Friday, March 27, 2009

production dyeing: the next step

I dyed 20 skeins of yarn today, all the same colorway. I thought it might be easier and faster than, say, four skeins each of five different colorways, but if it was faster, I didn't notice, because here I am at my normal time at the end of a dyeing night.

I don't know about easier, either. I decided to mix up a highly concentrated stock solution for each color and divvy it up evenly as I refilled my dyeing bottles. I thought this would both make things go faster (since mixing dyes seems to take much longer than I think it should) and also make the skeins more consistently colored. This idea would've worked better if I'd had more mixing cups with 1 oz markings. Argh--just realized that this would've been the perfect use for all the baby bottles that I still have kicking around. Or instead of storing one of the colors in my measuring cup, I could've dumped that into a jar and then measured all of the other colors more accurately. Now that's a blindingly obvious solution--why on earth didn't I think of that at the time?

Anyway, live and learn, I guess. Or should I say dye and learn?

The last batch of skeins should be cool enough to rinse now, I think. Time to finish off the job and go to bed.

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

slacking off

After a few months of being a good and faithful blogger, I have really slacked off in March. Part of it was being gone--I was down in Phoenix at spring training for a week, which was lots of fun unless you were my husband, who was completely out of it for a day from eating a listeria dog and only semi-functional for three days after that.

Since I've been back, I've either been too busy dyeing or blubbering over the end of Battlestar Galactica to post. Tomorrow I will be combining them by dyeing some BSG-inspired colorways, as a tribute to the best television series I have ever watched, so I'll post some photos this weekend.

Got confirmation today from my LYS, Apple Yarns, that they will be sharing my booth at Sock Summit. So that's a go, for sure. Still have a co-op order and a huge wholesale order to complete before I can start dyeing for Sock Summit, but I'm excited to get started!

Sunday, March 15, 2009

jumping in with both feet

Okay. I think I'm going to do a booth at Sock Summit, after all. I'm 90% sure at this point. I started jotting down a to-do and supplies/equipment list. I think the main things are:

1. Handling in-person transactions. My main concern is setting up credit card processing. I'm looking at three options, Costco's program with Elavon, ProPay, and PayPal's virtual terminal. Leaning towards Elavon, as they appear to have the lowest per-transaction fees, but I need to talk to a live person about some of the details. My credit union also offers card processing services, and they always have the best rates on everything; I should check with them, too.

2. Choosing base yarns and colorways to bring. I want to bring two new bases online, a superwash sport and a wool/nylon fingering. I've identified the superwash sport but am still considering the new fingering. Of course, I've got all these other undyed yarns sitting here, hogging up all the extra space in my house, which I will not be able to dye anytime soon. (This should be my final cure for the impulse buying of random base yarns.) I need to get my supply lines better organized. I feel like Napoleon's quartermaster, trying to figure out these logistics.

3. Getting a banner, tweaking my labels, and ordering collateral like business cards and notepads. These all involve deciding if I want to alter my logo at all. I'm somewhat dissatisfied with the font but need to look at and my font books to see if I can find anything else that I like better.

4. Getting samples. A lovely friend has agreed to knit samples for me, but I need to finalize colorways and base yarns so that I can get her everything in time. See #2 above.

The list goes on and on. But now it's time for #5: Get enough sleep so that I'm not a crazed short-tempered grouch in the morning.

Thursday, March 5, 2009

not my day

I soaked some yarn a couple of nights ago, but didn't feel like dyeing last night so I decided I'd just do it this morning. It felt damp, but apparently it wasn't damp enough because it resisted the dye mightily. That was a hassle and took twice as long as it should have to work the dye in.

While I was working on the first batch, I decided to throw the rest of the undyed yarn for the dyelot into the washer to soak again. I've been doing this for several months--I can soak more yarn at a time in the washer than in a pot, and it's easy to spin it out.

... unless you get distracted. I got absorbed in dyeing and vaguely noticed the washer agitating during the soak cycle. It didn't hit me till several minutes later that, uh, you shouldn't agitate yarn unless you're interested in felting it.

I spun out the yarn and sure enough, it had started to felt. In fact, some of it had started to felt around the superwash skeins that were also in there. Grrrr. That took a while to untangle.

The yarn isn't too felted. It's definitely still knittable, so I'll dye it and offer it in my store in the future as extra-thick yarn for soakers and longies. But it certainly wasn't the smartest thing I've ever done.

I'm typing this as I eat my lunch--chips and salsa. My dyeing days are pretty low on the nutrition scale.

Wednesday, March 4, 2009

back in the swing of things

I've been laid up for the last couple of weeks with the flu and then a nasty cold. No knitting or dyeing--I had terrible aches when I had the flu, especially in my shoulder and neck. It was an unpleasant glimpse of life as a 70-year-old. I know people tend to get arthritis in joints where they have chronic pain; this recent illness made me realize that I have GOT to get this shoulder issue resolved, or else my golden years are going to be pretty painful. I'm stalling on seeing my doctor because I know that she's going to tell me to lay off the knitting for a couple of months, and I just have too many half-finished things lying around to take an extended break. Maybe in the summer.

I did manage to take some photos of already-dyed stock, though. Some will go live at Venus Vanguard on Thursday evening. The rest will go up at my own store on Friday morning. A little preview:

No progress on Rogue, though I did manage to finish some bed socks for the local hospice, and am halfway through my second Duckie. The dithering continues on Sock Summit. I think that covering my costs may not be totally insurmountable, after all, and my LYS just approached me about possibly sharing a booth. I really just want to jump in and go for it, but my innate caution is protesting loudly about doing such a huge show for my first standalone selling experience. We'll see which side wins out.