Monday, July 26, 2010

Happy Etsy - Versary!

This week marks my 4th year using the handmade marketplace,  Back in 2006, Etsy was a still a fairly new site, but I guessed that if it took off, it would be a great place to sell, yarns and fiber and hats.  At first it was slow.  I watched my views night and day, posting hats, hand-dyed and handspun yarns, hand dyed sock yarns, and roving.  With in a few weeks I was getting sales, though not always what I expected.

Roving took off  and looking back at my colorways, I can see why.  My colorways were subtle and lovely - I was trying a lot of variations and was on a creative streak.  I remember someone buying my whole shop (about 10 hanks of roving!) at once and how excited I was. This photo is Rose Gold.  Although the photo is a bit blurry, I like this colorway and may just bring it back.   At this time I was still in grad school, my soft-money job was always in danger of disappearing, so it looked like Smoky Mountain Fibers was going to be my real job.

Etsy has gotten bigger and better.  My dyework is more predictable if a bit less experimental.   In addition to dyed fiber, I am selling undyed fiber, patterns, dyed mohair locks (when I can get them), knitting and felting needles and have used Etsy as a way to destash when the fiber and yarn get a bit out of hand.  I have not been successful selling hats (maybe you should try on a hat!) and I no longer sell much hand dyed sock yarn.  There is a lot of sock yarn out there and I find it hard to photograph.

Etsy has become a more crowded market place for handmade goods and supplies for artisans. I don't have to maintain my own website - Etsy bring more customers to me than I could have imagined.  But I have built up an excellent customer base and they come back  I am very grateful for the feedback that I get from my customers.

Now, how do we celebrate milestones in Etsy?  With a sale of course!  In this case, 20% off everything in my shop.  Go to  Leave a note in the 'note to seller' area with the code, Happy Anniversary.  I'll refund 20% of the sale price (excluding shipping and handling) via PayPal.  Offer expires on July 31, 2010.

By the way, my job has not ceased to exist but has expanded.  I am happy that I went back to school  to pursue my professional goals.  I'm also very happy that I continue to pursue my creative side as well.  Thanks, Etsy!

Thursday, July 22, 2010

Spinning Night

For the last few months I have been getting together with spinning friends to well...spin!  We have been meeting in each others homes, but this month we met at a new yarn shop in Asheville, Friends and Fiberworks.  I spun a hand-dyed, drum carded blend of wool and mohair in a darkly shaded blue green - with a bit of firestar in the mix. I did something I seldom do - I weighed the lot (6.4 oz.) and divided the batts into 'lighter' and 'darker.' Then I adjusted the batts to make the separate shades weigh the same.  My plan is to have a somewhat more even yarn at the end with fewer light and dark sections once I start knitting the yarn.  I believe it is destined to be a hat.

Here is the yarn on the bobbin of my trusty, circa mid-1980s  Louet S-10.  It spun quite nicely and should ply up to about a heavy worsted weight.  I like this yarn very much.  I'll try to remember to photograph it when I'm done.

Spinning night was as lovely as usual, but with a few new (and familiar faces).  It was fun to do it at a yarn shop as well.  I am a firm believer in spinning in public.  Each time I do it, I have people tell me that they have never seen it before.  Others tell me about a spinning wheel that has been in the family for generations.  One comment all spinners hear is, 'That's dying art!'  My response:  'Not while I'm around!' 

The orange socks are moving along nicely.  I'll have to check my Ravlelry projects and I'm sure it's no record, but I don't think I've knitted socks this quickly - ever!.  I'm now just a few rows shy of starting the toe on sock #2.  In fact, I think I'll start knitting right now.  Bye!

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

GoodBye Grover!

We have had a bit of a pest in the garden.  Someone was eating the leaves of the green beans.  Not the beans; not the vines.  The same someone was also eating the lettuce to the ground.  Since it was bolting, no complaints there.  But when the varmint started snacking on my tomatoes, it was war!

Turns out it was a groundhog and the leaves of green beans are one of their absolute favorite foods.  I saw him a few times, usually in the early mornings and after standing up in his cute little woodchuck way, he always dashed under the back deck. 

We took a low key approach, placing pinwheels in the garden, since they can be frightened of shiny moving objects, then didn't see him for a while.  But he reappeared, so my sweetie and a neighbor set up a have-a-heart trap to help him find a new home.

  Sometime yesterday, he finally decided that a lovely snack of apples was just what he wanted and in he went.  so today he will be taken on a little trip to the country.  Although I don't like him, I didn't want him to starve.  As I was pushing bok choi leaves through the cage, the little dickens snarled at me, ready to bite the hand that was feeding him. 

Goodbye, Gover!  Time to go to your new home!

Requisite fiber content:  In between feeding and photographing Grover, I dyed roving and packed bags of mixed fiber for the LYS and made up one-ounce bundles, affectionately known as bon-bons.  I also knitted a good bit on the orange socks, and am starting the gusset of sock #2.  I am loving these socks!  Fast + pretty = Fun! 

Monday, July 19, 2010

Rockin', Sockin' Grab Bags!

Things were lively in downtown Asheville this weekend, but then they often are.  This weekend was the Craft Fair of the Southern Highlands.  Although I did not attend the Guild Fair (as it is commonly known around here), my dyed fiber got a good bit of attention.  In walking distance of the Civic Center, our local yarn shop Asheville HomeCrafts always does a good business that weekend.  People get in the creative spirit - and apparently everybody wants to make felt.  My multicolor grab bags sold like hotcakes! 

I took an inventory Friday evening and re-stocked on Saturday morning but by Sunday at closing they were GONE!  Funny, I started making these grab bags to use up leftovers and sell fiber that refused to be photographed.  Now I have to dye specifically for the grab bags.  In the Etsy shop, I have Leaves of Green, Red Menace, the Blues and the multicultural skin tones packs.  In the LYS I add a crazy mixed up bag.

Although I was already dyeing for a specific project, that was put on hold to dye around the spectrum for at least a handful of grab bags to get to the store in the next day or so.  Let's see... what colors do I need to do next?!

Friday, July 16, 2010

Progress on the Sock Front

I just can hardly say enough for mindless knitting.  The sock you see here was begun on Tuesday evening.  I cast on and knit the one inch of 1X1 ribbing.  Then on Wednesday evening I attended a 2 hour meeting.  Last evening, I watched 'Crazy Heart' with Jeff Bridges as a washed up country singer and Maggie Gyllenhaal as the plucky reporter who falls for him.  Good music, sort of predictable, but a fine movie for knitting socks.  And look at the progress in about 5 hours of knitting! Sweet! 

Plus, I'm now in my favorite sock knitting section, the Gusset.  Why the gusset?  As we say ion Minnesota, I see it this here way.  The leg and any patterning that may have been required is in the past.  The heel flap and heel turn, done.  now, just that last fun, interesting part until its time for a bit of round and round knitting that is the foot.  Then it's time for the toe - easy and fun.  I even like to kitchener my toes.  It is such a satisfying end of a project.  I even usually kitchener both toes at the same time.  Granted, that is mostly so I can keep the toes even.  But also because I just like the finality of it. 

I plan to go to the Asheville HomeCraft's Sit 'n' Knit tonight.  Chat with folks and knit mindlessly and I should knock off the foot.  Nice, eh?

My 4 year Etsy anniversary is coming up.  Watch this space for special offers just for my blog readers!

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Plain Vanilla in Orange

As the Mossy Cardi is again at a place where I have to think, I started a pair of socks to knit this evening at the SAFF (Southeastern Animal Fiber Fair) board meeting.  No brain strain here, just a simple pair of socks in self striping Sock Colori almost sport weight yarn.  I bought several balls of this when a local yarn shop went out of business a few years ago.  As I am still 'knitting down the stash' (though I have seriously fallen off the wagon of late), this yarn volunteered for duty.

When I knit the psuedo-Fair Isle yarns, I find that I don't like any patterning - not even ribs.  A bit of a cuff, then straight-on stockinette, flap heel and more stockinette to the toe.  With randomly dyed and semi-solid yarns, it's a different story.  But for these yarns, I work on the KISS principle.  I guess I'll put them on Ravelry, but mostly to keep records of sock #1, when I knit sock #2. 

SAFF is shaping up nicely.  Even with a smaller and less-experienced board, we are a dedicated group.  We are willing to try new things, while keeping the things that worked in the past. I have simple but satisfying knitting to keep my hands busy, but not require much pesky thinking.  The creativity flows, but we keep the meeting knitting easy!

Monday, July 12, 2010

Mossy Green Moss Stitch

The mossy cardi continues to grow this week end, thanks to time in the passenger seat and a bit of porch sitting.  I finally made it to the arm holes - in fact the decreases are nearly finished and I can do a bit of mindless knitting until it's time for the collar shaping.  I am quite happy with it.  I love the color and the fabric, as well as the process.  I'm not having any trouble melding the 2 patterns, nor do I expect any trouble doing my own mods later.

I spent the weekend with a friend in North Georgia, with a side trip to Atlanta for a bit of retail therapy.  As I have mentioned in this blog, I have been spending some time and energy on my home.  Some delayed maintenance, some improvement and just a decision to make it a better place to live.  To that end, we went to Ikea where I continued that endeavor.  A classic bentwood 'Poang' chair & footstool, functional bed sidetables and a storage unit will go a long way to making my home a nicer place to be. At the risk of sounding like a commercial, I love Ikea.  The clean, modern design appeals to me and I love the tiny, model apartments set up in the store, though I always try to find a home for the spinning wheel, fiber stash and enough space for books.  Though I guess that's what all those storage units are for.   Then the fun comes when you get to assemble your goodies.  I am totally charmed by the elegant way everything fits together as well as the pictographic instructions.  

In the natural world:  It's raining!  A steady rain most of today, I came home to a naturally watered garden, lots of green beans but also evidence that some furry creature has been snacking in the garden.  Luckily bunny foo-foo (or whoever) likes the green bean leaves, but not the vines or beans themselves.  A few tiny okra pods have shown up and the butternut squash are turning buff.  The tomatoes are still green.

Thursday, July 8, 2010

Another Inch

Exciting blog fodder:  Last night I knit about another inch or so on my Mossy Cardi.  I intend to do a bit more knitting over the weekend.  So exciting!  But in fact I hope to get to the 'divide for the armholes' part of the pattern.  Keep in mind that even though this sweater will eventually look somewhat like the Drops 103-1 jacket, it is constructed by knitting the body in one piece to the sleeve area, then dividing into a back and 2 fronts.  Make appropriate shaping until it's shoulder time.  It is a bit more complicated, what with trying to make both sides even and all.  Not too mention a bit of variation on stitch count between the 2 patterns.  But as I will be a house guest over the weekend and will be a passenger on the drive home, I foresee plenty of knitting time.

I'll be calling a contra dance this weekend in Cornelia, Georgia with one of my favorite bands, Steamshovel.  It's just 2 guys, but they are an amazing band.  Roger Gold of the Elftones is playing (mostly) guitar with David White on fiddle and banjo.  Should be lots of fun for those who want a bit of high energy dancing in North GA.  After that I have a little flurry of calling gigs around these hills.  So join me to dance and knit, though not necessarily at the same time!

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

Renate Hiller - "On Handwork"

This video is making the rounds of knitting blogs of late.  Sweet and simple and making lots of sense, I'm posting it here as well.  I like what Ms. Hiller has to say about making things.  Why do we make yarn by hand? Why do we knit socks, when we can buy them at almost any local store?  Why am I knitting a sweater in July?  I can easily buy one for 1/2 the price.  

Speaking of sweaters, here is a bit of progress on my Mossy Cardi, now up to nearly 9 inches (23 cm).  That's a good bit of knitting and it's going faster than I expected.  Love the yarn, love the color, love the semi-mindless knitting.  Usually I'm seeking purl-avoidance, but I don't even mind the purl rows.  I switched from my usual Addi-Turbo needles to bamboo.  The sharper points of the turbos were snagging the plies.  The blunt-tipped bamboos, don't do that. 

I think my progress comes from being slightly sidelined by a summer cold.  Instead of party-ing with friends I was quite happy to stay home and finish watching the the HBO miniseries John Adams on Netflicks. Gotta say - loved it!  Now I knew about as much about John Adams as the next non-history major - almost nothing!  Now I know that historical biopics can be a wee bit revisionist - after all it's TV.  But still a nice look at American history and probably worth watching.

Friday, July 2, 2010

The Mossy Cardi - Cast on!

Well, I cast on the Cirrus/Drops 103-1 variant this week.  The hardest part was figuring what part of each design that I wanted.  Basically it's construction style of the Cirrus with the detailing of the Drops.  I'll make every effort to document my variations as well as my progress on my Ravelry page.  The yarn, Louet Riverstone chunky is a lovely mossy green.  It's only 7 centimeters long so far (which somehow sounds longer than 2 3/4 inches), but I have not spent much time on it yet. 

I am not one of those notable knitting bloggers who decides to cast on a sweater and completes it within a week or two.  What with a commitment to spinning again, the garden to tend and a quite full time day job that has been very interesting (dare I say fun) lately, knitting is something that has lately been in tiny bits and pieces.  A Windy City hat took me 2 weeks!  Of course the actual knitting was about 2 hours!  My only goal at this point is to wear the sweater sometime this winter!

The US Independence Day holiday weekend is here and with it a fun party up in the country just a short hike to the French Broad River.  We will likely dip our toes into the drink! 

Thursday, July 1, 2010

Independence Day Sale!

In honor of the 4th of July, I decided to celebrate by having a sale in my Etsy shop,  All Natural roving is 20% off.  It doesn't matter if you want sweet & creamy merino, rustic browns, or easy to spin Falklands. Any Amount - it's all 20% off.  This sale does not include shipping, and I will refund the discount to your Paypal account.  Just enter the code 'Independence' in your message to seller.  Pretty easy, eh?

I've been spinning Falklands roving lately.  It's creamy white and spins up soft and fluffy.  It takes dye well too but for now I just want the peace that pretty white yarn gives me.  I have 2 bobbins spun up so I think it's time for a bit of plying.  Look at me - I'm plying!

I'll likely spend the holiday in the garden, in the studio and playing with friends.  Might get to downtown Asheville for the fireworks - in the new Pack Square park - Yeah!!