BTW - thanks for the responses to yesterday's post - I've been surprised by the preponderance of interest in lighter weight yarns for big projects. A quick Ravelry check shows the numbers of patterns for fingering:sport:worsted to be approx. 1:1:2, which I suppose is why I assumed worsted would be the preferred weight. I've now put a poll at the top of the right sidebar for a more expedient tally - input is much appreciated!
weave 7 more scarves (5 of 12 are done) at a bare minimum, though a couple of silk shawls wouldn't suck to have lying around
thoroughly tidy up the inventory
order more jewellery boxes for 2 day UPS delivery and suck up the extra 20% cost, since the Canadian dollar is clearly not going to go back to par any time soon (why oh why did I not see that economic crisis thingy coming and buy up every US supply I could imagine needing for the next 2 years?)
get a long (long!) overdue haircut and highlights so that I do not scare away the customers (they didn't run screaming today, but one can't take too many chances with the biggest venue of the year.)
fret about a suitably fashionable outfit that actually fits (a handwoven skirt would be SO sweet... hah!)
The fourth day is reserved for turning the abominable pigsty I have allowed the home to become this month back into something fit for a babysitter to walk into.
Friday and Saturday are Bizarre Bazaar all day, and Sunday.... I promise to get right back in the pattern/kit making saddle (after I sleep off the thank-goodness-we-survived-another-year-of-that hangover). Really. I would make noises about having the mitt pattern released this week, but I just don't have any more wiggle room. (OK, I haven't totally given up on releasing the pattern this week, but I have been known to overestimate the number of hours in a day.)
I did get the gradient/stripey yarns up last night - I think you can see them all from the homepage. (Some of them never made it to the site, thanks to the Whistler Knitting Group and cheap martinis. Knitting with a chocolate-raspberry martini in one hand and a bite-sized morsel of rare roast lamb in the other is highly recommended, albeit tricky.)
Speaking of yarn, I'm mulling over some possibilities (semi-urgently... isn't everything?) Which of these would you find interesting (no commitment obviously, just honest opinions):
Worsted weight BFL... sweater packs of 1/2 lb skeins or regular 100+gm skeins for smaller projects? Or does worsted weight BFL interest you at all (the very thought makes me hyperventilate, but that could just be me)?
Fingering weight sweater packs: BFL or superwash merino?
Sport/DK preferable to fingering for sweaters? Is fingering a viable sweater option for many people (it would allow considerably more mix & match flexibility)?
Is an anonymous poll the better way to go about this....?
This will likely be a more-photos-than-words blog week. Or all photos (assuming I get some stuff made.) But I will leave you with a wee anecdote about the local firefighter who wandered by our booth today. He had a look around the yarns and mentioned that his family back in Nova Scotia has a wee mill of their own... likely we'd never heard of them, but he handed over the card just in case we cared to look them up. It was Briggs & Little. Small world!
I revisted an old colourway this week, but (naturally) did something quite different with it. My first favorite thing about the lupin is the shades of blue-purple-wine in the mature petals,
which I chose to interpret this time around as a gently varied royal blue with highlights of pink and lowlights of deep violet added as random tweedy flecks.
The superwashyarns grab colour aggressively, so the flecks are more defined,
whereas untreated wools like the BFL blend them softly:
Then there's the mohair-silk, which I'm having a hard time being modest about, because this one is totally breathtaking:
My other favorite thing about the lupin is the stunning contrast between the vivid blue-purple petals and the crisp pale chartreuse of the buds and stalk.
I never really managed to do that justice last time around, reason being that such a high contrast really works best in decently sized blocks of colour. This time I took two different approaches, first with the self striping and gradient versions (which I have yet to finish up and photograph, but they're coming....) and secondly, in a new venture called the sweater pack.
This one has already sold, but I am still interested in feedback on the concept: 4 x 1/2 lb skeins of heavy worsted weight wool for a total of approx. 1740 yds. This time around there were 3 in blue-purple, and one in the chartreuse contrast - that will obviously differ, depending on the colourway. The main idea is to keep the 4 skeins together as a package for around 20% less than I would need to sell them separately, thus giving an interested knitter the opportunity to purchase enough for a whole sweater. If the pack doesn't sell in a week's time, I'll offer the skeins separately, and if they still don't sell after that, I'll look at splitting them into more standard +/- 4 oz. sizes. (Which will put the cost up a wee bit more, due to the extra time and labour involved in winding, weighing and reskeining.) I never got past the package deal stage this time around, but I am interested in feedback on the concept. I know petite sizes won't need all of it, and plus sizes might wish for a bit more, but this seems like a good compromise that allows me to keep my own costs in check, therefore keeping the price feasible. Thoughts? Ideas?
Over here. The semi-solids went up today. I'm also working on a selection of gradient / self striping skeins in the same colourway, not to mention the leafy mitt kits; those will be ready in a few days.
Well, now that family members are emailing to see if we're OK, I suppose I ought to blog, eh? Nothing awful is happening, it's just crunch time around here, trying to prepare for the holiday show season, dealing with the enormous discrepancy between the amount of stuff I'd like to have ready, and the number of hours in a day, compounded by the undercurrent of anxiety that this is supposed to pay the bills and put food on the table, and although there's no controlling the economic climate, I can't help thinking that maybe if I worked even harder, it would help. Plus every time I think I'm over whatever bug it was I caught a month ago, it relapses, and for the last few days I can't breathe particularly well, which is disconcerting and not helping the productivity. (But as a retired/recovering physician, I'm not going to the doctor until I'm certain it's something bad, because there is nothing more humiliating than having a colleague give you the look as they tell you there's nothing wrong.)
Anyway, I'm going to try to finish up the week's dyeing today, and if I feel energetic, I'll take some photos of other stuff I've been working on.
Speaking of other stuff, I'm just waiting to hear from another tester or two (hint) and then I think the leafy mitts are ready for release. I've even got some of that heavy superwash merino in today's dye line-up earmarked for leafy colours. I was contemplating delaying release until I finished writing and testing the variations (a full-up mittens version, and maybe my daughter's heart mittens that I still haven't finished) I had in mind, so as to offer a mini-collection, but that is probably not realistic. So I think what I will do is to release the fingerless mitts as kits and also as a separate pattern for a nominal fee, and when the rest of the collection is ready, I will put it all together, and figure out how to make it add up fairly for those of you who bought the mitts pattern on its own, but then want the rest of the collection as well. (Actually, I struggled with whether to just make it free, but I've now put a LOT of hours in on the pattern, worked hard to make it clear and easy to use and accurate, and I am ever mindful of the fact that when one designer devalues their time, it has a ripple effect on others. I know from the Ravelry forums that there are strong feelings on both sides of the issue.... which also factors into my struggle - is it selfish/greedy/not-sharing to ask for money in exchange for ideas? If I keep up this line of thinking, I'll add panic attack to my list of reasons for not breathing, so I won't belabour the point, but I did want you to know that the choice was not a flippant one.)
The mitts are done, and I spent this dark and stormy day writing up the pattern..... who wants to test knit? (Beta version, presently in one size with brief instructions for downsizing.) Leave a comment, or email me: ruth AT impulse-of-delight DOT com.
I spent this week playing with stripes and gradients again - in bold, saturated colours. I'll get back into the regular rhythm of the semisolids next week - I haven't decided whether to add a few special effect skeins each week to complement the colourway of the week, or just alternate semi-solid and special effect weeks. Probably the former.... I think I'm going to work on some layered solids too, at least in the heavier yarns - maybe some big skeins suitable for bigger projects (it's also easier to keep the price down with larger skeins.)
The steamroller of life seems to be obliterating our usual milestones and celebrations this fall. Our anniversary (Oct. 19th) passed by barely acknowledged in a flurry of entertaining guests and chaffeuring midgets to birthday parties, and my birthday on Monday could pretty much be summed up thusly:
(In all fairness, Rob did make a lovely breakfast of Eggs Benedict, complemented by mimosas, although the effect of a half a bottle of champagne on top of a sleepless night spent overdosing on cough suppressants was slightly....stupefying.)
The kids had the day off school, so dyeing was out, but I did indulge in a little playtime later in the afternoon, with my Ashford Knitter's Loom. (Technically this was last year's birthday present, but Rob and I agreed that I need to get some sort of an organizational grip on my current creative pursuits before a spinning wheel joins the family.)
Here's my very first weaving project:
Clearly the selvedges could use a little work, although they improved as I went along.
The scarf is 54"x9", with a warp of BFL in graduated purples, golds and browns, and a weft of bulky weight 50/50 wool/silk.
Imperfect though it may be, I think I'll get some wear out of it.
Selvedges improved considerably on the second try:
This one uses a soysilk/alpaca blend for the warp, and an alpaca/wool boucle for the weft, both in the Coneflower Tweed colourway. (I haven't washed and blocked - is that the term? - either scarf yet.)
So this weaving thing is more than a little addictive, particularly the relatively rapid (compared to knitting) gratification of turning my own colourways into cloth. And I'm now hungry for some technical information and instruction beyond the bare bones set-up manual - because I'm pretty sure there's considerable potential here beyond "the reed goes up and down and the shuttle goes back and forth."
I know there's some weavers in my readership, so I'm looking for book recommendations for the rank beginner who catches on fast. Bearing in mind, finances are pretty limited at the moment, so I'm looking for one, or at the most, two books that cover a fair bit of ground. (Oh, and there is zero chance of fitting a floor loom into our condo, so I think this rigid heddle loom is going to be it for weaving equipment.) Suggestions?
Today marks the 90th anniversary of the end of the First World War. A war in which approximately 68,000 Canadians were killed in action and 173,000 more wounded, many of whom never fully recovered.
For those of us who do not live in a war-torn country, it is all too simple to forget, to gloss over the unimaginable horror. Equally simplistic though, is the temptation to assuage our temporary discomfort with a few blanket statements condemning war and all those who engage in it... to pretend that armed conflict belongs to an evil "other", a sort of faceless entity separate from ourselves.
The problem with this dualistic thinking is that it ignores the personal, human origins of war: intolerance, ignorance, fear, selfishness, xenophobia. These are things we all can work on in our own lives, our families, our communities. We can work on our conflict resolution skills, we can cultivate compassion, suspend judgement, seek deeper understanding of people and actions that repulse or offend us. In so doing, we will discover the means and motivation to work for justice, free the oppressed, reach out to the isolated, and create safe and peaceful communities.
It begins at home - in the tone of voice we use with our children and spouse, our anger with the slowpoke in the lane ahead of us, the assumptions we make about the bully at school, the stereotypes and predjudices we allow to dwell, unexamined, in our subconscious, the choices we make as consumers... it goes on and on.
War begins with us - we are none of us exempt from responsibility, none of us powerless to create peace.