique, put together a bold colour combo, or work with an exotic new fiber, and we grow in our creativity when we do.

When we go to shows and I get the chance to help our customers choose yarns, there’s one creative challenge I’m always encouraging them to try: combining different yarns together in one project.  I don’t just mean different colours but different yarn bases — as long as the yarn weights work together, combining different bases can create stunning effects.  The members of our Mini-Skein Club know this: the yarns are always fingering weight but the parcels contain different bases, and we’ve designed them to work together.

Combining Yarns Made Easy

Now, I get it — most patterns use just one type of yarn and so we’re all trained to stick to one base for each project.  Branching out and combining two different yarn types can be a little intimidating so let me help you out with a combination that works beautifully and creates a stunning result: Maia and Celeste.

First, let’s start with Celeste.  It’s a light fingering — a full 490 yards of scrumptious merino per skein — that absolutely loves to be knit on larger needles (think US size 8s) to create a wonderfully light and floaty fabric.   And then there’s Maia: it’s nearly the same weight, just a little bit heavier at 400 yards per skein but, with 80% bamboo, it has a drape and lightness that are a beautiful match for Celeste, and you can easily use the two in the same project.

But here’s where the magic comes in: visually, they’re very differentCeleste‘s 100% superwash merino takes on dye with a gorgeous intensity — the colours are rich, vibrant, and delicious — and, most importantly, with a matte effect.  Whereas Maia takes on those same colours incredibly lightly — much paler, softer, beautifully delicate — and it’s bamboo content give it sheen that makes the yarn look almost iced.  Two yarns that play nicely with each other but give you vibrant colour vs soft…  matte vs sheen…  You can create distinct stripes even though you’re working with yarns in the exact same colourway!  Are you beginning to see why I love this combination?

(See all these images here with two yarns in the same colourway?  That’s an illustration of just how distinctly different fiber contents take on the dye.  Believe it or not, all of these yarns might actually have been dyed side-by-side in the same dyebath.  They really do take on colour that differently!)

We’re in This Together! (a KAL)

I’ve shown this combination off to so many folks at shows — and they go crazy for it — but I know that boldly combining yarns like this can be a little easier said than done…  unless you’ve got friends to do it with you!  So I was talking to the SpaceCadet team and we’ve decided the best way is for all of us to do it together in an awesome summer KAL.  Won’t that be fun?

The idea is easy: you pick any fingering weight pattern that you want to knit, choose some Celeste and Maia from the shop or your stash, and we’ll all cast on together.  Everyone doing a different pattern but all in this intriguing combination of Celeste and Maia and, together, we’ll watch these two yarns do their magic!

Shop Update for Celeste & Maia: Friday June 2

But as we started planning the KAL, we realised our stock of Maia and Celeste is running a little low, so we’ve been dyeing like crazy for a shop update next Friday, June 2 at noon (eastern).  And because we’re so excited about this KAL, we’re dyeing not one but two special Limited Edition colourways for the update.  They are wild with colour and I can’t wait for you to see them!

But don’t forget your stash!  If you’ve in the Mini-Skein Club, I know you’ve got some awesome Maia-Celeste combos you can put together and let the two gradients work together.  Or pick one yarn from your Minis and pair it with the other yarn in a semi-solid for contrast.  There are all sorts of combinations you can create!

KAL Details

We’re still working out the details, but here’s what we’ve got in mind so far:

  • Shop Update for Celeste & Maia: Friday June 2 (or knit from stash)
  • Cast On Date: Friday June 23 (plenty of time to get your yarn, think through pattern ideas, and swatch!)
  • Finish Date: Sunday August 27 (lots of time for even big and adventurous projects!)
  • KAL name: we’re still working on it and, so far, have come up with a bunch of really corny options.  Any suggestions?
  • Prizes and fun stuff: we’ve got great ideas in mind!  More on that soon…

I am so excited about this KAL and really hoping you’ll join us — it’s going to be awesome!  And if you’re in, please come over to this thread on Ravelry and let’s start sharing pattern ideas.

My Recommendations

To make this a great KAL, here are my best suggestions:

  1. Celeste and Maia are both fingering, so go for a pattern that’s designed for fingering yarn.
  2. Any pattern will work if you’re comfortable changing yarns on your own but it’s probably best (and easiest) to choose a pattern with stripes.  Then, instead of changing colour for the stripes, you change the yarn.  Cool, huh?
  3. Both of these yarns have wonderful drape, Maia’s high bamboo content makes it perfect for shawls and summer sweaters.  But I’d suggest steering clear of things that need a lot of elasticity, such as socks.
  4. I’m crazy about the way Maia and Celeste look together in the same semi-solid colourway (as you can tell from these pictures) but don’t shy away from mixing a semi-solid with a variegated or creating a contrast.  It can look amazing!

Looking for some pattern ideas?  Check out our Ravelry thread for sharing ideas here.  But here are two patterns that jumped right out at me…

Ardente by Heather Zoppetti

Worked in four triangles that are joined seamlessly, this eye-catching wrap contains stockinette, garter stitch and lace bands that zig and zag over the place.  Creating this in Maia & Celeste will add texture and sheen to the mix, for a truly stunning effect!

Sea Grass by Janina Kallio

Sea Grass features bias construction, three-dimensional lace, and garter stitch stripes that create interesting texture and a wonderful chance to play with colour.  Working the pattern in the matte and sheen of Celeste and Maia will create an additional level of intrigue for a truly stunning project.

Hoping to see you in the KAL and can’t wait to see what pattern you choose!

How to Use Instagram for Knitting Inspiration!

How to Use Instagram for Knitting Inspiration!

Keeping up with all the changes in technology and social media can be tough — it seems like some new app comes out every week! — but when that new thing serves up fantastic knitting and crochet inspiration, it’s totally worth it.  Instagram is a perfect example and, if you haven’t been using it help you find pattern and yarn ideas, to connect with other crafters, or just to give you a daily dose of fibery goodness, you’ve been missing out!  So here, let me walk you through the best ways to use Instagram as a knitter or crocheter…

Instagram (or IG) started as a simple photo sharing site: a place to snap a photo with your phone and share it with your friends.  Over the past few years, it’s really taken off and developed into something much more exciting.  For me, it beats a lot of other social media hands down, including Facebook and Twitter.  It’s fast to browse but not so fast that you feel like you’re missing everything. And it’s designed to be visual (perfect for sharing projects), beautiful (who doesn’t want to spend time on a site that’s truly beautiful?), and easy.

Ok, so how do you get the best out of Instagram as a knitter or crocheter?  Here are my top tips:

Get the Mobile App

If you haven’t got an IG account already, download the app onto your phone and get your account set up.  It’s super straightforward and totally worth doing.  But unlike other social media, Instagram is not intended to be used on your desktop or laptop computer and it’s really limited if you try.  So look at it on your phone or tablet instead — you’ll have a much better experience.  (Click here for the iOS app and click here for the Android app)

Then once you’re set up, snap a picture of your latest project and upload it.  Instagram has a bunch of filters to make the image really come alive and, over time, you can put together a wonderful visual history of your knitting or crochet journey.

Follow Your Favourite Designers

The easiest way to fill your Instagram feed up with crafty inspiration is to follow your favourite designers.  Besides getting a first look at lots of new designs and a sneak peek behind the scenes, many designers use their visual and artistic skills to put together amazingly beautiful images and feeds.  One of my favourites is Hunter Hammersen, whose IG posts are so lusciously photographed that I feel I’m almost falling right into them.

Design: Permutation by Hunter Hammersen in SpaceCadet Capella

To find your favourite designers on IG, just hit the little magnifying glass tool at the bottom of the app, and then type the designer’s name in the search bar.  Or, the next time you’re browsing on Ravelry, go to a designer’s profile page to find the link to their Instagram account and add them that way.

Use Hashtags to Find Great Inspiration

One thing always leads to another and, on Instagram, that’s a really good thing.  As you’re scrolling your IG feed, you’ll see lots of posts with a ton of hashtags after them (words and phrases that begin with the # symbol, such as #knittersofinstagram).  Click on any of those and Instagram will take you to a new feed filled with other posts that were tagged with the same hashtag — which means lots more inspiration from lots of new sources!

And when you are creating your own Instagram posts, use hashtags to help other knitters and crocheters find your photos in the same way.  Some good hashtags to try are:

Get some SpaceCadet Mini-Skeins for yourself!

Leave a Little Love or a Comment

One of the best things about Instagram is interacting with others.  We all used to leave comments on blogs but that doesn’t happen so much any more, and internet forums are great if you have time to really get into a conversation, but Instagram comments are way easier and and so much faster.  It’s totally where the conversation is happening now!  Plus, every time someone likes or comments on one of my posts, a little notification pops up on my phone (and it seriously warms my heart — it really does).  And leaving a little love couldn’t be easier: just click the heart under the photo — it’s that fast.  To leave a comment, you click the speech bubble right next to the heart.  (And to share the post with a friend on Instagram, just click the little paper airplane to the right of the speech bubble.  Nifty, huh?)

Get some SpaceCadet Mini-Skeins for yourself!

Save the Images You Like Most into Collections

If you see a photo of a design or a project that really inspires you, save it so you can find it later by tapping on the ribbon-like icon to the right under the image.  That puts it in your saved photos folder, which you can find by going to your own profile page (tap your avatar image in the very bottom right corner of the app and it will take you there) and then click the corresponding ribbon icon on that page.  You’ll see all your saved photos right there waiting for you.

See SpaceCadet’s Linking Sweater Kits

Even better, you can organise your saved photos into collections, creating a customised feed of inspiring photos to scroll through anytime.  Next time you see an Instagram post you want to add to a collection, tap and hold the ribbon icon and a little box will pop up asking you to choose a collection to add it to.  Create one for knitting patterns you love, another for crochet patterns, one for new techniques to try and, hey, maybe one for all the SpaceCadet yarn you’re drooling over!  There are all kinds of possibilities!

Tag your Friends — or Even your Favourite Designers!

One of the most fun things about Instagram is being able to share your posts and thoughts with the other Instagrammers.  When you type the caption for a post, tag fellow IG users by putting @ in front of their Instagram name.  That makes a notification pop up on their app so they know to come look at your lovely project.

Design: Darlina by Corrina Ferguson in SpaceCadet Lyra

Even better, you can tag the designer of your project in the same way and make a direct connection.  Lots of designers love to see their work “in the wild” on Instagram — and some will even re-post projects to share with all their followers — so tagging is a great way to show off how their pattern is coming out on your needles.  And connecting with the designer makes the whole project that much more fun!

If you’re using SpaceCadet yarn, please tag me too @spacecadetyarn — I just love to how our yarns look in all the different projects folks post on Instagram!  Your IG post will pop in my feed so I can check out your progress and send a little love your way too.

And Finally, Follow Me!

Lots of designers on Instagram have really beautiful feeds, filled with wonderful, stylised shots that just make me drool.  I’ll admit, the SpaceCadet feed isn’t that beautifully manicured: there’s lots of pretty yarn but also lots of behind-the-scenes shots that a little less than perfect (I tell myself that just means I’m keeping it real).  But if it’s inspiration you’re looking for, I think that’s a pretty good combination: the messy and the beautiful together — because that’s how it really is, right?

To follow @spacecadetyarn, just click here and then tap the word “Follow” right above any photo in my stream.

Now It’s Your Turn!

Are you ready to start using Instagram for knitting and crochet inspiration?  It’s such a fun and awesome (and beautiful) way to  get your creative juices flowing, so use these tips to get the most out of it.  And be sure to comment on one of my posts and say hellow — I can’t wait to see you on Instagram!