Sunday, December 19, 2010

note to self: dye more fiber

Yesterday, when I stocked some fiber at Etsy, I set a new record for number of visitors--triple my previous daily record. Thanks so much, and I'll list more fiber after my January 8 show, if there's any left. I tend to sell out my roving/top at shows, and it takes me a while to build my stock back up so I rarely have any to list online. Must figure out way to up my production ...

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

2011 shows

Here are the shows where I'll have a booth in 2011:

January 8 ~ St. Distaff's Day Spin-In, Everett, WA
April 2-3 ~ Whidbey Weavers Guild Spin-In, Oak Harbor, WA
June 24-26 ~ Black Sheep Gathering, Eugene, OR
July 28-31 ~ Sock Summit, Portland, OR
September 24-25 ~ Oregon Flock & Fiber Festival, Canby, OR
October 14-15 ~ Fibers and Beyond, Bellingham, WA (I will be attending Rhinebeck instead)

I had a fantastic time being on the show circuit in 2010, and I'm really excited about hitting the road again in 2011. I love talking with customers, meeting online friends for the first time, and being with happy, fiber-loving people. Thank you if you came by my booth in 2010, and I hope to see you again in the coming year!

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

time flies when you're buying yarn

It's been a surprisingly long time since I blogged. I've been busy with wholesale orders for my LYS, Apple Yarns, including a limited edition sock colorway for the holidays. Andrea, the owner, asked for something that would evoke toys under the Christmas tree, and this is what I came up with:

toy chest2

This is Toy Chest, hand-painted on Willow sock yarn (80% superwash BFL, 20% nylon). It's only available on sock yarn during the holidays from Apple Yarns.

What else have I been doing? Besides catching up on my knitting, I've been buying yarn.

this week's yarn shipments

Not shown: three other boxes that showed up the following week. We had a highly unusual cold snap (down into the teens) and yes, I actually did use a few of the boxes as insulation. I noticed a frigid breeze blowing through the front door jamb, so I dragged a couple of boxes in front of it. Problem solved, at least till we had to leave the house.

So my supply of undyed yarn is, um, adequately restocked now. I'm celebrating by listing four different colorways on Silk & Silver and a stray skein of Toy Chest at the annual Festivus stocking of Venus Vanguard. Y'all come by now, you hear?

Thursday, October 14, 2010

wholesale order

Brought 50 skeins of Willow sock yarn (80% BFL, 20% nylon) to Apple Yarns today.

Oct 2010 wholesale order

Left to right: McIntosh (Apple Yarns exclusive), Snowfall, Limitless, Persimmon, Spruce, Tropical Bloom (top), Inked, and Slate.

McIntosh and Snowfall are restocks of two colorways from late summer that sold out really quickly. If you want 'em, now's the time. :)

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Fibers and Beyond, Oct 15-16

My last show of the year is my home show, the Whatcom Weavers Guild's Fibers and Beyond annual sale. It will be this Friday evening (6-9 p.m.) and all day Saturday (9 a.m. - 4 p.m.). It's a lot more than just yarn and spinning fiber--beautiful woven pieces, jewelry, handmade dolls, and gorgeous hand-knitted and crocheted items. Friday evening is usually a madhouse. I really wanted some Christmas ornaments that I spotted at the beginning of the evening, made another pass about half an hour later, and they were gone. Get 'em while you can!

Every year, the show committee does a fantastic job of arranging items and decorating the room. I was a shopper for several years before I became a seller, and I think the show just gets better and better. Plus it's only 10 minutes from my house--after all the miles I've put in this year going to shows, I really appreciate doing one so close!

I've been dyeing a variety of spinning fibers for the show--BFL/silk, superwash merino, untreated BFL, and I think a little alpaca/merino/silk sneaked in there, too. I'll also be bringing sock yarns and a smattering of sport and worsted.

If you're in Bellingham, stop by! Admission and parking are free.

Sunday, October 10, 2010

renewing the vow of yarn chastity

I'm done buying yarn. I really mean it this time. I haven't bought that much in the past two years, certainly not as much as I would have liked, so honestly I thought things were pretty much under control. I bought three skeins (and, okay, three sweater lots, but I used two of those lots immediately, and four pounds of merino/silk/cashmere for $100 was an insanely good deal) in 2009, and six skeins plus one sweater lot (also immediately put to use) in 2010. That really doesn't seem too bad in the scheme of things.

Tonight I finally grasped the true state of affairs. I was looking for a skein of undyed Malabrigo that I was pretty sure I had put into my personal stash, so I went on the hunt in my cedar chest.

First I had to remove all the crap on top of it. I know I should post a photo, but it's just too embarrassing, really. There are two big tote bags filled with half-finished projects, odds and ends of skeins, and dyeing disaster skeins that I entertain a feeble hope of salvaging through overdyeing. There is a large wicker basket overflowing with more of the same. There is a flat-rate priority box full of yarn that I got two (three?) years ago and haven't even opened, because I haven't gotten to the project I was going to use it for. There is a box of undyed samples from various yarn companies--okay, I'll give that one a pass. Maybe that actually has a legit reason to stay in the house.

Mind, this is after I pruned all the yarn I was absolutely, positively sure I would never get around to using. I gave some to friends and much more to my child's preschool. They don't care if I had a sudden coughing fit and my hand twitched at the wrong moment and dumped black dye in inappropriate places, or if the spin dryer ate a chunk of a skein and felted it beyond all hope. That was an 18-gallon Rubbermaid tote's worth of fiber that I offloaded last year.

After moving all the crap onto the sofa, I opened the lid of the chest. It was like Pandora's box in reverse--beauty and admiration came spilling out, leaving only broken promises and hopeless dreams behind. I was going to make mittens out of that yarn. Those skeins were supposed to be transformed into longies. That set would make the perfect stripey child's sweater. And those other 20 or 30 or 40 skeins or, um, more--well, when I decided to bring you home, I promised I would love you forever and make something beautiful out of you. I don't know where it all went wrong but I swear, it's me, not you.

It is just criminal to have so much beautiful yarn and to never have time to knit it. Time to face reality--I need to destash. This round is going to be tough; I did all the easy stuff last time, and now there's going to be some pain involved. I'd like to have my living room back, and it won't be easy.

It might be fun to do a Survivor: Scarlet's Stash Edition. I feel a little spark of hope amid the despair after all.

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

OFFF booth

Luckily, to make up for my lameness in not taking photos of my own, a roving OFFF photographer got a photo of my booth last weekend. As with Black Sheep, my Vine Yoke cardigan (the red sweater in front) got lots of attention.


That freestanding wire cube tower has my new silk/merino fingering yarn in the top cube, and the remnants of the Silk & Silver skeins in the second cube. Most of the Silk & Silver went in the first three hours of the show; the sunlight sparkling on my Annis shawlette (which is knitted with Silk & Silver) was pretty eye-catching. That's the one hanging to the left of the sweater.

Monday, September 27, 2010

Oregon Flock & Fiber

I'm back from an awesome weekend in Canby. It was amazing! On Saturday, the weather was glorious. You could tell people were happy to be there--lots of old friends greeting each other, and smiling faces all around. Customers from Sock Summit and Black Sheep came by to say hi, which was all sorts of cool. Today was rather soggy, even by PNW standards, so it was pretty quiet for the lawn vendors, but I still got to see a number of people that I've met through other shows.

I have these serial obsessions (bicycling, dog agility ...) and whenever I start getting into something, I discover a previously unknown subculture with its own world, complete with jargon and events and inhabitants who obviously live and breathe it. It makes me wonder how so many people could be so into something, and without my ever suspecting that it even existed. With the particular rabbit hole that I've fallen into this time, I'm surprised at how quickly I'm feeling at home. I only made my "debut" into yarn/fiber society a year ago, not counting the safe and cozy confines of HC, yet already I can go to an event and get hugs from people and feel like I've known them forever. I think part of it is that so many fiber people are eager to share what they know about techniques or materials, not in a show-off way, but from a real desire to exchange knowledge. I think it's very cool.

Back to OFFF. I was quite busy in my booth and didn't have much of a chance to shop, myself. Well, I guess I should count my order of 20 pounds of roving that Jill and Jim of Ashland Bay dropped off for me. I'm excited to start dyeing these up--BFL, BFL/silk, mixed BFL/silk, merino/tencel, and one I'm especially itching to try out, alpaca/merino/silk.

I did take a quick walk through the buildings before the show officially opened on Sunday morning, and saw a pin with the line, "It's a brand new day and the sun is high"--a reference to the movie Dr. Horrible's Sing-Along Blog. I listen to the soundtrack a lot while dyeing (my obsessiveness also extends to music), and I even have a colorway named for a song from the DVD commentary, Better Than Neil. The booth vendor wasn't around, and I'm regretting a bit that I didn't have a chance to check back later to get the pin.

I also saw some customers come into my booth with patterns from Blue Moon, so I took a couple of minutes to run over there and pick up two, Moonstruck and Ogee. Though the pattern that I really fell in love with was Skuld (this is a link to one made with some of my yarn). I've been looking for a project to make with my new silk/merino fingering, and I think this is it.

Tomorrow I plan to sleep in, then continue dyeing my current wholesale order for Apple Yarns. Also in the game plan for the week are my October yarn club selections and doing a real balance sheet for my business. Just one more step toward making this dyeing gig a real honest-to-goodness livelihood. Exciting!

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

going to OFFF!

I wasn't expecting to go to OFFF this year. I didn't apply to be a vendor until after I came back from Black Sheep, and there were too many other vendors ahead of me.

But yesterday, I got word that another vendor had pulled out, and did I still want a booth? I had to think about it a bit, since I haven't been dyeing for the show, and I wanted to be sure I could pull off a good booth. But I decided to go for it, got the time off from my day job, and have been dyeing madly ever since. The aforementioned day job will prevent me from doing much more dyeing before I leave, but I was really productive today and I think I'll make a creditable showing at OFFF.

So hurray! I went as a shopper a couple of years ago and really enjoyed it, so I'm looking forward to being a vendor this year.

It does mean that I'll miss out on Northwest Needle Market and Foolscap (and meeting Emma Bull, whose novel Territory was the inspiration for my colorway of the same name). I was excited to go to both of those events on Saturday, so I admit I'm a little disappointed that I can't clone myself and go to everything this weekend. Hopefully I'll get to go to both of those events another year.

See you in Canby!

Saturday, September 18, 2010

stitch markers

I'm quite picky about stitch markers. I like them to have no joins, to start with. Anything with a jump ring is out; they always get caught on my yarn or knitting, and I'd rather just use stray bits of yarn tied into loops. Split rings are okay, as they have a lesser tendency to snag. But my preference for both aesthetics and performance are markers with wires that have been twisted into a loop. Ones that look like gorgeous earrings are a bonus.

They're surprisingly hard to find. Maybe I just don't use the right search keywords or something. But I did find some pretty ones at this Etsy shop, Tiger Eyess. After a series of pleasant and professional convos, she made me these custom markers as goodies for my yarn club:

Sue does beautiful work and is a lovely person to boot. Highly recommended!

Thursday, September 9, 2010

yarn, yarn, yarn

After tweaking and photo editing trial-and-error to get a look that I like, my Etsy is now stocked and open for business!

I've also listed pre-orders for Inked and Centurion at my HC store. The way these work is that you choose your base yarn(s) and I dye those colorways to order. The pre-orders will close at 11:59 p.m. Pacific Time on Sept 14.

I was planning to offer more colorways as pre-orders, but a wholesale order came in this week, so I had to reschedule some things.

Also, I finally got up a page with information about my more frequently used base yarns. Jeez, that only took me about two years to finish writing. But I guess my taste in base yarns has also changed quite a bit since then, so it all worked out.

Happy weekend!

Thursday, September 2, 2010

what I've been up to

I've mostly been knitting lately. Shawls, a new mitt pattern, and restarting my Salina sweater. I've also been working on setting up my Etsy shop. I surprised myself a bit by the banner that I designed; it wasn't what I had in mind when I started, but I got to playing around with gradient fills and this is what I ended up with:

(You'll need to click on the image to see the whole thing; my blog format truncates wide images.)

Nothing in the store yet, but I expect to start listing early next week. I'll also be doing pre-orders for a few colorways like Inked, but I think I'll continue to do those on my HC store.

I also am taking some time to work on a formal business plan and other admin things like a balance sheet. Figuring this stuff out feels like another major milestone, like I'm graduating to real business-owner status. It's kind of exciting.

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

I'm Your Huckleberry Yarn Club

Yarn club is starting up again this month! Eight slots will open up at noon ET this Friday.

This club is designed to be super flexible. You get two colorway options and a variety of base yarns to choose from. Get just one skein or as many as you want. This is an every other month club, so you won’t be bombarded with yarn constantly. I’m considering doing another club on alternate months, for those of you who *do* want to be bombarded monthly.

During this round of subscriptions, yarn will ship in August, October, and December. I can promise an apple-themed colorway for one of them, probably October. :)

Please let me know if you have any questions. Thanks!

Saturday, July 24, 2010

benefit for a friend: custom dye slot auction

A fellow dyer, Kim of Green Strings/Sugarbubbie, has been going through some tough times. The latest blow came when her four-year-old son was diagnosed with Stage 3 cancer. He is currently receiving treatment three hours from home. Her husband receives his final unemployment check this month. They are in a very difficult situation, as you might imagine.

Her business partner has organized a charity auction to help Kim and her family. I'm donating a custom dyeing slot with my Silk & Silver base yarn. Bidding starts at $20 and includes shipping anywhere in the world.

The link to my auction:

More info about Kim and the reasons for the auctions:

General link to the auction items:

There are some really wonderful things being offered at this auction. Please come take a look. Thank you!

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

2010 Midwest Fiber and Folk

I'm back now from MWFF, and full of energy and excitement. I had a fun show! I shared a booth with my friend Diane of Bugsnugger, dyer of all things fresh and pretty. She was awesome and brought all the fixtures, though during setup, as we kept pulling skeins out of our bags and arranging them on shelves, we came to the unsettling realization that we had too much yarn for our fixtures. So we went and bought new ones. Twice.

This is what 750-odd skeins and braids look like (all photos are courtesy of Diane; I only remembered to take one photo all weekend):

Our friends Lori of Alfabette Zoope and Jen of Starving Artist Bazaar were also at the fair. This is what four vendors look like on the last day of a show:

Left to right: me, Jen, Lori, Diane

My side of the booth:

Diane's side:

A skein of her Pulling at Strings colorway on Posh MCN might have come home with me. *whistles*

Our shared rack of worsted, plus my friend's Bitterroot shawl that I knitted, and my Annis shawlette:

I really love meeting people and seeing the beautiful handmade items that they wear. It was a surprise bonus to meet customers of mine from Sock Summit. One even brought a lace shawl--the lovely Prairie Rose pattern--that she'd made from my yarn that she'd purchased at Sock Summit, especially to show me. How cool!

And I met some people from my tribe. You know who you are. Especially the ones who I showed my Centurion colorway to, and who instantly got the Battlestar Galactica reference. So very awesome.

There's also one more noteworthy development that came out of this weekend, but more about that later.

On my list this week is to stock some of the yarn I brought home with me (the rest is in transit from Illinois), start dyeing the latest wholesale order for my LYS here in town, and to continue setting up my Etsy shop. My initial game plan is to stock lace, fingering, and sport yarns, as well as spinning fiber at Etsy, while leaving longies yarn over at HC, where my current storefront is. I would be sad to leave HC completely, but I know that my creative direction is going somewhere else for the most part, so I'm going to give Etsy a go and see where it leads.

Thank you to all the people who visited our booth! A great weekend with great people, surrounded by beautiful fiber--it's hard to ask for more than that.

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

leaving on a jet plane

My yarn arrived safely in Illinois today, I'm happy to say. I had visions of my yarn strewn for miles behind an oblivious FedEx truck somewhere in the Great Plains.

I fly out tomorrow with my five-year-old, armed with my new netbook, my even newer DVD drive, and four episodes of Bill Nye the Science Guy. My child is obsessed with him. He's adopted Bill's nervous laugh, draws pictures of him in preschool, and thinks in the metric system. Seriously. He has no grasp of feet or ounces, but describe something in meters or kilograms and he has a much better frame of reference.

Oh, and I'll be checking a duffel bag full of yarn and fiber. A few examples:

Crystal, on merino/tencel fiber. This sold at BSG before I even had a chance to photograph my booth, but I think I was able to capture the colorway again.


Huckleberry, on Willow BFL/nylon. Please excuse the fuzzies on the yarn.


And Weeping Willow, dyed here on Blue Mist BFL/suri alpaca. Love the subtle variations in the green.

Weeping Willow

I have some more fiber to tag, and then off to bed. I have time to pack my clothes tomorrow. I hope.

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

sprinting to the finish line, again

Somebody PLEASE shoot me the next time I decide to sign up for two shows three weeks apart. I sold more than I expected at Black Sheep (a good problem to have!) and consequently have less to bring to Midwest Fiber and Folk than I wanted, especially in the roving/top department. I'm shipping the bulk of my yarn on Wednesday. I'll try to make up some of the difference this week, but I don't know. Girl's gotta sleep once in a while.

On the knitting front, I'm working on a test knit of a new shawl pattern (Aase's Shawl by Kristi Holaas), with a new trial yarn, a silk/merino laceweight. I have discovered that I can't count very well when I'm falling asleep between stitches. Have you seen the photos of webs spun by spiders on different drugs? My first attempt at the drop stitch body of the shawl looked like a spider doped up on caffeine:

I'm also working on knee-high lace socks (why? I'm not sure, except that I got this vision of myself wearing a pair of leaf green socks with a black skirt, and now I must have them).

And to round out my list of half-done projects, I have really stalled out on my cardigan. I brought it with me to Hawaii in May, and finished the back, one front, and one sleeve there. When I got home, I knitted the other front and sleeve. Tried to put them all together, and realized the ones I made at home were too big. Unraveled and took out the extra pattern repeats, and tried again. Still bigger than their Hawaii counterparts. I think it must have been the heat and humidity that changed the tension of my knitting. Obviously, the easiest solution is to fly back to Hawaii and reknit the sweater there. Yeah, if only.

Thursday, June 24, 2010

2010 Black Sheep Gathering

After a week of late nights (3 a.m. was an early bedtime), it was a relief to get to Eugene. I was ridiculously excited by the prospect of being unable to dye anything, which would allow me to go to bed at a decent hour with no guilt.

Setup went smoothly, thanks to the help of Elizabeth, who demonstrated an amazing ability to construct wire cubes in no time flat. Here's what the booth ended up looking like:

The red sweater in the top right overexposed corner is my Vine Yoke cardigan. It got a lot of attention this weekend; I probably could've sold a hundred copies of the pattern if I'd had it. And deservedly so: it's such a clever, fun design to knit.

The show went swimmingly. I talked to so many interesting people, saw faces I knew from Sock Summit (hi Alexandra!), and generally had a great time. I have to thank Amy for taking pity on me and offering to watch my booth on Saturday so I could grab some lunch. She even stayed around after I got back, hoping to give me some time to actually eat my food (instead of just looking at it longingly out of the corner of my eye), but the stream of customers didn't let up. Which was a problem I was perfectly willing to have.

I also chatted with two women from Lantern Moon for a while. They came back a little later in the day and offered me a pair of LM knitting needles, just because they liked me and my yarn. It was such a kind and sweet offer--I was really touched. I chose a pair of rosewood circulars from their Destiny line, because I used to play oboe, and the finest oboes are made from rosewood. The circs are beautiful and sleek and wonderfully light; I'm really looking forward to using them!

I didn't have time to do much shopping while I was there, so I came home with only a new wooden shawl pin and a tin of hand balm. It's okay though; it's not like I'm going to run out of yarn anytime in the next 200 years.

Thank you, Black Sheep Gathering, for a wonderful weekend! I'll be back next year.

Wednesday, June 2, 2010

the 15-day countdown

Two weeks from tomorrow, I'm heading to Eugene for Black Sheep Gathering. Eeek. For some reason, I thought I had three weeks left, but I was wrong. I just got back from two weeks in Hawaii and now I am in serious, get-down-to-business mode. I've been dyeing up some BFL/silk top and it is the prettiest stuff ever. Soft and radiant--it makes any colorway look good.

Aside from dyeing, I've been working on pulling together my booth. I figured out that I'll be able to connect my laptop to my non-smart cell phone via Bluetooth so I can do real-time credit card processing. I'd been worried about getting CC approval without a wireless connection, and having to wait till night to process transactions, only to discover that some didn't go through. My $20 Nokia 2760 continues to surprise me with everything that it can do.

Still working on samples. For the life of me, I cannot decide what to do with my Silk & Silver yarn. I've tried two different shawl patterns now (Citron and Queen of the WAves), and neither one was what I wanted. I love this colorway but for some reason, I can't figure out what I want to make with it.

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

summer cardigan

I've been looking for cardigan patterns for months--since last summer, I believe. It's been surprisingly hard to find patterns that aren't flyaway (buttoned at the top), mostly stockinette, or frumpy.

Lately, the search has become focused on finding something summery. I want light and airy but not fingering weight. Finally, I found one I liked--the one on the cover of the April issue of Knit N Style.

The catch is that it's not the current issue. After cruising through Joann's and Barnes and Noble (good grief, I had no idea there were so many knitting magazines these days, yet neither place carries this one), I went to the one LYS in town that was listed on the magazine's web site. It's my least favorite LYS. I've only been there once and never went back after the rudeness I encountered the first time.

The owner was friendlier this time, but the only copy she had of the issue was severely water-damaged. It looked like it had sat in a puddle of water for a while, and more than half the pages were stuck together. She did not offer a discount. Perhaps I should have asked for one, and certainly I could have refused to buy it, but I really didn't want to order it off the publisher's back list and I didn't feel comfortable asking for a discount. So I sucked it up and paid $7, and resolved not to go back there again, no matter how desperate.

Then yesterday I was walking through Fred Meyer, looking for a kids' magazine. And they, of all places, carry Knit N Style. Not the issue I was looking for, but still. I would never have thought to look there.

The cardigan is going swimmingly. I'm knitting it out of merino/bamboo in my Sea to Sky colorway, and so far the combination is everything I was hoping for. Hurray!

Monday, April 19, 2010


I'm almost finished with my Vine Yoke cardigan (such a fun knit! Fast, uses less than 4 skeins, and really interesting construction. Plus I'm really liking my new worsted superwash BFL) and I'm on the hunt for buttons. I don't know if I'm just too picky, but I'm having a devil of a time finding round, dark brown, wooden buttons that are 1.5" wide. Sounds so simple, right? Apparently boring, classic buttons are not currently in style.

I saw some cool reclaimed wood buttons at Madrona, but decided not to buy them because I didn't have a project in mind and I have way too much clutter in my life as it is. Well, never again; from now on, I am an official button hoarder.

I've been to the yarn shops in town, I've been to Joann's, and I've been through dozens of pages on Etsy. Finally (and I should have tried this first, of course), I search Ravelry, which produced a couple of options:

* Woodturner's Etsy shop, for custom wooden buttons. But I need 9 of them, and of course I want them by the time the sweater is blocked and dry (the end of the week), so not my first choice. I want to wear this sweater pronto.

* Maiwa. I've been hearing cool things about their workshops for a couple of years now, and looking at the photo on their buttons page is bringing out all sorts of covetousness. It wouldn't be too crazy to drive an hour and brave the spring weekend traffic on Granville Island just to shop for buttons, which might or might not be what I want, would it?

In other news, I have been officially confirmed as a vendor for Black Sheep Gathering in Eugene, OR and Midwest Fiber and Folk in Grayslake, IL. I've calculated that I need to dye about eight skeins a night from now till BSG to boost my inventory. So what am I doing tonight? Shopping for buttons, of course.

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Rock Candy

I'm stocking a few skeins of Rock Candy on Thursday at noon ET:

Rock Candy on Corriedale

Saturday, April 3, 2010


Doing federal taxes. Torn between wanting to lose more money so that our tax bill won't be so high, and being horrified that I didn't make more profit for all that work. If I'm really going to make a living from this, I need a much better profit than I'm currently showing.

It seems like every year is always a "building" year. Last year I had to buy tons of undyed yarn and display stuff for the booth. This year, I'm going to overhaul the look of the booth (those little wire cubes take WAY too long to put together) so some of those sunk costs are not going to be amortized.

But something definitely needs to change this year. Either I need to enjoy my day job more (and scale way back on the dyeing) or I need to quit the day job and focus just on dyeing. Huckleberry Knits is currently a tax liability--jacks up our tax bill way too much--yet doesn't provide enough profit to support me in the lifestyle to which I've become accustomed, as they say. It's certainly not a lavish lifestyle by any means. Our bills are only the essentials--no cable TV, and just a $20 prepaid cell phone. No consumer debt.

Yet I still have a mortgage to pay, and a child whose interests and talents I want to nurture. I'm looking into piano lessons for him now, and unless I find a teacher who would like yarn for payment, that's probably about $20/week. There's a monthly sports class for him (this month it's swimming), and once he hits school-age, sports costs are going to skyrocket.

I just don't know. I always do this soul-searching at tax time, and never come to any conclusions.

Saturday, March 13, 2010

blue is beautiful

In between yarn club orders, I decided to use up some odds and ends of dye solutions that have been accumulating on my dye table. It's about time, since I botched a batch of yarn last night by confusing my purple and black dye bottles. Oops. They're pretty, but not what my customers are expecting to get.

I had a lot of blue and green solutions around. So I dyed a few skeins of Joy, a big skein of Colleen, and some random blue/green colorways. It's nice to just pour some dye in a pot and see what happens, instead of trying to match a stock photo.

It was a warm (for March) day, so I hung them outside to dry. I liked how they looked, so I snapped a photo. It looked better in real life, I'm sorry to say, since the sun came out just in time to wash out the colors. You can't see the interesting variations in shading in the Colleen (the semi-solid green skein) or the two sea-blue skeins at the other end of the line.

3/13/10 dyeing

My husband rigged this clothesline for me last year. I like it because it's under the eaves of the roof. Maybe I'm the only paranoid dyer out there, but whenever I see photos of people hanging dozens of skeins outside to dry, I always think about bird poop. I've got drying racks that I put out in the driveway during warm weather, but I know that my little feathered friends like to perch on the phone lines right over them, so the clothesline is my first choice for hanging yarn. It also catches the breeze a bit better up there, and during the summer, the bricks radiate additional warmth.

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

better not pout, I'm telling you why ...

... Stephen West is coming to town. On March 28. There's an open house/trunk show starting at 11:30, and his Shawl Inspirations class, which I'm taking, is later that afternoon. I can't find any info on the workshop, other than what was mailed to me by the store, so it looks like it will be a brand new class. Should be interesting!

I've bought Herbivore for the class:

(The pattern, that is. The man might be an herbivore, I don't know.)

I want to try out shawl shapes other than triangles, and this looks like it will fit the bill nicely. Can't decide what yarn to use, though. I have a new DK BFL that I want to try out:

Rivendell blue

This was a hard blue to capture with my camera. It's somewhere between turquoise and royal blue. I was actually going for dusty blue, but I used a different black dye than the one I usually use for dusty blue, and it came out quite a different shade than usual. I like it, though.

The yarn *is* DK weight, though. I think I'd like a lighter weight yarn for the spring, like maybe Willow BFL:


Yeah. I think the Larrabee. I'm in the mood to knit something with bright, lighter colors. I do need to still find a pattern for the DK BFL, as I'd really like to put the yarn through its paces.

Monday, March 8, 2010

the red stocking

When I was deciding what to list this month in my store, I decided to organize it by color. This week's theme is red.

Corriedale - Garnet detail

unnamed burgundy/blue/brown colorway

Licorice Twist - Brick

Might add a few more this week, depending. Everything goes live on Thursday at noon, Eastern Time.

Blue will be up next time, probably in 2 weeks.

Monday, March 1, 2010


Ravelympics inspired me to finish a pair of socks that I started in September. Why yes, I have a severe case of second sock syndrome. The other pair I was intending to finish for the Ravelympics was started last winter.


This pair was knitted from a limited edition 8-ply (9-ply? it's been a while) merino yarn. Specs (330 yds, 100g) make it sound like a sport yarn, but it acts more like a fingering. I used U.S. 1.5 needles, but probably U.S. 1 would've been better.

I'm trying not to buy limited-edition yarn any more. I want consistency in my lineup, but sometimes curiosity gets the better of me. At least I have three kilos of this stuff. It knits up into a nice firm fabric, which I really like. Colorway is Copper Patina, a very springtime colorway.

Friday, February 26, 2010

Olympics colorway

Earlier this week, I went up to Vancouver to check out the Olympic scene. We didn't go to any events, just walked around downtown. We saw a bit more of downtown by foot than we'd planned, since I read in a local paper that the torch (or rather, cauldron now that it's stationary, which explains why I couldn't find anything online about where the darned thing was at) was at BC Place. We were near Canada Place, so we walked across downtown for, I don't know, 30 minutes with an increasingly whiny 5-year-old. Got to BC Place, asked a volunteer where the torch was, and she said, "Oh, it's at Canada Place." ARGH. We had to appease the Whiny One with a cookie stop halfway back.

Still, it was worth it when we did finally get there. The cauldron is a very cool structure that looks alternately like basalt columns and pillars of ice. This photo isn't too bad for a cameraphone stuck through a fence, I think.

Olympic cauldron

Overall, it was a bit of a thrill to see Olympics banners everywhere, and team members and fans from all over the world, and to sense the holiday atmosphere. I hear that some people go to every Olympics, no matter where they're held, and I can see why! I'd love to be able to do that.

And I got an inspiration for a colorway. I've been toying with various ideas for the March yarn club selection, but nothing really grabbed me. Then I saw Vancouver's 2010 color scheme--frosty blues and turquoises, fresh greens--and I thought, this is it. In a souvenir shop, I showed my husband a T-shirt, and he said, "You're getting that for a colorway, aren't you?" The man knows me well.

I dyed it up this afternoon, and I can't tell you how inordinately pleased I am that I got what I wanted on the first try. I've been working on other colorways that are going to take a few iterations to get what I'm looking for--but this one, I nailed.

Now to think of a name that won't bring the IOC down on me for copyright infringement, but that still reflects its inspiration. Hmmm.

Friday, February 19, 2010


One thing that I really loved about Sock Summit was the sense of community. At Sock Summit, I got to meet a number of online friends face-to-face, and I was astonished by the number of times that I felt that click of connection, both with them and with strangers. It doesn't happen all that often in the course of everyday life, and I felt so lucky to have that sense of old-friend comfortableness with Diane and Janet, just to name two.

Madrona wasn't quite the same way, since I only spent a few hours in the marketplace. But I was pleasantly surprised to realize that I did know quite a few people--Debbi, Patti, Jill. It made me feel like I'm really starting to become part of the fiber community. So much of my fiber-oriented time is spent in solitude, dyeing yarn and listening to audiobooks, or maybe knitting while watching a movie. Even my trip to Madrona was a solitary activity, with a lot of internal dialogue with myself about what I was observing and analysis about why I thought some booths worked. It was unexpectedly nice to be surrounded by knitters, crocheters, and spinners indulging in their love of fiber, with flashes of recognition and friendship, and the feeling of being among one of my tribes.

Monday, February 15, 2010

Madrona 2010

I headed down to Tacoma this past weekend to check out Madrona. I'm thinking about selling there at some future date. The booth is on the expensive side ($600+ for an 8' x 10' space), so I wanted to do a little market research before committing.

After parking at the Tacoma Dome Station, I took Link light rail into downtown. I have a particular fondness for this system, since in a previous life, I was on the consultant team that worked on the alignment and design of the line. It's been operational for a few years now, and I'm seeing a bit of revitalization starting to bloom near the stations. Though I was a bit surprised to see that Freighthouse Square is actually looking a bit emptier than it used to; perhaps it's more commuter-oriented and busier on weekdays now.

The Madrona marketplace was a nice mix of hand-dyed yarns (which were not nearly as high a percentage of the vendors as they were at Sock Summit), yarn shops with commercial yarns and accessories, and standalone accessories. I did one walk through just as a shopper, then another to consider booth setup. Then I did another one to look at what yarn weights vendors were carrying and what people were picking up and looking at.

There were a lot of spinners here, and a lot of fiber. More people were wearing handmade sweaters rather than shawls, although there was still a fair-sized shawl contingent, including me and my new Laminaria. The most popular patterns I saw were February Lady Sweater and Shalom.

I let my eye wander to see which booths naturally caught my attention. An attractive backdrop was far and away the biggest factor, rather than the products themselves, which was surprising. Black Water Abbey (so many beautiful cabled patterns!) and the Artful Ewe were my two favorite booths, with large solid and semi-solid samples above eye level.

I looked in particular at how people were hanging samples. My favorite were the ones who displayed them on horizontal poles (in one case they used a decorative ladder), with items either draped directly on the pole or hung from hangers. One booth suspended hangers from cords that were attached to the cloth walls separating the booths.

A lot of the booths were uncomfortably crowded, as they are only 8 x 10, and most vendors had tables at the front of their booths, which impeded circulation. There were a lot more shoppers than I expected; on Saturday afternoon, there were over 100 sitting in the rotunda (let alone the other areas), spinning, knitting, and even weaving. I didn't feel like there was a particular trend in terms of what people were making or what colors they were using; there was a wide variety of projects, depths of shade, and solid vs. variegated colorways.

Hardly any vendors are carrying laceweight. Somewhat to my surprise, I felt like the yarns that were on display were slanted toward worsted weight.

I picked up some goodies, of course. I've never been much interested in circular shawls, till I saw a woman working at the Acorn Street Shop booth wearing Circle of Life. This is a brand new pattern from Fiber Trends--so new that it's not even in Ravelry's database yet. So I got a copy of that and a lovely wooden shawl pin to go with my other new shawl, Clothilde.

I also got a bone shawl pin from Gita Maria (I already have one of her lovely glass-enameled pins) and some 9" Hiya Hiya circular needles from Carolina Homespun. I am slowly coming to admit the ultimate heresy for a dyer who sells sock yarn--I don't really like knitting socks. I love the amazing construction ideas out there, love all the beautiful yarn and stunning patterns--but I just loathe knitting at a small circumference. All the needle techniques, whether DPNs, two circulars, or magic loop, just require too much fiddling and adjusting of stitches and tweaking of needle position. The best that I've tried are the 9" circs, but they're a little uncomfortable, especially with my tendonitis issues. Still, I need to be able to test out new base yarns and experiment with how my colorways knit up, so 9" circs it is.

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

wholesale orders

I've been dyeing a lot, despite my empty store (which is empty because I haven't had time to do year-end inventory and I didn't want to confuse myself by selling stuff before I'd had a chance to take stock. My brain, it is easily baffled these days). The latest Loopy Ewe order went out yesterday, and when I passed the FedEx Ground truck on the highway south last night, on my way to bell choir rehearsal, I felt a warm little glow knowing that my yarn was safely on its way.

I also dyed up some pretties for Pulling at Strings, and I expect those to go up sometime this month.

I know this post is totally worthless without photos, but I didn't take any (for shame!). With both orders, I was racing to get everything packed up, and I didn't have time to snap any pictures. But I do have a photo of my first TLE order, which I finished last November. 256 skeins, baby:

Oct 2009 wholesale order

Now it's on to yarn club colorways. Two for my own, two for Pulling at Strings. I've got one in mind for PaS, as well as some ideas for colorways for what I'm planning to call my Luminous series. Those will be multiple colors, layered on top of one another. My knitting interests have shifted to lace since Sock Summit, having seen so many incredible shawls there, and my dyeing interests are going in the same direction. I want colorways that are rich in color yet subtle enough to stay out of the way of complex stitch patterns. I'm really looking forward to doing some experimentation!

I've also decided on shows for the year:

Black Sheep Gathering, Oregon, June 18-20. This is assuming I get in, as there's a waiting list for new vendors.

Midwest Folk & Fiber, Illinois, July 16-18. My sister lives nearby, so it will be a great chance to see her and meet some online friends.

Oregon Flock & Fiber, Oregon, Sept 24-26. I went as a shopper in 2008, and it had such a lovely laid-back feel to it. I think it will be really fun to be a vendor.

It's going to be a busy year!

Monday, January 25, 2010


My husband took the kiddo away for the weekend so I could spend it dyeing. Worked my butt off, but I'm still terribly behind where I need to be. Plus I have to do my city and state taxes this week (ugh!), and dye for my yarn club.

I've come to the unhappy conclustion that I am just a slow dyer. I can whip through colorways that involve just one or two dye solutions, but the more complex colorways just take forever. I don't know how other people do it, but I wish I knew their secret.

Tuesday, January 19, 2010


I have been in an obsessive knitting mood these past few weeks. After the obligations of Christmas knitting, I felt so free. I enjoyed the projects that I made (and need to do a post about them sometime), but they were still projects with an immovable deadline, and that took just a bit of the fun out of them.

Anyway, so I've been wallowing in pattern crushes since then. I've wanted to make Laminaria for months--buried myself in it and finished last week. Fell madly in love with Bitterroot, but since I didn't have just the right yarn on hand, I started knitting a Clothilde instead, with some beautiful Elliebelly yarn that I've been hoarding. (Beautiful, simple, but not boring pattern, incidentally.) Lots of photos to come, of me and my shawl fixation.

But first I must tell you about my newest crush. It's a sweater by Elizabeth Zimmerman. I am not an EZ groupie, since I only heard of her a couple of years ago. (Heresy? Perhaps.) But man, I do love this sweater.

I've always thought of sleeve decreases as something to hide. It would never have occurred to me to make them a design feature. These sleeves have utterly charmed me. I've been sifting through sweater patterns for months, waiting to fall in love. And now I finally have. Or maybe it's Jared Flood's beautiful photography in the article. I would have glanced at the pattern publisher's photos and moved on, never noticing the presence of those wonderful details.

Thursday, January 7, 2010

what I've been up to

My family and I spent Christmas week taking turns throwing up, far from home. First my parents got it, then my kiddo, then me, and then my sister. My husband got the Blitzkrieg bug the night before we flew home. Good times.

But now I'm back, and busy dyeing again. This month I'm kicking off my first yarn club, with these two selections. They're called Heartfelt and Garnet. More about their origins after my club members get their dyer's notes.

Heartfelt - Jan club selection

garnet semi-solid - Jan club selection

I've got just one knitting resolution this year, and that's to finish up one unfinished project each month. Or throw it away, or whatever. I've got two giant knitting bags and a few boxes filled with miscellaneous partial projects, and I can't stand it anymore. I'm sure my husband passed that point long ago.

No specific 2010 goals yet. I actually met my 2009 goals well before the end of the year (go me!) so I've been pondering where to go next for a while. I'm working on my next wholesale order for the Loopy Ewe, so I should have a fair amount of time contemplating my objectives for the next 12 months.