New SpaceCadet Fiber Triple Kits!

New SpaceCadet Fiber Triple Kits!

Even though I talk a lot about knitting and crochet, the truth is that I wouldn’t be a dyer if I hadn’t first become a spinner.  It was spinning that really got me hooked on colour, and spinning that led to me meet all the dyers (both here in the States and in the UK) who inspired and influenced me.  So spinning, and thus spinning fiber, are really very dear to my heart.   So you’d think SpaceCadet would dye a lot of fiber, right?  Well, I’ve always wanted to but, to be honest, we’re so busy with all the yarn we dye that we’ve never seemed to have the time.

But then I was talking with a friend of mine when I had an idea…  Instead of one braid, what if we dyed three mini-bumps of fiber in separate coordinating colourways that are designed to work together no matter which way you spin them?  Work them one after another for a dramatic gradient fade,  spin them separately to ply into a barberpole, or use bits from each mixed all together for a soft blend with crazy pops of colour.  The more I thought about it, the more excited I got to start dyeing it…  and so the SpaceCadet® Hand-Dyed Fiber Triple Kit was born!

Flow Trio 580Temper Trio 580


Packaging three separate mini-bumps was a bit of a challenge (how do you keep them together but still tidy?) until I thought of these cool reusable tins.  Your fiber stays clean and neat until you’re ready to spin it.  And — bonus! — you can still love all over the colour even when it’s safely packed away!

Three Fibers, Five Colourway Trios

We chose three types of fiber (to start with, at least…  we may be adding more soon)

  • 100% Fine Superwash Merino — Soft as clouds, a dream to spin.
  • 50% Merino / 50% Bamboo — The merino takes the dye but the bamboo doesn’t, which makes for an incredible sheen as the bamboo “frosts” your yarn with a stunning icy shimmer.
  • 65% Superwash Merino / 35% Silk — There is nothing so special as silk, and this combination of merino and silk creates a yarn just that special.

And these five awesome colourway trios.  Each one is designed to coordinate and still contrast — so much fun to spin!

  • Flow Trio —  A bump of spring greens, a second bump of dusty blue, and a third bump of intriguing blue-violets, tied together with pops of fuchsia and streaks of black.
  • Breeze Trio — A bump of  barely-there blue, a second bump of soft lilac, and a third bump in a gentle lemon with touches of blues and lilac.
  • Fathoms Down Trio  — A bump of smokey blues, a second bump of drizzle grays, and a third bump of turquoise-grays.
  • Temper Trio —  A bump of warm red, a second bump of bold magenta, and a third bump of rich purple, all flecked with spots of black.
  • Thrive Trio — A bump of bright grass green, a second bump of soft aquamarine, and a third bump of electric pink, all with touches of gray, black, and stunning pops of rust.

Breeze Trio 580Thrive Trio 580

Order for Tour de Fleece!

And with Tour de Fleece right around the corner, the timing couldn’t be more perfect!  The Tour de France starts on July 4th and teams of spinners are forming all over Ravelry in preparation to spin along with the cyclists in the Tour de Fleece.  Click here to place your order for in-stock fiber and we’ll get it out straight away — domestic orders go by Priority Mail and should arrive in plenty of time for the start of TdF;  International orders go by first class and, depending on Customs, can be a little more unpredictable.

Look for More Colourways in the Future

It’s been tons of fun to dye this fiber — I forgot how much I enjoy it — so we’ll be adding more colourways (and more fiber too?) in the coming months.  In  the meantime, I’m just so excited to share this with you.  And I can’t wait to see all the creative ways you guys spin up your mini-bumps of fiber!

Fathoms Down Trio  580

The SpaceMonster Club Closes on Sunday!

If you love big, smooshy Worsted and Bulky yarns, the SpaceMonster Club is the place for you!  It combines gorgeous colourways, delicious yarns, and fabulous gifts, but it’s open for subscriptions only until this Sunday, June 21.  Click here for all the details or click below to grab a spot before they’re all gone!

Click Here to grab a 12 Month Subscription to the SpaceMonsters MegaYarn Club Click Here to grab a 6 Month Subscription to the SpaceMonsters MegaYarn Club

Spinning Up Clouds of Baby Alpaca

So while I was waxing lyrical about the new cashmere in the shop, I never said a word — not a word — about the little something I had up my sleeve for the spinners.  Why?  Because the holidays are all about surprises!

And this was a surprise worth keeping: the most amazingly soft combed top made from 50% Baby Alpaca and 50% Superfine Merino wool.  It’s incredibly light, incredibly soft…  It feels like clouds in your hands.  And it dyes up beautifully.

Baby Alpaca and Superfine Merino wool combed top 150/50 Baby Alpaca/Merino blend in Evening Fog (left) and Tarnished (right)

For those of you who’ve never tried alpaca, I turned to my friend Natalie — a more experienced and excellent spinner — for some advice.  She said, “Alpaca is warmer and lighter than wool.  For knitting, a worsted weight yarn would make an awfully warm sweater – possibly too warm for daily wear.  On the other hand, if you want outer gear like hats and gloves, a thick, woolen spun alpaca would be like carrying around your own little furnace!

“Alpaca is a little more difficult to control than straight wool because it has a shorter staple length and feels sort of slippery.  I hold my hands closer together when I’m drafting to adjust for the shorter staple length.  I also try to get twist into the fiber more quickly than I would usually do with wool.

“Also, remember that alpaca has practically no memory.  So, for knitting, it often works better blended with other fibers that will give it a little bit of elasticity and memory.”

Baby Alpaca and Superfine Merino wool combed top 250/50 Baby Alpaca/Merino blend in Rhubarb and Custard (left) and SeaFoam (right)

The blend of superfine merino and baby alpaca together will give your yarn the elasticity and memory that you need for knitting.  And the extra lightness and warmth that the alpaca gives you yarn will be perfect for warm winter mittens and hats.

And as I was in a mood for dyeing fiber, I went ahead and did a batch of Blue-Faced Leicester as well.  Enjoy!

BFL combed top Clockwise from top left:  BFL Combed top in Spice Trade, Sweetpeas, SeaFoam, and Sweetpeas.

How Thin Can You Spin?

Do you remember this?

This is the bombyx silk I was going to spun for the second half of the Tour de Fleece, but…  life intervened and I didn’t manage to get that far.  So, running just a wee bit late, I’ve finally got it on my wheel now, and it is a dream to spin.

Not that silk is always a dream to spin…  Bombyx silk generally has a very long staple length, and that can make drafting a challenge.  The distance that you’re used to holding your hands for drafting wool simply isn’t far enough apart when you’re spinning silk, and it can easily become a struggle as you start tugging at both ends of the same fibers.

A few months ago, I spun pure bombyx silk for the first time in many years and, even though I’ve spun a lot of silk in the past, I realised that my hands had forgotten what to do.  It seemed to take forever to retrain my hands (…or more likely, my brain) and until that moment when it finally clicked, I was pulling and tugging on that silk as if I’d never spun in my life.  As a result, the yarn came out much thicker than I’d wanted and lumpier too.  There’s no doubting it’s beautiful to look at, and the colours ethereal, but because I spun so much thicker than I intended, I just didn’t get the yardage I was hoping for.  It’s come out to a measly 143 yards and I’m really not sure what I could make with it.

So now, as I begin spinning this second braid of silk, I am really focusing on spinning as thinly as I possibly can.  And, it turns out, I can spin pretty darned thin!  Now that my hands (and brain) are back in the groove with spinning silk, this is how it’s coming out…

That is, as long as I don’t get too involved in a scary movie on telly and forget to spin super thin (see the occasional thick bits in the photo below?  Yeah… that was when the film hit a tense spot…).  But overall, this is coming out exactly the way I want it.  And now that I’ve got the hang of it, it is just sooo much fun to spin.

And this time, I hope to come out at the end with a really good length of some truly beautiful, smooth, pure silk yarn.

Hard at Work on the Tour de Fleece

The Tour de Fleece has been rolling along  for nearly a week and I am having a blast.  It is wonderful to have a real, legitimate excuse to tell everyone that no, I can’t do this or that, I have to spin.  And believe me, I’ve been using that excuse just as far as credibility can be stretched!

Have you been doing that too?  Pushing your other responsibilities (…and loved ones) aside to spend quality time with a some wonderful fiber and your wheel or spindle?  If you’re using SpaceCadet fiber, please do share pictures of your spinning, either on the SpaceCadet Ravelry group or by email.  I’d love to feature it here on the blog!

As well as spending a lot of time on a spindle, one of the things the Tour has allowed me to do is to really make some headway on the fiber that has been languishing on my wheel for far too long.   A few days ago, I went out onto the front porch after the heat of the day wore off (95°F!) and filled half a bobbin before real life called me back in again.

You’ll recognise this fiber from previous blog posts.  Yes, it’s still on the wheel!  But… I kind of don’t mind because it’s such a pleasure to spin these colours.

I’m splitting the fiber (somewhat) evenly into thirds and will then spin it all back together as a 3-ply.  Thanks to all the extra spinning time from the Tour, I’m nearly there!  Here’s the first bobbin…

And when that’s done, I’ll be moving on to this wonderful, shimmery-smooth silk…

Hmmmm…  Do you think I might have a warm-colour fixation?  Maybe it’s the weather!

Essential Items for Good Spinning

What do you need for successful spinning?  What is essential to produce a gorgeous, soft, lofty yarn?  Well, you start with beautiful fiber that runs through your fingers like butter, and you spin on well-made equipment that you love and that loves you back.  But that’s not all you need…

Spinning can be done in isolation — and there’s something really lovely about the meditative aspect of spinning on one’s own — but, in my opinion, spinning is most enjoyable when it’s done in the company of other spinners. Other spinners inspire, they teach, they encourage, and — most of all — other spinners understand.

A few weeks ago, a friend of mine invited to me come to her spinning group.  It was some considerable distance away and, when I realised how long the drive would be, I had second thoughts.  But I decided to go anyway, and I am so glad I did.   I met a wonderful group of women who welcomed me warmly and whose company I thoroughly enjoyed.  And they were knowledgeable — so knowledgeable, years and years of collective experience all gathered up together and shared out, happily, freely.  It was an absolute pleasure to spin with them.

If you are a new spinner or wanting to learn to spin, seek out the company of other spinners.  It will enhance your experience and your learning immensely.  It will inspire you.  And I’ve never once met a group of spinners who didn’t welcome with open arms a fellow fiber-lover!   So don’t be shy — you can find other spinners through your local yarn shop or knitting group, by looking up spinning guilds, or searching on Ravelry.

And if you happen to find one that meets in a beautiful rural setting on warm summer afternoons, cooled by shade of tall trees and a breeze scented by a garden in bloom, then you will be as lucky as I was.  There simply cannot be a better way to spend a lazy Saturday afternoon.

Getting Started in the Tour de Fleece

Note from the SpaceCadet:  My friend Natalie (npeace on Ravelry) is a prolific spinner who creates her wonderful yarns almost exclusively on spindles.  With the Tour de Fleece coming up, it felt natural to ask her to share her thoughts on the best way to get started…


By Natalie

July 3rd marks the start of one of the biggest events of the spinning year – the Tour de Fleece.   For 3 weeks, spinners everywhere will spin along as the cyclists in the Tour de France work their way across France.  During this time, gorgeous handspun yarns will be popping up all over the internet as spinners show off their tour projects on their blogs and on Ravelry.

It was actually all this frenetic tour-based posting of handspun that got me interested in spinning a few years ago.  If you find yourself drooling over yet another absolutely stunning barber-poled yarn or wondering how it would feel to play in a big pile of cloud-like merino… well, that’s a pretty common side effect of the Tour de Fleece.

Natalie spinning SpaceCadet Creations BFL combed top in Garden in Spring, on a Butterfly Girl spindle

It used to be that people felt they had to invest hundreds of dollars in a wheel in order to do “real” spinning.  This often seems like too daunting an investment to make just to give something a try.  Fortunately, with the current resurgence in popularity of the humble spindle, spinning is becoming ever more accessible.  If you get all fired up by the Tour de Fleece and want to give this spindle thing a try for yourself, here’s a list of resources to get you started:


Respect the Spindle by Abby Franquemont – If you’re only going to buy one spindle resource, this is the one to get.  It starts with the basics but will continue to be useful as you gain competence and experience.  There is also an accompanying video available as a DVD or as a video download from the Interweave online store.

Productive Spindling by Amelia Garripoli, also known as the Bellwether.  This book covers a lot of the same material as Respect the Spindle, but the approach is different, and it is an equally valuable resource.

Internet Resources:

Both authors above have informative blogs.  Abby Franquemont’s is and Amelia Garripoli can be found at  Both have extensive archives of general spinning and spindle-specific information.  Abby Franquemont has also posted a number of fabulous instructional videos to you tube, which you can find here.

Also invaluable to the new spindle spinner is the Spindlers group on Ravelry.  The “Stupid Questions” thread is full of answers to every beginner question imaginable, and if you can’t find what you’re looking for there you can post a new question.  Many experienced spinners generously spend their time monitoring that forum and answering all manner of questions for the new and confused.

There are many, many more resources out there, but starting with the list above will have you up and spinning very quickly.  Have fun!