Friday, October 29, 2010

Special Halloween Edition

I am working on the customer FO post for October. If you have a finished object or spun yarn made from Dyeabolical yarn or fiber and would like to be featured in the post then please email me or message me on Ravelry by Sunday. I am happy to link to your blog, website or Rav profile!


I am having the worst time writing cleverly, professionally or in an entertaining sort of way this morning. This is probably why my full-time freelance writing career was a FAIL. There are some days where internet/LOLcat speak is the best I'm capable of. This is one of those days. On to the pictures. 
I haz a beige industrial shelf a neighbor gave me. It's sitting in my living room and looks terrible. I was going to move it in to the kitchen and use it as a big drying rack but then I turned my back and the books, knitting, plants and shelves took over. It's pretty ugly now. It needs work if it is going to stay there. It might not stay there.
Just in case I do keep a former Hostess Twinkie rack in my living room, I came up with a plan to prettify it. We got some cuttings from the garden and from friends. I added magnets to the back of some crocheted flowers. I'm planning vaguely on slowly adding felted vines and astro turf to the bottom shelves where the cats won't be horribly poisoned if they eat them (they won't eat them). When the real vines are big enough I'll transplant them to the top shelf and let them wind down the legs. In the meantime I'm adding bits of crafty whimsy as I come across it. I may clear off the top 2 shelves and use them to grow seedlings in the winter. Oh, the possibilities of a mostly empty shelf!
I was working on crocheting flowers from every color of Cotton Slub Sport. That was before the CSS was discontinued and replaced with Cotton Slub DK. I'm doing test knitting and swatching with the CSDK right now. The DK looks better knitted at a tighter gauge whereas the CSS looks better knitted loose and worn over a cami and *needlescratch* Whoa! Stop right there, Self! This isn't a work post!Save it for later!

Deborah and Crafty and Crap have been very accommodating in providing crafty goodies for my shelf (shelves) of whimsy. Deborah needle felted me this dia de los muertos skull which you saw last month. This month she contributed several more pieces. 
An awesome needle felted pumpkin
A mushroom!!!! This mushroom needs a gnome like NOW. Hold on while I go buy a gnome....okay I'm back! One zombie gnome on its way! I feel the start of an insidious and really specific handmade gnome/dinosaur/flower/magnet collection coming on.
ACORN!!!! I officially name Deborah as yarn monkey of the year.
Crafty and Crap needle felted us an whole bag of eyeballs, because she's awesome like that. I placed them strategically throughout our garden. 
I reserved 2 of the eyeballs to finish off a very special craft project of Scott's. 
Doesn't his skull mask look much better with a tiara and eyebawwwwwwwwwwllllllls! 
I have to take his eyebawwwwwwls out of its sockets before I go to bed at night otherwise I forget they're there and scream when I walk past them to get a glass of water in the middle of the night.

Friday, October 22, 2010

Tower Grove and Meandering Digressions

I'm all set and packed up for Tower Grove Farmers Market's Harvest Festival. I just need to load the car. Have I mentioned I love my apartment, except for the part where I can't pull up to my door? The closest I can get is 3 flights of stairs and 25 my-size paces. That's quite a change from living in a place where I could park 4 feet from my back door. First paragraph and I am already digressing. I'm digressing because I know as soon as I finish this post I have lifting and packing to do and I don't wanna.

I will be taking some spinning fiber with me afterall. It seems I only have 2 totes full of actual yarn. Eep! How did THAT happen? No, really. How did that happen? Because if I sold a tub full of yarn then surely I would have an equivalent amount of money in my checking account, right? Right? (pause while I figured out how that happened) 

Moving on...

There is a 30% chance of rain tonight and in the morning. Boo! I'll be there anyway under the tent and hopefully surrounded by the new tent walls Amazon is delivering today. God bless Amazon Prime and their $4 overnight shipping. If the wind gets too bad or my tent can't take the weight of the rain then I may pack up shop. I will update my Twitter account if I decide to leave early.

Monday, October 18, 2010

Tower Grove Farmers Market

I'm going to have a booth at Tower Grove Farmers Market this Saturday, for real this time. I'm sharing my booth with Kat from Katatomic Labs and possibly a third artisan at the Harvest Festival.This is the last farmers market this year. There will be lots of fun things to do...

...including buying yarn
I bailed on my last 2 booths at Tower Grove because of weather issues, but this time I'm prepared. I'm bringing a tent to keep the yarn dry, cinder blocks to keep the tent from flying away, bungees to keep the display from pitching over, a grid display instead of a solid display so the wind can go right through it, tarps to cover the merchandise and the floor of the booth in case the wind does pick up and 1 adult who doesn't have merchandise at stake should weather strike again. I'm also limiting the amount of stock I'm bringing with me. This is what I'm planning on bringing:
  • Strong Arm Sock Yarn
  • Cotton Slub Sport
  • Felting Fiber
  • Lace Yarns 
  • Reversible drawstring project bags
  • Clearance Yarns
  • I'm out of Cotton Warp right now and am not sure it will be ready by Saturday. I'll try. 
  • I don't sell the spinning fibers or handspun well at Farmer's Market, so I'm leaving them at home unless there is a special request for it.  Please do let me know if you are a spinner and would like to see some roving. 

    Upcoming Shows--After this weekend I do not have any more shows scheduled. I am going through the fall craft shows right now and making some last minute applications, so hopefully I'll get in somewhere for November or early December, but not a big deal if I don't.

    I'm already thinking about next year. The goal is at least one fiber show. Really, fiber shows are the best venue for me, but it is difficult to get travel together with our various work schedules. It is hard to get just one day off in a week without taking the entire week off. Anyone know of any local-to-STL, 1-2 day, weekend-only knitting-and-fiber shows besides Waterloo and Bethel?

    I'm considering doing the Rotary Show at Lindbergh High School in the springtime. It's a HUGE craft show. I'm not sure it's my crowd, but I do like doing local shows and making new spinners and knitters. I figure if I make my booth and food fees back and I don't have to drive more than 20 minutes to get there then it is worth my time if I can make at least 2 new knitters or spinners. If I have to drive more than 20 minutes or drag all my inventory from my car myself, bring a tent or worry about weather then it quits being worth the hassle, the exception being Tower Grove Farmers Market. See above. I'll be there this weekend. :)

    Tuesday, October 12, 2010

    Next steps

    I think a lot about where I'm going and the pace in which I'm getting there. There is no denying that my path is meandering and that my pace is leisurely. I run this business for the most part without borrowing and out of my apartment. I made an initial $100 investment 4 or 5 years ago and have pretty much reinvested every dime back in to the business, give or take a few personal loans to and from myself.

    I keep thinking I need to take the next step and get in to a studio. I daydream about leaving a clean home in the morning and coming home to a clean home at night. I fantasize about industrial vents, stainless steel double sinks, commercial steamers and rows and racks of inventory that lives somewhere other than my kitchen table. I imagine a home office that I actually use for officey things instead of setting up at the dining room table to supervise the pots all morning.

    Did you know that the only reason I ever consider moving in to a house is so I can set up a home studio? I actually really enjoy apartment living, except for this whole lack of studio space thing.

    I don't have any grand announcements or anything today. Just wondering what it would take to get in to a commercial space ($) and whether or not I'm willing to take the financial risk of signing a lease (no). 

    Monday, October 11, 2010

    Monday is for Meandering Blog Posts

    I'm dyeing felting fiber and merino/tencel this week! If you would like a certain color of either, please email me before Tuesday. 
    There is apparently a wool price crisis. According to this article, the price for wool is so low that some farmers would rather burn the wool than sell it. Shouldn't that mean I can get wool cheaper? I've read other places that there is a wool shortage. Shouldn't that mean that wool costs are higher?

    Someone more educated in supply and demand economics needs to explain this to me. A declining price for wool doesn't jive with my experience. I have experienced several alarming increases in the cost of materials in the last 2 years while the flood of new dyers in the market place have driven prices on hand dyed down. Of course, I'm not Savile Row by a long shot. If I were Savile row, then perhaps I would have plaid sheep, too.
    I start humming "Sheep May Safely Graze" whenever I see sheep. I can't help it. Get out of my head, Bach! 
    I've been up since 3:53am to take someone to the airport. I would be back asleep now except that someone forgot to pack something vital and I need to ship it as soon as FedEx opens at 8. If I lay back down I'll be asleep until noon.

    I still have that same 50 pounds of wool and warp sitting on my table. They just need to be processed--e.g. prep for dyeing, wash--but I just don't wanna do it. I feel like I just now got the roving dust bunnies under control from the last time I processed a wool order in, but it must be done. I have maybe 6 pieces of felting fiber in stock and orders for lots more waiting. It isn't that pulling wool is hard. If anything it is the opposite of hard. It is more that I've finally relaxed after 2 weeks of trying to settle in to a day off and getting started again is difficult. I could wait until Thursday, when my assistant comes to assist, but that seems sort of lazy since it won't take more than 20 minutes to do. It seems especially lazy when you consider how much I love dyeing itself and 20 minutes of boring work yields 3 days of happy dyeing.

    On one of those sort-of days off I helped Annie dye some of her handspun using black walnut dye. And when I say I helped Annie, what I mean is I provided some worthless speculation on the nature of natural dyeing and made faces for the camera.  I love Annie's camera and her skill with the camera. I actually look like myself in those pictures and not some grossly exaggerated version of myself.

    Scott has a new toy.
    The box says it is for ages 8 and up. 
    Weaving is hard tedious. I can't imagine any 8 year old warping a loom and weaving by his or herself and sticking with it. I'm not tempted to start weaving at all. The only slight temptation is to bust out a scarf in an evenings worth of work, but then I think about the mind numbing shuttling, beating, shuttle through, beat, shuttle, beat and suddenly I'm thankful I have friends--and now a husband--who weaves so I don't have to.
    drying on the drying rack

    Friday, October 8, 2010

    I've been spinning

    My handspun stash is depleted, so this week I've been spending my afternoons spinning. 5 days, 5 skeins. Not bad! Some are going into the To Knit pile while others are going to the To Sell pile. 

    Masham energized wool singles, dyed by me
    The first of 3 planned skeins of corespun yarn. Batt from Politically Incorrect.
    2-ply BFL/silk dyed by me
    Polwarth wool single plied with clear metallic thread. Wool dyed by Pigeonroof Studios.

    Tuesday, October 5, 2010

    Spin Control

    I'm sitting in my favorite new chair. It's made entirely of sticks but is surprisingly comfortable. I'm spinning some gorgeous superwash merino from BMFA on my wheel. I'm catching up on podcasts. A woman begins to speak. It's my new pal Shiloh. I met her at Strange Folk and she picked out some yarn and fiber. This is her Spin Control podcast.

    I love Spin Control. It's hard to carry a podcast by yourself and Shiloh does it well. There are short segments, everything is organized and the music is at the end. She does fair reviews and quick updates. She talks about things happening locally and on the internet.

    Now she is talking about donation incentives and having her first podcast sponsor to sponsor a donation incentive. Can you figure out who the sponsor is? It took me an embarrassing long time to figure out who she was talking about. It's even more embarrassing if you recall that last week I wrote in this very blog these words:

    What podcasts do you listen to? Some of my favorite knitting podcasts are Cast On, Knitmore Girls, Let's Knit2gether, Spin Control (who may have possibly picked out a few somethings from my inventory to use as a giveaway in the near future)...
    It's me. It's me and I spent 10 minutes wondering who her new sponsor is. D'oh!

    All Posts Must Have A Title

    I frequently struggle to find the line between business and personal, especially when blogging or using other forms of social media. I used to blog about both personal and professional in the same blog. I broke the business in to a separate blog when a search for my business name started bringing up posts from my internet private life--my public-private life if you will.

    There are several business guides that recommend only talking about the business in business blogs. There are many other business guides that recommend interspersing personal with the business. There are blogging guides that recommend having the equivalent of a blog brand if you want to be successful in blogging and presumably in business. How do these guides apply to me? Dyeabolical is essentially a one-person business. Knitting and fiber is my job and my hobby. Is a professional blog going to be all that different than a personal blog?

    I laid out some basic guidelines and wrote out a list of differences when I separated my blogging life in to business and personal. The business blog shall not discuss politics except in very special circumstances. The business blog shall not curse except in very special circumstances. The business blog shall not overshare. The business blog is for the business.

    A business blog is a tool to connect with customers. It is only common sense that I promote Dyeabolical® when I use the Dyeabolical blog. Every blog post ought to be well thought out (ha!) and in some way enhance the Dyeabolical brand. It just makes sense that if I were to feature another brand it would be in a way connected to my brand. For instance, if I were to spin a yarn for sale made from another dyers fibers. That would be okay, but it wouldn't make sense to feature a yarn I spun to keep for myself using someone else's fibers. At least, it wouldn't make good business sense.

    SO that's how the conventional business blogging logic goes. Is it right? I don't know. Is it smart? Still don't know. Is it boring to read post after post of "buy my stuff"? Hell yes, it's boring. According to yet another school of thought, there ought to be content beyond the "buy my stuff" posts that have nothing to do with the business. 

    Does providing content unrelated to Dyeabolical, possibly featuring other dyers, dilute my brand or does providing fresh content to bring in more readers? And, of course, this all assumes that I buy in to the premise that bringing in more readers is the objective of having a business blog.  I'm not sure I buy in to that premise, for I often feel like I am having a conversation with my friends and I hate feeling like I'm selling to my friends.

    This whole post has been an exercise in my trying to figure out which blog to put a picture of my September socks in. No, seriously. I finished my September socks and didn't know if I should post it here or in my personal knitting/complaining/kvetching/kvelling blog? This is the stuff that goes through my head. I usually leave it stuffed in to my head, but um, well, this was bloggable. Plus, several people have told me that they enjoy reading the rationale and reasoning that goes behind what seems to be the most mundane of decisions.

    I'm not really all torn up about where to post the picture of the socks, but I did take a day to figure out which blog they would be best suited for. I pretty much went through the mental exercise I went through above before deciding that I'm not ready to pick a single blogging philosophy and stick to it and I may never be. Who needs a philosophy to talk to their friends? Douchebags, that's who. Perhaps my blogging philosophy is to reject all blogging philosophy. Kind of like how I learned all the rules of punctuation and grammar and gleefully choose to ignore them. Sentence fragment.

    I just re-read the above and decided that perhaps it's time for me to turn off the TWiT Netcast Network and unsubscribe from blogs about blogging. They are clearly having a bad influence on me.

    By the way, here are my September socks. I don't know why they took me so long to power through. I started them in August and finshed all but 20 rows in September. They rested for several days and then last night I took 20 minutes to finish them. I've started my October socks, if you count winding it in to a ball as "starting". They have self-striping ghosties on them. I'm 100% sure they will be to small. The self-striping ghosties need a 7.5" circumference to stripe correctly and I have a 9" foot. Heartache is afoot, methinks.
    Ankle socks knitted from SWTC Tofutsies. Many thanks to Deborah who gave me this fun yarn.

    Sunday, October 3, 2010

    Customer FOs for September

    My absolute favorite thing at the Strange Folk Festival is visiting with our friends from the Artisan Guild of Southern Illinois. I always wish I had more time to spend with them. I keep trying to convince them to switch their meetings from Thursdays to Tuesdays and to move them from Southern Illinois to Missouri so I can meet up with them once in a while, but so far they have been strangely  resistant to switching around their whole organization to fit my whims, darn it. *g* They are seriously the most generous group of crafters I have ever met. They are so free with their knowledge and very kind people on top of it. I love them! They always wear their nametags, too, which is important because I don't do names well. For instance, I am only 80% sure that this is Beth despite having met Probably Beth half a dozen times at this point. At least I'm 100% sure that's a yarn she spun from a Dyeabolical batt she bought 2 hours earlier. I wanna spin that fast. 

    Here's a close up of Beth's yarn. Bumpy slubby arty!
    Another yarn spun up from Dyeabolical top. Was this Probably Beth, too? I think so. Unfortunately my camera phone failed to work when Karen and Susan (oh I hope that's right!) stopped by the booth with their yarns. Next year I'm bringing a real camera and writing my notes on my arm instead of a random piece of paper that will inevitably get run through the wash. If anyone in the Guild would like to send me pictures of their spun yarns or projects I would be happy to feature them.
    Ariel's adorable little boy walked past my booth with this awesome sweater on knit by Ariel's mom in Cotton Slub Sport.

    Annie's been spinning like a top lately. I believe she's spun something like 3lbs of wool this month altogether, some of which she got from me. If you don't follow Annie currently, you may want to. Sometime this week she plans on dyeing shetland wool using some walnut worm soup. I'm positive it will make for good reading. Anywho, back to the FOs. She spun some masham wool I dyed for her a few months ago.
    She spun this 2-ply yarn from this superwash merino/nylon blend colorway I have in my shop....
    ...and quickly cast on for these awesome toe-up socks. (I know, I know. Technically this isn't a finished object picture, but the objects are finished.)
    Crafty and Crap used some felting wool to needle felt this pinky brain and awesome eyeball. She showed it to us at the Strange Folk booth. Sometime later there was an uncomfortable silence when my husband said "I can't stop think about CC's eyeballs...." Oh really?
    This is my favorite FO of the month because it was made for me. Or rather, Deborah made it and showed it to me and I kept it because I'm like that. Now if only I could find the other day of the dead sugar skull she made a few years ago to put with it. I wrapped that sugar skull in tissue, packed it with desiccant, sealed it in an airtight container and safely packed it away in ???? 
    Magan from Needle Nouveau embroidered this cherry blossom pillowcase for her shop using a semisolid burgundy silk thread she bought from me last year. She inspired me to buy another cone of this silk to have on hand for embroiderers. Let me know if there is a color I can ever do up for you.
    Jane from Manoa Road Cafe crocheted this really fantastically awesome coffee sleeve from holding 2 strands of Cotton Warp together. I sold out of this colorway for the 4th show in a row. I think it's time I come up with a name for this bright colorway. Maybe something other than the uncreative CMY I've been calling it.
    Dawn knocks it out of the park again with another great project crocheted out of Cotton Warp.

    Laura and Leslie from The Knitgirllls spun this up from some merino top as a gift for Wendy. What a great hostess gift, Laura and Leslie! 

    This final FO is not from one of my yarns, but it is from one of my patterns. Amitiel used my All Hands On Deck top-down mitten pattern and used a self-striping yarn. Didn't she do a great job?

     Thank you everyone for letting me show your finished objects! Please let me know if I have missed anyone. To be included in the monthly FO wrap-up, either email me a picture of your finished object or tag you project in Ravelry with the words Dyeabolical or link to a Dyeabolical yarn and drop me a DM.