Tiny Dino Studios is Open For Business

And it only took my three days to make the official announcement on my blog. That’s a bit of a fail.

Sunday afternoon, I spend a couple of hours prepping some photographs and double checking my product descriptions and officially got my etsy shop up and off the ground. It was a quiet opening, and there have been no sales as of yet, but I think that is mostly my fault. The only promotion I have done is tweet once that I was open. That will change soon, I am sure.

Look for more updates soon, and feel free to stop by the shop!

A preview:

Tiny Dino Studios is *this* Close to Becoming Reality

The likelihood that I am going to be opening up shop earlier than expected is looking good guys. I have been working hard on getting a lot of little nit-picky things done, like fine tuning the official IRS-interested businessy side of things, which was really not as traumatic as I thought it was going to be…but I have also been dyeing, drying, skeining, photographing, and reskeining up a storm. In fact, at this very moment I have two pots going, one with this beautiful orange which reminds me very much of Brock’s Vodka Cream Sauce. The other is a vibrant chartreusey green, which was not only exactly what I wanted to acheive, but also gives me a little thrill to look at.

However, here’s what I have dry and ready to show off so far:

A slightly variegated lavender merino/bamboo blend

The same colorway in a merino/nylon blend, with slightly less sheen.

Some very lovely 4-ply Blue Faced Leicester in Midnight Blue (Athrun’s choice of dye bath, for the record.)

And the same color on some squishy, 100% merino

And just for posterity, the hand spun I finished around Christmas time, but just now got around to photographing.

Knitting Like Crazy

I have been knitting up a storm lately. In the last two weeks, I have knit a sweater (the Idlewood…I don’t have a picture of mine yet, but it is awesome), knit Athrun a simple mistake rib scarf

in a chunky yarn from my recent teal phase


(I know the scarf looks blue in the picture with Athrun, teal does that sometimes…and I couldn’t quite figure out how to alter the color of the scarf without turning Athrun chartreuse.)

I knit myself a cabled cowl.

I finished one of the ugly socks, and started on the other, and today I cast on another sweater, which has been promised since October.

It has been cold and dark and snowy. All I have wanted to do is clothe myself in wool.

I started in on the mountain of wholesale yarn I ordered today. I dyed one of each of the sock yarns, only one of which I have dyed before. I would photograph it, but it is still drying, and not nearly so pretty hanging from my shower head as it is dry, wound, and neatly arranged on my white diner-table desk.

I have also been thinking a lot about getting back into sewing. Last summer, I bought my first sewing pattern in years, and it is still sitting, untouched, in my bottom drawer. Last summer I was wanting more than ever to make more of my own things, but I really didn’t feel like I had the time. I didn’t even commit to buying fabric. Then last week I went a little crazy.

I bought a sewing machine.

You can see it sitting on my desk in the shot of Athrun and his scarf. It’s tiny. It’s not for heavy duty sewing, or big projects, but for the little bit of mending and few small projects I would like to make, it is perfect. And get this, it was $60. I kind of couldn’t help myself. I have said multiple times recently that I really wanted something small I could tuck into the corner of my desk and pull out when I needed it instead of going through the drama of digging through the closet and pulling out my proper sewing machine. I have put off so many projects just because I didn’t want to get that monster out. It’s silly really, but when I spotted this little guy, I was smitten.

And went straight out to buy the fabric for the bag I have in mind.

Now, I am going to oil and tweak my spinning wheel, and hopefully make some progress on the beautiful yellow batt of wool I bought from PortFiber.

Off Topic

My final semester of school starts tomorrow. I am simultaneously excited and filled with dread. To put it simply, last semester was NOT GOOD. I was not sleeping enough or eating well. I was at work or doing homework all the time and falling asleep while I meant to be playing with Athrun. Halfway through the semester, my back started hurting so badly that I was alternating icing and heating daily, which only seemed to make the pain tolerable instead of better. I joined a gym at the end of November, and was only able to attend intermittently until the end of the semester, but every time I was able to go, I could tell it helped the pain slightly.  At the beginning of December, I took five days off from work (a really terrible month to have to take time off, let me tell you.) just so I could catch up with all of the paper writing I had to get done before the end of the semester. For five days, all I did was read, write, research, and go to class. When I went back to work in mid-December, I did the same thing with the added bonus of working full time. My final project for my creative non-fiction class was due at 11:59 on Friday, December 17th, and I was working hard until 11:15 pm. I do not want a repeat of this semester.

Granted, I am taking 6 hours, where last semester I was taking 13, but for some reason, I am not sure this is going to make much difference. I see myself working on my classes, particularly my advanced creative non-fiction class, just as much as I did last semester. I hope that perhaps more time into each class will perhaps help balance out the sorry grade-point average. (I passed my Astronomy lab with a healthy C-, which is kind of a miracle. I was convinced I was going to fail.)

And even though last semester was not good, it was a great improvement on the semester before last. I spent the summer learning how to relax, learning how to be ok with myself while I was working hard, learning how not to be angry. This break, I have been trying to turn around my eating habits. I used to be pretty strict with myself, eating a good mix of vegetables and whole grains and fruits with only occasional junk food thrown in. I lost almost sixty pounds this way after Athrun was born. Full-time classes have not been good for my weight at all, as I have steadily been gaining back the pregnancy weight, without the excuse of a baby this time. Last semester, if it could be delivered to my door, I ate it. A lot of it. Mercifully, I was walking so much at school, this did not affect my waistline during the semester. However, the first couple of weeks after finals, coupled with holiday frivolities saw my weight jump up ten pounds. I am, however, saying that 5 lbs of this is added muscle mass from going to the gym more often, because I swear, my legs have gotten skinnier.

I do not handle stress well, and it is mirrored directly in my weight loss or weight gain–usually neither one being a good sign. And then, I have a lot of internal conflict about dieting, because it feels like I am eating and living by someone else’s ideal, not my own. I know that I am not at my ideal weight: it slows me down, it makes the desks at school even more uncomfortable. And, it would be dishonest of me to say that I don’t feel slightly judged for being overweight in a society that values thinness before all else. What I am really hoping is that I can eat healthfully and heartily this semester, while establishing a routine at the gym. The downside is I would work out instead of napping, which might actually be a winning strategy with time. The upside is that I will get a chance to watch a lot more bad TV.

We don’t have TV. I mean, we have a TV, but the only signal is the DVD player or the computer hard drive. So, anything I watch, I must seek out. It really cuts down on the mindless TV watching of shows about nothing. However, when I go to the gym, all of the cardio equipment has it’s own little television and headphone jacks. I watch a lot of bad TV at the gym. Usually it is TLC, because out of all the really pointless TV channels out there, I find that TLC generally has the worst of it. And it is glorious. I watched a show about a woman who had carried a calcified baby in her stomach for forty years the other day. Or then there was the History Channel show about the treasure hunters looking for Confederate silver. Makes my day. Tonight, I am thinking about going in and doing my usual routine, then hopping on a recumbent bike with my sock-knitting and just watching TV while I cycle and work out a bunch of stress right before school starts to pile it all back on again.

Developments

The fingers on my left hand are teal. One of my kitchen gloves must have a whole in it somewhere. Last night, I dyed the very last of the un-dyed yarn in my apartment. Three bare skeins of bulky wool became three skeins of turquoise and teal colored wool. I don’t have any pictures, because it is all still wet, but they match the Mosasaur skein from the previous post…in theory at least.

I am planning on making a winter set for myself out of these guys. I seem to have lost all my hand-knit mittens, and that just makes me sad, and I have been wanting something colorful to go along with my charcoal grey wool coat since I bought it in November. I haven’t picked all the patterns yet, but I will probably start on the mittens soon. My hands are cold. Of course, I am also working on a sweater for myself (cannibalizing the February Lady for the Idlewood, pictures to come.) I am half way through the first of The Ugly Socks, and I have promised to make the boyfriend a sweater, which I am going to try to start this weekend (fingers crossed). And I am taking a sweater class at the Yarn Barn this spring to make this cardigan… and school starts on Tuesday. So, if my winter set is completed before warm weather hits, it will be a miracle.

I have officially dyed myself through everything I purchased last fall. While that was about four pounds of yarn, most of it went into an afghan, and a good portion of the rest has seen itself become socks or mittens or at least been set aside with the intention of becoming socks or mittens. It was probably enough yarn to last me through this semester if I so chose, but it still left me with nothing to dye. I placed my very first wholesale order a few days ago. Granted the “wholesale” part means that this yarn is not for me, but it does mean that I will have 10 whole pounds of yarn to dye in a few more days. Did you get that? 10 pounds. That’s 5 kilo. 2 pounds of five different yarn bases.

In fingering/sock weight, I have a 80/20 superwash Merino/Bamboo, a 100% superwash Blue Faced Leicester, a 100% superwash Merino, and a 75/25 superwash merino/nylon. To be honest, I love just plain wool socks and mittens. I know a lot of people prefer nylon added to make it stronger, and the bamboo is the same principle. I am interested to see which of the three sells better. I also have some 100% merino worsted weight wool coming in. Not sure how well that will sell, but I am interested to find out.

A picture, for posterity:

What A Tease

My goal to not feel exhausted in this year was put to the test immediately. I came down with a cold, on my birthday, after breaking my glasses. I always have contacts as back-up, but it should be illegal to have to wear contacts while you have a cold. Just saying. Despite the sickness trying to weigh me down, I did get a teeny bit of dyeing done:

Mosasaurus Swimmer

Mosasaurus

A Mosasaur is a terrifying, prehistoric, aquatic monster. It is not technically a dinosaur, but then again, neither is a pteranodon, but they are both included in every dinosaur book my son owns. Also, there is a Mosasaur at the University of Kansas Natural History Museum. It is huge and impressive, and I am glad it is dead. (The idea of swimming with dolphins freaks me out, so you can imagine where this creature lands on my fear scale.) However, the attending underwater hues and blue scaly skin in which the Mosasaur is always illustrated does look rather fetching when transferred to a spare bit of Merino, don’t you think?

I have been doing some knitting as well. On Thanksgiving, my aunt asked me to make her some gloves with thumb flaps so she could use her iPhone without taking her gloves off. Since she lives in Michigan, where it is colder than it is here in Kansas (though it was 0 F this morning, which is quite cold enough for me), and I never venture out without my gloves between November and March, I thought this would be wise. I found the Podster Gloves and started in on them. Two months later they are 98.9% done.

I am hoping to finish them as soon as I post this, wash them, and put them in the post tomorrow. I would have had them done a week ago, but for two reasons. The first was the aforementioned cold. For days I could neither smell, hear, taste, see nor think. My head was pretty much useless. There were a few times, whilst in the act of blowing my nose, that I just wished I had the flu. Then at least I could stay in bed. Yes. It was that bad. Needless to say, not a lot of knitting was happening then. When I did feel up to continuing work on the second glove, it decided to be difficult. I knit half as many rounds between increases on the thumb gusset as I should have the first time. That thumb would have fist someone with short, squatty hands . . .which is no one in my family. We all have long, piano-playin’ hands. (No, I don’t play. My aunt does though.) I ripped out the whole hand and knit it to match the other glove. I made it through all the fingers just fine, but when I came back to knit the body of the thumb, I managed to create some sort of knitting sculpture. It fit the contours of my right thumb snuggly and and exactly. It was actually kind of amazing. It was, however, very tight, probably too tight, and you know, meant for someone else, who though might have a similar right thumb, does not in fact have my right thumb. I ripped again.Yesterday I reknit the thumb very slowly, and it seems more generally sized. I am sure that all of these mysterious errors have everything to do with the wool getting a mind of its own and nothing to do with the intelligence conquering cold–nothing at all.

Some time during the tea-fueled stupor of the last few days, I cast on for a sock that is intended for myself.

So far so good.

The yarn is something I did myself (no surprise there). It is a skein a just dipped in left-over dye bath from a self-striping skein I did for a dyer’s swap. It was not meant to be self-striping, as you can see, just an experiment with dipping a skein exaclty down the middle in two different colors. I had named these socks The Ugly Socks before I started on them. I think the name is going to stick, even though I have to say, I kind of like the way they are pooling.  I am anxious to see what sort of disaster befalls these socks before the end, aren’t you?

Just a wee bit of real work went on today. I am officially legal to do business in the state of Kansas and the US at large. Which means whenever I decide to open shop, I can. The idea of opening earlier than I had planned is becoming ever more appealing, I have to admit. I still have a few things I would like to get in order before I really get into this for real, but I am getting closer.

I know. I am such a tease.

New Year’s Eve

…And just when you’ve have as much New Year musing as you can take, I blithely step up to beat a dead horse.

Today is my New Year’s Eve. Yes, I did celebrate on the 31st, and yes I am aware that today is 4th of January and we are already into the New Year, but you see, tomorrow is my birthday.  It is the literal start of my new year, and while most people take the week after Christmas to begin evaluating how much they have screwed up in the past year, I usually don’t start until I am toasting in the New Year.

So tomorrow I turn 26, and all I want from year 2011/26 is to relax. 2010/25 was a year of hard work. I had too hard semesters coupled with working full time and attempting to be a good mom. I was exhausted to whole time. I don’t want to feel exhausted anymore. This semester will not only be my final semester, but it worked out that I only have to go to school part-time to graduate. While I can’t cut back any at work, having to devote less time to school should add more time for things like exercising, fiber arts, and making play-doh monsters. I received a book about Urban Homesteading for Christmas, which I hope to make use of to save some money and some energy. My overall goal this year is to slow down, become more self-sufficient, more economical, to love my body and my home. Because while finally attaining my degree is important to me, I do not want it to rule my life any longer.

One major step away from being a student and learning to be more self-sufficient is to start my business. I won’t be able to work from home exclusively for some time yet, but my hope is, that between the fiber arts and the writing, I can carve out some sort of Work-At-Home niche for myself in the next five years.

This is the year I start. So tonight, at midnight, when I raise a glass and toast another year, this year, I will be laughing and having fun. Because there are so many wonderful possibilities.

Look, No Felting!

Just a glimpse of what I have been up to since school’s been out:

I dyed my very first pound of roving (prepared fiber for spinning), and I did not felt a single bit of it! In the interest of sincerity, I should say that I have been hanging onto this particular bit of roving since September. I bought it with the intention of dyeing it, but without the courage to proceed. I was certain I was going to felt it all to bits. Turns out, I am just as good at all this as I hoped I would be, if not better! (Now, if I can hang on to this belief, I just might be able to get my shop up and running sometime in the next decade.)

I did a little bit of spinning as well.

I call it, Singles, With Dust Particles. Copyright me.

I have plied this already, mixing the colors in a cool barber pole effect, but I have not yet taken pictures of it because the plying process nearly gave me a stroke.  I am not very good at spinning yet, and this was only my second 4 oz since I bought my wheel. (School kind of got in the way of everything I wanted to do these last few months.) I keep telling myself I will get better at it, but I only half believe it.

For Christmas I received a couple of books about starting your own business, most notably Meg Mateo Ilasco’s Craft Inc., which I am pretty excited to read. I kind of cling to books when I am doing something that terrifies me–even if it is a fairly risk free enterprise I am taking on–starting a business like this means I have to be kind of social and perhaps confidant. I am not particularly adept at either of these two things. The more books I can read to tell me what to do and that anyone can do this, the better. Now, if I can just find a book that helps me translate all this new-found know-how into practical execution as directly related to me, I might be getting somewhere. I wonder if that book exists?

My goal for winter break is to get all of the legit making a business stuff done (that is what they call it on the IRS website, no joke), so if by some miracle I am ready to open up shop in February, I can. I am still shooting for a July 1st launch date, and I still need all sorts of important things, like a logo, so if you know anyone who enjoys doodling dinosaurs, have them give me a ring (seriously). Otherwise, I am right on schedule to officially launch Tiny Dino Studios this summer. (Hooray!)

The Sock Curse

I have a problem. A horrible, terrible, dastardly no good problem. It’s a very strange problem for a knitter to have, particularly for someone who enjoys knitting socks so very much. You see, in the eight months since I began knitting socks, I have knit six pairs of socks. That’s twelve socks that have come off my tiny double-pointed needles, and yet, I have no hand-knit socks to wear. Now, I am not a selfish knitter, one pair of socks was for my sister, Audrey, who spent last semester in Russia where wool socks are essential. I have even made two pairs for my boyfriend, because he is demonstrably appreciative of having warm feet, and there is something greatly satisfying about watching something you have made shuffling about being useful. I like to knit for other people, but I also like to knit for myself. In fact, the other three pairs of socks I have knit were meant to be worn by my very own feet. Yet I have none. The Culprit: The Sock Curse.

The first pair I knit for myself were in KnitPicks Felici in the Time Traveler colorway. The colors were very similar to the The Doctor Who Scarf. This summer I happily knit them up, all excited for the opportunity to where a Dr. Who tribute on my feet. When they were finished, like a good knitter, I washed them before I wore them. I pulled the socks out of their soak in my bathroom sink, and I felt them grow in my hands. I did not worry. They were superwash. I could probably just throw them in the dryer and shrink them back up. So I did. They did not. Thus, the first pair of socks were no longer mine. They grew to gigantic proportions. My feet are big, but not gigantic. My boyfriend, however, does have gigantic feet, so he now owns the Dr. Who socks.

The second pair of socks I knit for myself were some 100% Merino which I dyed myself. They were hand-wash only socks  in a beautiful mock cable pattern with my variegated green and pink dye job. The fit perfectly in the heel and the toe, and they were snug, but not too tight in the cuff. They were warm, but since I knit them when it was 100 degrees outside, they sat in my drawer waiting for a drop in temperature. But these socks were not content to simply sit in a drawer. They were beautiful, and they knew it. They had to be seen. The pink mock-cable socks allowed their vanity to best them and jumped out of the drawer and onto the floor where they could be briefly admired before being scooped up with the rest of the laundry and tossed in the washer. By the time I found them, it was too late. They were still beautiful, but now they were delicately felted pink mock-cable socks that might fit a six year old. Since I know no six year-olds, and maybe because I was really upset that my perfectly perfect pink socks (I really like pink, and I am not afraid to admit it) were no longer fit to be worn, I threw them away. Hours and hours of work in the garbage. Throwing away knitted goods, even if ruined, might be considered a knitting felony in some circles, in which case I claim temporary insanity–which actually might not be too far from the truth, as I am still too scarred to knit another pair.

The third pair were this semester’s sanity socks, because school came dangerously close to actually driving me crazy this semester. It worked out, quite nicely might I add, that I often-times arrived in Lawrence for school just around the time the yarn shop downtown opened up. Since the yarn shop is just a hop, skip, and a jump from campus, I might have gone in a couple of times instead of being on time for class. One time, I might have skipped my astronomy class altogether and bought two balls of Mini Mochi and a set of needles and cast on for a pair of socks right then and there. The yarn was so beautiful:  a superwash single-ply in blue, violet, and green with long color repeats. I was in love, and knit them up in my free time over about a month or so. I finished them on laundry day, and since they were superwash, I tossed the pair in with the regular washing. I thought I was being so smart, saving time and (my) energy, and I would have a brand new pair of wool socks to wear the very next day. It turns out that mini mochi is only mostly superwash. At least, this pair decided they would felt just a little bit. They probably were trying to teach me a lesson about skipping class to knit, because when the socks came out of the wash, they were a teeny bit sturdier, but also a teeny bit smaller. I tried them on and tried to match up the heel of the sock with my own heel, but my giant size 10 feet weren’t having it. The sock heel kept slipping down to my arch. These socks, originally tailored to fit my long feet were now shrunken down to fit the feet of someone who wears an average size 7 in shoes. Yesterday, after washing them again and making sure they would not shrink any further, I offered them up to the other women in my family, all of whom have much smaller feet than I do. They went home with my sister, Caroline, and I hope they serve her well.

I still don’t have any socks. It is a curse.

I was dyeing sock yarn regularly from July through October (what I have been doing since October is its own post), so I have a lot of sock yarn laying around. I have made a couple pairs of mittens with some of it and a couple pairs of socks with some more of it, and it hasn’t even made a dent in the sock yarn stash. I currently have plans to start on two different pairs of socks for myself. One, just a regular old, plain pair of stockinette socks out of some of my hand-dyed yarn. (Pictures to come once I actually cast on). The second pair I am going to use one of Wendy Johnson’s lacy toe-up knee sock patterns out of some 100% merino I dyed hot pink. I have never done toe-up socks before, but I figure if I am going to go for it, I might as well really go for it. They should be stunning.

Of course, I am going to do all of this while finishing up school (I passed my astronomy lab! I will graduate in May!), working full-time, learning to spin, knitting a few sweaters, dyeing yarn and roving, starting an online shop, and being a mom. ETA on finally owning a pair of my own hand-knit socks?

3.25 years.