Friday, February 12, 2016

Ron Weasley and I have the same hat

 9 years ago I was so sure that I wanted to dye & sell yarn that I asked for a book about dyeing for Christmas and a scale & professional-grade dyes for my birthday. I don't know why I was so certain that dyeing was going to be my thing. I just knew that it was too stressful to pick out those first colors so I made my family do it for me. I wish I still had pictures of those first few dye lots, but I think they were eaten in a tragic laptop implosion. Next year will be the 10th anniversary of the founding of Dyeabolical. I'm not sure what I will do to celebrate, but I hope it involves a t-shirt cannon filled with yarn.

First yarn sold on Etsy
The 1898 hat is finished. You saw the ear flap last week. It is warm, snuggly, fits me amazingly well, and makes me (and the styro head) look a bit like an awkward Quidditch goalie.

One heel turned on these socks:
And one sock started using these crazy new needles:
They are called Neko Strickspiel. You know I can't resist novelty sock needles. They are 3 flexible bent plastic needles. The stitches rest on 2 needles and you knit with the third. The jury is still out on these. I really like the flexible plastic needles on the ribbing, but I think they are causing too much friction and drag on the stockinette portion. They also took some fiddling around to get them moving in the right direction. I don't know if is because of the awkwardness of the first few rows or because I was squinching up my hands while I was knitting, but I woke up with hand aches. More on these next week.

Thursday, February 11, 2016

Newsletter, Restocks, and a Giveaway

Hello again!
Thursdays are for blogging, but I have so much to talk about today that I'm going to split this in to a few different posts. Let's get down to business first.
There's a new Harry Potter story coming out! Wait, no. Not that kind of business. Dyeabolical business.

Some of this was also posted in the newsletter that went out a few hours ago, so if this is a repeat for you then I apologize.  

Speaking of the newsletter, someone this week remarked that my newsletters have been awfully informal lately. It took me a bit to realize that she had signed up to receive my blog posts by email when she meant to sign up for the newsletter. If you are looking at my blog from a desktop, there are 2 forms in the sidebar of the shop. One is to sign up for the Dyeabolical newsletter. The other is to sign up for email notifications whenever I make a new blog post. The blog posts tend to be more informal than the newsletter and contain more personal or knitting content. (I realize that these sign ups are missing from the mobile site. I will attempt to add that it or fix it somehow as soon as I can.)

I would like to thank you for making the self-striping update so successful. There are only a few skeins of self-striping yarns left in stock. More Targhee sock yarn has been ordered and the process of skeining up those huge 20 foot skeins will begin next week. Look for another update of self-striping yarns in late February or early March. I would love to hear any color requests you might have.

Shop Restock: The spring restock of soaps, lip balms, and perfumes went up yesterday. A few more items may be added later, but the bulk of the spring update is available for sale in the shop. Please note the new categories in the sidebar of the shop. I've broken out perfume, soap and lip balm in to their own separate categories.

 Wool Lover's Baa-lm and Good for the Sole will not be restocked for at least a few more weeks. I have enough to fill outstanding orders, but unfortunately I had some issues with the twist up tubes and wasn't able to get those issues resolved this week without cutting in to my yarn making time. Outstanding orders will always take priority over the possibility for potential orders, I'm afraid.

And lastly, have you knit/crocheted/woven/spun/felted a finished project  using Dyeabolical yarns or fibers in December, January or February? Enter a picture of your project in the Ravelry group to be entered to win a skein of Sturdy sock yarn. There are only 5 entries currently so your chances are good! Submit your entry before the end of February.

Thursday, February 4, 2016

What I'm Making

I'm having an enormous amount of fun knitting the 1898 Hat pattern by Kristine Byrnes our of Scott's handspun. Ok, so maybe it doesn't look very hat like right now... The fiber is spun semi-worsted from a carded morrit fleece.

There is less fun being had with these toe-up socks. The yarn is a test skein for a relaunch of Julia's Apron, a former club colorway. The color needs some work, but this skein is good enough for socks for myself. I'm using size 1s and struggling with gauge. Every time I pick up the sock my gauge has changed significantly. There was a time when I could knit half a sock a day easily and a full sock if I pushed myself. Now my big hands are struggling to hold on to very tiny needles. It may be time to try socks on circulars again, or perhaps pull out my old 4" dpns.

Tuesday & Thursday afternoons are usually for special projects. The last 4 T's have been about replenishing inventory. The Wool Lover's Baa-lm, Good for the Sole foot balm, lip balms in the twist tubes, and 3 solid perfumes (Fraser, Blue Moon, True Rose) will hit the shop next week.The soaps will hit the shop a few weeks later once they have cured.

Currently curing: the last 2 batches of Sweater Vest & Pipe, Apple Jack & Peel (made with Missouri honey!), Kumquat, Calm Yourself (a new lavender/geranium blend--lavender and I are (sort of) friends again!), Citrus Rosemary (Possibly being renamed? It's a lovely warm vanilla citrus spice scent) and Juniper Basil (also considering a catchier name). UPS just delivered the final package of oils for the spring soaps, so tomorrow the plan is to make Cinnamon Sugar, Black Tea & Mint, Espresso, and possibly Black Raspberry Vanilla. My home smells like all the things right now.

Thursday, January 28, 2016

What I'm Doing Now: Week 2

What I'm doing now...
Eating fruit cocktail right out of the can, alternating between coffee and cranberry juice, debating if I have time for a nap, and waiting for the dye pots to heat up.

What I'm doing this week..
My friend Sarah and I spent a whirlwind 20 hours away from our crafty jobs to go to Ikea to look at furniture for our yarn & craft areas and then went off to knit night and dinner with friends. Our staycation included staying up late talking about the yarn industry and then waking up early for breakfast and more yarn talk. Yep, we took a few hours off from our yarn jobs to talk about yarn with each other and other knitters. It was glorious.

What I'm knitting this week...
Fingerless glove (my own pattern) in the striping version of Flower Shop Inferno; Off With Her Red Self-Striping swatch

Shawl Seduction by Kelene Kinnersly. Knit from the Teancious Sock base in the colors Lucy, Fuchsia So Bright, and Bigger on the Inside.
This week in shop news...
-Shawl Seduction test knit (above) was finished a few weeks ago and Kelene released the pattern yesterday. Kelene is having a 25% off sale in her Ravelry shop for the pattern itself (details on the pattern page). Or, if you purchase any 2 more skeins of Tenacious between now and Valentines then get the pattern free! Just leave me a note when you purchase and I will send you a coupon code for the free pattern. Thank you to Kelene for that generous offer to Dyeabolical customers. I can also give you a copy of the pattern at now charge if you purchase 2 or more skeins of Tenacious Sock from me between now and the end of February.

-Don't forget the first self-striping yarns are going up for sale tonight at 7!
-Over the holidays I made several special products for the holidays, including body balms, lip balms, and new perfumes. Some of these were special just for the holidays, but look for the return of the Wool Lover's Baa-lm, Good for the Sole Foot Balm, lip balms, and solid perfumes to return in February. New soaps will be hitting the curing racks next week and ready for sale in late February or early March.

What I'm Reading...
I'm halfway through Pioneer Girl. Dang, Laura Ingalls, your life was weird and hard.

What I'm Listening To...
I needed something familiar this week, so Harry Potter and the Sorcerers Stone is keeping me company while I work. 

What are you doing this week?

Tuesday, January 26, 2016

Self striping yarns -- Update Thursday!

The first batch of Dyeabolical self-striping sock yarn will be up for sale this Thursday at 7pm Central.

The update goes live in the Etsy shop first and then automatically updates to my website a few minutes later. There will be a section called "self-striping yarn" on both sites.
Some background--
So many customers have asked me to do striping versions of my regular colorways. The project seemed daunting and I put it off for years. There is no denying that striped yarns are much more labor intensive than dyeing semis or variegateds (20 minutes to wind vs. 3 minutes, for instance), but I enjoyed the process quite a bit.

A lot of my hesitation to dye stripes came from the idea that I had to be precise and perfect when dyeing stripes. Then I remembered that I am a forest person and not a trees person. I enjoy chaotic color. I enjoy the one of a kind nature of hand dyed yarns. I enjoy getting in to the dye pots and just playing. It has been a long time since I have sacrificed a week of time just to 'see what happens when I do this'. I admit that I am quite nervous for my customers to like these self-striping yarns. Please like them! :)

And now the details--
Important info:
  • All of the yarns in this update are self-striping versions of my regular variegated colors. Please do not purchase the self-striping listing if you are wanting variegated or vice versa. Please contact me if you have any questions. 
  • I have been experimenting with using a wood background for my in-stock pictures. This is not going to happen with this update. All of the items pictured above will be on a white background with a notation in the listing that the item is in stock and ready to ship. 
  • Self-striping yarns cannot be dyed-to-order at this time. 

I have dyed 6 colors in 3 different stripe styles for this update:
  • Derby Girl and Off With Her Red (formerly of the Black& and Alice in Wonderland series) are out of retirement to join us in time for Valentines. Both of these colors are traditional stripes, i.e. semi-solid regularly spaced stripes. Stripe width may vary slightly between hanks.
  • Derby Girl was also dyed in shorter stripes with slightly more tonal variegation within each stripe.
  • Flower Shop Inferno, Blood Orange, and Paris at Last...oh my. I have been dithering for approximately forever about how to get the results I wanted from these 3 colors when shifting from the usual 2 yard skein to a 20 yard skein. I genuinely hope you like these 3 colors as much as I do. There is nothing I would like to do more than to translate some of my other "kettle"-type variegateds in to stripes. The stripe transitions for these colorways are more of a gradual, gradient-style color shift than a stark transitions. Just as how every skein of hand dyed yarn is different, every stripe is slightly different in these 3 colors.
The yarn base is a new yarn called Targhee Sock. It is 90% superwash targhee wool and 10% nylon. The fiber for this yarn was grown, processed, and dyed in the USA. Targhee wool is very elastic and soft, though not as soft as merino (which makes it better for socks, IMO). This 3-ply sock yarn is round, springy, and plump. It is a heavy fingering yarn, knit best at 7-9 stitches per inch on 1s or 2s.

Each skein of Targee Sock is 430 yards minimum, or about 115 grams. Targhee Sock in the self-striping colorways retail for $30. As with all hand dyed yarns, I recommend hand washing in cool water.

    Thursday, January 21, 2016

    What I'm Doing Now

    There is a hashtag on Instagram called "widn", which stands for "what I'm doing now". I like the idea of taking a snapshot of what's happening right now. I just finished a book called "Steal This Art", so...I'm stealing the #widn idea for my blog. :)

    What I'm Doing Now-ish: 

    -Cherishing my alone time. My days are filled with work work, a special project (more below), getting back in to a post-holiday routine, reading, and knitting.

    -Modified sun salutations. Let's be honest, yoga people. Sun salutations are really just slow motion burpees. They should count as cardio.

    What I'm Knitting: 
    - Lots of samples of self-striping yarns.

    -I recently finished a test knit for Kelene Kinnersly for a pattern called Inamorata. This shawl will get its own blog post once the pattern is released. [Kelene also has 3 new, free hat patterns on her website made from Dyeabolical Superwash Worsted; along with a tutorial for knitting your first hat.]

    What I'm Doing At Work:

    -As always, dyeing special orders. Whenever I dye a special order I throw in 1-2 extra hanks of yarn to round out my dye lot. These extra hanks get placed in my Extras bin. Once the Extras bin is full, I do a shop update.

    -One thing I am not working on is soaps. Production on spring soaps will start spinning up in the next week, but for now I'm enjoying a post-holiday break from soaps.

    -Shop update. I did a shop update earlier this week.

    - I have had a little bit of down time recently and used that time to make some self-striping versions of my more popular variegated colors and 2 previously retired colors. More details will be coming early next week, along with a shop update later in the week. Self-striping yarns are very labor intensive, but I have really been enjoying the process and foresee doing more batches in the future when time allows.

    What I'm Reading Now:
    Recently finished:
    Steal like an Artist by Austin Kleon - Common sense advice for creative people.
    Vampires in the Lemon Grove by Karen Russell  - I loved this book of charming and creepy short stories. If you feel the same way about scarecrows that I feel about scarecrows, then save the last story for daytime reading.
    Something About You by Julie James (audiobook) - The first in a series of books about U.S. attorneys and FBI detectives who fall in love despite a series of misunderstandings and bad guys trying desperately to keep them apart. Rabbit hole, here I come.
    Recently abandoned:
    After Alice by Gregory Maguire - I've never met an Alice retelling that I couldn't tolerate until now. Yawn. So much yawn.
    Fates and Furies by Lauren Groff - The prose is good, the narration is excellent, but the people are horrible and too familiar.

    Currently reading:
    I'm apparently on a pioneer women kick!
    My Life on the Road by Gloria Steinem
    Pioneer Girl: The Annotated Bibliography by Laura Ingalls Wilder; Pamela Smith Hill (editor); My favorite annotation so far is not about LIW, but about Teddy Roosevelt and Jack London. The president calls out Jack London by name in a popular news magazine for being a "nature faker" and exaggerating the characteristics of nature for the sake of narrative drama.

    Friday, January 1, 2016

    2015 FO Round Up

    In 2015, I completed these knitted projects:
    • 8 hats
    • 4 pairs of fingerless mitts
    • 4 shawls
    • 2 pairs of mittens
    • 1 pair of socks
    • 1 toddler sweater
    • 2 cowls
    • 1 toy
    • 12 soap sweaters
    • 4 tiny trees
    • 2 wash cloths
    • 1 afghan

      My only goal for 2015 was to knit more than I did in 2014. I accomplished that with 299 yards to spare. In addition to the projects finished above, many of which were started in 2014 or earlier, I also have 1 scarf 75% finished, 2 pairs of socks on the needles, 1 pair of slippers cast on, one shawl 80% finished, and 1 cowl about 15% completed.

      My 2016 crafting goals are limited:
    • Replace a few pairs of sad socks
    • do lots of swatching, testing, and sample making of potential new colors for Dyeabolical
    • continue to narrow my focus for soaps & sundries to better fit my customers
    And that's it. I don't like pressure when it comes to my crafts!

    What are your crafting goals this year? What items did you knit, spin, or craft last year? Do you have art that you would like to share? Please post a comment or a link to your blog below! I would love to see what you made in 2015.