Oh, Heeeey There

There’s nothing like a missing cat to make you take a month-long break from blogging, but that’s what happened. No worries, she’s home safe, but what was supposed to be a long, relaxing Labor Day weekend turned into a stressful fret-fest when the cat disappeared on the first day and didn’t return for six days. When she was in the yard one morning when we were leaving for work, she mewed and scowled at us very loudly. How dare we take so long to find her. Where had we been?

Anyway, that lovely time, on top of preparing for knitting classes, fiber festivals and general life are my excuses, and I dare you to challenge them.

First things first: the fiber festivals! This year I am only planning two shows: the Holton Fall Festival on October 11th. I will be part of the Sheep to Shawl demonstration, talking about solar dyeing in mason jars, and of course selling my wares.

In November I will be at Twisted!, which is so much fun to do. Twisted is Nov. 7th and 8th, and we will be on the first Friday art walk.

Now, here’s what I’ve been up to this last month in instagrams.

All-in-all, it was a pretty good month. What have you all been up to without me?

New Class! Knitting a Top-Down Raglan Sweater

Knitting a Top-Down Raglan Sweater
September 15, 22, 29 Oct 6, 13, 20 (Monday nights)
6:30-8:30 pm
Memorial Hall at Potwin Presbyterian Church
Maximum of 5 students

We will be knitting Flax by TinCanKnits, which is a simple top-down raglan sweater – great for men, women, or children. We will talk about gauge, how fabric behaves, seamless sweater construction, and fit. I will provide printed materials with information on how to knit a top-down raglan that fits. Techniques covered include: knitting a flat gauge swatch “in the round”, raglan shaping, increasing, decreasing, knitting in the round on circular needles, magic loop, and double pointed needles (optional.)

Flax is a free downloadable pattern, but student must download from the following link:
Enough worsted weight yarn to knit a sweater in your chosen size
1 Set size 8 32″ circular needles (or size to match gauge)
1 set size 7 32″ ciruclar needles (or size to match gauge)
tape measure
waste yarn
darning needle
4-8 stitch markers
double pointed needles for knitting sleeves

email me at tinydinostudios at gmail dot com to sign up!

See you there!

Etsy Shop is Back Open!

Good morning all. It is August 16th, and as promised, my etsy shop is back up and ready to go.

Stop in and browse around. I have new sock, lace weight and handspun yarns, as well as some new spinning fiber.

How do you like my new photographs? I’ve been meaning to do this for about two years now. In some ways, I am sorry it took me so long to get up off my ass and do it, but in others, I am glad I waited until I had all the right pieces. My dining room has some of the best natural light in the whole house, being lined with windows and all. That, paired with my vintage cherry blossom table cloth (the first thing I ever bought on etsy ever right after it opened) and my new pottery, everything came togther so beautifully.

clementines and cherry blossoms
My table cloth, just to refresh your memory.

Now, I’m off to do some spinning so I have a bit more handspun to offer up for sale. What are you up to this weekend?

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.

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.

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?

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.

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.

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.)

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?