Rain! Finally!

I obviously should have blogged about how depressing no rain was ages ago, because no sooner did I do so than…

You can’t believe how much greener that is than it was a few days ago. Well, Peggy probably can! It’s been a steady drizzle for several days now, still muggy and warm, but at least it’s raining.

And in happy news that this brings, I expect to finish that Pagoda shawl tonight and block it tomorrow. No, really! And right after that, the Foggy Foggy Dew! I can’t wait to see ’em both. Both are scrunched up on circulars and look like huge heaps of nothing, which is one of the hard things about big shawls.

Amusingly, one of this week’s blends looks just like my kitten:

See her licking her chops? Sheesh! That’s why cats aren’t allowed in the studio. I mean, the sheer horror! I was just setting stuff up in the light box…

It ended up having to be named Kaylee, because it does look exactly like her. But this blend is suri alpaca, tussah silk, merino, and BFL. Man, it’s really nice stuff (and yeah, it’s a dibs)!

Some other eye candy…

and

This was really a neat blends week, and it was good to be able to squeeze in some “smaller” runs after Batt Club and everything. I felt like I got very little uncommitted stuff done, but there are over 50 new batts available right now, so I guess that’s not so bad.

A couple of you asked about my offhanded mention of SOAR the other day. I will be attending, just as a regular schmoe, not as a vendor. This will be the first time I’ve gone, and I’m really looking forward to it. My father always enjoyed it a great deal and came back with new discoveries, and I think it’s going to be really neat. I promise I’ll take pictures to document how many spinning wheels fit in a Trans Am. Among other things. I look forward to meeting some of you there!

Batt Club: Update!

For those of you who have been wondering about Batt Club, and if there’ll be another, and what you have to do to get in, here’s a quick update.

First, I have decided to do Batt Club again for Winter 2007. Maybe I should have called it Fall 2007 — but perhaps, with another day promising to bring record high temperatures, I’m eager to feel wintry. Anyway, Winter 2007 will be October, November, and December. Existing Batt Club members have right of first renewal — if you’re in, and you want to renew, you get first crack during the pre-registration period (which is going on now). Current Batt Club members have all been sent email notifications — if you’re in Batt Club, and you have not received an email notification, please let me know!

Second, I really should have instituted a waiting list plan; if I’d been sure I was going to do another round, I probably would have! So many of you have emailed me wishing you’d gotten in, and it’s been heartbreaking to say I can’t. Indeed, I opened up additional groups beyond the initial ten that I expected to do… But there are 40 people, and that is literally as much as I can handle, and still remotely be able to meet other commitments and do other projects. So, anyway, I’m going to start the waiting list now, while pre-registration is going on for existing members. If you’d like to be added to the waiting list, please send me email (to abby, at abbysyarns.com, if that link isn’t clickable for you) and I’ll send you back a waiting list number. You’ll be added first come, first served; and you’ll be notified as slots become available during the pre-registration period. What’s more, your spot in line will be held for next time around too (Winter 2008, in January-February-March) — so even if you don’t get in this time, you’d be in line next time.

Then, once pre-registration is done, and once the wait list has been served, if there are spots remaining, I will announce it here. I can tell you that as it stands right now, we do have quite a few renewals, but we also have some cancellations and there will definitely be wait-list spots available (some are even available now).

UPDATE as of Sun Sep 2 10:10:57 PDT 2007: So far, there are 31 renewals confirmed, 9 pending, and 46 people on the waiting list. To get on the waiting list, email abby@abbysyarns.com.

Third, before you rush to sign up, there are some changes to Batt Club moving forward. The quantities of fiber stay the same, which is to say 4-8 ounces total depending on the blend (in other words, a cashmere blend costs more than a pure wool) and the retail value will always be around $45-50 plus shipping; you’ll always be saving about 25% over what you’d pay to buy the batts without the club membership. Batt Club fibers will still be a surprise, and I won’t tell you much about them before they start arriving in people’s hands. Everyone will still get the same shipment of the same fiber. However, the 3-month subscription costs slightly more than it did the first time around: the price has gone up from $90 for three months, to $110 for 3 months if you’re in the US and Canada. If you’re elsewhere, then chances are that I can ship to you, but I’d need to get your address and give you a custom shipping quote.

Fourth, Batt Club now comes with club benefits: 5% off all purchases from this site during your membership period, and free shipping from eBay during your membership as well. For folks pre-registering or wait-listing, your discount is active as soon as I receive your payment — so if you’re in for October, November and December, your discount could start as soon as, well, now. And lastly, Batt Club membership now comes with the option of signing up to be notified of pending First Dibs, before they’re even active as First Dibs — in other words, Batt Club members get an ongoing discount and first crack at all my new fibers.

Whew! I think that’s it — except to say, the photos all throughout this post are from current Batt Club members, and if you’d like to see more…

…cruise on over to the Flickr group and see what’s there.

Productivity after all…

Things finally cooled off a bit yesterday, assuming that it’s really reasonable to consider “about 90F” to be “cool,” which I suppose it is, in context. Clearly, all you Australians would find that quite pleasant in summer, hrmmm? That’s around 33C. Personally, I find 27-28C to be about the perfect temperature.

Well, anyway, I did manage to get a few batts churned out, and those are now listed for First Dibs (right sidebar, you guys remember the drill, right?) And I’ve been working on specific blending goals with a local theme, lately. Here’s one I’m rather pleased with, in fact.

2006 was our first summer here. Sometime in July, we started seeing signs go up at all the produce places reading “INDIANA MELON.” Now, you have to realize — I spent the formative years of my adulthood living in Chicago. This meant Indiana could be described in the following ways:

  • Source of cigarettes without Cook County tax stamp
  • Where people sneakily register their cars to avoid having to get a city sticker
  • Home of the ubiquitous-advertising Tom Raper RVs
  • Gary
  • Sells fireworks.
  • “There’s more than cooooorn…. in Indiaaana…” (the song from an ad for Indiana Beach)

And, despite the first few years that I lived in Chicago being spent on the road with a blues band, driving to gigs all over the place, I don’t think we once did a gig in Indiana. No, so far as we could tell, Indiana was a strange space in between Illinois and Ohio (maybe neither state wanted it?) where even time didn’t obey the same rules as everywhere else (they didn’t observe daylight savings time). We’d cross Indiana to get to Ohio or Kentucky; and in the summer, the drive would seem endless, like almost as long as the drive lengthwise across Nebraska, only with corn instead of cattle. After about the first 15 years of the drive, invariably, someone would start cackling in a slightly mad way, and then sing, “There’s more than coooorn… in Indiaaana…” only to be rewarded with heaping insults as the advertising jingle got stuck in everyone’s head. Another 15 years would then go by, and someone else would do the same thing. Really.

Only 100 more miles to Tom Raper RVs!

Well, anyway. So I looked at these Indiana Melons that seemed to be a big deal, and thought to myself, “Looks like a giant canteloupe. Okay.”

Then my in-laws fed us some.

Now, I’m not about to head for my old southside stomping grounds, walk into a dive bar, and pick a fight on Indiana’s behalf. I am, you see, far too old and washed-up for that sort of behaviour. But Indiana Melon, available for a short time every year and only if you’re close to Indiana, is possibly a good enough reason to do so.

If you’re in range of produce stands with signs that say INDIANA MELON, and you have not eaten one of them, then stop reading this, right now, and go buy yourself an Indiana Melon, before it’s too late and you can’t do it again till next year. Throw something on the grill, boil up some sweet corn, chop up an Indiana Melon, and feast.

Anyway, so that’s what I was going for with these batts.

And now that I’ve evangelized at least one thing about one of my fine neighbour states, it’s time to briefly touch on something that comes from another. We’ve had a drought this summer, you may recall, and a big heat wave. And you know what’s done well in our yard?

The Kentucky Bluegrass.

The batts are merino/tussah silk/camel down and a hint of tencel to make the dewy sheen a little different. And just like the actual grass, it’s not exactly blue, but if you see it from the right angle, and enough of it, it sure leaps out from the other grasses near it.

Well, other than the local inspiration, I did decide I was going to try to make a blend that would look good with some seed pearl beads that I got. Mother-of-pearl, I figured. And I came close. My first try… well, it yielded… mist.

So then I tried again, and got… Princess.

Third time’s the charm, right? We’ll see; those batts are ready for their final pass now.

Oh! And there’s a tweed. A merino/silk/cashmere tweed. Mmmmm.

These are all up for first dibs.

In other productivity, I have chosen 14 colourways for wools, and 9 colourways for silk, to be my new production lines — and they’re available for you to preorder now. Just check the Shop Abby’s Yarns link at the top of the page, or go here. Now you can get those matched dye lot larger batches, and get discounts on them too!

Whew. Now I think I’ll go have a weekend (which for the self-employed, tends to mean “do all those chores I blew off this week.”)

Good News, Bad News

Well, the good news is, round 2 of Batt Club is nearing completion and is absolutely stunning, if I say so myself. In fact, the truth is, it’s one my most favourite blends, I’ve been remembering how much I love this blend, and loving every single batt that’s coming off Cardzilla as I go.

The bad news is I’ve got to let it all go. And it’s so pretty, too.

The next good news is I’ve made both a Flickr! group and a Yahoo! group for Batt Club members to discuss their projects and share photos.

The Yahoo! group is here: http://groups.yahoo.com/group/battclub/

And the Flickr group is here: Flickr Batt Club Group.

The bad news, alas, is that I won’t be shipping Batt Club today, because somebody forgot that she had to go to the periodontist yesterday, and take the kitten to the vet today.

No, I won’t name names. I’ve berated her harshly, though, and she promises she’ll be shipping Monday. She’s very apologetic.

Friday, Beer o’Clock!

Yes it’s Friday, and about 11 minutes from Beer o’Clock. And yes — yes, I made the beer run. Of course, odds of the keg being cold in time for Beer o’Clock are sadly slim. But my beer-drinking readers would be proud; I made the beer run in an absolutely epic downpour. Uphill both ways, of course. A girl’s gotta have some priorities in life.

Okay, so I did the post office run first. That’s not the point.

In other oh-so-scintillating news, I added another First Dibs sale page:

First Dibs Sales – MISC!

This is where you’ll find all the handpainted tops, the superwash/tencel, the merino/tussah tops, the wool tops, and other sundries. Right now there’s a bunch of superwash/tencel (you know you wanna see! And there’ll be more in a couple of days!) I’m even restraining myself, and keeping only the one domestic wool top this time:

which is spinning up very satisfyingly into a laceweight yarn. And you wouldn’t have wanted it anyway. Booooooring! Right?

Oh, and saying “yarn” reminds me that I’ll be adding a “First Dibs: YARN!” page soon as well. You can find them over on the right in the navigation area. You know, until I finish that site redesign. In my copious free time. Which summer gives me so much of.

Still, though, it’s Friday, and this is in my future:

Yeah, including the beads, because I think I’m going back to work on the Foggy, Foggy Dew shawl, and it’s had a week off, so it needs to get moving again. Unless I decide to finish the yarn… or the Pagoda shawl. Oh, fickle me, fickle me.

Wow, it’s almost like I did something!

Thanks to each and every one of you for the really delightful comments yesterday! I owe several of you email replies, too, and hopefully I’m even going to *get* to them soon. I’ve been having no luck keeping up on email the past couple of months. Again, I blame the summer.

Oh, and as far as what kind of beer we have on tap… well, Boddington’s is a staple. Mmmmm that stuff is good. I also like stouts, such as the well-known Guinness, and Murphy’s Stout. And in the summertime, I like to drink all those beers that everyone says taste like nothing at all. Ice cold, outside.

Marcy asks why there aren’t sheep in the huge pasture you can see in the photos I take on the deck, like this one.

The short answer is there aren’t any sheep there because instead, there are horses there. Related to that, it’s not our pasture! But we do get to socialize with the yearlings that usually live in that paddock. We live back behind a horse farm — there are lots of horse farms around here. However, our property isn’t zoned for livestock. Which is really just as well — I’ve got a family and a small business, and the last thing I really need is livestock! Bear in mind I grew up largely rural, so I’m familiar with the workload… and the never getting to go out of town… and so on. I have my hands full as it is.

I did manage to get a few blends done this week, blends I’ve been wanting to get done for a while. Not that I got to the whole list, mind you! But, like this:

Merino/Tussah/Camel batts, baby! Aww yeah. There’s still a green and a blue left to do, after which I’ve got to salvage some cashmere (that sounds worse than it is, I swear), but I got the purple and the peach done, and geeze, they’re nice. Really nice. I stole a peach one to sample.

I also made a minimal amount of progress on setting up something new: First Dibs Sales! From now on, I’m going to give all of you loyal blog readers a crack at stuff before it hits eBay. So far, I’ve thrown together Batts and Silks, and the latter includes a handful of production colours of hand-dyed tussah, and will let you order as much as you want — but there’s a week turnaround on those. If you order more than 8 ounces custom dyed in a production colour, however, you will be eligible for a discount — drop me a line and I’ll let you know more about it, if you’re interested in that. Eventually, the production run colours will move someplace where you can just order ’em, but I haven’t gotten there yet. Oh, and one other convenience with the First Dibs pages is that you can pay with a credit card directly with the paypal shopping cart, even if you don’t have a paypal account.

So, well, I guess all of that is something. I’ve still got to get the page with handpainted wool tops and the like put together. It’s time-consuming, though, compared to the eBay listings, which is a major appeal to just using that store — more time for production, less fiddly overhead in time spent on putting pictures to cart items and so forth. Plus, I can easily do things like say “All yarn is now 20% off for the next week, and all fiber is 10% off,” with the eBay store. Why yes — in fact, I did just do that. If there’s something you’ve been considering buying, now’s a good time! There isn’t going to be a lot of new production of diverse things for a bit, because I’m about to start in on production for round 2 of Batt Club. Which reminds me: I’ve gone over all the numbers and for the remaining 2 months of this first (and maybe only) Batt Club run, I can squeeze in 4 more people with a prorated deal — $60 for the final 2 months. First 4 to email me about it (abby at abbysyarns dot com, naturally) will be the lucky ones.

Batt Club has been really interesting for me so far, and I hope for those of you who’ve signed up. Every one of you should have your fibers by now, and I’ve heard from some of you and seen pictures of what you’ve been doing with your sock blend, and it’s really a thrill! August’s blends start coming off Cardzilla on Monday and are slated to ship Friday, 3 August.

As it stands right now, I am leaning towards doing it again, with signups in September, for October, November, and December. If you’re signed up now, you’ll have first dibs on a renewal spot, and renewal will come up the second week in September, and be open for a week or so. Then, once I know how many renewals there are and how many slots are open as a result, I’ll announce when new signups will be open, and we can take it from there.

I’d love to get a show of hands (or something) from folks who might be interested in either a Batt Club Yahoo group or Flickr group (and which you’d prefer) to share your experiences with other Batt Club members. If there’s sufficient interest, I’ll create one (or both).

Whew, is it the weekend yet? No? Scandalous. It should be; then I might have beer on tap again, sheesh! Not that it’s beer o’clock yet, alas. But soon… soon. It’s too muggy today to think about doing much more fiber work. I’d think about dinner, but it might be too hot for that too.

Man, is anybody else having problems with bloglines today, or is it just me? Most of my feeds are just no updating. Grrr!

Batt Club!

Yep, you read that right — batt club! It’s almost a pun.

I’ve decided that with what remains of summer, I’m going to do a small batt club subscription deal. What does this mean? Each month I’ll do a special run of limited-edition batts which will only be available to the batt club members. If you join, then in the first week of July, August, and September, I’ll ship out the club batts (there’s that almost-a-pun again) and you’ll be on the receiving end of some luscious fibery surprises.

July’s club batts will be luxury sock batts containing superwash wool, silk, and nylon; August will be non-superwash luxury batts containing fine wools, silks, and luxury fibers; and September… well, to ease us back into the school year and that sort of thing, September’s will be a serious luxury blend, containing fine wools, silks, and cashmere, with matched hand-dyed silk. There will be no mohair or angora, as some folks have allergy issues with those fibers.

Everyone will receive the same fibers, weighing 6-8 ounces total, and shipping is included in the subscription cost, which is $90 for the 3 month run. You’ll save about 25% off what you’d pay if you were buying the batts at retail. I have 10 slots open, and I’m taking sign-ups in email to abby@abbysyarns.com. If you’re one of the first 10 people to email me, I’ll invoice you via PayPal, and you can pay with your credit card through them (or any other paypal means).

Signups are open! July’s shipment will be going out on the 5th, so make your move!

ETA: Batt club is FULL! The first round of batts goes out next week. Thank you ALL for your interest!

ETA More: Okay, okay, I’ll take another 10. But the first 3 have already signed up, I mean, talked me into it, so, 7 slots left!

ETA Still More: Okay, now we’re *really* full. If I tried to do any more, there’s no way batts would be going out next week!

Whew, what an ebay shop update…

…and I’m not even DONE with it all yet! So far I’m done listing 4-5 pounds of merino, 4 pounds of domestic, 4 pounds of tussah silk, almost a dozen handspun yarns including some you’ve seen featured here, and there’s still more handspun yarn, specialty fiber, and the millspun handpainted yarns to go.

Here are my favourites so far:

Neon Dawn here is an example skein, chain-plied, that I spun up to demonstrate what this fella looks like. I mean, uh, to see for myself. Because I could. I admit it. But now I’m going to let it go.

I like this combo despite knowing there’s no chance I could wear anything made from it.

Oh, what else… Ivy here was one of my attempts to match Jeepy’s colour (I can’t).

Harvest, shown below, I think might become a fave.

This “Sunrise” silk…

and the Harlequin silk…

and this Day Lily which really does look just like the roadside wild day lilies around here…

and mass quantities of Dandelion…

and the Bramble merino

and this camel/silk and its brethren…

…it’s been a fiber and yarn pr0n-tacular week. Oh, and that reminds me, loyal blog readers, if you’re making an ebay purchase, let me know you came from my blog and you’ll get free shipping on anything totaling over $20.

What am I doing this week? Having a sale.

Well, realistically, this week, I’m finishing up that plying video, getting my son onto his summer schedule, and doing some more dyeing, plus getting Cardzilla’s motor handled, doing some more photography work (just wait till you see what I’ve got to show you), trying to organize my office, and drinking lots of coffee.

But that said, here’s my sales flyer.

The summer season and production schedule for Franquemont Fibers has started! This means new hand-dyed silks every Friday, along handpainted and hand-dyed wool top, laceweight and sock weight yarns, delicious one-of-a-kind handspuns, and soon, a new series of luscious luxury batts!

Right now we’ve got merino/tencel…

A FEW OF OUR SUMMER FIBERS:

Superwash merino/tencel:

Merino/Silk:

Tussah Silk:

Baby Camel:

Superwash:

CVM (California Variegated Mutant:

My famous Luxury Batts:

My famous Luxury Sock Batts:

Falkland Wool:

Domestic Wool:

70’s grade (22 micron) merino:

Romney:

125’s grade superfine merino top:

A FEW OF OUR SUMMER YARNS

Fabulous laceweight merino/silk millspun handpaint:

Superwash merino millspun handpaint in laceweight, 1,000 yard put-ups!

Handspun sock weight yarn from custom blends:

Handspun sock weight and laceweight yarn from hand-dyed fibers:

Various weights of assorted handspuns self-striping yarns:

Yarns featured at Abby’s Yarns:

And so, so very much more!

And all of this new stuff means I have to move out old inventory to make space! I’ve marked down ALL past season product lines’ remaining fiber inventory to start at 99 cent auctions in a sale I may never repeat! That’s right: *ANY* fiber I dyed, prepped, painted, put up before this spring is starting at 99 cents, for a limited time only! New clearance items will be listed while the sale continues, so keep checking back! Mention this post and receive FREE SHIPPING on any purchase over $30!

Where? At Franquemont Fibers: http://stores.ebay.com/Franquemont-Fibers