If you have ever come and seen us at a show, you probably met my friend Natalie. And even if you haven’t, you’ve seen her impact at SpaceCadet. When I started playing around with dyes, she encouraged me to dye more. When I started selling my yarn on Etsy, she helped me to think big. And as the business has grown, she has acted as a sounding board, an idea bank, free labour, and some serious moral support.
But if you came to the shows we did these past two weekends, you won’t have seen her. And enough of you asked about her that I know she was missed, so I wanted to share with you the view Natalie was looking at while we were at the shows.
At the end of last year, Natalie was promoted at work and her company moved her to Hong Kong. She is already well experienced in living all around the world (Japan, East Timor, Egypt, and Thailand), so this came as exciting prospect to her. And sorry as I was personally to see my dear friend go, I know this is such a good thing for her that I couldn’t really be too sad. I mean, there’s always Skype, right? Virtual knit night!
But while Skype shows me the inside of her new apartment (so bright and lovely!), that’s not enough for me. I’m full of curiosity! I want to see Hong Kong! I want to see where she walks to work, where she gets her groceries, her view from her office, where she goes at the weekends. I know this is her adventure, but there’s a part of me that really wants to tag along too.
Before she left, Natalie discussed doing a 365 project — taking a picture of her world every day for a year — and I was super excited to have that chance to travel vicariously through her. But an international move is huge and overwhelming and, somehow, her 365 project never got started. I kept asking her about it… and asking… and… ok, I admit, I was nagging a little. But, y’know, I really wanted to see her world! Don’t you?
Well I am over the moon to tell you that, now that she’s had a little time to settle in, she’s finally started taking her daily pictures. She’s posting them to social media and asked me to help her set up a photo blog as well. And even though she’s only three days in, the pictures are just as interesting as I had hoped.
Want to join me and travel along with her? Oh yeah! Go follow her on Instagram, Twitter, or visit her blog, Daily Peaces. And please leave a comment and show her a little love — and you can help me pay back a little bit of all that wonderful encouragement that she gave me back when SpaceCadet first started.
Apropos of absolutely nothing (except that I am kinda dying to show it to you), is this…
I have been wanting to try my hand at throwing pottery for absolutely ages, ever since we had a little taster in art class when I was nine years old. I knew instantly, all the way back then, that it was something I’d love (and it was my first realisation that, while I’m really quite terrible at two-dimensional art, making in three dimensions comes fairly easily).
Somehow, life got busy and, even though I thought of it from time to time, I never did manage to try it again. But then a friend told me that a new pottery studio had recently opened nearby… And so I finally took that nine year old up on her wish, and booked myself a lesson.
I loved it. Loved it! It was everything I remembered and everything I hoped it would be — tactile and messy, and with a wonderful, earthy smell. It made my arms ache with the sheer effort of cajoling the clay into shape, but it was so deeply satisfying in that way only making something with your own two hands can be. Making things — nothing else feels so grounding to me.
My teacher was soft-spoken and patient. When I stopped focusing and started to talk to him instead, the clay rebelled …and collapsed into a sullen heap. But so long as I concentrated, it flowed between my hands and did everything I wanted it to do. I can’t even describe the feeling — it was just amazing to watch it slowly form from a shapeless lump to something so beautiful, right there in my hands.
So this is my pot. It’s not big, the size of a small rice bowl, but it is perfect to me. I love it so much and yet… I’m almost afraid to use it. For now, it sits on a shelf, looking wonderful, and I sit in a chair, knitting or reading a book, and sneak little glances at it.
…And feel rather proud of myself.
SpaceCadet returns to KNOTS on Aug 24
I was absolutely delighted when Kate and Laura at KNOTS (Knitting On The Square) in Chardon Ohio invited me back for a trunk show. I did one there last year and had such a blast, I can’t wait to go back! I’ve been dyeing like mad for it and doing lots of experimenting so, as well as my regular colours, there will be fabulous new and one-of-a-kind colourways. If you’re in the Cleveland/Erie area, please do come and see us!
Saturday, Aug 24, 11-5
153 Main St
Chardon Ohio 44024
(440) 285 KNIT (5648) Click here to map it!
The InterStellar Yarn Alliance opens soon!
I cannot believe that our premiere yarn club, InterStellar Yarn Alliance, will reopen for subscriptions in just a few weeks! Click here to learn more and to get on the mailing list, so you are the first to hear when it opens!
We are in flat out dyeing mode right now to get ready for the upcoming shows and KALs in March. And I’ve got lots to tell you about them — new kits, new project ideas, and some really exciting exclusive colourways. But all that in good time. For now, I have some lovely images to share with you, and one small but very important announcement.
First, the images. Here’s a little glimpse of the studio this week…
You can see why I love dyeing, right? And now, the announcement…
As things have grown and gotten busier here at the SpaceCadet studio, one thing that just hasn’t happened is regular shop updates. I love dyeing the yarns, love coming up with new colourways, but when it comes to sitting down and photographing them, then uploading the photos to the shop, then typing in all the details… well, I always find myself drawn back to the dyepots and the shop update just doesn’t get done.
But that’s no good for you, is it?!? You can’t buy what’s not in the shop! So, I’ve decided to give you the best of both worlds. You can buy what’s in the shop — and shop updates will still happen — but when when a colourway or a yarn that you are just itching to work with is not in stock, you can now go ahead and order it to be custom dyed!
When we receive your order, we’ll get to work dyeing your custom yarn. Now, because each yarn is created by hand, we do ask you to allow 4-6 week for your order to be completed but, in truth, we always aim to beat that and get your yarn out to you as quickly as possible. That timescale is really there to allow for busier times of year and the more complicated orders. The best thing about the whole dyeing process? Packing those lovely bundles of yarny goodness in their boxes and sending them off to become exciting new projects!
So there you go — one tiny little alteration that brings enormous change and wonderful news!
And here, before we go, one last image from the studio. I just love these greens against that rust, don’t you?
Every time I do a show, I get nervous as the day approaches. A million thoughts go through my head… Have I dyed enough yarn? Is the colour balance right? Do I have everything we need? Will the weather hold? Will the booth fall down? Will I end up in hospital?
**sound of a record scratching**
Will the booth what?!? Will I what?!?
Ok, those last two questions are not usually on my mind …but they should have been for the Pittsburgh Knit & Crochet Festival. It many ways, it was a weekend of near disasters — but I think every one had a silver lining. I think.
First, let me tell you how fabulous the festival was — because it was! There was everything that makes a yarn show wonderful: colour, yarn fumes, that amazing feeling of collective fiber frenzy when you know everyone around you feels exactly the same way you do. But there was something more than that…
There was the first big snowfall of the year. And while that was a bit of a disaster for a lot of people who weren’t able to get to the show, the upside was that the quieter crowds meant that we had the chance to really take the time to talk to everyone who came in the booth. It was so wonderful to meet you guys! I loved being able to chat about projects and yarn choices, to show off all the great things that can be made with Mini-Skeins, and just being able to make that connection with our customers. The snow made the whole show that much more personal.
We also got to host the Ravelry Meet-Up on Friday night and, again, it could have gone so wrong. At the last minute, we found out that there were no goody bags — we had the goodies, but the bags had never arrived! There we were with yarn samples, coupons, and all sorts of fun stuff from the vendors and… nothing to put them in! The silver lining? I found out how much great friends are really worth. With only 45 minutes to go, and while I manned the booth, my sister and my friends Natalie, Christine, and Amy kicked into action. Christine actually went out in all that snow, driving around in a part of town she didn’t know at all, until she found the gift bags we needed. And when she got back — with only minutes to go until the Meet-Up was due to start — the four of them hit right into stuffing those bags as fast as humanly possible. And they saved the day — the Meet-Up was a huge success! When I finally closed the booth, I walked back into the room to find party in full swing, people introducing themselves, and getting to meet other Ravelers they’ve known for months (or years!) only online. There were great prizes from the vendors. And there were goody bags — thanks to some exceptional teamwork from people who really stepped up when it was needed.
And then there was the booth… That really was a near disaster. We built new booth furniture but just didn’t have time test it properly… Do you remember this?
Well… when we walked in on Friday morning, it didn’t look like that. It was… well, it was leaning. But the upside to it was the teamwork thing again — we got the whole booth reworked and swapped out in about 30 minutes. Who’da thought we could do that?!? And, once we did, I remembered an important life lesson: there’s nothing so bad that you can’t find the funny side of it — even a booth that’s leaning. Well, y’know, once it’s been fixed.
(Still, I’m now in the market for a good local carpenter. Anyone got one they can recommend?)
And then the last near disaster really was a near disaster. Do you remember that, on set-up day, I woke up feeling decidedly under the weather? Well, I kept expecting it to get better (I really did!), but it really didn’t. On Saturday, I was ok-ish, but by Sunday it was bad. Baaaaad. So bad, in fact, that the asthma which I was diagnosed with last year and apparently have had all my life (who knew? I always thought I was just really unathletic!)… that asthma decided to kick in hard and, being new to it, I didn’t really know what to do. In the end, my breathing was so constricted that I actually had to leave the booth with Natalie and my sister and get myself to the ER. They got me breathing again but that illness that started it off… it is one mean beast. It’s turned into bronchitis and, twelve days later, I am still sick enough that I am stuck in bed all day. Twelve days!!! Honestly, it’s driving me mad.
(My mother has been round every day, with chicken soup and taking care of my family and all the stuff I can’t get to so that I can stay in bed. The woman deserves a medal — seriously. I can’t thank her enough.)
So, I can honestly tell you that the Pittsburgh Knit and Crochet Festival was one of the strangest yarn shows I’ve done so far. Nothing went as I expect it to! And yet, while it definitely had some hair-raising moments, I think it had far more upsides than down. I got the chance to sit down and really get to know our customers in a way I’ve never been able to at any show before. That was wonderful! I found out what a good team I’ve got. And friends who really come through when I need them. And, after it’s the show’s over and it’s all done, I’ve got a great mum who takes great care of me. Upsides indeed.
And now, I need to go make another cup of tea. …TWELVE DAYS, PEOPLE!!!
Do you remember my sister? I’ve mentioned her on the blog before. She’s incredibly supportive of SpaceCadet Creations but she’s never been a knitter, never been the least bit interested, and so when she helped me out at several yarn shows this past year, she was pretty much completely unprepared for the experience. Like when she saw the line that stretched all the way down the sidewalk as knitters and crocheters waited for the doors to open at the Pittsburgh Knit & Crochet Festival (“People are here already?!? They’re waiting?!?”). And her shock that vendors were going shopping and buying yarn from other vendors (“Why would they do that? Don’t they have their own yarn?”). And then the beautifully entertaining look on her face when she finally encountered her first fiber-crazed knitter (“These people arecrazy!” ). Ah yes, watching my sister’s initiation into the world of yarn has been very amusing indeed!
I have tried, on and off for twenty years, to get her to try knitting and she’s never been interested. I’ve explained how relaxing it is, how grounding. I described it in terms of yoga and meditation. I’ve held mouth-watering yarns in front of her. But nope, knitting was my thing, and definitely not for her. And helping out at yarn festivals didn’t seem to make any difference at all. So I felt really confident when I chose the title for this series of blog posts: “Things My Non-Knitting Sister Says”. Because my sister does not knit.
And then, a small miracle has occurred. Somewhere in the world, the earth has moved, a sea has parted, perhaps the planet ceased spinning on its axis for one brief moment… Because earlier this summer, my sister learned to knit.
*insert sound of a record scratching*
I’m trying to remember how it came about, exactly. Did my sister ask to be taught? Did my friend Natalie just decide it was time she learned? I’m not sure but, either way, I just remember the two of them sitting on the couch, Natalie patiently showing her how to hold the needles, and my sister quietly chanting, “in, around, out, and off… in, around, out, and…”. By the time my sister left for home, she had that rhythm downpat, Natalie had given her the needles, and she had a brand-new skein of SpaceCadet yarn cast on for a garter stitch scarf.
Weeks went by and I heard nothing. I was almost afraid to ask, imagining the needles untouched, the cast-on stitches left exactly as they had been when she left. And then, at last, a text message… it said, “I don’t know what you’ve done to me, but I CANNOT stop knitting. I’ve been doing it every day. This is amazing!”
Ladies and Gentlemen, I present to the world a new knitter. And I ask you to welcome her into the fold, into our wonderful universe of fibery goodness. She is taking baby steps, to be sure — and please, do try not to spook her — but she is most definitely on her way. I’m so proud of her! And if you are too, please, leave a comment and let her know — new knitters need encouragement, don’t you think?
And here’s the best bit — the next time you see her at a yarn festival, sitting there taking payments and handling the money, and you’re holding a huge pile of yarn and gazing at it and petting it fondly, you can rest assured she probably doesn’t think you’re crazy any more… Little by little, row by row, she’s starting to get it!
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?
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.
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.
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?