Friday, September 30, 2011

Yarn Lessons

I am in the middle of learning new lessons about the importance of matching the right yarn to the right pattern.  I don't think I will be spoiling any of my sister's holiday expectations if I talk about their gifts because I don't think any of them know I even have a blog, and one may not know what a blog is.   I could be wrong about that, and she might have one of her own that I don't know about.

In early September I decided to begin my holiday knitting with enough time to allow me to change my mind, unravel my work, and generally get sidetracked if that is what it would take for me to actually finish their gifts this year.  They are accustomed to getting handcrafted gifts from me, and I do not want to disappoint them.  I am not sure that they always appreciate the item or the amount of work which goes into their gifts.  One year, for instance, I worked like a demon to produce wrist warmers on my antique circular sock machine.  The items themselves were simple; it was the learning process which was time consuming.  They only knew of the end result, so they might have been a little underwhelmed when the moment of truth arrived.  One even called me up and asked me how to wear them ... well, maybe not expressed in such a blunt manner.  After all, we are Southern women and we suggest rather than come out and ask when what we really want to know is 'what on earth are these two tubes of knitting for?'   She did, however, suggest to me that they were a little loose and odd to wear, but I just love my own and could not understand what she was talking about. 

This year I decided to knit something specifically chosen for each one, and each gift would fall within the same range of difficulty of knitting.  I decided to knit three shoulder shawls, all one-skein products.  The plan included only yarns from my own line, i.e., Wool2Dye4 yarns.  Too, they would be yarns which I hand-dyed myself.  These last two qualifications are not difficult as my personal secret stash is impressive.  I dye up all of the yarns we sell and they yarns we consider selling.

Two shawls are now complete.  I'll post pictures when all three are complete and blocked, but two are knit and bound off the needles.  They are a little scrunchy looking now, and this is normal.   I know they will grow when the finishing is, well, finished.  That is always such an exciting time, the day of blocking, but I really need to be in the right mood to actually get to it.  I have a wonderful blocking table set up, all padded and covered with a muslin gridded fabric left over from quilting days.  The work area is stocked with blocking wires -- which are the very neatest knitting accessory I have found in years! -- and blunt pins which are sold in the floral arrangement aisle and which are sold in quantities intended for a lifetime supply for at least two persons.  So, I'm set up.  It is the mood which needs to strike me.  The things and stuff are in place.  I decided, as I greedily grabbed up wool and pattern for Shawl #2, to finish all three items at one time and to hop on immediately to the next project.  I mean, that's the fun part, isn't it?  Instant gratification of casting on a new project?  Of course it is!

BUT, Shawl #3 turned into a scarf somehow when my eye went to a sport weight superwash merino from years ago, one which I had ordered from a mill as a sample.  I had just purchased a pattern online that caught my eye, and I tried to put the pattern and the yarn together into the same project.   Those yarn trial samples are not cheap or easy to come by and this fat ball is the last of that lot of yarn, something that made me consider getting a run of this yarn actually made up for the Wool2Dye4 line.  The dye job on this yarn is really neat, too, because it is the result of one of those lazy days when your movements are slow and your consideration is long, so the end product is actually deeply layered and interesting.  This one started off with two overdyes and ended with eye-dropper applications.  Really fun. 
That's a fuzzy quick shot of the yarn, and you can see that it has a big bump of unravelled length that will be a mess to knit from, but I am saving this yarn  for a future project.  Back into Secret Stash it goes, and may possibly emerge as Shawl #3 ... not sure.  Actually, I just made that decision as I typed the sentence before this one I'm typing now.  I think I won't consign it to an indefinite future, but use it for the third shawl and cast on this afternoon after the orders for the day go out the door.  Something wonderful and delicious to look forward to, and Sister #3 gets the Shawl #3.  It is decided.  This will mean that the rule that all three shawls would be made from W2D4 yarns will be broken, but will it?  I bought the trial run and dyed it and it is owned by Wool2Dye4, so I think I will consider it a proprietary yarn, after all.

And, what will I do with the lovely, smooth and luscious Silk Sock 50/50 waiting for become a circular scarf, the same which almost was substituted for Shawl #3?  I will make the unique garment for myself ... or make one just for the fun of knitting that pattern and then add the scarf to the Gift Cabinet.  This is a good resolution to the problems of the day.  My life is simple at this moment.

Friday, September 16, 2011

New Spam

There is a new form of spam hitting my mailbox lately, and it hits right where it is the scariest, my bank account.  This one looks absolutely legit with a message that a recent ACH (automatic clearing house) transaction was denied on my business account.  Scary because this is how I pay and receive payment in my business checking account.

The first time I received the message I forwarded it to my bank, who had not yet seen this type of spam before so we were both thinking something was wrong with my account.  They searched for like transaction numbers and dates and amounts and found nothing, and came back to me with the spam diagnosis.  I deleted the eMail, after first forwarding it to the government agency which purportedly overlooks the spam industry.

Then, for a while, I didn't get a single spam message at all, until this week when the same ACH failure notice has come daily.  Today my security program scanned it and alerted me that this eMail has a Downloader function attached to it.

So, here is my message, loud and clear:  if you use ACH services and receive an eMail like this, do not open it.  Forward the eMail to your bank manager or service rep and tell them to look out for other spam messages like this.  Then forward the eMail to:

Wednesday, September 07, 2011

September welcomes back Sheila's Sock ... lots and lots

Instead of our usual multi-yarn monthly stocking, September is a transitional month for us.  We have now completed six months' worth of orders which were placed in the springtime, and are about to embark on a new system of re-stocking Wool2Dye4 website inventory.  This means that we will begin to hold consistently higher levels of stock, and this begins in early October.

September will be a month to catch up on orders for Sheila's Sock, and to introduce a new yarn ... Sparkle in DK weight with a bit of silk added to it (priced as Sparkle Select lace, as it is the same blend).  Too, we welcome to the line a yarn which we introduced in limited quantity a month ago, Single & Fabulous!

We have a major shipment of our most popular yarn, Sheila's Sock, due at the end of the week, and are only waiting on notice from Customs that the shipment has passed through Customs and will be delivered on Thursday or Friday.  When we hear, we will send out the newsletter to registered customers and post the new inventory of Sheila's Sock for sale.  There will be no private orders taken for Sheila's Sock since there should be nice stock for the next few weeks.  In October, even more Sheila's Sock will arrive.  So, lots and lots of Sheila's Sock and enough to go around.

Tuesday, September 06, 2011

Restocking: October and November 2011

Here are two lists of incoming stocking orders, skeins unless otherwise noted.  You will notice that some of the yarns which we have announced as discontinued yarns are coming in one last time.  They are marked with an asterisk.

October 2011 arrivals
Bamboo TwoStep* skeins & cones
Cash Sock MCN skeins & cones
Platinum Sock skeins & cones
Sheila's Glitter (goldtoned Stellina)
Sheila's Gold
Sheila's Sock
Sheila's Sparkle (silvertoned Stellina)
Silk Sock 50/50

Cash Aran MCN
Tweed Aran* skeins & cones

Silk DK 50/50
W2D4 Merino DK-SW skeins & cones
W2D4 Merino Worsted-SW skeins & cones

Angel Lace*
Boo Select (a unique purchase of bamboo/merino select weight lace)
Butterfly Select lace
Ultra Select lace

November Incoming Shipment
Cash Sock MCN skeins & Cones
Platinum Sock
Sheila's Gold
Sheila's Sock
Silk Sock 50/50

Sheila's Aran*

W2D4 Merino Worsted

Ultra Select lace
* = last shipment and then will be discontinued