Sunday, August 28, 2011

Really, Really Cool Things

The lot of yarn I had made up at Stonehedge Mill has been washing up beautifully and I've been making plans to properly market it starting at the upcoming Finger Lakes Fiber Arts Festival.  Besides getting the equipment to handle that amount of yarn efficiently, the next order of business was designing a label. 

One of the chief components of a label I discovered is the listing of technical info.  How technical can yarn be, you ask?  Apparently, plenty technical.  Having ever bought only 2 skeins of yarn in the last 20 years (really) I did not remember what was on the labels.  Lo and behold, included there is washing instructions, fiber content, country of origin, physical address and website of producer, stitches and rows per inch in a given swatch, suggested needle and crochet hook size, skein weight and length in both English and metric measures, color and dye lot!  My friend Carolyn, talented and versatile fiber artist that she is, agreed to test drive the different yarns and give me her professional opinion on the swatching and tool selection numbers.  (Thanks again, Carolyn.  I'm too inexperienced to know if it's wrong - I just forge ahead and make. it. work. )

Armed with all that info, I hired the services of an ad designer and we did the whole back-and-forth of creating it by email. The things you can do nowadays! I had a basic idea or two and she whipped them onto paper, added a few of her own ideas for me to consider, made changes as I asked, and ta-daaaa!  Here they are, three to a page, fresh from their birth at Staples.  I have a page for each yarn weight.

Golden Sheep Yarn labels

Since this is 100% Cotswold wool yarn and Cotswolds are known as 'the golden fleece breed' (due to the wool's value in Britain a few hundred years ago.......) I tilted the idea just a little and came up with Golden Sheep Yarn.  I don't know if it's horribly clever, but I like it :-)

So.  We have yarn.  We have labels.  Now to show off the yarn to best advantage so knitters will know what it can do - lift the hood and rev the motor a little, so to speak.  In steps another friend, Caroline, who offers to knit 'a little something' for each weight.  (Do I have cool friends, or what?)  In my mind, 'a little something' is a 4 by 4 inch swatch of garter stitch, with maybe a ribbing border.  "Yes, please," I say. "That would be lovely and much appreciated."

This is what she did................

Hat with 2 buttons from Bulky 2-ply

Eyelet lace baby sweater from the worsted weight singles


A second sweater with little leaves from the 3-ply worsted weight

Close up of eyelet lace

Close up of leaves

I plan to dye some of each type of yarn and also have the natural white available too.  I love it and really, really hope the yarn is well-received by knitters, but here's my conclusion so far........

Raising the sheep, milling the wool, designing a label........... many hundreds of dollars.

Friends like these.......PRICELESS !

Saturday, August 27, 2011

Time Marches On

.......and in fact has trampled all over my good intentions to blog frequently.  The days are full, but not exciting enough to chronicle.  I've been busy skirting fleeces for the last person on the reservation list (she's getting 11), and also skirting those that are entered in the state fair.  I'll be taking them there next Thursday for the show and also will be spending a stint behind the fence in the Wool Building demonstrating spinning.  Guaranteed to be a good time.

With some diligent watering the flowers are looking nice.

Mailbox on other end of planter.

I'd complain about getting buried........but they're flowers.

And at the close of the day we get a light show courtesy of Hurricane Irene.  We're supposed to only get about a half inch of rain tomorrow and some mild wind, but the sky tonight is plenty dramatic.

Red sky at night, sailor's de-..........wait a minute, that can't be right.  I KNOW there's a storm coming.

This time of year the rams come to expect some dropped apples and pears when they come into the night pasture by the barn.  The old trees set a lot of fruit this spring, but with the dry summer and the advancing season the trees are kicking some off.  The sheep are a lot more careful about eating them than cows are and we don't worry (too) much that someone will try to swallow one whole and choke.

Excuse me, could you please stop taking pictures and give us the apples???

Real funny, throwing them off into the dark.  Har, har.  Sheesh.

And if you didn't know what they were, the eyes looking back at you in the dark would give a person the willies.


Tomorrow I WILL blog about something really, really cool here........... stay tuned.

Saturday, August 13, 2011

Triple Threat

So the new skein winder has the capacity to make 3 skeins at a time.  Keeping the cones of yarn corralled during the process was proving daunting.  Once the cone became half empty, it was light enough to tip over and instantly take the others with it.  Argh.  Yarn tangled together in floor fuzz was not part of the plan.  Enter Hand Dandy Andy again.

You WILL stand up straight!

A nice heavy oak board with three vertical dowels holds the cones so they can't escape.  The strands of yarn whip around pretty good as the speed increases.  We might have to space the dowels out a little more.  If those yarns cross while moving it could get pretty ugly.


Every improvement comes with built-in room for a tweak..........

Thursday, August 11, 2011

Standing (OK, Lying) On Principle

This is Holly in her chair.  She picked this as Her Spot when she was still a little puppy.  If nothing interesting is happening in the house, she goes here and gets comfy.

I'm comfy.  Really.

Enter Calvin the kitten this spring.  Calvin has no sense of personal space.  He would love to curl up with Holly in her chair, but since she considers herself Queen Over All Cats, this is beneath her.  Calvin is not big, and they could certainly both be on the chair.

Plenty of room.  See?  I even left you a spot.

Holly made the choice to not share the chair.  Somehow she's decided this is the next best spot.

Hmpf.  The Queen does. not. share.

Gosh, you're really showing him!  Boy, he'll be sorry now!  You really know how to.....wait a minute.... Oh.

And there's a lesson for everyone.

Monday, August 8, 2011

Getting All Wound Up

Having had that lovely lot of yarn made earlier this year, I realized I was going to need some new fiber handling tools to properly deal with it.  Making skeins with my manual skein winder did not appeal when I realized I'd be making at least 4 skeins per pound, probably more, and I had 50-some pounds of yarn.  Eeesh.

 Electric skeinwinder to the rescue!

Say 'hello' to mah leetle fren'.

 But of course, if I DYE a skein it will need to be re-skeined to look and handle its best for sale.  So that means I need a swift, too.  The little wooden umbrella swift I have just doesn't seem up to the task.  Even sturdy ones seem too frail to keep up with the speed of an electric skein winder.  My DH, Handy Dandy Andy, took up the challenge and built a swift to go with the skein winder.


It's shaped a little like the skein winder, but that's mostly because A) you can only make something with arms to hold yarn in one or two configurations and B) since it's meant to work with the skein winder I have it makes sense to be oriented the same way - vertical - and be used on the table top.  But dear Andy, being the farmer that he is, has made some key changes that will make the swift much more rugged than the skein winder.

Solid metal shaft with heavy duty bearings to hold the arm assembly.

You wanna drive it at 50 mph?  No problem.

Metal tracking to hold the adjustable arms securely without wobble.

Adjusts for 1 yd, or 1.5 yd, or 2 yd. skeins.

And they sit side by side on the table to work.  Here we are, ready to test the two together.

Readdddy?  Settttt?....

GO !!!!!

They have a maximum speed of Much Faster Than I Want To Go.  Very efficient.  Aaaaaah.....

And here's the result...

Bin of 3 ply worsted, anyone?

As if working with wool wasn't fun enough all ready!

On to the bulky 2 ply!