But What Do I Make with Them? MidSummer Mini-Skein Magic

August is not always the month for knitting, is it?  Both of my main WIPs (I’m current working on a Vitamin D and The Old Man and The Sea) are at that bulky stage where you have to carry a whole garment around if you want to grab a little knitting time.  And… I don’t want to carry all that around.  It’s mid-summer, I’m hot, and all I want to work on are quick projects that I can grab easily and go.   What’s that?  You too?  Yeah, I figured maybe!

What I’ve been reaching for the most lately are my mini-skiens.  Little tiny bundles of fingering weight yarn seem just right for the season and, on hot days when my concentration is so short, I love moving through quick changes of colour and onto the next yarn.  I’ve been using them like crazy on my Zoom Loom — it’s so addictive!  But more on that in a minute — in the meantime, I’ve also been searching out patterns that are perfect for Mini-Skeins, and I’m dying to share a couple of my favourites with you.

Sweet Hexagon Cowl by Mercedes Tarasovich-Clark

The Sweet Hexagon Cowl by Mercedes Tarasovich-Clark

First off, be prepared to be knocked off your feet.  At least, I was as soon as I saw Mercedes Tarasovich-Clark‘s stunning Sweet Hexagon Cowl.  I don’t know what it is about it  but I just swooned when I saw it.  And then I tweeted…

The Sweet Hexagon Cowl by Mercedes Tarasovich-Clark

The whole thing is created from interlocking hexagons knitted in the round, and I think there is just so much scope for colourplay and creativity here.  You could work it in a soft palette that gently blends from one colour to another and back again.  Or you could go wild, choosing strong colours and placing each hexagon strategically to really play up the intriguing construction.

I kind of have a million possibilities in my head now.   …And, looking at my mini-skeins, at least five different colour palettes all mapped out.   Oooooh! So much fun!

Also, while we’re on the subject of Mercedes… we hung out at the bar at TNNA and I’m now an even bigger fangirl than I was before because  (a) she had the most awesome earrings on, (b) she rocks her gray streak  — and I do love me some gray-worn-bold — and (c) she turned me onto Songza, which I’d never used before but it is magic.  Seriously, go get it.

Burano by Emily Ross

I first came across Burano by Emily Ross when my friend and customer Amy knitted hers using SpaceCadet Mini-Skeins. Knit in garter stitch, it’s got this fabulous multi-coloured border with stripes that you can modify and alter to be anything you want it to be.  Just a few colours?  Perfect.  Twenty colours?  Do it!  Strong contrasts or gentle changes…  this shawl can become pretty much whatever kind of colour combination you can come up with.

Burano by Emily Ross

Here, it’s shown in the bright bold colours that inspired the original design.  But check out Amy’s version (click here to see it) — she chose a much softer palette and it completely changes the end result.  What a fun knit!  And, if you’re as addicted to Mini-Skeins as I am, what a great pattern to use them in.

The Zoom Loom from Schacht

You may remember me saying that we discovered the Zoom Loom at TNNA.  And you probably saw all the pictures of my weaving that I tweeted/FB’d/IG’d.  Well, it’s been a little over a month since TNNA and I haven’t stopped weaving on it since. This thing is seriously addictive!

The SpaceCadet weaves ont eh Zoom Loom from Schacht

And it’s easy.  And quick!  Did I mention easy?  I mean, c’mon, I’m the SpaceCadet(!) and on these hot days when I can’t even think straight, the Zoom Loom is that perfect combination of mindless and intriguing.  I love taking a variegated yarn and watching how the colours play out as they morph over and across each other.  Each little woven square works up differently from the next…  each one a little adventure all of its own.

I’ve been enjoying it so much, I had to get a few for you guys too!  I’ve put them in the shop with two options:  you can pick the Zoom Loom on its own, or with your own little starter bundle of SpaceCadet Mini-Skeins so you have everything you need to get you going for some great summer yarny-goodness.   Click here to grab yours!

The Zoom Loom from Schacht at SpaceCadet Creations


The SpaceCadet’s Mini-Skein Club

And if you’re dying to cast on one of the patterns you’ve seen here, check out the SpaceCadet’s Mini-Skein Club.  Each month you’ll receive a fabulous bundle of hand-dyed fun: five 20g (approx) skeins of SpaceCadet fingering yarn in mix of variegated and semi-solid colourways.  The Mini-Skein Club is my chance to really experiment and play with colour, and your chance to try out the different SpaceCadet yarns.  Join anytime and stay in until you have enough mini-skeins for your project.  It’s flexible and tons of fun.  Click here to find out more!

The SpaceCadet's Mini-Skein Club

Pattern Roll-Call: Is Garter Stitch the Answer to Everything?

Sometimes less is more, sometimes simple is best.  And so often I forget about that and all caught up in fancy and complicated and intricate and time-consuming…  And then someone pulls out their project and I go over to smoosh it and I realise it’s garter stitch.  Garter stitch!  So simple, so easy, and — I forget this every time — so lovely and smooshy.

SpaceCadet Creations Lucina yarn in Translucence, knit in garter stitch


I love the feel of garter stitch fabric between my fingers.  It feels thick and firm and, when I squeeze it, it resists, pushes back, holds its ground.  Soft, delicate, drapey fabrics are all well and good, but there’s something about garter stitch…  It holds a special place in my heart.

And it’s easy!  And versatile!  And because it tends to hide every other row, it does really interesting things to hand-dyed and variegated yarns.  And did I mention easy?  At the end of long project slogging away at some complicated lacework, coming back to garter stitch feels like going home to an old friend.

Lintilla by Martina Behm


We have three samples that we take to shows that never fail to get people’s pulses racing.   “What is this pattern?”, they ask. “Where can I get it?”  They’re all three are by Martina Behm, they’re all eye-catching, and every one of them is simple, straightforward, and garter-stitch.  It’s no wonder everyone makes a beeline for them!

Hitchhiker by Martina Behm


They are Lintalla, with its lovely frilled edge; Trillian, with an intriguing eyelet edging; and Hitchhiker which, if you finish it, will actually teach you the answer to the ultimate question of life (…the universe and everything).   And even though they’re all garter stitch, the construction itself is intriguing: you cast on just a few stitches at one corner, and then grow the shawl by knitting longer and longer rows until it forms an asymmetrical triangle.  How cool is that?!?

Trillian by Martina Behm


But as much as I love those three, Martina’s newest design has got me positively swooning.  This one has all the hallmarks of her other shawls — a corner start, asymmetrical shaping, and lovely garter stitch — but Leftie is…  wait for it…  designed to feature mini-skeins!  Mini-Skeins!!!

Leftie by Martina Behm

The mini-skeins are worked as stripes that travel diagonally across the shawl to create a lovely border of little leaves along one side.  Use only a few colours for a subdued shawl or grab as many mini-skeins as you can to create a riot of colour.  Leftie will look gorgeous either way.


And if you need a little colour inspiration, how about a supply of mini-skeins delivered right to your door?  Join SpaceCadet’s Mini-Skein Club and every month you’ll receive a beautiful bundle (or two!) of five 20g skeins made from a mix of the SpaceCadet’s fingering yarns.  Play with the colours, try out the yarns, and stay in only until you have enough mini-skeins for your project size.  Click here to read more!

A sweet little bundle of mini-skeins from the SpaceCadet's Mini-Skein Club

Click to learn more about the SpaceCadet's Mini-Skein Club!

Pattern Roll-Call: Yarns for Color Affection

You know I love dyeing yarn — I love thinking up the colourways, and I love whole adventure of creating the colours.  But when I send a skein off to the customer,  it always feels like I’ve somehow stopped halfway through the process.

A skein of yarn is nothing more than a lovely, smooshy bundle of potential.  The process is never complete until a knitter or crocheter has chosen that skein, picked a pattern, and cast on.  That’s when all that potential begins its release at last, completing the journey from colour to yarn to project  ..and finally to something beautiful in your hands.

Doing the trunk shows the other weekend, I got the chance to be a part of that process.  All through the shows, I got to help customers choose their perfect yarns and match them with the perfect pattern.  What fun!

And time and again, I found customers were asking for those yarns in sets of three…

Three Yarns, Two Words: Color Affection

Color Affection by Veera Välimäki

Everyone is knitting Color Affection by Veera Välimäki, and it’s easy to see why.  It’s a gorgeous shawl that showcases stand-out colour with an intriguing off-center construction.  Traveling three different yarns across four sections, the colours mix and separate (and maybe mix again) in ways that make every project unique.  In love with it yet?

But picking three colourways that both compliment and contrast can be difficult, and here’s where the SpaceCadet’s collections really come into their own.  All the colourways in each collection are designed to work together, so all you have to do is choose maybe two semi-solids and a variegated, and there you go — your project is sorted.


You could go for soft….

A Trio of Yarns from SpaceCadet Creations for the Color Affection shawl(l to r: Lucina in Gentle, Lucina in Translucence, Stella in Quilt Blue)


Or you could go for bold…

A Trio of Yarns from SpaceCadet Creations for the Color Affection shawl(l to r: Izarra in Dept of Rocket Science G120405-003, Izarra in Honey, Izarra in Dept of Rocket Science G120405-006)


So go ahead, mix and match — see how the same colourways can work with lots of different options?

A Trio of Yarns from SpaceCadet Creations for the Color Affection shawl(l to r: Estelle in Quilt Green, Estelle in Dept of Rocket Science C120319-005, Estelle in Mercy)

A Trio of Yarns from SpaceCadet Creations for the Color Affection shawl(l to r: Estelle in Quilt Green, Estelle in Usui, Estelle in Quilt Blue)


And Now With Two Colours

But what if three colours seems a bit too much for you?  No problem, you can start a little more gently with two other Veera Välimäki designs, Different Lines and the Stripe Study Shawl.  Both have that same interesting asymmetrical shaping, and both have that striping that allows the yarns to play off each other so beautifully.  But for these shawls, you only have to choose two colours.

Different Lines (top) and (bottom) by Veera Välimäki


So go with warm…

A Duo of Yarns from SpaceCadet Creations for the Different Lines shawl or Stripe Study Shawl by Veera Välimäki(l to r: Izarra in Pride, Izarra in Honey)


Go with bright…

A Duo of Yarns from SpaceCadet Creations for the Different Lines shawl or Stripe Study Shawl by Veera Välimäki(l to r: Celeste in Plum, Celeste in Plumberry)


Choose a pair of semi-solids…

A Duo of Yarns from SpaceCadet Creations for the Different Lines shawl or Stripe Study Shawl by Veera Välimäki(l to r: Izarra in Venus Sea, Stella in Plume)


Or swap one out for a variegated…

A Duo of Yarns from SpaceCadet Creations for the Different Lines shawl or Stripe Study Shawl by Veera Välimäki(l to r: Izarra in Venus Sea, Izarra in Dept of Rocket Science G120405-003)


No wait, swap the other!…

A Duo of Yarns from SpaceCadet Creations for the Different Lines shawl or Stripe Study Shawl by Veera Välimäki(l to r: Izarra in Dept of Rocket Science G120405-003, Stella in Plume)

See what I mean?  The collections…  they make it so easy.  So go ahead — choose your yarn and cast on!



Pattern Roll-Call: Tea Cosies! And How to Make (Me) the Perfect Cup of Tea

These are cosy days.  Here we are at the end of December, mid-way through Hannukah, with the Winter Solstice just yesterday, and Christmas only a few days away.  And the days are cold, and the nights are so long, and crisp, and sparkly.  We are all tucked up indoors, with fires crackling and twinkly lights all around.  These are cosy days indeed.

And to me, days like these call for tea — copious cups of steaming, fragrant, soothing tea.  Tea to warm the fingers and toes, tea to warm the soul.  A cup of tea, I have always felt, puts everything back in its right place.  So long as that warmth remains — in my fingers, down my throat, warming me from the belly out — all is right in the world.

So long as that warmth remains…

If cosy days call for tea, then these chilly days call for tea cosies — little teapot-shaped jackets that keep the warmth in the pot and keep the world right longer.  And what could be better than that?  Well, this could: tea cosies are often one-skein wonders, and the most exciting ones call for mini-skeins.  Here are a few of my favourites…

I love the Tea Mitten by Elisabeth Kleven.  I love the simplicity of it, the way it perfectly hugs the teapot, and the fact that (if you poured very, very carefully), you’d never have to take it off.

Knitting pattern for a tea cosy, perfect for yarn from SpaceCadet Creations


And this is a classic tea cosy shape…  The Kureyon Kosy by Emma Crew is like a warm blanket that your teapot can snuggle down into.  Hot tea, happy teapot — perfect!

Kureyon Kozy by Emma Crew knitting pattern for a tea cosy, perfect for yarn from SpaceCadet Creations


(I haven’t actually checked this with the designers, but I feel really confident that either of these designs would also work on teapots in colours other than brown.)

And if you’re making a single cup of tea?  Well, it deserves to stay toasty warm too.  Check out MK Carroll’s Mug and French Press Jacket.  It’s gorgeous, isn’t it?  I love the big, fat button, the rich cable detailing, and… oh, just the adorableness of it!

Mug and French Press Jacket by MK Carroll knitting pattern for a tea cosy, perfect for yarn from SpaceCadet Creations

And here’s something super-cool: if you’re more about coffee than tea (what?!? WHAT?!?), this pattern fits a French Press (cafetiere) as well.

 How to Make (Me) the Perfect Cup of Tea

Now, I know there are a whole host of tea-making traditions in the world and probably a bazillion opinions on how to make the perfect cup of tea, but I am steeped in the tradition of English tea-making — four, six, ten times a day — and so this is how I think the perfect cuppa is created…

(“steeped”…  ah hahahaha!  I love a good pun!)

  • First, start with English Breakfast tea.  I do love a cup of Rooibos and just lately I’m a little bit in love with Trader Joe’s Candy Cane Green tea, but there is nothing nothing nothing so restorative as English Breakfast.
  • The best tea is loose-leaf, of course, but I won’t turn my nose up at a teabag.  One is Sunday Best, and the other day is workaday.
  • Put the kettle on, bring that water up to a happy, busy, rolling boil.  Please, never ever make tea with just hot water.  Get it rollin’!
  • If you’re using a teapot, warm it first by putting a bit of the boiling water in for a minute or so, and then chucking that away.  You need to keep the tea happy with a nice, warm, cosy pot.
  • Tea goes in — either loose into a pot or a bag into a cup — and then the water must go in after and hit the teaThe water must hit the tea.  That’s the only way.  Food-service workers of America, please take note: great tea cannot be made by dunking a cold bag into a cup of (vaguely) hot water!  It’s got to be boiling water, plunging right down into the tea.
  • Let it steep for… how long?  Until you get that perfect colour.   I can’t help you here — you just know it when you see it.  And, if you’re making a pot — the phrase round here  is ‘mashing a pot’ — again, I can’t tell you how long, but you know the colour when you see it.  (Actually, it’s a little like dyeing in that respect!)
  • Sugar and milk, thank you very much.  Not cream (too rich), not half-and-half — just plain milk.   How much milk?  Well, about that much…  Just until you get that perfect shade of mid-brown (I’m really not much help, am I?).  And though my dentist long ago made me wean myself off the sugar, this is my perfect cuppa, so it’s got a teaspoon of sweetness in it.  No honey, thank you. No lemon, please!  Sugar and milk…  hot sweet tea…  the perfect shade of gentle, warm brown…  mmmm…

And then, gather up your knitting, and sit back and enjoy — so long as that cup is warm in the hands, all is right in the world.


Ooh, just one more thing before I go…  As we are smack in the middle of so many mid-winter celebrations, I want to take a moment to wish all of you the most blessed and happiest of holidays.  And that amid all the hustle and bustle of the season, there are quiet moments of peace, love, and joy to all of you!

And tea.  The best moments come with tea.




Pattern Roll-Call: The One About Versitility

I spent much of yesterday surround by piles and piles of mini-skeins, as I put together the very first parcels for the members of the SpaceCadet’s Mini-Skein Club (and, hey, if you’re in the club, keep your eyes on the mailbox, because your yarn is on its way!).

While I was working, I kept thinking about all the fab mini-skein patterns I’ve seen lately, and just how varied they are.  I mean, the first patterns everyone names when I say “mini-skeins” are all blankets (the BeeKeeper’s Quilt, the Sock Yarn Blanket, the Babette Blanket), but there are all kinds of possibilities!  Check these out…


First, we have the amazing Mini Mania Scarf from Sarah Core of Exchanging Fire.  I love this scarf — love the incredible mix of colours, love the beautiful linen stitch, love the sheer size of it!  As the weather starts to get colder, can’t you just see yourself all wrapped up in this?

The Mini Mania Scarf by Sarah Core of Exchanging Fire, knit with mini skeins of yarn

Ok, but a scarf is a little like a blanket, I hear you say.  So, alright,  let’s move on to something that is definitely not like a blanket: the Mitered Baby Jacket by Phazelia.  The first thing I loved about this pattern was the way the colours blend into each other — and knitting this jacket with mini skeins offers so many colour possibilities! — but then there is the construction…  Knit at an angle to create interesting diagonal stripes, the great news is that only sewing up for this cardigan is on the sleeves!

The Mitered Baby Jacket by Phazelia, knit with mini skeins of knitting yarn

And then, to fully complete the departure from blankets, we have Rachel Coopey‘s totally customisable Mixalot Socks.  You can knit any combination of the four charts, add plain stripes where-ever you like, and make the two socks match…  or not!  And, by knitting with mini skeins, the colour combinations can be as gentle or as wild as you please.  What a fun project!

 The Mixalot Socks by Rachael Coopey, knit with mini skeins of knitting yarn _____________________________________________

And if these patterns have got you feeling all inspired and itching to cast on, check out the SpaceCadet’s Mini-Skein Club. Each month you’ll receive a hand-picked collection of gorgeous SpaceCadet mini-skeins delivered right to your door.  It’s a great way to try out all the SpaceCadet yarn bases  …and to feed your mini-skein project addiction!

Click Here to Join the SpaceCadet's Mini-Skein Yarn Club!

Pattern Roll-Call: Mini-Skein Patterns, Part 2

Usually when I do a Pattern Roll-Call, I like to feature several patterns by different designers.    But as I was sifting through all the mini-skein patterns on Ravelry, I came across a little treasure trove full of patterns that I just love so much that I had to dedicate a whole blog post to them.

It started with this sweet little Pinwheel Purse.  Isn’t it lovely?  It’s the same origami you did as a kid — but in knitting!  So cool.

Knitted Pinwheel Purse by Frankie Brown

And so from there, I began looking through the rest of the designer’s work, and found that her sense of colour and shape really spoke to me.  I love the gentle, organic changes of colours and yarns, the very simple shaping, the modular construction, and — maybe most of all — the almost complete lack of sewing up!

Frankie Brown modular knitting designs, perfect for mini-skeins

All of these patterns are by Frankie Brown.  And instead of charging for her patterns, Frankie offers them all as free downloads on Ravelry — with the request that knitters who enjoy her patterns make a donation to the Children’s Liver Disease Foundation. So far, she’s raised about £2,500 and hopes go on to raise £1,000 a year.  What a fantastic thing to do!

There’s a lot of yarns that would work well with these patterns, but I love how well these patterns would suit mini-skeins of fabulous variegated and semi-solid yarns.  Can’t you just see it?  All the colours coming together to compliment each other in some places and contrast one another in others.  Beautiful!

Frankie Brown modular knitting patterns, perfect for mini-skeins
If you’d like some amazing mini-skeins to knit these patterns in, check out the SpaceCadet’s new Mini-Skein Club. Each month you’ll receive a surprise selection of gorgeous SpaceCadet yarns delivered to your door, so that you can try out all the SpaceCadet bases and feed your mini-skein project addiction!

Click Here to Join the SpaceCadet's Mini-Skein Yarn Club!