Things My Non-Knitting Sister Says: the Trouble with Knit Groups

You may recall that my sister, who spent the last two decades pshawing my suggestions that she try knitting, has picked up the needles at last  …and discovered that she loves it.   She’s on her second garter-knit scarf and carries her WIP with her everywhere.  She’s becoming a knitter.  I’m more than a little stunned.

But so far, she’s been knitting in isolation.  Occasionally, she’s run into a fellow knitter on the bus and they’ve discussed projects and yarns in the short time before her stop arrives but, for the most part, she’s been knitting on her own, without the camaraderie of other knitters.  And that’s not right, is it?!?

SpaceCadet Creations fingering yarn in Merino/Nylon/Bamboo in SeaFoam, for knitters and crocheters

And so I’ve been encouraging her to check out her local LYS’s knit groups.  But it turns out they’re on nights that don’t work with her schedule.  And joining a new group can be a little intimidating, especially for someone who has just learned to knit.  The one night she did make it there, she wandered around looking at the yarn and peeking at the knitting group from behind the shelves — but never got the nerve to actually sit with them and knit.

I understand.  It’s hard to join a new group, knitting or not.  And…  well…  she’s seen with her own eyes how crazy knitters get!  So, yeah, I can understand…

SpaceCadet Creations Luna Laceweight yarn in Merino & Silk, in Covetous, for knitters and crocheters

I was on the phone to her this week.  “Oh! Oh! I have to tell you!” she suddenly exclaimed.  “It’s about the knitting…”  She’d been chatting to a neighbour who, out of the blue, mentioned something about knitting.   My sister pulled out her WIP.  They discussed projects, yarns…  and then, the neighbour said she wasn’t going to the knitting group that week.

“The knitting group?” my sister inquired.

It turns out that there is a knitting group in her apartment building.  What’s more, it turns out that there are a lot of knitters in her building.  So many, in fact, that there isn’t enough room for all the knitters in the building to join the group.  My sister has been knitting in isolation in her flat whilst, all the while, surrounded by knitters on all sides, and never knew it.  She squealed a little as she told me.

Here was a group she could join!  These were people she already knew, and liked  …and they’re knitters too.  It couldn’t be more perfect.

SpaceCadet Creations fingering yarn in Merino/Nylon in Translucence, for knitters and crocheters

BUT… this group also meets on a day that doesn’t work with her schedule.  Ok, I said, so maybe you could open a sort of second “branch” of this knitting group, on a day that works for you.  And people could go to either or both, whichever best fits their schedule.

She laughed out loud at the thought.  “You mean, in a few weeks’ time, I could actually belong a knitting group?  That meets in my flat?!?”

Yeah…  I guess she…  well, she really could.

You remember I said up at the beginning that her knitting adventure has me a bit stunned?  Yep, at that moment, you could have knocked me right over with a feather.


Oh, hey, listen…  Thursday is Thanksgiving (which has totally taken me by surprise — were you ready for it?!?).  So first, a very Happy Thanksgiving to all of you.

And then, of course, Thanksgiving starts the madness that is the holiday shopping season, so I want to give you a heads up that I will be launching a special Holiday Gift Subscription the the SpaceCadet’s yarn club, the InterStellar Yarn Alliance.  It’s a fabulous way to give a gift to a knitter or crocheter in your life that will keep them happy all year long.

And be quick, because spaces are limited and the Alliance doesn’t open to new members very often at all.  But more than that, I’ll be offering a special one-day introductory discount on Black Friday only.  So, enjoy your turkey, have a wonderful wonderful Thanksgiving…  and then, on Black Friday, let everyone else go mad rushing off to the shops, and you can score yourself some great Gifts of Yarny Goodness without even changing out of your PJs!

(Want a reminder on Friday morning?  Do make sure you’re on the mailing list!)

SpaceCadet At The Pittsburgh Knit & Crochet Festival!

His Vision: He is having surgery this week — nothing major, but enough to keep him on off his feet and off work for a few weeks.  And in his vision, he sees himself sitting comfortably in bed — or perhaps on the couch, remote control in hand — where pillows will be lovingly fluffed for him, and cups of tea brought on a tray  …perhaps with a plate of cookies to soothe his suffering.  He sees himself waited on hand and foot, while he gently recovers in peace and serenity.  A bit like man-flu, but fittingly multiplied.

The Big News: SpaceCadet Creations has manged to get a last-minute spot at the Pittsburgh Knit and Crochet Festival!  This is so exciting, I can hardly tell you!  If you’ve ever wanted to see the SpaceCadet’s yarns in person — if you want to see the colours in real life instead of in pictures, or just want to pet all the lovely fibers — please do come.  We’d love to see you!

The Reality:  There is an enormous amount of work to be done — an enormous amount! — and only three weeks to do it.   There are kilos (and kilos and kilos…) of yarn to be dyed.  And then to be reskeined and twisted and tagged.  I’ve got to get a sign made, and cards printed, and get bags sourced.  I’m trying to figure out how to dress the booth — baskets? shelves? racks? what?!? — so that everything looks good (and nothing comes tumbling down!).  And then, of course, there is the shop to keep stocked as well, the custom orders to fill, and a few special projects that I already had up my sleeve.

I am so excited and so looking forward to the Festival but — oh! — there is so much to do!  And only three weeks to do it!  Did I mention there’s only three weeks?!?


Sooooo…  back to his vision…

He will get good care, and he will get love.  And cups of tea.  No really, he will!

But when I should be waiting on him hand and foot, I… um…  I’ll probably be out in the studio dyeing.  And when I ought to be fluffing his pillows, I’ll be… yeah… out in the studio dyeing.  And when his dinner should be arriving on a tray, or his teacup being refilled (again), I might be out getting the sign made, and the cards printed, and finding those baskets and shelves…

I’m afraid his peaceful and serene recovery isn’t going to be anything like what he envisions, and I feel terrible about that.  The poor lad.  But, hey, SpaceCadet’s gets to go to the Pittsburgh Knit and Crochet Festival!  And you get to come and snorgle all the fibery goodness in person!

Soooo… are you going to tell him, or am I?



(…I vote you!)

Spinning Up Memories of a Friend

This is Wilson.

Wilson belonged to my friend Leslie (who was instrumental in creating the SpaceCadet logo) and he was a great dog.  Everyone says that about their dogs, I know, but Wilson really was.  I met him when he was starting his retirement career as a Pets as Therapy dog, visiting long-term residents at his local hospital who benefited from a bit of borrowed canine company.  He was also an “Ambassa-dog” for a charity called the Dogs Trust, attending talks and events with Leslie and showing people just how lovely rescue dogs can be.  And he worked behind the scenes at the charity too, where they used his excellent communication skills to help less confident rescue dogs become used to being around others.  When I met him, Wilson was gentle and kind, tolerated my (then) 1-year-old’s clumsy curiosity, and lent against my leg with the kind of heaviness that tells you this dog would really like a nice scratch behind his ear.

Last month, Wilson lost his battle with a brain tumour, and when Leslie realised he didn’t have much time left, she asked me and another mutual spinning friend, Stephanie of OttertopWorkshop, whether it would be possible to spin up Wilson’s fur to knit a small square to go into his keepsake box.   Or was that a crazy idea…?  Stephanie and I both assured her it wasn’t at all crazy — it’d be a nice way to remember him — and we agreed that she should spend some quality time with Wilson in his last few day, fussing over him and brushing him, until she’d collected enough of his undercoat to spin a bit of yarn.  I warned Leslie that it might need to be mixed with wool if it didn’t hold together well on its own and, though she agreed, I could sense that wasn’t what she really wanted.  She wanted 100% Wilson — and I understood.

The bag of fur arrived on Friday, and I sat down immediately at my wheel.  I’ve never successfully spun dog before — I’d tried years and years ago, with some Husky fur that a colleague had given me, but I couldn’t make a yarn that held together.  But that was when I was a relatively new spinner, and I hoped I’d gained enough experience by now to coax a yarn out of Wilson’s uncooperative-looking fluff.

I began the wheel turning… slowly… slowly…  just to see how the fur would behave.  With such a short-stapled, uncrimped fiber, my hands quite naturally went to a long draw, and spun it with a bit of thickness.  And it seemed to be holding together pretty well.  I stopped the wheel and let the yarn twist back on itself and it looked good but… here… and there… I could see it wanted to come apart.  I moved the drive band to a slower whorl for more control, loosened the brake a wee bit, and decided to go a bit thicker and to overspin it.  It wouldn’t be as soft as I would like, but needs must.  I could see that with a little overspin, Leslie could get the 100% Wilson yarn she really wanted, and I was determined to give her that if it were at all possible.

The overspinning worked and the yarn was (fairly) stable, thick, and surprisingly fuzzy.  And I was covered in dog hair, which made laugh — all dogs shed, all humans complain about it, and here was Wilson being cheeky and still shedding on someone from beyond the grave!  I took the bobbin off and put it on the lazy kate for Navajo plying — there hadn’t been enough fiber to split between two or three bobbins for proper plying, as I would have preferred.

Navajo plying was a bit of a trial — pulling the yarn through the loop was more friction than it could handle in places and it fell apart on me quite a few times — but I managed it in the end.  Again, a little overtwist helped to hold it and, in this case, balanced the overtwist in the singles.  When I was done plying, I grabbed my needles and knit it straight off the wheel.  Normally I’d let the yarn rest and give it a wash, of course, but I didn’t want to lose any of the fiber’s Wilson-ness for Leslie, so I decided to leave it as it was.

Unfortunately, I got lost in my thoughts and cast too many stitches, so it came out as more of a rectangle than a square, but the yarn had held together surprisingly well during the knitting and so I decided to leave it as it was rather than stress the yarn by ripping back.  When I cast off, I looked at the fuzzy rectangle in my hand, and decided that was probably just about right.

Before I wrote this piece, I emailed Leslie and asked her to clarify Wilson’s various jobs.  I remembered them roughly, but wanted to be sure I got it all right.  She replied with a list, and the last point on it read simply, “my best friend.”  Of all the jobs that Wilson did, and all the joy he brought to people’s lives, I suspect his most important role was being Leslie’s best friend.  I am honoured to have been able to help give her something to remind her forever of her lovely Wilson.