Things My Non-Knitting Sister Says

You get it, right?  I mean, you love the feel of yarn running through your fingers.  You get that wave of gentle calm come over you as the needles click.  You fall in love with colours — madly, deeply, falling right into them.  You know exactly when I mean when I talk about snorgling the fibers.


Yarn, sock yarn, hand dyed, knitting
Celeste Yarn in Cold Flame

When you’re surrounded by fiber-people all the time, it’s easy to forget that there are some people who aren’t.  They just aren’t.  Yarn and fiber form no part of their lives, factor not at all into their days…  I know, it’s so hard to wrap your head around.

But then, sometimes, you get a little reminder .  My sister helped us at the Pittsburgh Knit and Crochet Festival…  It was very kind of her, because she had no personal interest in the festival: she is not a knitter, she is not a fiber person at all.  And we knew that, so we decided that it would be best if my sister handled the money, while Natalie and I concentrated on answering questions about the yarns and discussing knitting projects.  As it turned out, the three of us worked very well as a team.

But I really didn’t have any idea how much my sister is not a fiber-person.   …Until some of the other vendors came up to look at our yarns.  They were so excited, petting them, snorgling them, negotiating who got this one and who got that one….  Exactly the way fiber-people do, exactly the way you and I do.

yarn, knitting, sock yarn, sparkle, fingering yarn
Lucina Yarn in Plumberry

And after they’d left, so happy with their new yarn, I turned to my sister to share in the excitement that other vendors had liked my yarn so much   …and she looked back at me in complete confusion.  And it was then that I got that sharp reminder that not everyone is a fiber-person…

My sister said, “Why would they do that?  Don’t they have their own yarn?

I was momentarily stunned.  Don’t they have their own yarn?!? She totally didn’t get it.

So I fired her.  Then I hired her back — at twice her wages.  I’m a good sister like that.

SpaceCadet At The Pittsburgh Knit & Crochet Festival!

His Vision: He is having surgery this week — nothing major, but enough to keep him on off his feet and off work for a few weeks.  And in his vision, he sees himself sitting comfortably in bed — or perhaps on the couch, remote control in hand — where pillows will be lovingly fluffed for him, and cups of tea brought on a tray  …perhaps with a plate of cookies to soothe his suffering.  He sees himself waited on hand and foot, while he gently recovers in peace and serenity.  A bit like man-flu, but fittingly multiplied.

The Big News: SpaceCadet Creations has manged to get a last-minute spot at the Pittsburgh Knit and Crochet Festival!  This is so exciting, I can hardly tell you!  If you’ve ever wanted to see the SpaceCadet’s yarns in person — if you want to see the colours in real life instead of in pictures, or just want to pet all the lovely fibers — please do come.  We’d love to see you!

The Reality:  There is an enormous amount of work to be done — an enormous amount! — and only three weeks to do it.   There are kilos (and kilos and kilos…) of yarn to be dyed.  And then to be reskeined and twisted and tagged.  I’ve got to get a sign made, and cards printed, and get bags sourced.  I’m trying to figure out how to dress the booth — baskets? shelves? racks? what?!? — so that everything looks good (and nothing comes tumbling down!).  And then, of course, there is the shop to keep stocked as well, the custom orders to fill, and a few special projects that I already had up my sleeve.

I am so excited and so looking forward to the Festival but — oh! — there is so much to do!  And only three weeks to do it!  Did I mention there’s only three weeks?!?


Sooooo…  back to his vision…

He will get good care, and he will get love.  And cups of tea.  No really, he will!

But when I should be waiting on him hand and foot, I… um…  I’ll probably be out in the studio dyeing.  And when I ought to be fluffing his pillows, I’ll be… yeah… out in the studio dyeing.  And when his dinner should be arriving on a tray, or his teacup being refilled (again), I might be out getting the sign made, and the cards printed, and finding those baskets and shelves…

I’m afraid his peaceful and serene recovery isn’t going to be anything like what he envisions, and I feel terrible about that.  The poor lad.  But, hey, SpaceCadet’s gets to go to the Pittsburgh Knit and Crochet Festival!  And you get to come and snorgle all the fibery goodness in person!

Soooo… are you going to tell him, or am I?



(…I vote you!)


I had plans for this week — I had great plans — but here it is, Friday already, and as I look back, I realise the week has got the better of me.  I seem to have spent most of this week rushing… scrambling…  really struggling to get things done.  And the harder I’ve pushed, somehow the less I’ve seemed to get done.  It’s been very frustrating!

And even though I’ve felt like I don’t know why this week was so unproductive, the truth is, I do.  Somehow, ever since the holidays, I have lost my rhythm — dyeing on the wrong days, blogging on the wrong days, working far too late into the night and then struggling to catch up the next day.  Trying to mould my days around me, and ending up totally out of sync instead.

That is not my 2011.  My 2011 is going to be calm, ordered, organised, productive, and purposeful.   And so I am going to get my rhythm back.  I am going to stop, rework the schedule, and get back on top of things.

I had a really good blog post planned for tonight but, though I scrambled through today with all my might, I never managed to get the photos taken for it.  And as I sat here last night trying to think of a work around for that, or even a whole ‘nother blog post — squeezing my brain for ideas like an orange for juice — I suddenly realised that I was doing (again) what I’ve been doing every day since the holidays.  But what I’ve been doing hasn’t been working, and I decided to stop.

So, I have no blog post for you today.  Instead, I am going to spend the day working very hard on slowing down.  I’m going to take things at a sensible pace, focus on the calm, and try find my rhythm again.  And maybe, by not trying so darned hard to get everything done in a big rush, I will manage to get most things done — with a bit more success.

I’ll start with a nice cup of tea.  It’s the best way to start any endeavor of calm, don’t you agree?  And then I’ll start off into 2011 afresh — and this time, I’ll just put one foot in front of the other.


Inspiration for Colour in Knitting and Dyeing

A few years ago, I took a class with Brandon Mably that completely changed the way I thought about colour.  It was an intense 2-day course which challenged us to think about how we see and use colour from the minute we arrived in the morning, until we left at the end of the day.  Brandon had us doing a lot of crazy things to shake up our brains, from throwing all our balls of yarn into the center of the floor and mixing them all up, to free-knitting swatches that contained 10… 15… 20 different colours.  It was a great weekend (and if you ever get a chance to take Brandon’s Design in Colour class, I highly recommend it).

And there’s one technique that he taught that has translated particularly well from knitting to dyeing.  He suggested that we use artwork that we love — paintings that really spoke to us — and use the colours as inspiration.  If those colours work in the painting, then they would work in our knitting too.  He walked around the room and let us choose from a stack of fine-art postcards and greeting cards, whichever painting called out to each of us the most.


The thing about using this technique is that you suddenly realise how many colours you don’t see, even as they are right in front of your eyes.  When you first look at a painting, you may see what you think of as a “yellow painting”…


But when you take the time to really immerse yourself into the colour, you suddenly see so much more — little spots of red that jump out at you, the grays that fade into the background, subtle greens that you didn’t even notice.  They all work together — these colours that you never would have thought of putting side-by-side — and they create a depth and complexity that pulls you back again and again.

Just realising that really began to set us free in that class, and we dove into the pile of yarn in the middle of the floor.  Using our cards as a guide, everyone’s knitting exploded into wild colour —  combinations of shades far more daring than we would have tried before.


And then Brandon showed us a something else that I hadn’t noticed: different areas of the the same painting contain their own micro-colourways, and give off completely different moods from what you felt when you first saw the painting.  So if you take a painting that you think of as mostly sunny and yellow, and cover part of it up, you might find an area that’s completely different…  that’s moody and blue…

And when you switch your hands around again, the whole mood changes back to the sunny and yellow you saw before.  Or maybe to a different section, and a different colourway and mood.  Here are little colourways that you can pull out for inspiration in your knitting, and that I use in my dyeing — a whole world of colourways in one painting, just waiting to inspire you, if you stop and look closely enough!  And once you start seeing them, you really can’t wait to start using them yourself…  to start knitting as though you’re painting.


(When I lived in the UK, fine art cards like this one from Woodmansterne were available in any card shop for just a couple of pounds.  But here in the US, I don’t regularly see cards like this — the shelves seem to filled with the standard assortment of greetings cards with nice-but-not-overly-interesting artwork.  I’d love to find a good supplier of art cards like this one to inspire me…  Can anyone suggest where I might find something similar here in America?)

This Post Is Not For You

This blog post is not for you. Unless you are my mother or my sister. If you’re not, that’s ok — you can still read it — but it’s not for you.

It’s for my sister, firstly. Are you there, meine kleine Schwester? It’s for you because, while you were staying with us over Christmas, and we were sitting at the table and enjoying that wonderful holiday feast and a few glasses of wine, you mentioned something that that showed me just how much work there is to do.  Hang on, let me explain for everyone else…

My sister is not a knitter or a crocheter — if you handed her a pair of needles, I’m certain she’d hold them like chopsticks. But she’s been really supportive of SpaceCadet Creations. She’s proud of the work I do, she comes into my studio to see the dyeing in action, and she promotes the fiber arts on her Facebook stream… in her own particular way.  A few weeks ago, she posted this:

Knitting is not just a hobby which reduces stress and improves manual dexterity, but it’s also an eco-friendly way to buy your clothes.

And a few days before that, this:

All the cool kids buy their clothes from knitters, because sweatshops are so uncool.

And also this:

The Knitteratti are ready for Christmas. Are you?

She’s a kook, yeah, but she’s a supportive kook.  And then, there we were, sitting at the table and drinking the last of the wine and sneaking a few extra bites of spice cake, when she mentioned that she’d had some good feedback on my yarn from a couple of friends, but that they hadn’t bought anything because they don’t knit socks.

For a moment, I was taken aback.  “Well… erm… you know, they don’t have to knit socks with it,” I said.

“They don’t?” She was genuinely shocked by the revelation.  “But it’s sock yarn!  You called it sock yarn!”

“Um, well… yeah, it’s sock yarn if you’re going to knit socks with it.  But… it’s just yarn.  You can knit anything with it.”

“You can?!? Like what?!?”

“Like hats, or scarves, or mittens, or sweaters, or…  well, anything you want.  It’s… y’know, it’s yarn.”

“You never told me!” And she actually jumped up a little in her seat as she said it.  “I thought it was just for socks!  I’ve been telling everyone that it’s only for socks!”

So, for my sister — my lovely, kooky sister who has been so supportive but totally doesn’t get knitting — (and for you, just in case you might be similarly confused), let me just clarify:  sock yarn is not just for socks.  It’s only called sock yarn because it’s the right weight to be used for socks, but you can use it to make whatever your heart desires.  Don’t let that label hold you back!

In fact, that’s really important.  Let me say it again, with Center and Bold this time:

Sock Yarn is Not Just for Socks!


The rest of this post is for my mum, who really wants to knit something with my yarn but, so far, neither of us have had a chance to sit down and pick her a colourway and a pattern.  I suspect she is thinking of a scarf, because that’s her comfort zone, but (ignoring everything I’ve just said above!) I’d love to see her try a pair of socks.  I think it would really stretch her knitting skills and, more than that, she’d have a lot of fun in the process.  And I know she finds that prospect of socks a little daunting, so this is the bit that’s for her (and for you too, if you’re feeling a little intimidated at the thought of knitting socks):

Mum, go ahead and choose your colourway, pick up your needles and knit your gauge swatch.  There’s nothing to worry about.  Because we’ve got some blog posts coming up in the next couple of months that are going to take you by the hand and guide through starting off as a sock knitter.   It’ll be good — trust me.

And, Mum…  you are going to love sock knitting!

A Christmas Wish

There are so many things going at this time of year that it is easy to get all lost in it all — lost amidst the shopping and the rushing and the spending and the wrapping.  It’s so easy to focus on what we feel we ought to do and we must do that we can lose sight of the best that season brings.

The best part of Christmas is the time we spend with family and friends, and when we open ourselves up enough to treat strangers as friends.  It’s the gifts that come not from our credit cards, but from our hearts.  And it’s the traditions that we keep — the old ones passed down through the generations, that link us to all those who celebrated the season in times before, and the new ones we create with our own families.

Yesterday, we celebrated our traditions.  We baked gingerbread men and decorated our tree, which had been standing patiently and bare until its big moment on Christmas Eve.  We gathered around the table and ate a feast.  We laid out brownies and wee dram for Father Christmas.  And we took some time to stop and remember what the season and holiday is really all about.

And on this bright and snowy Christmas morning, I want to send to all of you my wishes for very happy holidays and for all the best things that the season brings.  Merry Christmas, everyone!