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.