Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Can I pretend I'm not home?

I thought for sure I could get through this entire week without yarn showing up at my door and demanding attention. I love yarn and all, but I'm elbow deep in a design project right now and had hoped to have it finished before the new base yarn arrived.

UPS tried to deliver a package yesterday with 20 pounds of cotton warp and 5 pounds of felting and spinning wool. They weren't able to deliver it, so they dropped it off at the complex office. Dang it. This means 2 things.

First, I have to carry it up 3 flights of stairs. I remember when 25 pounds of yarn sounded like an enormous order. Actually, it still sounds enormous but only in that I have to carry it up the stairs to my apartment. Everything sounds more enormous when you have to carry it up 3 flights. Maybe one day I will have dedicated ground floor studio.  [Insert Digression Here]

Second, now I have all this internal pressure to clean my kitchen and get the yarn dyed up pronto. Let's face it. The only reason I ever clean my kitchen is to dye yarn. If I had any internal pressure to do the dishes for the dishes sake, then I wouldn't be writing this paragraph about cleaning my kitchen, would I? It would already be clean and I would be halfway through the dye process and too busy to blog. Ahem.

Digression: Recently, I did look in to getting studio space at a local nearly-defunct mall. Unfortunately the price for rent had tripled between the time I looked at it and the time I was ready to commit to an actual studio. I met a co-op of artists who had studio space and had considered joining them to rent out display space only. While it was a good deal (practically nothing a month with no long-term commitment), the general impression among most of the mall artists I talked to was that the mall management was less than supportive of the entire project. I still considered it, but had this nagging feeling that I should wait a week or two before committing. So I did and, lo and behold, a sign from the universe appeared. I took it as a sign that I should hold off on studio and/or display space when I heard an uncomfirmed rumor that the mall roof caught fire and management failed to evacuate despite corridors full of smoke. Fire can happen anywhere, but I know a sign when I see it. I was on the fence anyway about renting space. A slow season, fire rumors, and jacked up rent pretty much tipped the scale.

Sunday, December 27, 2009

I've been yarn bombed!

I was up at 5am this morning for no particular reason. I was looking at my Ravlery friends page and saw this project called "Balcony Gates". For the non-Ravelers, here are the pictures that were posted.

Balcony Gates pics from Ravelry's Knitarchy

"How clever! How charming! How just my kind of thing!," I thought to myself. Then I thought "Hey wait! Is that my balcony?" and indeed, it was. Sneaky sneaky vandals these are. I went to bed at midnight and woke up at 5 and it is hard to sneak up to my balcony without being heard. I love it, yarn bombers, whoever you are!

Sunday, December 20, 2009

Alexio's Scarf

Alexio’s Scarf

Design by Scott Kluesner

© Dyeabolical Yarns, 2008; © Scott Kluesner, 2006. All rights reserved. 


*100-150g of desired weight in a wool. Any weight from DK through aran weight is recommended.
Yarn used: 1 skein of Dyeabolical Yarns Super Ego in Firefly colorway, 100% superwash wool in a DK weight to make a short scarf

* US 7 or 8, if using an aran, US, 5 or 6 if using worsted weight, US 3 or 4 if you are using DK, etc. Use at least 1-2 needle sizes smaller than you would normally use with the yarn you have chosen. Go down 2-3 needle sizes if using superwash wool since superwash likes to grow once washed.


* Gauge for this project is flexible. Your primary concern is to make your stitches tight enough that they easily pull into a wave pattern, but not so tight as to make it difficult to knit. In general, smaller needles make wavier waves.
* Gauge for the scarf pictured is 5 sts/inch in pattern when held flat and stretched.


K= Knit

P= Purl

Kfb = Knit in both front and back loops

Pfb = Purl in both front and back loops

Kfl = Knit in front loop

Pfl = Purl in front loop

Kbl = Knit in back loop

Pbl = Purl in back loop


Cast on 36 stitches [To make a wider scarf, add multiples of twelve to this cast on number.]

Row 1(RS): K3, (P6, K6) to the last 9 stitches, P6, K3. Mark this as the right side.

Rows 2, 4 and 6 (WS): P3, (K6, P6) to the last 9 stitches, K6, P3.

Row 3, 5 (RS): K3, (P6, K6) to the last 9 stitches, P6, K3

Row 7 (RS): K2tog three times, (P6, K6) to the last 6 stitches, P3, Pfb in the next stitch, (Pfl, Kbl) of following stitch, Kfb of last stitch

Row 8 (WS): P3, (K6, P6) to the last 9 stitches, K6, P3

Rows 9, 11 (RS): K3, (P6, K6) to the last 9 stitches, P6, K3

Rows 10, 12 (WS): P3, (K6, P6) to the last 9 stitches, K6, P3

Row 13 (RS): P2tog three times, (K6, P6) to the last 6 stitches, K3, Kfb in the next stitch, (Kfl, Pbl) of the following stitch, Pfb of the last stitch

Rows 14, 16, 18 (WS): K3, (P6, K6) to the last 9 stitches, P6, K3

Rows 15, 17 (RS): P3, (K6, P6) to the last 9 stitches, K6, P3

Row 19 (RS): P2tog three times, (K6, P6) to the last 6 stitches, K3, Kfb in the next stitch, (Kfl, Pbl) of following stitch, Pfb of last stitch

Rows 20, 22, 24 (WS): K3, (P6, K6) to the last 9 stitches, P6, K3

Rows 21, 23 (RS): P3, (K6, P6) to the last 9 stitches, K6, P3

Row 25 (WS): K2tog three times, (P6, K6) to the last 6 stitches, P3, Pfb in the next stitch, (Pfl, Kbl) of following stitch, Kfb of last stitch

Repeat Rows 2-25 until desired length is reached.

Use a stretchy bind off to finish. Weave in ends.

5-hour Hat and Gaiter

 UPDATED 02/26/16

 Hello! Thank you for visiting the Rachel Knits/Dyeabolical blog. Please use the links in the sidebar to subscribe to have new blog posts delivered to your inbox, or to subscribe to the Dyeabolical newsletter. New Dyeabolical yarns, soaps, perfumes, and spinning fibers can be found at

[The yarn used for this pattern has since been discontinued. Please substitute Dyeabolical Super Bulky yarn, available at the link above.]

This hat and gaiter pattern is a quick and warm knit perfect for beginners or for those (like me) who need a quick and fast project. Knitting took 5 hours total. The hat is made for a 22-23" head. I can pull it firmly down over my ears and it fits great. If you don't want to smoosh your hair, you may want to increase the total length before decreasing.


Yarn: Both the hat and gaiter can be made from one 8-oz. skein of Dyeabolical Unspun 2-ply roving/yarn with plenty left over for a longer crown, longer gaiter, a giant pom-pom, ear flaps, ties, wristwarmers or just to keep on your desk to reach over and smoosh every so often. [Note: Unspun has been discontinued. Please substitute 8oz of super bulky yarn, or about 2.5 skeins of Dyeabolical Super Bulky]

Gauge: 9 stitches = 4", post steam blocking

Needle size: I used US 11 double points. I am a notoriously loose knitter. You may find it easier to get gauge on US 13.


Using knitted cast on, cast on 40 stitches on a size 11 dpn

Row 1, 3, 5, 7: Knit
Rows 2, 4, 6, 8: Purl
Rows 9: [k2tog, k8] around--36 stitches remain
Row 10-26: Knit
Row 27: [k2tog, k2] around--27 stitches remain
Row 28: knit
Row 29: [k2tog, k1] around--18 stitches remain
Row 30: Knit
Row 31: [k2tog] around--9 stitches remain
Row 32: k2tog around to last stitch, knit last stitch

Break yarn, weave through remaining stitches and pull tight. Weave in ends. Steam block to finish.


C/O 44 stiches on size 11
Row 1, 3, 5: Knit
Row 2, 4, 6: Purl
Row 7: *K2tog, K9* around--40 stitches
Row 8-18: Knit
Row 19: *Pfb, K9* around--44 stitches
Row 20, 22, 24: Knit
Row 21, 23: Purl
Row 25: Cast off

Weave in ends. Steam block to finish.

You can also use the gaiter as a headband!
© Dyeabolical Yarns, 2008. All rights reserved. Please do not redistribute this pattern without the link and copyright information intact. Contact via email for permission to distribute a printed version of this pattern in your store.

Shulkie Socks Pattern

[Reposted from my former blog. Somewhere along the line I lost the original pictures. I'll be updating the pictures in a few weeks along with a pattern a more comprehensive pattern. In the meantime, I wanted to make sure some version of the pattern was posted somewhere because there are people who have it listed in their queue.]

Jess's Shulkie Socks
by ©Dyeabolical Yarns, 2008. Full copyright notice below pattern.

While I have done my best to make sure this pattern is clear and error free, it is difficult to edit oneself. I apologize in advance if there are any errors or unclear instructions. Please contact me with any questions by leaving a comment or emailing dyeabolicalyarns at gmail dot com if you have any questions.If you are interested in future tech editing or test knitting, please email me at the address above.

Design notes: These were designed for my She-Hulk loving friend, Jess. I originally had the traveling rib moving in the same direction of the dark green spiral, but decided to break up the visual line by having the rib spiral in the opposite direction of the yarn. The relaxed ribs are slightly wavy. Pulled taut the traveling ribs are a nice stitch pattern.

Needles: 2.5mm double pointed needles

Gauge: 8.25 stitches per inch in stockinette


Cast on 64 stitches using the knitted cast on  or another loose cast on of your choice.

K2, P2 rib for 2"

Begin stitch pattern as below:
Round 1-4: *k4, p4, rep from * around
Round 5-8: k2, *p4, k4, rep from * to last 6 sts, p4, k2
Round 9-12: *p4, k4, rep from * around
Round 13-16: p2, *k4, p4, rep from * around to last 6 stitches, k4, p2

Rep rounds 1-16 until cuff is desired length.

Heel Turn
Combine 26 stitches on to one needle to work a short row heel. Leave 38 stitches unworked for the instep.  Work short row heel as you normally would, or as follows:

On right side, knit one stitch to end. Wrap stitch by slipping final stitch to right needle, bring yarn to front, slip stitch back to left needle, move working yarn to back. Turn. Purl to final stitch. Wrap stitch by slipping last stitch to right needle, move yarn to back, slip stitch back to the left needle, move working yarn to front. Turn. Knit to one before wrapped stitch. Wrap this stitch as before. Turn. Purl to one before wrapped stitch. Wrap this stitch as before. Turn. Continue in this manner until only 8 unwrapped stitches remain in the middle with an even number of wrapped stitches on either side.

Work your next row to the most recently wrapped stitch, pick up the wrap from behind, place it on your needle and knit the wrap together with the stitch. Wrap the next stitch. Turn. Continue in this manner until the last wrapped stitch on the right side is worked. If there is still a wrapped stitch on the wrong side to be worked then leave it until the end of the current round.

[There are several short-row heel tutorials and videos online if you find that helpful]

Pick up and knit an extra stitch in the gap between the heel and the instep. Work instep in stockinette. Pick up and knit an extra stitch in the gap on this side, as well . Pick up the final heel wrap (if left unworked from heel) and work it together with its mate. Finish the round by knitting in stockinette.

On next round decrease 1 stitch on either side of the heel, eliminating the extra stitch picked up. Redistribute stitches evenly among your needles . Continue knitting stockinette to 2" before the toe.


Work toe of your choice, or as follows:

Renumber your needles so needle 1 begins on the right side of your foot and ends in the center top of your foot. Needle 2will be from center top to left side of foot. Needle 3 from left side to bottom center of foot. Needle 4 from bottom center of foot to right side.

Round 1 (decrease round):
  • Needle 1: K1 ssk, k to end of needle
  • Needle 2: K to last 3 stitches, k2tog
  • Needle 3: K1, ssk, k to end of needle
  • Needle 4: K to last 3 stitches, k2tog
Round 2: Knit plain
Repeat rounds 1 and 2 until 12 stitches total remain. Repeat decrease round until 8 stitches remain.

Work Kitchener stitch to close toe.

Testing new yarns--a peek in to the process

I haven't been doing much dyeing these past few weeks. Hopefully I will have 5 pounds of felting wool and 20 pounds of warping cotton arrive before the end of the year. In the meantime I am taking a little mini-break, working on holiday knitting, test knitting potential new base yarns and avoiding catching up on bookeeping. I thought you might enjoy some insight in to the process of testing a new yarn.

I have been looking for a bulky yarn to replace my BFL Unspun. I still love the Unspun roving yarn, but ever worsening allergies are keeping me from dyeing anything that isn't extremely clean and free from any non-wool allergens (like hay or excessive dust) when it arrives at my door. Everything I dye gets a bath first, but some wools occasionally need an extra bath if you know what I mean. Sheeps are filthy creatures.

I found a superwash merino yarn that I thought might be a good substitute for the BFL Unspun. My first step was to order a cone of it and try it out. I wound up 6 100g skeins from the cone and dyed up a handpainted color, a kettle dyed color and a sorta-semisolid color.
 My creation
I ended up with an extra half a skein in the kettle dyed color, so I passed that out to a beginning knitter to get his initial impressions. He knitted up a quick cowl with it (no pictures, unfortunately) and liked it a lot. He didn't think it was too splitty like bulky yarn can sometimes be. He liked how the color took up. He didn't find any inconsistencies in the yarn.

My next step was to farm it out to my tried and true test knitters. Deborah made these great pair of swooshy fingerless mitts:

Kate made this great matching cowl. Remind me to devote a whole blog post to how awesome Kate is one of these days, okay?  Did you see the socks she just finished? Did you see the shawl she knit with some other yarn she was test knitting for me? She knit it in like a week or something crazy like that. Love that knitter. Love her!

Ann made a great pair of Festivus mitts with her skein and for some reason I told her I didn't need pictures. What was I thinking?

If you ever need test knitters, look no further than Kate, Deborah and Ann. They are so detailed and thoughtful with all of their comments. Deborah loved the way it felt in her hands. Kate pronounced the yarn "Squishystrongbeautifulsnuggly". Ann loved it, too, and gave great feedback about price points.

 Great! So why do I have a sinking feeling about this yarn? Well....nearly every person who handled the yarn said, unprompted, that their first impressions was that it was almost identical to another popular bulky yarn. Uh-oh. It might be a problem if my test knitters can't visually tell the difference between my more expensive superwash yarn and the less expensive and more popular non-superwash yarns. The actual knitting proved that are differences between the two yarns, mainly that the superwash is softer than the non-superwash and therefore....pills faster. Double uh-oh. When I asked the testers if they would pay the extra to have a superwash yarn, the answer was a resounding 'No'. Triple uh-oh.

This yarn just looking like another yarn wasn't quite enough to put this yarn out of the running. There are people out there who are willing to pay extra for a superwash yarn. Me, for instance. I am capable of carefully hand washing non-superwash wool, but I would rather turn it inside out and  throw it in the wash and I am willing to pay extra for the privilege.

If the testers overwhelmingly like or dislike a yarn then that is often enough to overrule my own feelings on the yarn. For instance, I am not a fan of chenille but it went so well in the initial test batch and with the testers that I have sold out 2 batches since then and nearly sold out of the 3rd. The testers really liked the superwash bulky yarn, but were on the fence about the price and the superwash treatment. It was time for me to put it through its paces.

I cast on for a hat using the final 2 skeins of the initial test run.
Empire Hat
My thoughts on this new base yarn?
  • Non-splitty!
  • Soft!
  • Good color!
  • Squishy!
  • Squooshy!
  • Good stitch definition!
  • It fuzzed predictably, as all softly spun wools tend to do.
  • The yarn grew during blocking, as most non-sock sw wools tend to do.
  • And....knotty? KNOTTY? None of my test knitters reported knots,  but there were 7 ply knots between my two skein. Ply knots are practically invisible when knitting, unlike real knots, but still. 7 is excessive. Damn.
My final decision is that lovely as this yarn is, it isn't the right time for me to devote money in to developing it in to a regular line for me. Perhaps in six months when the knot issue is taken care . The first run of any new base yarn is bound to have some inconsistencies.

It is frustrating to not have a good bulky yarn for the winter season, but this is why I use test knitters. At the upside, we all have great new accessories to show for our efforts.

Saturday, December 12, 2009

A silly meme

O tidings of comfort and yarn,
Comfort and yarn.
God Rest Ye Merry, Gentlemen
from the Christmas Song Generator.
Get your own song :

He knows if you've been bad or wool,
So be wool for goodness' sake.
Santa Claus is Coming to Town
from the Christmas Song Generator.
Get your own song :

With true love and wool
Each other now embrace.
God Rest Ye Merry, Gentlemen
from the Christmas Song Generator.
Get your own song :

Thursday, December 10, 2009

February Lady and Baby Sweaters

My February Lady Sweater is finally finished!  It took 3 skeins plus about 20 yards of a 4th skein (always buy the 4th skein). Still, 4 skeins of yarn netted me a sweater big enough for me, a baby sweater and some yarn left over. That's about $40 for 2 projects. I know I am biased because I sell this yarn, but I think that's a pretty good deal.

Normally I knit my project 10% longer and give the finished object a hot wash/tumble dry blocking. This initial treatment does two things. First, it gets a ton of lint off. If you've ever washed any new cotton garment you know what I'm talking about. Second, it allows the yarn to bloom and "sets" the stitches.

Notice I said I normally give it a hot wash and dry for its first wash. Peoples, I am a large woman with a loooong torso. By week 7 of knitting nothing but this sweater, I was ready to bind off. I bypassed the extra 10%, bound off and washed it by hand and it was just fine.  

What is Cotton Slub yarn?

Cotton Slub is a 100%  softly spun, thick-n-thin, sport weight, rustic handpainted yarn. The yarn is plied with soft slubs of cotton every so often. This yarn is a rustic yarn, meaning it has not been mercerized or bleached.

Cotton Slub makes a nice casual cool soft fabric that is machine washable on gentle. It is a non-mercerized cotton so it needs to be treated with a little more delicacy than a mercerized cotton when washing. The stitch definition is medium-to-good. It is a softly spun natural cotton and prone to a soft halo like all softly spun natural cottons, while still having enough structure to support the stitch definition of most textured stitches. The fabric will bloom in to a soft slubby fabric once it is washed, so please wash your swatches to get an idea of how the fabric will look in your finished garment. On most garments, I do turn the garment inside out and give it a single hot machine wash and tumble dry to bloom the yarn, set maximum shrink and set the stitch definition. I do subsequent washes inside out on cool gentle with an air dry.

Every skein has a minimum of 100g and 310 yards. Most skeins have 2-10g extra.

GUIDELINES (check your pattern requirements):
1 skein for most hats
1-2 skeins for most bags, baby garments and some small adult tanks
2-3 skeins makes most simple adult tanks
3-4 for a shrug
4+ skeins for most adult long sleeve pullovers

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Green Living Expo wrap up

I enjoyed meeting some associates from the St. Louis Craft Mafia, as well as seeing old friends. I bought some tea from Travelin' Tea. I've been drinking it all week. Baby, it's cold outside! I traded a skein of yarn with the owner of Kakao Chocolate. Peoples, if you haven't tried Kakao Chocolate, go get yourself some right this instant. Holy Moley. Thanks to everyone who stopped by on Sunday! It was great to see you.

I'm off the computer for the rest of the day to work on some work samples. I finished my February Lady Sweater last week and I'm hoping to finish a matching February Baby Sweater today. Pictures soon!

Friday, December 4, 2009

Green Living Expo

Just a reminder--

I will be at the Missouri History Museum's Green Living Expo this Sunday, December 6. The expo officially opens at noon and goes to 4, but the History Museum opens at 10. I am splitting a table with The Knitress, who specializes in hand knitted accessories made from natural fibers. I will be bringing with me a small assortment of sock yarns, cottons, the last of the silk, a few necklaces from Crafty and Crap Studio, reversible hand sewn bags, some roving and that entrelac shawl from the previous post.

Here are some of the exhibits that have signed on. How could you not stop by? 

• Isabee’s Honey • HPO Spa Treatments
• Kakao Chocolate • The J.U.I.C.E. Project
• Hope Build • Little Pleasures Foods
• Mod Creations • Go Green Clean
• Green It! • Better Life
• Miss Lemon • Squaresville
• Super Chick Studio
• Suzanne Shenkman Designs
• Missouri Coalition for the Environment
• Earthways Center, Missouri Botanical Garden
& U.S. Green Building Council–St. Louis

Sunday, November 29, 2009

Sale and Show

The sale continues on in both my etsy and my artfire shops. If you spend $50 or more then domestic shipping is free. I have added every skein of yarn I have in my inventory now, except for a few duplicate sock colors. I have also added a knitted object, my Lady Eleanor Shawl.

Here is the copy from the listing:
Please note: The darker irregular-shaped spots across the surface of the fabric are simply shadows from a nearby tree. The stole itself is a basketweave-type pattern (entrelac) in gray, ivory, camel, tan and brown.

This long, luxurious and versatile stole is made from wool, silk, cashmere, angora, alpaca, kid mohair and camel. The luxurious fibers give the stole a wonderful drape and warmth that makes it perfect tossing artfully over your shoulders and pinning with an artistic brooch at your next special event. The warm earthy colors and the sturdy wool make this stole equally useful for wrapping up in front of the fire on chilly winter nights.

The dimensions are 31” wide x 76” long, not including the fringe. The fiber content of the yarn transitions when the color transitions, making for a texturally interesting accessory as well as a beautiful one.

55% wool, 10% silk, 7% cashmere, 7% angora, 7% alpaca, 7% kid mohair, 7% camelhair

This stole was previously a shop sample in a yarn store for a few months. It has been cleaned thoroughly, carefully inspected and is LIKE NEW and ready to give as a gift. A commissioned piece like this would be US $450.00.

I am willing to trade in full or part for marketing/website assistance, spinning equipment, large canning/pasteurizing pots, non-fabric mannequin forms, suitable camera, fabric prepared for dyeing, neat gadgets or ????

I will have a small display at the Missouri History Museum this coming Sunday for the Second Annual Green Living Expo from noon-4pm. I am splitting a table with The Knittress (aka Suzi)  who will have a variety of knitted accessories made from natural fibers and her friend who I believe is a jeweler. I am only bringing a limited amount of inventory with me, but I am looking to do a little wheeling and dealing that day since it is my last show of the year, so come on down. Just let me know you are a blog reader and I'll hook you up with a discount. If you would like me to bring something specific so you can see it in person just let me know and I will be happy to accommodate your request.  As always, I will be accepting cash, check or credit card.

Thursday, November 26, 2009


Happy Thanksgiving, everyone! I hope it was a wonderful day for you. Mine started out well, but 4 bites in to dinner the day turned in to a crazy combination of asthma, allergies, possible food poisoning and/or flu  that drove me away from the table and back to the privacy of my home so I could suffer in peace. Couldn't this have waited until tomorrow? Drats.

Before I head off to bed for the night (or weekend), I wanted to let you know about a few things.
  1. I have a new Artfire store. I am keeping my Etsy store, but I wanted to explore having both an Artfire and an Etsy shop. They seem to have different clientele. I'm curious to hear what people think of Artfire. It seems like an interesting venue!
  2. Kate from the KateOhKatie blog did a wonderful test knit of my Silkerino base yarn. Her beautiful Damson shawl (pattern by Ysolda Teague) took 1 skein of Silkerino in the teal color. Didn't she do a lovely job? Silkerino was supposed to be a limited edition yarn, but her shawl turned out so beautifully that I may put it in to regular rotation.

  3. I am offering free shipping on all orders over $50 from either my Etsy shop or my new Artfire store. Use the coupon code "I LOVE YARN" on Artfire to receive free shipping. Etsy unfortunately doesn't have a coupon option, so you will need to pay for your purchase first and then I will refund your shipping fee. I will happily combine orders from across the sites to make you eligible for free shipping.

 And now? I am for to die, but just for a little bit. Ugh.

Saturday, November 21, 2009

St. Louis Craft Mafia

I have been accepted in to the St. Louis Craft Mafia! This means that I will automatically be accepted in to several different shows and that my networking opportunities just exploded. I'm so excited!

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Dye weeks

I love dyeing weeks. I feel a much greater since of accomplishment when I have yarn on the drying rack at the end of the day. When I first started dyeing yarn it was the dyeing itself that took up the most time. Most days you will find me rewinding yarn, taking pictures, editing pictures, updating the shop, working on marketing materials, attempting to keep up on social media (surprisingly important!), staring woefully at a screen full of HTML wondering what I've gotten myself in to, and vacuuming. Always vacuuming. This business is nothing if not lint-producing.

When I decided to grow the business from part-time hobby to full-time job, I thought that would me more time behind the dye pots. I was wrong. I have invested in equipment to reduce prep and finishing times and developed techniques that are more efficient, so I am getting more yarn dyed. I'm just not spending more time doing it.

I cherish dye days much more now than I used to. I wake up early in the morning and start the yarns soaking. Today I'm dyeing the last of the chenille yarn. I pour a cup of coffee and check my email. I mix up any last dyes I think I might need. Yesterday I dyed red, green, blue, gold, purple. Today I mixed up yellow, orange, teal and brown.

I fill the pots if I'm kettle dyeing, lay out the plastic wrap and painting brushes and tools if I'm handpainting. The cotton yarns don't need anything special other than a place to rest while the dye takes up. I make sure iTunes is loaded up with podcasts. I put on my dye clothes in the rare case I can find clothes that aren't covered with dye. I lace up the comfy shoes. Then I zone out for several hours doing what I love to do best.

This yarn dyeing business is so much more than just dyeing yarn. It's yarn prep, yarn finishing, marketing, paperwork, networking, sample knitting (as opposed to fun knitting), customer service, shipping, photoshoots, photo editing and vacuuming. Always vacuuming. It is only sometimes dyeing yarn and I cherish those weeks when I get to do nothing but that.

I'm doing solid colors this week. Red, orange, yellow, green, blue, purple, teal, chocolate, gold. Think of the color combinations for a striped scarf! Red/green, blue/gold, green/gold/purple, teal/chocolate, teal/green or my favorite red/orange/yellow/green/blue/purple. I'm a sucker for a rainbow.

Now if you will excuse me, I have some chenille to dye. Happy knitting!

Thursday, November 12, 2009


I am running an ad on Facebook. So far none of my knitter friends have seen it. Will you comment if you see it in your Facebook side bar? Even if you don't see it, check out the Dyeabolical facebook page to keep updated on Dyeabolical happenings.

Monday, November 9, 2009

O'Fallon craft show wrap up

We did so-so at the O'Fallon, Il craft show. I'm not sure we will return but it was a valuable learning experience. We also met some really great crafters at the show who were also first-timers.

I lusted after the glass enamel on copper jewelry from K.G. Jewelry. Hopefully they will have a website up soon. Cheryl Yeager from The Flying Dog and Co. and her granddaughter Sydney are both very creative who draw, make sculptured pins, paint, and knit. By the end of the weekend we had them spinning yarn, too. Sydney, the granddaughter, was so intuitive with her knitting and took right to spinning after only hearing instructions once. Both of them did this sort of backwards loop wrap when they were knitting English style (right handed) that was very efficient and fast. I plan on sitting down today to see if I can replicate it.

Our next show will be the Green Living Expo (pdf link) at the Missouri History Museum on Sunday, December 6th from noon-4pm. I am splitting a table with Suzi from The Knittresses. She will have hand knitted items made from wool, alpaca and other natural fibers. I will probably be bringing 3 or 4 cubes-worth of product since I am limited on space. I will have a sock yarns, cotton slub, spinning fibers and a little bit of silk. Even if you don't come for the yarn, come for the other vendors. It sounds like it will be a worthwhile event.

Thursday, November 5, 2009

O'Fallon High School Craft Fair

Scott and I will be at the O'Fallon, IL High School craft fair this weekend. If you are in the area, stop by. I have never been to this craft fair before but I hear it is very large. Here is the pertinent info:

Dates: Saturday Nov. 7th 9am - 5pm and Sunday Nov. 8th 10am - 4pm

Address: 600 S Smiley Street, O'Fallon, IL, 62269-2316

My table: Booth #1614 in the multipurpose room. I am splitting a table with local horror author Elizabeth Donald. Look for the gothic booth decorations, books and yarn you can see from space. You can't possibly miss us.

Admission Fee: $3

Here's a sampling of what I'm bringing--

Doing this baby right

Originally uploaded by sungazing

I do love a baby wrapped in Noro.

Thanks you to Julie from Sungazing Photography for sharing this picture of her latest subject, baby Gianna. Gianna is nestled in the first Noro project I ever made. Julie fell in love with this purse. Before I gave it to her I put together a rigid basket "liner" made from plastic canvas, spray glue and fake leather to help keep the bag from losing its shape when filled with normal purse contents. I can't guarantee bag integrity when you fill said bag with babies, Julie. ;)

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Roving Roving Roving

This morning I spend time separating and fluffing some felting wool and roving I'm bringing with me to the O'Fallon, Il High School craft fair this weekend. It makes me wish I had a working wheel. I miss spinning!

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Progress Continues

I'm knitting knitting knitting on my February Lady Sweater made from my own Cotton Slub yarn and still not done. It's the downside of being fat. I'm happy with who I am and accepting of the size I'm at, but if anything can give me a complex about my size it's how damned long it takes to knit a sweater. I'm estimating that adding full sleeves plus extending the length will put me just under 4 skeins to knit this, or about a $40 investment. Not bad.

This is what I've accomplished so far. I am sorely tempted to finish it off right now, but a cropped cap-sleeve shrug isn't my style. Wouldn't this be cute over a summer dress for someone else? One of my sisters or sisters-in-law, maybe? I have lots and I'm pretty sure none of them read this blog. I'm sure if you were making a smaller size (M? L? Even XL?) you could bind off the sleeves here and add a garter stitch hem with less than 2 skeins. That's less than $20 for a nice sweater to throw on during cool summer nights.

Friday, October 30, 2009

New Sock Yarns

I've been posting new sock yarns! The yarns on top have been listed on etsy already. The ones towards the bottom will be listed this weekend. I am really pleased how these new colors turned out. Normally I let intuition and inspiration guide my dye application and color choice. This leads to highly individual skeins when I'm using methods other than strict handpainting. This time I asked my twitter followers what there high school colors were. I used the colors of the first several responses as a jumping off point for these new colors. Unlike my other non-painted yarns, I can repeat nearly all of these fairly closely. The method I use still leads to a lot of variation between skeins, as you can see, but I can get in the ball park if I wanted to repeat some of these colors.

What do you think? Click here for a larger image.

October Sock Yarns

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Spiral Crochet Scarf Pattern

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Spiral Crochet Scarf
©2007, Dyeabolical
Pattern is for personal use and may not be reproduced or distributed without the consent of the author
Almost any yarn will work with this project. Different yarns will yield drastically different results for this scarf. All scarves pictured used approximately 150g of yarn.

Gauge for this project is not critical for good results. A tighter gauge will give you a firmer fabric. A looser gauge will give you a softer fabric with more drape.

Appropriate for the yarn chosen.

Foundation Row: Begin with a slip knot. Chain an until the length is approximately the length you want your scarf to be. Justify Full

Row 1: Make a double crochet in 2nd chain from hook. *Make 1 double crochet in the next chain and 2 double crochet in the following chain. Repeat from * to the end of the row. End with 1 double crochet if you have a chain left over.

Row 2 and all following rows: 2 double crochet in each double crochet across the row. Repeat until desired width is reached.

Weave in ends and block. To tighten the spirals during blocking, soak the scarf in a gentle wash. Press the excess water out. Starting at one end begin twisting in the direction of the spiral until you have a tight spiral. Secure either end in clips of a pants hanger run the middle of the scarf around the neck of the hanger. Unclip when dry and give it a few good shakes.

The spiral shape and tightness of the spiral can be affected by changing the first row.

The less full spiral was made by doing 1 double crochet in every chain the first row and completing row 2 & 3 as written in the pattern.

This fuller spiral shape was made by making 2 double crochets in every chain in the first row.

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Cotton Slub Update

Cotton Slubs for 10/13/09
(Left to right, top to bottom: Aubergine, Booster Golden, Honey Wheat, Kelly Green, Lemon (new!), Pale Amethyst, Peculiar Purple, Perfect Turquoise, Pinky, Rustic Red, Second Hand Store, Teal, Wisteria Variegated, a stack of Aubergine skeins)

I've just relisted some of the Cotton Slub yarn in my etsy shop. This yarn has great yardage and a great texture for a great price. A lightweight pullover or a swingy cardigan generally takes less than 4 skeins--less than $40! Each skein is a minimum of 100g and 310 yards. Many skeins have bonus yardage that stretch your knitting dollar further.

Friday, October 9, 2009

Casting on

Do you ever struggle with starting a project? I have cast on and ripped for several projects in the past few weeks. Dyeing is at a stand still until more yarn arrives and a cold front has moved through. I have taken advantage of this momentary lull in activity to make some garments that will both inspire other people to knit with Dyeabolical yarn and will keep us warm.

I limited myself to 1 pair of socks and sweater. I wanted a swingy cardigan that could be made from either 3 skeins of the silk/merino fingering yarn I have left over or from 4 skeins or less of the cotton slub. Scott requested a pair of socks for himself nearly 6 months ago so that was also on the agenda.

Most of the patterns I liked for the cardigan required a worsted weight yarn. I could certainly substitute, but there is only so many things you can do to sport cotton to make it behave like worsted wool. I cast on for several sweaters, including a broomstick lace cardigan, and ripped them right out again before settling on the perfect sweater--February Lady Sweater inspired by Annie's most recent finished project. I'm using the color Jamie Green in the Cotton Slub yarn. I thought I would have to adjust the pattern because my yarn is thinner than the worsted it called for, but no! I'm hitting spot on the required gauge even though I went down several needle sizes.
After casting on for many different socks, I settled on using my Strong Arm sock yarn in the Old Jeans colorway to make a pair of Tadpoles for Scott. I managed to get the entire cuff done in one evening and that's where progress stalled. It took me a few days to finish the heel and now I'm slogging through the gusset wishing I could cast on for something else. Knitters ADD? What are you knitting?

Tuesday, October 6, 2009


Several people at Strange Folk asked for the cashmere blend spinning fibers I had last year. It was a popular product and several people stopped by the table to show me their finished yarns. Beautiful! And soft, too! I wavered a bit on my decision to cut back to just superwash merino and Australian wool rovings.

My decision not to bring anything fancier with me was motivated by the steep increases in prices this year. The diminishing quality of cashmere overall, regardless of where it is milled, added to my resolution not to bring a cashmere blend with me. I just didn't think it was a good fit on the table this year.

Since making that decision I have run across interesting reading material on the environmental and economic impact of cashmere herding and processing. This Chicago Tribune article does an excellent in depth review of the environmental issues. has a lesson plan on the subject of cashmere herding and farming in Mongolia. If you have a few more minutes to devote to reading than this thread on Ravelry is an interesting read. Now I'm wondering if carrying cashmere at all is the right decision for Dyeabolical. I need to do a little more soul searching on this issue.

Friday, October 2, 2009

New Patterns!

I have added 3 new patterns to my Ravelry store in the last several days.

All Hands On Deck
Top-down mittens for any size hands in any weight yarn
with special notes for large hands

A whimsical hat in Halloween colors

A wide brimmed tam/beret for both men and women
made from fingering weight/sock yarn

Thursday, October 1, 2009

Strange Folk Wrap Up

Thank you to everyone who came out and made Strange Folk a success! I have heard nothing but positive feedback from vendors and attendees except for possibly the lack of funnel cakes. Ahem. KUDOS to Autumn and her minions for making Strange Folk and the Upcycle Exchange a success!

I sold out or nearly sold out of many yarns. Yay! Some of the yarns I brought with me did so well that I will be turning them in to official lines and have them in the shop in the future. I will definitely be carrying more:
  • cotton warp
  • felting fibers
I have a little bit of 2-ply tussah silk left, along with some silk thread, cotton boucle, and a sw wool/bamboo blend that I will be posting to etsy soon. They are good yarns that are fantastic in person, but don't necessarily translate well on a website and therefore won't be part of the regular rotation. It's hard to convey softness, drape and texture in pixels.

I'm on the fence about putting the silk/merino in to regular rotation. On the one hand, OMGSOFT! PRETTY! On the other hand, nearly $50 a skein with shipping.
(a left over Silkerino skein)

Many of my favorite knitters stopped by the table to say hello, including several members of the Artisan Guild of Southern Illinois who were showing off their hand spun yarns made from roving I sold them last year. How awesome is that?
(2 oz. of cashmere blend in Joker colorway plied with 2-ply white wool, spun by Karen)

(Beth spun tencel merino "Can't Hit the Side of a..." in to a bouncy great worsted weight yarn)
(Isn't this scarf amazing? Spun and knit from cashmere blend "Christmas is Coming" by Susan)

If you Southern Illinoisans (or even Missourians) are looking for a comprehensive artists guild, check out Artisan Guild of Southern Illinois. They are intensely passionate about their various crafts and are eager to share their knowledge. Unfortunately they meet on the one day a week that I can't break free otherwise I would spend all my time with them, I think.

And now for a non-Strange Folk update. The more Dyeabolical becomes a full-time endeavor the more I find myself wanting a separate space for blogging, a 'private public' space if you will. I may talk about the same event or project, but the point of view will differ. For example, I'll have a Strange Folk update on my other blog but it will talk about what I bought instead of what I sold. You are absolutely welcome to come over to my other blog and read. It IS a public blog, after all, but after today I won't be linking to it except on rare occasions. Be sure to update your RSS feeds if you want to follow both blogs!