Friday, July 25, 2008

Knitting Party

Yesterday I picked the brains of two trusted and knowledgeable knitting friends, Annie and blogless Lenora. We hung out in Annie's fabulous new living room, scrutinized several possible new base yarns, spun up some new fibers, picked through the traveling stash box, tried on each other's WIPs and had so much fun that one of us had to go change our clothes. *cough*Annie*cough* There was coffee, a yummy lunch, more coffee, fiberlicious goodness and 2 big lovable dogs. I am so grateful to have friends that are knowledgeable enough to give me good business advice and who I trust enough to talk candidly about suppliers, price lists and trade secrets.
Annie Knits
My cell phone picture of Lenora didn't turn out. You will have to visit Annie's blog to see her (and me*) modeling Ann's great Starmore sweater. The only thing that would have made the afternoon better is if 7-letter Deborah had been able to join us before my husband broke up the party with news that my sometimes working car was once again working and should he come get me. Of course! I love cars that work. Still, that Deborah is so responsible what with her actually working on a workday and all. What's up with that? *grin* We missed you, Deborah!

This morning, er afternoon, I am ordering test cones of the yarns we picked out yesterday. Surprisingly it isn't all sock yarn. There is a superwash merino/cashmere blend roving that is oh oh oh oh OOOOOOOH so nice. We spun a very small amount and oh! OOOOOOH! It is so sproingy! 6 pounds of nylon-reinforced sock yarn is already on its way along with 5 pounds of BFL roving (non-superwash) and 2 pounds of merino/silk roving. Other test yarns that will arrive soon include a pure silk, a seacell/silk blend, bamboo/cotton, bamboo/silk and a wool that will hopefully be a good gansey yarn. I am NOT ordering any soybean top. Flyaway doesn't begin to describe it. It got up our noses, in our throats and all over poor Ann. When she was done spinning a few yards she had more on her clothes than she did on the bobbin. Yick. I still want to bring the superwash BFL roving back in but the wholesale price jumped so much that I am hesitant to bring it back if there isn't any interest. Do any spinners out there have an opinion?

Part of our conversation turned to yarns that disappointed us. Specifically some garment weight superwash merinos. Maybe we need to start thinking of superwash as being non-feltable instead of thinking of it as being machine washable. As in, if you throw superwash wool in the machine it won't ruin the garment beyond all wearability but it may not be the best way to care for superwash wool. I need to mull this over more before expanding on this theory.

After dinner, Jamie and Natalie picked me up and we headed to their charming house. I oooh'd and ahhhh'd over the clever use of pulleys and baskets, the number of great toys, the tea room, and the flamingo room. I loved finding treasure around every corner and of course, enjoyed the conversation and getting a few more rows of knitting in before heading home and collapsing.

And now for some Imperial alpacas. Prepare yourself.

*I am so making Filey even if it does mean Annie and I will be sweater twins.

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Swift Meditation

Every Monday for the last 5 months I have tried to psyche myself up to wind 5 pounds of lace weight (5,000 ypp) in to 100g hanks. I offered booze, food and yarn in exchange for winding, I offered cash, I tried to redeem a certificate promising free yarn monkey time, I tried destashing the yarn twice and I tried giving it away. Finally yesterday I worked up the nerve and face this foe. It is only 5 pounds. It shouldn't be that big of a deal. Kind of a pain, but not an insurmountable task. I decided to stop being a wuss and just do it already. I gave up after 3 pounds because frankly, I am a wuss and there is no point in trying to deny it.

Winding 15000 yards of yarn on a hand cranked swift gave me a lot of time to think. The motion of the swift, the burn in my arms, the driving beat of middle east funk playing in the background put me in a meditative place perfect for thinking. And this is what I have been thinking:

  • I was planning to launch my online store in August. I like etsy and will still sell there, but there are big advantages to being able to sell through my own site. Here's the thing, I don't like my online store. Or rather, I do like my online store but it is missing some basic functionality I think it should have for the price I am paying for it. Right now my biggest problem is that I lack the basic terminology to figure out how to solve my problems. I don't know what I don't know. I need to hire help or I need to switch to another host. Switching hosts would mean rebuilding the website since the template I am using is specific to my host. Hiring someone would be a cost I do not have in the budget. I have been put in weeks of work on this website, much of that just learning what the heck I am doing. Plus I have two big events to prepare for and I really need to pursue the wholesale angle so I am not sure that right now is the right time to launch the online store. Maybe, maybe not. This requires more thinking. I have 10,000 yards left to wind so that should give me plenty of time.
  • I'm worried about Scott losing his job. We still don't know one way or another, but I am afraid about health insurance, rent, surviving. I have been achy for days and asthma is threatening to do something, too. Doom Doom DOOM! No more thinking about it.
  • The last few weeks, ahem, months have seen me having a rare confidence crisis. I feel like I can't hold my own compared to my kick ass and creative friends or compared to other knitters. In other areas of my life I feel like the rug might be pulled out from under me. I hate feeling this way, largely because I know it is BS. I know WHY I feel this way. I am just not sure how to get over it aside from just giving it time and getting over it. I hates it, I say.
  • "Bunnies! Bunnies! I think it's BUNNIES!"--The Buffy musical has been running through my head for the past week. Anytime there is a lull in brain activity this insidious musical starts running through my head. I tried to vanquish this ear worm through liberal doses of Musicovery and Pandora Radio but it isn't working.
Spinning for the Tour de Fleece continues on, but at a slower rate. I am not going to get all of my goals accomplished and I am okay with that. I didn't really think I could spin my entire stash in less than a month, anyway. I did finish a new skein of yarn ,though. 242 yards of Wensleydale roving painted by Winderwood Farms. It's, um, energetic. See?
Pre-thwacking: I don't think 'energetic' is quite the word for it
What is it, you ask? A terrible mess. After trying a thick and thin coiled single ply I thought I would try a balanced smooth single-ply. Ahahahahaha! Haha! Ha! Ha. Ha. It is not balanced. It kind of looks unbalanced in a Flying Spaghetti Monster kind of way. Clearly I had to do something before this unbalanced yarn got loose and caused mayhem of the yarny sort.
Post Thwacking
I washed it, thwaked it against the basin and dried it under tension. It looks much better. You should know that thwaking wet Wensleydale might start the felting process. Be warned. I need to learn more about setting the twist and getting excess energy out. While this looks much more manageable and balanced I am not sure that I didn't thwack all the bounce and resiliency out of it.

Yikes! It's 10! I need to work this morning! I always end up writing longer than I intended on this blog. I better wrap this up.

Here are two other yarns I did for the Tour de Fleece. The first one is a superwash merino 2-ply spun from Aija's Cordelia roving. The second one is a thick and thin coiled Wensleydale from Winderwood Farms. I need to work on my coils.
Cordelia Thick and thin coils

I still have some stash left for sale here if you are interested.

Meep! I'll be late. Gotta zoom.