Friday, July 31, 2009

A slice o' Thursday night

Each Thursday night, a number of us descend on Rao's Coffee in Amherst for caffeine and knitting. Most of us don't even live in Amherst anymore, but faithfully turn up most Thursdays. The following video was shot for my friend Jenny's blog for her unique, amazing stuffed toys, Knitted Beasts, which I urge you to check out there or at her etsy shop. It introduces some of the usual gang of idiots and our possibly less idiotic projects, which range from cuttlefish to Dr. Who to socks. Oh, and there's also about a minute and a half of me talking about my yarn.

Thursday, July 30, 2009

For Your Information

I just went through and updated all of the yarn listings to include information about each yarn's ability to take an acid dye (e.g. Kool-Aid) and ability to be felted. Acid dyes work on animal-protein fibers like wool or silk, though they will work well on nylon, apart from other synthetics, as well. Gauging the percentage of these fibers in the yarn is how I determine its dyeability. Acid dyes are some of the cheapest (you can buy enough Kool-Aid to dye a 100g skein for about a dollar) and, at least with the Kool-Aid side, are food-grade safe. There are a wide range of dyeing options out there, however. I'm still a novice dyer, so I can't offer too many details, but whatever your fiber is, there's a way to dye it.

Felting is another province of animal fibers, though it is more specific to fleece fibers. Silk, quite notably, does not felt. Felting works a little bit like velcro: fleece fibers have microscopic scales on them that like to hook onto other fibers. The process of felting is mostly about giving those the most chances to hook onto each other. Superwash wool, which also does not felt, is processed one of two ways. In one, the scales are removed using an acidic chemical bath (some accounts I've read specify bleach). In another, the fibers are coated with a polymer. I gauge whether or not something will felt by the percentage of fleece fibers in it, and also by its care instructions - another accurate way of describing the felting process is that you're basically doing the opposite of what the care instructions tell you to do, so if it's labeled "hand-wash only" there's a good chance it'll felt.

Hopefully, this information will help you choose the right yarns for your projects, or maybe get you started thinking about trying something new!

I know I promised rain songs for today, but my external hard drive doesn't want to interface with the computer right now (or the other way around) so I still can't get to the music. Anyhow, it's sunny out now, for a change, so it may not be the right time for rain songs anyhow.

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Rainy Evening Update

Greetings from another rainy night in yarnland. There have been a lot of those recently, though with how humid it's been today, it feels like a gift in the moment; the heat lightning has just turned to rain. It was a rainy spring, too. I'm starting to wonder if we've been uprooted and moved to the Pacific Northwest. There's enough cultural continuity along the granola belt between here and there that it's possible we wouldn't have noticed.

As mentioned, a lot has happened. The big news is that Tom had an accident on his moped back towards the beginning of May - about when the conspicuous blog silence began - which was a more serious accident for him than the moped. Since then, he's had his kneecap surgically wired back together and has recently gotten the go-ahead to walk like a human, without the brace. It's still more work than usual, but the PT starts Monday, and hopefully that will help.

That being said, we've accumulated a bit of a backlog of stock to be listed, some of which went up recently in a burst. At left, Tom has styled the five new yarns into a dude in motion. Maybe she's running, maybe she's dancing, maybe she's a he. Starting at the body, the yarns are: Some Rainy Sunday, Flaming Lips, Juno, Magical Mystery Yarn #1 and Simply Red. There's still a few which need to be measured and portioned before they can be listed, but there's enough to post about as is that the rest will have to remain a mystery for now.

All but the Magic Mystery Yarn are fingering-weight yarns which held their shape beautifully, without any splittiness in the plying. Simply Red is a scarlet version of the Soft White yarn that sold out a while ago, an angora blend with a dense core and a gentle halo of fuzz. Much like the band, it brings a little more soul than its predecessor. Flaming Lips is a super-soft pure merino in a deep fuchsia. I couldn't decide whether to call it Soft Bulletin or Pink Robot, but then realized that Flaming Lips covered both and still accurately describes the yarn all on its own. Juno is a beautifully peacock-toned wool. There would have been a lot more of it, but that was a sweater I brought in to show my students how to take apart a sweater, and it seemed only fair to let them take home what they unraveled themselves. Some Rainy Sunday is the same yarn I used to make the Raincloud scarf you saw the beginnings of way back when (seen completed at right); a soft, delicate slate blue lambswool.

I had trouble trying to name that one, simply because there are so many songs about rain. Two of my favorites are simply called "Rain" (by The Beatles and Bishop Allen), another is called "Gentle Rain" (Astrud Gilberto), but all those seemed too simplistic yarn names. I ended up looking back to Juliana Hatfield, but felt these three needed some love. They'll have to get added soon, though. Among the other large events was the hard drive of the laptop dying, and though it's back up and running with its new drive, I haven't loaded all the music back on yet, so that'll have to be on hold until tomorrow.

Monday, July 27, 2009

Enriching the Internet in Tiny Ways

There is so much to update, I don't even know where to start! I've been doing a lot of work on the physical side of the yarn recently— the digital upkeep will follow soon. Briefly, there are three new brightly-colored fingering-weight yarns and the first garments— a few pairs of handwarmers made from recycled yarn (one pair has a little of my handspun, too). You can see them all in my new Etsy Mini sidebar!

Meanwhile, very briefly, since I can't find this tidbit anywhere else on the web, the bobbins standard to the Louët S51, S17, S15 and S10 wheels weigh 148 g or 5.2 oz empty. I hope that posting it here will save someone else the 20 minutes I lost having to wind off before weighing and then portioning.