Wednesday, December 27, 2006

Dye Up Some Stash!

Today I am dyeing a pound of BFL Ultra! to send to Karen Alfke, the designer who's patterns I carry on the website. She does the 2nd Nature Designs and the wonderful Unpatterns. I took a class from her at Stitches a couple of years ago and she kept pulling out green sweaters and yarns from her sample bag. She said, 'If it's green, I'm in!' and I recall thinking that one day I would dye up some green yarn and send it to her.

What better gift for a sweater knitter who loves Koigu, than BFL Ultra! -- so close in weight, but, of course, made of the luxurious and lustrous Blue Faced Leicester wool. So, that is what I am dyeing, in two 8-oz skeins which I am doing my best to make identical. I mixed up five different greens, plus two each of blue and yellow. All was going well, until at the end I decided to flick some dry dye powder over a band through the middle of the skeins. Yes, you can guess what happened ... a little too much dry powder here and there and a strange chemical reaction that may turn into 'art' as it steams. As I write, I have the big time steamer puffing away just outside the studio door, where I can get up and check the water level while the steam does it's magic. I am hoping it is magic, naturally, a sort of beautiful arty magic that I will be proud to send to Karen.

In the meantime, I thought I'd just grab those partial skeins of mystery yarn that seem to accumulate around the studio. Brilliant idea! Now I will have a little stash to add to my knitting in colors that I do not normally use. This is something I try to do when I dye a major project -- dye up a little stash with leftover dyes, sometimes mixed together, sometimes watered down to a pale shade. When I first began to dye, everything was heavily colored, deep and bright. As I have improved my technique and maybe added a little skill here and there, I find myself going for softer combinations, striving to separate delicate tones so that they do not become mud in the steaming process. Today I think I will come up with some nice bright tones. Can't wait to open all of those little colorful packages!

Wednesday, December 13, 2006

Website: All's Well that Ends Well

Back online, back in business. Boy, it feels like I have been let out of jail! Things got back to normal yesterday.

  • Hopefully, the two new yarns will be posted within the next couple of days.
  • 1. BFL Ultra! is new to the permanent lineup. (fingering weight, 3ply, superwash in Blue Faced Leicester; this is my exclusive yarn)
  • 2. 50/50 blend of Tencel and superwash Merino will be added to SPECIALS page. 400 yard skeins are $10 each. Cones for handdyer suppliers,too.

Monday, December 11, 2006

Website Live-and-Learn Lessons

If you are able to read this post on this day (Dec. 11) then you know that the website is down. I have just gotten to yet another business decision, and that is to go back on my big business decision of last week! Yes, I am returning to my former webmaster, whom I have said many times that I love but who was a little busy for my own timetable. The almost-new group couldn't give me control of two pages on my site where I was able to post some SPECIALS and pictures on GALLERY pages, pages which are actually very important to me. Sometimes I get in a new yarn and post it on the SPECIALS page for two or three weeks, sell it out and people send me their comments. If the reaction is good, I add the yarn to the permanent lineup; if not, then I find another.

Right now I have a yarn to post to the SPECIALS page, and as soon as everything returns to normal ... when? oh, when? ... then I will post the 50/50 blend of tencel and superwash merino in 400 yard skeins. ($10 per skein). Also, I have the new sock weight yarn, BFL Ultra!, which I am so anxious to get out there.

I have to say that I am more upset about hurting either of these nice and talented web guys' feelings than they are about losing my business! I guess it is the Southern girl in me. We don't like to make waves!

So, the lesson today is that sometimes a business decision is not the best move for the company. That is the case today. I'm going back to my old guy, who has all the kinks worked out. Things will be better, I promise!
If you have missed out on ordering yarn in these couple of days, please wait a day or two.
Thanks so much for your patience!

Website is Off Line Today

In an earlier post, I told you how the website is being moved to a new host, new server, new webmaster. Unfortunately, Wool2Dye4 is offline for today, and the new webmaster is working furiously to get it back. This also means that email is not working. I am assured that this is a temporary business problem and that my site will be back online soon.

I am sorry for the inconvenience it causes us all!

Monday, December 04, 2006

BFL Ultra! in Intermezzo Gloves

Here is a picture of BFL Ultra! knit up into Karen Alfke's pattern, Intermezzo Gloves. I took the liberty of adding two stitches on either side of the thumb to accommodate my square palm, and did a single crochet around the thumb opening. Great pattern for fingerless gloves!

As I was knitting this hand painted skein (shown earlier in November in comparison to the merino-tencel blend), I was struck by the luster of the yarn fibers. There is a silkiness to the look, a subtle visual enhancement -- for lack of a better word -- to this fiber. I know that I do need to come up with a clearer description of how truly lovely the BFL is to get the idea across. Words are just not adequate for this yarn.

Saturday, December 02, 2006

Website Changes

Yesterday I made two big business decisions, one of which is a legal matter, the other of which is website related. An Internet business has to devote focus, energy, money, imagination to the behind-the-scenes workings if it will succeed. For me at the very basics is that my site must be colorful to catch the potential customer's eye because what I sell, really, is a pile of white stuff and white stuff doesn't look very interesting unless it is surrounded by color. The very, very basics, though, have to do with the ease with which the customer is able to see the products, make a decision to buy, and execute the purchase.

That last part is where my website has been floundering. I have written about it before, even posted notices that soon, yes! soon the site will offer true eCommerce functions, not just PayPal. We live and learn, and yesterday I moved the site to a new company with the capability of changing the payment mechanism to true eCommerce. Soon, yes! soon customers will not be forced to use PayPal, but can pay securely with any credit card. Or, they can use PayPal if they wish. For me, this brings new advantages which I sorely need -- tricks like reports of customers' purchase history by date, by product. This sounds like a simple report, but operating without it has been difficult if not impossible. Customer history will probably be my happiest moment with all of the upcoming changes.

I don't know why I took so long to make the change, except that I really like and admire my first webmaster. He is brilliant, a young man with a growing business and a growing family, and I just like the way his mind works. The only problem, was that the website didn't grow in proportion to the business growth. This was a decision from the head, not the heart.

This new company is not actually new to me. The owners and I were in a business professionals' group a few years ago. That was when I had a wallpaper shop and was operating as a contractor for my husband's commercial wallcovering business. Another life ago, it sometimes seems. One of the designers helped me develop the logo for the wallpaper business. Yesterday he heard my voice and stuck his head around the corner to say hi. What a pleasure to see him again! I asked if he was still drawing and publishing his comic strip. (He is.) The website design director is an old familiar face, too. We were in the ill-fated Italian club here in Lynchburg VA several years ago. That was the year that we pulled out all reserves and all of the Italians in town put on a huge Italian festival complete with four nights of big-name rock groups. The only problem was that one of the worst hurricanes in Virginia's history hit Central Virginia that week and uprooted tents, turned the ground into soup, and generally ruined the Italian Club's festival and finances in one fell swoop.

The new webmaster and I worked alongside other Italian American townsfolk to make the best of a terrible mess, and then we all went our separate ways. So, to see his handsome Italian face yesterday was such a welcoming sight.

I promised, back when I started the blog, not to weigh it down with too much personal reflection, and I am close to that edge as I write this morning. I just wanted to let you know that there are changes coming and from people I know, so I am expecting them to ease the site and me through the changes with few bumps in the road. This morning, when I first woke up and lay there having those stream of consciousness morning thoughts, the website quickly claimed attention, and I felt at ease about my decisions. It will be fine. I live by my gut, and it tells me I made the right decision.

Readers? You are always invited to respond to any of my written thoughts.

Tuesday, November 28, 2006

Dyeing Experiment: BFL Ultra & Tencel/Merino

Top Picture: Tencel/Merino on the left and BFL Ultra! on right after curing, washing, drying. Since the Tencel/Merino is a blend of a cellulose fiber (which dyes up with fiber reactive dyes) and a protein fiber (which dyes up with acid dyes), I did an experiment using both types of dyes. The two yarns on the right side are the BFL Ultra! which is a protein fiber and were dyed with acid wash dyes. (If you click on this picture to enlarge it, you will see the silky sheen in the Tencel/Merino."

The multi colored yarn on the far left (Tencel/Merino) was dyed with fiber reactive dyes, using urea as the mordant. The Tencel/Merino two-color skein, which is second from the left, was dyed with acid wash dye, using white vinegar as the mordant.
In an experiment like this, I tried to come up with dye solutions of equal intensity so that if there were a difference in dye absorption, it would show up easily. In the middle picture, the two-toned skeins are shown: BFL Ultra! in the inside curve, and Tencel/Merino in the outside curve. The turquoise did not absorb as well on the Tencel/Merino; the purple/rose absorbed about equally.

This is a picture of the BFL Ultra! before being steamed. It shows a rawness to the color absorption which disappears entirely once the skein is wrapped and steamed. BFL Ultra! takes color beautifully, blooms just a bit to make a nice, round yarn, too.

It is the Tencel/Merino blend which will require some decisions when you are ready to dye it. Looking at the top picture, you'll notice that the result for this yarn, on the far left, is a muted and lovely color combo. This skein cured for about 6 hours before being rinsed out. The fiber reactive dyes released quite a bit of color, the reds especially, but the end result was so muted and beautiful, that I might forgive the additional work required to get to the result.

The turquoise and purple skein of Tencel/Merino did not release much of the acid dye at all, and the colors were not as vibrant as with the wool yarn.

Conclusion: BFL Ultra! takes acid dye beautifully. No problem, beautiful results.
Tencel/Merino can be dyed with either acid or fiber reactive dyes. In either case, one of the fibers will not absorb the dye and the rinsing bath will show a release of dye. This yarn yields muted blends of color, very beautiful and almost shimmery in appearance.

Both yarns are available, but just not yet posted on the website. They're coming, I promise. In the meantime, email me to order:
BFL Ultra! $ 23.20 for 8 oz skein, $ 46.40 for l-lb cone (1900 yards/lb)
Tencel/Merino $10 for 400 yard skein (1650 yards/lb)

... Meanwhile, Tencel ...

... A small shipment of Tencel/merino sock weight yarn has arrived, and I am trying to get it posted on the SPECIALS page of the website. Unfortunately, there is a glitch that has prevented me from posting SPECIALS for the past three weeks (since the website migrated to a new server).

This is a trial for this yarn to see if there is a demand: $ 10.00 / skein of 400 yds. It dyes up with either acid wash or fiber reactive dyes, and there will be a release of dye into the rinse bath because 50% of the yarn will reject one of those dyes. I will post pictures of my experiment.

Until it is posted, please email me to order:

Wednesday, November 22, 2006

Dyeing my first batch of BFL Ultra!

At last it is my turn to play, and I've rolled up my sleeves and am dyeing a skein of the new British Blue Faced Leicester, BFL Ultra! This skein soaked for an hour or so, and I am sprinkling good ole red-blue-yellow around in tiny dots. I am using slightly 'off'' shade of fuchia, colonial blue, and Italian yellow which is one of my favorite combinations (or to use a turquoise based blue for slightly more vibrant results).

The yarn is taking the dye beautifully. As I write, it is resting, but I did dye up the small sample that my British supplier sent me and it bloomed every so slightly. Remember, this is a three-ply yarn at a fingering weight, so it is already a nice round yarn, but after the dyeing/steaming/drying process the yarn comes into its own -- firm enough, yet still a luxuriously soft yarn which feels so nice against the skin.

Tuesday, November 21, 2006

BFL Ultra! All weighed and counted

I almost deleted the entry made yesterday afternoon, because I realize that I was showing some panic. Ah, well. Here's the weight issue, in brief:

The skeins all weigh exactly 8 oz or 8.2 oz, a difference of 25 free yards.
The cones, though, range from one pound exactly to 1 lb-6 oz, a hefty difference of 750 yards. What I have decided to do is to come up with three categories and charge a median price so that everyone will get some free yardage, and some will get even more. That is the only way I can figure out how to even out the differences. This was my webmaster's idea and I need to give him credit. So! Here are the categories for the cones:

1 lb. to 1 lb. 2 oz ........ $ 49 (1,900 yards per pounds)
1lb. 2 oz to 1 lb. 4 oz .... $55
1 lb. 4 oz to 1 lb. 6 oz ... $ 60

These undyed yarns are called 'gray goods' in the yarn world. They are spun and skeined or coned in one mill, and then they usually travel to a processor who dyes up large quantities, winds them into center pull balls or smaller skeins of 2 oz or 4 oz, and labels them with the yarn company's name. When the process is interrupted and the undyed yarns are sold as is, the weights are not exact from the mill.

Actually, this is one of the reasons that I decided to mark all of my prices at 20% off suggested retail price. I didn't want someone complaining that they were shorted half an ounce. Most of the skeins weigh in a little heavy, and I have never, ever, ever had a customer complain that they received too much yarn!

I want to keep the BFL Ultra! pricing fair and consistent, so having the three weight categories seems the best solution. This may be a problem which will work itself out in future orders from the British mill.

You may not know it, but I am from the South, and we don't like to complain a lot. Well, we do complain a lot but we apologize for doing it and then go ahead and complain in a sweet tone of voice, which is what we call 'talking Southern.' I am working with British folks who have been doing this for a couple of generations, and I want to seam myself into their operation well and get what my customers want at the same time. The trick to learning this new side of my business is doing all of this with a touch of the Southern tone of voice.

Let me know what you think of the BFL UltraI!

Monday, November 20, 2006

BFL Ultra! In stock now

It's here! BFL Ultra! is now in stock.
Just a quick reminder of the basic facts ...

BFL Ultra! is a 3-ply British Blue Faced Leicester in superwash. 1,900 yards per pound, prox. Medium twist on this yarn makes it slightly firm, yet it maintains the softness which BFL is known for, in a nice and round yarn. Great for cable work and detail. Excellent for socks. Also great for shawls, baby sweaters, fine sweaters. A strong yarn with an innate luster to it which comes through even when dyed. Designated as a rare breed by the British Wool Trade Board.

.............Prices: 8 oz skein, $23.20 .......... 1-lb cone, $46.40.
.............Email me for a sample. (

It is at the end of the day of arrival, and I have just discovered that the skeins and cones are not uniformly measured. This means that a cone could weigh anywhere from 15.8 oz to lb.5 oz. Skeins are a little better, but I will have to invoice you individually for the yarn. Email me your order, I'll weigh out the yarn and invoice you through PayPal. If you are also placing an order for other yarns on the same day, I'll lump the two together when charging postage.I

Sorry for this inconvenience ... to you and to me!

Thursday, November 16, 2006

BFL Ultra! ... Due by November 20th

The wait is over for BFL Ultra! My new British Blue Faced Leicester sock yarn is due early next week. Over the weekend it will be added to the website.

BFL Ultra! is a 3-ply sock weight yarn in superwash Blue Faced Leicester, a nice round yarn that is compact but not too tightly twisted. It is packaged in one pound cones and 8-oz skeins. It is a soft yarn, yet very strong with a long staple length. 1,900 yards per pound.

One of the factors that sets the Blue Faced Leicester breed apart is that the fiber has a natural luster to it, and this is eveident both in the natural state as well as when it is dyed. BFL Ultra! will knit up into beautiful cables and detail work, fine sweaters and openwork. In Britain, BFL is preferred by manyfor Aran work.
BFL has been designated as a rare breed by the British Wool Trade Board. We have several American shepherds who are raising BFL here in the states, but this is a British Blue Faced Leicester, imported exclusively by Wool2Dye4.
For the past several years the yarn manufacturers have worked hard to establish the credibility and excellent qualities of merino wool. I believe that the American yarn market is ready for Blue Faced Leicester.

Price: $46.40 per pound cone ..............$23.20 per skein.

Tencel Yarn tryout

People are asking for some of the new fibers and I am looking for good sources all the time for bamboo, corn, and tencel. Some of them are produced as blends and I especially like merino used in the blend.

I have found a tencel/merino blend and have ordered a small amount to try out. It should arrive next week (around Thanksgiving), and will be posted on the SPECIALS page of the website. It only comes on 3-pound cones but I am going to skein up smaller amounts to try out. If enough serious dyers like it, then I will stock it fulltime.

Wednesday, November 15, 2006

New Book: Dyeing to Knit

A new book, Dyeing To Knit, has caught my eye and I like it enough to offer it on the website. Elaine Eskesen has written a book this is a good combination of inspiration and scientific method, and the pictures are thought provoking.

What attracted me to this book is a section on how to dye with a specific project in mind. Eskesen does a good job of differentiating between space dyeing and hand painting, something which I was glad to see since those two terms often seem to be used interchangeably. She talks about pooling of colors -- is it such a terrible thing, or could they be welcomed into our work and used to advantage? It makes no difference whether you dye with acid wash dyes, as does the author, natural dyes, Kool Aid, Easter Egg dyes, or food dyes. The bulk of the book is not about how to dye with acid wash dyes, but how to manipulate color, predict a color pattern in the fabric, how to combine some new techniques with your tried and true methods.

Her work features many examples of smooth and textured yarns used together to create new affects which color, alone, will not achieve. What I call 'visual texture,' or used to in my wallpaper shop when people would agonize over color choice and often leave with beige wallpaper. Visual interest is what gives the pop to a final knit piece!

Many of us have probably not taken advantage of incorporating more than one yarn in our final knitted pieces. I know that my own needles began to truly fly once I started knitting with my handdyes, and knitting socks out of my dyed yarn became so satisfying that I quickly became obsessed! Once I began to incorporate some Fair Isle work into the cuffs, my work stepped up a notch and became more interesting. Now, there are small handdyed yarn companies which are capitalizing on this very same concept of knitting with more than one of your handdyes at a time. They are reaching the people who don't do what you and I do, who do not invest the time and space and mess and creative juices into dyeing up a marvelous stockpile of colorful fibers.

One of the undyed yarn distributors once told me that they had received calls from several local yarn shops who were truly upset because their customers were beginning to buy handdyed yarns directly from the handdyers. Their market share was being eaten into and they didn't like it! It seems that handdyed yarns are beginning to find their own market -- on Etsy and eBay and through fiber artists' individual websites. And -- wonder of all wonders! -- many of my customers are begining to supply the local yarn shop with handdyes.

Actually, I have just taken on one LYS myself as a sort of experiment to see what my customers go through to get out a collection big and varied enough for a yarn shop owner to purchase. It is a lot of work, but the creative process suddenly shifts into another gear as I concentrate on the range of color and intensity and hue as the pile begins to grow.

Like Eskesen, the author of this new book, I look at color trends in clothing and home furnishing and, of course, yarn. At least one knitting magazine will have a color forecast each spring, you can count on it. In the wallpaper shop, I would tell people about color forecasting and how the home decorating fields follow the color trends of the clothing market by a year or so, and they always seemed amazed for some reason. I used to ask these customers to go home and open their closet doors and see if there was a majority of one color hanging there, or if there was a color pallette which they had not recognized before.

As long as I am rambling about color families, I did want to mention another color inspiration source which was sited in the latest Vogue Knitting magazine. It is the 3-in-1 Color Tool from C&T Publishing, a set of color cards similar to the paint store's swatches, but with 6 combinations for each color. I ordered one through the local quilt shop, another good source for color forecasting, by the way.

Dyeing to Knit by Elaine Eskesen is listed on my website for $22.

Friday, November 10, 2006

Feedback, please, on new trends in 'green' yarn...

I invite my customers and readers to give me their opinion and preferences on the new 'green' type of yarns that are now coming onto the market. These include bamboo, corn, and soy. Some of these are blended with other fibers which give or strengthen attributes which are desirable in yarns. I have seen bamboo/silk blends and bamboo/merino blends. Also, tencel/merino blends and soy/silk.

Have you got some insight into these yarns? I appreciate your input! This is one of the best ways I learn about new trends, fibers, yarns, methods, etc. , and I have said before that I love writing back and forth with my customers.

This time I invite you to post your comments on this subject here in the blog and perhaps we can begin a dialogue on a new subject.

Thanks so much,

Wednesday, November 01, 2006

Glimakra Yarn Swift - new accessory

I am happy to announce that Wool2Dye4 now carries the Glimakra wooden umbrella yarn swift. This is the large version which expands to accommodate the typical wool skein of two yards. I use my swift almost every day, sometimes with the Royal Ball Winder, sometimes with one of my skein winders. This is one of those necessary yarn handling tools.

Glimakra is Sweden's premier manufacturer of looms and yarn accessories.
Cost: $65.
Just say 'Gleam-Oak-Rah.'

Tuesday, October 31, 2006

Communication Down!

The server is being moved for my website, If you cannot reach me, I do apologize. The webmaster is working on it, and I am trying to be a good customer and to wait for him to get the kinks worked out.

I ask you to be good customers and wait for me, too. Orders are still working, through PayPal, so if you are desperate -- I know the feeling! -- you can order through PayPal and attach a note. The notes are a part of the PayPal form and I'll get the message.

Friday, October 27, 2006

It Felts, It Felts

Looking for a great felting yarn? ANDEE felts up beautifully. It also takes dye beautifully. Remember, ANDEE is a 50/50 blend of merino with alpaca, so it is a very soft yarn and makes a fulled/felted fabric that is nice to touch.

Another good felting yarn is the bulky Cestari. This one is listed on the SPECIALS page of the website.

Purses, anyone? Entrelac hats?

Tuesday, October 24, 2006

Royal Wool Winder

I now carry the Royal Wool Winder, which winds yarn into soft center-pull balls. This is an accessory which every knitter on earth should own. Cost: $35.

Monday, October 23, 2006

More about BFL UltraSock

We are expecting the arrival of the new BFL UltraSock around mid-November. For some time I've been talking and writing about my search for a great sock yarn, and this is it. The spinners in England are preparing this yarn exclusively for Wool2Dye4. Here are the particulars:

BFL UltraSock is a superwash yarn in fingering weight with 1,900 yards per pound. It is put up in 8 oz skeins and one-pound cones. (Actually, the weights are quarter-kilo and half-kilo, but I'm not going to fight the metric war! This means that you get a little extra yardage.) It is unscoured and spun into a nice, round 3-ply yarn. It is a firm yarn, so if you enjoy cable work or lacy detail in this weight, you will like the round presentation. You can get 5 skeins of 375 yards from each pound, enough to knit 5 pairs of socks.

Blue Faced Leicester has a long fiber staple and yarns spun from this fiber are particularly strong. One of the most notable characteristics,though, is a subtle luster in the appearance of this yarn in it's natural undyed state as well as once it is dyed. It takes color beautifully, too. Blue Faced Leicester has been designated by the British Wool Trade Board as a rare breed, making it a very exciting yarn for me to present in my lineup.

  • Pricing will be:
  • $23.20 per 8 oz skein
  • $ 46.40 per one-pound cone

This is 20% off the suggested retail price of $58 per pound.

For several years we have all been reading about and hearing about the special softness of Merino. What you'll find with Blue Faced Leicester is a yarn which may be even softer and stronger than merino, and with the luster that is its trademark.

I am excited to present this yarn to my customers. Help me get the word out, please!

Friday, October 06, 2006

BFL UntraSock ... soon to be a reality

At last I have decided on the makeup of the BFL UltraSock, and expect to have it in stock within 8 weeks. My supplier / manufacturer / spinner in England is a delightful business companion. He even called me a few weeks ago when we were working out figures and facts such as the number of twists per inch and micron count. What fun for each of us to hear the other's accent!

The new BFL UltraSock will be a three-ply yarn in superwash Blue Faced Leicester. The feel is very similar to Wool2Dye4 SuperSock, but with a bit less twist,which is to say that it does not curl naturally upon itself as the Wool2Dye4 SuperSock does. (The curl is not a bad thing in that yarn, but a signal that the resulting fabric will be quite firm and strong.)

Three immediately apparent qualities of the Blue Faced Leicester UltraSock are the natural ecru color, a slightly golden tone, and the bloom of the fibers when subjected to the dye process. The third unique quality is the slight luster of the fibers which is also apparent when the fibers are dyed. It is truly a beautiful and soft yarn.

It will be available in 8 oz skeins and one-pound cones in approximately eight weeks. The development of this new yarn is a very special undertaking for me because I have exclusive distribution rights in the United States. It did take a while to come up with the right yarn, but the results are just right. I expect this yarn to set the standard for hand-dyers.

Monday, September 18, 2006

Folk School

Back from a weekend course at John C Campbell Folk School. Located in the farthest southwestern tip of North Carolina in the Great Smoky Mountains, this place has perfected the entire experience of adult classes, mountain getaway, casual learning environment, and all at a relaxed pace. I definitely recommend it. Website is

Wednesday, September 13, 2006

Out of Town for 4 Days ... Folk School!

I will be out of the studio for four days, Sept. 14-17, 2006. All orders received between Thursday and Sunday will be shipped on Monday.

This will be my first trip to the John C Campbell Folk School, just outside Asheville NC, and I am looking forward to being a student. Everyone who has been says it is like summer camp for adults ... except that it runs all year long. I convinced my husband to go, too, and he's taking Barbeque & Open Kettle Cooking. My class is Landscape Quilting. (no fiber classes available)

Here is the link to this special place:

Tuesday, September 12, 2006

SuperWash Is Not SuperDry

When a yarn is described as 'superwash' it means that the fibers have been treated so that they will not grab onto each other and felt, with normal wear and tear. This means that they can be washed by machine, but my advice is that if you do wash superwash wool by machine, use a gentle cycle and a wool wash such as Eucalan in a shortened cycle, if possible. There are other good wool washes / conditioners on the market, and some people even use hair conditioner in the rinse cycle. We want to limit the amount of rough treatment on the fibers to the bare minimum. This means we should add the item to the tub once the water has already filled so that the water will not be rushing onto the fibers, giving them another opportunity to felt/full.

Drying in the dryer is definitely not recommended, though. Superwash might mean you can wash your fabric by machine, but the best way to dry it is to lay it flat to dry. Lay the wool fabric on a heavy towel and roll it up; then put pressure on the roll but do not squeeze. Squeezing puts strain on the stitches and on the fibers themselves and shortens the life of your precious work of art.

If you must wash the item in the machine, put it in a lingerie bag before you drop it into the water. I keep several lingerie bags in my laundry room for use in dye classes. After the dye process, after that final rinse in Eucalan (which is what I use), I place newly dyed skeins into lingerie bags and toss them into the washing machine. Then, with the water taps turned OFF, I run the spin cycle. I have never had a felting/ fulling problem with this procedure, and also use it when I wash my handknits.

Mantra time: SuperWash is Not Super Dry.

Tuesday, September 05, 2006

Update on Blue Faced Leicester Sock Yarn

About two months ago, my enthusiasm for creating a new Blue Faced Leicester sock yarn surely came through in my writing. I had the Name-That-Yarn Contest, exchanged letters with many of my customers and new folks as well. Before the naming contest I sent out a skein of the sample yarn to ten of my customers with whom I had established a sort of email acquaintance, and I asked for their feedback. Generously and frankly given, it was apparent to all, including me, that this particular yarn was twisted too loosely to be a good sock yarn; however, it is the perfect shawl yarn.

All of this was passed on to my colleague in England, with whom I am working to create this new BFL sock yarn. I had bought 120 pounds of the disappointing yarn, sign unseen, and decided to sell it off at rock bottom prices. (It is listed as BFL Special Purchase on the website under the Fingering category.) I admit that buying sight unseen was not a smart business move, but this is how we learn. It was an expensive lesson.

My manufacturer has been trying out different weights, trying to match the micron count of the samples I sent him of my best selling sock yarns (Wool2Dye4 SuperSock and Kona Fingering.) On Labor Day he called to say that he has just received the sample BFL top (roving) back from the superwash process and his mill is about to spin up three samples for me.

This is exciting, really interesting, an entirely new venture in my little business. Again, I plan to send out samples to my customers who are known sock knitters. If anyone who reads this is also interested in trying out the new yarn by dyeing it, washing it, knitting or weaving with it, please send me an email ( or post a reply here in the blog. I will be choosing a new Yarn Review Board when the samples arrive.

Stay tuned. I hope to chronicle the development of a yarn in the blog. This does not happen overnight, though, and that is something I am learning. The busy season is just starting up again, and I have no idea when the new yarn will become available. In the meantime, I continue to offer a good variety of undyed yarns for sock knitting. Click on the links on HOME page for a list.

Friday, September 01, 2006

September Shortage of Kona Fingering CONES

During the month of September, the importer of Kona Fingering on CONES will be out of stock, cones only. The skeins will still be available, though. At this writing I am waiting for my last shipment of cones and that may just be a few dozen, if that.

If you absolutely must have this yarn on cones during the month of September, I can have it wound from two 8 oz. skeins. There will be a winding fee of $1.75, which is just what it costs me to have the one pound cone wound.

Watch for further notices about the stock situation of the Kona Finger cones.

Thursday, August 31, 2006

Dye Classes

Dye classes are available to groups here at the Wool2Dye4 studio. Group size is limited to 5 students (six, if you beg me). Classes last four hours. Cost of the class is $20 plus purchase of one 8 oz skein of yarn to dye in class. Students bring a lunch, and I furnish drinks and dessert.

To organize a class and reserve a date, email My studio is in Lynchburg Virginia and there are terrific Bed and Breakfasts nearby for lodging.

The picture is of the most recent class's dye jobs -- all colorful and vibrant, and one black skein of Licorice Twist (which will become part of a Halloween stocking).

Monday, August 28, 2006

Felting Yarn at a Good Price

I have in stock about 40 pounds of a bulky yarn that felts very well. Cestari Fine Merino, Babies Breath comes in 4 oz skeins of about 210 yards each. Cost: $10 per skein.

This is a good price to try out some new skills. This yarn is good enough to give you a nice finished yarn -- if your experiments turn out well! -- but not prohibitively expensive.

It is listed on the SPECIALS page of the website. To order, just email me and tell me how many skeins you'd like. I will invoice you through PayPal and ship when your payment clears. Easy!

Good for felting, hats, Kool Aid dyeing, acid and natural dye experiments, warm wraps/scarves. This is a good deal.

Sunday, August 27, 2006

Pricing Hand Knit Items

A friend who has been in the retail end of the yarn business for years recently reminded me of the formula for pricing handknit items.

Cost of materials plus $0.15 x number of yards = Cost of Hand Knit Items.

Friday, August 18, 2006

Aran Sweater Yarns

Today a customer wrote that she is about to begin an Aran sweater, and wanted me to help her decide if Andee or Montana would be a better choice. Her concerns were that the yarn be smooth enough to make good cables and that it feel soft against the skin.

My answer: Montana will probably make a nicer cable. It is a firm three-ply in a very round yarn, which always makes better cables. It is a soft Merino and will probably knit up into a good Aran Sweater.

My suggestion: Blue Faced Leicester ARAN. This is the very yarn that is used in the British Isles for Aran sweaters. It is a three-ply, nice and round. When I first saw it, I thought that it was a little big for an Aran sweater, but it has some stretch to the fiber and knits up into a truly nice fabric. It also makes cables that have definition.

Saturday, August 05, 2006

Bulky Blue Faced Leicester

A new yarn has arrived from England, a bulky BFL in two-ply. Interesting, fluffy, and definitely bulky at around 560 yards per pound. This yarn is wound onto half-kilo cones, which is just a touch more than one pound, and sells for $40 per cone. I've been needing a bulky yarn and I think that the BFL will be a good one. Yes, it is bit more expensive than merino, but not out of sight, and it is Blue Faced Leicester after all, a rare breed.

Soon a picture and description will go on the website. First I will list it on the SPECIALS page while waiting for my webmaster to post it on the HOME page and integrate it into the website.

Sunday, July 23, 2006

Louet Gems Pearl in Stock!

I am carrying a new yarn, the Louet Gems Pearl. What a soft yarn this is. It is 100% SuperFine merino in superwash. My first concern is landing a great sock yarn, since I am trying to put together the best line of undyed sock yarns out there. This yarn is perfect for socks, and I'll probably use a size 2 in the 12" circular Addi Turbos which I favor. I can also see this as a perfect weight for shawls. Baby clothes and fine sweaters will be nice in it too.

My first shipment is in skeins only of 8 oz and 1 pound. Actually, they each weigh in at over 8 oz and 16 oz since they were wound off of a kilo measurement, but for argument's sake I'll stick with the ounces rather than grams measurements. This is consistent with the measurements of my other yarns on the website.

Yardage: 8 oz skeins have at least 795 yards, and the pound has at least 1,590 yards.

Before I decided on taking on the Louet Gems I browsed several blogs on the Internet and found nothing but compliments for it. Some people came out and said it was their favorite yarn to dye, others their favorite sock yarn. So, I am feeling confident that this will be a good addition to my sock yarns and fingering weight yarns.

Over the summer I am trying to locate and buy stock of some good new sock yarns for Wool2Dye4. At the same time, the website is being updated so the Louet Gems is not yet posted in the permanent lineup. It is, however, found on the SPECIALS page of the website. Also, it's mentioned in the crawl across the HOME page.

I expect to introduce two other sock yarns within the next month, also. I am having fun finding these yarns, meeting new people -- reps, spinners, etc. -- and finding space for the new shipments in the studio!

Sample? Send me an email and I'll get out a good sized sample to you.

Tuesday, July 18, 2006

... And the Winner is .....

... BFL Ultra. This was submitted by my husband, and he is not interested in a pound of yarn! SO ... the runner up is Susan Grogan. Susan? If you read this, please contact me and I will send you a pound of BFL yarn.

Actually, I'll send you a pound of the current BFL Special Purchase (which, if you've read previous posts, was supposed to be my big new exclusive, but which was not quite the yarn I am looking for) ... and when the actual sock yarn comes in, I will send you a pound of the real thing.

Thank you for the 65+ name suggestions sent in by readers, some to my personal email address. I loved Susan's suggestion: her group calls BFL by the name of 'Biffle' and it has a nice ring to it. I decided on BFL Ultra for marketing reasons. Currently my best selling sock yarns are Wool2Dye4 SuperSock and Kona Fingering. The new yarn, once it is approved and spun, will go in this lineup, and I wanted something to set it apart which was suggestive of my other exclusive yarn. I think that BFL Ultra will be a good companion to Wool2Dye4 SuperSock.

Thursday, July 06, 2006

BFL Special Purchase Pix ...........

Please click on the image to see more detail of the yarns.

I am happy that the unique luster of Blue Faced Leicester comes through in these photos. The white is the BFL Special Purchase as it comes. The dark Green was an experiment with overdyeing three colors with the open dyepot method. The fibers bloomed the most of the three experiments. The multi-colored skein, right side, was a combination of open dyepot and steamed package. I wound up a ball and dyed the bottom half with Mahogany as it sat on a vegetable steamer in the dyepot, then skeined it when dried, rewet it, and dribbled Colonial Blue and Fuschia over about 80% of the white space. This was oversprayed with white vinegar, wrapped, and steamed. The fibers bloomed nicely, but not as much as with the first experiment. The orange wound ball and knit sample is my Kool-Aid (mango) experiment. Again, I left some white space, and oversprayed with white vinegar
before 2 sessions of 2 minutes in a plastic covered dish.
The fibers opened very well with the Kool-Aid.

Reviewer's Comments

Below are some of the comments received from customers who reviewed the Special Purchase BFL yarn. This is the one I had hoped would be my BFL exclusive sock yarn. It has wonderful qualities -- one weaver says it is good for warp, people are knitting socks with it, scarves, shawls. It would be wonderful for a fine sweater. Many, many uses for this beautiful yarn. I wanted to share some of the reviewers' comments:

"The yarn is gorgeous, a really nice drapey hand and lovely luster, *however* (this comes from my experience knitting with my handspun) I would definitely add more twist to this, especially for socks. "

"Even though the staple is fairly long - 3-4" is what I pulled out, to make socks that won't wear out I'd have to knit these on a 000 or 0000. I think this is more a laceweight than sockweight yarn."

"Originally, I started knitting a swatch with #2's, but the fiber didn't seem dense enough - I'm going to make anklets out of the yarn and didn't feel as though they'd be sturdy enough - so I switched to #1's. They seem perfectly suited to this yarn and it's final intended purpose. I'm getting right at eight stitches per inch. I'm convinced that this yarn would lend itself well to a variety of stick sizes depending on the look and final outcome desired.Only semi non positive thing I can say about it, is that it splits a bit while it's being knit - but c'mon, it's a three ply, very fine yarn that's essentially being knit with toothpicks! It's feels so nice to knit with, that I'm completely willing to overlook the splitting, and just be more careful - this probably wouldn't be a problem if I were using larger needles for an open lace pattern."

"I started my socks on #2 needles also and was not pleased, but am VERY happy with them on #1 needles. I really like the yarn it is so soft and beautiful, feels wonderful. ... I'm loving this yarn the more I knit the more I'm loving it."

"After dyeing, I washed in wool wash and then soaked in a rinse bath with a teeny bit of hair conditioner mixed in to give the yarn a little more softness. It came out feeling almost as soft as the merino superwash from Henry's Attic, but not quite. That coupled with the (in my opinion) slightly too-loose ply would make me think twice about using it instead of the merino, and the price difference would definitely be the clincher."

"I was a little concerned initially because of the looseness of the twist. Once it was soaked for a few hours in warm water and vinegar, it began to bloom a bit. As I was dyeing it, using acid wash dyes, it was apparent that it was going to take and hold the color really well. I wanted to try doing a variegation of a color, working with my Mayan Sunshine colorway. It goes from an almost tinted white to a deep golden yellow. The colors held without too much wicking or traveling of colors.
Once it was dyed and the colors were set, it took a couple of days to dry in this Boston rain and humidity. Once it was dry? This is one of the softest yarns! It has such a nice soft hand, and it drapes nicely in the skein. ... When it came time to knit a swatch, I found it best FOR ME to use a US #3 needle. (I broke a pair of US #0 while casting on… man-hands I guess.) It knitted up nicely, and very uniformly. I still felt that the twist could be a little tighter. I ran into a bit of separating of the plies while working with it. I really had to pay attention to what I was doing."

" initial critique of the BFL yarn still stands -- takes the colors very well and retains them well, but the loose ply is a real downfall. I knitted a little swatch and it does knit up well, but when touch-knitting the needles tend to split the yarn a little. I have to keep one eye on it or I end up with lots of split stitches. I will say that I'm a beginner at touch-knitting so we should take that into consideration. ... I do think it has a nice hand and it's fairly stretchy once it is knitted up. It will make nice, comfy socks, so all in all I'd say on a scale of 1 to 10, it would rate about 7 or 8, so I think it's a pretty good sock yarn."

"...and I'm going to alert my yarn-dyeing addicted-to-knitting-socks friend that she should get her checkbook ready. Splitting shouldn't be a problem for her, particularly if she knows that it's an issue. Wouldn't be an issue for me either. I use sockweight for lace shawls all the time, but I don't dye (yet). I may have to start though!"

Wednesday, July 05, 2006

Contest ends for Name-That-Yarn!

The date for submissions to the Name-That-Yarn has come and gone, and I thank everyone for their suggestions. I have not settled on a name, but want to get a little news out there. The winner and runner-up will each receive cones of the newly named yarn, as described earlier. BUT the yarn I have is not quite the one I want to promote and sell as my exclusive BFL superwash sock yarn. Here's what I've decided to do:

I will send a cone of this lovely current yarn to the winner and to the runner-up, and when I have accepted the newly manufactured BFL superwash sock yarn, I will send them each a cone of that yarn. That yarn will bear the name chosen.

This current shipment is going to be sold off at discount:
$35 for one-pound cone
$18 for 8-ounce skein

Email me if you want this special yarn. This is a one-time shipment and I only have 120 pounds of it. The skeins should be ready in two weeks, but if you want skeins, let me know now.

I always envisioned using the blog to tell customers about new products and events that affect Wool2Dye4. Now, let's hope this will get the word out about this Special Purchase.

Special Purchase - BFL sock weight

I have decided to sell off the first shipment of the Blue Faced Leicester sock weight at a sale price. It is a nice yarn, it is lovely wonderful BFL, it is the right weight for a sock yarn ... but I want a little more twist in the new sock yarn. So ... this first shipment will go on sale at the following prices:

1-lb cone .......... $35.
8-oz skein ...............$ 18.
It is important to have the first BFL sock yarn manufactured just right -- the right number of plies, a firm but not tight twist to the yarn, and, of course, to be superwash. This yarn has all the right stuff except that the twist is just a little too loose. It does, however, plump up very nice and round when it is dyed and washed.
This is the yarn I had hoped would be the newest in my BFL yarns, and I have an exclusive on the yarn in the United States. The next batch is being manufactured to my new specifications, and I hope it will be the one that gets a name.
So, bear with me, and take advantage of this sale price early. I have only 120 pounds of it (60 lbs in cones, 60 lbs in skeins). E-mail me to order it.

Wednesday, June 21, 2006

BFL Sock Yarn Experiment ... by Vickie

Vickie used Kool-Aid in her experiment with the new Blue Faced Leicester sock yarn. Here is her explanation: "I soaked for 20 minutes in Eucalan water. Put in a microwave bowl with 2 lime green kool aid and then sprinkled a third over the yarn. Took out and splashed with Berry Blue kool aid and salt, I actually made a liquid with my Berry Blue and sprinkled on. Then I microwaved 2 times for 2 minutes and then washed in Eucalan." Nice! So nice!

BFL Sock Yarn Experiment ... by Patrice

I have a Yarn Review Board and each member has received a skein of the new BFL Sock Yarn (as yet unnamed) to work with and give me feedback. At this early stage of the game, I will be able to make changes in the manufacturing process. This as-yet-unnamed-BFL-3-Ply-Superwash-fingering-weight yarn is exclusive to Wool2Dye4.

Here is Patrice's experiment: She used Paas egg dye (2 pills) in 1/2 cup vinegar and 1 cup water, then microwaved it for three 2-minute intervals, let it cool and washed in Eucalan. Patrice soaked the yarn for 30 minutes before dyeing, adding 'a glug' of dish soap to the soaking water. After rinsing in Eucalan, she rinsed the skein briefly.

Tuesday, June 20, 2006

As-Yet-Unnamed BFL Sock Yarn

Here is a shot of my first experiment -- quick dyed with Kool Aid. I used Mango, leaving about 25% white space on the pre-soaked yarn and sprinkled dry Raspberry powder over it, patting here and there while I flipped the skein around to get good coverage. The yarn used in the shawl in the background was done the same way, but with acid dyes. (It is Kona Superwash and the pattern is Charlotte's Web.)

I found a source to skein up the BFL sock yarn and will take cones to a farm in the western Shenandoah Valley at the end of the week. Another opportunity to meet a new fiber person.

Thursday, June 15, 2006

New Yarn is Here Early!

Today the shipment of the As-Yet-Unnamed-Blue-Faced-Leicester yarn arrived! My first impression was 'soft!' and my second impression was 'there's a lot of yarn here!' (That's what makes my little business fun.)

It is a three ply in superwash, and the Blue Faced Leicester wool makes it so soft, but the twist of the plies also adds to the airy, light look. This is a lightly twisted yarn and I think it will knit up beautifully. I will be doing a few experiments on it in the next two days.

It comes in cones of a little more than one pound (half-kilo cones), with 2,000 yards prox. to the pound. Actually, there is a little more. Using two counting methods, I measured out five skeins of 400 yards, and there were about 70 yards left over, but I am going to advertise it as 2,000 yards per pound to be safe.

Cost: $45 per cone.
Soon it will be skeined into 8 oz (1,000 yard) skeins ... but not yet.

Sunday, June 11, 2006

Name That Yarn! Contest

I need some help naming a new yarn that will be coming around the end of June. This yarn is exclusive to Wool2Dye4 and comes from England and the Blue Faced Leicester folks from whom we import the three BFL yarns and roving.

Description: Blue Faced Leicester, 3-ply yarn in a superwash sock weight.

Here are the rules:
1. Suggest a name for this new yarn by June 30.
2. Submit your name on this blog. This way others can see your ideas.
3. If chosen, you will receive the very first shipment of this new sock weight yarn in a one-pound cone. Value: $45

I'll give you the names I am already thinking of ...
Wool2Dye4 BFL SuperSock
Wool2Dye4 Wee Woolie
BF Super Wee Woolie

OK, OK. They're not so great! That's why I need some help!

Thursday, June 08, 2006

Kool-Aid Instructions

I have added an item on the SPECIALS page ... Instructions for Dyeing with Kool-Aid. This is a three-page set of instructions and suggestions for taking off into your imagination, a great starting off point. If you are new to dyeing yarn or fibers with Kool-Aid, this is a good place to get started.

E-mail me to order. (
Cost: $3.00.

New Pages are now Active

This week there are some changes on the website, and there is one more to come. First, I'll tell you about the coming change which is to introduce a true e-commerce element to the payment mechanism of the site. This means that later this summer there will be a shopping cart which can be updated as you choose your yarns. Payment will be made by credit card and shipping will be calculated by weight.

For the customer, it will soon be easier to review your shopping cart and to change your mind without being routed to PayPal to pay. Right now, customers are taken away from my website when it is time to pay, and as the business owner, I don't want you to be taken away from my site! Also, if you are not a PayPal member, you will not be forced to sign up just to buy my yarn. PayPal will still be available for those who choose to use it.

For me, handling incoming orders will be simplified considerably and I will be able to generate reports to help me run my business better. So! Easier for you and easier for me! Sounds like an act of efficiency to me.

But, I digress. I was going to tell you about the current changes on the site. There are now pages for my newest BLUE FACED LEICESTER yarns and for KAREN ALFKE's UNPATTERNS. Now, you can click a couple of places on the HOME page to get to a page where you see the sock yarns -- which are very popular -- as well as the BLUE FACED LEICESTER.

In an earlier blog post I listed the yarns which are being discontinued: Big Ben, Cuddles, Newport, Noko Bonjour, Silk & Ivory (new name 'Carrera'), Toaga, and Twirly. These yarns have been moved to the SPECIALS page, and I still have stock of all except the Silk & Ivory/Carrera. That one is sold out, but is always available by special order.

In late summer, two new Blue Faced Leicester yarns will be posted -- a true bulky yarn in this soft, luxurious yarn and a new sock yarn! Just to tantalize you sock knitters a bit, I'll give you a preview. The new Blue Faced Leicester Sock Yarn is a three-ply in superwash BFL. I expect lots of interest in this one and can't wait for the shipment to come in. BUT I get ahead of myself. This yarn is an exclusive for Wool2Dye4 and is being milled and spun for exclusive distribution in the States.

I must ask you to help me catch any mistakes on the site as the new pages are integrated. If you find anything that doesn't work or give you the information you need, please e-mail me immediately. As always, I thank you for your wonderful support and kind words for Wool2Dye4.

New Look on the Website

This week there are some changes on the website, and there is one more to come. First, I'll tell you about the coming change which is to introduce a true e-commerce element to the payment mechanism of the site. This means that there will be a shopping cart, which can be updated as you make your decisions about which yarns you want. Payment will be made by credit card and shipping calculated by weight.

For the customer, it means that it will be easier to review your shopping card and to change your mind. Right now, customers are taken away from my website when it is time to pay, and as the business owner, I don't want you to be taken away from my site! Also, if you are not a PayPal member you will not be forced to sign up just to buy my yarn. PayPal will still be available for those who choose to use it.

From my end, things will be simplified considerably and I will be able to generate reports to help me run my business better. So! Easier for you and easier for me! Sounds like an act of efficiency to me.

But, I was going to tell you about the current changes on the site. There are now pages for my newest BLUE FACED LEICESTER yarns and for KAREN ALFKE's UNPATTERNS. Now, you can click a couple of places on the HOME page to get to a page where you will see the sock yarns, which are very popular, as well as the BLUE FACED LEICESTER.

In an earlier blog post I listed the yarns which are being discontinued: Big Ben, Cuddles, Newport, Noko Bonjour, Silk & Ivory (new name 'Carrera'), Toaga, and Twirly. These yarns have been moved to the SPECIALS page, and I still have stock of all except the Silk & Ivory/Carrera. That one is sold out, but is always available by special order.

In late summer, two new Blue Faced Leicester yarns will be posted -- a true bulky yarn in this soft, luxurious yarn and a new sock yarn! Just to tantalize you sock knitters a bit, I'll give you a preview. The new Blue Faced Leicester Sock Yarn is a three-ply in superwash BFL. I expect lots of interest in this one and can't wait for the shipment to come in. BUT I get ahead of myself. This yarn is an exclusive for Wool2Dye4 and is being milled and spun for exclusive distribution in the

Monday, May 29, 2006

Twist on Wool2Dye4 SuperSock

In this recent shipment of Wool2Dye4 SuperSock, some of the skeins look quite curly. A few customers have written to me asking if this 'twist' will interfere with the dye process. The answer is that the extra curls go away once the yarn is soaked, and there is not actual twist added to the yarn.

One of the advantages we all love about sheep wool is that the fiber is a wonderful water repellant. It stands to reason, then, that in order to manipulate the fibers and to prepare them best to receive dye pigment, we must break through that natural repellant. The way to do this is a good long soak. Use warm, not hot, water and soak your yarn for several hours. This allows the fibers to relax and absorb water, and as the fibers begin to accept water through that lanolin barrier, they begin to 'bloom' and fluff up. Some people even soak it overnight; I usually soak for four hours minimum. I put in a batch in the morning, go about my business for the morning, and after lunch I settle down and get lost in the colors and the smell of wet wool.

If you receive one of these skeins from me, or from any source, all you have to do is put your hands into the skein and give it a little pop-pop outwards. You will see that these little curls straighten out. Once wet, dyed, and steamed, they go away entirely. But if you do not prepare your fibers well, if you rush through the soaking process, the little fiber barriers that are covered with lanolin will win over all your efforts.

I am always amazed at the difference between yarn wound on a cone, and that same yarn after the dye process. I'll attach a picture of Pony 2-ply which really bloomed after an all-day soak. Don't skimp on the soaking time, thinking that the chemicals of the dyes and the heat of the dyebath will get through the natural lanolin barrier on the fibers. The very best advice I can offer from my own experiments is to soak your yarn for four hours minimum.

Teri Persing's Glass Buttons

Recently I sent a glass button to several customers who had been on backorder, waiting patiently for Wool2Dye4 SuperSock to come back into stock. These buttons are the work of Teri Persing, and I wanted to give her credit for her work. Many customers have written to tell me that the button inspired them to create a fabric to showcase the color and luminosity of the glass. Here is where you can find Teri's work:

Friday, May 26, 2006

Wool2Dye4 SuperSock in Stock!

Whew! At last the Wool2Dye4 SuperSock is in stock again, and a welcome sight it is. I filled half of the backorders yesterday and will complete them today. My thanks to my loyal customers who have waited calmly, and to my new customers as well.

Back to work here! There are orders to fill!

Tuesday, May 23, 2006

SuperSock This Week

The wait for the Wool2Dye4 SuperSock has not taught me any lessons in patience, sadly. It has been all I could do to control myself and not pester the supplier, but to learn to wait, instead. Actually, I have done a little pestering within the past few days. After the first call, I was excited to hear that the mill had my order ready to process. I just learned that my order is being shipped today and had been delayed because of the skeining process. So, the bad news is that this yarn is delayed two more days, and the good news is that it is actually being shipped to me today. It should arrive Thursday or Friday, and I can immediately begin to fill the backorders from my customers who have shown more patience than I have.

I know that yarn is not one of the necessities in life, though some of my customers would be hard put to admit this. I know we don't need our yarn; we just want it.

During the wait to stock the Wool2Dye4 SuperSock again, I have been surprised at my customers' reactions. Some were involved in the recent Dye-O-Rama yarn swap and did have a deadline. Some just wanted their sock yarn! Others were fairly laid back about the entire thing. I wrote a note to everyone -- and that was a lot of people -- offering the subsitute of Kona Fingering for the Wool2Dye4 SuperSock. Most people took me up on the substitution; several chose Kona Superwash instead. Of those who took the subtitution, several wrote back to say that the Kona Fingering was just a bit too thin for their sock knitting preference. Many had been knitting with the SuperSock and immediately put in a backorder and chose to wait for the stock replenishment.

The recent internet swaps may have introduced sock knitting to many knitters, some of them new knitters. People wrote asking my advice on the yarn they should choose, which is always a difficult question to answer. There are so many possibilities and combinations of yarn with needles, pattern with knitting experience, etc. that I can only tell them what I've got, how people use it, and leave the decision up to them. Over the past three weeks, I wound up with several dissatisfied customers. During this time, three people wanted to trade their yarn, something that has never happened before and is a little awkward for me. I know how I protect the yarn while it is in my care, but I don't know what happens to it on the other end.

I can't make everyone happy, I know that. It's just that I have been pretty successful at making my customers happy until this stock thing hit me. We Southerners do not like to be the cause of inconvenience or to make waves, and being a true Southerner at heart, I have been uncomfortable with the wait.

Friday, May 19, 2006

The Studio is Almost Ready

At last the carpenter has left, my helper is not around -- I love her, but man! this teenager talks all day long! -- and I have some cleared out space in the studio. Weeks of remodelling, waiting, moving/sorting/discarding/organizing my 'stuff',' left me a little frazzled. Today all has been quiet and truly enjoyable.

Of course, I did have a visit from the satellite TV guy who charged me $75 to push one button on the remote control and get all the settings back to normal. My little helper, evidently, was searching for something other than my New Age background music on the satellite stations. There are just some things you don't think you have to teach people, and messing with the remote is one of them. Can you tell that I did not have children?

I am looking at a nice big bin that awaits the shipment of Wool2Dye4 SuperSock. It's empty now, but by Wednesday, it will be filled to overflowing with 100 pounds of my favorite sock yarn. The loom now has a place of its own with lots of room to move around it and from any angle. The dyeing area is organized. What? I think I hear it calling my name? Oh, yes! I miss getting lost in the smell of wet yarn, the excitement of swirling colors together in a mad experiment, the thrill of the moment when color hits fiber, even the wait is pure anticipation. But, the perfect moment is the great unveiling. That's just about the most fun a person could ask for.

Perhaps this weekend I will do a couple of skeins of the new Kona Fingering, and then next week will repeat my version of Koigu, the Sheila-do!

I've been thinking about writing to the magazine that published the Strong Heel one page article to see if they will allow me to write up my simplified version in my blog. My version has no engineering schematics, but is just plain talk about how to knit a no-flap heel. Once I got the hang of it (that would be Sock #2 of the first pair), I have never done the flap-and-pickup routine again. Next month I'm going to Carodan Farm's SoXperience and will take a class on the Turkish toe-up method, so the problem becomes how to work the No Flap Heel from the bottom up. Everytime I try to imagine it, my thought processes get fuzzy, so this tells me I need to pick up a pencil and grab a notebook the next time I devote some mental energy to the bottom-up No Flap Heel. The picture shows the heel, and on this one I did the little s-1, k1 for a heel stitch. The turned part is just short rows. The yarn is Wool2Dye4 SuperSock.

Actually, this heel has been around a long time, but Gerdine Strong wrote a beautiful explanation a couple of years ago. (can't recall the issue, but when I Google 'Strong Heel Sock' the magazine and issue date come up) It is so logical and it is really beautiful. Everytime I do it, I feel like I have completed a mini-engineering project! Last weekend I taught two women to do this flapless / continuous heel, and they are now converts, as well. If I can get permission from the magazine, I will post my version of the directions. I don't want to get into any copyright trouble with a magazine where I advertise. That's not very good form.

Thursday, May 18, 2006

Dropping a Couple of Yarns

My webmaster is working up some changes for the website -- adding pages for the new Blue Faced Leicester that I am now importing, adding a page of Karen Alfke's Unpatterns, making it easier to see the variety of sock yarns I carry, and changing the payment mechanism to a true e-commerce site. Big changes, all!

Now is the time for me to review the popularity of all of the yarns and to decide if I want to try to hold stock of some of the ones that do not move very well. Here are the stock changes coming up:

Dropping from Stocked Yarns:
Silk & Ivory ... new name is Carrera ... (silk & wool blend)
Newport (cotton)
Noko Bonjour (cotton)
Toaga (mohair)
Twirly (cotton)
Big Ben II (mohair)
Cuddles (alpaca & wool)

Adding to Stocked Yarns:
Bolero II
Blue Faced Leicester 2-Sport
Blue Faced Leicester 3-Aran (worsted weight)
Blue Faced Leicester 4-DK
Kona Fingering

Of course, the yarns on the drop list will always be available by special order, but I think it's wise for me not to try to hold stock of them now. What is happening is that the website is becoming known as a source for undyed sock yarns -- which is exactly what I had in mind when I started the site! So, this move is going back to the original concept and I think it's the right thing for me.

The Dropped Yarns will appear on the Specials page of the site until they are sold out.

Tuesday, May 16, 2006

The Wait for Wool2Dye4 SuperSock is over!

Whew! I just got the news that the sock yarn is 'on the truck' and on it's way to the mill warehouse. This stock situation has been a nightmare, really, with two yarn swaps going on just now. I have been offering each customer a substitution of the new Kona Fingering for the Wool2Dye4 SuperSock. Most have taken it, which was good for those who were on a schedule. Several customers have opted to wait -- patient souls, they! -- and I will be so glad to fill their orders.

I think I'll put a little gift into their package when I ship. One of my customers and I did a little trade of wool for her hand blown glass buttons. What beautiful work!

This morning someone wrote that they like the Wool2Dye4 SuperSock because it is so very similar to Koigu, and that's true. A couple of months ago, I saw a new shipment of Koigu in new colorways, and almost raced home to see if I could duplicate the effects. Evidently I was fairly successful because people ask me, 'Is that Koigu?' My answer is, 'No, it's Sheilado.'

I played around with a couple of methods, but this is the best way I found to duplicate that wonderful Koigu look. With my dampened skein spread out, I sprayed a weak acid dye solution over all, patting and turning so there was no real concentration of color and some white wool was visible. Then, with a flat pouncing brush, I flicked dry acid dye powder over the skein. Here I also turned the yarn over several times so there was good coverage. A spray of white vinegar and then into the steamer for 40 minutes, cool, rinse in tepid water and then in Eucalan, and a spin in a lingerie bag tossed into the washing machine (water taps off). Beautiful!

Using some of the blended colors (not primary or pure dye powder) can often yield interesting and unexpected results, and that is just what happened with the Seabreeze / turquoise I used. There were little flecks of blue, yellow, red and brown in the mix and since it was so lightly applied, the dry powder had a chance to explode into the dampness of it's little tiny area where it landed and show its true color.

Time flies by when I am working with color.

Saturday, May 13, 2006

Knitting and Memories of Punch

Today, Saturday, I am driving home to join a group of knitters who meet monthly in the country church where I grew up, Hillsboro Baptist Church in Yancey Mills, Virginia. That's in the foothills of the Blue Ridge Mountains between Charlottesville (historic, beautiful, cosmopolitan) and Waynesboro (a small town which has managed to hold on to its charm, just over the mountain in the Shenandoah Valley). For me, that drive is like going to a massage therapist who works out all the kinks in the shoulders and neck and leaves you feeling wonderfully relaxed.

It's a sweet simple little village with ten houses, a church, and a small lumber mill ... owned by the Yancey family, hence, Yancey Mills. There used to be a small grocery store there, too, which my dad owned and where he fed folks who were a little down on their luck. Every summer during the 50's he would come up with a new project. One summer he built picnic tables and sold them by the side of the road. Another year it was bird houses. He often had a fruit stand and my older sisters worked selling peaches from my grandfather's orchard among the ever present bees and the sweet pungency of ripening peaches.

The church has been modernized and most of the people I knit with are from families that I did not know growing up. I guess we all go there for different reasons; I know that the knitting group is sponsored by the church and they even feed us lunch! For me, it is the chance to go back in time for a few hours. There's a smell of polished wood and old musty hymnals, a familiar sound of 150 year old wood floors settling. I played under those trees as a girl, I rode my bike around the driveway and stopped to look at the mountain just behind the church and the farms on the rolling hills at the foot of the mountain. Now, one of those farms is a golf course, but when I was little, it was an old fashioned four-up, four-down solid clapboard farmhouse and the daughter of a slave lived there with the family. She had been left at their doorstep, literally! when the slaves were freed and disappeared, looking for a better life, or, at least, a different one. Her name was Punch, and she always sat by herself in a pew up front, dressed impeccably every Sunday, always in a carefully brushed forest green felt hat.

I remember in the 60's the church had a meeting one Sunday to talk about integration. The pro's and con's flew back and forth, and finally someone piped up and called out, "Well, what about Punch?" There was a shocked moment of silence as the thought of Punch being actually black settled in, then the leader said, "Punch is one of us." Punch was at that meeting, and I remember afterwards as everyone filed out, she stood under the tree out front and watched the groups talking. People came up to her that day and hugged her and she was so gracious and regal. I'll never forget Punch standing under that tree in her felt hat. She was a true lady. For the first time, it occurs to me as I write to wonder what Punch was thinking that warm summer day.

That's where I'm going today to knit. This group is just learning to knit socks, so I'm taking along some of the dyed skeins of Wool2Dye4 SuperSock, left over from the Spring Fiber Festival, and will wind up a couple of skeins of dyed Kona SuperWash for those who are not used to knitting on smaller needles. I haven't had time yet to dye any Kona Fingering, and am looking forward to that. Some of these knitters are interested in learning to dye with Kool Aid, so one of these days, we'll do that. Next month on their scheduled meet, I'm giving a Kool Aid dye session to another group, off in the opposite direction towards Roanoke, VA. But, that's another beautiful ride, and another set of memories from a different stage of life.