The Surprising Way your Screen Affects SpaceCadet Yarn

The Surprising Way your Screen Affects SpaceCadet Yarn

I’ve been doing some work on the SpaceCadet website* and I’ve noticed something that surprised me so much that I just have to stop everything right this minute to share it with you: what you see on your screen may not be what our yarn actually looks like.  In fact, your computer or mobile device may be deceiving you.

We all know that different computer monitors display things slightly differently. Each monitor has its own settings that can be adjusted to either the manufacturer’s presets or to your own liking, and those adjustments impact the way images — and, more crucially, colours — appear on the screen. That’s the reason we mention on each yarn’s sales page to “…please remember that our photos are as accurate as possible, but the colours you see also depend on your computer monitor’s settings.” But I also know how easy it is to skip the small print when the page is filled with pictures of delicious yarn.

How Your Monitor Shows Colours is Critical When Buying Yarn!

But I got a reminder about how import that little detail is while I was working on the website. We’ve been working hard this year to expand and revamp our palette of colourways, and I was adding a section to the front page that looks like this:

Laptop Screenshot 2015-11-02 23.34.35

As I was making changes, I’d check the website on my computer (a desktop pc) to make sure the changes were coming out right. Another adjustment, another check… another adjustment, another check… As it began to come together, I was getting super excited about the results. And then, I checking on my iPhone, and I was kind of shocked by what I saw!

Better Pictures May Mean Disappointing Yarn…

Everyone knows that Apple is all about the visuals: retina screens and vibrant images, with colours so intense they jump right out of the monitor. And that’s great when you’re looking at your vacation photos — you’ve never taken such amazing shots! — but it may not be the best thing when you’re trying to buy yarn. Here at SpaceCadet, we are essentially in the business of selling colour over the internet, and so to make sure our customers get what they order, our images need to represent our colours as accurately as possible. With that in mind, check out how that same webpage section looks on my iPad:

iPad screenshot

It aligns itself a little differently on a mobile device but, don’t worry, it’s the same spot on the website. But here’s the important thing: take a look at how differently the colours come across on the iPad — how much more intense and vibrant. Do you see Frigia, that very pale blue? On my desktop, it’s true to the actual colour — a very pale and sublime icy blue. But on my iPad, it appears to be a much more intense blue, more intense than the yarn truly is.   And the iPad image actually has a greenish tinge — look at the edges of the yarn and you’ll see what I mean — that isn’t there at all in the actual yarn.  Here, it’s easier to see if I put them side-by-side.

Side by side comparison, desktop to iPad

And while you’re looking, check out the two greens in the row below the blue. See how completely different they look on the iPad vs the pc? Now, full disclosure: because the difference is in each devices’ screen and not in the image data itself, I had to adjust the iPad image in Lightroom to accurately reflect here how different they look in real life. But I worked very hard to get the images true and you can easily test it live for yourself: if your computer and phone are manufactured by different companies, just click here on both your phone and your desktop/laptop to bring up our colourways page and then compare what you see on the two devices (note that if both your phone and computer are Apple, you probably won’t see the difference, and I haven’t yet tested this on non-Apple phones).

The pictures here can’t really do it justice, but when I held my phone up and showed that live side-by-side comparison to my assistant, she actually gasped. “That green is glowing! Like it’s… like it’s radioactive or something!”  She was talking about the colourway Stroppy — take a look at your devices side-by-side and you’ll see she’s right. I don’t think we could achieve that kind of a glow in real life without dropping some plutonium in the dyebath! And, again, if you look at Frigia and Feather, there is that slight yellow cast giving them both a green tinge that they simply don’t have.

Ok, So What Do We Do?

So ok, you can see what an impact different screens make to how our colours appear, but the big question is, what do we do when our customers are shopping for yarn online and their devices are representing our colours in these different ways? In all honesty, I’m not sure. I think that all I can do is continue to take pictures that are as true to our real-life colours as I possibly can, and then to share this information with you so you are aware.  And it’s not just the SpaceCadet website that is affected, of course — it’s every website you visit on a device that intensifies colours.  Yes, your vacation snaps suddenly look amazing, but when you’re shopping for yarn on our site or another dyer’s site, when you’re looking at clothes or housewares online, or when you’re choosing paint or fabric, just bear in mind that those incredible colours may not be all that true to real life.

And if what you’re looking for is radioactive yarn and you think you might’ve found it, well…  I may have to disappoint you. But if you’re looking for a colour that will make you gasp — and in a really good way this time — we can certainly help you out!

SpaceCadet Colourways

Hey, if you think this screen-settings issue is one your knitting and fiber friends should know about, please share this post on Facebook (click here) and Twitter (click here) and Ravelry.

*Please check out the front page and tell me what you think. Does it look good on your device? Is it easy to find your way around? I’ve worked really hard on it and I’d love your thoughts. Just email missioncontrol(at)spacecadetyarn(dot)com and let me know — seriously, I’d be so grateful for your feedback.


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FAQs: Why Doesn’t This Skein Look Like That One?

FAQs: Why Doesn’t This Skein Look Like That One?

I was having coffee the other day with a friend who is knitting a pair of socks in SpaceCadet Oriana yarn in the colourway “Honey”. It’s a lovely tawny-gold, perfect for bright summer days, and her project looks beautiful. But she pulled her yarn out of her project bag and asked, “Is this different from the last skein of Honey I got from you? It looks different…” And she turned the ball over in her hands with a puzzled look on her face.

She’s not alone in her confusion — I get asked this question fairly regularly and I suspect I’m not the only hand-dyer who does. So if you’ve wondered the same thing, don’t worry — you’re in good company. And, here, I have a photo I want to show you…


Five Yarns Dyed in the Same Dyebath with Very Different Results


Mmmmm… I love do Tickled — that’s the colourway above and it’s such a juicy, vibrant shade! So, which one of these skeins is Tickled? They each look different but the answer might surprise you… it’s all of them! This is a photo of five different SpaceCadet yarns, each with a different fiber content or yarn construction, and all dyed together in the exact same dyebath — and look how differently they’ve all come out! Can you guess which yarns you’re looking at?

Most people don’t realise how much of a difference the fibers a yarn is made from and the way that yarn is spun make to how that yarn takes colour. One yarn drinks in the dyewater as if it’s been stuck on a desert island, and another tries to pretend the dyebath doesn’t exist like a kid with his eyes squeezed shut and his fingers stuck his ears. And that means that, as a dyer, I have a choice: I can either try to rework the recipe for every colourway on each individual yarn or I can keep the recipe the same across all the bases and allow each yarn to take the dye the way it comes naturally.

Embrace The Differences!

Well for me, the answer is easy. Unlike commercial yarns, it’s the nature of hand-dyed yarn that each skein is distinctive and individual, and so it just feels right to go with that and embrace the different way each of the bases takes on dye. I never get tired of seeing a batch of mixed bases come out of the dyepot and just falling in love with each yarns individual beauty. And after they’re dry, I love combining different yarns in the same colourway and seeing how those differences contrast and combine in my knitting.

So, that picture above… let’s see which yarns you were looking at:


Five Yarns Dyed in the Same Dyebath with Very Different Results 2

Celeste is a light and generous 3-ply fingering in 100% Superwash Merino
Lyra is our incredibly sproingy cabled 8-ply sport, also in 100% Superwash Merino
Thebe is a 2-ply heavy laceweight in a wonderful 65/35 silk and linen combination
Maia is made with 80% bamboo and 20% Superwash Merino, giving it stunning drape and a sheen that creates an “iced” effect
And Capella, our delightfully squishy single-ply worsted in 100% Superwash Merino.

Let’s go back to the coffee shop with my friend, who was still looking quizzically at the yarn in her hands. I explained that the yarn she was holding is Oriana, which has eight plies that soak up dye deep and fast. That’s very different from Lucina, the last SpaceCadet yarn she worked with, which has similar yardage but is constructed from only two plies — meaning each ply has to be much thicker. The difference in the way these two yarns take on dye is sort of akin to the different ways a paper towel versus a cotton ball might soak up a spill. And so even though both Oriana and Lucina are dyed in the same recipe — and might even have been in the same dyebath — the results can be noticeably different.

And now you know why!

(PS — here’s another example.  This is the same five yarns in Drizzle)

Five Yarns Dyed in the Same Dyebath with Very Different Results 3


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Designer Profile: Ruth Garcia-Alcantud of Rock & Purl designs for the InterStellar Yarn Alliance

The InterStellar Yarn Alliance parcels went out last week and I think that excited me the most about it was that it included exclusive access to a beautiful knitting pattern created especially for the Alliance Members by the designer at Rock & Purl, Ruth Garcia-Alcantud.  I’ve admired her work for a while now and it’s easy to see why.

Knitting designs by Ruth Garcia-Alcantud of Rock & Purl

Clockwise from top left: Moore, Anchored, Chambourcin, and Marina


(Ten points to the first commenter to guess my favourite out of these four!  Hint: the answer is further down in this post.)

Her designs have appeared in Interweave Crochet, Vogue Knitting, KnitScene, Knit Magazine, and Yarn Forward.  So when Ruth offered to create an exlcusive pattern for the InterStellar Yarn Alliance, I was absolutely over the moon.   And I can’t wait another minute to show it to you!  This is Medianoche, a pair of beautifully delicate gloves with an amazing, double-layer cuff: a flouncy, lacy outer cuff conceals a fitted ribbed inner cuff.  They’re fabulous!

Medianoche knitting pattern by Rock & Purl for SpaceCadet Creations InterStellar Yarn Alliance yarn club

When she sent me Medianoche, Ruth took the opportunity to interview me for her blog, and I decided to ask her a few questions as well.  Here’s our conversation, and don’t miss the exciting announcement at the bottom!

Ruth, I love your patterns.  I am crazy for Moore.  I am over the moon with Medianoche (can’t wait to cast it on!!!).  Can you give a brief walk-through of where you grab your inspiration and how you turn that into a pattern?

Some ideas form perfectly in my head from the moment the yarn hits my
hands – Medianoche is a clear example of it! Before I got the yarn, I
knew I was going to transform it into gloves, but once I touched it, I
knew a lace cuff detail would be the center of attention and worked
from there.
Other times, like with Moore, it takes a little longer – Moore was
originally a scarf/wrap! It was the first garment where I applied the
sideways technique, and I’m quite glad I thought of discarding the
scarf idea now.

All in all, while I may have an idea such as “I want to make a
sweater” and want to pair it with a worsted weight yarn… I have to
let the yarn be what it wants to be!

So, when did you move from being a knitter to a knit designer?   How did you know, in your mind, that you’d made that leap?

I was always a “Ms Perfection Knitter” – I took great pride in
finishing, perfect gauge, etc. I once knit this horrible jumper that
was completely off in the measurements area, the waist was
non-existent and the cross back was WAY too big for me. I reworked it
to my measurements, and I guess that was my first non-artistic move
into the design world.

Fresh out of a job a couple of years ago, I went a little bananas and
thought I’d jump in with both feet, but I wanted to explore the
knitwear design world before launching a venture that could have
fallen flat on its face – I researched yarns, swatched lots, read
everything I could on sizing, grading, fitting and eye-catching
details to ensure designs are one-of-a-kind.
In the meantime, I designed accessories, where the fit and the
modeled sample didn’t have to be perfect, until I thought I was ready
to move into the garment arena. My first garment acceptance came from
Shannon Okey (aka knitgrrl) who has since then become a very good
friend and mentor.

If you had to stop knitting — I know! It’s a ridiculous thought! — but if you did, what would your ideal job be?  And how would your experience of being a knit designer
influence that?

Mmmmm…. I like jobs that have plenty of small pieces to fit into a
bigger one. I liked my old PA role in which I had to organize agendas,
trips, events and yet ensure that the day-to-day running of the office
did not go unattended. So I’d like a job with defined, visible, key

Now, I know you grew up in Spain but now live in England. How is knitting in Britain different to knitting in Spain?  Has your
style or way of thinking about the craft changed from one country to

Wow, you’ve no idea how the internet and Ravelry have changed the
mentality of knitting over in Spain! Knitting groups have multiplied
and the one I visit when I go visit my parents used to be about… 6 people? They now have to ask permission to “camp” at Starbucks in
town, there’s that many of them!

My father works in fashion and his mum was also involved in it, so my
view about the craft has always been about couture, delicate,
made-to-measure pieces. I would like to think I transported those
ideas with me – as a good visitor, I always buy yarn when I go there
too! We get fantastic finds in bright coloured cottons and some
interesting wool blends for those who don’t have vicious winters.

If you were hosting a dinner party that included the most influential people in your life, who would they be and (more importantly!) what would you cook?

Difficult!! My dad, both my grandmothers, my husband-to-be Brian and
my aunt. I pride myself in my duck with lime sauce and coconut rice ..
would you like to try it when you visit England next?

Yes please!
Ok, so, when you design, do you have a specific person in mind?  Are you designing for someone, or for yourself?

I’d tell a lie if I said “nooo I don’t think about myself”. When I am thinking of a self-published pattern, I need to make it fit me as I’m the model for the photographs, but I also want to make sure it fits a
variety of bodies, so if I don’t believe it will fit anyone above a 38” bust the idea gets scrapped.

I have a funny story about it – I created Anchored with no intention of releasing it whatsoever as I thought people would think it too risque and flashy. In the end it’s been one of my best-sellers, so sometimes it’s obvious I’m not right!


What is the best bit of being a designer?  What part of it brings you the most joy?

I love grading, calculating, adapting and playing with numbers – and
while I moan a lot about Illustrator and InDesign not doing what I
want them to do, I enjoy creating schematics and laying out patterns.
Publishing is such a thrill – will it do ok? will it flop? But nothing gives me quite as much satisfaction as seeing pictures of the objects people create with my patterns, and getting good comments on them.

Ruth, you and I are both expats, so I know we both understand the internal conflict that comes from having two places to call ‘home’.  When you think way ahead into your future, where do you see yourself pulled to?  Where do you see yourself living as an old lady?

I truly don’t know. My other half and I always joke about moving countries, and not just in Europe! But we’re so settled in our little home now that I’d be heartbroken if I had to leave. That being said, the warmer winters from Valencia (where I come from) would be a delight compared to the chill of Blighty!

And finally, I’ll ask the same great question you asked me…  what
do you hope to infuse into knitters that work with your patterns?

There’s NOTHING you cannot achieve. I hope to teach you some tricks or
techniques that will make your knitting easier, or perhaps create that
one garment that will make you feel like the million dollars you
already are worth – but remember… it’s YOU who makes it, and you
should be proud of that and every single stitch you pour onto your

It’s been such a pleasure for me, working with Ruth and getting to know her better.  And so exciting to send out the InterStellar Yarn Alliance parcels, knowing that every one of the Alliance Members was getting her beautiful Medianoche!

And would you like to see what else was in the parcel?  Well, the first thing in the box was the SpaceCadet’s Log, to explain the inspiration for the colourway.

The SpaceCadet Log, Dyer's Notes for the yarn in the InterStellar Yarn Alliance parcel

And then there was the yarn of course!  It was Izarra, an absolutely beautiful blend of 80% Superwash Blue-Faced Leicester (BFL) and 20% Nylon.  It’s going to look fantastic as a pair of gloves!

Izarra BFL knitting yarn in Venus, exclusive to SpaceCadet Creations InterStellar Yarn Alliance yarn club

And then, just for fun, I included a few holiday gift tags, specially designed to help the gift recipients to realise just how lucky they are to received a handmade gift!

Holiday Gift Tags exclusively for the members of SpaceCadet Creations InterStellar Yarn Alliance yarn club

The InterStellar Yarn Alliance Gift Subscription

If you’ve been thinking that a gift subscription to the InterStellar Yarn Alliance would make the perfect present for a knitter or crocheter on your holiday list, then I have some great news.  Later this month, we will be offering limited number of special Yarn Alliance gift subscription packages.  We’re putting the details together now, and to be the very first to hear about it, make sure you’re on the Yarn Adventurers’ mailing list!

When Pooling Goes Right

Last week, I asked you guys to give me your questions and tell me what intimidates you about hand-dyed yarns.  And I loved the responses — I got some great food for thought, and you guys prompted me to ask a couple of experts to contribute to the ebook and answer some of your questions.  Exciting stuff!

yarn, hand-dyed, handdyed, indie dyer, knitting, crochetAnd that post has started several really interesting conversations with friends about their approach to hand-dyed yarns.  In each of these conversations, there have been some saying they are always trying to avoid pooling, and there are others saying that they just sit back and go where-ever the yarn takes them — treating it as an adventure, a journey to be traveled, whether the yarns pools or not.  I have to admit, I loved hearing that because, as a dyer,  that’s how my creative process often feels too — a little adventurous, a little out of control.  Sometimes I’m in charge and the colours follow my lead, but sometimes…  sometimes it’s better to stop controlling and just go where-ever the colour takes me.  Sometimes it takes me to some really beautiful places.

The Beauty of Pooling  (…no, really!)

And pooling can be the same way too.  Yes, absolutely, sometimes pooling can be horrible — just horrible — and I totally get why knitters and crocheters strive to avoid it.  But sometimes pooling can take a really exciting turn that gives spectacular — and unexpected — results.

Take this scarf for example, knit by my friend Megan.  Now, we’ve all seen pooling that forms diamond patterns before, but I have to say I’ve never seen a more perfect and even example than this.  And though this was entirely unintentional, it adds so much to the scarf — gives it a real feeling of fun and adventure.  In fact, she liked it so much that when she switched to her second skein of yarn, Megan was really careful to join it in such a way that the argyle-pooling continued uninterrupted all the way to the end of the scarf.  Spectacular!

knitting, handyed, indie dyer, yarn,
Photos used with permission

Pattern: Here and There Cables by Norah Gaughan;  Yarn: SpaceCadet Creations Lucina in Megan’s Frost


So, ok… being surprised by nice, evenly repeating pooling along a nice, even rectangle is one thing, but when you get patterned pooling on a shaped project like a hat, that is really something.  Here’s a one that Megan knit (that woman has some kind of uncanny pooling gift, I tell ya!) for a little girl with brain cancer, and when I saw the pooling, I nearly fell off my chair.  Check out the pictures — this is not colourwork, this is the yarn just pooling in a beautiful way.  I love the way the stripes work through the colours and then back out again in reverse order, and they stay in that formation right up until they hit the sharpest decreases in the crown.  Amazing!

knitting, yarn, hand-dyed, handdyed, indie dyer
Photos used with permission

Pattern: Swirl Hat by Mandie Harrington;  Yarn: SpaceCadet Creations Estelle in Ice Skating


But what if stripes and argyle-diamonds aren’t your thing?  Well, check out this shawl by Karrie of  Because it’s crocheted instead of knit, the stitches move the colours about in a different way… and it produces small squares of pooled colour that look to me just like tiled mosaic.  Honestly, I can’t take my eyes off it!  Breathtaking!

crochet, yarns, handdyed, hand-dyed, indie dyer, yarn
Photos used with permission

Pattern: Wycheproof Shawl by Rebecca Velasquez;  Yarn: SpaceCadet Creations Estelle in Cold Flame

.So, have you ever had a project start to pool in a really beautiful way?  Did you love it?  And did you do anything special to encourage the pooling?


Pattern Giveaway

Don’t forget, there’s only a few days left to enter the Pattern Giveaway to win beautiful shawl patterns from RockandPurl and Leslie Thompson.  Click here to see the patterns and get entered!

Gimme Gimme Gimme Your Questions About Hand-Dyed Yarns!

I’ve been working on a lot of things that have got me pretty excited lately — things that I hope will help us to bring you more of the best and most beautiful yarns that we can create.  And, for one of those things, I really need your help….

I’ve been putting together an eBook, a little guide to choosing and using hand-dyed yarns.  Because they can be really special things, hand-dyed yarns, can’t they?  Beautiful, enticing, intoxicating, and… sometimes overwhelming.  When you first see them, you want to dive in the colours.  When you hold them, the colours change as they catch the light.  And when you cast them on, the results can be absolutely spectacular…  or sometimes terribly disappointing.  Yep, there is a real art to using hand-dyed yarns!

hand-dyed yarn, yarn, knitting, crochet, indie dyer
Celeste Yarn in Garden In Spring

So, as I’m putting this eBook together, I’ve been trying to look at my yarns through the eyes of my customers.  I’m asking myself the questions that they have — that you have — when picking yarns and choosing colourways.  And, as I was trying to put myself in your place, trying to come up with these questions, it suddenly dawned on me… why don’t I just ask you?

Huh!  Now there’s an idea!

Fingering Yarn in Bamboo, Superwash Merino, and Nylon, in Translucence

So, when you bought your first hand-dyed variegated yarn, what questions went through your head?  Were you confident in choosing a pattern for it, or did you have trouble?  Were you worried it would pool, or did you not care?  Or maybe even hope it would pool?  Did you shy away from wildest colours or gravitate straight to them?  And did you do anything to tame them …or did you just let them rock?

When you work with beautiful, wonderful, variegated hand-dyed yarns, what are your biggest questions?  What perplexes you?  What do you wish you had a little guidance on?  Go on and tell me!  Put your questions in the comments below and you’d really be helping me out.

And if you have answers to any of the questions, leave them too!  Because I suspect that the answers are actually just as individual as the yarns that inspire them…!

hand-dyed yarn, yarn, knitting, crochet, indie dyer
Fingering Yarn in Bamboo, Superwash Merino, and Nylon, in Juicy

(Hey, by the way, I’m not guaranteeing I’ll have all the answers.  But if life is about the journey, then the journey has to start with the questions, right?  Hit me!)

A Surprising Yarn for Summer Knitting

Note from the SpaceCadet:  My friend Natalie (peacethrufiber on Ravelry and Twitter) is a fantastic knitter and spinner who creates amazing garments with yarns she spins almost exclusively on spindles.  

The SpaceCadet and I were talking the other day about summer knitting and summer yarn.  She asked me what I knit with most during the warmer months, and I think I surprised her when I answered, “Wool.”

summer knitting, yarn, wool, handdyed, sock yarn, space cadet, spacecadet, indie dyer
Celeste yarn in a one-of-a-kind colourway

But if you think about it, summer knitting with wool makes a lot of sense.

First there are the qualities that make knitters love wool for winter knitting, such as great stitch definition and memory.  These things are just as true in the summer as they are in the winter.

Then there’s the way wool feels on the needles.  I knit cotton, linen and other more traditional, cellulose based summer yarns, but I can only knit with them for so long before the stiffness of the yarn starts to tire my hands.  Then it’s back to the soft and pleasant hand of wool, with a grateful sigh.

Finally, there’s the fact that, done right, wool is really an excellent choice for summer wearing in addition to summer knitting.  People often think of wool garments as cold weather gear but, in fact ,wool is much more versatile than that.  It actually regulates temperature, keeping the wearer warm in cold weather, and cool in warm weather.  Add in its fantastic moisture-wicking properties, and it starts to look a lot more attractive for summer.

knitting, yarn, wool, summer knitting, spacecadet, space cadet, handdyed, indie dyer, sock yarn
Celeste yarn knit on US size 8 needles (5mm)

Of course, if you pull on a heavy, worsted-weight wool sweater in the middle of July, you will probably end up uncomfortable.  Fortunately, there’s no need.  There has been a little flurry of garment patterns written over the last few years using fingering and lace weight yarns at a loose gauge to create light, breezy, warm weather garments.  I’ve already started a fingering-weight  wool sweater for this summer, and am totally enjoying it.  I’m using a size 8 needle, and the resulting fabric is soft, sheer and gauzy.  I’m looking forward to wearing  it on vacation in June!

What are you going to be knitting this summer?  Got any patterns in mind that will look great in a skinny wool yarn on big needles?

knitting, yarn, sock yarn, summer knitting, handdyed, indie dyer, spacecadet, space cadet
Skinny wool yarn, big needles... airy and light.