The Trouble with Cameras: Shop Update

One thing I’ve discovered since opening SpaceCadet Creations is that I really love photographing yarn.  I really love it.  When I get the camera in there, in close, and the light is just right and colours are popping and I can almost feel the texture coming right through the picture, I get so excited.  Mmmmm… yarn porn — is there anything better?

And I suspect that paragraph is completely incomprehensible to anyone who is not yarn-crazy…  But you understand, don’t you?  Yeah, you know exactly what I’m talking about.

But sometimes, it goes wrong.  I’ve got my camera there, the light is right, the macro is doing its thing…  but the colours just aren’t coming out right.  It should be working, but it’s just not.  And I can’t tell you how crazy-making it is when that happens — because I’ve put a lot of effort into the colours I put in my yarns, and it’s incredibly frustrating when I just cannot get the camera to capture those colours.

This week, I’ve put a bunch of gorgeous yarns in the shop.  I love them!  Some are sublimely coloured, some are subtle, and some are quirky, but they’re all  beautiful to look at…

Clockwise from left: Celeste yarn in Plumberry, Stella yarn in Megan’s Frost, Astrid yarn in Sailor’s Warning, Celeste yarn in Sweetpeas, Celeste yarn in Night Sky, and Celeste yarn in Sweet Decay.

But see that one in the middle, down at the bottom?  The one with a lot of blue and what looks like maybe black?  That was one of those yarns that simply refused to be photographed.  Flat out refused.  Oh, it looks nice enough in the picture but, in real life, it’s just so much more — deep, vibrant purples, dark greens and browns, amazing blues.  It’s so dark and rich and moody…  truly stunning.  But could I capture that on film? Could I heck!  And it was driving me crazy!

So, if you can’t fight it, join it.  So, here’s how I’m going to look at it:  see that picture there in the middle, and the bottom of the page?  That one is there to make all the other pictures look even better.  Seriously — look at them.  Doesn’t that one picture make the colours in the one above it look so subtle and soft?  And doesn’t it just make the pinks in the one to the right look vibrant?  See what I mean?

And so that bad picture serves a good purpose now.  But what’s even better is what will happen when someone buys that yarn…  Because when they pull it out of the box and see its true colours…  they’re going to understand just how frustrating that camera can be!

Great Tools for Beginning Spinners

Note from the SpaceCadet:  My friend Natalie (npeace on Ravelry) is a prolific spinner who creates amazing handspun yarns almost exclusively on spindles.  She’s been kind enough to write about a few of her favourites here.

A while ago, I wrote a bit about resources for a beginning spindle spinner.  Since writing that post, a couple of people have come back to me saying:  That’s all well and good, but what are the actual tools that a beginner needs?

It’s a good question.  One of the appeals of spindle spinning is that it really doesn’t take much.  A spindle is basically just a stick and a weight, in one configuration or another.  Get one of those and add in some fiber – preferably prepared for spinning, but even that’s not completely necessary – and you should be good to go, right?  Well, yes… and no.  Yes because, well, yes; at a minimum that is what you need to spin.  No because, like most activities, having good tools makes the process easier – especially in the beginning.

I recommend a high-whorl spindle to start with.  There’s nothing intrinsically better about high whorls compared to low-whorls, or any other kind of spindle for that matter.  All types have their advantages.  However, the current spindle resurgence, in the US at least, has centered around the high-whorl spindle and this type of spindle is the most readily available, and the most generally used.

For a complete beginner, I suggest a spindle between 1 and 2 ounces.  Something in this range should suit most beginners nicely, and will continue to be useful as a plying tool even if the spinner decides with experience that they prefer lighter spindles.

Whorl diameter is also something to consider.  Generally, the broader the whorl is, the longer the spindle will spin.  For a first spindle, look for something between about 2.5 and 3.5 inches.

With these basics in mind, let me show you the spindles I most often use to teach beginners to spin.  These are only the tools that I have found to be effective – there are many other good spindle makers out there, and this list is by no means exhaustive.

My absolute favorite teaching spindle is this is a 1.3 ounce Kundert:

This spindle has a long, level spin that makes it easy for beginners to control as they first learn to draft.  It also has a nice broad whorl which lends stability to the spin, and the shape of the hook captures yarn well, minimizing slippage.

With many of the advantages of a Kundert spindle, but at a lower price point is this spindle from Spinsanity:

This spindle does not have the hand-turned elegance of the Kundert, but it is well crafted and has a very similar kind of long, easy spin.

Another maker I often recommend to a beginner is Jonathan Bosworth:

His spindles come in several size ranges, but a beginner would probably do well with a midi.  The whorl here is much narrower.  However,  the way it is shaped still keeps the weight distribution towards the rim, which makes for a long, steady spin.  The narrower whorl also makes it easier to carry around with you, so if you plan on spinning  when you’re out and about, this might be a good choice.

Finally, on the high end of the price spectrum is Golding Fiber Tools:

Golding craftsmanship speaks for itself.  If you’re one of those beginners ready to commit whole-heartedly to this spinning thing from day one, a Golding learn-to-spin kit would be an excellent way to start.

There are many other good makers out there and this list is just something to get you started.  If you try one of my suggestions and find that it doesn’t suit you, by all means try something else.  Check out the Spindlers and the Spindle Candy groups on Ravelry for other ideas.  Your spinning will only be improved by experimentation!

Scenes from a Fiber Life: Reskeining Freshly Cut Grass

After the skeins are dyed, we reskein them into smaller, more manageable skeins to go in the shop.  And we do it outside, if it’s a nice day…  in the dappled sunlight with a glass of chilled mimosa.  This was my Sunday.

Freshly Cut Grass on the swift

From the swift onto the skein winder
The swift moving at high speed

And the result is one of my favourite colourways, Freshly Cut Grass

Podcasts: Fibery Goodness Whispered in Your Ear

When I finally bought an MP3 player last year, I thought I’d be using it to listen to music, but it turns out that what I really listen to are fiber podcasts.   I love ’em!  Ever since I discovered there were these people out there just talking away about knitting, spinning, weaving, and dyeing, I’ve been addicted.  Who wouldn’t be?  A nearly endless source of people who get it and are right there, on tap, ready at any time of day or night to whisper in my ear about all thing fibery — while I’m doing the dishes or sweeping the floor or stuck in traffic or inexplicably wide awake in the dead of night.  Who wouldn’t be hooked?!?

Well… ok, I know there are a lot of people who wouldn’t be, but that’s only because they’re not fiber freaks like you and I.  In fiberista terms,the people who matter are the people who understand the allure of fiber, and that’s me, and you …and the podcasters.  Here are some of my absolute favourites:

Cast-On from Brenda Dayne is the first fiber podcast I discovered and I think it is the absolute best — a benchmark for all other podcasters to work toward.  Thoughtful, whimsical, educational, and always so beautifully put together, Cast-On is always a treat.  Brenda is taking a sabbatical at the moment to recover from some health issues but, if you’ve never listened, it’s worth working your way through the archives while we wait for her return.

FiberBeat is what I imagine the B-52s would come up with if they decided to record a fiber podcast.  WonderMike has created a zany podcast that, while always full of interesting interviews, news, and information, is also chock full of crazy random audio madness that has me laughing out loud.  You’ll have to listen to see what I mean, but that’s no hardship.

Insubordiknit from spinning artist  Jacey Boggs is a rare treat — rare because she produces episodes randomly and seldom, but a treat because they are so completely worth the wait.  Jacey is famous in the fiber world for her art yarns — unique, creative, and stunning… but always stable and balanced.  Listening to her talk through their creation is wonderfully inspiring.

These great podcasters keep me wrapped in fibery goodness even when I can’t be spinning or knitting — a wonderful thing.    And you know what?  I’d like to find more fiber podcasts just like them!   What are your favourite podcasts?   Who should I be listening to?  I’d love to know.

Iceberg — Fresh and Cold and Blue

A friend of mine suggested I try a snow-and-ice colourway — and the easiest way, I suspect, might be to just leave the snowy-white wool undyed…!  But that would never do, so this is what I came up with instead.  Doesn’t it say icy-cold to you?.

Hand-dyed Combed Top, Superwash Merino, in Iceberg

Bright sunshine, falling from a dazzling and cloudless blue sky, carries with the promise of a warm midsummer’s day …but for the breeze, which belies the truth with its bracing chill, and the way light bounces back off the brilliant white snow that sits atop luminous blue mass of ice, melting at the edges, releasing gentle droplets which drip quietly down… down to the white-capped waves… down to the sea that hides the frozen mass of the Iceberg in its murky blue-black depths.

This is over 4oz of wonderfully soft Superwash Merino combed top. It spins up beautifully, and the final item can be machine washed.

Fiber Content: 100% Superwash Merino wool
Weight: Approximately 4.25oz / 120g
Colourway: Iceberg 100410-001
Care Instructions for the final item: Hand or Machine wash, Lay flat to dry..

Each item is individually hand-dyed by the SpaceCadet, using professional grade acid dyes which are mixed by hand from primaries. Please be sure to buy enough for your project as dyelots can vary noticeably and the colours may not be able to be reproduced exactly.
SpaceCadet Creations is a smoke-free, pet-free environment.
Please remember that the colours in pictures may vary depending on your computer monitor. The colours in the photos are as accurate as possible.