Monday, April 27, 2009

Pictures, finally!

After a leisurely weekend of gardening and tea parties (really), I finally took and edited pictures of the cotton slub yarn. I'm aiming to have the etsy listings up sometime on Tuesday. They're up! Here are the final specs on this yarn and then I swear I'll stop talking about it for a few days. :)

Fiber: 100% thick and thin cotton
Thickness: Sport Weight to Light DK
Gauge: It knits nicely to 5.5 stitches per inch on a US 5, but also makes a nice fabric anywhere from a US3 to a US7
Weight: 100 grams minimum. Most skeins are 110 grams or larger
Yardage: 310 yards per 100 grams
Price: $9.50
There are 4 100+ gram skeins available of every color except the pink (1), robins egg blue (3), sage (8) and marigold (8). Just for reference, the tank I made last week took just over 2 skeins. I had almost all of a third skein left over. By the way, the tank fit Keeley and her pub persona just fine. [link NSFW if your work frowns upon rude hand gestures]

My creation

Friday, April 24, 2009

Tanky Tank Tank

The plans for this week were to finish winding, dyeing and photographing the cotton slub, catching up on the 1000+ unread blog entries on my blog roll and maybe finally possibly address the one thing I have let go far too long and figure out what the hell is wrong with my website that it won't publish. Knitting goals included finishing the tank and making progress on Scott's sweater. Here's how I did:

  • Keeley the Yarn Minion finished winding the cotton slub yarn. She is thrilled with her stack of empty cones. :
Keeley shows off her empty cones
[It is possible I may be more thrilled than she is and coerced her to pose with these cones under threat of making her wind more yarn]
  • I finished dyeing the cotton slub yarn. As you can see I did not get around to taking good pictures of the yarn, only quick snapshots.

Fresh from the dye pot
  • My Google Reader unread blog posts count is, drumroll please, 1000+. I don't have an actual number. I think Google thinks I may sprain something if I know exactly how many blog posts I have unread. I have been making an effort to catch up this week, though. I broke in to the April posts and am nearly through the Easter weekend.
  • Hey look! My website is viewable to the whole wide world! I won't link because it really isn't worth checking out yet unless you want to see some crappy text that reads "Dyeabolical Yarns". It isn't pretty but it is better than what was there. Maybe this summer I'll get the whole thing built up and working the way I want it. Wait a minute, isn't that what I did LAST summer? *grumblegrumble*
  • I did not work on Scott's sweater. Every time I go to open the bag that the sweater is in I can't bring myself to do it. That bag and that sweater was my constant companion sitting in the ICU waiting room with Jennie's mom. I'm pretty sure when I open the bag it will smell like that waiting room. Plus, the sweater has been a giant pain in the ass what with the pattern being completely and totally wrong. It will be months before Scott needs a sweater again. It can wait.
  • I did finish the tank! Wooooo! I have no idea if it will fit a real person yet. I wanted to make something for Keeley to wear and abuse so I get an idea of how the yarn held up over time. I wanted to limit myself to only using 2 skeins of this inventory yarn so ditched the Keeley idea and went with a smaller size. Through what I can only describe as a stunning display of 'I don't think we need to test you for LD when your GPA is so high' dyslexia, I transposed the numbers for the various sizes throughout the pattern. I did this a lot and in many places. I haven't tried this on a real person yet. I think I made a nice recovery, but it is not a small. It is also not 2 skeins of yarn. I hate running out an inch from the end.
Steamblocked (19)
Steamblocked (30)
Yarn: Cotton Slub by Dyeabolical in Orange, 3 skeins. I barely broke in to the 3rd skein.
Pattern: Isabella by Jordana Paige
Modifications: I knit in the round instead of flat pieces. There were obviously sizing differences. I added 10% to each of the length measurements intending this sweater to go through a hot wash and dry before giving it away (more on that later). I did a crocheted crab stitch around the arms and neck instead of a picot edge like I did at the hem.

Monday, April 20, 2009

Catching up

  • I spent Thursday and Friday miserable with allergies and the beginnings of a cold that I successfully threw off in time for Scott to be ill through the weekend. Oy. We're both better now and spent today catching up on cleaning and paperwork.
  • Knitting on the cotton slub tank continues. I thought I would be finished by now but I forgot how much slower I purled than knit. I am finished with the back and started the front. I just need to finish the front and do the edging around the arm holes. By my estimations I will run out of yarn just short of finishing the second front. Figures. Good thing I know where to get more yarn. [P.S. I just took futher mark downs on all of my clearance and seconds yarns.]
  • The plan for this week is to finish winding the cotton slub, finish dyeing, get pictures done, catching up on the 1000+ unread blog entries on my blog roll and maybe finally possibly figure out WTH is wrong with my website that it won't publish. Knitting goals include finishing the tank, making progress on Scott's sweater and finding where I put my wrist/thumb brace....nevermind. I just looked over and there it was. I have been looking for it all day. I should have sat down to blog earlier.
  • This weekend I had three treats--I listened to Deborah's talk on men and knitting during the 19th century, bought fresh goat cheese direct from a farming family and discovered Scott's company offers dental insurance. Wa-hoo! I don't have a picture of the cheese, but have a picture of Deborah and her model Doug, husband to the talented RMS.
Deborah and Doug
  • I have one more treat tomorrow before an intense week of working and cleaning begins, my first trip to Crown Candy Kitchen for some high-fat, high sugar meal. Yum.

Thursday, April 16, 2009


Those spring allergies that caused a mad dash to Walgreens for hive-busting benedryl yesterday have sparked a low fever, multi-colored snot, muscle aches and a raspy voice today. I'm thinking that I might have a touch of that plague that's been working its way around the knitting peoples. I managed to rinse today's yarn and that's about it. To the couch with me, my knitting and a big cup of tea.

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Color Preview

Last spring when everyone was coughing and sneezing from hayfever allergies I was smuggly confident that springtime hayfever was the one kind of allergy I did not have. Sure I got a little bit of asthma, but no sniffling, sneezing, runny eyes, runny nose, itchy grossness. Yeah, well you know were smug gets you right? I've been allergerific all day but really hit the snot-jackpot around 10 this evening when, at the dinner table, hives spontaneously started forming and my eyes started to get puffy. I announced I thought I was allergic to something and then immediately rolled my own eyes. How many times a day do I say that? Even I'm sick of hearing it and they're my allergies.

I took the sample garment for my new yet-nameless cotton slub yarn to knitting today and it got great compliments. I am thrilled! I love this yarn. I am dyeing up a few pounds a day of semi-sold colors and should be ready to begin listing them next week or the week after. In the meantime here is a preview of the colors. I didn't take them out of their storage bags for these quick snapshots but I hope you get an idea of the colors:
Orange, being knit in to a sample garment. Lucky Cat stitch marker is a La-di-da stitch markers avaiable at Knitorious and a gift from Deborah.
This red-violet color and a lighter shade of this same color are both on the drying rack now.
Semi-solid black and brown colors
Light turquoise and gold colors
Orange, red and green colors

And in another exciting announcement, today was my last day at Knitorious. I am a 1-job woman for the first time in a long time. I wonder how long I'll keep that up? :)

Monday, April 13, 2009

That time of year

If we can't have the home of our dreams, if we have to stay in the apartment of our reality (for at least a few more months) then we can at least turn our patio in to a rain forest.

We planted our patio garden this weekend, and by we I mean Scott. He's the gardener. I'm the one who likes the idea of gardening but not the schlepping of water cans to and from my kitchen. The most I contributed to the garden was to loudly insist we have brussels sprouts, to protest about the amount of real estate we devote to basil and to start some of those cheap seed kits from Target and Michael's. [ETA: Upon rereading I see that "the most I contributed to the garden" is pretty much an outright lie slight exaggeration. :) I may have been partially responsible for the sunflower, sweet pea, tomato, strawberry even though we swore we weren't going to do them again, more tomato even though the squirrels eat them, and green pepper (I hate green peppers) seeds. It didn't really hit home until this morning that Scott's travel-intensive job might mean that I'll be the water can schlepper. Dang it.]

I have 5 pots on my sink right now germinating half a bajillion baby tomato plants, enough sunflowers to cover half of France, 890 green pepper plants (I hate green peppers) and 140 sweet pea plants*, which wikipedia tells me isn't really an edible pea at all and if ingested will cause scurvy-like symptoms. Awesome.

They'll all be dead by next week. I've already knocked one pot of tomato seedlings off the sink and in to a sinkful of soaking yarn being prepped for dyeing. If you buy cotton yarn from me that suddenly sprouts tomatoes you'll know why.
Pictured below (I'm sure I'm spelling half of these wrong):
  • dead ivy
  • campanula
  • canas
  • kalanchoe
  • aloe
  • hens and chicks
  • spicy basil
  • sweet basil
  • italian herb pot with parsley, rosemary, oregano and basil (anyone need basil?)
  • strawberries
  • balloon flower
  • wild tiger lilies that grow by our patio naturally
  • christmas cactus
  • pablano peppers
  • jalapeno
  • pansies
  • orange mint
  • upside down tomato planter
  • another strawberry planter
  • more pansies
  • cucumber plant
  • brussels sprouts
  • catnip
  • some kind of fuzzy headed flower
  • some kind of flowering succulent
  • jade plant
  • forlorn cat who really really wants to eat the garden
We still need:
  • orange and yellow peppers
  • another upside down planter for zucchini and squash
  • a good baby lettuce
  • possibly radishes
  • a realistic idea of what you can and cannot grow in a pot because clearly we are both off our rockers if we think anything but the peppers, basil and catnip will flourish. It's like we don't remember the attack of the giant horn worm or the squirrel invasion we get every single year.
*I might be slightly exaggerating how many plants I have germinating, except the tomatoes. I haven't counted but there is at least half a bajillion.

My creation

My creation

Saturday, April 11, 2009

Southern Illinois Sheep and Craft Festival

Scott and I went to the Southern Illinois Sheep and Craft Festival this morning to check it out as a potential vending site pet lambs. It was a smaller than, but superior to, the Bethel World Sheep Festival if only because it had permanent facilities and a lack of carnivorous crickets.

There were fewer vendors than Bethel but the quality of the fleeces were higher. It is amazing we didn't come home with a fleece. Herbal Maid Fiber Farm had some spectacular mohair, border and blue faced leicester fleeces, at least to my untrained eye. She shears herself so there are no second cuts. I have to take her word for it because, again, what do I know about fleeces? There were four fleeces in particular that wanted to come home with me. One Border Leicester about 4.5 pounds, tan with a little grey mixed in, one border/bfl cross that had a tight delicate crimp and was so soft and so very lovely, one black mohair and one grey one. Each of the fleeces are skirted twice and are ready to wash. They looked remarkably clean.

We backed away slowly from the fleeces and stumbled in to a group of spinners, one of which was nice enough to show me her Spinolution Bee Travel Wheel. Can I get an OMGOMGOMGOMG from the crowd? OMG. I want this. Maybe for Christmas some nice people will get together and buy me a combined Christmas and birthday gift for the next 10 years. Or maybe if money is left over after we move, buy a new car, pay all our bills and rebuild our savings we will buy one. Ha ha (except it's not funny)! It is a beautiful wheel that treadles so easily, spins so fast, fits in such a small space and will fit my physical needs perfectly, but at $645 for a wheel and 3 bobbins it is a little pricey. Not ridiculous for a wheel that will last forever, but pricey.

So no wheel and no fiber for us, unless you count the lock of wool we snatched from a free basket of locks. We went the practical route and brought home only things we would use anyway, like groceries. We ended up with 3 different cuts of lamb, along with locally roasted coffee and locally made handmade soap. The person at the meat place was puzzled why they had sold so much meat that day. When lean hamburger is $4/lb, $2.50/lb for lamb burger just makes sense. We bought 2 hours in to the festival and got the last package of ground lamb, the last package of brats, the last 2 packages of lamb chops and the last of the jerky. We got a good deal on things we would buy anyway (meat, coffee, soap) and got the bonus of warm fuzzies from buying locally from nice people.

Picture time!

Fred the Shetland Lamb
I've got this little guys name and his owners card. I call dibs on this little guys first fleece! Wait, no. I'll never fully process a fleece. I'll get as far as washing it and lose interest. His name is Fred and he Shetland bottled lamb who will be used for fleece. He is only a week old but they think his fleece is going to be spectacular. He is white now but his roots are a smokey gray. He belongs to Persimmon Ridge Farm. They are new to the sheep thing but raise rabbits, goats and sell delicious fresh goat cheese. They sold out of the samples in a heartbeat, but after tasting the samples we put our name on the waiting list for it.

Fred the Shetland Lamb

Shetland Sheep
Shetland sheep

Border Leicester ewe
Border Leicester ewe

Love his horns!
Love this guy's horns

We watched the sheep dog demo (click to watch the video)

Here is another sheep dog video

There were clog dancers. (video)

I suddenly have an urge to learn to clog now that I know you can clog in your jeans. (also a video)

There was a lamb lunch. For $7 you could have as much lamb and bbq beans you could fit on one plate. I had a small lamb chop which I think must have been from a gnarly old grown up lamb, some shaved lamb in bbq sauce, a lamb burger with sauerkraut and the standard plate filler of chips and potato salad. Scott pretended to be grumpy when I whipped out my camera and declared his meal blog worthy.

Friday, April 10, 2009

Riddle Me This

I am starting to dye and work up sample garments from the cotton slub yarn. I am in love in a big way with this yarn. It is simple, texturally interesting, soft, gets softer with each wash and is cheap. It does have one curious quirk and I'm wondering if anyone else has encountered this phenomenon.

I knit an unwashed swatch of 5.5 stitches/inch on a 3US. The pattern I wanted ot make called for 6.75 stitches/in so I went on a quest to find metal 1US straight needles (thanks Thi!). I cast on fairly confident that knitting a sport weight yarn on 1US would get a pretty close guauge except it didn't. It got 5.5 stitches/in. I picked out another project for the same yarn and swatched on 5US. The gauge is 5.5 stitches/in. Augh! The only difference has been the row gauge has gone from 7 to 12 rows/in. This could just be a quirk of swatching that will work itself out as I knit more with this. I'm curious if any of you have a reasonable explanation why the stitches would be getting taller but not wider?

Tuesday, April 7, 2009

Dyeabolical Yarns blog

I am starting to cross post at That blog will be exclusively information about Dyeabolical™ whereas this blog you are reading is more about me, my knitting and my life.

I view this blog (stlrachelknits) as more of a conversation. I interact with you, many of you are friends in real life or online, some of you aren't even involved in the fiber world and read for the non-knitting content. I will continue to update this blog with the same information that I put in the Dyeabolical blog, but I won't put everything in the other blog that I put here. I hope that makes sense. The plan for that blog is to be less conversational and more about shop updates, new yarns, etc.

Essentially, I am trying to be better about "branding" and it makes more sense that I have a blog that is exclusively about Dyeabolical™. If you are already following me here then you don't need to follow me there. If you are here only for the shop updates and could care less about the chatter then visit me at

[Note: The name of my company is Dyeabolical™, not Dyeabolical Yarns. I initially started out selling as Dyeabolical Yarns but have since moved to plain Dyeabolical™ since I sell more than just yarn. It is too much of a hassle to try and change all of my links and some URLs aren't available, so while my yarns are Dyeabolical™ some of my URLs are Dyeabolical Yarns. Are you thoroughly confused? Me, too. :)]

Monday, April 6, 2009

Nifty knitting gadget

Is it a train? An unidentified flying object? Nope, it is Scott reading a comic book in the dark with the help of a nifty over the ear LED flashlight. Cool, huh?
Here is what it looks like in the light. Forget light up needles and clip on lights. A light that shines where you look works so much better. We found this one at Ace Hardware for only $7.
Over the ear LED Flashlight

Saturday, April 4, 2009

Flash Your Stash

Yesterday I destashed a full third of my stash. What is left is 12.5 miles of yarn that fits in 1.5 boxes not including the 'scrap' box of Dyeabolical yarn or the many many works in progress. 12.5 miles waiting. I can deal with that.

My Stash

My dad has improved and my sister is home from the hospital and feels a little bit better. Thank you for all the kind emails and phone calls. I'm sorry I didn't answer them. I needed some down time. Since my sister was home and my dad was improving I took most of this week off from visiting the hospital. I took some of that down time, started figuring a few things out and lit a much needed and cathartic fire under my dye pots.

There are 2-4 braids of most of these colors. They will be up on etsy over the next week or two or you can email me. There are still clearance yarns available, too.