Thursday, June 28, 2007

Of Knitting and Etsy and Mutant Ladybugs

Of Knitting:

Here is my progress on the Simple Knitted Bodice. I worked on it during the long drive to, and the longer drive from, Hayley's all-day fun day to celebrate the end of Grade-5. I am nearly done the body, and can move onto a sleeve. The pattern called for two skeins of the beaded Rock Star yarn, and it took one whole skein to do the lace section of the body. The second skein is supposed to handle a similar lace section on each sleeve, as well as neckline trim, bottom edge trim, and sleeve edge trim. Wondering about that...I wanted to get the neckline out of the way, but I think I'd better do the sleeves first to see how much of Rock Star is actually leftover for those other jobs. I have to say this top is a thorougly satisfying knit so far, and the Tilli Tomas yarn is some of the nicest I have ever knit. Yesterday I even had some women oohing and aaahing at the field trip when I pulled it out to do a few rows at lunch.

Of Etsy:

One of my fiber colleagues over at Etsy has written a wonderful blog post on what Etsy means to her -- and to many of us. I am in full agreement with Deb of Fearless Fibers. If you are interested in knowing more about the community that is Etsy, and in spreading the word of the site, please read her blog post.

I agree with her comments that Etsy is bigger than my own shop, or hers, it is a vibrant, inspiring community of artisans and buyers. I am impressed over and over with the range and quality of items that are available, and with the artists themselves. Deb makes a gentle appeal to spread the word of Etsy as a site and a community where artisans and buyers deal directly with each other.

For myself, I am grateful to Etsy as a site that allows me to support and be supported by a variety of artists from all over the world. I am grateful for the ethics and philosophy on which the site was founded, and that the administration maintains. I am grateful for the opportunity to work from home in what has become a fully viable and satisfying business. I already do a great deal of my personal and gift shopping through etsy, and I'm sure that will only increase as I become ever more familiar with all that the site offers.

Of Mutant Ladybugs:

I got in a large shipment of funky glass beads for making stitch markers yesterday. The box arrived, and I couldn't wait to dig in. Stuff for fall, stuff for Christmas/winter, more Skully's, all kinds of cool beads, and...Mutant Ladybugs.

The other beads are all fine, but I have no idea what happened to these ladybugs. They are not quite as advertised. They are genuine lampwork, but just who did they trust the blowtorch to? A six-year-old?

When I got over my surprise as, yes, every ladybug in the package is a little bit lunatic, I found the funny. They began to grow on me in about thirty seconds. My kids came home from school and agreed that the ladybugs were endearing. So if you have an off-beat sense of humour and enjoy the wabi-sabi in all things, you might want to adopt a set of mutant ladybugs.

The penguins are pretty cute too...

Wednesday, June 27, 2007

As Long as I Have My Knitting...

I can get through anything.

This week has been packed full of events for Hayley's school. More than usual for year end, but I think that's partly because it is her last year at the school before moving on to middle school, and partly because the whole school is closing after this year.

Yesterday, they had a talent show. 25 performers. Two hours. Hayley's piano piece lasted for about 90 seconds of that two hours. I have to admit that a lot of the acts were really cute, and overall it was a fun event. But only because I had my knitting. If I can knit, I can get through anything. A kids' talent show becomes downright delightful, as long as I have my knitting.

Today was a day-long outing to an arcade style "fun" park. The "park" was actually a series of buildings with indoor batting cages, driving ranges, bumper cars, miniature golf, and a zillion arcade games. Hayley and her friends had a blast. The bumper cars were fun, and the whole day was made better...because I had my knitting.

I might have spoken too soon when I said that business was slowing down. Yesterday was a big day, and today was a HUGE day. Maybe everyone's stocking up on projects to work on through the summer.

I'll post another photo of the Simple Knitted Bodice tomorrow. I am almost done the body and have to show it off.

Monday, June 25, 2007

The Knitting Zombie

I am such a zombie today. I've taken lots of days off over the last week or two, and have been relaxing, knitting, napping. Discovered that I'm tired. Been sleeping most of today.

Business has dropped off over this last week. I think the summer slowdown has begun, so it's good timing to relax more, knit more, get out and swim at the lake. I look forward to having some time to develop new colours and possibly stock up for what will likely be a rush when the fall begins.

Spent quite a bit of time this past weekend working on the Simple Knitted Bodice, so here's a report.

I'm working the pattern called Simple Knitted Bodice that was designed by Stephanie Japel (Glampyre) for the Tilli Tomas silk yarns. You can see/purchase the pattern from Stitch Diva as a PDF download HERE. You can buy the pattern lots of other places, but I wanted it right away.

If you're not familiar with this pattern, there are instructions for both a short sleeved version and a long-sleeved version. You should be able to see pictures of both on that link if you scroll down. I'm making the long sleeved version. I've been in love with this sweater ever since I first saw it at KPixie, but I just couldn't get my head around the cost of the Tilli Tomas yarn.

Let's see...what do knitters like to know... This sweater is knit from the top down. At first, you work back and forth as though it is one piece, until you get to the point of the v-neck in front, and then you join the thing together and work in the round. I use my Lantern Moon ebony circulars in size 7 (4.5mm) for the knitting done in the main colour (Tilli Tomas Pure and Simple in Forest). The pattern says to switch to 3.5mm needles for the lace, but I only went down to 4mm.

The lace is a simple chevron lace stitch worked in a contrasting or detailed yarn. I'm using Tilli Tomas Rock Star in Olive, and it matches the Olive in the Forest variegated perfectly. Rock Star is generously studded with Czech glass beads. And both yarns are super soft and dreamy to knit.

Now that I'm done the lace pattern in the olive, I've switched back to my larger needles and colour A (Forest). I have placed stitch markers to note where dart increases go to shape for the hips.

Libby asked for some details on the yarn. I've taken a picture here of the two types side by each. You should be able to enlarge all photos by clicking on them. Pure and Simple is a single ply 100% silk in a worsted weight. It is one of the nicest yarns I've ever knit. Just a joy, every stitch. The Rock Star is similar: a single ply of spun silk, with a think silk thread that has the beads. The two strands are spun in such a way that the beads do not slide around. A lot of care has gone into this yarn. The beaded yarn has a weight to it that you don't expect, but of course, it's all those beads! I think it will pull the sweater into a nice drape.

In shop news: I got these cool lamp-worked beads from India from another etsy seller, and I've turned the into "We love Gryffindor" stitch markers. They come with a tiny matching satin pouch.

And this is my favorite item in the shop today: Teeny little glass lemons and a lime stitch marker. Hayley took one look at these and had to make herself a choker with one of the lemons. She likes having a crafty mom.

Thursday, June 21, 2007

See Jayne Knit!

Yes, I do actually knit.


I have to admit that my knitting output dropped off dramatically from about April, when my dyeing adventure really took off. After four years of almost nothing but knitting, it was a relief to be captivated by something else for a change.

And then my knitting mojo went on a long tour of the South of France or somewhere exotic. In any case, it's not telling. Recently, it has been sneaking back. It heard that Tilli was in the house and really wanted to test drive the Simple Knitted Bodice.

And so I knit. For about an hour a day, or so, and the rows are a pleasure. Each stitch is a pleasure. I coaxed that mojo back with silk yarn and ebony needles (the sticks forbidden to Daisy's sharp teeth), and tiny bronze glass stitch markers I raided from my own shop.


One or two people have been asking again about how I do this dyeing thing, so here are the links to old blog entries in which I describe my basic method. Maybe you'll be opening up a shop of your own before too long. It's a big market.

A Good Day To Dye
Live And Let Dye

One nitty-gritty point: Very glad to point you in the direction of dyeing, but methods I've developed since these posts as well as my recipes and charms for making certain colorways are like the Colonel's secret recipe. Secret. On the other hand, I don't own colours so go for it -- see what you come up wth!

And as for colours...Some people have asked which colours I use. I use ALL the colours. :)

Tuesday, June 19, 2007

A Swiftly Tilting Planet

I know that's the title of a Madeleine L'Engle novel about time travel, but that's about all I know. It seemed to fit the general theme of decor in my dining room these days.

too anti-social to entertain, so the dining room is full of...swifts.

The first one (above) is Mama. She was my shiny new swift of eaons ago (April). Looking a bit worn, a bit weary, a bit dilapidated, much like her owner. Notice the re-ties in orange yarn where the jute wore out? Notice the hockey tape shoring up her axle to her base? She creaks and squeaks and leans to one side. Well, you would too, if you had run the miles she has. I'm not going to do the math, but somebody tell me: how many miles is it approximately if you average 300yds per skein, being wound on once, off once, and on once (total of three times through the swift) and multiply that by about three hundred skeins. That's a hell of a lot more yarn than most people's swifts see in a liftetime. So we'll cut her some slack.

Fearing she was on her last, um, legs, I bought....BIG MAMA:

Gee, I thought I had a big swift until this monster arrived. I bought BIG MAMA from elann on Friday, so naturally she showed up this morning. (sheesh!) The hot new thing in town. But she was friendly to little mama, so I'm a' gonna keep her. (And no, Benne, that is NOT toilet paper in the background).

Then we have Mama's Little Helper:

I love this swift. It's cheap and light and spins very freely. And it has a little crank handle on top. I bought this one a few weeks ago, and it has cut my swift-labour in half. Now for re-skeining, I put the damp skein on Little Mama, and attach the loose end to the Helper, and wind away. You should see how fast it goes, and all in one step. Paid for itself in a day or two.

Colin is off from school now, and he has to earn money for a school trip to Orlando Florida next year (lucky duck). So, he's indentured to service, I mean working for me, winding yarn from balls and off cones into skeins. This afternoon we had all three going at once. Whee!

Monday, June 18, 2007

Daisy's Turn to Blog

Hi everybody!

That big hand that feeds me has been dyeing up a storm lately, and the whole house smells like sheep. I thought a sheep was attacking me yesterday 'cuz my mom smelled like sheep instead of like hand, and I wouldn't come out.

She's been playing with those sticks that she won't let me chew, even though they look like great chew toys, all black and shiny like that. And she's playing with that string that I can't sniff or sit on.

But I did get to have some apples this morning, and I got a clean cage and lots of seeds. And I did get to write the blog, so I guess I can't complain too much.


Wednesday, June 13, 2007

Taking a Break From Blogging For a Week

I need a week off from blogging. Need to spend some more time here:

Be well...and I'll be back next week.

Monday, June 11, 2007

Your Yarn Dollars At Work

Thank you very much for all the Anniversary wishes. I enjoyed reading those. Doug and I went out for dinner, a movie (Waitress -- very cute and heartwarming), and dessert.

You might hate me when you're done reading this post, and I wouldn't blame you. I'd hate me too.

I get a lot of questions about how it works around here. Well, dyed yarn sells...

And I pack it up and mail it out. I usually have a lot of packages to ship on Monday. Orders that come in between Friday and Sunday go out on Monday, and it seems I get a lot of orders between Friday and Sunday. This is last week's weekend batch. This week's was huge as I had a sale on Saturday.

Mail out means income in, so for the first few months, I have used a lot of it to build up a large to-dye-stash. That stack of stacks is about 2/3 of what I have on hand to dye. Yes, that is a lot of yarn.

Where do I buy my yarn? People ask. Everywhere! I buy it from a lot of different local and internet yarn retailers in the US and Canada. Whenever someone posts a good sale or close-out deal on quality yarns, I get in there and buy a lot. I have a wonderful whole-sale arrangement with Wool2Dye4, an online shop in the US, and I buy Trekking Superwash Sock yarn in bulk from the UK. I buy from independent farm operations, basically any place that offers a product I will enjoy dyeing, and that knitters will enjoy knitting.

Yarn-to-dye-stash gets converted into dyed-stash and listed on Etsy. Many yarns do not make it into those bins. They go straight from the drying rack to the mailer pack, and out the door.

I get asked variations on this question: What's it like to own all those amazing dyed yarns? Or: What's it like to have that stash in your house? Or: How can you part with all those yarns?

The answer: I used to work at a bank, where I handled thousands and hundreds of thousands of dollars a day. The money was no temptation since it did not feel real. It felt like Monopoly money to me, and so does the yarn. The yarn in stash for dyeing and the yarn I dye and send out do not feel like "my" yarn, and I keep them in a separate room and bins from my personal stash. Unless I take one of them for myself, they do not feel like they are mine, and I do not feel a sense of loss as they go. I love the idea that others will get to own them and knit with them.

But the money that comes into my account from all these sales, now THAT feels like mine. And it's a really cool feeling because I haven't earned my own money for nearly ten years. This job has been a regular paying event around here, and I am loving it. The money goes into my Paypal account, and I use it from there to buy more yarn for dyeing. I transfer cash into our bank account to pay off my start-up costs for launching this business. And, we do need to pay off a car as well as re-build a fence and put a new roof on our house over this next year. It feels good to be able to contribute towards those expenses too. I just gave Doug his birthday present a month and a half early, and I paid for it myself. A very cool feeling.

And...(and this is the part that might make you hate me). I buy myself amazing treats that I wouldn't have bought before. It all comes out of Paypal without ever touching our regular family finances. To me, it feels like barter. I dye yarn and "trade" it for all sorts of other wonderful things. The things I buy from etsy, and treat yarn purchases. Like this:

Yes, that really is four skeins of Tilli Thomas Pure and Simple Silk in a colorway called Forest.

And yes, that really is two skeins of Tilli Thomas Rock Star in Olive

Don't they look amazing together? Little knits had a sale on TT, and I've had my eye on that Simple Knitted Bodice by Stitch Diva for the longest time. I don't have as much knitting time as I used to have, so I figure I'll make it count by making something extra special. This stuff is sooooooo dreamy.

Saturday, June 09, 2007

Saturday Sale at See Jayne Knit Yarns

Having a wee sale over at my Etsy shop!

I don't have sales often because I think they should be special events, so here's the deal. All through today I will post yarns that I would like to move out, at reduced prices. It will be a collection of one-of's, yarns that have hung around too long, and some de-stash. All sale yarns will be available until Sunday June 10 at 12:00 noon NY/Etsy time (9:00 am Pacific/Vancouver time). I will unlist any unsold items at that time.

If you would like to make more than one purchase, then wait to pay until you are all done. Convo me, and I will send you an updated invoice with corrected shipping total.

I will include some little extra item in each order. Larger orders...larger items. Surprise!

Thursday, June 07, 2007

Happy 21st Anniversary To: SeeJayne and Mr KnitYarns

I used to scrapbook...

I met Doug in November of 1984, at a church I had just started attending, and we started dating on March 1, 1985.

Things that attracted me to him:
He told a hilarious and convoluted story about how he loves llamas because his parents were missionaries to Peru. They weren't, but I believed every word of it.

He asked me to dance at a New Year's party. I'm not sure anyone had asked me to dance up to that point.

He knew every single Monty Python sketch, many of them by heart, including one that is my favorite and that no one else ever seems to have heard of.

He brought me chocolate from Ghirardhelli Square in San Francisco, and I kissed his cheek and told him he was sweet. He asked me out about a week later.

Time it took us from our first date to decide to get married: One Week
Time it took us to get engaged (officially): Three months
He was 19 years old; I was twenty.

Our first date: He showed up at my door wearing an electric blue sparkly tie and with a rose in his teeth. We walked all over Vancouver, ate snacks in about five different places, and went to see the movie: The Gods Must Be Crazy.

He told me he loved me about a week later when we were out walking at the West Vancouver Sea Wall. I noticed he had put his hand down on a piling covered with tar as he said it. The conversation went something like this:

Doug: You know I love you.
Me: You just put your hand in tar.

We got married a year after we announced our engagement. A very 1980's wedding with five bridesmaids in dusty rose dresses. We called them "The Clones." I hate dusty rose.

Doug looked very dashing in his black tail coat. I wore a wedding dress that I had sewn myself and adapted from a Vogue pattern. I had two weird dreams in the week before our wedding. In one of them, I dreamt that when I arrived to marry Doug, my mom had beat me to it (!!). In the second one, I dreamt that as I walked down the aisle, huge pieces of my wedding dress fell off onto the floor until the whole thing just fell apart.

I'm pretty sure that twenty-one years ago, neither one of us knew what the hell we were doing, but we were very good friends, and we wanted to be together.

We still do.

Luv Ya, Big-Guy!

Sunday, June 03, 2007

Anarchist Meme

I've been tagged, I think it might be three times now, for this seven things meme. I've become an anarchist when it comes to meme's. I dont follow the rules, and most of the time I don't do them, and I don't tag.

But I will tell the seven things, not that you don't already know eleventy-seven things about me.

Seven Odd-Lesser-Known-Things About Yours Truly:

1. I like to pester my kids. I sit on my son Colin and block his view of the TV when he's watching a hockey game. Yesterday, I tried on a scary bathing suit, and I "innocently" invited my daughter Hayley in for an opinion (knowing I would get a shocked reaction), and she did not disappoint me. I think my kids love this behavior, but I'm not sure. It never stops me though.

2. On the pester-my-kids topic, I know a lot of different names for BARF. Last year, Hayley and I were on a ferris wheel, and we saw a large pink puke-pile on the ground below. Hayley was grossed out, but every time our car was up high enough to see it, I'd rattle off a few more versions until she was laughing and coming up with her own.

3. Apparently I have the tendency to laugh (sometimes inappropriately) at the strangest things.

4. I love to smell wool when it is wet, warm, and fresh from the Eucalan bath after I've dyed it. I will sort of bury my face in there and inhale deeply. Unless there is silk in the blend. Wet hot silk smells like crotch.

5. I don't like reading the news until it becomes history.

6. I have a terrible sense of direction; North is always directly in front of me. Or else I'm a narcissist. Not sure which.

7. There are books, movies and songs (many of them embarrassing) that I never get tired of and can read, watch and listen to over and over. Not in a row, just when I am in certain moods.

Saturday, June 02, 2007

Treats and All Good Things: Part II

I thought I'd fill this post with all sorts of eye candy that has been bringing me great pleasure this week. I know I have been quiet lately, quiet with blogging, with visiting blogs, with emails and the like. In case you are worried that I have been working my ass off, I haven't. Last weekend, sales were brisk, but I got them out into the mail on Monday, and things have been quieter since.

This little lovely is the clematis that is blooming in my neglected back yard this week. I love that it blooms without my help. When I saw it a few days ago, I knew I had to try to capture those colours in a yarn. See!

Daisy's perky little face always brings joy to my heart.

These are my RufusandRoxy beads I blogged about last week. I love them. I have become quite a collector of her beads. These are the ones I've ordered over the last month. I plan to make earrings, necklaces, gifts for me and for others. If I can part with them.

This is a big batch I ordered on a special deal. She has a lot of orphan beads, and she sold me a big handful. I want to use them as promos for special yarn orders, deals and sales. Haven't quite worked it out yet (or if I can part with them). Some would make lovely, and very special, stitch markers. Others match my yarns so well that I'm thinking chokers. If you simply must have some of these beads for yourself, then you can shop HERE.

And then there is the yarny eye candy that has come in this past week. On the left is Heartache, that amazing handspun with the teeny heart beads that I blogged about a while back. In the middle, Pink Zebra. This is a yarn I traded for with SunnysideEllen. And on the right is the first installment of my Insubordiknit Yarn Club yarn. Jacey is such a goddess with the handspun, and she has a funky blog too.

This stuff is just too cool. It is soft and cuddly, and the most unusual and fun yarn. The colour here looks a bit more brown than it is. The true colour is more olive. And yes, it has these cool fluffs of worn denim, and those squishy lime green worm-like things running through it. The yarn is called Scrapworm, spun with merino, silk noils, and denim fluff.

In case you haven't figured it out yet, I am a genuine hermit. A recluse. Anti-social...with lapses. The last two weeks have involved more socializing than I normally do in months. It was all good, just a whole lot more than I normally do in such a compressed time frame. I met Rabbitch; I got together with a friend for half a day; I even took my mom out for lunch. Doug and I went out to watch a movie with a couple we know and love. Church. A whole lotta emails. And errands, errands, errands. Trips to the therapist, the doctor, the pharmacy. Colin's award night at school, and no, I will not be putting a bumper sticker on my car about my son, the honor roll student (with distinction).

I think I might just curl up in my shell and not come out for a week.