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:
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.
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 firstname.lastname@example.org. 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!
Well, as February winds down, I’ve got a final round of sock blends for sale, with a last chance at my February specials featuring free shipping on orders of $25 or more, free shipping +5% off $50 or more, and free shipping plus 10% off orders of $100 or more.
Where are they, you ask? Just follow this link to my eBay storefront, where you can search for all sorts of things. A sampling from this run…
This batch features a few tweed blends, where flashes of bombyx silk are left intact to create a very visible effect when you spin them up, and some blends include a really delectable natural brown Blue Faced Leicester in them as well.
And if you let me know you’re coming from my blog, you’ll also receive a surprise gift with your purchase.
Well, I finally managed to snap a few photos of the autoknitter swatch of that Crown Jewels colourway yarn:
It’s really a challenge to catch a picture that shows both the colours true, and the sheen that the yarn has — it’s just plain the wrong time of year for good natural light. So these photos are truest for colour, but don’t do justice to the incredible sheen that the superwash/silk blends produce.
That aside, I did a little bit of fine spinning this week. I had a problem, a silly one: I had been leaving one of my two Majacraft lace bobbins tied up with some spun yarn on it from before we moved — since last January or February actually. That’s right: a year of sitting on the bobbin. Why? Because it was this 50/50 merino/cashmere blend that I knew I had another several ounces of somewhere, but it hasn’t turned up yet. So finally I just said “Aw, forget it,” and spun a roughly similar amount of plain ol’ merino to ply it with and clear the bobbin. Plus I bought another pair of lace bobbins so as to not engage in such stupidity again. So I figure with one ply merino and one ply merino/cashmere it’s a 75% merino/25% cashmere yarn. Amazingly, it ended up being just about an ounce — 28 grams. It’s 315 yards, 45 wpi (wraps per inch) in 2-ply form, and so about 5,000 ypp (yards per pound). And pretty much impossible to photograph, being white:
And it seems I’m presently bingeing on the yarn that is screaming “Would you buy a macro lens already?” This is what I cleared off the lace bobbins to get to: a 2-ounce thing of Chasing Rainbows merino/tencel that I picked up at Stitches West last year. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: there are those of you who call me an unrepentant enabler (and you’re probably right), but I’m in no way immune, and particularly to Nancy Finn’s work. She chooses exceptional fiber, and does some of they finest dye work around… and I have never, not once, walked away from a vendor selling her wares without purchasing some. Seriously, not once.
But I really feel no remorse about this whatsoever. Spinning her fibers is always incredibly enjoyable, and it was what I decided to treat myself to doing to balance out the lows in a rather long week — did I mention I caught a nice cold, I presume from extra time outside in the chill fixing that garage door?
I split the entire length of the top as close to the center as I could, just eyeballing it; and then I spun it slowly end to end preserving as much of the colour separation as I could, one half to a bobbin. And if I’d had those two more lace bobbins I’d have rewound the singles onto them and plied directionally, but they weren’t here yet. It still came out nice, though…
In the final analysis it made for 662 yards, and a 38 wpi 2-ply yarn, which is reasonably even for a little bit of comfort spinning, and with the colour shifts working out fairly nicely throughout the yarn. It’s just got a tremendous shine to it, and the drape is going to be stellar; crocheted lace, I think. But I’m undecided. And I even got lucky with a happenstance beam of sunlight pouring in and hitting the stairs today! I grabbed the skein as fast as I could to snap a few pictures of it.
With the acquisition of some fine anti-static graphite powder, I think I’m going to be able to get the lace setup on the Suzie Pro a little bit slicker, and do some really fine yarn soon. But right now… well, right now, I’m going to do another one of those Chasing Rainbows merino/tencels.
So, what am I the furthest behind on for January? Sock batts, which I’m actually behind on since December. I blame the whole Tooth Saga, which I am not going to get into in detail for fear of causing other dentistophobes to squick to death.
Here’s a little bit of what will be coming up for sale shortly…
By my own hard deadline, these are due up 1 Feb… but it might end up being 2 Feb at the rate I seem to be going this week. All the latest batch of sock blends are a superwash wool base, containing generous amounts of silk, some with mohair and/or romney as well. Some, but not all, also contain firestar or angelina nylon.
At least half of them, I secretly don’t want to let out of the workshop, unless it’s to pile them by my own spinning wheel.
Today I’m working on sock blends, in large part to work my way through the pile of bombyx silk seconds that I wound up with from recent silk dyeing sessions. Basically, any time that a silk fails my quality control for being saleable as top, I put it on the blending pile — it’s still beautiful fiber, but not quite up to my standards for sale. Usually, this will be because I break a top while moving it; sometimes it gets too tangly in a dyebath; sometimes it weighs up a little short. Every now and then, there’s one where the dye doesn’t penetrate to the depth I expect it to, or the colour is just not quite right. So anyway, blending fodder.
As luck would have it, here as days grow shorter and bleaker, I seem to have already worked my way through the lion’s share of bright colours, and I’m left with the muted tones, and a whole lot of gray superwash merino, which is absolutely wonderful in its softness, but… you know, gray! So here I am with muted-colour silks and gray superwash that I’ve postponed far longer than I meant to. There won’t be a new round of really bright silks until I do another dye day, and that’s not going to be until my next shipment of bombyx silk arrives, sometime this week I expect. Of course, with Thanksgiving approaching, and family coming in to town, next week isn’t going to be a big work week for me.
Sock blends, though, are big fun. I find them very satisfying. To be a really good sock blend, the fiber needs to be very easy to spin fine, and absolutely next-to-skin soft. It needs to have some memory, so there’s some stretch and bounce, and it needs to be a long-wearing blend. Combining superwash wool, various silks, and a little bit of nylon absolutely does produce such a blend, and then it’s up to the spinner to spin the sock yarn he or she wants.
Perhaps the trickiest element with sock blends is coming up with something that it’s not just as easy for someone to buy in a millspun sock yarn. Especially in the past few years, the range of options for commercial sock yarns have really increased, and this is a constant challenge for me as a fiber producer. I tend to solve it by adding really luxurious fibers into my core recipe — a little angora, or some cashmere, maybe baby camel down — and sometimes man-made high-tech fibers that do really interesting things (like firestar nylon, which if done right can be both really startling and not too overpowering).