Wednesday, January 30, 2008


On going ahead and biting the bullet

Yesterday I broke down and bought a new digital camera, a 7.2 megapixel. Loving it so far--it takes nice, sharp pictures, and is slender and pink and cute as the dickens. Even though I have to shrink the file size so the pics will display on Etsy, I hope that enough resolution is still there to show off my yarn. Let me know what you think.


The Trees

Secret Touch

My Etsy sales have jumped to about $100 a week, which brings a smile to my face, and my dyeing output is ever increasing, thanks in large part to the skein winder. I figured out what experienced dyers probably learned ages ago and are reading this and going "duh"--that you wind your undyed yarn in a longer skein, then when you reskein after dyeing, you adjust the skein size smaller, so that the colors are reshuffled. A nice blended look results, and it's easier to get a mental picture of what the yarn will look like knitted up.

An independent website is in the near future. As soon as I have a logo, I can start building a site with a shopping cart. I also dyed bigger batches with a few short skeins, both for designing more sock patterns and sending free samples to shop owners. Yes, I am that much of a shameless ho. But it's so encouraging when a LYS owner sees my work and wants to talk to me! A lot of loving care is going into this venture, and my hope is to grow it into something that will: pay the bills, keep me happy, bring about a need for helpers that I can pay in U.S. funds as well as yarn, expand beyond my kitchen into a studio space, and surprise Jason. (Not necessarily in that order.) I think it all boils down to finding that balance within myself, between dreamer and doer. Until I move my blog to stitchjones.com, this is where I will share my dreams and celebrate my accomplishments. With y'all.

But enough of that, possums, because it's time to head to the post office! I got an order from Cadiz, Spain last night. Dang, but I love this internet contraption!

Monday, January 28, 2008


It's almost Imbolc, and I've got nothing to wear

Although I'm not a practicing Pagan, I've done enough exploration to become familiar with Wiccan holidays. Imbolc is celebrated in early February, and it marks the halfway point between the winter solstice and vernal equinox, right around the time when we notice the days are growing longer and there is more light. I borrowed this text from starbreezes.com:

"In Celtic traditions, Imbolc is sacred to the goddess Brighid. Brighid represents the goddess in her maiden form. She symbolizes new beginnings, purification, fire, and healing." (italics added by Chickenlips.)

Sheep and lambs are symbols associated with Imbolc, so how could this be anything but good energy for the launching of a hand dyed yarn business? Believe me, I'll take all I can get!

Houston, we have a sock.

Here is the "Chain Lightning" sock, knit in Stitchjones "Bangkok" colorway. Because I'm not an efficient sock knitter--I stubbornly continue with dpns rather than use 2 circs, and haven't yet learned the fancy ass toe-up method or Magic Loop--I borrowed heavily from Sensational Knitted Socks. The design features an easy six-stitch chain rib, traditional heel and toe. Of course "Chain Lightning" is a Rush song, from the Presto album in case anyone cares. I wrote up the pattern and put it on Etsy. Mainly I was just dying to see what my yarn looks like knitted up. The "fork" in the striping right after the gusset, and the jagged diagonal striping on the leg, kinda does look chain lightning-like. Intriguing, if not great.

One thing I need to find out is if it would be more cost-effective to buy a better camera, or have someone take product pictures for me. I'm heavily leaning toward the latter. Much in the way that a Steinway won't do you a bit of good if you can't play the piano, I have no aptitude for photography, so a better (more expensive) digital camera isn't going to help me out.

I received my undyed yarn shipment, and will be busy today skeining up (with my new toy, hoo!) for the week's dyeing. Since I'm expecting to be doing a lot more dyeing, I went to dollar stores, the beauty supply store, and Goodwill over the weekend for bigger containers to mix and apply dye. I also got a multilevel electric steamer from Goodwill for $5, which will be good for heat-setting 4 to 6 skeins at a time, and lets me keep dye solution away from the stove. Let's just pray the sucker still works!

Friday, January 25, 2008


Stitchjones in the hizouse, almost

I tinkered with Yahoo! SiteBuilder the other night, and made a bare-bones shoppable website. Even though it's pathetic-looking, I posted about it in the "Yarn" discussion board on Ravelry, and it brought me a couple of orders--from the U.K.! Which was very cool. This week was also a good one for my Etsy shop, because I've increased my dyeing output considerably. It seems like what I need for Stitchjones to grow has been placed right in front of me, and I firmly believe that it's no accident. I am absolutely convinced that my recent employment status change needed to happen--so I can finally become my own boss, pilot my own ship, and not have to ever again be told what to do, by anyone. Let me tell you about the nice things that happened this week (other than yarn sales, which are always nice)!

First of all, I went to Wednesday night knitting group and met an extremely talented web designer who knits beautifully--and will build a professional website for me. And to think I almost decided to stay home, I would have missed that monumental stroke of luck!

The other thing is, I got my skein winder today. The nice folks at Pacific Wool & Fiber are swamped and way behind in orders, (and I'm glad business is good for them!) so I ended up getting the display model of the one I wanted at a generous discount. Which means mo' money to spend on the biz.

The "Dark and Divine" colorway is selling well, and to date we have raised $32.50 for Doctors Without Borders. I expect that to increase tenfold before we're done, knitters being the top-notch folks that they are. Also, I can not keep "The Trees" in stock! I'm eagerly awaiting my undyed yarn order, and am praying it comes tomorrow or Monday at the latest, so I can dye up a bunch more of it.

Coming soon is an original sock pattern for Stitchjones yarn--I won't be dyeing over the weekend, because the family's home, so I'm working on my first sock design.

Friday Lolcat Moment of Zen

Not exactly a lolcat picture, but I am a linguist, so this portion of the post is written in lolcat-speak.

Hannibal: Wat dat?

Elwood: Iz for playin wid yarnz.

Hannibal & Elwood: zzz

Have a fabulous weekend!

Monday, January 21, 2008


Chickenlips steeks!

Not a good photo, and I even had the right sleeve cuff tucked in without realizing it, but here is Jason's sweater that I began in November. All things considered, it was a fast, easy knit, and the pattern is the Shawl Collar Pullover from last fall's Knit n' Style magazine. I read Eunny Jang's steeking tutorial in Interweave, either fall or winter '06, and decided that since I can't wield a crochet hook for beans, I would whip out my trusty sewing machine to secure the stitches. I had an ever-so-slight unraveling beginning, which I took care of immediately--felt rather like a surgeon there! But I did it, my friends, even though it's hard to see, the sweater has a henley neck which I created by picking up my scissors and-gulp-cutting my knitting. I felt the need to pat myself on the back just a bit for that.

Oh, and it actually fits him! Here are the buttons I'm going to sew on after it's blocked. When everything's all done, I'll get my man to model his new sweater and post a pic.

Love That Harlot

Not too long ago, Yarn Harlot wrote a post extolling the virtues of cheap wool. I enjoyed reading that post greatly, and since I'm completely sold on wool anyway, she was preaching to the choir. Much in the same way that I think "feminist" means pro-women, not anti-men, "yarn addict" in my lexicon is pro-natural fibers, but not necessarily anti-synthetic. In my usual roundabout way, the point I'm driving at is that for the past four months, I've been surrounded by, and straightening, yarn so expensive that I couldn't afford a sweater's worth even with an employee discount. It was kind of like sitting all squashed in coach on a trans-pacific flight, being able to see the first class luxury but unable to cross the forbidding curtain. Or perhaps a street urchin from an old silent movie, with my face pressed against the window of a fancy sweet shop. But I'm here to tell you that there is hope for knitters with cash flow problems, because yesterday, while just another yarn shopper at the Mill End Store, I found some nice, soft wool in a divine color. I can make myself a plus size sweater for a modest $50.

I also bought Vermont Fiber Designs' Ballet Wrap Cardigan pattern. I swatched for it this morning, and I think it's going to be lovely.

Sunday, January 20, 2008


Awards Ceremony

...and this one can't be affected by a writers' strike, because most of us aren't paid to blog! I do it because I love to, and have become acquainted with some awesome people through blogging. Suzanne, aka Yarnhog, gave me this "You Make My Day" award. Here are the official instructions:
"Give the award to 10 people whose blogs bring you happiness and inspiration and make you feel happy about blogland. Let them know by posting a comment on their blog so they can pass it on. Beware you may get the award several times."
Well, Yarnhog makes my day, but she's already been honored by someone else, so here is my list of 10 blogs (although I read more than that,) and the bloggers who write them, in no particular order. This is a nice way to pass along the love.
1. Christine of Flutter-Dark and Divine
2. Kay of By Hook or By Crook
3. Jenny of I Like Yarn
4. Deb of KnottyKitty Knits
5. Bobbie of Tiggywinkle Knits
6. Cindy of Knit for Joy
7. Melissa of Days of Tea and Knitting
8. Duffy of FiberQat
9. Judy of Persistent Illusion
10. Magatha of Mag's Ham Bun
I loves you all, and also those I didn't name (cuz I was limited to 10).
Before I go and let everyone know they've been awarded, I want to share a very hopeful thought with you:
One year from today, a new President of the United States will take the oath of office.
Strangely, that helps cheer me up a little!

Saturday, January 19, 2008


Don't look back

Don't look back

A new day is breakin'

It's been too long since I felt this way

I dont mind where I get taken

The road is callin'

Today is the day

I can see

It took so long to realize

I'm much too strong not to compromise

Now I see what I am is holding me down

I'll turn it around

I finally see the dawn arrivin'

I see beyond the road I'm drivin'

Far away and left behind

-Tom Scholz

As the first anniversary of the death of my one-time coworker, Brad Delp, approaches, I thought I'd post some lyrics from one of my favorite Boston songs. What, you thought I was referring to something else?! :P

Seriously, to all who expressed concern, and took the time to email--thank you. I'm doing fine. It isn't just fear of reprisal that kept me from publicly flaming the shop or the owner; I saw no point in it. Yet since I saw no reason to keep my experience a secret, I put up my email address. But now it's time to put it behind me, as I have much bigger fish to fry.

And here are a couple of fried fish.

I picked up a few balls of inexpensive, worsted merino on sale, and gave them a dunk in the crockpot. Top: "Tai Shan". Bottom: "Incredible Plum". My daughter, who (along with me-blush) is a fan of Aqua Teen Hungerforce, and in the Halloween episode, little Meatwad was wearing a purple mask because he wanted to be the Incredible Plum. I guess you had to have seen it, but I thought it was funny!

Today I took a little road trip to Pacific Wool & Fiber in Dundee. Except that Dundee isn't where I thought it was, so it took me about twice as long to get there. But I did find it, just before running out of gas. Which would have sucked. I picked up 1700 yards of some nice, worsted superwash merino, some dyes, and ordered one of these.

I couldn't find a picture of the one I'm getting, but it sort of looks like that. It's a skein winder. I needed the large size, which will make 1 1/2 to 2-yard skeins. A new toy, goody!

Last but not least, the winner of last week's yarn contest, Sabrina, has no blog and left no email, so I have no way of contacting her. I haven't heard from her yet. If anybody can get hold of her, would you please tell her to get in touch with me? I'll wait until the end of the month, and if she hasn't checked in by then, I guess I should have another drawing, no? Somebody ought to win yarn!

Wednesday, January 16, 2008


One nation, under surveillance

Saw that on a bumper sticker yesterday. So true.

Since the proverbial shit is going to hit the fan soon enough, I'd like you all to hear it from me first: I no longer work at the yarn shop where I have been working. To avoid possible litigation, I'm not able to say any more than that here. However, if you want the sordid details, shoot me an email at sharonfs AT comcast DAWT net, and I promise I will tell the truth.

Yarning Goes On

Since I'm not one to watch soaps while drinking beer and eating bon bons, I've been making yarn. Top to bottom: Bangkok, Summertime Blues, Dark and Divine. I'm excited about Dark and Divine, because I already have a custom order for it! I must clarify that I'm donating all 2008 profits for this colorway, not proceeds--(have to cover materials to stay in business)--to Doctors without Borders. I loves my friend Christine, she was the inspiration for this colorway, and I have a gut feeling that D&D is going to be a big seller. Yarn folks are a generous lot--I know I love it when my yarn dollars help make the world a better place!

And there is more good news: Thanks to the Bush Administration, the folks who brought us the Iraq war, Stitchjones is compliant with the Patriot Act and is a registered entity with the U.S. Government. This was required in order to open a business bank account. A fully functioning website with a shopping cart, and merchant services so I can accept credit card payments, are coming this spring. In the meantime, if you picture a chimpanzee with an Xbox, you have a pretty good idea of my aptitude with Web tools--so if somebody could help with building a little tracker thingy for the blog, so we can watch the DWB contributions grow throughout the year, I'd be most grateful, and of course there's yarn in it for you.

Well, the two Clonazepam I took earlier are working their magic. A blissful night's sleep is what I need. And maybe a road trip. J. is in Orange County--I know he is working hard, but I'm still a tad envious.

Saturday, January 12, 2008



Move over Rachael Ray, 'cuz your 30 minutes are up, beeyotch! Chickenlips has got yer quick, easy and delicious recipe right here, how does 15 minutes from start to finish sound? Plus my voice is a lot less grating, if I do say so myself.

Ok, here is my recipe for Zucchini Frittata.


1 med. zucchini, sliced

1 clove garlic, minced

2 green onions, sliced, or 1/4 cup chopped onion

1 tablespoon olive oil

3 eggs

Pinch of dried basil and oregano

salt and freshly ground pepper to taste

1/4 cup freshly grated Parmesan


Preheat broiler. In 10" ovenproof skillet, heat oil over medium heat. Saute vegetables until zucchini is tender but still firm, about 5 minutes. Beat eggs in small bowl and add herbs, salt and pepper. Pour mixture into skillet. Cook by lifting egg mixture around edges, letting uncooked portion flow underneath. When egg mixture is almost cooked but still wet on top, sprinkle Parmesan over top. Place under broiler for 3-5 minutes, or until mixture is puffy and light golden brown. Slide onto warm plate. 1 to 2 servings.


And the winner of the hand dyed yarn contest is...


Congratulations, Sabrina--since you said "Closer to the Heart" was the colorway you liked best, I'll send you a skein of it. Email me your shipping address: sharonfs AT comcast DOT net, and I'll get the goodies sent out to you.

Thank you for playing, everybody! "The Trees" definitely got the most votes, but quite a few were for "Ghost Rider" and "Closer to the Heart". I've decided to keep all three of them as regular colorways in my line. "Xanadu" was the least favorite, but I sold a skein of it the other night--to a knitter who had her little girl in tow, and she wanted her mommy to make her something out of it. So it turns out that might be a good colorway for kids' items. I may dye some skeins in that colorway a few months down the road, rotate some in and out--just to keep things interesting.

Off to skein up a buncha yarn for next week's dyeing...

Thursday, January 10, 2008


Wandering thoughts lost in the desert that is my cranium

...but hopefully rescued, safe and sound in this post.

First of all, I did translate the Bunny Cap pattern from Japanese and schematics to English text. The file lives here. Mind in the gutter dept: When I made the first of the bunny ears on dpns, it looked to my daughter like a...ahem...peenie cozy! She then got all up in my business asking me to make one for her current boy toy, which I most certainly will not do!

Errata dept: I got the names of the boomerangs all wrong in the last post. You never know when a knitting 'ranger, or a 'ranging knitter, will stumble across the old blog and discover that I do not know crap from Christmas. So here are the corrections: The pink-tipped boom is called "Eagle", made by Colorado Boomerangs, and the Chinook is not a hook, just a boomerang. Hooks are distinctive in shape, they look like this. Just in case somebody gives a rat's arse.

New Skeins, Old Colorways

Closer To The Heart


The Trees

I just had to squeeze in pics of this week's "fresh from the dyepot" yarns. BTW, I love that thread in the "Love to Dye" group on Ravelry--I spend all my Rav time there. Indie dyers are doing the most amazing stuff, it's definitely worth a look.

I had more goodies to show you, but it'll have to wait until next post, because stoopid Blogger won't let me upload any more pics. Perhaps it's just as well--I have mass quantities of work waiting for me.

Tuesday, January 08, 2008


A WiP that's going places


Another Stitchjones original: the Boomerang Lace Scarf. Pattern coming this summer, available only from Gardiner Yarn Works. Will be reworked in a different yarn.

About 10 years ago, I learned to throw, and catch, a boomerang. Surprisingly, when we visited Sydney in 2001, we were hard pressed to find anyone who actually threw booms! Yet there is a United States Boomerang Association, and I participated in several USBA tournaments. Jason still throws, however. Pictured with my scarf (still unfinished--I used Lama Mohair, an acrylic/mohair blend) are the Yanaki (hot pink tip) and the Chinook hook. I don't throw hooks--they're big, and I can't get any accuracy with 'em. Haven't thrown in ages, and would like to get back into it, if the weather ever improves. Yeah, I know, this is Oregon, but I reserve the right to bitch about the crappy climate!

Play nice, please, and share the crayons.

I know there's no way to bring this up without sounding pissy, but since this is my blog, I'd like to make clear for the record that the purpose of my yarn contest was not to invite a critique of my fiber art. To everyone who stopped by and told me what they liked, thank you for taking the time to do so. I appreciate your input and the information is very valuable to me. However, I'm not interested in what folks don't like, or what they think "looks just like a million others out there". That's tactless, and I would never leave someone that kind of comment, regardless of what I really thought. This is my art, and I'm of the "if you can't say something nice" school of thought. Perhaps that's old-school. Whatever it may be, it's how I feel.

Thank you--end of rant chat.

Sunday, January 06, 2008


Hatchet, axe, and saw

Wow, so many of you like The Trees! I'm glad I asked, because I really didn't know. Huge thanks to all of you who voted, I'm very appreciative of those who spread the word about my little contest and overwhelmed that so many folks took the time to visit my blog. I apologize for the confusion--yes, I meant please vote for your favorite among "Ghost Rider," "The Trees," "Closer To The Heart" and "Xanadu". No worries, though--the people have spoken, and everyone who leaves, or has left, a comment will be entered in next Saturday's drawing. Comments are still open on the contest post.

The dyeing, and experimenting with new colorways, continues. Here are the fruits of last week's labor.

"Camellias" (eager for spring)

"Parisienne" (merino version)

"Afterimage" (this one is a Rush song title)

Yesterday I sold one of the "Afterimage" skeins. Need to get some different dye shades, as my black separates out into shades of gray, and true brown looks rather poo-like. Perhaps chestnut would give better results.

Everything's A-OK

The "family emergency" I alluded to last post was a distress call from my MIL, who was at the end of her rope with taking care of Jason's dad, whose Alzheimers' continues to worsen. J. went up to Spokane last week to see if they could get some help from the VA, and got in touch with an attorney to help his mom wade through red tape so that his dad can eventually be in a nursing home. Arrangements should have already been made for this, but drinking, being mean to his family and hoarding money were always more important to his dad. I would never say anything unkind about my long-suffering mother-in-law, because she has always been good to me and I love her as if she were my own mother. Sorry to sound so cynical about father-in-law, but I have no feelings for him. He's been a shit all his life.

On a much more positive note, I went through the icky prep procedure for the colonoscopy Thursday night, and the exam itself on Friday morning. I'm absolutely fine, and won't have to do that again for 10 years. Yeah baby!

Poor but happy

I've never been more broke--I owe my arse in student loans and credit card debt. Yet every day gives me a chance to work on designs, or plan dyeing, or do one small thing to make my vision take shape. And little by little, it is. I was invited to be the speaker at the January meeting of the PDX Knitting Guild! Whaddya know, I get to yammer about my passion for coloring fiber, to people who really are interested in hearing about it. Angels are putting in good words for me, and steering me in the right direction. I've been very, very lucky, and I'm grateful.

Off to do mom stuff now--back in a few days.

Tuesday, January 01, 2008


First contest of the year!

Christmas tree, lights and decorations taken down and put away? Check. Resolutions made? Check. Holiday knitting projects finished? Check. (None of these things have as yet happened at our house, but perhaps they have at yours. :D )

What I am in the midst of doing, however, is getting ready to dye the last of my "hand wash only" yarns, and begin dyeing the superwash. The pictures below are seven planned colorways for wholesale orders, plus two more I haven't done yet so I don't have pics. The first one, "Dark and Divine," was inspired by my friend Christine aka Flutter, who is an exquisite writer. Whether she is being wickedly funny or deadly serious, she is always compelling.

Dark and Divine (note: all proceeds from the sale of this colorway will go to Doctors Without Borders)Secret Touch
Summertime Blues


Tom Sawyer



You may be wondering, "OK, yeah, we've seen all these. She said something about a contest, what's the deal?" Trust me, my friends, there is going to be a contest, a good one. I need to add one more colorway to the line, and that's where you come in: I'd like you to vote for the one you like best. The colorway with the most votes is the one I'll add, and everyone who votes will be entered in a random drawing. The winner gets 400 pounds of chicken fat yards of my hand dyed sock yarn. So here you go, please vote for your favorite among these colorways. Deadline is Saturday, January 12. Thanks everybody, and good luck!

Ghost Rider


Closer To The Heart

The Trees

I'm being displaced from the computer right now--bit of a family emergency-- so I'll have to do the resolutions next time.

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