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

Ahhh! Now This Feels Good…

Getting ready for the Pittsburgh Knit & Crochet Festival was great fun (and exciting, and crazy, and chaotic) and it took over my life for a few weeks.  And in a way, that was a lovely break — everyone needs a change from their day-to-day routines now and again — but one thing I really missed was the excitement of putting new yarns in the shop, of sharing new colourways with my customers.  Sometimes, it takes a little break like that to remind you how nice your day-to-day really is!

So last night I filled the shop with just a few of the mountain of new yarns and colours I have ready to go in…

sock yarn, hand-dyed, hand dyed, knitting, yarn, crochetClockwise from top left: Silk and BFL in Spice Trade, Celeste in Cove, Estelle in Sunshine, Estelle in Goodbye Blue Sky, Celeste in Rubble, and Celeste in First Love

Ahhhhh…  It feels soooo good to be back to normal again!

Continuing your Sock Knitting Journey

Note from the SpaceCadet:  My friend Amy (DPUTiger on Ravelry) is a knitting teacher, a quilter, and a newly-minted weaver.  And she’s been kind enough to write a series of posts about her favourite ways to start new sock knitters on their journey…

So you’ve tackled Fuzzy Feet and are ready to move along and try something else. Where is a good place to start with that beautiful fingering weight yarn and the toothpick-sized needles?

My first pair of fingering weight socks were generated by my sock class teacher with Sock Wizard.  They had crazy-long cuffs (hello, 7” of 2×2 ribbing!) and took a really, really long time to knit. I did a second pair with the same yarn, on needles that I hated, and with short-row heels and toes.  That experience nearly put me off of socks completely.



So, you ask, what turned things around for me, and what would I recommend to you so you don’t suffer the sock blahs right out of the gate?

Knitting Rules.  If you aren’t familiar with Stephanie Pearl-McPhee, aka the Yarn Harlot, you should be. Stephanie is a terrific writer with a sense of humour.  And whether you are an experienced knitter or especially a knitter that’s just starting to branch out into the world of Not Scarf Knitting, Knitting Rules is a valuable addition to any knitter’s library.

So just as I was finishing the Socks from Hell, the Yarn Harlot began blogging about the step-out socks that she was knitting for an appearance on Knitty Gritty. I was intrigued, picked up a copy of Knitting Rules and hit the jackpot.

And while Stephanie provides a perfectly awesome 64-stitch sock pattern, she also provides a good basic sock recipe. I love this pattern and recommend it because it gives you the tools to create a sock in any size to fit any foot. She gives you permission to stockingette that leg after a couple inches of ribbing. She has great information on how to start with hats, sweaters, all kinds of things. The book is a great foundation for wherever you want to take your knitting.

There are a few little tidbits I’ll throw in before I leave you in suspense waiting for my final salvo on sock knitting:

  • I have one rule in my classes: No Eeyores.  If you attack something new with a positive, can-do attitude, you will succeed!  If you are convinced sock knitting is too hard for you, then it will be.  Period.  Attitude is a self-fulfilling prophecy.
  • Lifelines are your friend!  (What is a lifeline? Click here)  If you’re new to sock knitting, throw a lifeline in before you start something new. My ideal lifeline material is DMC Perle Cotton, commonly used for cross stitch and embroidery. If you use lifelines, you really can knit fearlessly, because it will be simple to rip out and re-start if you screw up or get confused.
  • Every single sock pattern in existence can be knit using any of the three small-circumference knitting methods: double-pointed needles (DPNs), two circular needles, or the Magic Loop.  All three methods are interchangeable.  Always.  No exceptions.

I’ll be back again to discuss the one book that changed my knitting life. Until then, enjoy your foray into sock knitting!

Forgetting Everything, Except This..

There is a mountain of laundry in the family room waiting to be sorted — seriously, a mountain.  And a mountain of dirty dishes collecting in the sink.  I suspect there are a few bills I’ve forgotten to pay too…    Real life has come to a complete halt while I get ready for the upcoming Pittsburgh Knit & Crochet show, and there are a lot of things that are getting pushed to one side — or getting forgotten altogether! — while that happens.


Yarn Drying in the Studio

But while I’ve been dyeing at rate to make my head spin, you’ll be pleased to hear that one thing I haven’t forgotten is…   to grab some of that yarn and put it in the shop for you guys!


Stella Fingering Weight Yarn in SeaFoam


Stella Fingering Weight Yarn in WinterBerries


Stella Fingering Weight Yarn in Plumberry


And just because it’s flippin’ FREEZING out there, I’ve included some Astrid DK too, which is incredibly soft and smooshy — perfect for lovely warm hats and gloves.  Stay warm, everybody!


Astrid DK Yarn in WinterBerries


Astrid DK Yarn in the Dept of Rocket Science

Scenes From a Fiber Life: Dyeing Like I’ve Never Dyed Before

When I blogged earlier this week that I’d been given a last minute chance to be part of the Pittsburgh Knit & Crochet Festival, I was feeling a little giddy.  I kept letting out sudden squeals so loud that I was frightening everyone around me.

Four days later, the giddy is still there.  The excitement is still there.  But you can add in a good dose of trepidation and a lot of tired too!  Because, this week, I’ve gone from my usual pace of dyeing about a dozen skeins a week to dyeing 20 skeins per day.  Wait — did you catch that?  From a dozen skeins per week to 20 per day…!  And I’m going to keep up that frenetic pace every single day for the next three weeks.  That’s how many skeins I need to get dyed, dried, reskeined, twisted, and tagged in order to have enough to do this show justice.  Tired?  I haz it!


But you know what?  For all that tired and all this crazy, there is an big upside — and that is that the studio is starting to look amazing!  There are skeins hanging everywhere, beautiful fibers draped along the walls, and vibrant colours beginning to fill the room…  It is absolutely the most wonderful sight on a bleak and cold January day.

And so, even as I am working my backside off, I am reminded that I love my job.  And that’s gotta be one of the best feelings in the world.

Of course, most of these skeins are headed to the show, but I’m going to grab a few of them and put them in the shop for you.  Keep an eye out for them early next week!

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!