Heat wave has broken…

(Sung to the tune of “Morning has Broken,” by Cat Stevens.  Or, not.)

I might jinx things in the long run, but as of today, our week-long stretch of 106-111 degree temperatures is over.  It’s just after 5:00 pm and I ventured out an hour ago for a bike ride with my husband in a relatively balmy 82 degrees, almost 30 degrees cooler than it was just 24 hours ago.  It still felt hot.  🙂

What happened this week?  No dyeing (that would have involved a death wish).  I drove my college daughter to her summer job in the mountains, came home and had a popsicle, and that took care of Monday.  Tuesday and Wednesday was mailing, winding, and paperwork; more popsicles and some guitar practicing (I now know 19 simple chords and several strum and rhythm patterns – yay me!). Yesterday was the 4th and after going to my water aerobics class (the only exercise I will even consider when it’s over 100 degress) I then holed up in the air conditioning and, joy of joys, I read a book.  It was really very good – “We Are All Completely Beside Ourselves,” by a great Northern California author, Karen Joy Fowler.  You may have heard of another of her books, called, “The Jane Austen Book Club.”  It seems like forever since I’ve taken the time to read an entire book in one sitting.  After I was done, I had some barbecue, a margarita and watched my husband and son set off a total of 5 fireworks.

But back to the shop.  This week I also started knitting a pair of socks using some gorgeous yarn that Sheri dyed up for me a while ago, along with some of our new heel and toe mini skeins, in “Carnation”:

Image Love the contrast!

We also did an update of kettle dyed yarns, mostly in repeated colorways of “Giverny” and “Magic Carpet.”  I snuck the dyeing in on the first heat wave day, last Friday.

Image“Giverny,” in silky sock

Image“Magic Carpet,” also in Silky Sock

We put up a skein of our April kettle dyed club selection:

Image“Caribbean,” yet again in Silky Sock

And finally, our July Phat Fiber contribution to the Under the Sea box:

Image“Sea Anemone,” in 100% superwash merino single ply

Here’s to lower temperatures, and more dyeing and posting next week!

— Meg

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Well, hello there, summer!

Today was the start of a good old-fashioned heat wave.  It hit 105 degrees here in Elk Grove, California – but that’s nothing.  By Wednesday, it could build to 112.  (The joke around these parts is, “but it’s a DRY heat.”  Sorry, but anything over 100, anywhere, is simply hot.)

It happens, but what’s weird is that only a few days ago, it was in the low 60’s and raining. Now that doesn’t happen in Central California in late June.

The two extremes have put a slight crimp in our dyeing plans, but we’re just going a bit slower, quitting a bit sooner, and drinking a lot more water.  One of us (I won’t say who) went out and bought herself a wading pool, and paid her 17 year old son five bucks to pump it up and fill it with water:

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It will be waiting for her as soon as she finishes this post.  With, hopefully, a frosty margarita.

Speaking of updates, we just put a bunch more self striping in the shop.  First up is our July Chubby, in “Berries”:

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It makes us hungry for pie.

And some other new color ways:

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Field of Poppies (the California Poppy is our beloved state flower!)

ImageHosta (if you’re lucky enough to have some shade!)

ImagePajama pants (for that next sleepover!)

and

Imagesweet Viola.

Enjoy – and have a safe and happy 4th of July!

Update!

After spending the past several weeks doing a lot of wholesale dyeing, we set that aside for a few days, rolled up our sleeves, and dyed up a heap of new self striping and kettled favorites for you.  Enjoy and happy Summer Solstice!

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June, and all that goes with it

There’s certainly never a dull moment around here.  We have kids finishing high school and starting college and graduating, kids leaving and coming home, little trips and medium trips and family illnesses and heat waves and guitar lessons and gardening, and on and on.  Throughout it all, we just keep dyeing yarn.  It’s nice to have a constant.

First up was a sweet little self striping order we dyed last month for our LYS, Knitique.  We called this “Salute to the Red, White and Blue,” after the annual 4th of July fireworks festival here in Elk Grove: 

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They may still have a few, they are happy to ship to you, and we have exactly one in the shop.

We’re also still dyeing lots and lots “Fishy Wishy” for Wool Girl’s August Dr. Seuss “Red Fish, Blue Fish” club.  Not sure if it’s sold out yet, but if you want one, check it out here.  We’re enjoying the bright and cheerful colors!

And for more fun, we’ve added a nice selection of semi-solid Heel and Toe Mini Skeins, in our strong 75/25 merino/nylon sock base.  They’re 1/4 the size of a normal skein – 115 yards/25 grams – and currently come in 16 colors.  We plan to add more colors and will be taking special orders for other bases as well as smaller minis for hexi puffs, etc.

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What else? A few new summery colors, most of which get snapped up once we put them in the shop.  We also introduced a three month self striping sock club option and are happy that customers are taking advantage of it.  By signing up for three months at a time, you’ll save a little on shipping as well as yarn.  We love coming up with unique colors for our club customers, and they are often the first to get to try a lovely new yarn, like this singles construction sock yarn we dyed for our most recent three month Kettle option:

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(Oh, and that pink skein is a sample of one of our new Mini’s.  Also, unless it’s really hot, we love to send chocolate.)

This ‘n That

First of all, we have exciting news!  We are part of a Woolgirl kit this August, custom dyeing the self striping Fishy Wishy color way for “Red Fish, Blue Fish”!  Over 2/3 of the kits have been presold already – wow!  That should keep us busy for a while.

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After our current shop sale is over and we’ve created some space for new yarns, we’ll start updating the shop regularly again.  We’ve changed up the sock clubs a little, added a 3-month option to self striping, and have brought sports team custom pre-orders back so that you can have your sock yarn in plenty of time to knit for fall.

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On the home front, I just bought myself a beginner’s acoustic guitar.  I decided about a dozen or so years ago that I would commit to learning something new every year.  It can be something small or large – it just has to be something I’ve always wanted to do.  So I’ve learned to swim (at age 41!), learned to cook decent Thai food, became a Master Gardener, and learned to knit socks (and you can see what THAT lead to).  

One of these years, learning to speak Italian and wine making (they go together!) will be on the list, but this year it’s guitar.  Music used to be a huge presence in my life (at one time or another, I have played the violin, viola, piano, trumpet and ukelele) but it has fallen by the wayside.  I’ve been going to concerts again after many years and love seeing my old favorite musicians up on stage, most of all the ones who play acoustic guitar.  So there you go.

(Oh, Sheri just reminded me, I was supposed to learn to spin this year too.  OK, this year can have two learning adventures…)

— Meg

 

 

 

 

Sale! And, we’re back in action.

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(The sun and rain taking turns, in Lagos, Portugal.)

First off, how about a little sale? Everything in the store is 20% off until May 6th (this doesn’t include clubs, custom orders, Chubbies or gift certificates).  We’re clearing the way for some new things.  This is the biggest discount we’ve ever offered, so enjoy!  Coupon code is MayDay20.

I just got back from a pretty amazing month travelling in Europe, most of the time with my husband and kids.  (Actually, I got back about a week ago, but my jet lag is finally gone so I have regained coherency.)  I haven’t been to Europe in 24 years, since my husband and I were first married.  I had a great time but a month is a long time to be gone, five countries is a lot to visit, and I am happy to be back home.  I’m also thankful to Sheri for keeping the shop smoothly running.  Great teamwork!

The really nice thing, though, about being out of the U.S. for that long is that I was really able to appreciate so many things that are not typically American.  I ate a lot of great food, saw a lot of amazing sights and art, and tried to embrace and immerse myself in the culture wherever I went.  I only went to Starbucks twice – and really, it was only because I needed the wifi!  I loved all the local coffee shops and bakeries, especially the chocolate pastries my husband brought me every morning.  Thank goodness nearly every country seems to have some version.  I will admit, though, I got tired of the bocadillos de jamon – I was in Spain the longest and I’ve eaten enough of those little ham sandwiches to last me a long time.  The paella, however, is another story!  I’m going to have to buy myself a paella pan.

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(Spring bulbs blooming in the Real Jardín Botánico de Madrid.)

It was unfortunate for me, the garden lover, that Europe was experiencing an atypical cold spring.  That meant there were few flowers for me to walk amongst, although I did go to a few botanical gardens to see spring bulbs blooming.  Instead, I concentrated more on museums, palaces, castles, ancient walled cities and other sightseeing.  For instance, I took a cooking class in a centuries-old castle near Dublin with my daughter that was really fun, and I saw the End of the World in Sagres, Portugal (the end of the world before 1492, anyway).  We created some great family memories and some even better, funny family stories of all our mishaps, many of which involve my poor husband trying to drive a rental car through the medieval streets and traffic circles of Spain.

It was a fulfilling, exhausting trip and I loved it.  We met wonderful, helpful, friendly people everywhere we went and had amazing food and wine all along the way.  And of course, as a knitter and dyer, what is a trip to Europe without making a side trip to Pfaffenhofen, Germany?  Yes, I visited the famous Wollmeise shop, and luckily I had packed a few space bags, because I brought all of these beauties home with me in my carryon:

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What a great shop, and what a lovely town, too!  

I may post a bit more about this trip later, but for now I’m happy to be back and firing up the dyepots again.  I saw so many, many cool and colorful things that I know will inspire my work in new ways.  We’ll be updating the shop soon after the end of the sale!

— Meg

 

Nose to the Grindstone

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Things have been quiet here, I know – that’s because lots of things have been happening behind the scenes.

I’m going on a big trip soon with my family, to meet up with our daughter who is studying in a faraway place and then travel on to other faraway places.  It will be an amazing trip. In order to get there I have had to work twice as hard this winter, both at home and in the dye studio.  But it’s going to be totally worth it.

I expect I’ll be refreshed, rejuvenated and inspired by my travels.  I’ve been in a little rut lately and I think this will be like hitting a much needed “reset” button.  I’ll be seeing some breathtaking landscapes and art and architecture, and meeting amazing people, and I’m looking forward to how all of that will transform my dye work.

Some of the things we’ve both been working on this winter are our new sock clubs.  So far, the self striping club has been the most popular.  We offer them in “brights” and “subtles,” and take turns each month dyeing them.  We’ve also been dyeing lots and lots of custom and team orders, which helps teach us more about color properties.

We’ll keep the shop open and shipping will continue while I’m away.  While we won’t do any custom orders or a lot of new dyeing, we’ll have lots of yarn in stock and monthly Chubbies and yarn clubs that you can pre-order.

Oh yeah, one of the places I’m visiting while on my journey? The great Wollmeise’s brick and mortar store. She was the inspiration for me to become an indie dyer.

— Meg