Sunday, November 28, 2010

Dyeing in the moonlight...

Once again, I'm making another late-night post. I've just dyed up some more cottons and my mind is buzzing, awash with colour and what I'm gonna do tomorrow (it's past midnight, time to turn off the radio I dye to and give the neighbours a break).

It's just been so hot during the afternoons, with the sun beating down on my back (sunscreen has become a vital part of my PPE) as my dye studio is semi-open and orientated so that the sun shines directly into it in the afternoons (mornings are for family).

I struggle sometimes with finding a balance between satisfying my creative urges, and spending time with the family. So often the only uninterrupted dyeing time I have is at night, under the moonlight (daylight flouro lights help too!). I'm awfully pleased with how tonight's session went, and I've already placed my dibs on some yarn (fringe benefits). I'm also a bit of a night-owl in general so this is when my brain is most active, after the dinnertime slump when all I want to do is to shower and dress Matilda and chuck her in bed and cozy up with a book and some knitting. Then night descends and I come wide awake. I worked the 6pm to 6am shift at Hewlett Packard in Corvallis, Oregon once and it was the best job ever.

I was dyeing cottons and cotton-blends in 200g skeins (variegated) with 100g trim. I hope the trim colours I chose are OK; I don't know if I will be packaging them all up as 300g lots or making the trims optional. What do you think?

I hope to have these yarns as well as the December instalment of the yarn club all ready to go and stocked by mid-December. We're going on holiday from the 20th so I will have to discuss with Annette (the JJ Yarn Fairy) whether she will be able to send out orders while I am gone or whether I will have to shut up shop for two weeks. I can't wait to show off what I've dyed!

Saturday, November 27, 2010

Shriekingly, shamefully scared of slithering snakes

I saw a 1.5m long dugite snake when I went to hang out some laundry this morning. My voice is still hoarse from the shameful shrieking I did. Roy says I took five years off his life when he heard me. Matilda and Gryph who were both outside just looked at me bemusedly (I'm glad I didn't pass on my fear to M). It's really not surprising to see a snake on our property, we are semi-rural and surrounded by horse paddocks and tall grass. But this one was on concrete (granted, slithering away from me, and slithering very speedily when he/she heard my shrieks), and it just gave me a terrible fright. I'm not usually a timid type of person, but snakes just terrify me. Sometimes when I'm reading a picture book and a photo of a snake shows up I won't even touch the page. Irrational? Yes! Maybe I was a mouse deer in a previous life and prey to snakes. Maybe I was traumatised by a visit to the Snake Temple in Penang when I was a child. Maybe I'm just silly, stupid, and senseless, to be scared of slithering snakes!

By the way, Roy chased it off with a rake with G, M and I cowering in the house. Matilda laughed at me. Gryph thought it was all great fun. I shudder to think what would have happened if he'd discovered the snake himself. Shivers...

I'm now too scared to go out to my dye studio but I will, with my trusty gumboots on! More cottons to dye :)

I need a new slogan

For years, the slogan for Jolly Jumbuck has been "For the love of wool". Well it's time to update it as I've also fallen in love with dyeing and using cottons and cotton-blends.

So, I could go with:

"For the love of yarn"
"Hand-dyed happiness"
"Jolly good yarn"
"Bloody good yarn", as in "Jolly Jumbuck - Bloody good yarn!"

Some of these are suggestions from my friends at Jolly Jumbuck Mates on Ravelry. I'm running a little competition to come up with a groovy new slogan for the shop, the person who comes up with the slogan I decide on will win 300g of ARIADNE (100purewool 3ply superwash) custom-dyed just for them. If I choose a slogan that I came up with myself, I will put the names of everyone who suggested a slogan in a hat and draw out a name.

So, please leave a comment on what you think my new slogan should be!

Also, I've noticed that the "Yarnies, know thy yarn!" post has netted some disagree's. Which is fantastic, the world is full of people with differing opinions and a healthy debate is always welcome. But I would really love to know what exactly people are disagreeing with, that is why I've enabled anonymous comments (thank goodness for spam filters though!). Could you leave me a note as to what you are disagreeing with? Is it because I've broken the unspoken taboo of criticising my peers? Or do you think it's not important for a dyer to familiarise themselves with their products? Do you think it's OK to chase the popular yarns based on other peoples' reviews or what other dyers are using? After all, in the current environment yarn bases are pretty transparent (at least I try to inform my customers which yarns I'm using), and with a yarn that is universally available do you think it is OK for the dyer to rely on reviews and word of mouth? Or do you object to my somewhat superior, snobby tone? None of these are going to change my views, and I will continue to use and live with the yarns that I dye, and share my experiences because I owe it to myself as a dyer and a knitter too. But it sure would be nice to know what people are disagreeing with. I look forward to some comments.

Now I shall take my insomniac self off to bed and dream of what I'm going to knit next with from my current batch of yarns.

PS -- Just dyed: "Thanksgiving" from the Circle of Stash yarn club, and a bunch of variegateds with trim on Henry's Attic cottons. 200g variegated, 100g trim. Hopefully some will make it through the Irene-Tax/Market Research checkpoint and onto the shop!

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Time for a facelift

All these months away from my blog (previous to the last two posts), I have been thinking about what direction I'm going to go with it. No one reads it any more, this is because I'm so sporadic at posting and it's all drivel anyway LOL

But I decided that it needed a facelift, so I've been mucking around with templates. The old one was really old, at a time when Blogger gave you ten templates to choose from. Well I've found one that's to my liking, but had to do a bit of tinkering to get it to work. That's why it's been set to Private view; the dates and graphics just weren't lining up. I hope you like what I ended up with. I'll be tinkering in the next few weeks to make it just like a "Jolly Jumbuck Journal".

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Yarnies, know thy yarn!

Feel it, touch it, fondle it all you want. Even take it to bed with you if you must. But most of all, use it. Knit (or crochet) with it, feel the texture, amount of give, best gauge, etc. Then, wear it. Wash it. Again and again. Live with it. Only then will you get to know the yarn. Not by reading reviews on Ravelry and other places, not by scoping out "the next popular yarn", not going by brand names and what other dyers are using.

Unlike painting, where the composition of the canvas is of minor importance to the art of the piece (although I do like a good oil on canvas, the textures created by brush and knife), dyeing yarn is not just adding colour to strands of white. The yarn itself, the base, is an *integral* part of the final product. To sell it, you need to know it. How many people would eat meat dishes made by a vegetarian chef who hasn't tasted it? Or modern cloth nappies from a WAHM who uses disposables full-time on her own children? Or, heaven forbid, a designer who hasn't actually knit her own pattern? And yet, nobody hesitates to buy yarn from someone who doesn't knit or crochet, or somebody who has had the yarn base for more than a year and yet hasn't knit with it.

I just don't get it. First, how can these dyers be surrounded by such tactile goods as lush yarn, and not want to attack it with needles or hooks? To get to know it, to learn about it, to familiarise herself with it's pro's and con's. Where are they getting feedback on yarn performance over time from -- their customers, members on Ravelry? Even though I myself find this feedback invaluable, it doesn't stop me from wanting to experience it myself. And I am not saying that I knit every colourway that I dye, that would be ludicrous. But I do knit an item of each type of dyeing process, and I knit garments with every one of my many many bases over the years.

That's where I form my opinions on the pro's and con's of each yarn base. They all do have con's, you know. To not have personally used the yarn itself is cheating yourself and your customers of an objective view on the yarn's not-so-good points. This is where I develop my favourites which I will continue to stock and dye, knowing that the yarn itself will perform well over time. There are "popular" yarns out there that I have tried, but decided against for whatever reason. And the yarns I like won't be the yarns everyone else likes, so I do stock yarns that I personally wouldn't seek out to use. Then, once in a while, I hit upon a yarn that even though I have kg's and kg's of and unlimited future access to, in the secret squirrel stasher part of my heart I want to keep all to myself! (But I don't, because that would be selfish!)

I might not have a garment knit and being worn in certain base yarns before selling them, but the avid knitter in me is faster than my hands -- I literally cannot wait to try a new base as a garment. So I will get there, soon. Or I don't feel qualified to judge a yarn's inner qualities as a functional and colourful product.

Now I know this has been a very controversial post, but those who know me will know that over the years I've never been hesitant to speak out about things I am passionate about. And dyeing is my passion, as well as my profession. So I will voice my opinion out loud, here on my blog (who nobody much reads anyway). Anonymous comments are possible.

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Chucking a sickie...

Sometimes, despite your best intentions, life just hands you a "free day off" pass and forces you to take it. Today was one of those days. Having planned a day of listing yarn for the next store stocking tomorrow night (as we'll be out all day tomorrow), this morning I got a phone call from kindy to say that Matilda had had very runny poos and please to come and get her.

So, I resigned myself to staying up tonight instead, sat back and enjoyed the day. M was in very good spirits, happy and smiley. It had to happen on a day we were using woollies though... poo explosions are much easier to clean off normal clothes and were very unpleasant on her Flirty Skirty. The washing machine is my friend. So I popped her in a disposable nappy instead in case it happened again.

We then locked ourselves away in her bedroom, all doors closed, as it's the room furthest away from the workshop where dad was hard at work fixing his parent's car. We *hate* loud noises! Turned on the clock radio (which *I* grew up with) to 6IX (80's classics?), sang and boogied a little bit. She did her felt pictures, we're chattering away to each other. I got to work on my Sea Princess jacket -- mmmm great yarn great pattern, thoroughly satisfying cables.

After a bit of this we went and laid down on the couch and cuddled to watch TV. I might have even fallen asleep a little!

And all this also on what was supposed to be "Cleaning Day" for me... I took a sickie off from that too!

By the way, no more poos were forthcoming although she's asking if she can stay home from Star School (early intervention) tomorrow :) I'll think about it!

ETA: Oh I forgot! Guess what she painted this morning before I picked her up... I wish I could show it here as it's hilarious (but still drying at kindy). It was a painting of "me on the potty" and "mummy on the toilet", both of us with huge grins on our faces and rainbow-type bands above our heads... not quite true to life in my case but quite topical.
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