Sunday, August 17, 2014

A bit of catching up and two new yarns

A customer asked me last week if I was giving up yarn in favor of soap. NO WAY! I will never give up yarn. I suppose it seems like I am way in to soap lately, and that's partially true. I am have been working very intensely lately to expand the bath and body line and to get ready for fall shows.

Some of my new soaps take 4-6 weeks to cure (worth it!), so I have been working like mad in between getting my regular orders together. I'm on my last 5 batches, which will be done today and then it's all yarn, all the time for about another 3 weeks. Then a week of fiber. Then a week of labeling. Then a week of laying on the floor exhausted, then Strange Folk!!


I talked a bit about this on Twitter a few days ago, but I thought blog readers may be interested in how my schedule works.

Every morning I check for new orders, ship orders, check up on social media, and triage my emails.The rest of my day is spent like this:
  • 2 days a week I dye yarn. Dyeing yarn can be physically taxing, and also a challenge when living in a small space. 2 12-hour days is about my limit. This is partially why special orders have a wait time. During that 12 hours I...
    • heat my pots (which takes for-ev-er)
    • wind yarn
    • dye a full lot of each color ordered. If only 1 hank is ordered then I will usually still dye a full lot and put the extras aside for shop updates and show inventory. 
      • kettle dye yarn/fiber one day
      • hand paint yarn on the other day (I don't hand paint fiber anymore)
    • make labels
    • rehank any yarn that needs to ship that week (sometimes with help)
    • clean up
    • order a pizza, because there is no way I'm cooking either day. The kitchen is too busy!
  • 1 day a week I work in a yarn shop. If I'm not too busy catching up on Dyeabolical work then  I have coffee with some friends in the morning and go to my knit night in the evening.
  • 2 days a week are reserved for special projects. What I'm working on depends on the time of the year. During the late summer I am usually doing something show related, like making inventory or cursing my lack of talent in designing booth displays. In the springtime and early summer I am working on patterns, designs, or developing new colors. This year I spent my 2 days working on 2 new yarn lines (see below) and expanding the soap line to be self-sustaining in time for Christmas markets, as well as outlining quite a few new ideas for patterns.

  • 2 days a week for days off in theory. Whether or not I take a weekend depends a lot on what's going on. This year has been a really excellent and busy year, and there has been a lot of spillover. As any small business owner will tell you, there is no such thing as a day off, even when you have the day off.
  • Sundays are for blogging. Again, in theory. I need to return to this. It relaxes me.

Here is my proof that I haven't slacked off on yarn.

Yaksley, Grapes of Yak, Monterey Yak, Yak of Hearts, Yak of the Pond, Yak the Knife, Yaktastic, Yak It Up
I had a quiet release several weeks ago of two new yarns. The first is called Yakety Yak. It is a naturally heathered gray fingering weight, Italian spun yarn dyed in a rainbow of semi-solid colors. The composition is 60% superwash merino/20% tussah silk/20% yak. YAK!! It is super soft and great for shawls and garments. Yakety Yak has its own category in the shop for dyed-to-order listings, but there are also a few hanks ready to ship under in-stock yarns.

The second yarn is a super bulky single-ply wool that was grown, processed and dyed in the US. There are 57 yards per 100 grams. The gauge is 2-2.5 stitches per inch. Most of my dyed-to-order colors are available on this base, with the exception of the highlighter colors and some of the trickier variegated colors. Click the color you are interested in and choose "Super Bulky" from the drop down list of available bases.  One hank makes a skinny scarf. Two hanks makes the 5-hour Hat and Gaiter pattern.

Friday, August 8, 2014

Halloween and Christmas Colors

A customer recently asked which Dyeabolical colorways would make a good pair of Halloween socks. Her question inspired me to put together this montage of colors and color names that would make good Halloween and Christmas socks. Some colors are available as both spinning fiber and yarn, some are available as only yarn. Dyed-to-order listings are running about 3-4 weeks currently.

Blood Orange

Eye of Newt

Kilt Me Dead

Poisoned Cherry

Solomon Grundy

Luthor's Revenge

Velociraptor Says What

Wicked City Woman
Closer Than You Think

Christmas Is Coming


Tuesday, August 5, 2014

Drop everything and knit

Have you seen the newest issue of Twist Collective? Remember that excited breathless feeling we all used to get pre-Ravelry when a new fall knitting magazine would come out? Yeah, same thing. You may as well put your current WIPs in the closet before looking at the newest issue, because you will want to cast on a new project immediately.

I was working on a simple stocking design. The Aislin cardigan is 2 sleeves and a quarter of the front away from being done. I have been knitting on the Hitofude cardigan. A podcaster inspired me to cast on for a Miranda sweater. I swatched and did the math for a Honeybee cardigan. Plus the 2 usual purse socks on the needles. And then I saw the Courant shawl...
Holy. Sheep. Must knit now! 

So naturally I dropped everything and cast on. Mosaic knitting + lace requires every bit of attention I have. This is not a travel project. This is a sit at the table with no one talking to me project. It has been a long time (if you don't count the holiday season) since I have considered taking a day off of work just so I could knit.
I'm using Dyeabolical Yakety Yak in Monterey Yak and Yaktastic

There are dozens of mistakes in the first motif, and a few in the second motif, but I think it will be ok. I tell new knitters and spinners that mentally you know how to do something, but you have to teach your hands how to do it. It's all about muscle memory. That first motif was all about teaching my hands to do lace and mosaic colorwork at the same time. {Some of you might be muttering about how swatching is a great way to work the kinks out of a new technique. LA LA LA I CAN'T HEAR YOU.}

My knit group motto is "that shit'll block out" and I think that is true for this pattern. The first repeat was hard won and I'm not ripping it back. No one will notice a few misplaced stitches when I flash and twirl the finished stole around like a peacock.

Friday, July 25, 2014

Shop Update: Perfume Oils

Yarn & fiber have always been, and will always be, my #1 focus and my #1 love, but this bath & body thing has kind of taken over my dining room. Not that I'm complaining! I'm enjoying having one afternoon a week where I am surrounded by amber bottles and herbal concoctions, while reading up on the properties of various oils and compounds.

There are 3 new custom perfume blends for fall, and 1 new single note perfume oil.

When you buy a scent from me, you can choose between a coconut oil base or a synthetic silicone base. I will then custom blend your perfume oil and put it in a roller ball container. The roller ball container fits perfectly in a pocket or wallet. The perfumes/colognes are usually a blend of essential and fragrance oils. I try to use as many natural ingredients as possible, but there are some scents for which essential oils are not feasible or responsible. Sandalwood, for instance. In those cases I use high quality fragrance oils.

Patchouli - New- This is a single note perfume. Either you love patchouli or you hate it!
Sweater Vest & Pipe - New - Described by a friend as smelling a bit like a hipster grandpa, but in a good way. :) This essential oil blend contains patchouli, orange, clove, pine, lavendin, lemongrass, gardenia, elemi, and synthetic ambergris. It is a great unisex oil with sticking power.
That's Nice (What Is It?) - New - The #1 comment for this custom blend was "That's nice! What is it?". This sweet, feminine, non-floral perfume has complex notes of basil, lime, orange and rosemary essential oils, plus black pepper and vanilla.
Hannigan's Bathtub Gin - New - This custom blend is described as slightly medicinal, but in a good way. Essential oils of basil, lavadin, citrus, juniper berry and patchouli are used. It has licorice-like top notes. A gin-y juniper berry shines through.
Brown Sugar & Fig - This has been a customer favorite. It is light and feminine, without being floral. Warm brown sugar and ripe fig join together in a subtle, yet intoxicating blend. It isn't too sweet, nor too spicy.
Euphoria - Euphoria is a sophisticated floral scent of jasmine, wild rose and warm sandalwood.
Fraser - There is just something about a spicy, woodsy, citrusy perfume. This is a great masculine scent, and women love it, too. This custom blend smells of clove, sandalwood, tangerine essential oil, and patchouli.
Sandalwood and Sandalwood Vanilla - Sandalwood is such a popular scent with my customers that I am offering it both as a single note perfume and blended with vanilla.

Monday, June 30, 2014

TdF Contests

Here is the info on the Team Dyeabolical contests! 
Contest #1:
Tell us what your goals are for the Tour. Anyone who joins the group and submits a goal will be entered to win a digital row counter. Drawing for this contest will be on Monday, July 7. [Post to the chat thread]
Contest #2:
Fancy Pants
 July 19th is the hardest stage of the Tour, and also the TdF challenge day. To participate in the Fancy Pants challenge, challenge yourself to spin it fancy, and post a picture of your fancy pants yarn on or before July 19th. Fancy can be a luxury fiber (silk, yak, angora, cashmere, etc), a new-to-you knitting technique, an art yarn, or spinning in a way that is different from how you normally spin. Challenge yourself! Drawing for 1 bag of hand-carded rolags will be pulled from the submissions on July 20th. [Post to the Fancy Pants thread]

Contest #3:
How I spin contest
How do you spin? Everyone spins a little bit differently and we would love to see how YOU spin. Upload a video of yourself spinning sometime during the tour to earn a chance to win a prize! The video can be anywhere from a few seconds long to a full tutorial. Just show us your spin! Winner will be chosen at random and awarded a braid of fiber chosen by me. Drawing will happen the Tuesday after the Tour ends. [Post to the How I Spin thread]

Contest #4:
Your Daily Spins
Upload a picture of your daily spin to the chat thread. Anyone who spins every stage will be entered to win 8oz of  the fiber of their choosing. Drawing for this contest will be the Tuesday after the Tour ends, to give everyone a few days to upload their final progress picture. I can't keep track of everyone, so you will be responsible for letting me know whether or not you have completed your goal. [I will open a separate thread for this drawing as the Tour comes to a close.]

Tour De Fleece Countdown

A little over 4 days until the Tour kicks off! Are you ready? My friend Lacey and I have put together this blog post to answer any questions you might have about Tour de Fleece itself, about joining the Dyeabolical Team, and a little about prepping for the Tour.

History: Tour de Fleece was started by  Starathena through her blog Keep Knitting in the Free World. in 2006.  In 2008, TdF moved to Ravelry and has since grown to a very active group, with 7 official teams and over 160 Wildcard teams.

TdF Basics (borrowed from the TdF group): 

The concept is simple:
Challenge Yourself. 
Have fun.
This year, the Tour de Fleece starts on Saturday July 5 and runs until Sunday July 27th, 2014.
Guidelines (NOT RULES):
  • Spin every day the Tour rides, if possible. Saturday July 5 through Sunday July 27th. Days of rest: Tuesday, July 15th and Monday July 21st. (Just like the actual tour.)
  • Spin something challenging on the challenge day (usually the toughest high mountain stage: this year, it’s Stage 14, on Saturday, July 19th, when they climb over 3,000m at grades from 4-6%).
  • Wear yellow on Sunday July 27th to announce victory. Why not wear yellow on any day you feel particularly successful? (Yellow is the color of the race leader in the Tour - but here we are all ‘race leaders’) Other colors if desired: Green (sprinter - think FAST), Polka-dot (climber - as in uphill), and white (rookie).

Getting Ready: Are you in? If so, have you...

- Joined your teams? You can join as many teams as you would like. There are official teams or Wildcard teams. Team Dyeabolical is a wildcard team.  --> IMPORTANT: Joined the Dyeabolical group to stay current on our team's activities, get more information about contests, and post your daily progress.
- set your personal goals? You could try and spin a pound over the course of the ride or spin a specific amount of yardage or keep it simple and just try to spin daily.
- cleaned your bobbins off? (Scott uses the Andean Plying Technique when he cleans the last of the singles off his bobbins.)
- got your wheel up to fighting weight by tightening things up, checking your drive band, and cleaning and oiling? Knitty has a good article on basic spinning wheel maintenance.  
- prepped your fibers? I (Rachel) like to "pop" my fibers if they have been in storage for a long time, especially if they have been squished down in the bottom of a plastic tub for months *cough*years*cough*. I unbraid the fiber, hold a section about 8-12" apart and snap it back and forth. I find that it opens up fibers nicely. Is your goal to spin woolen style like a production spinner? Check out Beth Smith's article on prepping fiber for production woolen spinning.

CONTESTS! We're having them! See the team threads or this blog post for more info!
Helpful Resources
- Not a spinner? Learn to spin videos: 
          - With a wheel  (Caveat: The video recommends pre-drafting. Some spinners pre-draft, but it is not necessary to pre-draft a well-prepared fiber. Just give it a little "pop" or "snap" and spin!)
          - with a drop spindle 
- Want to join lots of teams? Check out this thread to see what other Wildcard teams you may want to join. 

Wednesday, June 11, 2014

Row counters and Tour de Fleece

 If you love spinning and you love sales, then read to the Tour de Fleece section of of this post. 

Heyo! It's feast or famine when it comes to blogging around here. I have been under the weather the last few days and I've wrapped up some big projects recently. That seems to have freed up some of my mental and creative resources. I have had so many ideas lately, started so many new projects, and finished a few others. For instance...
B(ias)^3 by AECDesigns out of my new superwash merino Bounce base in the Thunderboom colorway

Two consignment stockings. Not only did I knit the once, but I spent an entire weekend reknitting and repairing parts damaged by a red that wanted to bleed. I am never knitting bright colors and white colors in the same project ever again!

Whoops, I lied.
Mixed Wave Mitts by Sybil R. Knit out of a Highlighter set on my Super Ego base.
I don't currently have any Super Ego dyed up on the Highlighter base, but I do have some available on Bounce and Sturdy.

The Tour de Fleece starts on July 5 and I have a surprise. Dyeabolical is hosting its own team! Team Dyeabolical is a low-key group for spinners of all skill levels. Here's the main rule: Try to spin every day that the Tour rides. If you miss a day, we'll still love you. We prefer that you spin at least one Dyeabolical yarn, but we want to see everything you spin! Other than that, there are no hard and fast rules. Here is the Dyeabolical Team Page and the official Tour de Fleece group.
It would be rude to announce a Dyeabolical team and not give you an opportunity to buy fiber, right? So we're having a SALE! 15% off all made-to-order spinning fiber between now and June 15. If you order in that window, then you will have your fiber dyed just for you by the first week of the Tour. No coupon code needed. The prices have already been marked down.


Row counters are now back in stock.  You are in luck if you really like red & pink, as that was the bulk of what was sent this time. There is also 1-2 of some other colors. I have another shipment that should be here in a few days. The assortment sent each time is random, but I am super duper hoping for an assortment heavy in purples and blues next time.

And now some news, 3 customers (that I know of) received counters from the last batch that jump a number whenever the large button is pressed, regardless to whether the screen is awake or asleep. It should only jump a number when the screen is on. The counter is perfectly usable (I've been using them) but it is not consistent with the other products. I am currently discussing this with the manufacturer. If you received a counter like this and would like a different one, please contact me.

Every counter in every shipment is now tested individually, so any counter you order from the website will work as advertised. However, I now have more jumping counters than I can use. I would be happy to sell one for $3 + shipping (normally $4 + shipping) to anyone who contacts me. I mostly have greens & browns.