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!