Developing a Colourway… and Starting a Collection

A couple of weeks ago, I showed you the SpaceCadet collections — groups of colourways designed to go together and to make it easier to choose coordinating yarns for your projects.  And one of the groups I showed you was the Submerge collection.  Remember it?…

SpaceCadet Creations Submerge Collection yarns for knitting and crochet

I started this collection by playing with colour, until I created a variegated colourway that just made me gasp as I pulled it out of the dyepot.  That colourway was Submerge, a rich combination of blues, teals, greens, and gold.  I fell completely in love with it, and so I developed an entire collection around the colours in that skein.  And that wonderful gold, I named Honey.  See how well they work together?

SpaceCadet Creations yarn for knitting and crochet in Submerge and Honey

And the it’s not just the variegation of Submerge that pulls the collection together.  This lovely rust-red is called Pride.  See how it works with Honey as well?

SpaceCadet Creations yarn for knitting and crochet in Honey and Pride

Now, I’m not a yellow person — not at all.  It always makes me look washed out and tired,so I never find myself drawn to yellows or golds much at all.  But there was something about the depth and richness of Honey that I just couldn’t pull away from.  I kept going back to again and again, turning it over in my hands, just loving the colour.

And so when I was in studio, I found myself going into every new experimental colourway by starting with the recipe for Honey.  Every single one.  And I thought to myself, This is never going to work.  You can’t base every new colourway on Honey!  Not everyone likes yellows.  And everything will come out looking like Submerge…

Just goes to show how much I know.  Because try as I might, I couldn’t stop myself from starting with Honey and, as I laid on layer after layer of dye, the whole colourscape began to change, until I finally pulled this out of the dyepot…

SpaceCadet Creations yarn for knitting and crochet in Diaphanous

This blew my mind.  This is gorgeous!  And this is nothing like Submerge — it doesn’t go with the collection at all.  It looks completely different.  And yet, it started with Honey.  And, looking at it on its own, you might not even think this goes with Honey at all.  Until you put the two of them together…  and you fall in love all over again…

SpaceCadet Creations yarn for knitting and crochet in Honey and Diaphanous

I’ve called this new colourway Diaphanous.  And I think, if it plays its cards right, it might be the start of a whole new colourway collection come the Autumn.  I’ll keep playing with it, and we’ll see…  (In fact, I’ve already started.  Here’s what happened when I laid more colour onto Diaphanous.)

In the meantime, there’s a whole bunch of gorgeous Diaphanous and Honey that I’ve just put in the shop.  It’s in Izarra, a wonderful BFL-nylon yarn that Ruth Garcia-Alcantud of Rock & Purl used to design her elegant Medianoche gloves

Click here to see the new yarns!

Click Here to see the Shop Update of new SpaceCadet Creations yarns for knitting and crochet

(Oh, and two of those yarns in the Diaphanous photo up there aren’t in the shop yet.  One is a lovely delicate laceweight and the other is an exquisite new yarn that is so luxurious it’s almost scary.  And because they’re so special, I’ll be putting them first into a Yarn Adventurer’s email — if you’re on the Yarn Adventurer’s mailing list, look for that in the next few days.  And if you’re not, keep an eye on the shop for them in about ten days).

My First Ever Dyeing

I was walking through the living room the other day when my eye fell on a bowl on yarn.  It’s been sitting on the shelf for several years now, looking pretty …but pretty much ignored.  I walk past it day after day and had almost forgotten it was even there.

But I really shouldn’t forget about it, because it’s some pretty important yarn — it’s the first yarn I dyed seriously.  Y’know, not just messing about, not playing with Kool-Aid…  This was the first yarn I dyed with professional grade dyes and real goals for the resulting colours.   This was the yarn that I showed to my friends, asked them what they thought…  waited nervously for their answers…

The first yarn the SpaceCadet ever dyed

They loved it.  And so, this was the yarn that has changed my life.

But the yarn itself is not lovely.  It was something wallowing at the very bottom of my stash, for good reason…   It’s thick and rustic, rough and itchy.  I don’t know why I ever bought or what I’d ever use it for.  And so the yarn has sat in that bowl, pretty but unnoticed, for several years now.

So when I spotted it the other day — hidden there in plain sight — I thought it had probably been waiting long enough.  It was time to honour the importance of that yarn by using it in a project.  But what project for a rustic, itchy yarn…?

I carried the bowl over to the dining table and grabbed my phone.  And as I took a couple photos, I suddenly realised what the project would be.  I wound the yarn and cast on.

It’s going to be the perfect use for this yarn.  And you’ll never guess what it is.  I’ll show you when I get further along…


Dyeing the Angles (and a Shop Update!)

I want to show you something that I think is fascinating.  This is Translucence, a yarn I dyed — just playing with the colours, letting them lead me where they wanted — and then instantly fell  in love with.  Head over heels…

hand-dyed yarn, yarn, knitting, crochet, indie dyer, lace, lace weight, spacecadet creations, space cadet creations
Luna Laceweight silk/merino yarn in Translucence

When you first pick it up, you think it’s a simple blue-grey.  But when you look closer, you see the most incredible, delicate play of colours: yes, the blues and greys are there, but they’re mixed in with warm pinks, watery greens, and soft purples.  It’s an incredibly subtle and complex colourway.

hand-dyed yarn, yarn, knitting, crochet, indie dyer, lace, lace weight, spacecadet creations, space cadet creations
Subtle shades hidden in Translucence

(…You know what, I really should dye more of Translucence.  I think I will — soon.  If you like it as much as I do, keep your eyes open for it over the next few weeks.)

Ok, but here’s what I wanted to show you… Translucence is created from three colours that I mix up and then carefully apply to the yarn in a specific order: first one, then another, and then the third.  In my mind, I see these three colours as points on a triangle, which I approach from one direction and work my way around.

And I wondered what would happen if I approached that triangle of colours from another direction.  Are you ready?  Here it is…

hand-dyed yarn, yarn, knitting, crochet, indie dyer, lace, lace weight, spacecadet creations, space cadet creations
Luna Laceweight silk/merino yarn in Resplendence

The same three colours, the exact same recipe, just applied in a different order.  It’s incredible, isn’t it?  What a difference!

hand-dyed yarn, yarn, knitting, crochet, indie dyer, lace, lace weight, spacecadet creations, space cadet creations
The same colours as Translucence, dyed from a different angle

This is Resplendence and it’s got burnished pinks, gentle blues, and warm greens, all peeking through a beautiful golden yellow that acts as the (maybe) defining colour of the mix.  And, even though this is a variegated colourway and even though each of these colours is definitely holding its own against the others, it would still work beautifully for lacework — the colours blend so beautifully that they would work even with a complicated stitch pattern and you’d end up with one incredibly stunning result.

It’s as beautiful as Translucence, but completely different.  And all I did was approach the triangle of colours from another direction.  That kinda blows my mind.  Does it blow yours too?


Shop Update

Here’s more fun stuff: new yarns in the shop!  I went for some seriously intense blues and greens.  Think of summer sunlight, think of cool water, think of gentle shade under a leafy tree…

knitting, crochet, yarn, sock yarn, hand-dyed, indie dyer, spacecadet creations, space cadet creationsClockwise from top left: Estelle fingering weight merino/cashmere/nylon yarn in Dry and Blue Sky, Tuesday Blue, Lost, and Cove

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!

Inspiration for Colour in Knitting and Dyeing

A few years ago, I took a class with Brandon Mably that completely changed the way I thought about colour.  It was an intense 2-day course which challenged us to think about how we see and use colour from the minute we arrived in the morning, until we left at the end of the day.  Brandon had us doing a lot of crazy things to shake up our brains, from throwing all our balls of yarn into the center of the floor and mixing them all up, to free-knitting swatches that contained 10… 15… 20 different colours.  It was a great weekend (and if you ever get a chance to take Brandon’s Design in Colour class, I highly recommend it).

And there’s one technique that he taught that has translated particularly well from knitting to dyeing.  He suggested that we use artwork that we love — paintings that really spoke to us — and use the colours as inspiration.  If those colours work in the painting, then they would work in our knitting too.  He walked around the room and let us choose from a stack of fine-art postcards and greeting cards, whichever painting called out to each of us the most.


The thing about using this technique is that you suddenly realise how many colours you don’t see, even as they are right in front of your eyes.  When you first look at a painting, you may see what you think of as a “yellow painting”…


But when you take the time to really immerse yourself into the colour, you suddenly see so much more — little spots of red that jump out at you, the grays that fade into the background, subtle greens that you didn’t even notice.  They all work together — these colours that you never would have thought of putting side-by-side — and they create a depth and complexity that pulls you back again and again.

Just realising that really began to set us free in that class, and we dove into the pile of yarn in the middle of the floor.  Using our cards as a guide, everyone’s knitting exploded into wild colour —  combinations of shades far more daring than we would have tried before.


And then Brandon showed us a something else that I hadn’t noticed: different areas of the the same painting contain their own micro-colourways, and give off completely different moods from what you felt when you first saw the painting.  So if you take a painting that you think of as mostly sunny and yellow, and cover part of it up, you might find an area that’s completely different…  that’s moody and blue…

And when you switch your hands around again, the whole mood changes back to the sunny and yellow you saw before.  Or maybe to a different section, and a different colourway and mood.  Here are little colourways that you can pull out for inspiration in your knitting, and that I use in my dyeing — a whole world of colourways in one painting, just waiting to inspire you, if you stop and look closely enough!  And once you start seeing them, you really can’t wait to start using them yourself…  to start knitting as though you’re painting.


(When I lived in the UK, fine art cards like this one from Woodmansterne were available in any card shop for just a couple of pounds.  But here in the US, I don’t regularly see cards like this — the shelves seem to filled with the standard assortment of greetings cards with nice-but-not-overly-interesting artwork.  I’d love to find a good supplier of art cards like this one to inspire me…  Can anyone suggest where I might find something similar here in America?)

Shop Update: Bright and Bold

When I reached into this pile of wonderful fibery goodness to choose the yarns I would put into the shop this week, my hand went straight to the brightest shades, the boldest colour combinations.  Eye-candy!

Left to right: Celeste yarn in Flock of Parrots, Iris, Ball of Fire, HeartBeat, Ripe, and Cold Harmony


Let me introduce you to them:

Celeste Superwash Merino Yarn in Iris

Hidden for so long within its vibrant green stalk, when the Iris finally breaks through and reveals its bloom, the rich purple of the petals with its surprising splash of yellow is nothing short of breath-taking.


Celeste Superwash Merino Yarn in Cold Harmony

Grey the colour of cold and blustery — cloudy skies over unkind days. And Purple in asucculent shade of zing, a lively sparks that breaks through the grey and breathes life into the day. Together they blend beautifully into a Cold Harmony.


Celeste Superwash Merino Yarn in Ripe

Pink slides lazily into Mauve and, hardly pausing to note the change, then dips softly into Purple. And in the end, which comes out on top? It doesn’t even matter — with colours so gentle and ripe, it’s all good.


Celeste Superwash Merino Yarn in Ball of Fire

A Ball of Fire, burning bright, slowly sinking below the horizon… Crackles, hisses, spits and burns… Red, yellow, and orange come flying out in great streaks of colour, escaping across the sky.


Celeste Superwash Merino Yarn in HeartBeat

Deep reds and warm pinks like the oxygen-rich blood that carries life on every steady HeartBeat, and cool blue of that same blood as it returns to be replenished again in its life-sustaining circle.


Celeste Superwash Merino Yarn in Flock of Parrots

Falling from the tree and caught on the wind in a flash of purple-blue and green and startling yellow, a reminder that there are no caged birds in a Flock of Parrots.