Sunday, April 30, 2006

Indigo dye Update .... Oh my gosh, I guess the word 'fermented' should have tipped me off, however, I never expected the stench that came from that dye pot to be as vile as it is (was). I got used to it yesterday, but even after a shower last night, it was still in my sinus'.

This morning, like a blast of heat, the smell greeted me when I opened up the studio and knew right then that my Sunday weaving students wouldn't be able to tolerate it. Mary K. got the back door opened and the breeze that comes off the creek right behind the building blew through and freshened things up. We moved the vat out of doors. I'm going to have to trade control over it's temperature for a breathable work space. The yarn is pretty smelly too, but I haven't washed it yet. I'll have to investigate and see if this is supposed to happen. Maybe I'm keeping the vat too warm. Any advice will be greatly appreciated.

Also, I sewed the Sunrise Circle together and steamed it. It looks very lovely. The sleeves are a little long, but I measured them and they are the right length for the size I made. The pattern calls for four toggle closures, but I decided to use just one. It's a dark toggle, so it blends in with the yarn color which is a chocolate brown tweed. We'll post a picture later in the week.

Myra's Knit Along of Nicky Epstein's Tapestry Cape is going well. The knitters are using
Jamiesons's DK weight shetland wool in the most luscious colors. The bottom of the cape is fair isle and the body has a lot of intarsia flowers and leaves. Joanna finished one side and she is doing a beautiful job. Intarisa is a technique I am looking forward to trying. We'll also post pictures of the cape and the other gorgeous sweaters that customer's are bringing in.

Kelly finished her Alice Starmore fair isle cardigan and it is a breathtaking color study of greens, pink and burgundy leaves done in Frog Tree Alpaca. She did a remarkable job. It's trimmed in burgundy velveteen. Carolyn brought in her Wonderful Wallaby hooded sweater with pouch in Cascade 220. It is so soft and just perfect for the cool weather we've had. Sandy is almost finished with her's; the sleeves are finished and she is adding them to the body of the sweater.
One of the many things I love about having a knitting store is the inspiration I get from seeing all the beautiful knitting going on.

Happy knitting, spinning and weaving!

Friday, April 28, 2006

Sunrise Circle Sweater

The Sunrise Circle is finished!!!! Well, the knitting is finished. When I find the courage, I'll sew it together. The pattern was an interesting journey for an 'intermediate'* knitter. Every single row, except for ten stockinette rows on the sleeves, is different. I found that using stitch markets, even though their position changed at each right side row, helped me considerably. I'm a little worried about the length of the sleeves; they are LONG.

The Jo Sharp Silkroad Aran Tweed was as soft as butter and a real joy to use. I hope this sweater, which is a model for the store, does the yarn justice and knitters can see how lovely and soft it is. Now that it's finished, I can return to working on the Adrienne Vittidini pattern that I'm doing out of our bulky cotton hand dyed. I am allowing myself to fantasize about my next project. Rowan Classic is a front runner, a capelet out of Soft Lux with lots of beading. Myra said she would help me with the beading part......I've no idea where to begin with that.

*I think I can now refer to myself as an intermediate knitter after knitting this sweater. I can't wait to block it; my increases look fairly invisible!

Brown Sheep finally arrived. I'm getting used to it's new location slowly. We moved our Dale Of Norway Baby Ull and Stork to a new and more visible location and put the Brown Sheep where the Dale used to be, closer to the other felting wools.

Indigo Update..... I tried it out yesterday and it wasn't ready, so let it rest today and will try again tomorrow!

Monday, April 24, 2006

Indigo Update
Three days now and the vat is starting to look like it might be fermenting. It smells alive, but not bad. I hope I'm doing it right; you keep it warm but not hot, keep the air out of it, yet stir it daily; it needs a little pampering to keep it going. Already this is becoming one of those projects that I think about all of the time, which yarn I am going to try first, (our own Shadyside spun Columbia X) and also, a pima cotton warp for a woven kimono.

The vat is ready when it has a coppery film on top. Will write more when I see the vat again Tuesday.

Saturday, April 22, 2006

Indigo Dyeing mystifies me, because of it's history and also for the length of time it takes to prepare. The dyehappy group on yahoo has been having an interesting discussion on dyeing, what else, that has inspired me and also lead me to check out some of the participants sites. Cheryl Kolander 's site, , is full of exciting techniques and things to buy. She describes a method of preparing indigo that doesn't require lye, so we thought we'd try it for dyeing at Woolbearers.

Indigo is mixed with wheat germ, madder and soda ash in three gallons of warm water and then kept warm for one week. Being careful not to incorporate air into the bath, skeins of wetted yarn are slowly placed into the bath, squished around, and then brought out, squeezed, and placed on newspaper. Successive dips darken the color. We mixed up our vat last evening so I'm expecting to dye next weekend. This just thrills me. I usually want things done yesterday, and the idea that I'm having to wait is not making me as crazy as I thought it would. Cheryl writes that the process is meditative, and I agree.

Wednesday, April 19, 2006

Myra and I have been dyeing up a storm, stock piling yarn for TKGA in King of Prussia in July where we will be vendors for the first time. (Not counting years ago at Salem Harvest Sheep and Wool.)

One of the best parts of getting a block of time to dye is the opportunity it brings to try out new colorways when the inspiration strikes. I don't like to mix dye, so when I get the bug to try something new, I generally write down the recipe and try it on fiber later.

Dyers know what preparation is involved with dyeing. Preparing the yarn by skeining it, prewashing it, soaking it in an auxiliary, mixing the dye and then finally the application and heating. Since mixing the dyes is not my favorite part of the process, I try to get it done in one sitting. I use liter sized bottles that sterile water and saline comes in for the Operating Room (my old life). They are perfect for dyes because they are graduated, they clean up well, and they are unbreakable. I fill the bottles with fairly hot water, not too hot, but as hot as comes from the tap and line up as many as will fit on the counter. I use disposable t-spoons so I can move quickly and not stop to wash off real measuring spoons, and with my nose and mouth covered, start adding dye powder to the bottles. Occasionally a customer will come down to our studio when I am in the process of doing this and it always amuses me to see the expression on their face when they see the mask.

When I mix a big batch of dyes like this, they tempt me for days. Until I can get there again for the real application, it will nag me that all that color is waiting to be released.

One of the many benefits of having a business partner is that I get to use her dyes. I think I will shop at her house tomorrow for some new inspiration.

Saturday, April 08, 2006

Last night was our group meeting. As usual, it ended with me feeling refreshed and relaxed. I did drink a one inch glass of wine, but I don't think that was what helped. The women were sharing their stories, the older gals giving wisdom to the younger. It was very cool. There is something about a group of women coming from all walks of life who have knitting in common. Everyone's knitting totally different projects. Sabra is working on a tremendous Colinette mitered square afghan, Bernadette had some lovely cotton stranded novelty yarn that she is making a shell from, Joanne is doing an entrelac felted bag from the class we offer, Barb is knitting socks from handspun yarn she spun from blue wool and mohair she bought from Woolbearers; I can't remember what other lovely things I saw. I am inspired now to try other yarns and patterns. Fun!

Saturday, April 01, 2006

Saturday night is a time for wine and straight brain waves for me. I know my partner is sitting at a performance of The Wizard of Oz right now, watching her eleven year old daughter dancing her heart out. I am too old and decrepit to do anything but reflect on the week and drink this wine.

We had five new customers this week. While our old customers sustain us, the new ones keep us on our toes. They don't know (or maybe they do) how important their comments are. Our faithful customers probably are used to seeing the store so may not notice that the patterns, while in the same place, have some new additions. I try to surprise them by mixing up things; Tuesday I love to change things around a little bit. Make things look new.

Myra and I had a small chance to converse this evening and remarked about how our most important role is to get the yarn the customers want. For instance, since we opened, you asked for Brown Sheep. We couldn't get it for a year because they were overwhelmed with new dealers. Then we didn't think we needed it because we have so many wonderful yarns that are great substitutions for it; Lopi among others. Finally, we wanted it. That seems like the cycle. We have to like it in order to sell it. Now I can't wait to get it in.

The Mission Falls cotton still isn't in, but we are hoping for Tuesday. I already have something in mind to knit. We got our Regia Sock Silk in, it is gorgeous and soft! New Lorna's Laces, Fleece Artist Sock Kits' and Felted Purse Kits. We have no idea how we managed to find room for all of the new yarn.

We've been dyeing up a storm, too. Myra has dyed some sock yarn that is to die for. I wish I had time to knit socks.

I didn't get my Jo Sharp Silkroad Aran Tweed sweater done like I said I would. It is so much fun to knit, the Sunrise Circle Sweater in Spring Interweave Knits, but you must count each stitch on every other row as you are knitting, and this is slow going for me.

Myra and I counted all the sweaters, bags, shawls and scarves we knit this year and we impressed ourselves. I took some pictures and will put them on the blog once I figure out where to put them.

Have a great weekend and do comment if you want. suzie