Renovations, etc.

workday saturday
This is what happens when your husband watches you set up a shot: he keeps adding things to it. It was originally just the yarn and the coffee, but everything he added to it, the fresh banana bread, the zucchini from the garden, the baby toy, all seemed appropriate. They are all reasons why I haven’t been blogging much the last couple of weeks, but not the only ones.

In June, I made myself a schedule and tried to stick to blogging 5 days a week for a month. I mostly made it, but looking back at the end of the month, I felt like I hadn’t done anything but blog. I love, love, love blogging–and if I didn’t also have a full-time job, I could probably swing five quality posts a week. Since paying the bills is an unfortunate reality, I am going to have to cut back on the blogging schedule–and, you know, have some time to do stuff to blog about…like update my etsy shop.

I have been planning some renovations for the Tiny Dino Studios online store for ages. I am finally starting to implement them. If you stop by, you will see that I currently have no listings. Over the next two weeks, I will be taking new photos, writing new copy, and adding new product. New listings will go live on August 16th!

In two weeks, I’ll have a whole new store. In the meantime, you might see a few new graphics popping up or some minor changes on the blog and other social media outlets–be sure to check those out for sneak peeks of what I’m working on.

Mug from FriesenArt.

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Columbia Fleece

Right about the time Felix was born, I found a great deal on half a Columbia fleece.

colombia locks clean and dirty
On top is a lock in the grease, on the bottom is a washed piece. Isn’t the crimp divine?

clean gray colombia fleece

And here’s the washed fleece (bonus: my newly unpregnant feet). It’s so fluffy and gorgeous. I haven’t had the time to card or spin any yet, but you can bet I will as soon as Felix and I figure out the new baby/mommy/full-time job/fiber artist routine.

Look for the washed locks available soon in my etsy shop.

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Washing Fleece in the Washing Machine

You know what’s really hard? Getting a good photo of raw fleece. Even in a room with good light, it’s just difficult to get take a detailed photograph of bits of fluff.

Tunis Fleece
I give you a Tunis fleece I received as a wedding gift last year. (Yup,pretty much the best wedding gift ever.) This is Tunis from the same farm as the roving I have for sale in my shop. It’s been living in a box since then, first waiting for me to have a place to wash it, and then after we moved in to our new house, waiting for us to get a washing machine. After we got a washing machine, I was too busy preparing for baby to think about washing fleeces. Well, that’s not completely true. I thought about it plenty, I was just slightly afraid to do it for fear of felting, and I always so freaking tired, I didn’t bother to figure out where my fleeces were stored when we moved. (Turns out they were in plastic bags, inside a suitcase, in the basement. I think it was originally to protect them from moths, but it was a really good hiding place from myself.)

I love this wool. It’s a solid medium wool, with a little peachy color to it. I think it spins up lovely and sproingy. Because this was a gift, and the box it came in was unmarked, I don’t really know how much it is, but I do know it’s from the 2013 clip. I’m guessing 3 or 4 pounds before washing. Yes, I could have weighed it, but I’m saving that for after it’s clean and dry. What’s good about this fleeces is that it came very well skirted. I didn’t have to pull out any tags or discard any of the locks for being felted or poopy. It is dirty, and there is plenty of VM in it, but it came from a sheep, what do you expect?

Tunis Lock
What a pretty lock.

I would take a good look at you fleece before you toss it in the wash, and get rid of the parts that aren’t going to be good for spinning. No use washing them when you can toss them straight into the compost. After that, getting the fleece clean is pretty simple.

washing the tunis

Supplies needed:
1. Fleece
2. Dawn Original Formula (theoretically, any dish soap should work, but I stick with the one that really strips out the grease.)
3. Washing Machine

Washing the fleece
-Fill washing machine with hot water and about 1-2 cups of dish soap (Use more soap for heavier lanolin.)
-While machine is filling, loosely pick locks apart. No need to get super thorough, you just want to open them up enough to let the water and soap in.
-Add wool to water, gently pushing beneath the surface. Do not mix it around. Also, be sure to turn off your machine before it starts to agitate. Some machines only do this if you close the lid. If you’re lucky like me, your machine goes straight from filling to agitating with no pause in between, so I have been waiting until the machine is filled before adding any fleece, just in case.
-Let sit 15 minutes
-Turn to spin and allow the washer to spin all the water out.

(Repeat if you have a particularly dirty fleece.)

-Rinse the soap out by filling machine again and soaking for another 15 minutes, followed by another spin cycle.

Washed Tunis

What’s really cool about this method, is spinning all the water out in the washing machine really cuts down on dry time. When I was washing fleece by hand and drying it on a rack in a southern window, it would sometimes take days for wool to dry. This wool should be dry later today. (The only downside I can see is if you are a person who really likes to spin from perfect locks, this isn’t going to get you there.)

Obviously, it’s going to need a little bit more picking to get all the vm out, but that’s so much easier to do when it’s not getting caught up on lanolin.

Today I cleaned Tunis and Rambouillet. I’ve never worked with Rambouillet before, so I am excited to get my hands on it once it’s dry. Do you have any favorite breeds?

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Some Changes

ten days old
Gratuitous baby photo: Felix at ten days old wearing tiny dinos and rainbow leg warmers.

No doubt, if you are reading this from my home page, you’ve noticed that I have been making a few changes around here. This last twelve months, for this blog and for m life have been filled with upheaval. I moved twice, got married, opened a new store at the day job, and had a baby. In that same time, my blog has suffered numerous outages, which had something or other to do with old features of wordpress not moving over to new versions with very little warning for someone who had no time to give her blog thought outside of updating it from time to time.

My etsy shop, due to many of the same reasons, has also been closed a good portion of the last year. New product there has been few and far between. While indeed, I spent most of the year making things for Felix, I was pretty uninspired to do any dyeing. What I really wanted to do, was work with wool more directly. I have long appreciated the less processed yarns–the ones where the elasticity of the wool is still plainly felt, the ones that are still a little bit crunchy and not completely smooth. I love the texture of wools that aren’t Merino, and I want to experiment with them some more.

My intention when I started this business was to eventually be producing yarns and spinning fiber for sale (some dyed and some not) produced by my local farmers. Selling the commercially prepared yarn was just a way to build some capital. Over the last three years, I haven’t really come all that close to my goal. I have some Tunis for sale that is from a local farm–but a few pounds of wool sent to the local mill is only a tiptoe in the right direction. What I really want to do is start from the fleece and sell it washed, dyed, carded, spun, or any combination thereof.

It’s a lot more work than pouring some dye over some yarn, but it’s where I’ve been wanting to go for years, but just haven’t had either the space or the time. (Laying out a fleece in the apartment we were in before took up the entire living room.) But it’s the choice that feels more authentic to me.

And get ready to see a lot more dyeing done with food safe dyes. Since I am going to be doing most of my work with a baby strapped to me, I’m just not as comfortable using regular acid dyes. I’m really looking forward to seeing what new combinations I can come up with.

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Dyeing Yarn with Leftover Easter Egg Dye

easter rainbow

Sunday morning, Easter Sunday, Athrun and Brock and I had a morning full of Easter Eggs. We set up a hunt for Athrun in the yard, we opened them and filled a bag full of candy, and we boiled and dyed a dozen real eggs while the cat spread the plastic shells all about the house. (Seriously, these are her favorite toys. She almost didn’t let us get them filled, she was so excited when we got them out on Saturday night, she kept trying to jump in the bag.)

Every year I get a package or two of the little PAAS egg dyeing tablets, which is enough to do about a million eggs. I know we’ll only eat about a dozen hard boiled eggs in a week, so I try not to boil more than that, or it just seems wasteful. This means we always have a ton of leftover dye stock. This year, we did rainbow colors, at full brightness, and the leftovers got used on sock yarn.

I’ve been digging rainbows lately. Our baby quilt is rainbow, baby and Brock are going to have matching rainbow socks, and it seemed like the only thing to do with our rainbow of Easter egg dye turn it into some rainbow sock yarn.

In previous years, when using up the leftover Easter egg dye, I’ve watered it down, put it in squirt bottles and used it on about a pound of top. This year, since I was thinking yarn, I soaked 4 skeins of sock yarn, still about a pound, but instead of squirting it out, I just dumped the dye out of the cups we used to dye the eggs straight over the yarn in six cross-wise stripes. Since the yarn was wet, the color ran a little bit, which I wanted, then I wrapped it in saran wrap and microwaved it for about ten minutes. (I have a really old microwave that works at about half capacity. If you have a new one, it should probably only take three or four minutes. Also, I only use my microwave on food safe dyes, because I don’t have a dedicated dyeing microwave.) Gave it a quick wash and hung it up to dry.

easter 
rainbow sock yarn
I love the white showing through!

easter rainbow sock yarn reskeined

easter rainbow sock yarn reskeined 2
Reskeined, you can see how short the color repeats are and how each color will just flash a tad when knitted, and that there is a lot less white space than it looks like in the earlier pictures. As soon as I can scrounge up some sock needles, I am totally casting on a pair of socks for myself out of this!

The other three skeins will be available for sale sometime after the baby arrives, so be on the lookout! (If you’re interested now, let me know, and I’ll reserve them for you, but I’m getting close enough to delivery that I am not prepared to make any promises on shipping.)

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Shop Update

I know it’s been about a million years since I updated the Tiny Dino Studios etsy shop, but the long wait for new product is finally over! You can find all of these new items and many more sale items in the shop now.

Happy Tie Dye Lace Yarn 4
Happy in Oviraptor Lace

Madame Soothsayer Tie Dye Lace Yarn 3
Madame Soothesayer in Oviraptor Lace

Fire Flower Tie Dye Sock Yarn 3
Fire Flower Tie Dye in T-Rex Sock

Jelly Bean Tie Dye Sock Yarn 3
Jelly Bean in T-Rex Sock

Happy Tie Dye Sock Yarn 3
Happy in T-Rex Sock

Handspun Wensleydale 4
Handspun Wensleydale

Easter Eggs Falkland 3
Easter Eggs 100g Falkland Top

Gobstopper Wool Top 2
Gobstopper in 181g of Wool Top

Fun fact, everything but the handspun was dyed with food safe dyes! I haven’t played with food coloring in ages. It was a blast. I love how it enables me to mix colors on the yarn. Which is your favorite?

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Twenty-Nine

twentynine

Today, I am twenty-nine. It’s my new year, the day I start afresh.

Today, I woke up with a cold, so I haven’t been doing much in the way of celebrating, mostly sleeping and reading and sitting on the sofa drinking all the fluids. I am also not going to work tomorrow, which is pretty exciting.

Thinking outside the sickness, which will only be a memory in a few days, lets talk about goals.

2013 was one of those years that got away from me. I moved twice, I got married, and I worked really hard on a big project at the day job. All of this really overshadowed all of the Big Plans I talked about, but never named in a blog post, because all of those other things took up way more time and energy than I expected.

Now though, I am married, settled, and Big Work Project is launched, so I am more optimistic about what I can get done this year–I even have goals written down!

1. Have a happy and healthy baby.
I’m on the cusp of my third trimester, and am so excited for April. And it might sounds a little crazy, but I cannot wait until baby is ready to come, and it’s time to give birth. When the time comes, I am so ready to face that challenge. Plus, at the end, there’s a baby to love and take care of, and that’s so worth it. Since this comes first, it might have an effect on some of the ones listed below, but that’s just the way of things when there’s a new one around.

2. Blog more often.
During all those months in 2013 when I was not blogging, or not able to blog, I was preparing blog posts to you, dear reader, in my head nearly every day. It’s a habit I’ve formed mentally, even if it’s not one that’s been put into practice all that well. I’ve even written myself up a schedule and everything. I hope to make tinydinostudios.com lot more active in 29th year.

3. Publish more patterns
I have a few patterns I released for free up on Ravelry. While they haven’t gone viral or anything, I have received nothing but compliments on them. I haven’t written a new pattern in almost ten months, but it’s something I really love doing.

4.Grow more of my own food (and preserve it).
Our second, and hopefully last move for a very long time, came with a yard. One of the first things we did when we moved in, leaving most of the boxes unpacked, was mulch five small garden beds for planting in the spring. We want to do the usual variety of summer vegetables we’ve done in the past,but I also really want try my hand at growing some blackberries, strawberries, and more leafy greens like kale and chard.

5.Rehab my etsy store.
I’m working on a new shop update as we speak, as it’s been too many months since I’ve done anything with my store. I’m not quite sure when it will be ready, but I’ll let you know when it is.

6.Use my sewing machine more.

I used to sew a lot. I know how to do it, and I know how use my machine–I just don’t. Included in this is learning more about fabric and learning how to print on it, dye it, and paint it.

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Moving Sale And Other Business

If you follow me on facebook or twitter, you might have seen it a few days ago when I announced we were moving. I wish I could say that we had found a great little house where we could all have a bit more space and plant a garden in the ground. But we’re not their yet. With Brock still being unemployed (he’s waiting to hear back from one job and has an interview for something really great on Tuesday–mojo requested), and being in the middle of planning a wedding on top of everything else involved in a normal life, I feel like I am being pulled in a million different directions at once. I am worn out by worrying about money–and stress settled on me in the form of a UTI that really took the wind out of my sails.

The good news is that Brock’s mom stepped in and has offered to let us stay with her until we are able to stabilize a little bit. It’s not that we can’t pay for what we have with just my job. It’s that it takes my entire paycheck to cover it. There is no room for emergencies–and when someone gets a UTI the week before they are supposed to get health insurance and then gets their debit card stolen and then the car battery dies–there just isn’t any effing wiggle room. It’s a recipe for a meltdown. She has been offering for months, and Friday, we took her up on it. She has three extra bedrooms upstairs that we are going to move into. There will be a bedroom for us, a bedroom for Athrun and a private living/studio space. Minerva will be absolutely spoiled by the cat flap and closed-off, cat-friendly backyard. We will be able to pull this wedding together and throw a little money at debt the next couple of months, and be out back on our own when Brock is stably employed.

What we won’t have is a lot of storage. We’re planning a big garage sale for the weekend we move in, and what doesn’t sell is being donated. More importantly for you though, I am not going to have room to store all of my yarn or to dye yarn while we are there. A little sad, yes, but a great opportunity for you!

Over the weekend, I marked down all of my yarn and fiber by at least 30% and it will remain that way until it’s gone, gone, gone. And my mission is to sell most of it by the time we move in three weeks. Now is the time to stock up on sock yarn!

(RAWR! sock yarn club will proceed as normal, sock clubbers)

In the meantime, I am sorting through my personal stash and slowly starting to pack up the apartment. I plan to keep blogging, and hope to devote some more time to other projects while I am not dyeing.

Be on the lookout for some destash deals over the next few days.

For now, it’s day 5 of Tour de Fleece, and I need to get spinning!

July projects
grey alpaca singles and my yarn for the pendulum KAL

Also, Brock hasn’t been idle in his unemployment. Aside from keeping up with the dishes, he’s been working on something fun: Dig, Robot, Dig!.

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Drive By Update

1. I just did an impromptu giveaway on facebook. It was quick and fun, and I will definitely do it again. Winners will be announced tomorrow, and everyone that participated will get a 10% off coupon for the shop.

2. It has been a long and stressful few weeks as Brock tries to find a job. I am trying to hold it together, but just keep researching magic instead of working on Tiny Dino Studios, because one day I will actually write a young adult fantasy novel.

3. The first issue of ply magazine debuted and it is gorgeous. The first article on the first spinners made me want to go back to school and do the Textiles BFA at KU with a minor in History. Someday, I will do this.

4. Since Brock is unemployed, but brilliant, he is making a video game. I might be fantasizing about it having Minecraft-type success and becoming a full-time student/mom who couldn’t give a damn about money. In these fantasies, I am also, thinner, taller, blonde, and wearing a baby on my back as I work on the looms in the art building and walk around campus.

5. Despite the above despairing, I have been dyeing, and I have updated my shop accordingly.

6. I have also been spinning some really dreamy alpaca, pictured below. I don’t even hesitate to link you to Marcia’s shop because her stuff is so brilliant. (Most alpaca breeders go for density and then fineness. Marcia just breeds for fineness, and let me tell you what I am spinning is like buttah.)

greyalpaca
Available for purchase here. Let Marcia know I sent you.

And here’s what just went up for sale in my shop, if you can pull yourself away from the Alpaca.

magic moss2

morning rainbow

appleblossomandpeavines

harvestgoldpteranodonworsted2

sea glass tunis

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