Designer Jenise Reid on Knitting for a Great Fit

If I had plans to get 2015 off to a rip-roaring start, 2015 had other plans for me.  The past ten days have seen my family dealing with a concussion (not mine), a corresponding trip to ER (all’s well), and four cases of full-blown flu (the real deal: high fevers, miserable chills, night sweats…  it’s been just awful).  The sicker we all got, the more it felt like everything was slowly grinding down to a complete standstill.  And it would have, if it hadn’t been for the awesome SpaceCadet team, who stepped in and took over, keeping everything running at the studio, orders and club shipments going out,   …and even collecting my family’s medications when we were just too sick to leave the house.  I knew Amy, Jade, and Jill were seriously good folk, but I found out just how great they really are this past week.

At the SpaceCadet Studio

One thing I haven’t been able to do while I’ve been sick is get to my computer, so I couldn’t share with you this great interview with Jenise Reid, the designer of the January Pullover, or answer your emails about the KAL.  So instead of closing the January Pullover kits this past weekend as I’d planned, I’ve decided to extend sales of the kits until January 26 (click here), so that I have the chance to answer your questions and you can get to Jenise a little better.

An Interview with Designer Jenise Reid

Designer Jenise Reid

Hi Jenise!  Let’s start with an introduction: who you are and how long you’ve been knitting and designing.

Hi! I learned to learned to knit back when I was 18, and really wanted to make a little toque for my nephew. I was using a pretty fingering weight yarn, and was annoyed with how very long it took. I don’t think I picked up the needles again till a couple weeks later, but after a couple projects I was hooked. A couple years later I decided to try writing a pattern for one of the sweaters I had made, and before I knew it I was designing and writing patterns full time! That toque took me maybe 6 hours, and somehow I have come to the place where I consider 30 hours of knitting to be normal amount of time to spend knitting something. You could say I have embraced slow!

Designer Jenise Reid 2

What inspires your designs? And which of your designs are your favourites?

Everything inspires me – it really just depends on the collection/design. In the case of January Pullover, early last year I decided I wanted to make a whole collection of sweaters, and I was going to make them exactly the way I wanted them. For me, that means skinny yarn, lots of stockinette, and precise shaping. Fit is important, curves are important, though they do make the pattern a little more complex. I am thankful to be releasing the collection myself – each pattern is on the long side to clearly explain what is going on, and if I sent them in to a print publication, they would either simplify the shaping (which makes them fit so perfectly), or over simplify the pattern and make it hard to use/understand.

I tend to love the one I am currently knitting the most, but Falling Leaves definitely has a special place in my heart as my first best-seller. It was the success of that blanket that convinced me that it could be worth while to give knit design a full time try as a business, so the fact that I am designing today is thanks to it!

January Pullover by Jenise Reid 05

Tell us about the January Pullover — what makes it special to you?

The fit. This is the first time I have used bust short row shaping in one of my patterns, and I am really impressed with how much it improved the way the sweater hangs. The pattern includes directions on bust shaping for everyone a “C” cup or above, or the short rows can be skipped. As my sister said when she first saw it, it almost looks store bought thanks to the fine yarn and crisp gauge. But when I compare the fit to any store bought sweater, it is obviously superior. You can’t buy knit sweaters with bust shaping!

I think a lot of the reason why handknit sweaters have such a bad reputation is due to the thought that a knitting pattern should take a minimal amount of pages and words. Yes, it is much easier to follow the pattern for a sweater that is just a rectangular box with sleeves stuck onto the sides. You can fit the whole pattern on one page. The trouble is (as a Home Ec teacher expressed it) “Ladies, we are not shaped like refrigerators!”

January Pullover by Jenise Reid 04

If you want your sweater to wrap neatly and smoothly around your curves, you need shaping, you need curves, and you need options. The pattern is longer, and a little harder to follow, but when it comes to a sweater that makes you look great, it is so worth it! I tried to make this pattern simple to adjust, and took a good deal of care on the larger end of the sizes. If that boxy sweater makes a size 2 look like a shapeless mass, there isn’t any hope for a size 26! January will still have a tidy drop sleeve, a shapely neckline, and will glide smoothly over those size 26 curves.

One of the reasons January is so flattering is due to the yarn — SpaceCadet Oriana. I have it in a tight gauge that gives it body, and it does a great job of smoothing over little lumps and bumps. The matte sheen to Oriana also helps with this – no shine to magnify wrinkles!

We created a custom colourway for the January Pullover — what is it that drew you to these colours for it? Do you think the sweater would work in any other colours?

Only recently did I decide I actually liked red again – I hadn’t worn anything red for years! This particular shade is just gorgeous, and goes well with everything from denim to charcoal to browns. I love the play between the maroon and rust tones as they fade between each other. I think January’s deep red gives it a calm air, ready to take on anything. For a more playful look, I think Feather would be delightful. For a flexible look that is easy to dress up or down, Dark Skies is the one!

Feather and Dark Skies

Personally, when I try to pick a color, I tend to dig through my closet and pick out what I think I would wear with the sweater. If I can’t find anything I think would go well, I decide if I love the color enough that it would be worth it to go find and buy something just to match the sweater, or if I should consider a different color. Being more thoughtful about what colors will actually work with the clothes I *already* own has really increased how much I wear my handknits! I actually have a handful of sweaters I made but never wear just because they don’t match anything, and it really bugs me.

What do you enjoy about running a KAL for one of your designs? And what do you do to ensure your knitters have a great experience?

KALs are a highlight for me – I check in a couple times every day, and it is always a lot of fun to discuss color, yarn, techniques and fit. I don’t know many people who knit locally, and I love talking about it!

January Pullover KAL Kit by SpaceCadet for the January Pullover by Jenise Reid 02

There are always those knitters who are not a standard size, and I love being able to give advice on how to work with the pattern to get a sweater that fits YOU perfectly! Besides that it is fun to help, I also consider the KALs to be educational for ME — being in touch with what kinds of questions knitters may have, and thinking though fit issues helps me to write a better pattern next time.

So, you live in British Columbia and I know you guys get a lot of snow.  How deep is the snow outside your house at the moment?

This year has been a fabulous snow year – I love it! Two days before that photoshoot, we had the largest dump in 48 hrs since the 70’s, about 2 feet. That is my driveway at home – the plows were too busy on the main roads to get any side roads. I think everyone on our street who tried to get out got stuck, and so everyone was digging everyone else out.

January Pullover by Jenise Reid 07

I didn’t try to drive anything anywhere – walking was bad enough! (By the way, while I wouldn’t wear a short sleeved sweater out for a long time, January was warm enough to pop out of the house with a shovel for 15 minutes to help dig a car out). Since then, we have had yet another foot or so, but nothing like those two days!

I am such a fan of Jenise’s  work and, if you were a part of her Sari Cari KAL last summer, I know you will be too.  I’m delighted she chose SpaceCadet Oriana for this design and asked us to create these beautiful kits and, as I said, we’ll be keeping the kits available until January 26th to make up for lost time.  Click here to grab yours and get in on the fun!

If you decide to take Jenise’s suggestion and try the January Pullover in either Feather or Dark Skies and order before the end of January 26th, we’ll make sure to dye your yarn in time for the KAL Cast On.  Just let us know in the order notes during checkout and we’ll take care of it!

And speaking of lost time, I am on the mend at last but definitely still under the weather, so I’d be really grateful if you’d keep your fingers crossed that I shake this flu off quickly.  And virtual cups of tea are allllways gratefully accepted anytime!

Some Truly Wonderful News

If you’ve been following SpaceCadet for a while, you’ll know about my friend Mel of Singlehanded Knits.  She’s a designer, a podcaster, a good friend, and hands down one of the most upbeat people I’ve ever known.  And I want to share something about her with you.

Mel from Singlehanded Knits

Now, what you may not have known is that Singlehanded Knits is so named because, several years ago, a coconut falling from its tree landed on Mel’s shoulder, causing serious nerve damage, and she lost the use the of her left arm.  Though the circumstances sound almost ridiculous, the reality was devastating, and I know from our conversations, just how hard it was for her.  I think many people in the same situation (including me) might have been tempted to just let everything stop.  But Mel’s reaction was extraordinary and so inspiring — facing her challenges head on, she refused to be beaten.  Instead, she adapted and raised her game — she learned to knit with one hand, she began designing, and she started a blog and her podcast, recorded on the beaches near her home on Kauai, which she called Singlehanded Knits.   And the whole time, Mel continued to believe she would one day regain the use of her arm, and worked hard with doctors and physical therapists to make it happen.

This past weekend, she launched a brand-new podcast and a (stunning beautiful) blog.  It’s called “With Mel”, and it’s her first step in the process of moving her online presence to a new domain.  No longer will she be Singlehanded Knits.  And the reason?  Well, it’s in the photo below.  Can you spot it?

Mel from the With Mel podcast


Mel is using both of her arms.   She’s using BOTH of her arms!

Now, that’s a small thing in the grand scheme of the world, and I know Mel still has a lot of hard work ahead of her to continue her healing.  But it’s also huge.  It’s HUGE!  When I saw Mel move her left arm during her new podcast, I stopped dead in my tracks and squealed out loud.  She can use her arm again!

And when there is an event of true joy like this, I think it’s worth celebrating, don’t you?  So this whole post is about nothing more than sharing with you a small miracle, an amazing bit of news to bring a bit of light to your Tuesday morning.

Good morning, everyone.  I hope you have a wonderful day!

The With Mel Blog, from Mel of Singlehanded Knits

PS — if you want to add your celebrations to mine, do send Mel your good wishes on her new blog.  I know it’d mean the world to her.  Aaaaaand that shawl she’s holding in the podcast image I showed you above?  She’s doing something seriously cool and collaborative with it on the podcast.  Go watch and join in!




The Gorgeous, Intricate Designs of Hunter Hammersen

One of the best things about my job is getting to meet our customers and to see what they create with SpaceCadet yarn.  We’ll be getting to do just that next weekend at Indie Knit & Spin, and I am sooo looking forward to it.

And one of the other best parts of my job is collaborating with some really fabulous designers (really, sometimes I have to pinch myself when I look at the collection of designs that have been created for SpaceCadet yarn!).  And I wanted to take a minute to introduce you to a designer whose work I think you’re going to love..

Chrysanthemum frutescens Sock by Hunter Hammersen


I had been a fan of Hunter Hammersen‘s stunning botanical knits for a long time before we met.  You can see why, can’t you?  I’m captivated by the intricacy in her stitch patterns and the delightful details of the construction.  Each nature-inspired pattern seems more beautiful than the next.

Narcissus pseudo-narcissus Sock by Hunter Hammersen


So I’m afraid went all fan-girl on her when she came into our booth at a show and introduced herself.  She handed me her card and, before she even had a chance to say her name, I practically shouted, “You’re Hunter! I LOVE your stuff!”  Fortunately for me, she was all grins at that.

Miscreant Cuffs by Hunter Hammersen, knit in SpaceCadet Astrid DK yarn


Turns out, she’s pretty keen on SpaceCadet too!  And to my absolute delight, she’s used our yarn for the very first design in her brand-new book, Ne’er-Do-Well Knits, a delicious little collection of patterns that are both quick and intriguing — perfect for holiday gifts!

Ne'er-Do-Well Knits by Hunter Hammersen

(And if you’re in the Yarn Alliance, you’re in for a treat!  The parcels went out this week so, as tempting as these patterns are, you just sit tight until your parcel arrives, ok?)

And here’s something to really get excited about: right now, Hunter is running a super fun giveaway –a skein of SpaceCadet Astrid DK yarn in your choice of colours!  All you have to do is go and leave a comment on her blog, telling her which SpaceCadet colourway you’d choose for your yarn, and you’re in.  But hurry, because entries are open only until the end of today — and you don’t want to miss your chance!

Miscreant Cuff by Hunter Hammersen, knit in SpaceCadet Astrid DK yarn

It’s All in the Details… Melissa Jean Handknit Design

Somehow….. somehow it turns out this weekend is the Maryland Sheep and Wool Festival (MDSW).  And even though I’ve had my hotel room booked for months, it has still managed to sneak up on me.  Will you be going?  If you will, please look for me — I’m not vending (I wish!) but I’ll be shopping and having the fibery time of my life!  You can spot me by the SpaceCadet tattoo on my cheek and please stop and say hi — I’d love to meet you guys in person!

But listen, there’s someone else who’ll be at MDSW that I want you to meet, and even if you’re not going to be there this weekend, you’ll still want to get know her.  Her name is Melissa Tompkins-Stahl and she creates beautiful buttons and knitting patterns as Melissa Jean Handknit Design.

Melissa Jean handmade buttons


I’d mentioned previously that I met her at Rhinebeck, but I love her work so much, I wanted to get a little more in depth with her and she was kind enough to answer a few questions for me.


The Dublin Tee by Melissa Jean Designs

Which came first, the buttons or the knitting patterns? And which do you feel is more your ‘true’ calling?

Knitting definitely came first.  I was writing children’s patterns and making them up as kits.  I wanted to write the patterns, dye the yarn and source the buttons. I met some potters who made buttons for me, but I had specific ideas of how the buttons should look, I decided to start making them myself.  I worked for a pottery called MacKenzie-Childs and felt comfortable venturing out on my own…however, there was still a learning curve. I had to do quite a bit of research along with trial and error before my buttons were good enough!

As far as knitting, I knit a lot but have not released any new patterns in a few years.  I am waiting for my youngest to go to school full time, which she will do this fall.  I have 2 patterns to release this summer…Dublin Tee (pictured below) and Janey Pullover (a rerelease actually).  With my kids in school, I feel I can better meet deadlines…pattern writing involves more than just me…test knitters, tech editors, photo shoots, and the public.  Buttons making is much more solitary and I can fit it in as I can.  I can’t wait to get more ideas out of my sketchbook and onto my needles.

 So, tell me what you love about your job…

I love that I work in my studio at home…I can crank my music, or listen to podcasts and work.  It affords me time to take care of my family while doing something meaningful to me.  I also like the process of making buttons, working with my hands, with color.  I love the element of surprise when I open the kiln and find shelves of color…that never gets old!

 Buttons by Melissa Jean Designs

How crazy does it get for you before a big show like MDSW or Rhinebeck?  How many buttons do you bring, and how long does it take for you to make them?

No matter how far in advance I start gearing up, the 2 weeks before Maryland and VERY busy.  I bring about 5,000 buttons (I did not count) but there are a lot!

Where will you be located at MDSW this year?

I’ve changed from a tenter to a barn dweller this year.  I will be hunkered down in Barn 4, booth 12.

Gorgeous handmade buttons by Melissa Jean Design

What new or interesting buttons are you taking that we should be looking to nab at MDSW?

This year I’ll have very small buttons with shanks, I am very excited about.  They lend themselves well to sock weight yarn. On the other hand, I will also have some very large buttons, great for bags, hats and shawls. I will also have a beautiful teal color and a deep red.

Where else can we buy your buttons and knitting patterns?

My website is   Besides Maryland, I vend at Finger Lakes Fiber FestivalNY Sheep and Wool fest (Rhinebeck), Fiber Festival of New England, Yarn Cupboard Retreat. But keep an eye on my website’s event page because I may be adding a festival or three this year.  As far as shops, I have not ventured into wholesale yet…..but hope to this year, so follow me on Twitter, or like my Facebook page.

Gorgeous handmade buttons by Melissa Jean Design

Don’t you love her buttons?!?  I do — and I’m going to buy a ton of them at MDSW so if you want them, you better get there before I do!  I have a hankering to knit some lovely wide wrist cuffs and put Melissa’s buttons all over them.  What do you think?

Oooh, and there’s one button up there in particular that’s really calling to me — ten points to the first person to guess which one it is!

Designer Profile: Ruth Garcia-Alcantud of Rock & Purl designs for the InterStellar Yarn Alliance

The InterStellar Yarn Alliance parcels went out last week and I think that excited me the most about it was that it included exclusive access to a beautiful knitting pattern created especially for the Alliance Members by the designer at Rock & Purl, Ruth Garcia-Alcantud.  I’ve admired her work for a while now and it’s easy to see why.

Knitting designs by Ruth Garcia-Alcantud of Rock & Purl

Clockwise from top left: Moore, Anchored, Chambourcin, and Marina


(Ten points to the first commenter to guess my favourite out of these four!  Hint: the answer is further down in this post.)

Her designs have appeared in Interweave Crochet, Vogue Knitting, KnitScene, Knit Magazine, and Yarn Forward.  So when Ruth offered to create an exlcusive pattern for the InterStellar Yarn Alliance, I was absolutely over the moon.   And I can’t wait another minute to show it to you!  This is Medianoche, a pair of beautifully delicate gloves with an amazing, double-layer cuff: a flouncy, lacy outer cuff conceals a fitted ribbed inner cuff.  They’re fabulous!

Medianoche knitting pattern by Rock & Purl for SpaceCadet Creations InterStellar Yarn Alliance yarn club

When she sent me Medianoche, Ruth took the opportunity to interview me for her blog, and I decided to ask her a few questions as well.  Here’s our conversation, and don’t miss the exciting announcement at the bottom!

Ruth, I love your patterns.  I am crazy for Moore.  I am over the moon with Medianoche (can’t wait to cast it on!!!).  Can you give a brief walk-through of where you grab your inspiration and how you turn that into a pattern?

Some ideas form perfectly in my head from the moment the yarn hits my
hands – Medianoche is a clear example of it! Before I got the yarn, I
knew I was going to transform it into gloves, but once I touched it, I
knew a lace cuff detail would be the center of attention and worked
from there.
Other times, like with Moore, it takes a little longer – Moore was
originally a scarf/wrap! It was the first garment where I applied the
sideways technique, and I’m quite glad I thought of discarding the
scarf idea now.

All in all, while I may have an idea such as “I want to make a
sweater” and want to pair it with a worsted weight yarn… I have to
let the yarn be what it wants to be!

So, when did you move from being a knitter to a knit designer?   How did you know, in your mind, that you’d made that leap?

I was always a “Ms Perfection Knitter” – I took great pride in
finishing, perfect gauge, etc. I once knit this horrible jumper that
was completely off in the measurements area, the waist was
non-existent and the cross back was WAY too big for me. I reworked it
to my measurements, and I guess that was my first non-artistic move
into the design world.

Fresh out of a job a couple of years ago, I went a little bananas and
thought I’d jump in with both feet, but I wanted to explore the
knitwear design world before launching a venture that could have
fallen flat on its face – I researched yarns, swatched lots, read
everything I could on sizing, grading, fitting and eye-catching
details to ensure designs are one-of-a-kind.
In the meantime, I designed accessories, where the fit and the
modeled sample didn’t have to be perfect, until I thought I was ready
to move into the garment arena. My first garment acceptance came from
Shannon Okey (aka knitgrrl) who has since then become a very good
friend and mentor.

If you had to stop knitting — I know! It’s a ridiculous thought! — but if you did, what would your ideal job be?  And how would your experience of being a knit designer
influence that?

Mmmmm…. I like jobs that have plenty of small pieces to fit into a
bigger one. I liked my old PA role in which I had to organize agendas,
trips, events and yet ensure that the day-to-day running of the office
did not go unattended. So I’d like a job with defined, visible, key

Now, I know you grew up in Spain but now live in England. How is knitting in Britain different to knitting in Spain?  Has your
style or way of thinking about the craft changed from one country to

Wow, you’ve no idea how the internet and Ravelry have changed the
mentality of knitting over in Spain! Knitting groups have multiplied
and the one I visit when I go visit my parents used to be about… 6 people? They now have to ask permission to “camp” at Starbucks in
town, there’s that many of them!

My father works in fashion and his mum was also involved in it, so my
view about the craft has always been about couture, delicate,
made-to-measure pieces. I would like to think I transported those
ideas with me – as a good visitor, I always buy yarn when I go there
too! We get fantastic finds in bright coloured cottons and some
interesting wool blends for those who don’t have vicious winters.

If you were hosting a dinner party that included the most influential people in your life, who would they be and (more importantly!) what would you cook?

Difficult!! My dad, both my grandmothers, my husband-to-be Brian and
my aunt. I pride myself in my duck with lime sauce and coconut rice ..
would you like to try it when you visit England next?

Yes please!
Ok, so, when you design, do you have a specific person in mind?  Are you designing for someone, or for yourself?

I’d tell a lie if I said “nooo I don’t think about myself”. When I am thinking of a self-published pattern, I need to make it fit me as I’m the model for the photographs, but I also want to make sure it fits a
variety of bodies, so if I don’t believe it will fit anyone above a 38” bust the idea gets scrapped.

I have a funny story about it – I created Anchored with no intention of releasing it whatsoever as I thought people would think it too risque and flashy. In the end it’s been one of my best-sellers, so sometimes it’s obvious I’m not right!


What is the best bit of being a designer?  What part of it brings you the most joy?

I love grading, calculating, adapting and playing with numbers – and
while I moan a lot about Illustrator and InDesign not doing what I
want them to do, I enjoy creating schematics and laying out patterns.
Publishing is such a thrill – will it do ok? will it flop? But nothing gives me quite as much satisfaction as seeing pictures of the objects people create with my patterns, and getting good comments on them.

Ruth, you and I are both expats, so I know we both understand the internal conflict that comes from having two places to call ‘home’.  When you think way ahead into your future, where do you see yourself pulled to?  Where do you see yourself living as an old lady?

I truly don’t know. My other half and I always joke about moving countries, and not just in Europe! But we’re so settled in our little home now that I’d be heartbroken if I had to leave. That being said, the warmer winters from Valencia (where I come from) would be a delight compared to the chill of Blighty!

And finally, I’ll ask the same great question you asked me…  what
do you hope to infuse into knitters that work with your patterns?

There’s NOTHING you cannot achieve. I hope to teach you some tricks or
techniques that will make your knitting easier, or perhaps create that
one garment that will make you feel like the million dollars you
already are worth – but remember… it’s YOU who makes it, and you
should be proud of that and every single stitch you pour onto your

It’s been such a pleasure for me, working with Ruth and getting to know her better.  And so exciting to send out the InterStellar Yarn Alliance parcels, knowing that every one of the Alliance Members was getting her beautiful Medianoche!

And would you like to see what else was in the parcel?  Well, the first thing in the box was the SpaceCadet’s Log, to explain the inspiration for the colourway.

The SpaceCadet Log, Dyer's Notes for the yarn in the InterStellar Yarn Alliance parcel

And then there was the yarn of course!  It was Izarra, an absolutely beautiful blend of 80% Superwash Blue-Faced Leicester (BFL) and 20% Nylon.  It’s going to look fantastic as a pair of gloves!

Izarra BFL knitting yarn in Venus, exclusive to SpaceCadet Creations InterStellar Yarn Alliance yarn club

And then, just for fun, I included a few holiday gift tags, specially designed to help the gift recipients to realise just how lucky they are to received a handmade gift!

Holiday Gift Tags exclusively for the members of SpaceCadet Creations InterStellar Yarn Alliance yarn club

The InterStellar Yarn Alliance Gift Subscription

If you’ve been thinking that a gift subscription to the InterStellar Yarn Alliance would make the perfect present for a knitter or crocheter on your holiday list, then I have some great news.  Later this month, we will be offering limited number of special Yarn Alliance gift subscription packages.  We’re putting the details together now, and to be the very first to hear about it, make sure you’re on the Yarn Adventurers’ mailing list!