Thursday, July 30, 2009

Ever need a Colonial costume quickly?

Every once in a while, I am invited to dress up in costume and represent the early American crafts of spinning and/or weaving/knitting, etc. The first event was in the springtime, and the dress I made kept me warm on a cool day; however, that same dress seemed like a huge punishment when worn last summer on a sweltering August afternoon in the sun.

This coming weekend -- another August day in the humid Virginia weather -- I am going to join my guild in demonstrating the domestic arts (ahem!) at the Albemarle County Fair. A group called Backyard Revolution has created a settlement which will attempt to replicate life in the agrarian economy of the late 1700's through the 1800's. There will be natural dyeing of fibers, spinning and weaving along with blacksmithing, log-home building .. oh, lots of things that those folks had to do every day of the week just to subsist.

I will be spinning. Usually I sneak in my plastic spinning wheel, a little jewel from Babe's Fiber Garden, but this group sounds like they might be a little strict on period interpretation. My PVC plastic frame with a stainless steel wheel from a wheelchair will probably not cut it, pass muster. So, I am taking a couple drop spindles and some fleece from a Virginia flock which a girlfriend manages. They are Leicester Longwools, a cousin of my beloved Bluefaced Leicester, so that will fit in nicely. And, I will be working with fiber from Central Virginia, too.

But, back to my costume! I mentioned that I had made a dress for my first appearance in Colonial garb. That thing was ugly, plus it really did not fit and I had positioned safety pins along the bust to create pleats. In preparation for the upcoming fair, I decided to cut off the top and make a skirt and then to just buy a white blouson sleeved blouse (something like a peasant blouse) and an English vest. All of this brings me to the point, which is that I have a great recommendation for anyone needing to put together a costume to approximate early American dress.

It is Jas Townsend & Son, inc. They have a good selection of clothing for men, women and children plus several little accessories, such as the pockets which were worn under aprons mostly. They are muslin pockets with a cotton twill tape running through a little band on the top, but I saw several women in costume who wore theirs on the outside of their skirt, with no apron, and adapted this idea. I sewed my pocket onto the side of my new skirt ... made from the ugly dress. Great solution.

Here is the link to Jas Townsend & Son website: I give them top recommendation!

Next was footwear. My old Berkinstock sandals sort of remind me of pieces of leather which women might have wrapped around their feet during the Middle Ages. I am now in possession of a pair of Mary Janes, by Naot. They work fine, but what about socks? To knit a pair of knee length natural socks in four days is pretty much impossible for me, so I decided to drag out the antique circular sock machine. Within two hours and a couple of setbacks which taught me to check my equipment before launching into a project, I was in possession of a pair of kneesocks done in my lovely BFL Ultra! They were both too long, though, so I have had to unwind the toes and finish them off by hand, but much less trouble and work than handknitting! I have two days to go, and one toe to go, and then must wash out the machine oil. That was the result of over-oiling a reluctant sock machine into movement.

I'm looking forward now to getting dressed up for this shindig on Saturday. The weatherman, though, is calling for a week of solid rain. So, we shall see how the sky looks that morning.

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Yarnie says, 'Sock Summit ... or bust!'

Sock Summit: August 6 - 9, 2009

We are ready and waiting to ship our booth yarn to Sock Summit today. I can hardly believe that the long days of prep, counting and recounting, thinking of what nifty little tool you always wish you had at a booth but had forgotten, and, of course, some snacks. We have closed the boxes and ordered in FedEx to pick up.

Off go the hand-dyed yarns from, our sister website, to Portland Oregon's Raintree Convention Center for Sock Summit. The organizers have no idea how many attendees will attend, and estimates are at 50,000 by some counts. Just imagine what it is like to guestimate how much yarn to send for a booth at such an event! Impossible. My partner in crime is Barb Brown, owner of Wild Geese Fibres (, and she is the actual attendee. Due to a long list of regulations which basically mean that taxes and finances would preclude much profit for Canadian vendors to bring in their own stock, she needed our help in stocking her booth. Barb, sock pattern designer extraordinaire, turned to us and we were happy to help her out.

We sent either way too much yarn, or hardly enough ... and we won't know until after Sock Summit is over, whether or not Barb will be kept busy. She's got an American helper at her booth, so she will be able to slip away and take a few of the advanced classes. Lucky her! Must admit that I all put stripped the shelves of Uptown Stitches to stock that booth, so I sure do hope we have some takers!

If you are going to Sock Summit, please do check out Barb's Wild Geese Fibres booth to see the Uptown Stitches yarns in person. We even have a kilo of skeins of one of the Dye for Glory entries, by Laura Schickli. Just absolutely beautiful work on our base, BFL-4 Socking. Each skein will sell for $25.

All of our handdyes will sell at one of two pricepoints: merinos at $20 per skein, and BFL's at $25 per skein. If you get to meet Barb, tell her Sheila sent you!

Friday, July 10, 2009

Web of Trust ... help rate Wool2Dye4?

Yesterday afternoon, we received a note from a potential customer who attached a negative rating from Web of Trust, an internet company which reports on the security of individual websites. They mistakenly gave our home page a bad review ... but high reviews for all other pages ... because of a parking page which our server uses. It's called Website Welcome, and it's a 'nothing page,' and is only there so people can have a secure checkout on their sites. There is a possibility that one customer somewhere could have been unhappy with the shopping cart for another company which is serviced by my server company. Who knows? As WebGuy #2 says, 'One bad apple ...'

Anyway, what I am hoping will happen is that if anyone is already using Web of Trust that they will give my two websites ( and a positive rating, to dispell that negative vibe going on.

We've got the security and backup and incripted credit card service and all that good stuff, and that one page of the site does not warrant a negative rating. So, if you see a warning notice from Web of Trust, please do take the time to rate us, and may I ask you to rate us positively?

My thanks to anyone who may see this and actually do this for me.

We've only received the one letter from one customer, but if it happened once to her, then it could happen as the popularity of security sites grows. Maybe it's time for us to get a dedicated server for the sites.

Thursday, July 09, 2009

Canadian Kool Aid???

One of my fiber friends sent me this note in today's eMail ...

Ever since your kool aid dying program at the Stewartsville Library (3 years ago ?) I've asked my Canadian sister-in-law to please bring some creative Canadian kool aid colors back when she goes to visit her parents. She kept forgetting. I saw her this past weekend and she said - okay finally I remembered and she handed me 6 boxes of.....Jello.

My assumption is that Jello won't work because of the gelatin. Will they work?