Thursday, February 25, 2016

Shipping Announcements, Blog Redesign, Some Knitting, and a Rant About Essential Oils

It has been a busy and stressful week a Chez Dyeabolical. Let's jump in to it.

Shipping Announcements
Every order is given an estimated shipping date of 3-4 weeks out on their receipt. I try like crazy at or before that 3 week mark. For the next week I will be shipping closer to that 4 week mark. This week has had a lot of family stress and sadness. Losing power all day yesterday, one of only two available production days this week, has really made it more stressful.

 Some Knitting
This week I finished one swatch of a new self-striping color and a knitted moose. Moosie is for a secret swap, but I think it's safe to share a picture here. I'm fairly confident that the swapee doesn't read my blog.

The pattern is Dinky Moose by Amanda Berry. The only changes I made were to run a wire through the antlers to help it stick up more and added a red ribbon around its neck. If I were to make this again I would sew on the eyes first before seaming and stuffing the head. It's a little tricky to get the placement right doing it that way, but I think my hands would like it better. I would also go down 2 needles sizes to make the antlers or use a thicker yarn so they could better stand up on their own.

Blog Redesign
Last weekend I made some changes to the look of the blog. It is no surprise to anyone who is a long time reader that this blog is more personal than professional. The changes I made now reflect that better. This blog has a new title and a new About section. The link from the Dyeabolical main page was changed from "Dyeabolical Blog" to "Rachel's Blog". Realistically, I know this affects exactly zero people, but I worked so hard on it this weekend that I feel justified in saying "see! look here!" :)
A Rant About Essential Oils
I use an app called TimeHop to show me social media posts that I've made on this day in past years. This morning it reminded me of an epic rant I made last year on Facebook about essential oils. You can read it in full here. I'm still fired up about about the casual misuse of essential oils. Don't get me wrong. I love essential oils. I use essential oils daily. I research safe usage rates. I use them in wash-off products or in perfumes.. Again, I use them at safe dilution rates. They smell good. They smell better (a truer and longer) than most synthetic fragrance oils. Most of my soaps contain essential oils. All but one of my perfumes do. But I don't claim any health benefit from the essential oils in my product. It smells good and I used the recommended safe usage rates. Those are my only 2 claims.

What fires me up are the people who dispense medical advice without proper training. A lot of the advice out there right now about essential oils is either junk science and can be harmful. Two multi-level marketing corporations were investigated by the FDA for making health claims about their essential oils.

Some highlights from my Facebook post:

-Essential oils are basically drugs. Some of them are fine to use "over the counter", but others require a bit more knowledge and should only be administered by someone who knows what they are doing. Legally speaking, any person administering EOs as a treatment for or prevention of a disease needs to be licensed by the government. 

-If you are using EOs for topical application (note: such as perfume or aromatherapy), make sure it is diluted with something like coconut oil or sweet almond oil. Some EOs are generally recognized as safe to use undiluted, but others can cause skin irritation or other problems.  

-They can trigger allergic reactions in some people

-Just because it's good for humans does not mean it is good for your pet. Do your research first.

Thursday, February 18, 2016

Days off

Allowing for days off is something that has been on my mind recently. I love my job and I love what I do, but running two businesses is overwhelming on multiple levels. My birthday gift for myself this year is to be more sensible with my time, including making some decisions about where the yarn & soap businesses are going.

I have awhile to think about what I want to do. All of my soap making for the spring and early summer is finished, but I will be making some decisions before it's time for the marathon soap making session this fall. Will we move in to a bigger place? Will I rent a spare room somewhere? A proper studio? Will I hire someone? Or is it time to just say that the soap thing was fun and interesting, but it needs to be a hobby business instead of a proper business?

And what about this new self-striping thing? I'm not 100% committed to making stripes every month (yet), but if they sell well, then why not? If I only had time for one thing in addition to my regular dye-to-order duties, would it be soap or self-striping yarns? I think we all know the answer to that. Hello, yarn. I love you the best.

Shop news:
My friends Alex & Ann both completed socks made from my first batch of self-striping yarns. I love how they turned out! Ann made a mock rib pattern on her circular knitting machine using the striped version of Flower Shop Inferno. Flower Shop Inferno Stripes is one of my kettle dyed gradient-style stripe yarns. Alex made a pair of Skew socks out of the striped version of Derby Girl. Derby Girl is a hand painted colorway with distinct color transitions.
This week I am working on more stripes for an upcoming update (date TBA).
Lucy Stripes, Kara Gradient Stripes, unnamed stripes (navy, green, gold - any ideas?)
I finished some very fraternal looking socks out of a test color that is not going to make it in to the shop. The heel is the first time that I have successfully made the Fish Lips Kiss heel. The twin stitch method of turning the short rows is very appealing, but the heel does not fit me any better or worse than any other short row heel. That is to say, it doesn't fit me well. I need a deeper heel. Which heel type is your favorite?

I also finished the 1898 hat out of handspun and gave it to my Valentine. He's so cute. 
Pioneer Girl remains excellent, but I'm getting bogged down in some of the annotations. Also, it's heavy and hard to read in bed. Amy from The Fat Squirrel podcast and Ann from Books on the Night Stand both mentioned that they were reading a little non-fiction in the morning. I decided to do that, too, and have made good progress on Pioneer Girl.

While I work I listen to lighter stories like romantic comedy. Right now I am loving the audiobook Hell on Heels by Robyn Peterman. A not-very-evil demoness is deported from hell to Earth so she can toughen up a little. And she's in love with the Angel of Death. Death drives a pick up truck. There are mini demons named Ross & Rachel. Satan is afraid of his mother, Mother Nature aka Gigi. So entertaining.

Last night I started reading a new collection of short stories called American Housewife by Helen Ellis. No drinking coffee while you read this, unless you're super in to choking on your coffee. A+ hilarious.

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.