Sunday, February 22, 2009

most recent group order

I forgot to post these photos earlier. They're from my latest group order. Also the largest one to date--over 50 skeins. The first one to include spinning fiber, as well. I finished the order in just over 3 weeks, and could have done it faster if I hadn't run into some issues with black dye. It's nice to see how much I've streamlined my production.

You can see the Flickr photo with notes on the colorway names here:

I had two favorite results out of this batch. One was Morgaine, on Corriedale. The photo doesn't show it well, but there are lots of intermediate shades of blue, green, and purple in the two skeins.

The other one was Inked, on Canadian BFL. I just like something about how these particular shades work together.

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

a-rovin', a-rovin', since rovin's been my ruin

Surely there must be a dyer out there who likes both roving and sea shanties? I bet there's a blog named after A'Rovin'.

Anyway. Based on many helpful responses from my contest, I have been dyeing a fair amount of roving. Well, top to be more exact.

First, the custom for the winner of the contest, MamaMay:

And because several people said they liked to see the whole extent of the fiber, here's a photo of it unbraided:

Coral Reef is up for sale on Thursday at my store:

And Tawny of Baby Bean Designs spun my Provence top for me. The big skein is plied with a semi-solid reddish-purple top; the mini-skein is just Provence. Not a great photo, since the yarn is so lustrous; I'll try to retake it before I knit it up.

Here's the original top for reference:

There's more on my Flickr--look under the fiber or roving tag.

Friday, February 13, 2009

knitting ADD

First, I've been noticing hits on my blog by people who seem to be looking for the Apple Yarns blog. :) Here's the link:

Now, on with the show.

For most of the past three years, I've been too busy knitting for other people to think much about personal projects. I've been really focused, getting one project squared away before starting on the next. But now that I'm taking a break from deadline-based knitting because of my neck and shoulder, I find myself flitting from project to project, with the list growing bigger by the day.

Last weekend, I finished knitting the back of Rogue and blocked it to see how much it would grow (about an inch horizontally, without any stretching during blocking). While it was drying, instead of finishing my other Ducky, like a sensible person would do, I started on a charity knitting project, Baba's Bed Socks. These will go to the local hospice. Easy peasy project that I managed to turn into an ordeal by unraveling the heel flap to do slip stitches, which in turn was unraveled to do a short-row heel, which was unraveled again when I realized I didn't use enough stitches for the heel. Then I decided to just stick with the pattern, but absentmindedly made the heel flap 17 stitches instead of 16. Sigh.

I've also been trying to figure out something to make from two skeins of my sport weight organic merino yarn, to wear to a possible yarn soiree this spring. I'm thinking short-sleeve cardigan, or maybe a vest. Thank goodness for Ravelry, because I would never be able to find anything just through Google.

I like this cropped (only I'd try to make it longer) pattern by Blue Sky Alpacas. Well, except the neckline is too broad, and I'm not sure about the ribbing on the bottom half; I'd prefer something lacier. I was thinking about maybe a modified February Lady Sweater without the swinginess. Then I just came across Viola and I really like the U-shaped neckline. LOVE Delphine though I'm not sure I can actually picture myself wearing it.

Meanwhile, Rogue still needs to be finished and I need a new hat. I've never liked my current one--it's ugly and I don't like the color--but it's warm and it's there in the morning when I need it. Plus my little boy has been asking for felted slippers like daddy's, and then tonight he asked me to make him a turtle. I should really drop everything and at least make him some slippers, but I need to have closure on something before I take on anything else. Focus, woman, focus.

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

my first dyeing dream

In my dream, I was walking through an abandoned apartment building with an ex-boyfriend. We went into one of the apartments, and I was immediately struck by how it would be a perfect dye studio. There was a commercial stove with huge burners, just right for large canning pots. There was some sort of amazing sink--the details escape me now, but somehow it was the ideal setup for rinsing yarns. I opened a closet door, and the hanging rods were just right for drying yarn. There was a room where I could store my yarns, and another area where I could efficiently package up orders. The windows were huge and let in all sorts of natural light. And that whole huge apartment would have been mine, and mine alone.

I think my ex-boyfriend was trying to convince me to give it another shot with him. That fantasy dye studio was part of the package. It was awfully tempting, but in the end, I regretfully gave it up and decided to stay with my real life.

Funny that it was the workspace that I found so enticing. I'm really not sure what that dream says about me, besides that I've been spending a lot of time dyeing in imperfect spaces.

Sunday, February 8, 2009

too many base yarns, not enough storage

Sometimes I get intrigued by a yarn description, and a primal urge to own it kicks in. Up till last year, I gave in quite a lot to this urge, resulting in many small lots of undyed yarn floating around my house.

Last summer, when I decided to ramp up my business and seek my first retailer, I also decided that I needed to cut back on the random test purchases. I narrowed down my product line to my personal favorites, and resolved not to order any other ones. I figured that it would help me to learn each base yarn's quirks more thoroughly, and there was something that I liked about the simplicity of only having seven base yarns. ("Only." That does seem like a lot.) For one, it's easier to organize everything if I can dedicate Rubbermaid tubs to just two or maybe three types of yarn, since I can keep better track of when I need to reorder.

I haven't been as good about limiting my base yarns this year. I've added a Corriedale worsted to the lineup as a good value yarn. But I also bought a few pounds of four other base yarns, just because. And I have recently become enamored of knitting with sport weight sock yarn, so I'm on the hunt for a superwash base yarn that fits the bill. My nice tidy lineup is threatening to become an unwieldy sprawling thing again.

in a sea of dye

I've started knitting the back of my Rogue. I tried it on and, my, it is form fitting. After I finish the back, I'm going to wash and block what I've got so far. Before I do the cabling around the V-neck, I want to be sure that 1) it's going to fit and 2) the cables don't disappear into mush.

But I haven't had much time to knit lately. I'm doing the final dyeing for my current group order, which I want to get wrapped up before the next group order is placed--probably toward the end of next week, is my guess. Then last night, I was at a hospice fundraiser hosted by Apple Yarns, and the owner talked to me about wanting to place another wholesale order right away. I feel like I'm already squeezing every possible hour out of the day. Eeek.

Still, it's a good problem to have! There's also the possibility that Apple Yarns will host an open house featuring local designers and me in the spring. So I should start thinking about knitting something appropriate for warm weather to wear to this shindig, using one of my yarns that they carry.

I'm feeling more certain about applying to be a vendor at OFFF this year. I had initially thought about doing the Sock Summit also, since it's just down the road in Portland. But the booth fees! I believe it's something like $325 for a 5' x 10' booth, and $650 for a 10' x 10' booth. With such small spaces, there's no chance of sharing with someone else--you couldn't both have enough stock to cover your costs. I don't think the smaller booth would even hold enough inventory for one seller, and with the larger booth, I'd have to net $1000 just to break even on the costs (booth, lodging, mileage, food). Net after the cost of the base yarn at the bare minimum, not gross sales. Heck, to even gross $1000, I'd need to sell 500 skeins. The organizers say that 5000 people have expressed interest--well, even if all of them actually showed up, I would still need to get more than 10% of them to purchase a skein of my yarn. In competition against a zillion other people. I have confidence in my yarn, but the cards would be stacked way against me. This is definitely not a venue for the average independent dyer.

Thursday, February 5, 2009

Rogue update

I'm pleasantly surprised by how fast this is going. I've never made an adult-sized sweater before, so I was steeling myself for months of work. But after just a week, I'm almost ready to split for the armhole shaping.

The yarn, Queensland Kathmandu Aran, is really lovely to work with. I read some complaints about VM and yarn breakage, but I haven't had a problem with either. Yes, there's a little VM, like one or two pieces per 50g skein. I don't think it's a dealbreaker.

My one concern is about the cables. The stitch definition is fine now, if not ideal for the cables; the fabric has a lot of drape and the yarn itself is a little fuzzy, not smoothly plied. I'm wondering what's going to happen after blocking. Maybe I should have used size 7 needles and made the sweater the next size up. Other people were using size 6 needles with this yarn and pattern. I don't know; I guess I'll just have to wait and see.

Tuesday, February 3, 2009

Knit Picks Harmony needles review

I tried out my new Knit Picks Harmony wood needles this week. They splintered in the first three minutes--a huge sliver about 1.5" long broke off, starting at the tip. So I packed all the KP needles that I bought, including the metal interchangeables that keep coming unscrewed, and returned them.

Yes, the prices are attractive, but I'd much rather have functioning needles that cost a little more. I'm sticking with my Addis from now on.

Sunday, February 1, 2009

and the winner is ...

Congratulations, MamaMay! I'll be e-mailing you shortly to discuss the details of your free roving.

Reading all the responses has been very educational. My main reference book on dyeing roving, to date, has been Color in Spinning by Deb Menz. She states that color stripes should be 3" wide at the most, and that roving should be dyed in increments no greater than 1 oz to make it easier to handle--definitely not what spinners seem to prefer. And when I browse on Ravelry, many dyers seem to be quite worked up about how braiding and shipping in polymailers lead to fiber compaction. It's been interesting to see how spinners, at least the ones who entered the contest, are less concerned about that.

If you entered this contest, thank you so very much for your input! I thought this was really fun--I'll definitely be doing more contests in the future.