You Guys Just Blew Me Away

Sometimes, good things rise up out of bad.  Sometimes, sad events spur us onto something beyond the ordinary.  And when that happens, it is a wonderful thing to see.  Heartwarming.  Hope-restoring.   The knitting community did exactly that last week.

A Colourway For Karrie

When my friend and colleague Karrie Steinmetz of the KnitPurlGurl podcast passed away suddenly on Nov 26, her husband asked me to create a colourway in her honour.  I knew that the loss of a wife and mother, so suddenly and unexpectedly, would send any family reeling in practical ways as well as emotional, so I decided to use this colourway as a way for the knitting and crochet community to help Karrie’s family through this time.  I decided to dye her yarn in Aurora and called it “A Colourway for Karrie”, and offered it for pre-orders with 50% of the sales price going to Karrie’s family.  Not know what sort a demand there might be, I limited it to an initial run of 24 skeins.

They sold out within 90 minutes.  And I suddenly began getting tons of emails and Rav messages asking for more.  So I ran over to the studio to see if I had any more Aurora in stock…  10 skeins.  I put them up and they sold out almost immediately.

A Colourway For Karrie

And that was it — that was all the yarn I had.  But the emails and messages kept coming — some offering straight donations –and I realised, by limiting the run, I was also limiting how much we could raise for Karrie’s family.  So I opened it up for a second run to be delivered somewhere in January and, this time, I put no limit on the number of orders before the deadline.

The response was phenomenal.  Phenomenal.  And as the orders came flying in and the responses were being posted on Ravelry, I realised what you all are made of.  You are made of compassion, of kindness, and of generosity.  You are made of love for a fellow knitter and crocheter, and of genuine concern for her husband and children.  I watched the orders coming in and I was blown away.

$1598 raised!

Ninety-four skeins sold.  One thousand, five hundred, and ninety-eight dollars raised.  I am deeply thrilled to write this cheque for Karrie’s family.  And humbled because, though it is my name at the bottom, it is all of you who made this happen.  Thank you all so very much.

Yarn Update

The first run is all dyed up and currently drying.  If you nabbed one of those 34 skeins, expect your yarn to go in the post sometime next week!  And for those of you who got in on the second run, your yarn is being spun at the moment and is still looking good for a mid-January delivery.

The SpaceMonster Club Closes in Three Days!

And, hey, don’t  forget that there are only three days left to grab a subscription to the SpaceCadet’s newest yarn club, the SpaceMonster Mega Yarn Club!  If you love the fabulous smooshiness of big yarns (not to mention the quick knits they produce!), then this is the club for you.  It’s all worsted, chunky, and bulky — and exclusive colourways designed to bring out the best in them.  But subscriptions close on Sun Dec 16, so — quick! — click here to find out more.

 The SpaceMonster Mega Yarn Club from SpaceCadet Creations

Hesitating About… Hesitating

You know how it is when you really want something, but you hesitate?  I’ve been doing that quite a bit lately.  I used to do yoga to a programme on television called  Namaste Yoga.  I loved it — 30 minutes of calm in the middle of a hectic day.  But the channel changed its line up and stopped showing the programme and I stopped doing the yoga and…  well, I’ve really missed that bit of calm.

There are other yoga programmes, I know, but I really liked this one.  Every now and again, I’ll go and have a look at the website and… hesitate.  And then, the other day, I discovered that they’d put an entire episode online, and watching that reminded me how much I’d loved it.  It’s $100 for the whole set: two seasons, 26 episodes.  It’s not much, really.  It’s one month’s membership to an actual yoga studio.  A bargain!

And yet… I find myself hesitating.  Not because I don’t want them — I do! — but because…   I don’t know.  What is it that is making me hesitate?

Whatever it is, it’s the same thing that so many women struggle with.  How many of us have snuck yarn into the house?   How many of us have stashed new skeins in ridiculous places so they won’t be spotted?  How many of us have held a skein of yarn and squished it between our fingers and felt giddy, like a kid sneaking sweets from the jar?

And here’s the thing: we shouldn’t feel that way.  We work hard for our money and, what’s more, when we do unwind, we spend our leisure time productively.  We knit and crochet.  We make hats and scarves and socks and sweaters for friends and family and charity and… ourselves.   Heck, we make Christmas gifts!  We don’t sit in front of the telly idly flicking channels (ahem!) — our hands are busy.

And we do yoga.   Or, I did yoga.  Mmmmm… maybe I’ll do yoga again..


What is it that makes you hesitate?  And why?  Or, on the other hand, what do you never hesitate about?

(And… why am I hesitating about the yoga videos?!?  Should I get them?)

The Art of Hand-Dyeing

I’ve been thinking about colour a lot lately — about what draws us to it, about what makes us shy away. And, most interestingly to me, what is it that pulls some knitters and crocheters time and again hand-dyed yarns?

yarn, knitting, hand-dyed, indie dyer, crochet
Lucina fingering weight yarn in Carnival

Hand-dyed yarns are very different from the rest of the yarn universe. One thing that struck me at TNNA is that there were only a handful of indie dyers scattered  amongst the rows and rows of big yarn companies.  And the big yarn companies were very impressive, with their extensive line-up of yarns in every colour imaginable.  They sell dependability, repeatability, a yarn you can reach for time and again.

Whereas the magic of hand-dyed yarns lies in something completely different.  It’s something about freedom, the pure abandon of colour that might submit to the knitter’s will or might… might just turn wild and uncontrollable.  Hand-dyed yarns are about their untamed individuality, their uniqueness…  With hand-dyed yarns, you never really know what you’re going to get.

knitting, hand-dyed, crochet, indie dyer, yarn
Celeste fingering weight yarn in Baroque

So, as I watched them for a while, the hand-dyers at TNNA, busy chatting with LYS owners, I suddenly saw the dilemma…  For the indie dyer who wants to grow her business, there is the temptation to emulate the big yarn companies and to aim to pull those wild hand-dyed colours under control, to create legitimacy in a bigger marketplace by moving her line toward more predictability and controlled results.   But I suspect that what initially drew every hand-dyer into her craft was a desire to delve into the colours and go where-ever took took her.

knitting, yarn, crochet, hand-dyed, indie dyer
Celeste yarn in African Violets

So, being pulled in both directions, which way does an indie dyer go?

I think the answer comes back to the customer — to you.  The real question is, why do you buy hand-dyed yarns?  Why do you seek out indie-dyers when there are so many wonderful, established yarn brands in your local yarn shop? And I suspect the answer is that you are a very special kind of knitter or crocheter.  You are an adventurer.  And buying hand-dyed gives you a yarn that is like no other yarn in the world, which acts as a base on which to create your own art — the unique work of your two hands.  I think that people who buy hand-dyed yarn do more than just follow a pattern — they see the creation before it is created, they see the colours intertwined, they are drawn to the challenge of taming a yarn that they’re not quite sure will bend to their will.

In short, I think the knitter or crocheter who buys hand-dyed yarns is an artist herself, no less dyer whose yarn she works with.

So tell me, why do you buy hand-dyed yarns?  What is it that draws you to them?  And do you believe that when you create with them, you are also an artist?

knitting, yarn, crochet, hand-dyed, indie dyer
Celeste yarn in Carnival

TNNA — The Place To Be

My throat is sore, my nose is stuffed and my head is pounding, pounding, pounding.  And, under normal circumstances, I’d be feeling pretty sorry for myself.  Probably tucking myself up in bed with a nice a cup on tea and my vapours nearby.  But, actually, I’m not feeling so sorry for myself.  What I’ve got is TNNA flu, and it’s the sort of ailment that is so much fun to catch, it’s almost worth having.

TNNA is the The National Needlework Association, the trade organisation for all things fibery, and this past weekend was their biggest tradeshow of the year.  The official reason to go is because it’s the place to scout out new suppliers, spot new trends, and learn new skills.  But the reason is because it is just SUCH a blast.  Imagine a knit night where where every where around you are the designers you admire the most, the editors of your favourite knitting magazines, and the dyers whose yarn you covet…  Can you see that in your mind?  Doesn’t just the very thought of it feel delicious?  That’s TNNA.

I loved talking with Jaala Spiro, editor of KnitCircus (on the right). She is so much fun!  And a genuinely nice person — I’m so pleased I got to meet her.  And next to her, that’s Michelle Miller, the Fickle Knitter, whose pattern I wore at HomeSpun Yarn Party and featured here.

I finally got to meet Sarah Wilson, the Sexy Knitter, who made those fabulous custom Knitter’s Tool Tins for the InterStellar Yarn Alliance, and who designed and knitted this amazing jumpsuit.  And next to her is Stacey Trock of Fresh Stitches — we ended up having a really interesting conversation in the bar that evening, and she is just a delight.

And I got to chat with so many others that I never got any pictures of: Amy Singer, Clara Parkes, Lisa Shroyer (editor of Knitscene), Stefanie Japel, Andi Smith, Shannon Okey, Ysolda Teague, Mary-Heather Cogar, StevenBe, Nicky Epstein, Rebecca Velasquez, Melissa Leapman, and…  and…  Oh!  There were so many knitterati, I’m sure I’ve forgotten some…!  But, suffice to say, it was a fantastic weekend.

And on a more serious note, regarding the actual business of bringing you beautiful yarns to knit with, I discovered some gorgeous new yarns that I am… erm… dying to dye.  And a bunch of fun notions and accessories that just might end up in a Yarn Alliance parcel or two…

So when I got home and my throat began to get sore, and my head started to ache, I knew exactly why.  Big events with lots of people like that…  they always bring on the lurgy, don’t they?  There’s just too much chatting with too many people, too much shaking of hands, not to catch something.  But… was it worth it?


The Yarn for Today

Today, I am not feeling well.   It is a day for tea, and warm socks, and curling up on the couch, being quiet, and breathing slowly.  Today is this yarn…

sock yarn, yarn, hand-dyed, handdyed, wool, knitting, crochet
Stella Yarn in Spare Change


But outside, Spring is picking up pace.  The last of the snow is clinging on, but it is a futile effort.  It’s warm today, almost balmy.  The robins are pecking determinedly amid the freshly revealed grass, and the squirrels have appeared to bounce joyfully again from tree to tree.  And the flower beds are filled with proud green shoots as the crocuses awaken after their long sleep.   Oh yes, spring is on it’s way, and I predict a riot!  So really, this yarn is today…

yarn, sock yarn, handdyed, hand-dyed, knitting, crochet
Stella Yarn in Snorkel


Different yarns for different moods, different colours for different days…  No one colourway will ever suit every moment.  Is it any wonder knitters end up with such wonderful stashes?!?

yarn, sock yarn, knitting, crochet, hand-dyed, handdyed
(l to r) Celeste Yarn in Cold Flame and Funky Ballet Shoes, Estelle Yarn in Cold Flame

Of Christmas, Ballet, and Good Friends

Do you remember these funky little slippers by Kate Atherley?  Do you remember I said they’d be perfect for two ballet-mad little girls I know?


I had planned to knit them in time for Christmas morning, but as December wore on, the whole month got crazier and crazier and seemed to be flying by at an alarming pace.  One day I looked up at the calendar and realised I had only one week left before Christmas, a bazillion things left to do…  and the wonderful little slippers weren’t even cast on yet.

Is Christmas about gifts or about friends?

My friend Natalie was ridiculously organised and had already finished all her Christmas knitting well before crunchtime.  “Would you like me to knit them for you?, she asked.  “So they’re ready for Christmas Day?”  I was floored!  How could I possibly say yes?  They were supposed to be gift from me!  But looking at the calendar…  oh, how could I not?  Without Natalie’s help, there’d be no Christmas ballet slippers at all.  I said yes.

Natalie knit like a fiend, and got all four slippers done in a week.  …In that last manic week before Christmas.  They were wrapped and under the tree for Christmas Eve.  They were opened on Christmas morning.  They were beautiful!  …And loved.  And danced in.  And danced in… and danced in…

The most perfect Christmas gift!

Knit in Celeste yarn in Funky Ballet Shoes


With deep thanks to Natalie for knitting the slippers.  And genuine thanks for Kate Atherley for the pattern and her incredibly kind offer to resize it for tiny feet.

And my deep apologies to both for not blogging about it until now.  That crazy December pace?  Yeah, it’s March and yet the pace still hasn’t let up!