I love seeing people who have found the thing they are passionate about. There is nothing so infectious as the excitement and enthusiasm of someone who knows what they love and just dives in head first.
Whether it’s ballet or body art… it really doesn’t matter. The thing that is so awesome is that pure love that a real passion brings out. Jeni’s has it for ice cream. Amy Manko has it for heritage breed sheep. And Katy Carroll has it for cables.
So when we ran into her at Stitches and she took some of our yarn home with her, I had… oh, just a little inkling of what it might become. A cowl, she said. And mitts. She didn’t have to tell me it would have cables. “Katy Carroll’s Cabled Cowl,” I tried to say to the rest of the SpaceCadet crew… and failed. You try it: Katy Carroll’s Cabled Cowl… Katy Carroll’s Cabled Cowl… Kaby Carroll’s Catled Cowl… Kaby Cawoll’s Catled Cow…
“And mitts!” they reminded me. Yep, Cabled Mitts. I can say that one.
They’re knit in Lyra, with its fantastic stitch definition that is just wonderful in cables. Actually, Katy said, “Lyra is the PERFECT cabling yarn.” And given how much she does cables, she’d know. The Plummy Cowl takes 230 yards (so, about 1 skein) and is in one size. The Plummy Mitts are available in S/M/L and take between 180-200 yards of Lyra.
(But wait… if you’re itching to cast on, make sure you scroll to the bottom first for info about your discount!)
Shop Update This Saturday!
Lyra is, in fact, one of our most popular yarns. So much so that when Katy told us the pattern would be ready and released this week, we looked at our stock and realised we’d better get dyeing! So there will be a Lyra shop update this Saturday at noon (EST) — look for lots of our standard colouways plus one very special Limited Edition colourway that is gorgeous but which (probably) won’t be available again. Seriously, gorgeous.
What a sneak peek? Oh, alright then…
You’ve got holiday knitting coming up, right? No, really, it’s almost October! And the Plummy Cowl and Mitts are super-quick knits with lots of twists to keep your interest (yep, did that on purpose) and we’ve got yarn ready to go right out to you. I see a match made in heaven here. Except for the giving it away part… someone’s gotta be seriously knit-worthy for something as pretty as cables inside cables.
Get a Plummy Discount!
And if all that cable-y goodness isn’t enough, Katy is treating the folks on the SpaceCadet mailing list to a 30% discount on the pattern. You’ll get it in the newsletter on Tuesday, so order your yarn on Saturday and you can pick up the pattern while your yarn is on its way to you! If you’re not on the mailing list, you’ll miss out, so click here and join it now.
And then relax, knowing you’re going to face autumn’s chill in some serious cabled style!
I was chatting with my assistant Jade last week about the process of turning full-sized skeins into Mini-Skeins, and she commented that she had been really surprised by how much a variegated colourway could change when the skein was rewound into mini size. And of course they don’t actually change but, the thing is, breaking the larger skeins down into mini-skeins redistributes the colours, mixes them up, so our minds perceive that the skein has changed colour. And that has a big impact not only on the skein itself, but what you eventually make with it. Jade wrote a post about it in the SpaceCadet Ravelry group and it was so interesting, I thought I’d share it here too.
Spoiler Alert: March Mini-Skeins
Now, before we move onto Jade’s post, let me warn you that it does contain images of one of March’s Mini-Skein colourways. If you’re in the club and you want to be surprised when your bundle arrives, don’t scroll any farther. But DO save this post to read later — it’s a really interesting topic. Ok, now, let’s turn it over to Jade…
Stephanie and I have been talking about exciting new things for Mini-Skein Club members, and an offshoot of that discussion revolved around how different full skeins and mini skeins look.Until I started really working with yarn (not just knitting, but seeing the whole process from dyeing to twisting, and especially making Mini-Skeins), I noticed but didn’t understand why the colors of the variegated yarns I loved never quite came out the way I thought they would.
I’d see lovely patches of color, and it would knit up as stripes. Pretty, but where were those beautiful pools? Or, I’d see yarn that looked like a soft, even blend of colors and, out of nowhere, there were the pools, but not where I wanted them. It was a mystery, and I wondered how the same skein managed to look so different.
Here’s where the spoiler alert comes in: One of the March Gradient skeins illustrates this perfectly, and I just had to show you. So, consider this a sneak peek at this month’s Minis…
In the pictures above, you can see the whole skein loose at the top, another skein of the same color that’s been twisted in the middle, and (still) the same color re-skeined as a mini.Each looks so different!
The loose skein at the top looks like two colors flowing evenly into each other. Twisting that skein makes the colors pool into beautiful bands, and the gradient effect is hidden. And in the mini skein, the colors are redistributed so that the skein almost looks striped (which is a big clue as to how it’s might knit up).
And, here’s how this color looks knitted in a swatch:
At this size (28 sts of stockinette with a 2 st garter border), it’s very nearly self-striping. From the whole skein, it looks like it should have been a smooth transition from blue-purple to deep pink, while the twisted skein made it look like it would have pools of purple, blue, and pink. Instead, the mini skein gave the best preview: nearly striped.
The things you learn when you start learning to dye yarn and make mini-skeins…!
So How Does a Variegated Skein Work Up?
This is a question we get asked all the time. A customer will pick up a skein of beautiful, variegated yarn at a show and say to me, “Now, how will this look when I knit it?” It’s an easy question to ask, but it’s got a far more complicated answer than you might think.
The reason is that there is no one way that a variegated yarn will work up in a project. Just as that same skein looked completely different loose, twisted, and reskeined (as in the three pictures above), so it will look completely different again depending on whether you knit or crochet with it; whether you choose plain stockinette, garter, slipped stitches, or openwork; whether you work a small circumference in the round or cast on a huge piece on straight needles. All of those factors (and more) will impact where and how the colours will move on your fabric. So it’s next to impossible for me to look at the skein in your hands and easily answer question.
But the good news? With a little forethought, you are in complete control of the colours!
The Impact of Different Stitch Types
Let me demonstrate. After Jade knit that initial inch or so of stockinette, I asked her change it up a bit, to do some different types of stitches.
You can see from the picture above that, after the stockinette at the bottom, she moved on to slipped stitches, then a simple yarn-over lace, and finally, a 2×2 rib at the top. And what do we see?
First, the striping that was so evident in the plain stockette almost completely disappears in the slipped stitch section. Moving the yarn out of the straight back-and-forth rhythm blends the colours much more evenly, so that almost every stitch appears to be a different colour to its neighbour. And if you knit a whole sweater that way, the overall visual impact would be of a fabric that appears to be a single colour.
In the yarn-over section above that, we see that the colourway’s appearance has changed yet again. The stretched out stitches act to highlight the individual hues of the variegated yarn, giving each one a solo moment in the spotlight. And even more interestingly, there’s even a kind of very subtle pooling happening on the left, where all the purple stitches have joined together. Beautiful!
Finally, we have the rib stitch at the top. Like the stockinette, rib is primarily a side-to-side stitch, so there is striping but this time it’s broken up — and made more subtle — by the stitch texture. Showing that even a very simple stitch pattern can have a big impact on the look of a variegated yarn.
But How Do You Know?!?
There are many more ways that your choices can impact the way your yarn colour will behave. Be it your choice to knit or crochet, your pattern selection, stitch type, needle size, or any number of other things, one skein of variegated yarn can come out looking incredibly different depending on what you choose to do with it.
But how do you know? Well, I have great news: there are ways to decode an untwisted skein just by looking at it, so that you can accurately predict how it will behave and which choices will bring out its beauty best. And I’m going to be putting together a series of blog posts (and perhaps some videos) to help walk you thought that process. They’ll be coming in the next few months, so click here to get on the mailing list and make sure you don’t miss them!
But That Won’t Be Until…
…until after these great Spring Events that we’ve got coming up!
Fri March 13 — The SpaceCadet’s InterStellar Yarn Alliance opens for Subscriptions!
The InterStellar Yarn Alliance is the SpaceCadet’s premiere yarn club, known for its amazing colourways and fantastic gifts. It’s open for subscriptions twice a year for two weeks only — from March 13 to 29 — and spaces always go fast. Set your alarm and then click here to grab your spot first!
Sun March 22 — HomeSpun Yarn Party, Savage MD
Possibly our favourite-est yarn show of the year, this super-fast, super-furious event is always pure crazy and intense fun for anyone who craves hand-dyed and hand-made yarny goodness. A one day show that features only small and indie makers, it’s so worth the trip to the beautiful Savage Mill — if you live in the DC-Baltimore area, please come and see us!
Sunday, March 22 from 12-5pm
Historic Savage Mill 8600 Foundry Street, Savage, MD 20763 Just off I-95, plenty of parking!
Admission is FREE!
Fri-Sun March 27-29 — Pittsburgh Knit & Crochet Festival, Pittsburgh PA
Our hometown festival just gets better and better each year! Having rapidly outgrown all its previous venues, we are super excited that this year’s festival will be at the Westin Convention Center hotel in downtown Pittsburgh. Three glorious days of yarn and fiber fun, plus we are thrilled to be hosting festival headliner Alasdair Post-Quinn (author of “Extreme Double Knitting” from Coop Press) for book-signings in our booth. If you’re in the western PA area, we’d love to see you!
I get excited about variegated yarn (which is great, right? I mean, considering what I do for a living and all…) but variegated yarn can be tricky. Pick the wrong pattern and it might pool or flash. Pick the wrong yarn and it might turn into a multicolour mess.
But… but… when you combine the right variegated yarn with a pattern that compliments its colour changes, the result can be magical. The latest SpaceMonster colourway, “As Winter Goes”, is dyed on SpaceCadet’s smooshy bulky-weight Elara in a wonderful mix of custard yellow, rich rust, and a washed out violet — that is just beautiful in the skein and will look amazing in a stitch pattern that moves the colours around in interesting ways.
Wait, what do I mean by “interesting ways”? My favourite stitches for colourways like this one use cables, slipped stitches, yarn overs, and the like to move the colours around — vertically as well as horizontally — within the fabric. In fact, one of our SpaceMonster Club members did exactly that and her results are just gorgeous — click here to see!
But picking the right pattern to do that isn’t always easy, so want a little help choosing projects that will look amazing with this yarn? We’ve got you covered! Here are our Pattern Picks for the February SpaceMonster colourway, “As Winter Goes”…
This past Christmas, I received a gorgeous pair of knee-high boots that I have worn pretty much every single day since the holidays. And what does every great pair of boots deserve? Some beautiful hand-knit boot toppers!
What I love about Sara Gresbach’s design is the way she uses cables (without purling) to subtly move the stitches around on a stockinette background. The effect is lovely in a solid yarn as pictured here, but would work wonderfully to blend the colours in a variegated yarn like “As Winter Goes”. Simple, quick, and just so cute — I might go cast on!
Here’s another amazing example of a using simple stitch technique to manipulate colour. Look carefully at Heather Zoppetti’s stunning Cordiale and you can see the slip stitches working their magic against a stockinette background. To me, it looks almost like the wings of birds flying across the fabric.
Worked in a variegated yarn like “As Winter Goes”, those slip stitches would lift the changing colour up out of the horizontal line of its original row to break up any pooling or flashing, and create a wonderful, randomised effect. All while keeping you toasty warm — can’t beat that!
I love love love what Lee Meredith does with yarn — her approach to knitting is innovative and almost architectural. And she never ever shies away from deliciously bold use of colour!
Lee designed Mikkey in three shades of SpaceCadet Elara — Dark Skies (the gray), How Dare You! (the orange), and Tickled (the pink) — with a 2-color slip-stitch pattern which gives completely different looks on the two sides. But I’d love to see it knit in the sublime colours of “As Winter Goes” paired with the soft gray of Dark Skies for a more natural effect. Or for something really eye-catching, contrast it against a beautiful purple like Plume. Either way, it’s a stunning pattern that will bring out the best in any smooshy, variegated yarn.
We’ve got some beautiful Mini-Skein Pattern Picks for you this month but, before we get to that, I’ve just gotta share something with you. We’ve had so many awesome changes to the Mini-Skein Club lately (such as the innovative 360° blend of the Start Anywhere™ Ombre&Gradient Mix and the stunning month-to-month flow of the Never Ending™ Gradient) that I really wanted to update the club page to reflect that.
And what I really wanted was to to show it all off in a new video: something bright, happy, bouncy, and fun — everything that the Mini-Skeins bring to our club members every month.
Now, the trouble was that I really didn’t know much at all about creating videos. But I decided to try to teach myself Premiere Pro and, after a really steep learning curve on and a lot of frustration(!), I finally got the video I was hoping for. And I’ve been dying to share it with you ever since! I hope you’ll forgive me just a little showing off, but I’m just so darned proud of it. Here is our new Mini-Skein Club video:
(Squee with me?)
This month, we took our Mini-Skeins in a moodier direction. Both the Multicolour and the Ombre&Gradient went a little darker and pensive — and I have to tell you, I loooove the way that plays into the Never Ending spectrum. After all those bright colours, a little depth looks really amazing. Where do you think we’ll take it next month?
Maybe it’s the shorter days, or that everything outside has gone gray, but I’ve been craving bright pops of colour lately – and this crocheted blanket has plenty! With options for large and small circles, varying yarn weights, and adjustable dimensions, it’s an extremely versatile way to use 3 (or more!) bundles of minis and a contrast colour. The colours (either the new never-ending ombres or bright multis would be stunning) will pop against a white or pale shade (like Sliver) or dazzle against a black or dark shade (like Dark Skies). And the best bit from our point of view? They look a bit like planets in space!
I came across this shawl in early November, and knew it would be perfect for ombre or gradient minis, if it just didn’t require so much yardage (960 yards, which would be at least a double subscription!) That very problem, though, is exactly what makes it so perfect for the never-ending ombres – the delicate drape and smooth stockinette stitch would showcase all the subtle shifts in colour, and the size of the shawl ensures that you’ll flow through at least two full gradients and into a third!
And if you’re looking for something for just one bundle of minis, try this gorgeous pullover that features a feather-and-fan accent at the yoke, cuffs, and hem. It looks great in two contrasting colours, but how much fun would it be with an ombre or gradient bundle against Sliver, Drizzle, or Dark Skies? You’d only need 1 bundle of mini skeins, and depending on size, 3-4 skeins of a contrast colour.
Last Chance to Enter our Giveaway!
Don’t forget to enter our fabulous giveaway for a copy of Curls, Hunter Hammersen’s stunning new book of patterns, and a skein of SpaceCadet Oriana yarn to cast on with. All you have to do is click here and leave a comment at the bottom of the post, telling us what you love most about Hunter’s designs. But hurry — the giveaway closes Sunday night!
For full official rules, go to http://wp.me/p1TnPQ-1Uf
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.
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
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!
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!
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!”
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!
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!
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.
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!
After the all the excitement and fun of the holidays, the first week back to January’s cold reality can come like a slap in the face. No more tree, no lights, no parties to go to… just the darkest days of winter stretching out for months ahead. So what is there to look forward to in the first week back at work? How about a beautiful new pattern from Jenise Reid in an exclusive SpaceCadet colourway…
Conveying a simple and casual look, but with well thought-out details, the January Pullover is designed to create a great fit. I’ll let Jenise explain…
For me, January has always been the month when you can be confident that there will be snow on the ground, and the snow will be there the whole month. (all of February too) It is cold here! So, my January sweater is one that is suitable for wearing indoors. Shorter sleeves so they don’t get in my way when I am doing stuff, and a cozy but not too warm fingering weight merino.
Simple, casual, drop shoulders, right? Not really… a cleanly fit drop shouldered sweater is not a box with sleeves! To fit the body perfectly, you need some curves and slopes and angles. Oh, and if you want the loose body to hang smoothly, you might also need some short rows over the bust. But fear not, all the details are written into the pattern for you and it will be quite simple to knit up a sweater that fits as beautifully as a store-bought one or better.
(See the little stripes running down the back? I love those!)
When Jenise and I first discussed this sweater, I was delighted when she asked if I’d create a brand-new colourway for it. She sent me some images of the colours she had in mind, and I set to work at the dyepots. She was aiming for rich russets, browns, and burnt siennas, the perfect warm shades for cold winter days. Dyed on Oriana, our beautifully draping eight-ply fingering yarn, the result is Caelum (pronounced “see-lum”), which I named after a small constellation visible in the dark January sky.
The January Pullover KAL
And to celebrate the January Pullover’s launch, Jenise is turning it into a fantastic KAL! If you enjoyed her Sari Cardi KAL back in July, you know what a good time you’re in for. There’s great community in the Feminine By Design group, fun prizes, and personal help from Jenise all along the way.
And with a colourway as beautiful as Caelum, we just had to do kits! Custom yarn and beautiful pattern in one neat parcel, it’s everything you need to cast on and knit your own January Pullover just as beautiful as Jenise’s! Click here to grab your kit.
All the Details
Oriana is an sock twist fingering yarn with 8 plies that give extra strength and durability.
Fiber Content: 90% Superwash Merino, 10% Nylon; 8-ply
Weight: Fingering; Each skein is approximately 3.5oz/100g, and the yarn contains approximately 420 yards per 100g
Caelum, pronounced “see-lum”, is a small constellation visible in the dark January sky. Dyed in rich russets and browns and burnt siennas, our kit-exclusive colourway is designed to be wonderfully warm for cold winter days.
Each kit includes four or five skeins of Oriana in the custom colourway, Caelum, and a download code for a FREE copy of the January Pullover pattern (the code arrives in the parcel with your yarn).
The pattern is sized to fit busts 26-30 (30-34, 34-38, 38-42, 42-46, 46-50) inches, using 4 (4, 4, 4, 5, 5) skeins.
“Cast on Day” is Feb 23, to allow time for the yarn kits to be dyed and shipped. The KAL wraps up on April 30th. And there are great prizes too, which will be randomly awarded throughout the KAL.
Are you as excited as I am?!? I know that the first week back after the holidays can feel dark and dreary… but with a simple design as beautiful as the January Pullover to cast on, suddenly everything seems so much brighter — a wonderful welcome to the new year!