Wednesday, August 8, 2007

Itchy Yarn and New Projects

This will be a long post. To keep you interested, here is a picture of my cat modeling a scarf. See how he is Not Amused. He thinks the scarf would make a nice blanket for his bed. (this is where stray scarves always end up - cat blankets)

I'm nearing the toe on the second Magic Camo sock. I didn't stay faithful to the socks like I had intended. I knit the first one without breaking for a new project but the second one was interrupted by my youngest nephew's birthday present. It was short notice, and he's a monkey fanatic so I thought to knit him a large plush monkey. The yarn was already picked out from my stash - 2 balls of Bernat Ping Pong in Mocha Madness. I had purchased the yarn last year on a whim, along with 2 balls of Ping Pong in Purple Passion. I had no projects in mind, but I really liked how the yarn looked even though I consider it novelty yarn. I started working on the monkey without any real pattern, just a general idea of how large to make it based off my sock monkey.

Originally I was going to sew him a sock monkey but the socks were nowhere to be found in the middle of summer here and I didn't have time to wait for an online order to be delivered. Cost was also a bit of a factor for me. He's two, and at the age where toys can be destroyed for fun, so spending a lot of money on a gift just isn't practical. I also didn't know I would get to see him for his birthday, hence the short notice on the gift since I thought I would have a lot more time. I might try making the sock monkey for Christmas but we'll see. But let's get back to the yarn...

I've read plenty of comments about this particular yarn, about how it's not ideal for clothes because it can be itchy due to the tinsel in it but it seemed ok enough to use for a toy. The texture felt a little funny to me and made my hands itch a little since I was knitting it quickly (very easy garter stitch since the yarn texture erases any 'fancy' stitches) but I shrugged it off. By the second day my face was itching as well and on the third day I felt itchy all over and was hitting the Benadryl a little too often. I put the knitting away (and I was about 80% done with the toy at this point, I had started seaming it together) and decided to see if it was the yarn making me itch or the weather. After a day or two without the yarn (and a carefully cleaned knitting area to remove extra tinsel) I felt a whole lot better. Went back to the yarn and the itching came back. I'm not allergic to the yarn, but the texture definitely was not friendly to sensitive skin. The downside to this meant I wasn't going to finish the toy because if it makes me itch so much, I really wouldn't want to subject a toddler to that. His skin isn't as finicky as mine is, but I don't want to risk it.

So the monkey body is sitting unstuffed and not quite finished away from other yarn. I will be finding a new home for the 2 balls of purple and the nearly-finished monkey yarn (pseudo-pattern used about a ball and a half). I wouldn't mind trading it for something much softer and nicer (cotton!), but we'll see what happens with that. I might just offer it to my SiL and see if she wants it.

I also started planning a blanket for myself to help use up some of my leftover yarn. I'm going to make a 2-3" border in black then use lots of smaller knit squares for the body of it. I have a decent sized yarn cake of my favorite colorway (striped with tan, brown and dark strawberry) that will be used for the body. I'm not sure if I'm going to buy another skein or two of it to finish the entire thing in this color, or grab the cake of brown/blue/tan and mix the squares up. I haven't picked any particular pattern for the squares either, a patchwork of different styles might be nice since it would give me the chance to learn them without the commitment of a massive project.

In thanks for reading the whole thing, here's some yarn pr0n. I have six balls of the now discontinued Simple Stripes from Knit Picks (2 each of 3 colorways) in my stash. They're all destined for socks, but that is still awhile off. For now they're sitting in a colorful row in the drawer. I'm anxious to get some of the new Knit Picks striped yarn Felici but I'm not buying new yarn for awhile.

Tuesday, August 7, 2007

More Campfire

This lovely skein of yarn is worsted weight from Hello Yarn dyed in the colorway Campfire Marshmallow for a custom order. Personally I think it turned out better than the original, the brown is deeper and there's a lot more variety to the orange. (flame yellow in some places, pulpy orange in others) That's where the beauty of the yarn lies - the way the orange appears to 'flicker' as it's knit up. The turnaround time on this yarn was fast - the base yarn arrived here over the weekend and it left this afternoon for its new home. Hello Yarn has some very beautiful yarn and it worth checking out, the hank that arrived here was fluffy and held onto the dye very well.

I did dye a few other skeins in the last week, one being this bright bundle called 'Sunny Day'. (which is still available in the shop) It's been slow in the shop lately, there are 18 skeins listed right now in some fantastic colors just waiting. I won't be ordering new yarn until some of the current stock sells, but I did keep two skeins undyed in case someone has a request.

It's full on summer here, which means 95F+ heat (heat index of 100F+) and humidity of 90% or more and no sign of rain. Ideal weather for doing absolutely nothing.

Monday, July 30, 2007


My Ravelry invite came today and I've been busy organizing my needles and stash so I can add them all. There are tons of pictures to take for it so I will be fairly busy with it for a few days. The yarn to the left is Iced, and is listed in the shop.

I'm tempted to knit a quick hat today for my trip outside later but that means less time on Ravelry! Why would I do this? Well, yesterday I dyed my hair. I did a test swatch and mixed everything as directed. The swatch looked good and matched the color on the box exactly. Fantastic, I thought, because the box had a very deep and rich henna red on it. I thought it would be a deep cherry brown, natural-ish looking and vibrant. So I put it in my hair, let it sit for the recommended 40 minutes and washed it out. Then I caught a glimpse of it in the mirror.


I've been dying my hair for a long time, so it's not user error in this case. The rich dark color apparently turned into a watery neon carrot color. I expected my roots to be a little brighter since they're blonde naturally but I wasn't expecting carrot. Uneven carrot at that. Parts of my hair are barely dyed, some parts are neon and some are just weird. Why the swatch looked fine but the rest didn't I do not know. I do, however, know that this color is not acceptable and I will have to cover it with something much darker (and not red). I've had hair color "break" only once before, maybe eight years ago. I dyed it jet black and ended up with green, gray and purple-ish sludge color.

Wednesday, July 25, 2007

More Yarn

I listed two more hanks, one called Caramel Apples and the other Cherry Cobbler. (which is to the right) They're both available, as is the Lilacs yarn. I have three more that are being prepared for tomorrow as well for my one year anniversary on Etsy. The new ones I wound into yarn cakes to show of the colors. I still have five more skeins to dye, but I'm going to take a day off from it and relax before I jump into it. I have a few ideas of what to do with them, and I'm excited about it.

Tuesday, July 24, 2007

Lilacs And Beauty Rituals

First the yarn, then the real life rambles.

This perky little hank is called Lilacs and it's up in my shop right now. It's 100% Merino wool and the picture just does not do it justice. I have a box of Merino that will be dyed and posted over the next few days, which is a break from my usual Peruvian. I decided I needed the break from it - I love the twisty way Peruvian knits up but it hasn't been all that popular lately. For now the hanks will be sold as is (meaning they haven't been reskeined after the dye process) with the offer of free center pull ball winding because my shoulders really need a rest. I overdid it last time I dyed yarn and it's taken me a bit too long to bounce back from it. I wind skeins by hand and I got overexcited last time and strained the muscles a bit, and when you already have iffy back/shoulder muscles that isn't a good thing. I do have a very hefty 50% off coupon for JoAnns that I will be using for my very first swift as soon as I get a few more sale. Unless of course, someone wants to trade yarn for a swift!

My one year anniversary on Etsy is Thursday, and I'm trying to cook up some specials for it so keep watching the shop. Right now though I'm working on two more skeins - one brown and red striped and the other tan, white and red striped.

I'm still working on the magic camo sock. The finished one has been worn by itself by the recipient and it's fairly comical to see them shuffle around with just one sock. (presumably to encourage me to hurry up on the other so their poor toes don't freeze) Admittedly I haven't done a lot of knitting in the last few days like I had planned - I was busy most of Saturday getting a makeover and then spent Sunday and Monday sick because my stylist had a cold. The makeover was... interesting. My hair looks great, there's no doubt about it but the whole place made me nervous - and very self conscious. It's a large open salon, and I'm not ashamed to admit that large open indoor areas make me just as nervous as small, cramped areas. I showed the girl the style that someone had recommended for me and said that I don't like it at all because it's boring. (it was basically a slightly shorter version of the haircut I already had, but with huge elementary school bangs) She agreed and said it wouldn't look good on me anyway. We found a choppy cut that keeps my hair long but a little less grade school and a lot more in the way of "professional hot".

I don't like to put a lot of time into my hairstyle on a daily basis. Most days I just want to wash it and let it air dry, and thankfully the new style lets me get away with that. If I want it to be more fluffy and tousled, a quick blow dry and some product and I have it. I am now convinced though that the abundance of mirrors and harsh lighting are there to make you feel obligated to buy makeup and other products to help you look better because let me tell you, in that lighting, I looked awful. I didn't wear makeup since I knew I would be getting a facial but even without makeup I look fine. Not there. My skin looked washed out and splotchy, and I definitely looked about 20lbs heavier than I am. It's no wonder most of the people there had on so much freaking makeup. One of the other stylists had so much pasted on that if she smiled you could see deep cracks in it.

I wasn't a fan of the facial, and it's not something I want to repeat. I asked to inspect all products before they touched me in case there was something I'm allergic to in them and the girl agreed happily. The facial products... they just smelled bad. I go out of my way to use shampoo and soap etc that has as little scent as possible so why would I want my face reeking of a million kinds of flowers? I've had to toss a dozen bottles of shampoo and conditioner over scent - it might smell ok in the bottle but if my hair stinks all day like it, it has to go because it gets overwhelming. I'd just buy all natural shampoo and product but they almost always have things in it I can't use (or they smell awful). I don't use the calendula deodorant I bought for the same reason - it smells like sweat when I put it on. Why bother with deodorant when it makes me smell like I've been sweating all day! Never fear though - I do use antiperspirant/deodorant.

Friday, July 20, 2007

Things To Do

The next batch of yarn is due next week. It's been sitting at the post office for a day or so, and they haven't delivered it yet. It would be nice if they dropped it by tomorrow but I expect it will be Monday or Tuesday before it actually arrives. I decided to order ten skeins of Merino yarn instead of my usual Peruvian wool. It means my base cost will go up a small amount, but the yarn is smoother and seems to be more popular right now. I also ordered new dye, which will give me a more reliable color than what I've been using.

Since I'm not getting the new Harry Potter book just yet I will not be a part of the madness at the bookstores. I haven't finished book six yet so picking up the newest one isn't a priority. I can't imagine the people that have been sitting in line for three days in the rain over it but then again, I did wait out in the snow for my copy of Burning Crusade. That was an interesting release event - and it was handled in a pretty efficient way. The store had a limited amount of copies and if you had pre-ordered you were given a numbered ticket when you arrived. At 12:01 they started calling numbers and you just walked up with your ticket, took your item (you had to pre-pay before getting in line) and left. There were about 150 people waiting outside in the freezing cold getting snowed on, and a good amount of them in pajamas or roleplay gear. I had ordered my copy six months in advance but my better half didn't since they don't believe me when I say you really do need to pre-order things like games so they didn't get a copy. Being kind, I offered them my copy and said I would just wait until morning and look for a copy elsewhere. Luckily I overhead someone saying the grocery store across the street had a bunch of copies just laying around so we zipped across the street and literally ran inside to snag an extra copy.

My habits of pre-ordering might border on obsessive - I've had the new Zelda game for Nintedo DS pre-ordered for over a year already and it still doesn't come out until this fall at the earliest. I think Fable was pre-ordered at least a few months in advance as well, and same for my Nintedo DS Lite.

In knitting news I finished the first camo sock and started on the cuff on the second. I don't like how the toe looks on the sock, but it's already been finished and I'm sticking with it. It's square and odd shaped when it's not being worn. This happened because I had to do a quick decrease on only a few toes instead of a slow decrease down the foot since it was too tight otherwise.

Tomorrow I have a sort-of makeover scheduled. I'm gettting a new hair style and I have no idea what it will be yet because so far no style appeals to me. I need something easy to maintain but still glamorous. Since my hair is fine, it refuses to obey the laws of hairspray and curling irons, which is why I can't have a high maintenance hair cut. I like it being long but it's very limp and frazzled since the textured cut I got last time doesn't grow out well. The salon I'm going to also does basic makeovers and spa treatments as part of the package so I might actually learn something useful from that. I don't wear a lot of make up (since I don't really need it) but when I do it's rather bland.

Wednesday, July 18, 2007

A Little Vent, A Little Yarn

My store sales are in a bit of a slump so I put some on ebay to see if the market is any better over there. I was a bit dismayed to see that the average price for hand dyed yarn over there is much lower than it should be. I'm not against reasonable prices for yarn, and I work to keep mine reasonable (my prices are usually $5-12 lower than most on Etsy) but these prices.. they're just too low. It's mostly the same seller too - undercutting everyone just to make a sale, which is sometimes a problem on Etsy as well. Having a sale is one thing, but constant undercutting devalues the work people put into it. If you're selling yours for $7-9 per big skein, you're barely making back cost, or losing money depending on where you get your base yarn. This often leads to other people lowering their prices in return to keep up and so on. The idea is to make handmade goods affordable - not dirt cheap. Etsy is not a flea market or thrift store even though there are some people determined to make it so. I won't have my shop there forever, once my business is steady enough I will move it elsewhere so that it's more direct and without a lot of the extra fees and frustrations.

There are two skeins of scarf yarn in my shop as well, such as this colorway I call Campfire Marshmellows. This last batch of yarn was dyed in softer colors to add a bit more variety to the store but they don't seem all that popular. The Merino yarn cleared out quickly, but the rest is lingering. There's been a flood of cross posted items in the knitting category, and it's pushed back most of the yarn, making it harder to see. It's been my biggest gripe about Etsy - that some of the sections contain items that don't technically belong there, and it makes it hard for buyers to find what they want easily. They really need to add a section under knitting for just yarn, and maybe one for stitch markers since that's the item that usually floods out the category.