Friday, November 28, 2008

BFL Ultra! ... 100 gr skeins (new)

Over the past year, I have slowly been changing the skein size on my sock yarns. Knitters and dyers have written that they don't like to spend lots of time skeining up enough yarn for one pair of socks, and that they are willing to pay for a more usable presentation. Too, beginning dyers are anxious to get to the dyepot! And, let's face it, newbies usually do not have all that winding equipment that begins to collect around the workspace as you get more proficient in your dye practices, and need to change from one presentation to another. I have lost count of the different winding devices I have in my own studio!

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: 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

Additional eMail address

Seems that a spammer has picked up one of my eMail addresses -- -- and is using it as return address in some spam going around the country. I have dropped this address, and added:
Most eMails are addressed to, anyway, but if you have the old info@... address in your address book, please do change it to

Thank you!

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

The Spirit of Christmas ... in Elizabeth Zimmerman's words

Meg Swansen, daughter of Elizabeth Zimmerman and owner of Schoolhouse Press, has allowed me to quote her mother. This the introduction to Elizabeth Zimmerman's December chapter in her book, Knitter's Almanac: Projects for Each Month of the Year.

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 to find them all.
Thank you, Meg, for permission to quote your lovely mother!

Friday, November 07, 2008

Shipping Your Order

Today I have removed UPS from the shipping options on the Wool2Dye4 website. I tried it out for two months this time, and have gone back to the US Postal System, once again. USPS has excellent service, for the msot part, and they are on a new campaign to improve both their service and their image.

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.

Sheila's Basic Sock Pattern ... revamped!

Wool2Dye4 Basic Sock with Variations
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 **

One-Piece Heel:
Increases ……. (You will increase 1 stitch at side markers and knit entire row in-the-round)
Row 1:
-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

Holiday Sales for Website owners

I keep reading about the economy and forecasts of this year's holiday sales. One recent forecast has good news for website owners! The word is that a marketing survey firm reports that 80% of buyers surveyed do intend to do their holiday shopping this season on the Internet, and 50% of them intend to spend more than they spent last year.

  • 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!