Monthly Archives: October 2011

My Lycan Boyfriend

It’s been a while since I’ve worked on a sock project, and it feels good. This summer I dyed a colorway called Lycan Boyfriend. It’s one of those colorways that makes me ridiculously happy. Customers liked it as well, and I have a custom order that needs to go out this weekend for a nice lady I met at Southern Adirondack. It’ll be tricky to replicate, but I have a good idea how I did it. Replicating something like this is worth it. I liked it so much that I kept a skein aside for myself, and now that the show season is done I’m using it as a treat to myself. The colorway fascinates me, and I thought long and hard before I chose a pattern.

Greens and browns, over dyed blue.

Doing a search of all patterns available in my queue and personal library netted me an embarrassing amount of results. I excluded magazines and that brought it down some, but there were still hundreds and hundreds of results. Because the yarn is a multi-color kettle/over-dye, I was able to visually exclude any cables and most of the lace results. In the end, the Harvest Dew pattern was a clear winner.

Like I said, it’s been a while since I’ve knit socks. So, while it’s coming along very well and I’m enjoying the knit, I probably should have tried it on before I turned the heel. It fits, no worry there, but the leg is a little short for my tastes. Short of ripping out days of work (not going to happen), I’ll have to live with slightly short-legged socks. I can deal.

I'm considerably farther along now, but you can see the pattern.

I have a feeling I’ll be swinging back into the sock kick once more if for no other reason than I’m starting to wear through a good portion of the socks I’ve made over the last few years. I lost a few to m*th damage during the great m*th purge of 2008, a few have worn through the toes (especially my older cuff down ones), and it’s high time to pad the sock drawer. As much as I like knitting socks, I will admit that I wish I could afford a CSM (circular sock machine) in good repair. They can be fiddly, but what a way to make up some socks in a hurry! Someday.

 

Reunited, And It Feels So Good

Do you remember spinning? I remember spinning. Yesterday, my last day in a long weekend, I put the pedal to the metal on a bobbin of my own Superwash BFL Wheel Candy in the colorway “Forest Sprites”. Having finished the actual single the night previous, I used a visit with my friend Avigayil as time to chain ply my little heart out.

Forest Sprites fresh off the plying bobbin.

Side by side the difference is glaring.

I don’t have a photo of the fiber alone on hand, but as I have fiber left over I’ll be sure to grab one later, after the yarn has had time to dry and gets its beauty shot. Right now you have these two skeins, one fresh off the bobbin, the other one (golden color) sat on the jumbo bobbin for a couple months or so. It’s amazing the difference between a skein you took your mindful time on and a skein you worked on willy nilly in between customers at shows. It shows, if you don’t mind me saying.

Definitely the more even of the two.

I’m taking the initiative to make more time at home for spinning, and hopefully that’ll help me get through more of my fiber stash that way. Usually I know I’ll spin at least once a week at knit night, and that’s a good two hours or more solid. Unfortunately, the group hasn’t been meeting regularly for months, and my spinning has languished. Since I love to spin, there’s no reason to let it languish. I see more fresh skeins in my near future, oh yes.

Rhinebeck 2011: The Competition Post

Participating in competition at Rhinebeck has been a tradition for me since my very first year attending. For all that it’s a total crapshoot in that every judge has different pet peeves and criteria, it’s a lot of fun. However, with everything that was going on with getting ready to vend, at the last minute I made the announcement I wasn’t going to compete. The 22 Leaves shawl in my handspun and the Narnia backup shawl in my hand dyed were both less than perfectly blocked. I had no yarn specs at hand for handspun entries, and I didn’t see having the time to get them ready either. Oh well, right?

Blocking is never my favorite part.

Only I just couldn’t do it. Friday morning I said ‘screw it, what’s the worst that can happen? I don’t get any ribbons and my work is on display’. I could handle that. Quick like a bunny I got my tags together, filled out my form, and left it up to Fate. I’m bummed to have missed on helping the judges, but I had a lot of stuff to do at home. That meant waiting ‘til Saturday and hoping for the best.

 

Kinda wonky.

It may be imperfect, but I feel pretty glamorous wearing it.

Saturday morning I got my chance to check on them when I moved my car to the vendor parking lot. As expected, the 22 Leaves shawl did not do well, taking 7th in Large Lace due to “blocking and gauge issues”. They felt that the leaf motif at the neck should be flat edged, not knowing that the way it’s written is for it to be a curved edge. The spine was also not straight. That one was very fair, it really did look off center. Honestly, I’m surprised they didn’t notice that I forgot one of the leaf repeats on the right far edge. Yeah, I was pretty sad when I figured that out. Since 6th and 7th place are new as of last year, and really excessive in my book, I’m considering the shawl as not placing, despite the ribbon. It’s a winner in the sense of style though, and I love it. That’s enough for me.

 

7th isn't really a place, it's just silly!

Really? Well, ok, and thank you!

The Narnia shawl, however, won 1st place in Small Lace! Initially I’d submitted it in Large Lace, but they felt it was too small and moved it to Small Lace instead. I thought they’d be unhappy with a sock weight shawl (it’s what the pattern calls for), and I worried that the tonal variegation was too strong. It just goes to show, you never know what the judge will think… one of the volunteers told me the judge picked it as first immediately, no question, the minute she saw it. The yarn is my own Bittersweet Woolery Glamour Gams MCN sock yarn in the Merfolk colorway. What a great way to start the weekend!

 

It's hard to see the pattern from here.

It was an interesting knit... half true double sided lace, and half regular with nupps.

The scallops are a crocheted bind off.

Competition is nerve-wracking, challenging, but it can also be very rewarding. If you get a good judge, the comments can be helpful, and it never hurts to put your work out there for your community to see. I love seeing how much hard work and creativity goes into the submissions. If you’ve considered competing before but were afraid to submit, I urge you to give it a try. The worst that can happen is you’re out a couple of bucks and you get to have your work admired by the tribe. And you never know… what you thought would be inferior may just be a winner in the making.

Rhinebeck 2011: The Loot Post

As promised, the loot is photographed and ready to share!

Silk Road Socks.

 

Elegant and gorgeous!

 

Saturday was so busy that I bought exactly one thing, from a vendor 100ft away from me. Have you heard of Cooperative Press? They’ve been on my radar for a while due to the book Silk Road Socks. It’s one of those books that never go on sale anywhere. Since I’d been lusting after it since previews went up on the ‘net, I figured if I’m going to pay full price, why not support the Cooperative Press booth directly? I was doubly thrilled to find out that the author of a book I’d recently purchased, Shaping Shawls, was in the booth! I kinda squeed all over her and brought my copy in the next day for her to autograph. I hope Anna wasn’t too traumatized.

 

Shaping Shawls.

 

Anna Dalvi signed my book!

 

Sunday I had a plan. Get there super early and then shop while vendors were opening. Only thing was… they weren’t showing up until the very last minute. And considering how tired I was myself, could I blame them? I cruised for two hours, circling back to Tintagel Farms and their basket of “Starry Night” roving three times, but no luck. Finally I had to go back to the booth and when I sent Steve back two hours later, some lady had bought the entire bag of fiber. All of it. It was similar at two other booths I had scoped out earlier.

 

Buckwheat Bridge Angoras, 11oz of silky awesomeness.

 

Luckily, I hit pay dirt at Buckwheat Bridge Angoras. Having finally worked through most of my BWBA stash I felt free to buy another bag of their squishaliscious fiber. My heart went pitter pat over a smaller bag (only 11oz, vs. the usual 16oz) of this lovely mossy green with peach and chocolate. If you’ve never spun their Cormo/kid mohair blend you don’t know what you’re missing. Love.

 

7.9oz of Fantom Farms Romney/Mohair blend.

 

I'm afraid to open it, so here's the closeup.

 

On the way back I found someone who had Fantom Farm Romney fiber, but none like the stunning chocolate Romney with copper Angelina I used in the 22 Leaves shawl. To break things up I chose a cheery blue blend that looks like summer skies. Can you believe there’s almost 8oz in that tiny little bag? I’m afraid to open it and pet because I know I’ll never get it back in there. And the price… can’t beat it.

 

Bitsy Knits Superwash Merino Roving.

 

Closeup!

 

It wasn’t until the end of the day that I realized the booth right diagonally across from mine had bags of interesting roving blends (my favorite form of fiber prep) in great colors at reasonable prices. Bitsy Knits is one of those booths I’ve seen at Jersey every year but hadn’t bought from yet. I highly recommend checking her out if you’re at one of the show’s she’s attending next year. She does interesting things with fiber blending and she’s a lot of fun to talk with.

 

Bitsy Knits Romney/Mohair Roving.

 

Closeup!

 

Last, but not least, I bought a fleece. And it’s not a Romney! The fleece table was pretty picked over on Sunday by the time I got over there, but I found a few that I liked very much. The sale moved to the building next door, conveniently enough, so I know I’ll be sure to hit it much earlier next year. Usually I buy a white or silver fleece, but the fleece I fell in love with is a gorgeous chocolate Corriedale. I couldn’t believe that this velvety soft fleece had been marked down from $65 to $45, and it’s a whopping 8.5lbs! I loved that the shepherd was right there at the checkout counter and I made sure to get her information should I be interested in more in the future. This is a shop purchase, and I’ll share more about my plans for it later.

 

8.5 lbs of beautiful fleece.

8.5 lbs of beautiful fleece.

Closeup!

There you have it… aside from the business purchase of the fleece, I spent a whopping $108. In years past I used to save up and go with $200-$300, but you all know that my circumstances have changed. Thanks to the shop doing so well this weekend I was able to support my fellow vendors at least a little bit, and I’m grateful for the chance. If it weren’t for the fact that I was vending, I might not have been able to afford to attend at all. Rhinebeck was very, very good to me in more ways than one.

 

 

 

Rhinebeck 2011: The People Post

Locusts ate my brain and my booth. Since the locusts were fellow yarnies, does that mean I’ve survived an attack by wooly zombies? If so, I’m down with that. What a great first vending experience! Oh, the memories, the people, the hugs, the squee! I apologize ahead of time for the crappy photos. Not sure what was up with my camera this weekend, but I have a sneaking suspicion it was set on an inappropriate setting.

 

Super duper crazy excited looks like this. In fact, I was so excited I was almost bug eyed.

Dad drove me in with the gear on Friday and we set up the bones of the booth in short time. I dropped off my entries into the competition building (two shawls, no yarn this year) and then it was back home to finish cleaning and prepping last minute yarn.

 

Minions at work!

 

Jenna, Leah, and Lisa having SO MUCH FUN!

Before I knew it, my Minnesota Minions had arrived and the party began! Jenna, Lisa, and Leah were The Bomb. No lie. Funny, sweet, and incredibly kind, they helped me inventory, tag, and bag the last of the yarn and fiber. Only you see, they called it “Shopping”. Silly me! Here I thought I’d been working them like dogs the very first time we meet in person. All weekend they provided support and their friendship, including taking Steve and I to dinner on Saturday night at our favorite Asian restaurant. I was so sad when they had to go home, and I hope they’ll come stay at Tiny House again next year. You guys were AWESOME.

 

Yes, that would be Steve enjoying three sausages on a stick. It was obscene.

Vending blew my mind, as you know from yesterday’s post. What can I say but thank you? My mom was so fantastic as booth minion for the day on Saturday, and I’m thrilled that one of my parents got to see how big a deal Rhinebeck was. Steve, as always, was six shades of win. He gets a cookie, or a couple dozen. (Literally, I rarely bake, and he loves my oatmeal cookies.) The downside of vending was that whenever I finally managed to sneak away on Sunday, most of what I wanted was sold out! I did snag a few lovelies though, and they’ll get their own post.

 

Melodypants picked up some of the new yarn, Ingenue. She's wearing a scarf made with Leann's yarn!

 

Kim's got a new tattoo! But I won't be the one to flash it on the 'net without permission.

Dan (Gnomespun) is too cute (and tired) for words.

Robin, my adorable o' Dark Thirty Sale partner in crime got herself a Golding.

 

Leann, Logan, Risa, and the Monkeys!

As always, talking to fellow vendors is a highlight of the experience. Vendor buddies were incredibly supportive, and the vendors I met for the first time were generous and so knowledgeable. Steve and I both learned a lot, made great connections, and look forward to seeing them next year. Dinner Sunday night was a giddy gab fest of post-Rhinebeck huzzahs and love. Coming home after all of this is surreal.

 

Lisa and Betty are the bomb!

Hey Peter, I met Stephen West! Aaand... we have spectacularly awful photo proof.

Unfortunately, as I’m effectively sold out, I’ve had to back out of Stitches East this weekend. Thankfully, Leann had already graciously offered to refund my half of our shared booth fee, and she’ll be taking them by storm all by herself. I SO wish I could be there, but there’s really no way to justify $400 in booth fees, plus $100 in gas there and back, plus four days of food just to sit there and show off my samples. I’m out of business cards, out of credit card slips, out of stock! There’s always next year… We have so many plans and ideas for next year, but most of all we know for a fact now that we’re on the right track. Now, if only there were more hours in a day, right?

 

Rhinebeck 2011: The Thank You Post

I remember my first Rhinebeck. Being the kind of person I am, the crowds and spectacle of it all was like mainlining pure energy. I walked the grounds each day and jostled my way into the booths, loving the sensory overload and sheer joy of being surrounded by people just like me. It was heady, and giddy, and utterly fantastical. I loved every minute of it. Once I became a dyer I told myself: someday, if I’m very lucky, I’ll be able to vend here.

 

Early Friday morning, after Dad helped me set up.

When my work life started falling apart last October, and then of course that terrible day in January when I was laid off, I had no idea where I would be exactly one year later. Of course, I knew that taking Bittersweet up a notch or two to prime time was not an option, but a necessity. When I sent out the first flurry of applications, some after the posted deadlines, I could only hope that my plans would come to fruition. As of this weekend those dreams have come true.

 

Mom and I manning the booth.

And then... BAM!

I’ll post all the social awesomeness that filled the weekend separately because this post is all about the thank you. Thank you to my family and friends who worked long hours to help me get ready in such a short space of time. Thank you to my husband, Steve, who spent his vacation winding yarn, making food magically appear so I didn’t have to cook and could work or rest instead, and who did all the infinite things that needed doing. I couldn’t have done it without you.

 

Mom restocking and tidying around lunch time.

Thank you to the organizers of the New York Sheep & Wool Show for allowing me this astounding opportunity. All of the staff was a pleasure to work with, and my accommodations in Building C were perfect. One cannot praise smooth floors, great lighting, and conveniently located food and bathrooms enough. Seriously.

 

My Minnesota Minions!

And finally, I thank my customers. I thank those I’ve come to know from other shows, and the many who were new to this one. The response was stunning, and would have taken my breath away if I’d had time to stop talking! I was stunned when I looked up and the spinner racks of yarn and fiber were almost bare… Saturday afternoon. My only regret is that I couldn’t dye more in the three weeks I had from the time I found out I’d be attending, to the cutoff date for drying and winding! Who knows how much more yarn I could have sent into the world with just a few more weeks prep time?

 

3:30 Saturday afternoon...

Most humbling of all were the words of praise and encouragement from customers, friends, and vendor pals alike. I couldn’t believe how many of you came back to buy more in the same day, the next day, or sent your friends. Your support and affirmation of our work here at Bittersweet is the highest compliment that I could ever hope for. Because of you, Bittersweet will become bigger and better over the next few months before show season starts up again. I can’t wait to see you all again next year!

 

The Final Hours

The bell has run on dye prep, folks. It actually rang yesterday. What I have done is all I can do, for the weather has rolled in and there’s no way to ensure product would dry in time. The enormous pressure to get All The Things done is dissipating, replaced with the slew of last minute details like labeling and creating the inventory list. Once again, thanks be to Steve, the loyal and wonderful Husbeast, for using his vacation time to wind miles of freshly dyed yarn.

There’s no way I could have been really and fully prepared for a show of this magnitude in three weeks while working a full time job, commuting, and dealing with the demands of my health. As it is, I’ve literally run myself into the ground, but what choice did I have? There’s no way I could pass on the opportunity (albeit last minute) to vend in my very own booth at Rhinebeck. I mean, come on… it’s Rhinebeck. My fears that the booth will look half full are only partially valid, but again, stressing over things I cannot control is pointless. We have done our best, I have done my best, and all that remains now is to make my Rhinebeck debut with as much style and presence as I can muster.

 

Lots and lots of Wheel Candy, pre-braiding.

On top of the crazy is the happy knowledge that my friends and family have gone above and beyond both in person and in spirit to help me get this far. I’d like to take a moment to thank just a few of you. Though you know who you are you deserve a shout out:

Steve, Mom, Dad, Amy, Flame (Kate), Leann, Jenna, Tana, Heidi, Jesh, Hillary, Stephanie, BigMama Stephanie, Megan M., Mari, and a few people I can’t remember to name at the moment. More than just saying congrats, your encouragement and support have helped me to push this through to the end.

 

Lots and lots of Wheel Candy, post-braiding.

The best part about being done? I can get the last minute picking up done that I need to do in prep for my houseguests arriving tomorrow night! Jenna and two of her friends are flying all the way from Minnesota to come stay with me and attend Rhinebeck. Ok, they’re here to go to Rhinebeck, but Tiny House’s open door festival policy is making it possible. Saturday night the lovely Kim (Somebunny’s Love) is joining the fray as well! Tiny House will be bursting at the seams with fiber folk awesomeness.

So, that’s it from me… no more out of me until after the show, I’m sure. Please hold Bittersweet in your thoughts this weekend. We really need to make a whack-ton of money to replenish the leap of faith and suckage of our savings account. Rhinebeck, don’t fail me now!*

 

*Remember: Bittersweet Woolery will be in Building C, Booth 40. See you at the show!

 

Show Update: Building & Booth Assignment

I’m popping my head up above water to share the news that I got my booth assignment for the NY Sheep & Wool Show!

 

Bittersweet Woolery will be in Building C, Booth 40.

Friday will be here before I know it, and then I’ll be setting up my booth in preparation for the big weekend. If you’re coming out to the show I’d love to see you, I’ll have chocolate and hugs for whomever wants one (or both)! If you come by on Saturday you can say hi to my mom, who will be helping me vend so Steve can have a break. She’s a little nervous, but I know she’ll do fine, after all… fiber folk are good people!

 

New colorways for your knitting delight.

There will be a new yarn debuting at the show (can we say luxury fibers?), new colorways, dyed locks and the new kettle dyed top, and more. So, yeah, if you’re coming to the show, you should totally stop by. Did I mention the chocolate?

Busy Blocking Bunnies

Oh, hey now. It’s been a tad quiet since the big news. As you can no doubt guess, I’ve been doing a lot of ordering, finagling suppliers, and dyeing. That’s pretty much a given. But since I still have an hour each day with nothing to do but knit and read, thanks to my commute schedule, I also got a wee bit of knitting done. To that end, there was blocking this weekend!

 

Blocking is never my favorite part.

 

But it sure is purty.

Eee! I have a shawl, and it is a happy thing. There’s nothing like the rush of casting off and the promise of what blocking will bring. Note to self: blocking on the dining room table is so much nicer to your knees than blocking on the floor. Now I’m working on another one that refuses to let me photograph the color accurately. In the spirit of using my own yarn more, this time I’m using one of my own shop yarns, an orphan left over from the last two shows. I’ll be honest that I was kind of hoping no one bought that last lone skein. *covets*

 

This is close, however. The colorway is Merfolk, in Bittersweet Woolery Glamour Gams MCN sock yarn.

It’s like buttah in my hands. Or maybe a bunny.

 

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