I’ve said many times that I like to approach dyeing as an exploration of colour, and when I stand in front of the dyepots and start mixing colours, I sometimes have so many ideas that my hands can’t keep up. But when that yarn is all dyed and dried, that’s when my creativity seems to disappear on me, because I think that choosing a name for new colourways is the hardest part of all.
Seriously, so hard.
So sometimes, I turn to you guys and the response is always amazing. I ask on social media for help with names and the ideas come flooding in! I don’t always go with any one suggestion specifically, but they always push me onward and get my brain moving again. And that is exactly what happened with both of these colourways. I had an inkling of a name but couldn’t quite get there… and then I asked for help and your ideas were what got my mind into focus, and ultimately brought me to two colourway names that are particularly personal and meaningful to me. Want to see what I chose?
When I dyed this colourway — all muted greens and grays, highlighted with dusky golds — my mind kept turning to Salisbury Plain, the high chalk plateau that is home to countless prehistoric monuments, and which was only a stone’s throw from my home in Dorset. I used to go across it every week, slowing to look at Stonehenge in the morning light, in the setting sun, on cold winter’s days, or warm summer evenings. In the winter and that far north, the sun rises late and sets early, and I often drove past Stonehenge in the dark of night, searching for the silhouette of the stones in the moonlight.
And Salisbury Plain is the ever present backdrop, a quiet tapestry of gray skies and weathered grasses buffeted in the constant wind, of pale golds and wilted greens — the ancient home of stargazers for thousands of years. And now also, a place for time-travellers, those who wander across the Plain in search of those same views, and those same stars, four thousand years on.
For this colourway, I knew I wanted to capture the magical multi-tonal quality of old stone — layers of soft gray, weathered brown, and a hint of palest blue that seem to have come together organically over many long years. And it’s named for one of my favourite stone circles, not far from where I lived in England and tucked down a country road with hardly any fanfare to alert a passer-by that the stones are there.
They may have once stood proud in the sun, but now the Nine Stones circle is tucked away amongst trees, moss-covered and eroded by rains across millennia, too shaded now to ever track the stars. But standing amongst the stones, in the dappled sunlight and the heady smell of wildflowers, I find the circle feels quiet and intimate and… almost gentle in a way that Stonehenge never will. But the heathered colours of the weathered surfaces of the stones tell a history just as ancient. New Variegated Colourways
We’ve got eleven stunning new variegated colourways — including Time Traveller and Nine Stones — to share with you! Want to see the others? Just click here to go the colourways page and scroll down to the very bottom.
There’s a project that you’ve been thinking about for a long time now, isn’t there? It’s there, sitting quietly at the back of your mind, waiting for you to work up the courage to start it. It something you’d love to make, that you really want to conquer, but… but… oh! It’s ambitious. It’s bigger than anything you’ve tried before. Or it’s more complicated and… and… oh!
So there it stays, tucked away in the back of your mind… no closer to being cast on than it was the day your first saw it and fell in love. Ambitious projects can be wonderful, motivating, exciting… But they can also be paralysing, can’t they?
Yeah, Me Too…
When I first started knitting, waaaaay back in the late ’80s, I opened a book one day and fell head-over-heels for Kaffe Fassett’s Romeo and Juliet Coat. I desperately wanted to make it but… I was new knitter and it just frightened the life out of me then. How could I possible knit something as amazing as that?!? I didn’t think I’d ever be a good enough knitter to create that.
These days, it’s not the skill level that would stop me from starting it so much as the fact that the late ’80s and I parted ways quite a while ago. The projects that I aspire to now are much more intricate — when I go to knit night and see my friends pull out masterpieces like Honeysuckle by Sarah Hatton or 2011 KALendar by Carmen Oliveras, my heart goes pitter-patter. But I wonder if I could ever make something so amazing myself…
What intimidates me most now, be it Kaffe Fassett’s coat or those amazing shawls, is the sheer the amount of time it would take. It’s time, not skills (or courage!), that I lack. And I find I bypass as many projects now for that reason and I did back then for the other.
Is It The Same For You?
I’ve been thinking of this a lot lately — the projects we aspire to and what it is that holds us back from making them — and wondering if your experience is like mine. Are there projects that you aspire to but have never yet had the courage to start? What is it that’s stopping you? And do you think you will ever get past it and cast your project on?
And the responses told a real story… Some of you are intimidated by new techniques; some, like me, just too time crunched; a few have too many ambitious projects on the needles already. And one response I love more than any, because it took that story and turned it into a real conversation…
(Also, does he have the coolest mustache or what?!?)
Tell Me About You
So tell me, what projects do you aspire to? What do you have on your maybe-someday list? And — the most important part — what is it that’s holding you back?
I’ve been dying to share with you the inspiration for the latest InterStellar Yarn Alliance parcel and, as I sent them out a week ago today, I think it’s safe to show you. But if you’re a member and for some reason you haven’t opened your parcel, close this page now — I don’t want to ruin the surprise!
Ok, I think we’re safe. shhhh… Let’s have a look at the parcel. But first, I want to show you the picture that inspired the colourway. The thing is, just lately I have become obsessed with Spring. I am soooo ready to shed the grey, dull end of winter and welcome the sweet arrival of fresh green grass, new blooms, and warm warm days. So when I saw this picture on Pinterest, it just sang out to me.
It was taken by Mattie of Still Pond Photography and I just love it. Love it. For days, the mood of this photo stayed in my head, and I found myself returning again and again to just gaze at the colours of those eggs.
So when it came time to dye the Yarn Alliance colourway, there was no doubt what it would have to be.
I’ve been dyeing Spring greens and blues for the shop but, when I started designing this colourway, I wanted to take those colours to another level. Just like the eight eggs, I wanted to have myriad shades of blues and greens, so that the yarn would seem to change every constantly — from row to row, stitch to stitch. I began with one blue and one green, and then layered on another shade, and another shade, and another until I had depth and tone I was looking for. I called the colourway “EggShells”.
Doesn’t it sing Spring to you?
And as excited as I am about EggShells — and I am! — I think that I might be just wee bit more excited about the goody. It was a long time in the making, but the effort was sooooo worth it. Check it out — every member got a fabulous custom SpaceCadet project bag!!!
I’ve had such a blast doing the InterStellar Yarn Alliance this past year — so much fun. And I can’t wait to get started on next year’s yarns and goodies!
The InterStellar Yarn Alliance will open for subscriptions March 16 to 31 ONLY
You can join for either 6 months or 12 months. Every other month, members of the InterStellar Yarn Alliance receive fabulous parcels delivered to their door containing:
SpaceCadet ® Creations yarn (light to medium weight) in an exclusive Yarn Alliance colourway (guaranteed not to be offered on the SpaceCadet website for at least 6 months)
A great Yarn Alliance gift tucked into every parcel!
The SpaceCadet’s Log exploring the inspiration for each colourway.
An InterStellar Yarn Alliance group on Ravelry where you can discuss WIPs, ask questions, and share FOs with fellow members.
The InterStellar Yarn Alliance newsletter with periodic special offers exclusively for members.
A 15% off coupon every six months
If you’d like to join, remember to mark your calendar: the Yarn Alliance will open for subscriptions from March 16 to 31 only. And when it does, get yourself over to this page to grab your spot!
I want to show you a picture. It’s by Camille Roskelley and I found it on Pinterest a few weeks ago. And I just couldn’t get it out of my mind.
The colours kept coming back to me… that gorgeous sage green, the dusty pink, that zingy red, and those bursts of cool aqua. Oh! I found my mind returning to the colours in that picture again and again.
The thing is, most of the time, the colour combinations I dye come straight out of my imagination. They pop like fireworks in my mind, and I rush off to the studio to try to recreate them before the memory fades. But this time, all I wanted to do was play with the colours in this image.
And so I did! First, I dyed a few variegated skeins that captured all the colours at once. And then I dyed some beautiful semi-solids that pulled the individual colours out and let them shine on their own.
I love the way the semi-solid yarns work with and support the variegated colourways, don’t you? When I look at them together, I see projects. I can see a cardigan done in that beautiful bright blue, and livened up with a variegated collar and placket. A multi-toned shawl that alternates stripes of semi-solid and variegated yarns. A pair of eye-popping socks highlighted with coordinated toes and heels. There are so many fun possibilities when all the colours work together!
And all these yarns have just gone into the shop. Go have a look — Spring is on its way at last!
Do you remember I told you the story about “Nobody likes Green”? It’s a running joke in my knit group: one day, one of the members went into a LYS to buy some green yarn to finish a project she was working on. She couldn’t find any green at all and asked the owner where it was, and the reply came back, “We don’t carry green because nobody likes green.” And my friend left and went to another LYS where her colour preferences made her a bit more of a somebody.
Now, every time I dye green, I can’t help but chuckle. Nobody likes green.
And the link leads to the Ravelry page showing Knitscene’s patterns sorted by popularity. Sure enough, the top five are green. When I put “Knitty” into the search box, I couldn’t narrow it down to just patterns from Knitty magazine but, interestingly enough, the first four patterns that did come up were green too. In fact, most of the top 10 were green and, as you scroll down, green is the dominant colour across the whole page.
Clearly, somebody likes green!
So this got me thinking, how much are we influenced by the colour of the sample on a pattern? How good are we at actually looking a pattern that is shown in one colour and imagining it done in another colour? It seems easy enough — we’re all smart enough to look at a picture of a blue jumper and imagine it in yellow — but does the colour in the picture still influence whether we decide to make the pattern or not?
And, is the best default colour green? Is green the new black? Are you a somebody, or a nobody?
So here’s what I want you to do: Go to Ravelry and have a look through your favourites and your queue. Is there a dominant colour? And when you made the items in your finished objects, how far did you stray from the colours in the pattern picture?
Then come back here and tell me. I really want to know! Can you see a theme, a link between the colours you use and the colours in the pictures of the patterns you choose? Are you choosing patterns because of the colour in the picture?
Oh, and while you’re at it… How do you feel about green?
One of the things I enjoy most about my job is working with other fiber artists. It is somehow so satisfying to collaborate with people whose work you really admire and who… well, who really understand why I’m so crazy about all things fiber (Because, y’know… they’re crazy that way too!). And I’m lucky enough to have quite a few of those collaborations going on at the moment. SpaceCadet yarns have been chosen recently for four designs in two upcoming books, as well as for designs by a couple of independent designers, and was used in an award-winning sock (more about that soon). Exciting times!
As a really accomplished and inspiring fiber artist, I wanted to find out more about her and her work as a designer…
At what point, in your own mind, did you switch from being a crocheter to a crochet designer? What defined that change for you?
For my first crochet title, Basic Crocheting, I was not confident enough to design all of the patterns myself. I purchased a few from established designers. The sweater pattern was disappointing: it was all single crochet, which made it very stiff and impossible to pull over your head, and it was definitely not “basic” like I had requested. I took a deep breath and told myself it was time to design a sweater. I picked a chevron pattern and did it! Because it was the first time I had worked with multiple sizes, I actually made one sweater in each size to make sure the instructions would work! That sweater was the first time I really felt like a designer.
Do the design ideas flow easily for you, or do you ever find yourself stuck? When you are stuck, what do you do to find inspiration again?
With the wonderful yarns available today in every material and colourway, and with the addition of Tunisian crochet to my stitch bag of tricks, I rarely feel stuck for a design. I keep a binder of “Design Ideas.” Anything that catches my fancy goes in there, from architectural elements to interesting color combinations to nature photos. Often I’ll browse through that with some yarn and stitch dictionaries in front of me. Swatching is a great way to get inspired.
What was the inspiration for the Moonmist shawl?
I love lightweight shawls, and the Luna laceweight yarn seemed perfect for an openwork pattern. I like the addition of some post stitches for added texture. To make the shawl symmetrical, I started in the middle of the back and worked left and right.
As your own crochet skills grow, do you find it harder or easier to design simple projects for new crocheters?
I think one thing that crocheters appreciate is the clarity and kindness with which I write patterns, whether for beginners or experienced crafters. I always try to give an overview, kind of like a road map: here’s where we’re starting, this is the route we will take, and here’s where we will end up. Otherwise it’s like driving blind. I have been crocheting for more than 40 years, and I still come up against poorly written patterns that I cannot figure out. It’s frustrating, and there’s no reason for it except laziness and arrogance on the part of the designer, editor, and publisher.
Along with clear instructions, technique photos are crucial. I want crocheters to feel like I am looking over their shoulder ready to answer any questions they have. “Does the hook go here or here?” “Do I skip this shell or work into it?” Photos can help them understand what the pattern requires.
I always enjoy creating simple yet interesting patterns for new crocheters.
For anyone wanting to try crochet for the first time, what resources would you recommend? Where should they start?
For anyone just starting out, there is no substitute for sitting down for an hour or two with a friend or instructor. That way you can make sure you are holding the yarn properly, making your stitches right, counting correctly, etc. Crocheters are often surprised to realize how important the non-hook hand is in managing the flow of yarn from the ball to the project. Your local yarn shop or a crochet conference may be your entree into the wonderful world of crocheting. Ravelry is a wonderful resource, an online community for yarn folks without the intrusiveness of Facebook! YouTube also has many good videos. There are some great designers out there. Read what other people have said about their designs–and how good their instructions are–and choose a book or pattern from your favorite.
I am a huge fan of Tunisian crochet. For anyone interested in giving that a try, I recommend my books (Tunisian Crochet: The Look of Knitting with the Ease of Crocheting and Crochet Pillows with Tunisian & Traditional Techniques). Both of those come with detailed instructions and photos to explain the basic stitches. My first book, Basic Crocheting, also has a lot of visuals and illustrations.
If you had the opportunity to tell the world the one thing they
really ought to know about crochet, what would it be?
Crochet does not have to be frumpy and boxy! Choose the right combination of yarn, hook, and designer, and you can create garments that are beautifully shaped, drape like a dream, and are high-fashion enough to grace any runway.
Now, I’m not allowed to tell you anything about Sharon’s upcoming book — it’s all top secret. But I will tell you that it’s coming out for Autumn 2012 and it’s got some gorgeous designs in it… and two new beautiful new colourways from SpaceCadet Creations. But in the meantime, do go check out her website, www.SharonSilverman.com, and especially her pattern page on Ravelry, where you can find the pattern for the Moonmist shawl, for the lovely Sonata shawl (above) — the first of Sharon’s designs that really caught my eye — and tons more. She’s on Ravelry as CrochetSharon and on Facebook as Sharon Silverman Contemporary Crochet.