Wednesday, July 31, 2013

Seeing Shapes?

A customer said she saw a horse and a cow in the swirls. I see a girl and 2 ghosts. What do you see?
Brown Sugar & Fig Handmade Soap

Friday, July 19, 2013

To Rehank or Not to Rehank, that is the question.

Dyers debate the merits of rehanking (aka reskeining) a lot. Many are for rehanking. Many are against. Most are somewhere in the middle. Me? I prefer rehanking, except when I don't. Read on!

What is rehanking? 

Rehanking is taking a dyed hank of yarn and winding it up again at a different circumference. Here's how it works.

Yarn comes off the spinning machines in cones.

Folklife Festival Wales Yarn
Folklife Festival Wales Yarn by Mr. T in DC, on Flickr. Shared under a Creative Commons License.

Then the mill or the dyer will wind big loops of yarn off of the cones. This big loops are tied off and become hanks (or skeins). In the picture below, the machine on the left is winding hanks of yarn off of cones.

Woolen Mill near Golan, North Wales
Woolen Mill near Golan, North Wales by net_efekt, on Flickr. Shared under a Creative Commons License.

The hanks are then dyed and look something like this. See how the colors are in chunks? You can see, roughly, how the dye was applied. There is some orange, and some brown, then some more orange, and a gold with maybe a little more brown.

Hidden Tiger
The dyed yarn is then put back on a swift and rewound at a different circumference to redistribute the colors, like so:
Yep, still Hidden Tiger. Same yarn.
Pros and Cons of Rehanking

Former club colorway
"Unbirthday" rehanked
  • Rehanking neatens up the hanks. Dyeing is rough on a hank of yarn. Even when you add a lot of ties to keep the hank under control, a loop of yarn may "snag" during the dyeing or rinsing process and great a large, loose loop like in the top picture. Rehanking evens everything out again. 
  • Rehanking redistributes the color so you get a truer picture of the dominant color. In the top picture, the skein reads brown. In the bottom picture, you can see that the brown recedes and the golden brown is the more dominant color. 
  • Rehanking gives you a better idea how the individual colors in the hank will look together. As a yarn seller, it helps me sell the yarn. The color below below and to the right did that to me. Straight out of the pot, I liked it ok. Then I rehanked it and fell in love. It's the same yarn, but rehanking lets me more easily imagine how well the colors go together. 
  • This is a debated point among yarn sellers, but I think rehanked yarn sells better for the reasons I listed above.

Former club colorwy,
"Unbirthday" not rehanked
  • Rehanking is expensive in terms of time and labor costs, especially when this step is not strictly necessary.
  • Rehanking breaks up the colors, making it harder to figure out how it was dyed. A lot of people like to see how much of each color was used, how often the color breaks are, etc.
  • Some people think that rehanking hides "mistakes" such as stray specks of color. That's a whole 'nother blog post. Long story short,  some people consider stray specks of color to be mistakes. It is only a mistake if the dyer did not do it intentionally. I often use a process that encourages speckling because I like it.

My Thoughts

Sometimes I rehank. Sometimes I don't. Some bases look great straight out of the dye pot. Some bases need an hour of detangling regardless of how well I tied it to begin with.

For the most part, I rehank yarns I am selling direct to the customer. Sometimes I won't rehank if I'm short on time, if the hank is particularly lovely, if the hank is not messy from the dyeing process, or if I just plain don't feel like it. I seem to sell more rehanked yarns direct-to-consumer. Update 08/2016 - This was true in 2013 of my online customers, but my in-person customers always went for the non-rehanked. As of 2016 I rarely reskein for either demographic and it doesn't seem to have had any effect on sales.

For the most part, I do not rehank yarns that I sell wholesale. Sometimes I will rehank if a yarn is particularly messy, or if the client requests it. My non-rehanked yarns sell better to clients and their customers, thereby proving that people who prefer rehanking and the people who prefer yarns as-is are split pretty much down the middle.

A customer once tried to argue, quite loudly, that these three hanks of yarn were not the same yarns. They are the same. How do you like your yarn?
The color is CMY

Thursday, July 18, 2013

Retiring Colors

Even colorways need a break sometimes.

The colors below are going in to semi-retirement effective immediately. They will not be available to purchase as single hanks. However, I would be happy to dye any of my semi-retired colors if a buyer commits to buying the entire dye lot. A dye lot is usually 3-6 hanks of yarn or 2-4 braids of fiber depending on the color. Email for more details. 

Many of these colors are being retired because they are made using the labor intensive/messy methods I used way back at the beginning of this dyeing adventure. Some of the colors, like God of Thunder and Gamma Ray, may reappear in the future as a slightly reworked version of itself.
Click to Enlarge. From Left to Right:
  1. Fate, PhD
  2. Carnivale
  3. Dark (K)night
  4. Blue Bruce
  5. Hawthorne
  6. God of Thunder 
  7. Grimace
  8. Indigo
  9. Pudd'nhead
  10. Traveling Tea
  11. Cerulean Coleoptera
  12. Witchiepoo
  13. Adelaide's Lament
  14. 70's Dress Shirt
  15. Seymour Krelborn
  16. Annie
  17. Mock Turtle
  18. Be Mine
  19. Lysander
  20. Sweetheart
  21. Tainted Love
  22. Derby Girl
  23. Spidey
  24. Gamma Ray
  25. Butternut Squish

Friday, July 5, 2013

And that was June

June was challenging in both good & bad ways. I didn't blog at all, so here's how June went:

Our sweet Kitty injured herself pretty badly early in the month. She required a lot of attention and care, which sucked up most of my free time.

I had several large wholesale orders with urgent deadlines. There were 2 weeks where my kitchen turned in to a soap factory. Almost 120 pounds of soap went out the door in June, along with 200 hanks of yarns to various shops.

I broke through some kind of workout barrier (*cough*asthma*cough*) and my struggle for 15 minute walks turned in to an hour in the fitness center split between the Procor elliptical, bike and the walk back home. Plus working up the nerve to actually work out in front of the mirrors and jerks with camera phones took up a lot of time. No, I haven't lost pounds or inches because I'm eating my feelings (read on). Somehow being able to work out for an hour doesn't translate in to being able to walk up 3 sets of stairs while carrying groceries or being able to walk from the parking lot to the Japanese Garden at the Botanical garden without gasping for air and mercy, but hey! An hour of cardio is better than 10 minutes of cardio, right?

I finalized a few knitting patterns, had one accepted in to Knit Picks designer program (more on that in the future), started a few new patterns (including a cropped cardi in extended plus sizes), and released a hat pattern. I tried to keep the shop at least semi-stocked, but didn't do very well on that point.

And somewhere in there we let our sweet Kitty go. And it about killed us, too.

Both my husband and I have lost pets before, but neither one of us were prepared for the depth of grieving we have experienced the last week. We thought we were going to lose her when she first injured herself. But then we spent a few weeks nursing her back to health and everything was going better. Then suddenly she couldn't breath or eat or get comfortable and we had to make a decision.

And then I shut down the Sulky Cat shop & Facebook page, because how could I keep it?

So, that was June. Now that June is out of my system, here's to a different July.

The original Sulky Cat

Lady, get this dumb hat off of me.

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Monday, July 1, 2013

Orange You Toasty

Remember when I said I was working on patterns? I wasn't joking! Here is the first one -- Orange You Toasty!

I started this pattern years ago, but it got set aside for various reason. I was so happy to pull it back out and iron out the wrinkles in the previous version.

This simple cabled hat is perfect for tonally variegated, semi-solid & solid worsted weight
yarns. Pull this stretchy and thick cap on any time you feel a chill in the air. Sized generously for adult heads. Perfect for the big brains among us.

The sample is knitted in Superwash Merino Worsted in Tequila Sunrise. The orange/pink combo is decidedly feminine, but this pattern would look great on men. I used Photoshop to mock up a few masculine-looking hats. Photoshop is so much easier than knitting 4 or 5 different hats! :)