Ok, it’s not actually Monday but, at least here in the US, it feels like a Monday, so let’s brighten the morning up with some great Mini-Skein ideas!
Y’know, as I was scrolling through Mini-Skein ideas this week for the SpaceCadet’s Mini-Skein Ideas board on Pinterest, the thing that struck me was how versatile they actually are. I mean, when the Mini-Skein craze started, it was all about hexipuffs — tiny little six-sided pillows that give instant gratification and are eventually all put together into the stunning Beekeeper’s Quilt.
And those little puffs get us thinking about using Mini-Skeins for mini-sized projects. Two of my favourites that I spotted on Pinterest this week are the Itty Bitty Stripes hat, knit by deliknits from a pattern by Susan B. Anderson, and the Luxury Holiday Garland, knit by harleagh from a pattern by Kristen Ashbaugh-Helmreich. Both of patterns use small amounts of yarn highlight colour in a whimsical (and delightful way). Who can look at that sweet little hat and not smile? Or resist that garland of happy stars when holiday-time rolls round? Yes, Mini-Skeins really lend themselves to mini-projects like these.
But I think what is really cool is the way people are using Mini-Skeins now to add tiny pops of colour to full-sized projects. More and more on Pinterest, I see designs that use yarn as if it were a crayon to add colour here there and everywhere… Sweaters or cardigans with a gorgeous bright edging… Or maybe a gently contrasting collar or cuffs. Or… or… something really innovative and exciting — like the Stripes Ahoy! sweater, knit by machamaya and designed by Asa Tricosa. Isn’t it fantastic?!? I love how she’s used colour in a unexpected way to turn a simple design into something really eye-catching.
And finally, I want to share Moore, a design by one of my favourite designers, Ruth Garcia-Alcantud of Rock & Purl. It’s eye-catching of course because of its unusual off-center shaping, and side-to-side construction. But imagine if you took those stripes and, instead of doing the pattern in just two colours, you used Mini-Skeins to add a whole spectrum of colour? It’d be stunning, right? No need to imagine — just click here and see how it would look!
You see what I mean about how versatile Mini-Skeins can be? The more I go through ideas on Pinterest, the less I think of them as yarn and more as yarn-crayons, to add colour where-ever it’s going to add impact to a project. What more of that? Follow the SpaceCadet’s Mini-Skein Ideas board on Pinterest and get inspired to colour your world too!
The InterStellar Yarn Alliance parcels went out last week and I think that excited me the most about it was that it included exclusive access to a beautiful knitting pattern created especially for the Alliance Members by the designer at Rock & Purl, Ruth Garcia-Alcantud. I’ve admired her work for a while now and it’s easy to see why.
(Ten points to the first commenter to guess my favourite out of these four! Hint: the answer is further down in this post.)
Her designs have appeared in Interweave Crochet, Vogue Knitting, KnitScene, Knit Magazine, and Yarn Forward. So when Ruth offered to create an exlcusive pattern for the InterStellar Yarn Alliance, I was absolutely over the moon. And I can’t wait another minute to show it to you! This is Medianoche, a pair of beautifully delicate gloves with an amazing, double-layer cuff: a flouncy, lacy outer cuff conceals a fitted ribbed inner cuff. They’re fabulous!
When she sent me Medianoche, Ruth took the opportunity to interview me for her blog, and I decided to ask her a few questions as well. Here’s our conversation, and don’t miss the exciting announcement at the bottom!
Ruth, I love your patterns. I am crazy for Moore. I am over the moon with Medianoche (can’t wait to cast it on!!!). Can you give a brief walk-through of where you grab your inspiration and how you turn that into a pattern?
Some ideas form perfectly in my head from the moment the yarn hits my
hands – Medianoche is a clear example of it! Before I got the yarn, I
knew I was going to transform it into gloves, but once I touched it, I
knew a lace cuff detail would be the center of attention and worked
Other times, like with Moore, it takes a little longer – Moore was
originally a scarf/wrap! It was the first garment where I applied the
sideways technique, and I’m quite glad I thought of discarding the
scarf idea now.
All in all, while I may have an idea such as “I want to make a
sweater” and want to pair it with a worsted weight yarn… I have to
let the yarn be what it wants to be!
So, when did you move from being a knitter to a knit designer? How did you know, in your mind, that you’d made that leap?
I was always a “Ms Perfection Knitter” – I took great pride in
finishing, perfect gauge, etc. I once knit this horrible jumper that
was completely off in the measurements area, the waist was
non-existent and the cross back was WAY too big for me. I reworked it
to my measurements, and I guess that was my first non-artistic move
into the design world.
Fresh out of a job a couple of years ago, I went a little bananas and
thought I’d jump in with both feet, but I wanted to explore the
knitwear design world before launching a venture that could have
fallen flat on its face – I researched yarns, swatched lots, read
everything I could on sizing, grading, fitting and eye-catching
details to ensure designs are one-of-a-kind.
In the meantime, I designed accessories, where the fit and the
modeled sample didn’t have to be perfect, until I thought I was ready
to move into the garment arena. My first garment acceptance came from
Shannon Okey (aka knitgrrl) who has since then become a very good
friend and mentor.
If you had to stop knitting — I know! It’s a ridiculous thought! — but if you did, what would your ideal job be? And how would your experience of being a knit designer
Mmmmm…. I like jobs that have plenty of small pieces to fit into a
bigger one. I liked my old PA role in which I had to organize agendas,
trips, events and yet ensure that the day-to-day running of the office
did not go unattended. So I’d like a job with defined, visible, key
Now, I know you grew up in Spain but now live in England. How is knitting in Britain different to knitting in Spain? Has your
style or way of thinking about the craft changed from one country to
Wow, you’ve no idea how the internet and Ravelry have changed the
mentality of knitting over in Spain! Knitting groups have multiplied
and the one I visit when I go visit my parents used to be about… 6 people? They now have to ask permission to “camp” at Starbucks in
town, there’s that many of them!
My father works in fashion and his mum was also involved in it, so my
view about the craft has always been about couture, delicate,
made-to-measure pieces. I would like to think I transported those
ideas with me – as a good visitor, I always buy yarn when I go there
too! We get fantastic finds in bright coloured cottons and some
interesting wool blends for those who don’t have vicious winters.
If you were hosting a dinner party that included the most influential people in your life, who would they be and (more importantly!) what would you cook?
Difficult!! My dad, both my grandmothers, my husband-to-be Brian and
my aunt. I pride myself in my duck with lime sauce and coconut rice ..
would you like to try it when you visit England next?
Yes please! Ok, so, when you design, do you have a specific person in mind? Are you designing for someone, or for yourself?
I’d tell a lie if I said “nooo I don’t think about myself”. When I am thinking of a self-published pattern, I need to make it fit me as I’m the model for the photographs, but I also want to make sure it fits a
variety of bodies, so if I don’t believe it will fit anyone above a 38” bust the idea gets scrapped.
I have a funny story about it – I created Anchored with no intention of releasing it whatsoever as I thought people would think it too risque and flashy. In the end it’s been one of my best-sellers, so sometimes it’s obvious I’m not right!
What is the best bit of being a designer? What part of it brings you the most joy?
I love grading, calculating, adapting and playing with numbers – and
while I moan a lot about Illustrator and InDesign not doing what I
want them to do, I enjoy creating schematics and laying out patterns.
Publishing is such a thrill – will it do ok? will it flop? But nothing gives me quite as much satisfaction as seeing pictures of the objects people create with my patterns, and getting good comments on them.
Ruth, you and I are both expats, so I know we both understand the internal conflict that comes from having two places to call ‘home’. When you think way ahead into your future, where do you see yourself pulled to? Where do you see yourself living as an old lady?
I truly don’t know. My other half and I always joke about moving countries, and not just in Europe! But we’re so settled in our little home now that I’d be heartbroken if I had to leave. That being said, the warmer winters from Valencia (where I come from) would be a delight compared to the chill of Blighty!
And finally, I’ll ask the same great question you asked me… what
do you hope to infuse into knitters that work with your patterns?
There’s NOTHING you cannot achieve. I hope to teach you some tricks or
techniques that will make your knitting easier, or perhaps create that
one garment that will make you feel like the million dollars you
already are worth – but remember… it’s YOU who makes it, and you
should be proud of that and every single stitch you pour onto your
It’s been such a pleasure for me, working with Ruth and getting to know her better. And so exciting to send out the InterStellar Yarn Alliance parcels, knowing that every one of the Alliance Members was getting her beautiful Medianoche!
And would you like to see what else was in the parcel? Well, the first thing in the box was the SpaceCadet’s Log, to explain the inspiration for the colourway.
And then there was the yarn of course! It was Izarra, an absolutely beautiful blend of 80% Superwash Blue-Faced Leicester (BFL) and 20% Nylon. It’s going to look fantastic as a pair of gloves!
And then, just for fun, I included a few holiday gift tags, specially designed to help the gift recipients to realise just how lucky they are to received a handmade gift!
The InterStellar Yarn Alliance Gift Subscription
If you’ve been thinking that a gift subscription to the InterStellar Yarn Alliance would make the perfect present for a knitter or crocheter on your holiday list, then I have some great news. Later this month, we will be offering limited number of special Yarn Alliance gift subscription packages. We’re putting the details together now, and to be the very first to hear about it, make sure you’re on the Yarn Adventurers’ mailing list!