Wednesday, December 31, 2008
Not much as really changed since those simple days when I lived in the country and invented my own entertainment. I'm just a little older and, well, some bigger. Now that 'bigger' part does come to mind for needing resolutions, and actually, this year when I had my annual heart checkup, I asked my doctor if there was anything he could prescribe which would make me get up and start moving around. Before I knew it, a nurse had me on the phone asking if I liked to swim or do Pilates, and before the conversation was over, I had committed to three months of exercise, whether I liked it or not. He's pretty good, isn't he? He acted swiftly and with determination, and I could hardly say 'no, I don't like to swim in the winter time!' because too many people already knew that I need to get up and move, so I would just shame myself, really, if I acted churlish about swimming in the winter time. And, I knew it. I heard my own voice starting to protest, and then just shut up. Nope. I am going to do the program and come out of it in three months' time having done more exercise than knit and type!
So, an improvement in health was not on my resolution list at all. What I like to think up as a sort of resolution is a new skill or hobby. Like the year I decided I was going to learn to weave. I went into it full throttle, just as I have always done with a new game/toy/hobby, and signed up for a weeklong class and bought one of the studio's used looms at the end of the week. For at least a year I tried to be a weaver. I loved the actual weaving part where you toss the shuttle back and forth and stomp on the pedals and watch the fabric form in front of your eyes, thread by thread, literally. What I hated was warping the loom. To me it was tedious and boring. I just never got the art of warping down, and I gave it a good try. One day last year, I woke up and with great clarity declared, 'I am not a weaver.' For a week I tried to sell my loom, and then had it moved upstairs to the attic, half-dressed with a warp. The decision was made, but I decided to keep my membership in the weaving guild because I had met some very interesting people there. Admitting that I am not a weaver, did not dampen my enthusiasm for hand-woven fabric at all. All my life I have been a collector of hand-woven fabric. The only regret about leaving the loom behind is that I never achieved my goal of creating a stack of dishtowels to serve me for years into the future. I'll just have to buy them and appreciate the hand work of others.
Last year I declared openly on the Internet that 2008 would be the year of the cable for me. I didn't do many cables, I admit. OK, I did some but never an intricate Aran sweater, or a sidewise hat band, or even cabled wristwarmers. I did a couple of sweaters with a cable running the sleeves and down the front. Cables fall close to warping the loom in my mind. Moving stitches to that tiny needle and then balancing that little thing while you do something else ... well, that's just irritating to me. But, I did some cables here and there, and they were nice looking and even, too. So, in a sense, I did cables. I am just not emerging from 2008 with a pile of intricate sweaters.
For the coming year, I've got several projects going already. For one thing, I want to knit the samples for my new website, using the beautiful handdyed yarns which are beginning to come into stock. Maybe I won't knit all of them. Well, OK, I know I will not knit all of the samples for the site because I've already farmed out one lovely silk shawl and it's finished and lying just where I can see it as I type today. And, yesterday I doled out pattern, yarn, needles to a mother-and-daughter team of test knitters. There will be lots and lots more samples to be knit, and I want to be right in there knitting my share of them. So, I declare that sample knitting is on my 2009 resolution list.
Actually, that sounds like a lot of work, now that I think of it, so I am going to quit here and not add a thing to my list. Yes, this feels right. Besides, I know there will be more projects to come up, trips .. like the one to the new Stitches South in late April, and maybe to TNNA this year ... and there will also be those small events I put on for Virginia knitters on the Circular Sock Machines, and then I've got the baby hat project going for the new social services baby clinic. So, I think I'll limit my list to one item, Sample Knitting for new website, so that I can have time left over to play!
What's on your resolution list?
Monday, December 29, 2008
Saturday, December 27, 2008
Friday, December 26, 2008
This morning she called back, the day after Christmas -- pretty good timing as I think about making gifts -- and she was thrilled with the idea. I am their first donor! She told me that they have just opened up a pre-natal care clinic and my baby hats will be very welcome, but could I make them in bright colors, and also, bigger than many of the hospital caps that fit a child only for a short time? This set me to stuttering, as I have not actually made any of these caps yet! But, my sock machine does have three different sized cylinders, and I have oiled up that tension screw where it now makes a difference, so I gamely promised that sure! I'd be glad to make up some samples and drop them by.
So, today I am off to JoAnn's Fabric where I will get some acrylic blend suitable for baby hats. My Ravelry friend recommended Baby Jacquart by Bernat, so I'll begin my samples with that yarn. I will definitely take pictures of the samples before I deliver them.
There are so many people who could use a nice baby hat right now, or a wool cap or scarf or an old sweater or some shoes. Yesterday afternoon we gathered sweaters and shoes up and today my husband is taking them to GoodWill, here in our town. Unbelievably, they are laying off some workers because donations have become scarce. When I think about how lucky I am to be safe and comfortable, then I feel this need to give a little more. I am sure my knitting customers have done this many times over the years, and know that tranquility that comes when you are knitting for a purpose.
So, I will keep my readers posted on the progress of my new private charity project. Maybe you can come up with one of your own, and make a small difference for someone near you.
Thursday, December 18, 2008
I've experienced Wait-and-See many times in my lifetime, though friends and family would be surprised to hear me admit it. My personality is fairly strong, and my mind is always going, going, going. I am never bored. I am a good friend and listener. I am able to weigh pros and cons well, and I can read a person's character like a book very soon after meeting them. This last talent does not always serve me well, as I then have to bite my tongue and refuse to allow the words 'Uh, huh, didn't I warn you?' pass my lips.
Luckily, over the years I have learned exactly that there is a good time to Wait-and-See, and it's when others need to learn a lesson. Like the guy who sounds too good to be true? Yes, it did sound too good, and it wasn't true.
I may be able to spot trouble for others with a clear mind, but when it comes to predicting my own pitfalls, I'm not so good there. Part of my problem, I do believe, is that I am from the South. Hold on, hold on. I know it sounds like a cop-out, but if you are not from the South, you may not realize that we are taught from birth not to present difficulties for others, which explains why we are well-known for our gracious Southern manners and generosity. Don't get me wrong. We do mean to be generous and to make life easier for others, but sometimes that translates into the private conviction that we really should not speak up when another part of our self-preservation impulse is telling us to not only speak up, but be counted.
So, here is the problem. When we speak up, are we going to make another person uncomfortable? After all, this is at the heart of being a gentleman or a gentlewoman, isn't it? Who said that? Aldous Huxley? Maybe, or maybe one of his colleagues, but the idea of a code of conduct to guide our behaviour is an ideal fostered by Southern mammas across a wide geographical area, and not necessarily stopping at the Mason-Dixon line. Techincally, then, Southern manners wouldn't be attributed to folks who live in the South, but we will be gracious here and extend the definition, though we might come up with a better name for it. How about just plain ole good manners? So, the definition of good manners, then, might become behavior which does not hurt others or make them uncomfortable. I declare it so.
Plain ole good manners, then, apply in all of our relationships. Family, of course, and that's a place to employ good manners as we grow up and recognize the differences in family members. Friendships, too, deserve the very best of our good intentions, especially as we cultivate friendships to span our lifetime based on similar personalities, talents or believes in common. I have one or two friends whom I have known since pre-school days, and while we are so very different, I cherish those differences and am flattered to hear from them. I guess that's why I like Christmas cards so much.
Romantic relationships can thrive or crash because of manners and how we monitor our behavior, giving the best to our closest relationships and allowing ourselves to trust our partner. And business relationships are absolutely the place for plain ole good manners, and in every single dealing between buyers and sellers, and are just as important as personal friendships. The act of doing business should spring from the honest exchange of offer and acceptance. Someone wants something and someone else has it to offer. No need to turn away and project rejection towards the person who has something to sell, or to leave a hint of an unclear message. No need to leave a lingering negative impression in a sales situation, or even the offer. No need to tell them that you don't like their product or service. Instead, tell them it is not what you need. That's it, really. Not what you are looking for.
So, that friend who is not really a friend? They're not what you need. And that lover who betrays you? Whew! That's not what you need. Thank-you, I-wish-you-well, but, it-is-not-what-I-need-right-now. Hmmm. A good mantra!
I made a decision, and it will simplify by business and immediately it calmed my mind. I am leaving my new web design folks and going back to my old web guy. I feel so calm with this decision. No, thank you. I wish you well, but I need something else just now. Southern, yes. Plain ole good manners, I believe so.
Wednesday, December 10, 2008
If you've read my blog before, you know that stamps.com is definitely not one of my favorite service providers. I almost went to war with them over unnecessary charges and their refusal to issue a refund for something like $40. So, I won't be trying their service, I can assure you. Maybe we'll launch without a postal service component in the beginning, and just go with FedEx. I don't know, I don't know what to do.
Changing your program from one you are used to, which may not be anywhere near perfect, but is familiar, is tough. The whole process of even choosing a program for your website is huge. I have often told my husband -- in answer to 'what is taking so long with the new program?' -- that if I knew more about what to look for in a program, I could install the thing myself.
That's really the problem, isn't it? Website businesses are not experts in the technical side of what program fits the needs of their individual business. If we knew more, we could shop better for the right program. I have some customers who write to me and show sympathy for my plight, and then toss in phrases like cascading style sheets, Wordpress modules, iFrames, hard code, etc. My eyes begin to glaze over.
You see, I have learned over the years to delegate the stuff that I do not understand and do not have the time to learn. And computer programming, being an entirely separate career itself, is one of those things I have been delegating since computer screens were 6-inches square and there was no such thing as Windows. Back in another life, when I started a little text-book distribution business in Los Angeles, the personal computer came into existance, and I started on my journey of searching out programs when there was very little to be found. It was the upstart, entrepreneurial phase of the personal computer, and I met lots of really fascinating computer geeks! Think of it -- nothing like directories, so all files were lumped together in one big, huge, long, never ending file. I remember the first time I had a computer -- a rented one, actually -- and I didn't even have a printer, because I couldn't figure out why I would need one! Of course, I found out quickly that I certainly did need a printer, so off to the local computer store I went to rent a printer. But, I couldn't figure out how to make the darn thing print! I looked, read the heavy manual, and did everything I could think of, until I finally made a call to someone masquerading as my first computer service guy. (He was really just a computer techie I met in the aisles of EggHead Software, a company which has since gone out of existence, but which was the playground of all of us who had purchased the first personal computers.) Anyway, for the sum of $30 he came to my tiny apartment in L.A., and punched a button and the darn thing sprang to life. That button had the word 'PRINT' on it, too! How did I miss it? I still think about that day!
Anyway, ever since that expensive lesson -- and thirty dollars was a lot of money to me -- I have hired consultants to take me beyond my own level of achievement. I've written bibliographies which were distributed by the U.S. Department of Education on my first computers. I've bought the first color printer on the market and tried my best to install it. Shoot, for that matter, I've installed the very first Sony model of an answering machine and navigated my way through 75 pages of terribly twisted English written by speakers of Japanese! I've done some computer stuff in my time! And the biggest thing I've done, is to hire others when I know I've reached my level of incompetence.
Hmmm. Who was the really smart guy who had a whole theory about what happens when we reach our level of incompetence? I cannot remember right now. I need someone to tell me.
But, back to the Post Office. So, their server must have blown up. Or something huge. I mentioned it to a customer this morning, and she must have an account with them too, because she said she'd also gotten the same letter which I received.
So, here I sit with my new program (it's Comersus, by the way) all ready and shiny new and waiting for the launch into cyberspace, and what am I waiting for? Waiting for the mail. Wow. How many times have we waited for the mail in our lives? Too many to count, and this seems like a great subject for another blog entry.
Must say that I miss writing in the blog! Checking Ravelry every day has sort of taken up what was my blog time in former days. I need to moderate that, I do believe.
The picture below is of my new line of colored yarns, which will be the signature yarn on my new website venture: UpTown Stitches. Yes, I'm launching a second website, hopefully in January, but we'll see. This yarn is called Scrumptious by FyberSpates, and is receiving rave reviews all over Europe. I'll be the U.S. distributor and cannot wait to receive stock and start getting it out there! Any pattern calling for Malibrigo or even Lion and the Lamb will be good patterns to use Scrumptious. More on that soon!
Friday, November 28, 2008
Just today, someone wrote to me about having to choose whether to spend her money on more yarn or on an electric skein winder. Well, of course, I always want folks to buy yarn! But, I know that we all have stash which would probably serve use for quite a while to come, and then some. A skein winder, on the other hand, is a major step in the right direction of handling your yarn, and I recommend checking out the nice folks at Strauch. Here's their website address:
http://www.strauchfiber.com Tell them that Sheila of Wool2Dye4 sent you. It won't get you a discount, but I like the sounds of that phrase! Reminds me of the commercials many years ago when a famous actor would look straight into the camera's eye, and say, 'Tell them that 'Johnny' sent you!' Who did those commercials, anyway?
But, back to BFL Ultra! and the new size of skeins. Yes. We already have the 100 gram skein in W2D4 Socks 2DYE4 (formerly known as Wool2Dye4 SuperSock, but you know that story ...), and in Platinum Sock, Bamboo Two-Step, and Tencel/Merino. So, when the time came to order in more BFL Ultra! skeins, I decided to toss my old idea of the 8 oz skein being the standard for handdyers, and to move into the new age! Somehow, I had gotten stuck in the 8 oz skein mode, and thought that most customers were used to that format as well. Cost is always a factor, and especially in recent times, and since the more a yarn is handled, the higher the cost goes up, I had stuck to my larger presentation skeins.
The 100 gram skein, as it turns out, is really not that much more expensive, so I went with it, and happy that I did! The 100 gram of sock yarn -- usually anybody's sock yarn -- is just about the right size to look for when you're in that uncontrollable mood to knit or dye a pair of socks.
Thursday, November 13, 2008
Most eMails are addressed to SheilaMahone@wool2Dye4.com, anyway, but if you have the old info@... address in your address book, please do change it to Yarnie@wool2dye4.com.
Wednesday, November 12, 2008
She writes: "Is an exciting new improved Christmas every year really necessary? Is it in the spirit of the Solstice? The human heart hankers after stability and tradition. The feeling and atmosphere of Christmases past, the anticipation of those to come, and the magic presence of Christmas now should all blend and blur, to give the distraught soul something to hang on to in a year bedeviled by new improved machines, soaps, music, spectator sports and recipes, many of which will prove to be dull, destructive, and sometimes downright damnable. let us try to keep at least Christmas the way it has been for generations, and infiltrate novelty delicately and with caution. As a good start why not try to abide by the comforting tradition of handmade and homemade presents?"
If you do not own at least own of Elizabeth Zimmerman's books, please treat yourself immediately! Go to www.schoolhousepress.com to find them all.
Thank you, Meg, for permission to quote your lovely mother!
Friday, November 07, 2008
We will be adding FedEx as an option next month, but for now have gone back to USPS.
Over the past few years, some customers have become my regular correspondents, and probably know that I am very concerned aout customer service. My decision today is actually based on customer service issues. I heartily maintain that just because a business represents a small part of the larger economic picture, that there should be any less attention to customer service. Each of us has the right to choose our business partners, and today I am choosing the US Postal Service once again, and will soon choose to add FedEx as a shipping option.
Customer service is what makes business strong. I firmly believe it, and practice it myself.
By Sheila Trunzo Mahone
Overview: Basic cuff-to-toe sock pattern on 12” circular needle, size 2. One-piece heel. Double decrease toe finished on two 24” circular needles. Use any stitch pattern for leg and front of foot to personalize pattern. Heel is knit in two parts: increases at markers as we knit around the foot, then decreases on the heel only, using short rows to decrease back and forth on the heel while the front of foot stays on the needles, untouched. When you’ve decreased back to the original number of stitches (30 for this example) for heel, continue knitting in-the-round until you reach the toe. Divide stitches evenly onto the two 24” circular needles with markers now positioned in the middle of these two needles, and decrease on either side of the markers, every other row, to form the toe. Weave final stitches together to close.
This pattern example is built on 60 stitches with a 2x2 rib. Size up or down to fit your foot and leg, and feel free to experiment on cuff, leg and foot. Once you find the right number of stitches to cast onto the size needle that you prefer, you have the basis for designing your own socks.
Yarn: Wool2Dye4 Sock yarns … Platinum Sock, BFL Ultra!, Socks2DYE4, Bamboo Two-Step, and Tencel Merino Sock…. 400-425 yards (about 100 grams)
Needles: 12” circular Addi Turbo, Size 1 or 2 for sock, and two 24” circular needles, same size for toe
Stitch Markers: 2
Cuff & Leg:
Cast on 60, loosely. * Place colored (not green) marker at half-way point to divide work in half. At beginning of next row, place a green marker (for ‘Go!’). As you knit the leg and before you reach the heel, mark the first half of the row with knotted scrap of yarn or safety pin. This identifies the first half of the row between the green and colored markers, and will later become the back of the heel.
· Knit 2x2 rib (knit 2, purl 2) for 1.5 to 2 inches
· Knit leg for desired length **
Increases ……. (You will increase 1 stitch at side markers and knit entire row in-the-round)
-Slip Marker, k1, M1^ and knit to within 2 stitches of next marker. M1, K1, slip marker. Knit to beginning of row.
Row 2: - Knit all stitches, completely around the sock until you come back to the green marker.
Repeat Rows 1& 2 until you have added 30 stitches to heel’s back.^^ (15 increases at both markers, making 60 stitches between markers)
End with knit row.
Decreases ... (short-row decreases from center towards markers, working on heel stitches only)
(There are 60 stitches on heel back. Front sts will sit untouched until we decrease down to 30 heel sts.)
Row A: Knit to center stitch, knit 2 more stitches, K2Tog, K1 turn.
Row B: Slip first stitch, purl 1, purl 2, purl 2 more stitches, P2tog, Purl 1, and turn
… now the Short Row Pattern repeats itself until you reach the original number of stitches …
Row 1: Slip 1, knit across to last stitch before gap, Knit 2 Tog, K1, turn
Row 2: Slip 1, purl across to last stitch before gap, Purl 21 Tog, P1, turn
Continue short rows, picking up one more stitch on each end (where you K2Tog, closing the gap created where you turned on the previous row) until you reach the side markers and there are 30 stitches on heel half. If you have a stitch or two too many, knit one row in the round and decrease that stitch at the proper side.
Continue knitting in-the-round until foot is about 1.5 inches shorter than desired total length of sock. (You may choose to continue the leg pattern on the top half of the foot, if you like.)
· Knit 15 stitches and transfer the next 30 stitches (and marker) to one of the 24” circular needles.
· Transfer the last 30 stitches (and marker) to the second 24” circular needle. The markers are now positioned in the center: 30 stitches on each needle, markers in the middle.
- Row 1: Knit to within 3 stitches of marker, K2Tog, K1, slip marker, K1, K2Tog … knit to within 3 stitches of second marker, K2Tog, K1, slip marker, K1, K2Tog (use any decrease you prefer)
- Row 2: Knit completely around both needles back to beginning position.
Repeat these two rows until there are 8 to 12 stitches left on each needle.
Using Kitchener stitch, or any weaving stitch, weave these remaining stitches closed. Weave in ends.
*Long-tail or knitted cast-on will give you a strong, yet stretchy, edge on cuff.
**Leg variations are endless. Pattern should be divisible by 4 to fit nicely with 2x2 rib at cuff.
^M1=Make one. Use increase method of your choice. I like ‘Knit in Front and Back’ of same stitch, then slip stitch to right needle. This increase gives a uniform and pretty line of stitches with no holes.
^^You may choose to make your heel deeper or more shallow by increasing either more or fewer times at the heel markers.
-On Heel back, you might add slip stitches on centered 12 stitches between the side increases.
-Knit the Short-Rows and Toe in different colors of yarn for a different effect.
Wednesday, November 05, 2008
- Tips for making customers remember your site: Number 1 on the list?
Make your site memorable!
Color of the site should be stylish, not garish!
Photos or pictures artfully arranged.
Avoid the boxy look.
Don't make your site too personal, if your goal is to sell products!
Use short, descriptive phrases to describe products ... not long paragraphs.
State clearly all information about your product: price, size or weight, color, measurements, etc.
State clearly the customers' shipping options.
Make it easy for customers to buy what you have to sell!
Thursday, October 30, 2008
Tuesday, September 16, 2008
Sunday, September 14, 2008
I really should have introduced them properly before now, but, honestly, I have had my attention riveted to a slowly eroding website. The OSCommerce site -- and I am not blaming this open source program! -- and a server host have combined to put a real kink into my business plans. I think I have told several of you, and even written about the freaky electrical explosion at the building where my server is hosted. Ever since that event in June, things have gone from bad to worse. BUT relief is on the horizon, in the form of new computer whizkid types. I will say that I have had to wade through so much technobabble in the past month that I have had enough for a lifetime. That is, though, wishful thinking!
But back to the happy talk of lovely, luscious yarn, yarn, yarn! Platinum Sock and SuperAran have taken off, and my calculations were a bit off on the Platinum and the dreaded out-of-stock situation just crept up on me. No worries, though because it is on it's way and should be here in two or three weeks. I will definitely crow when it arrives on our shores.
Surino, that's new. New, soft, luxuiously soft, and affordable, too. The website woes had my attention diverted so that I actually forgot this yarn was coming, so imagine my wonderful surprise to open boxes and boxes and come across something so very nice. Surino is a 50/50 blend of the coveted Suri Alpaca with extra fine merino. Two soft, fine fibers blended into a versatile sport weight (1488 yd/lb), and presented in 100 gram skeins of 327 yards each.
Sport weight is beginning to show up more and more in the dyed yarn catalogs and in local yarn shops. Take notice, the next time you are wandering through a yarn shop, entertaining yourself at the prices being asked. (and guess what? people actually pay those prices! Just think how you might be underpricing your own handdye for a second here...) Anyway, one of the reps for the commercial companies told me a couple of years ago to watch for sport weight to gain importance with the major commercial companies. I am also seeing the pattern support for sport weight, and in the magazines too. Surino will work fine for any of the sport patterns you may be using to promote your dyed yarns.
Two new laces: Butterfly Lace and Angel Lace. I decided to bring in two upscale laces this fall to fill a void in my lineup. Honestly, compared to sock yarn, for instance, sales of lace do not begin to compare, so it seemed like a good idea, and I was more than pleased with the actual lace when it arrived. Too, since getting it out there, the reports are terrifc. They both take dye well and are both luxuriously soft!
Butterfly Lace is an 80/20 blend of extrafine Merino with Silk. Angel Lace is a 70/20/10 blend of baby Alpaca, silk, and cashmere. Yes, you read right! AND, I am offering them for sale by the 100 gram skein, making these rare fibers absolutely affordable to every knitter. Angel Lace, for example, in a 100 gram skein of 1,312 yards sells at $22 per skein. And Butterfly Lace is at $18 per skein of the same number of yards on a 100 gram skein.
Some of my customers have been writing to comment on the new presentations in 100 gram skeins. I am trying this format out for this season to see if customers prefer the smaller sized skein to the 8 oz skein I have only carried in the past. It costs more to have the mills measure, skein, and package the 100 gram skeins, but I am thinking that it may be worth the effort, and look forward to feedback on this question.
Let's see ... oh, yes, I wrote a book. Well, a booklet, actually on starting an internet business. It's based on the articles I published here on my blog last year, but expanded, and I unabashedly recommend it to newbies in the handdye world. It's listed on the website under Accessories.
And, the very last thing that is new is not even a reality yet, but is on the computer horizon. The computer horizon is an intangible goal off in the distance somehwere, and while I personally have never reached that horizon, I am hearing assurances from the new Web Designers, that such a place of nirvanna exists. I will let you know when the new site is up and running, and want/need/crave customer feedback on how it is working. But! Not yet! I'll let you know.
Please write to me and tell me what a great writer I am and that I really should make more blog entries!
Tuesday, August 19, 2008
Monday, July 28, 2008
This should take effect around the middle of August. When ordering, once you reach the check-out page, you will be given the option of choosing which service you prefer: UPS or USPS.
Currently, we only offer USPS service, and I have noticed that people are choosing the Parcel Post option over Priority Mail, probably thinking it will be a cheaper service. Everyone may not be aware that Parcel Post is not always the cheaper choice, especially on shipments going to the West Coast.
My advice, especially with UPS coming on board, is to click on the service you really want, then on the next slower one to compare. I think we will all be glad to have UPS as our main shipper again.
Friday, July 25, 2008
So, we are doing the right thing and will be renaming the yarn. What is interesting is that a couple of my customers called them asking if they could get a better price on Wool2Dye4 SuperSock! They had to be retail customers, because this name is not used for that yarn when it is sold to wholesale customers. I am guessing that people were 'price shopping' and that's what led to this situation.
Trouble is that it is so very popular and I need to come up with a very good name. One which will send the message that this is my flagship / signature yarn. Until I find a new name, the yarn will be known temporarily as 'Wool2Dye4 Sock.' simple and to the point.
Help me rename this yarn. There is a prize of $100 of W2D4 yarn of your choice from stock for the winner. I will choose the winner and if no name is chosen from those entered in the contest, the best second choice will win $50 free wool. You may enter more than once!
Here are the guildelines for Rename That Yarn contest ... Name must ...
--Be submitted by eMail to info@wool2Dye4.com
--Associate the yarn with my company or company image
--Be memorable and unique
--Reflect popularity of the yarn (it is my best-selling yarn)
--Be submitted by eMail to info@wool2Dye4.com (oh? Did I say that?) In other words, don't post the name here on the blog!
Deadline for entry: August 10, 2008
Wednesday, July 23, 2008
Thursday, July 17, 2008
It was so good to hear about his recognition that someone had a vision of an end product and, while he may not have liked the individual parts, he loved the finished product. Which goes to prove that the whole is equal to the sum of it's parts!
Saturday, July 12, 2008
Funny, how it takes a while for a yarn to catch on. I realize that I am absolutely tiny when compared to the big guys, but, of course, the market for undyed yarn is probably tiny when compared to the larger commercial market which fuels yarn shops worldwide.
I think what made me realize that I had found the perfect yarn was that it could be used for several different fabrics. For instance, there are folks out there who like to knit up bulky socks on size 4 or 5 needles, strange as this seems to me. Almost unnatural, even, but hey! If customes want to buy yarn and knit up bulky socks, then I am truly happy to accommodate them! Don't get me wrong here.
And, it is just perfect for knitting baby clothes which need to go into the washer frequently. The superwash won't felt, so the it is basically carefree. This brings to mind the thought of how many customers actually knit up diaper covers! This is an amazing thought to me, and evokes so many visual images that I think I had better steer away from this topic. They are all tolerant of my disbelief, though, and a couple have even sent me patterns to try it myself.
But, my favorite, favorite use for my W2D4 Merino Superwash DK is sweaters and vests. For me, this is the perfect weight for a sweater. Let's face it, here in Virginia, we do not get to wear sweaters as much as we'd like to, and the older I get, the more I seem to notice that I am inside. So, the sweaters which I like are medium weight ones which keep me warm in my heated home. I don't like for my skin to be exposed during the time when the house is heated. Don't laugh. This preference to cover up skin has kept me pretty wrinkle free!
Now, the Merino Superwash DK is back on the website. I invite you to test it out, and see if it is the perfect yarn, after all, for you.
This link is borrowed from the website of the Mason-Dixon gals (http://masondixonknitting.com/) and I just had to list it. Pure delight, and worth a few minutes of time. There is something so endearing about his dance!
Friday, June 20, 2008
I will be out of the studio for these four days next week, but Debbie will be handling the orders. When I get back, I will answer eMails and questions and solve any little issues.
We continue to have some problems with the Internet. Even after moving the site to a new server, there are still some problems. I believe that these are issues related to the first host re-installing the eCommerce program, which would have wiped out all the updates and changes we had made as we tweaked the program to suit me. Now ... that is certainly not an opinion of an educated computer genius and probably doesn't even make sense! I will say I've got two computer genius guys working on it, and I believe, I believe, I believe that they will find and fix all errors.
In the meantime, I am going to Indiana to the CSM convention: that's for owners of these antique circular sock machines. Oh, and I am ready for some playtime!
Saturday, June 14, 2008
June 18, 2008: ...... UPDATE .......
Saturday, May 17, 2008
Here is a variation on my former project of knitting up 'round' on my circular sock machine. This is a 'flat' from a flatbed knitting machine and the yarn is from the trial run of my newest yarn, to be released this summer. It is W2D4 Platinum Sock, my first blend using nylon, a 75/25 blend of superwash merino with nylon in a 4-ply sock yarn. This is going to be a winner.
Since I still have not mastered the heel on my CSM, I'm going to knit up to the heel on the machine, then finish them on the needles. Will add a picture of the finished knitting as the project progresses.
Next day: Attaching picture of the upper leg of sock, knit on my circular sock machine, but since I have not yet mastered turning a heel on the machine, I knit up some waste yarn and will finish the sock on my 12" round needles-of-choice. See how nicely the dye pattern shows up in the knitting? This will be a short sock of 60 rows, which took approximately 2 minutes to knit on the machine. This toy is for those who are into instant gratification. Oh, well, the idea of 'instant' does exclude the learning curve of mastering the sock machine.
Now I know why there are CSM's out there in perfect condition. They lay in someone's attic for 100 years after everyone in the family gave up on the thing!
I will master the heel.
I will master the heel.
I will master the heel.
Few days later ... Adding a picture of one finished sock against the knitted flat. I tried to line up the colorations in the flat with the resulting fabric to show the effects of color and pattern from the flat to the fabric. This is my first experiment. I chose to use only two colors with white space, effectively 3 colors. Just dumb luck that the colorations came out so well distributed in the sock elements of leg, heel, foot and toe.
I do have a problem with the flatbed machine because it is made for worsted weight and here I am playing with fingering weight. A friend who has three machines, is playing around with some BFL Ultra! on her machines, and I hope to learn a bit more about which machines will produce the best flats for socks.
Not too bad for a first experiment!
Friday, April 25, 2008
If you are one of my customers and you'll be there, please come up and introduce yourself. It is always so much fun to put a face with a name!
Monday, April 14, 2008
We all know that to get long swaths of color and to blend it nicely into the next long swath, the skeining process is the key. Dyeing a knitted fabric takes most of this difficulty away. Simply knit up a fabric to the weight measurement you need, dye it, and unravel it as you knit. You might want to wash the yarn before knitting to get the kinks out of the yarn. (I did not do this, and my vest didn't seem to suffer, but this is strictly up to you to decide.)
Great fun, and a fun twist on the dye process. Oh, and it was so neat to hear from many readers who had also 'invented' this method on their own. Great minds think alike.
Tuesday, April 08, 2008
That's just what I have done with a weekend up in the Alleghany mountains bordering Virginia and West Virginia, lovely rough country where the Episcopalians decided to build a retreat more than 100 years ago. There are more than twenty buildings, a couple of community dining halls, a small lake, mineral springs, rooms with no doors, playing fields within sight of the meeting rooms, lighted grounds ... really a well put-together retreat for families and groups in the beautiful commuity of Orkney Springs, Virginia.
Virginians are inordinately proud of simply being from Virginia, and we love to discover new little spots and remind ourselves how lucky we are to live in the Commonwealth of Virginia. Years ago, I spent ten years in Los Angeles. It seems like another lifetime ago, now. When people would ask me where I was from, and I'd say 'Virginia' nearly every one of them had something nice to say about my corner of the world.
But, I digress. This little knitting retreat was the third consecutive annual weekend get-away organized by Christina Parham, of http://www.dyepot.com/. There was nothing formal about the weekend, but everyone showed up with food to share, donations for drawings, and stash to share. We took tons of interesting roving -- BFL Superwash, Tencel/Merino blend, Baby Alpaca -- and some dye kits, and I made up some sample packets of three different sock yarns in one package. I took mini-sock blocker keychains, and some books from my fiber library which I knew I would never read again. The mini-sock blocker keychains sold out! and most of the books went! I don't think there were many dyers there.
Except for Christina Parham, of course. It was such a revelation to see the amount of work which one dyer can put out. I was in awe of the sheer amount of handdyed yarns and spinning fibers that she brought. Beautiful colorways, and creative names! 'Sicilian Harvest, Sweet Violet, Clay Pots, Sahara Sunset' are the ones I bought. She has a great knack of choosing just the right names for her colorways.
It made me realize how much work the handdyer actually does to produce a line of handpainted yarns or fibers. Only once have I made a big effort to supply a yarn store with a line of handdyed sock yarns, and I learned to respect the art and craft of the handdyer! No, I will leave that work up to my customers, and continue to dye for my own pleasure.
Check out Christina's website: http://www.dyepot.com/
Monday, March 17, 2008
Hazel Tindall is the queen of speed knitting. The 55-year-old Shetland Island native was crowned the winner at the World Speed Knitting Championships, held during February Mall of America Knit-Out. She lined up a remarkable 262 stitches in three minutes on custom-made steel needles. In comparison, her closest competitor, Miriam Tegels of the Netherlands, who holds the Guinness World Record as fastest knitter, worked 243 stitches in the same time span. Named Fastest Knitter in 2004, when she worked 255 stitches in three minutes at Ally Pally (London show), Tindall traveled to the competition under the sponsorship of the UK Hand Knitting Association. “I think you need to have good technique and move your hands as little as possible,” she told The Scotsman, Scotland’s national newspaper.
An online petition, demanding that the DIY Network (owned by Scripps Networks) give the green light to a new season of Knitty Gritty, has drawn almost 2,200 cyber-signers. They want a fresh lineup of shows, with Vickie Howell retaining her hosting duties, and to make sure episodes air during an hour conducive to viewing -- not in the 5 A.M. slot in which repeats from previous seasons are now broadcast. Interested in adding your name? Go to www.petitiononline.com/1234lulu/petition.html.
Contests and tournaments continue ... a fact noted by no less a journalistic bastion than the Wall Street Journal, which ran a feature article (“Sock It to Me: Competitive Knitters Get Deadly Serious”) about Sock Wars last December.
Magazine readers are also getting a shot at socky sport: Vogue Knitting is currently judging its Ultimate Sock Contest, while Knitter’s is gearing up for its yearlong Think Outside the Sox challenge.
Friday, February 22, 2008
They are put up on skeins for retail customers and on kilo cones for wholesale customers. We have actually pre-sold more than half of the Lace Weight kilo cones, and quite a few of the Superwash DK, so I had to reorder them even before this first batch arrived. Exciting times! It will take a while until I understand the demand of the new yarns, and I will try to keep good stock on hand while they get introduced around.
For the past couple of weeks we have had several new inquiries from customers on the Ravelry discussion boards. Seems like there my have been a few nice words said about Wool2Dye4, and people began to check out the website. I do appreciate it when customers spread the word.
Help me spread the word now about these new base yarns. They are very nice, good merino with bounce and spring to the fiber, and well priced.
Tuesday, February 19, 2008
Here is the beginning of a chevron stripe, knit from the dyed tube of my new W2D4 Merino SW DK. You can see, on the right, several folds of the knitted and dyed tube. In my enthusiasm to see how it knit up, I really should have washed the skeins, but I just wound off a ball and started knitting. As with every handdye I ever knit with, my needles are flying and I anticipate what the next color change will look like.
Monday, February 18, 2008
True descriptors are Lace / Fingering / Sport / DK / Worsted / Bulky.
Within these weight classifications there is room for argument. For instance, some writers state that DK is the British yarnie's equivalent of the American's Sport. Others say that Aran is the British version of the American's Worsted.
Speaking of worsted, people often get confused with this term because it refers to a weight classification as well as a production style. In weight, it's the sweater weight and can be light worsted or just plain worsted, and it's usually a round fairly solid yarn. In production, it is a combing process which makes fibers lie parallel to each other before spinning, and the result is a stronger knitting yarn. People who prepare their own yarn from hand-carded wool, for instance, are not creating a worsted yarn, which is usually something done in a mill with larger machines. Of course, the hand-cranked carding machine will produce beautiful roving batt which is a true worsted product.
BUT ... back to actual classifications. You can find charts with classifications written out in the backs of many knitting magazines, or online. Some will give a suggested gauge, recommended needle size, and wraps per inch. I never trust those numbers, though, and always knit a swatch myself. That way I can choose what I want the fabric to look like, based on my own experiences. Here is a chart of generally accepted numbers for weight classifications. There is always room for personal interpretation, and some yarns will lend themselves to a weight because of how they bloom, yet not actually reach a weight classification. You'll notice that 'Sock Weight' does not appear, and that's as it should be!
- Lace Weight ......... 2300 yards per pound and higher
- Fingering Weight.. 1650 to 2300
- Sport .......... 1150 to 1600
- DK....... 1000 to 1200
- Worsted ........... 850 to 1100
- Bulky ... 500 to 900
Saturday, February 16, 2008
This project is actually a test of my circular sock machine and one of the new yarns coming in next week.
First, I will confess that I have yet to make a sock with the CSM! I am like an amazed child every single time I sit and crank out a tube of knitted yarn. Mostly I have used up some of the yarns which have been sitting around for years, and then I finished off edges to make long skinny scarves. Some have fluted lacy edges, others are straight. Some 'kitchenered' together, others ribbed then bound off, and all provided some good clean fun!
While mindlessly cranking out the tubes, I did have a few cogent thoughts, one being that it would be neat to dye a tube and then unravel it and knit something out of the yarn. My thinking was that it might be a way to create larger stripes or repeating patterns, a la Fair Isle, but that no matter the dye pattern, dying a tube would give a measure of control. More control than the experiment with a 40 foot long skein. How I wish I hadn't given away those socks, because I will surely never dye a 40' skein again.
But, to today's experiment ... The tube was knit with a mock rib ... 4 needles and one blank, all around the cylinder. I marked out a pattern repeat of 6 in and 4 in along my dye table, then dyed the 6" sections with Seabreeze Blue (from ProChem). My plan was to come back and paint one edge, along one of the mock ribs, with yellow so I would have green where the blue met yellow, and yellow across the swath of white.
The steamed knitted tube is now out of the dyepot and coming back to room temperature. I will post a picture of the finished yarn, and a knitted sample.
Friday, February 08, 2008
Here is the link. I hope to see some of my customers there!
The area is fantastically beautiful, and the resort property, ShrineMont, is lovely and here is a link to the property... http://www.shrinemont.com/activities.html
I will be there Friday evening and all day Saturday with a little booth set up. Hope to meet some of my customers there!
Wednesday, January 09, 2008
If you are confused about your customer status, send me an eMail and I'll clarify things for you, and my eMail is SheilaMahone@wool2dye4.com.
We've added two more spinning fibers ...a 100% Baby Alpaca, and a blend of 100% Baby Alpaca with Merino. These two are super soft, and luscious.
The BFL Bulky looks like it will have a long life on the backorder list, so what we are doing is having a merino bulky yarn made up from fibers of the very same micron count as the BFL. The fibers are practically identical, except for the BFL innate sheen, of course. Otherwise, for Bulky/Chunky customers, look for this new yarn at the end of January / beginning of February 2008.
We are phasing out several yarns to make way for new additions to our exclusive line of yarns, manufactured exclusively for Wool2Dye4. Those being phased out are Andee, Alpaca Lace, Kona Fingering, Kona Superwash, Montana, Monty, Pony 2-Ply. They are priced for sale on the SPECIALS page of the retail site.
The new formula yarns will be hits! They are soft and beautiful, and the biggest reason is that the merino we use for our yarns comes from South America. (Not the rough highland yarn!) Ours comes from folks who are known for their humane treatment of the fiber giving animals, and the quality of the fiber is just fantastic. We are so happy with this new connection, and think our customers will appreciate this new level of quality fiber, as well.
Saturday, January 05, 2008
I have written about a new site for months, I know! Now, we are just days away from the real thing, and it is exciting around here. We have been trying to test out every possible scenario through the shopping and buying processes, and I am sure that we will miss some and that there will be little glitches, but please help me fix them. If you come across a glitch, let me know! So many customers have written encouraging notes about the process of upgrading a website, and I do appreciate every single person's input. My goal is truly to present my yarns in the most logical and attractive format that I can, so if you see room for improvement, drop me a line. Exciting stuff going on here at Wool2Dye4!
Watch for new yarns and spinning fibers!
Friday, January 04, 2008
For internet sellers, it definitely includes how easy it is to navigate your site and to find the information they need before they buy. That means that the graphics and colors on your site are not glaring or harsh. The font is readable, not too heavily stylized, and the size of the font is greater than 10 pts. Remember much of the buying public have now reached the Baby Boom middle age, and that means failing eyesight! Make your copy readable. Include white space around the important information. Take a cue from advertising and do not force yourself to include too much copy, or to write everything in complete sentences. Look at lots of sites and start to recognize what attracts or repels you, and how deeply you are drawn into the site itself.
Go back to your site, again and again and pretend that you are seeing it for the very first time. Try to look at it with fresh eyes, almost as if you were a new customer seeing it for the first time. Hey! Are your spelling and punctuation skills up to par? If not, then ask someone to proof the copy for you. Nothing screams 'novice!' more than bad spelling and punctuation. This is important. It is how you present yourself to the potential customer, and all you have in the beginning, is a website out there in the ethos, a website that someone can go deeper into or away from in a split second and a click of the mouse. Look at your work carefully and analyze it.
How you package your orders is another important opportunity where you can serve your customer. Make things pretty and nice. Use clean packing materials and don't let the fibers touch the cardboard boxes. Think of how your box will be opened and how the contents will be slowly revealed to your customer. Actually, this is the only true interface between you because this is the only time where you are physically touching the product and they will be touching it too. Make it look enticing. Wrap it securely. Don't use heavy fillers which will drive up the cost of postage. Here is a chance to reveal your approach to business in how you present the order, the backup paperwork, and any inclusions you may want to add. Those little extras are what is called value added, for in the customer's eyes, the value of their purchase has increased when they receive a little something you sent for free. It could be a pattern, a set of samples, pictures of new colorways, directions for dyeing, or an actual gift. I enclose a little gift in every single order we send out, and I think about all sorts of tiny details such as how the packing list will look, or if it is covered up by anything. Send them your card in every order, even if they are repeat customers because that way they will have extras to give to their friends. Recommendations from satisfied customers are priceless! It's not expensive to print up cards if you use your computer's word processing program and some perforated business card stock. Also, if there is any information about the fiber content, care of the fiber, or any other news you want to share, this is a chance for you to send something directly into the customer's hands.
When someone opens a package from you, there is a much longer time period to interact than there is when someone is surfing the web. Give them a pleasurable experience. Look professional in your packaging. Use nice paper and colors. All of the order says something about you and how you do business.
In your communications with customers or potential customers, exercise good manners and cordiality. Now, I am from the South where we believe in courtesy and Southern manners. I will tell you that you will receive some irate letters and some complaints. That is just how it is, but most of the folks in our fiber world are pretty laid back and genuinely nice. Treat customers problems with a cool head and never respond in anger or irritation to a customer. All right, OK. Maybe you can write a really angry letter but never, never, never send it! If you have to write it to clear your head, go ahead, but delete it immediately, and then sleep on the problem. Try to make things right, even if you have to eat a little profit. It will come back to you many times over in the future.
Remember that your customers represent a broad base of talent, and revel in their accomplishments. Don't pretend to know all, but let them guide you a bit. You will be surprised at how much you will learn about your business by asking your customers about their work.
Here is my philosophy of business one more time: your business should enhance the quality of your life. You can do it. You can do it.