Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Ready to Dye Yarns

The Irresistible Ewe is now offering Universal Ready to Dye yarns. Three are sock weights:
100% Superwash Merino Wool Sock Weight, Bamboo/Superwash Merino Wool/Nylon Sock Weight, Superwash Wool/Nylon Sock Weight and 100% Superwash Merino Wool Worsted Weight. These are going to be so much fun to experiment with different types of dyes this summer. I'm saving up my Kool-Aide packets.

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Photographing Yarn

I decided to photograph some of the skeins of yarn I have in stock for The Irresistible Ewe yarn shop. I'm grateful for the jpegs that Universal is allowing me to borrow for my site, but I'm not able to enlarge them so that the viewer can get the best idea of what the yarn looks like up close. I own a nice camera, but I'm far from being a professional photographer. Also, I'm finding that certain colors, like green, are hard to get a true picture of without the best lighting. In experimenting around my house, I've found the best time and place for natural lighting is my kitchen about mid-morning. By then, the sun is coming in enough to really brighten the off-white walls and give me some true colors. My kitchen table is a good height, but, being stained an antique color, may not give the best background for darker skeins of yarn. Always ready to try another way, I've experimented with placing some skeins on the windowsill, or on top of my laptop - of course, you don't want the logo showing behind the yarn. The only drawback to the windowsill is that it creates shadows around the yarn and may not show the entire skein in the best light. I've also found that a single sheet of computer paper will give a nice, mostly non-glaring backdrop for dark colors.
Lately, the weather doesn't want to comply with my schedule of weekend picture taking. As soon as I get started, the clouds roll in, not to give much-needed rain, but just enough to make me take unwanted breaks. I could go out onto the screened-in porch which has a nice light-colored table and plenty of indirect daylight. But, being in eastern North Carolina right now, this is just not an option with the high tree pollen count. At least everything isn't as yellow as it was about a week ago from the pine trees. I'm just not willing to put my yarn in the outside air to pick up allergens for future buyers.
I have found one more option in the kitchen area next to the stove. We have a large overhead fluorescent light with daylight bulbs. I can drag the trashcan over directly under this light and place a covering over the trash can and get pretty good results.
And it goes without saying , but I'll say it anyway, the same applies to the finished pieces I want to photograph. It pays to take the time to experiment in different locations when you're ready to pick up the camera to share your hard work on your latest fiber piece. With digital cameras, you can just download to the computer, then discard the ones that don't add up to what you're aiming for. No money lost. If you're lucky enough to have a friend or son or daughter to model for you, by all means use them. I haven't found anyone yet to use. I think knitted or crocheted pieces are so much better displayed when actually worn. If you're photographing your work when worn, try to do as much shooting outside if possible. You'd be surprised at how much the sunlight will make your fibers shimmer. So, go out and give it a shot. Happy pictures and I wish you no pollen, clear skies and willing models.

Thursday, April 22, 2010

The Two-Hour Purse

I finished a project from 101 Designer One-Skein Wonders by Judith Durant. This is based on the Two-Hour Purse on page 205. I used Universal Yarn's Deluxe Worsted Magic (100% wool), Orange Sorbet. The pattern is pre-stamped on the yarn and unfolds in a watercolor effect as you knit. This felted nicely in my washer inside a pillowcase, using hot water and a small load of towels. It didn't fade at all. I don't know what happened at the bottom of the purse; I think I got carried away with my knitting and knitted a few rows too many. Still, it has a little purse-onality, don't you think? The wool softened up quite a bit after felting and it blocked nicely. This is the perfect size for a quick trip to the store or a movie date. This took about one-half skein of yarn and knitted very quickly. I love these books for quick projects. This was knitted in the round on size 9 Velvet Bamboo circulars. The bottom was crocheted together. All-in-all a fun project.

Sunday, April 18, 2010

New Counter at Lion Brand

I subscribe to the Lion Brand Yarn Play newsletter. It's always very bright, colorful and cheerful and full of great ideas for knitting or crocheting. I was catching up on old issues this morning and found a pattern I liked for a hot water bottle cover. When I pulled it up, I found a new device Lion Brand is now using with its online patterns. It's says "Click to Count" and can be moved around the patterns online with your mouse. It has plus and minus buttons to keep up with your rows as well as a O button. This is a reset button. The computer will even send up a message box asking if you're sure you want to reset the count. This is brilliant! For those of us who run out of space in our studios when filling notebooks of patterns we just know we plan to knit or crochet sometime before our 100th birthdays, then lose track of them (out of sight....), this is a way to keep up with our patterns online. We avoid the clutter, let Lion Brand keep our patterns organized and stored for us, and we can use the marker to keep up with our knitting while we knit. The only hitch I see is that you'll need to keep your knitting near your laptop, if traveling with your knitting, or use a notebook to jot down exactly where you left off when you need to take a break or turn off the computer.
Still, kudos to Lion Brand for the new robo-counter. I love it. More ways to green our earth and save a tree. Thanks for this.

Sunday, April 11, 2010

Apple Orchard Scarf Finished

I finally finished my Apple Orchard Scarf. This was a fun scarf to make, using Universal Yarn's Deluxe Chunky Long Print in "Apple Orchard." This is a 100% wool yarn which is self-striping, eliminating the need to buy several colors at once and change yarn - which also means fewer ends to weave in. For those who have difficulty in coordinating colors, the guesswork is taken away. All in all, a foolproof project. Sometimes, it's nice just to relax and knit. At the end of the video, I'll also show another project made with this yarn in the "New Mexico" colorway. I wove it on my Cricket rigid heddle loom. The texture is much flatter and smoother. I wanted to show the contrast from knitted piece to woven. Each project took under one skein of yarn.

Sunday, April 4, 2010

April Showers Bring Sales!

Okay, so we haven't had any showers yet this month. Maybe we can call it a pollen sale; goodness knows we have enough of the yellow stuff coating everything in sight here in NC. The Irresistible Ewe has added new sales yarn this month in soft colors for Spring. Here are the latest:
Bella DK Tapestry (in colorways: 901, 903, 905, 912, 921 - $4.80 per skein)
Cotton Supreme (in 511 Pink, 516 Aqua, 520 Yellow - $6.40 per skein)
Exquisite Bamboo (in Winter Sky - $5.60 per skein)
Classic Worsted Tapestry (in Baby Shades - $5.60 per skein)
Classic Worsted (in Primrose, Lt Blue,
Bubblegum, Grapesicle - $4.00 per skein)
Cottonwood (in Paulina, Monica - $4.80 per skein)
Cotton Supreme Batik (in Watermelon Patch - $6.80 per skein)


I love to work with color, the more the better when choosing yarn. But, what do you do when you've been through several projects and have bits of this and that left over? One complaint I hear from my knitting or weaving friends/students is, "I just don't know how to put colors together." I came across an excellent youtube video made by Knitting Daily TV. It features Prism Arts' Laura Bryant and is called, Trash Your Colorwheel and Have Fun with Color. Laura shows the audience how to arrange skeins of yarn from dark (heavier weight) to light (lighter weight) and then to use bright colors to fill in. I liked the way she placed each bright skein around the group until it "fit in." I think this is a helpful tutorial for those who want to add an accent color in knitting, combine strands of yarn for a bulkier weight or for those of us who weave. Being still new to weaving, I haven't had a lot of experience in choosing alternate colors for warping. This opens up a new chapter in my weaving. I can now look at varying not just colors, such as red, blue, green, but varying warp threads by hues with an occasional bright contrasting color. What possibilities can you imagine?