Sunday, July 10, 2011

Fiber Charmer travels

Well, not me so much as my fiber and yarns.

These past couple of weeks have been very exciting. I've sent yarn and fiber to Australia, Canada, Ireland, Israel and tomorrow to the Netherlands. My fiber is getting to take some adventures that I haven't, yet.

There was a small update yesterday, but I also spent some quality time winding mini skeins for the July Phat Fiber Sampler Box. I'll confess that I'm not going with the Art Nouveau theme, mostly because my idea didn't work out, and I'm running out of time to get samples sent in.

I'm sending in Alpaca Lace in the Beach Glass colorway. I skeined up about 60 of them yesterday, and today I have to label them all. Thus, there may not be an update today.

The one good thing about labelling is that it gives me an excuse to stay inside and try to stay cool with all the heat and humidity we're experiencing right now.

Thursday, July 7, 2011

Overdyeing - good

Yay for overdyeing! I added some yellow to the dyepot and tossed in the green, rust and peach yarn (believe me, not nearly as pretty as it could have been). It looks fabulous!

I let it sit overnight to cool, so today I'll rinse and dry it.

I may not be able to update the shop until tomorrow, but I've got the experimental roving and laceweight yarn in the viola inspired colors to add. I'll check on the progression dyed rovings and see if this new, more labor intensive way kept the colors from travelling as much. Keep your fingers crossed.

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

The bad and the good

I dyed my samples for July's Phat Fiber yesterday. I'd found a picture by Alfons Mucha that I thought would make a great colorway. It was easy as I could use some dye colors I already had. I painted up the yarn, heat set, let it cool and rinsed it so I could see how it looked.


Ugh. It looked icky. Apparently not all ideas translate well. It actually looked very close to some colors that I'd dyed earlier that did not sell at all. Back into the dyepot it goes. I'm overdyeing it today once I decide what color to use.

However, I've been very attracted to some colors I've seen other dyers using. I realized that I've been buying purple, green and yellow combinations. What you don't know about me is that pansies and violets are some of my very favorite flowers. Also, if you've seen my shop, you know I like dyeing greens and purples, so naturally it follows that I should go on and put them together a little differently. I dyed some mixed BFL roving and two skeins of Alpaca Lace with some combinations of those colors yesterday. They are rinsing right now, but I think I love them. The colors remind me of those rich, velvety purples you see on pansies in the fall.

(I found this picture online, and I wish I'd taken it myself.)

Anyway, these might end up being my not theme related Phat Fiber samples for the July box. I'll have to see how they all look once they're dry.

Monday, July 4, 2011

More on solar dyeing and roving

These are some of the rovings from the first batch of solar dyeing. I have one rainbow progression one left. The others are Steampunk, the colorway inspired by the Phat Fiber Sampler Box of October 2010 and leftovers from Butterfly Bush. At least I think they're leftovers from Butterfly Bush. They may not be, but as the pastel roving is a one of a kind, that's my best guess.

The solar dyeing is not a total success for me. Don't get me wrong, the colors have heatset wonderfully. It's more that my techniques for painting and wrapping the roving need some improvement. Solar heatsetting takes more time, and that gives the dye more time to move around and colors to mix in ways that I wasn't expecting. This can be improved as I learn to perfect my techniques.

I've got the Friends and Fiberworks Summer Retreat at the end of next week! Just how did time zip by so speedily? I've been debating about how much I should update the shops before then, and if I decide to update, what to add.

I've got the Phat Fiber Sampler Box July samples to dye this week. July is Art Nouveau. I found a picture by Alfons Mucha that I think has wonderful colors, and yesterday I realized how I think I may already have most of the dye recipes worked out. While I've learned things rarely go as planned, I'm hoping that I can get it worked out tomorrow and perhaps in the mail to Phat headquarters by Friday. Hope springs eternal, does it not?

Have a wonderful 4th of July, if you're here in the States. If not, I hope you have a wonderful Monday.

Sunday, June 26, 2011

Make-do solar dyeing and other things.

I know, I've been absolutely terrible at keeping up my blog. My husband works, and I do everything else. Honestly, I'm not very good at keeping up with the everything else.

This spring was very busy. I had a booth at Stitches South, which was a lot of fun! I also went to the Carolina Fiber Fest in Raleigh, NC. We had a great time there too, and so many nice people said we should move to Raleigh.

I have to admit that Raleigh is a very lovely place, but if everyone moves there, it's going to end up like Atlanta - too much traffic and bad air. (Actually, there's a lot I like about living in the Atlanta area, but the traffic isn't one of them!)

Anyway, if you follow me on Facebook, you've read that I've been experimenting with solar dyeing. Down here in the swampy feeling South, it's been too darn hot to want to run the oven or stovetop to heat set fiber. In fact, I've been a little slack about dyeing, but I've got to get back into gear as I've got the Friends and Fiberworks Summer Retreat coming up, and I don't want to be there and run out of yarn!

I know some other indie dyers who do solar dyeing, and I thought I should give it a try. First of all, it's great for the environment. I'm not burning natural gas (stove top) or coal (oven) to get my heat. It doesn't heat up the house any extra. Finally, it's free!

Since I'm only experimenting, I've not gone out and bought or built a solar oven. We had a black bin that hadn't been used since our basement flooded in the Big Rain of September, 2009, so I cleaned out the inside to use for yarn.

Much of what I've read on solar dyeing is using black trash bags and immersion dyeing. I do mostly handpainting, so I rolled up my yarn or fiber like I usually do, and put it into the bin. My first try was some Valhalla and Silk & Merino yarn. The Valhalla, a blend of 75% wool and 25% nylon seemed to do better than the Silk & Merino did. The Silk & Merino has 51% silk. I think next time it needs longer in the sun. I've also tried some of the Alpaca Lace, and it seemed to do just fine.

What you see in the bin this time is my first fullsized (4 ounce) merino roving. (I have to check to see if it's top. I just plain can't remember.) I got a late start yesterday dyeing, so while one or two made it into the bin before 2 pm, the rest didn't. No one told me just how long it takes to paint a top, especially when you discover that your table is really too short to do it. I did a few as rainbow progressions and the rest were randomly painted, which was much quicker. I put them all back outside this morning.

The black bin absorbs the sunlight, and I move the bin throughout the day. I tried using it with the lid, but it doesn't get hot enough inside. What I discovered is that I need to keep the open top with the yarn or roving pointed at the sun to keep it hot enough. It will get hot enough that I can actually see the water bubbling inside the plastic.

This is only the third time I've tried it, but I think I'm going to love it. It won't work on everything. I certainly won't fill it up with silk hankies and aim them at the sun all day! But for some of the wools and blends, so far it seems to work well. I plan to do more research to see if I can improve my technique. Who knows, that solar oven may be in my future. Before you know it, I'll be making gluten-free bread in my second solar oven, the one dedicated to food only.

Have a great weekend!

Tuesday, April 19, 2011


Here's the video from The Knit Girllls. I'm close to midway into it.

Monday, April 18, 2011

In which I sound like a total fangirl.

After all the work, preparation, and sleepless nights, Stitches South arrived.

I had a great time meeting people at Stitches South. When I signed up to do Stitches, way back when in August, I had my trepidations. I've worked for Gale of Gale's Art at several shows, but this one would be all on me. What if after all my work I totally failed? Yikes! (In all honesty, I'd do what I'm doing with some of the yarns that were never glanced at and overdye them, either in the dyepot or painting them to see just what will happen.) It turns out that it was a wonderful experience, and if I didn't feel so danged tired this morning, I wouldn't have known that it was hard work.

I got to meet so many knitters, crocheters, weavers and other fibery folks. I got to meet some of the spouses who really have no interest at all, but they were willing to attend. I didn't expect to have as much fun as I did, and all the folks I met are what made it so fun. The only times Stitches felt like work was the set up and the tear down.

So, on to name dropping and feeling awestruck. I got to meet Tobias, the man behind Malabrigo. Let me see if I have a good sci-fi analogy. Meeting Tobias is to the knit world what meeting Nathan Fillion is to a Firefly fan. Awesome! Tobias is just the nicest person. My husband took a picture of the two of us, and in it I did my best Earl Hickey imitation. My eyes were closed, but I didn't want to hold up Tobias any longer as he had a plane to catch, and he'd been nice enough to take a second and pose with me.

Let me say a word about Malabrigo. If you've seen my projects on Ravelry, I use a lot of Malabrigo Merino Worsted. It is the catalyst that got me into dyeing. Back when I was working at the LYS, I'd open a bag of Malabrigo and wonder just how they could all be the same dyelot when every skein was different. I took Gale's beginning dye classes to gain a better understanding of it, and you see where I am now.

I got to meet the Knit Girllls. I'll be on one of their podcasts! Any illusions you may have that I'm articulate, smooth or slightly sophisticated will be dashed when you see my goofy, somewhat klutzy self. I suppose most people get a little nervous when they are being filmed for a podcast that has quite a following. In real life, I have a tendency towards being slightly hermitish. You know, hide in my cave (kitchen) all day long, and some days I don't talk to anyone but my husband and pets. Yes, I know how that makes me sound. Knowing that I'll be seen by lots of knitters is for me both humbling and babble-inducing. However, who in their right mind would say no to the Knit Girllls? While I'll admit that "right mind" is one of those things that depends on your own personal definition, like "normal" does, I said yes and blundered right through it. I hope you'll laugh with me and enjoy it!

I also got to see Allen, the creative brain behind numma numma. I've known her for several years now (ooh, I get to say I knew her before she was famous! I never thought I'd get to say that!) She's always a delightful person to be around. I've not seen her much lately as she and her family got to live in Mexico for about 6 months this past year. I'm hoping I can run into her soon and hear about her adventures, but she's getting numma numma back and running after her hiatus.

Over the past couple of years when I've travelled with Gale and of course at the previous two Stitches South, I've seen Gryphon of The Sanguine Gryphon. I know you other knitters and crocheters understand, but I've been intimidated by her. After all, she's one of the dyers that we all want to be. She posts an update, and you'd better stand back and just watch the yarn fly out of her shop. She's one of the rock stars of the yarn world. It turns out that she is a very sweet and nice person.

I also got a chance to talk with Dianne of Creatively Dyed. She's working on putting together another fiber fest, one for June 2012 in Charlotte, NC. Wheels are turning.

While I was there I did sign up for the Friends and Fiberworks Summer Retreat. It's in Asheville, NC, July 15-17, 2011. I really had fun at Stitches. I'll be at the Carolina Fiber Fest next month, but it seemed like an awfully long time between that and SAFF. The Summer Retreat will give me another festival in between those two, and it's not so close that I'll feel like I have to dye yarn from dawn to dusk. (That starts again on Wednesday. Today I really have to catch up on laundry, scrub the kitchen and do some grocery shopping so I don't have to live off yogurt and canned soups!)

I will have a few shop updates between now and Carolina Fiber Fest. I got panicky about Stitches and ended up hoarding yarns, but I feel more relaxed now that I've got one show under my belt.

I know I haven't mentioned everyone I saw this past weekend, and any oversight is due to lack of sleep. I'll update more when my brain cells are back in better working order.

Sunday, March 6, 2011

Time races by when you're busy

Stitches South is only a few weeks away!

I'm about to hole up in my house and dye like a madwoman!

When I first signed up for Stitches South, it was back in last August. Mid-April seemed ages away. Even on January 1, it seemed like I had all the time in the world.

I looked at my calendar a day or two ago and thought, "Oh snap! I only have that much time left?!"

Keep an eye on the twitter feed sidebar. I'm not sure I'll be updating the blog too much, but I do update the Facebook very regularly, and it links to twitter.

I will mention that I'm sponsor for the Cookie A. Knit.Sock.Love KAL on Ravelry. This month's Thelonius is one of the socks I'm sponsoring.

Happy Knitting!

Thursday, January 13, 2011

Snowed in and dyeing

I've been lazy for part of the past week. Ever since I got my Phat Fiber samples mailed last week, I've not looked at the dyepots.

I'm in a swap on Ravelry, and while pondering what I would make for my swap partner, I realized that I had the correct weight of yarn for the project I wanted to make. I decided to dye the colors that she liked, and that's what I did last night. Well, that's what I meant to do. I thought she liked a color that I wanted to use, but when I reviewed my notes later, I realized that it wasn't one of the colors that she mentioned. Now I'm wondering if I should use it anyway because I think they'll look awesome, or if I should dye up another skein.

I don't have any full sizes skeins of the yarn or roving I sent to Phat Fiber, so they are the first on the agenda today. I'll dye them today, reskein them tomorrow after they dry, and probably get them listed on both etsy and Artfire tomorrow.

Have you signed up to get a Phat Fiber box yet? Go check out their website.

After I do that, I'll work on some ideas I've got for new colorways. Some are for Phat Fiber's February box, Minerals and Gemstones, while others are for my amusement.

Pictures of something tomorrow!

Saturday, January 8, 2011

January 2011 - Chinese New Year

This is Fireflowers, my contribution to the Phat Fiber box this month.
I wanted to recreate fireworks, so I tried my hand at dyeing wool, Firestar and making batts.
The yarn and the fibers are all dyed with the same colors at different depths of shade (DOS). The blue on the yarn is much more intense.
The batts are BFL layered with different colors of Firestar. The yarn is a new base which is still 75% superwash wool and 25% merino. I'm calling this base Valhalla.
During this next week I'll dye more of both and get them listed in the shops.