Monday, May 27, 2013

Summer of Socks and cruise update

After knitting shop samples and not a whole lot for me personally, I decided to join the Summer of Socks 2013 group on Ravelry and knit me some socks.

I love knitting socks.  I love teeny tiny needles and creating small works of cozy, beautiful art that I can wear.  Art that hugs my feet and keeps me warm in the cold of winter.  Art in bright colors to offset the gloom of dreary grey days filled with drizzle.

I've spent a lot of time since the beginning of April sitting in hospital and doctor's office waiting rooms, and I pulled out a pair of socks that I started way back in May 2009.  They'd been in hibernation, and I finished them up last night.  I felt compelled to finish them in time to start Summer of Socks without that pair hanging over my head.  (We're just going to ignore the sweater and shawls that are still sitting around waiting to be finished.  Shhh, don't let them hear us talking about them.)

This morning, the first official day of SOS13, I cast on the Lacy Ribs Socks in Go Ahead, Make Me Sing, my Tridye offering for May 2013.  Here is the yarn, and I'll post sock pictures after I take some.

As for the Fiber Charmer cruise, life has been so active that I'd not been remembering to promote it much.  The deadline for deposits will be here before we know it.  If you're interested in cruising with me and other fibery folks, you'll need to pay your deposit of $250 by June 14, 2013.  Contact Doreen Lewis of Century Travel at or 770-309-7453.

The total price of the cruise is $850 based on double occupancy.  We're leaving November 17, 2013 and returning November 24, 2013.  Yes, it's before Thankgiving, but what better way to prepare for the madness that some family get togethers are by taking some time out to relax beforehand.

Sunday, May 19, 2013

Color evolution

I mentioned that I wanted to show you how I create a colorway from inspiration picture to what you see on the yarn, and this time I actually have all the steps!

This is the inspiration photo.  Here's the link to where I found it.
I knew I wanted the yarn to have pink, blue, olive green, bright green and brown in it.  Gale of Gale's Art had also told me about another dyer, Gynx of The Dyer's Notebook, who shares dye techniques on her blog.  I'd gone to watch some of her clips and am fascinated with her shibori inspired yarn dyeing techniques, and I wanted to dye this yarn that way.
So, I had two ideas of how I wanted to do this yarn for TriDye.  Now to see if they would work.

I took the first yarn, twisted it up, and tossed it into the dyepot with the pink dye.  This particular pink really loves fiber and dyed it all an intense, deep pink.  I took one look at it and knew it wouldn't work, so I added twisted it again, added some blue and figured that was one experiment that didn't work.
This time I made sure the dyes were more diluted.  I twisted the yarn and dyed one of the greens.  I retwisted and dyed layers of blue and brown on this one.  It's lovely, but I knew the pink would be way too much.
This time I twisted and started with the brown.  I add the green and olive in layers.  When I removed it from the pot, I saw there were no undyed areas for the pink or blue.
*Sigh*  Where's the coffee?
Getting better, but I'm realizing that I'm fixated on a technique that just isn't going to work for this colorway.
I handpaint many of my colors with sponge brushes to get a precise dye application.  I really didn't want to do that with this colorway.  I wanted something more freeform.
Maybe this will work?

This time I twisted the yarn, but used a direct application of the dye.  Still not what I'm looking for.

This time I used a direct application technique, but one I don't use regularly because it's more difficult for me to control the results.
I'm getting closer.  In fact, I liked this one, but I had one more technique to try.

On this one I used the exact same dyes as the one above, but I applied it with sponge brushes in a random, freeform pattern.  What happens is the colors get muted by having other colors applied on top of them.  However, I liked it too.

I rinsed them, hung them to dry, then had to go out of town due to a family illness.  The good thing was that gave me some time away from the colors to not obsess on them as much.

I did ask my husband for his opinion between the two.  He liked the one with the brighter colors, but he said they both had too much brown.
In this last photo, you see the two color tests on either side of the final colorway.  (I did reskein them before I shipped them to scramble the colors, but as you can see, there's less brown.)

I should mention the name comes from my love of Alf, The Animated Series.  There's an episode where Alf and Rick have to wrestle giant clams and make them sing in order to become members of their fathers lodge.  It's "Clams Never Sang for My Father" and you can find it on Hulu Plus is you're so inclined.

Sunday, April 28, 2013

A glimpse into the life of a dyer

A quick note.  I wrote this post back in March, before life threw us a curve ball, and I was unable to attend Carolina Fiber Fest.  However, I think it's an interesting post, and I did want to share it.

I have two shows coming up in April on back to back weekends.  Carolina Fiber Fest is the first weekend in April, and Stitches South is the on the second.

When I did my first ever show, Hubs insisted I take an inventory before we went.  While that is actually a great idea, I was in the process of freaking out, and logical thought was pretty much impossible.  However, we took that inventory, and I've done it for every show since, as well as a couple of random ones throughout the year when I wonder if what I have on etsy is really correct.

All these inventories have helped tremendously as I've worked to get ready for these shows.  While what I've sold in the past isn't always a predictor of what may sell in the future, the inventories do show trends that I would be a fool to ignore.

Thus, I've been restocking so far this year when I've had time to dye.  Dye time has been more difficult to find than I thought it would be.  I'd gotten sick with a bug that was enervating, but with practically no fever or sore throat.  I'd thought I'd gotten mono I was so tired.  That was 2 weeks with no dyeing, then another week before I could get through the day without napping.

Yesterday I finally got one of those days I really needed.  I had a dye schedule ready to go, and I hit it.  I was able to handpaint 17 skeins, which is a normal dye day, but I also had new ideas, and the dye pot going to have kettle dyed yarns going all day.  That made a huge difference as I was able to double my output.  I tried some new dyes and custom color combinations in the dye bath, and even if I wasn't happy with every result, I've learned that someone will love it.  If it's too unloved, it can always be overdyed.

It's here that I want to mention that even though I have recipes for the colors I kettledyed, they might always be just a little different between batches.  I re-use the dye bath all day long.  There are times when the dye doesn't fully exhaust, and I just toss in an undyed skein to use as a "dye sponge" between batches.  I mention this because I sometimes see where a dyer talks about what they do to be environmentally conscious, and I find it interesting to see this.

I grew up in the 1970's, and my first W-2 job was working at a recycling center.  I was 15 and had to get my parents' permission to work there.  (16 was the age at which you could get a job without your parents' permission back in those days.  I have no idea what it is now, but there I was, at 15, earning a bit of cash on weekends.)

Before I'd gotten that job, I'd been the reason we recycled the little that we did.  It is a habit for me.  I've been recycling for years, and curbside pickup was the most wonderful thing in that I didn't have to store and haul recyclables anymore!

I apologize for the tangent, but I wanted to give a little background about the kettle dyes.  As with most handpainted and hand dyed yarns, if you see one that you don't think you can live without, I encourage you to go on and buy it then.  I was (and still am) a knitter and a shopper, and I buy a lot of yarns from other indie dyers.  We all use the same color palette as we use the same few companies who sell the dyes, but we each have our own unique way of expressing those colors.  I can look at yarn from another indie and sometimes tell which exact dyes she used in creating it, and I'll buy it because I love it, and I'd never thought of using those dyes in that way.

Speaking of dye techniques

I've been experimenting with new dye techniques ever since Gale told me about a young dyer, Gynx, who has a blog called The Dyer's Notebook.

When I first started dyeing, I did a teeny tiny bit of experimentation with leaving the yarn twisted when I was kettle dyeing it, but I soon stopped doing that in favor of handpainting skeins.

When you buy a skein of Beach Glass, I've very carefully applied each of the 6 colors one at a time with a sponge brush.  I turn the skein over, blot up excess liquid and apply the colors to the back.  I do this with all the multicolors like Steam Punk, Rainbow, and so on.

I look at yarns that say they're dyed with layers of colors, and I'd wondered just how had they done it.  After watching Gynx's videos, now I know.  You can learn how too, if you're so inclined.

What I like most about it is that I can get wonderful, interesting colors and it expands my dye techniques.  I can mix and match techniques to get truly amazing results.

For example, I've chosen my sea creature for my TriDye installment due to ship out on May 15, 2013, and I've been experimenting.  Once my colorway is worked out to my satisfaction, I can day all the yarn and fiber in just a few days.  I'd originally thought it would take me only 2 days, but now I'm wondering if I may have to double process them, combining hand application along with layers of resist dyeing to get the results I want.  I've got more experimenting on the agenda for tomorrow, during which time I'll try my newest idea and see if that gives me the looked-for results.

I plan to update the shop much earlier today.  I'm getting fueled on caffeine as I write this, so look for updates way before midnight tonight.  Life has been full of the unexpected lately, making it difficult to stay on task as I'd prefer.

I hope you get to enjoy your Sunday and have a lazy afternoon.

Sunday, March 3, 2013

Pondering dye techniques

The other night I was at Knit Nite, the first one I'd been to in quite some time. I'm usually still in my pajamas dyeing yarn when it starts, so I rarely go.

Yes, I roll out of bed and dye in my pj's. Not every day, but a lot of them. I don't care if my pj's get a little dye on them, they're comfortable and I work at home so most days no one ever sees me besides family and pets.

Anyway, back to knit night. A friend has also been dyeing yarn, and he brought some in to sell to the shop. I asked to look and found myself really examining them. His yarns are all kettle dyed solids, and they are lovely! They look the way hand dyed kettle dyed yarns should.

Now, here's the kicker. Some of my kettle dyed yarns look that way, but I've been told that others look "commercially dyed". Hmm, in my business being told they look commercially dyed is not a complement. Or maybe it is, but not really.

Hand dyed yarns need to look hand dyed. I've found myself thinking about my kettle dyed yarns off and on, but more so after seeing his yarns. If you look in my etsy shop, you'll see some kettle dyed yarns, but most of them are actually hand painted. I personally like multicolored, wild yarns, and that's because I do knit socks from fingering weight yarns with only a rare shawl thrown in there. In my opinion, sock yarn can't ever be too loud or too wild.

Another friend mentioned to me that she can look at yarn and tell who the indie dyer is, but she can't do that with my yarns because I'm still experimenting and looking for my "dye voice" as she put it. Interesting choice of words, but it's true. I do experiment to see what I like to do and what works for me. Obviously I look at other dyers and wonder how did they get the yarn to look like that? Every time I experiment looking for an answer or a certain result gives me more experience, knowledge and ideas about what to do next.

I think any creatively based business will evolve and change as the artist/owner tests herself and her boundaries. The more techniques I learn and try, the more skills I add to my fiber worker arsenal, the better my chances of finding what my fiber voice is.

This is the reason you'll find one of a kind colors and test yarns in my shop pretty regularly. I've been searching for all the yarn bases that I want to use over and over again. I've been struggling with my own personal bias against the color blue. I don't wear it very much, nor do I knit with it much, and I know it's a favorite of many people. That's actually why there's so much blue. I keep working with it, seeking the ways in which I might love it when some days I really want to dye orange and pink instead. I think I'm going to give in to a few more of those orange, pink, brown and green days and see what shakes loose in the creative mode.

Friday, February 8, 2013

Knitting on the high seas!

While Knitting One and Purling Two

Columbus Sailed the Oceans Blue


The Fiber Charmer Hopes That You

Will Join Her on a Sea Cruise Too!




After a hectic autumn of Fabulous Fiber Fests and Delirious Dyeing, Fiber Charmer will turn off her Dye Pots and set sail on Royal Caribbean Cruises’ Freedom of the Seas to get a head start on her own Holiday Knitting. She will depart from Port Canaveral (an easy drive from Atlanta) on Sunday, 17 November, for a 7-night adventure in the Eastern Caribbean. Enjoy a fun day at the CocoCay Beach Club and shop for unique (and duty-free) holiday gifts in Charlotte Amalie, USVI, and Philipsburg, St. Maarten.  With 3 fun-filled and relaxing days at sea, there will be plenty of time for holiday knitting.


Fiber Charmer has several special surprises in store for those who accompany her on this grand adventure.


The newly enhanced Freedom of the Seas is a marvel of maritime engineering, packed with awesome innovations to stir your imagination. Catch a first-run movie in the 3D theater or poolside under the stars on the outdoor movie screen. Infuse color into your cruise with the artworks of the BRITTO Gallery or with the frosted confections of the Cupcake Cupboard. And finish the evening with a selection of reds or whites at the renovated Vintages wine bar.


If you crave more action than that afforded by hours of knitting with your nearest and dearest, Freedom of the Seas offers a veritable plethora of physical activities: Hang 10 on the FlowRider® surf simulator; test your nerves on the rock climbing wall at sea; or show off your balance and grace at the floating ice-skating rink. 


At a cost of $850 per person based on double occupancy in an ocean view cabin (inclusive of taxes and fees; airfare, insurance and items of a personal nature such as adult beverages are additional), you can’t afford to stay home.  For updates and additional information, stay tuned to the blog!

Thursday, February 7, 2013

Long time, no post

I didn't realize it had been so long since I've posted here.  I'll confess that I update Facebook much more regularly due to its ease of use, especially posting pictures.

However, I know not everyone uses FB, and I want to revitalize the blog.  Right now I don't have much to say, mostly because I've sick and not doing any of the dyeing that I planned, and I've got a lot planned!

Carolina Fiber Fest and Stitches South are on back to back weekends in April, which is a brand new challenge for me to dye for 2 wonderful shows at the same time.

I've also got something big planned for Fiber Charmer for next fall after SAFF.  Look for details soon!