companion colors

Whenever I get a new idea for something, I just assume that it appeared in my head because someone else has already done it. The fear of copying keeps me from doing many things. However, I know that almost nothing we do is truly original. Should I just blaze on ahead, regardless of what may already exist in the universe?

Anyway… my latest idea came Thursday while I was trying to squeeze in some dyeing. Since the Pittsburgh Knit & Crochet Festival was more successful than I had anticipated, I am now scrambling to get more inventory ready before A Knitter’s Fantasy. Rather than dyeing for three days, I just did as much as I could in one. Along with my usual crock pots and stock pots, I also had two roasting pans in service. Usually I lay out 8 ounces and dye it all the same. Then I have two 4-ounce braids that match. This time, instead of laying them side by side, I laid one on top of the other. When they came out they weren’t the same, but they did go together nicely. And that’s when I thought, “aha! Companion colors!” You would get 8 ounces total, but you could spin them as separate yarns, ply them together, alternate, etc. One is semi-solid and the other has more variety.

I’m sure no one actually wants this, but I’ve got a few to try out and then I’ll probably keep doing it anyway (because I just do whatever I want most of the time). Even if the customers don’t care for it, I may enjoy using them myself. Or I could split them up and sell them separately. Basically it’s very low risk to try something new-ish. Why not, right?

companion colors

decisions as a dyer

As a regular reader of this blog would know, I enjoy taking trips down memory lane now and then. Having a Flickr account since October 2006 (hey – seven years this month!) gives me the chance to compare earlier work to my current work. I can see how much I’ve improved — or stagnated. I can see how much more — or less — productive I am now. Either way, it’s good to remind myself of my progress.

Today I am taking a look back at my early dyeing experiences. I am sure that I had started dyeing earlier than what is available via Flickr, but I hadn’t started documenting things yet. The first photo I have of dyed locks is this one from November 6, 2006. It was Lincoln wool. I had run them through the carder and decided it looked like a potential wig… so it went on my head!

Lincoln Beehive
The next two photos are from the following spring. The first from March 9, 2007 is combed top, just a domestic wool blend. When I first got into dyeing, I would buy a pound of domestic (super cheap!) and dye 2 ounces at a time to make it last longer. Now I am buying 22 pounds at a time. What a difference.  Those colors say lanaset to me, so at that point I was already getting past the Kool-aid/Wiltons phase and into wool dyes.

nugget of joy
This photo is from March 11, 2007. It’s the wool roving I received from a fiber processing mill that lost my original fleece. To this day I am not entirely sure what the breed was, but I think I still have some of it lying around. It wasn’t the greatest stuff, but it gave me a lot of experience dyeing.


Where was I going with this?

I think it’s safe to say I should be out of my “experimental” phase by now. Sure, it’s fun to try new things now and then. Different techniques, fibers, dyes, etc. One doesn’t want to get bored. However, I have been avoiding something that almost every dyer I know can do: repeated colors. I have always claimed that I take an “unscientific approach” and I don’t record any recipes. It ruins the artistic flow. And that is true, but also I am using it as an excuse to remain casual and detached, a way to avoid being purposeful. On one hand, having repeatable colors would make my life easier in many ways. On the other hand, it could be boring.

Why not do… BOTH!? Someone (Rich first and then my dad) suggested that I have two separate collections: those that are predictable, repeatable colors, and those that are special little moments in time that will never be seen again. I’m sure many dyers take this approach, but it makes a lot of sense. I can still have the fun of “come what may”, but those shoppers who want a sweater’s worth in one color can get it. We’ll see if I can pull it off!

This week is going to be full of dyeing. With Indie Knit & Spin coming up quick and a successful event behind me, I have a serious amount of restocking to do. Planned for this week:

  • Grey Romney roving
  • White Border Leicester/Coopworth roving
  • White Cotswold locks
  • White Border Leicester/Corriedale locks
  • White Falkland top
  • White Blue-faced Leicester top
  • White Colonial wool top

Have things gotten out of hand? #wool #fleece # fiber #stash

the BFL

Yesterday afternoon I took photos of my Bluefaced Leicester top, Falkland top, and Lincoln roving ending with about 300 images. From there I whittled it down to 200. Since I’m finished with the BFL, I will share those first! These should be up in the shop by the end of the day.

Also, I have reached 500 posts on my blog! Seems like a lot to me.

a preview and a thought

I realize this year has not been so great as far as Etsy updates are concerned.  I began focusing on live shows and wasn’t able to keep up with the online portion of the business.  One only has so many hours with which to work and 10 of them each day are consumed by something I don’t want to be doing.  I had planned on doing a massive update once the shows were over, but then it was summer and I am never very fiber-active in the summer.

Now it is September again, the weather is cooling down and I hope to restart the Etsy and get it moving before fiber fest season starts again.  Part of the problem is just finding time to update the thing!  Adding items to one’s Etsy shop is time-consuming and I am rarely home weeknights.  And no one spends time surfing the web on weekends.  So therein lies the problem.  Do I update when I have time and hope you find it or do weird sporadic weekday updates and still just hope you find it?

Regardless, here are a few items you can expect to find in the Etsy shop this week.  The current fibers are Corriedale, Romney, and Falkland.  More to come!


in the queue

After my last fiber show of the season, I went through all that I had left over and picked out a few to spin myself.  Either I’d been wanting it all season or I had a specific project in mind.  Now they are piled up next to my wheel waiting patiently for the time when I wander back over and pay attention to them.  Can’t say I’ve been giving them much attention lately!  But I realized it’s getting dangerously close to craft show season and I need to ramp it up – so I’ll be spending more time at the wheel after dinner.

to be spun

I also bought a new book at Pennsic: The Fleece & Fiber Sourcebook by Deborah Robson & Carol Ekarius.  I saw it there at the booksellers’ row and decided to pick it up along with a book on cheesemaking and selling your handmade crafts.  Somewhat redundant, I suppose, but one can never have too many books!  You never know who might have that bit of inspiring information you’ve needed all your life.  This book had great photos in it, which is one reason I liked it.  And they have a map in the front cover – I totally dig maps!  I’ll have to let you know more about the actual contents when I have a chance to look through it more thoroughly.

new book!