Sunday, March 01, 2009

What Have I Been Doing?

Fine. I'll come clean.

The reason I've been absent lately is because I've been busy launching a new venture and I wasn't sure I could really do this. I didn't want to talk about it until I knew for sure.

Turns out, I can, and I did.

May I introduce you to YARNDEAVORS.

That's right. I'm selling yarn. Hand-painted, hand-dyed sock yarn. One night in January, I just suddenly got the urge to dye. Colorway names and color schemes were flying through my brain faster than I could write them down. Ironically, very few match the colors that have actually been dyed. Oh well, saved for later.

So I did a little research... bought various skeins of yarn to try out, bought the dye, spent endless hours perusing the aisles of Big L*ts, the D*llar Tree and other discount outlets for supplies, then cleared off space in the kitchen and got going.

This is batch number one.

The dyeing didn't take nearly as long as designing the logo, the website, and wrassling Zen Cart for dominance (and I still haven't gotten the PayPal thing worked out yet).

This is all because I fell in love with surface design back in college, then took a self-striping and sock yarn dyeing class at Fiberworks a couple years ago. Yes, this idea has been marinating in my brain longer than a dye vat needs to exhaust.

I'm not sure if what I have to offer is completely unique or not. All I know is I have a sock fetish, I love dyeing fibers, and I think I have an unusual eye for color and blending them together. It's totally intuitive and artistic. I tried being scientific about it but that doesn't work for me (though I've been taking pretty good notes so the colorway concepts will, for the most part, be repeatable).

I have a funny story. Sometimes the solution is so obvious it's silly. All the books recommend if you're going to use acid dyes (I use Lanaset/Sabraset from ProChem), your dye pots MUST be stainless (or enamel) because aluminum leeches dye. Well, I searched high and low for inexpensive stainless canning pots to no avail. They are pricey! I had in mind one of those old wash tubs like Grandma used to have:

But I couldn't find any in stores and being the instant gratification type, I needed it NOW—I couldn't wait and hope to win a dozen eBay auctions or to hit the garage sales. I wracked my brain... stainless... flat bottomed... wide... cheap... holds about 10 to 16 quarts of liquid...

Then it hit me.

Livestock pans.

Well, TSC only had hog pans, or so they thought. The guy didn't think what he had would work. I almost gave up. And then I remembered, there are some pretty big dogs. A little online research—AHA! How about a DOG DISH?

I headed over to TSC, and lo and behold, I found a 10-quart size. PERFECT. And only $11. Quite a difference from the $50+ they want for stainless cookware at Big Box Store. (As an aside, Big L*ts is now carrying their store brand of 16- and 20-quart stock pots with lids, on the cheap—I own two now.) It's exactly the right size for immersion dyeing on the stove.

Everything I've dyed so far is up for grabs, except for one skein I can't part with. Yes, I know I can make more! But this one's special...



I don't know what it is about this one that makes my heart skip a beat, but it does, so... I'm keeping it for myself. I'll love it, and pet it, and call it Bluegrass.

So that's what I've been doing, among other things—coloring yarn and entertaining the cats' noses with the divine scent of pickled sheep. Head on over, visit the shop, and let me know if there is anything you like. I'll do custom colorways, too, if you ask.

I think I'll bring the herd of yarn in for Show N Tell at InsanKnitty this week if there are any left. ;-) Now, if I can just learn how to wind the hanks neatly...

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At 6:22 PM, March 02, 2009, Blogger Sheepish Annie said...

How cool! Congrats on the new endeavor!!! I have only ever dyed fiber, never yarn. I always say I'm going to, but I just don't get that far. For some reason, it seems more difficult to me so I really admire the people who do it.

Have you ever read "Dyeing To Knit?" That's a great reference book, although you may find the color sections to be a bit elementary since you have an art background. I actually pull that one out quite a bit just to remember what color can do.

At 7:49 PM, March 02, 2009, Blogger becky c. said...

OOOOOO, pretty!!

At 12:31 PM, March 03, 2009, Blogger Karen said...

Squeeee! Congratulations, Jeanne!

At 4:49 PM, March 03, 2009, Blogger Mother of Chaos said...

Wow!! Awesome. Congratulations, and best of luck to you!


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