Thursday, February 28, 2008


Bad hair day, good yarn day

I've noticed this spot on the back of my head, just below the crown, where my hair is thinning and OHMYGODICANSEEMYSCALP. So now every time I think about it, I fluff my hair and try to cover the area, but it inevitably settles into what looks like is becoming a BALD SPOT oh crap. It's happening again, that thing where I start to freak and can't control THE VOLUME OF MY VOICE. Let's not think about that. Let's think about yarn. Sigh...find that happy place...where all is quiet and the yarn floats by like clouds on a lazy summer day, so soft, poufy and pretty...

I feel much better now. And yesterday I had a good yarn day. I love making yarn, and sometimes I even admire my hand dyeing if it comes out particularly well. Seriously, though, selling it is where it's at. Yesterday I sold a lot of it. So my relationship with that yarn is like, "yes, you're beautiful, now get out of my house." Today I dyed up a new colorway and a new sock kit. However, I'm going to touch up the kit yarn with an overdye, and when it's perfect I'll show you. I'll put the new colorway up on Etsy tomorrow morning.

Don't you just love it when you get in a project finishing mode? This finally came off the needles, after two full months of working on it pretty consistently.

Nice blocking, horrible pic, please don't look at my scarred table or pet stained carpet! Oops, too late. I tried to get my offspring to model it, but no go. Anyway, this is a 60" long x 21" wide pashmina-style wrap of my own design. 9 balls of Frog Tree Alpaca Sport in Lapis. Knit on size 3 needles, good Lord. The ganglion on the inside of my right wrist is now the size of Minneapolis. I have submitted the pattern for publication and am hopeful to see it in print and maybe even a little dinero from it. I'll keep you posted. Ever the optimist, I'm thinking there must be other knitting masochists out there who would enjoy a slogalong like this.

That's not all, another FO has rolled off the needles! Surprise, just in time for March, here are my Shamrock & Roll* Anklets!

*With apologies to the Dropkick Murphys. On a side note, I am a DKM fan, and as fate would have it they're playing a sold-out show at the Roseland tomorrow night. It's just as well it's a sellout show. I would be so out of my element in that crowd, there's no way this F.O.B. (that's "fat old broad," not "friend of Bill") could blend in, and I don't even drink. But back to the sock story, after all that's what you came for. This has to be the quickest pair of socks I ever banged out, finished less than 2 weeks after I bought the yarn at Madrona. It's Fly Dyed Monarch from Fly Designs. I didn't use a pattern, just more or less winged it and decided to do a short-row heel. I'll definitely do that kind of heel more often, as it goes quickly.

It must be time to sign off, because I'm becoming mesmerized by the blinking cursor. I'll check in within the next couple of days with more colorful stuff.

Monday, February 25, 2008


Ta daaa

First off, thanks for the good wishes for Buster! According to the veterinary surgeon, he not only has luxating patella but a torn ligament (the major ligament) in the left hind leg. Estimated cost to fix both conditions: somewhere in the ballpark of $4,000. I haven't told J. yet, as he is on the road, and I don't want him to have the inevitable apoplectic fit while he's somewhere in East Jockstrap, Idaho. (If any Idahoans are reading this, no offense intended, I just thought "East Jockstrap" sounded better than "Bumf*ck." ) Yes, it's a hefty price tag to fix the leg of a tiny dog. The good news, however, is that the procedure will enable him to use the leg for the rest of his life, as he will have bones moved and a screw put in, thus rendering him a "bionic dachshund". Don't worry, I will make him a special outfit. Right now, though, I've set about trying to figure out how we will pay for it.

Which brings me to the topic of selling handpainted yarn! What a concept. Here are the new items I've added to my Etsy shop today, that I was so jazzed about yesterday. Introducing: Stitchjones' PowerTrios(TM) Sock Yarn Kits! Each kit includes: 1 100-gram hank of multicolored handpainted yarn and 2 50-gram coordinating solid color hanks, attractively packaged in vinyl "gig bags"! Now knitters can stage their own "sock concerts" (sorry, bad pun,) and do stripes, different colored cuffs, heels, toes, or make something entirely not sock-like. The idea here is "design your own" socks or not-socks, no pattern needed.

Kit #1: "Laser Lights"

Kit #2: "Backstage"

What do you think, my doves, is it a winner or a dud? I rely so heavily on your input! Just wanted to do something different in marketing my wares. I only have one original sock design so far, and honestly, designing isn't my forte. If these kits sell well, I'll definitely make more--they were fun to dream up and put together.

Sunday, February 24, 2008


On luxating patella and going a bit red in Helsinki

I couldn't resist putting a little vintage Monty Python in the title for this post. However, the "luxating patella" thing is unfortunately true, and my little Buster has it. Basically it is a dislocated kneecap, and tends to occur in small dog breeds. He has been to the vet for x-rays, and tomorrow I'm taking him to a veterinary surgeon. He doesn't seem to be all that uncomfortable, but he is basically without the use of one of his hind legs. That means he has to be picked up and carried more, but mainly it just makes me sad to see him trying to run and play on 3 legs. I was told that the surgery for this kind of condition has kind of iffy results, which means that we could spend thousands of dollars on something that isn't going to help Buster regain the use of his leg--but before I jump to any conclusions, we'll have the consult with the surgeon.

Back to Yarn

I have been kettle dyeing like a mad thing lately. Here are three more worsteds that I pulled out of the dyepot in the last few days.

Lunar Eclipse (because it came out of the crockpot as last Thursday's total eclipse of the moon was beginning)

Vibrant Violet (which used to be my favorite shade of Mary Kay eye shadow)

Baltic Amber. I'm especially proud of this colorway, as I custom mixed gold ochre with chestnut and was terribly fearful of getting yarn the color of diaper gravy, however it came out very pretty and I love it. I may not be able to part with it!

I am no closer to nailing down those wholesale deals that I thought were imminent. I know that yarn shop owners are busy people, and when they say they'll order "tomorrow or the day after"--well, it isn't surprising that it doesn't happen, because things come up. I just need to be patient and touch bases weekly, and hopefully good things will happen soon. Really, good things are happening now. I sold some yarn in my Etsy shop last week, and am very excited about something new I'm planning to offer. Keep it right here for details, folks!

One thing that's going to slow down my production, though, is that my skein winder has bit the dust after only one month of use. It's so thoroughly hosed that I've had to take it out back and shoot it. I'm not keen on taking it back to the people I bought it from, even though I was encouraged to do so should there be problems, because it's such a long drive. I think I'll just suck it up, and order a new one made by Ashford. That should keep me cranking out yarn (literally) for the time being.

Thursday, February 21, 2008


Franchising opportunities available

Well, not quite, but I'm hungry to have Stitchjones yarn in as many shops as possible! I'm on the verge of acquiring two more wholesale accounts. Can't say more than that right now, but when I finally get around to reconstructing my website, I just may have to list my retailers by state! (C'mon, sweet crazy money.)

Seemed like for the entire month of February, my Etsy shop was under some sort of Curse of the Bambino, because I'd been selling at a good clip through January and then boom, nothing. Yesterday the curse was finally broken, as I sold three worsted yarns. Woo!

Here are a couple new dyepot worsteds:

Blue Cheer (sold!)


And my latest new sock colorway, for select retailers only. Actually, it's homage both to the first shop to feature my yarns, and a freaky 80's metal band. Here's "Twisted Sister".

I also promised to flash stash, so here you go, 5 balls of Silk Garden, which I'm thinking of making into a lace wrap from one of the Noro books by Cornelia Tuttle Hamilton.

Last post, I put in the comments how I lost my gumption to go up and meet Stephanie. Let me give you some backstory to put it in perspective. I was at my disheveled worst: my hair was stringy, no makeup, a stain on my shirt from a stray blob of salad dressing. I could not have looked or felt more pathetic, so I resigned myself to being the biggest wuss in the greater Puget Sound area. However, I will have another chance to meet her, as she will be coming to Portland in April. I plan to be at my glowing, Lancome and Mac makeup best, and I want to present her with a custom colorway in her honor. I never said I wasn't a shameless ho, and will do anything (legal, that is) to get a mention on her blog. What can I say, I wanna sell my yarn!

And the last thing: Knottykitty was right on the money, Rod Stewart's band circa 1971 was Faces. Knottykitty, please shoot me an email at sharonfs AT comcast DOT net, I know I didn't say it was a contest, but I wanna send you some yarn. I'm totally serial, I mean serious!

Sunday, February 17, 2008


Every picture tells a story (don't it)

Sorry for that reference to the old Rod Stewart song--bonus points if you can tell me the name of his band when that song was a hit!--but I got out of the house yesterday for a road trip, and would like to let the pictures I took tell the story.

I went here.

I bought these.

And this. (From Fly Designs. Could not resist the power of the green.)

I knitted with some of my peeps from Knitting Bee. Left to right: Elaine, Marcelle, Kim, Christina.

My alpaca pashmina-style wrap "A Go Go" is sooo close to being done.

And I even managed to "Kinnear" a famous person. (no, not the butt, which I couldn't crop out of the photo. It's the person in black pants and red print top.)

All in all, it was a good day and worth the 300-mile round trip drive to Tacoma, even though I got a late start. My swift decided to break yesterday morning, while I was in the midst of reskeining dyed yarn, so I needed to replace it first thing. I decided to get one from Knitting Bee, in case I couldn't find one at Madrona. Was there a yarn purchase, you ask? Of course there was. But I'll have to flash the latest stash next post, as this one is already photo-rich.

Enjoy today's sunshine!

Thursday, February 14, 2008


Dyer with desire

Thought I'd throw out a mildly provocative blog post title, it being Valentine's Day and all. But before I get to that topic, let me show you something I actually knitted.

It's the Montego Bay scarf that was in Interweave Knits a year ago. The pattern calls for Sea Silk and a buttload of braided fringe. While I was working at a place in town that carries Sea Silk, I never did get around to buying any. However, I did buy HandMaiden Silken, which is 100% silk, in a one-of-a-kind colorway. So the scarf is much shorter than the pattern specifies, and since I only had 250 meters of the stuff, I wanted every bit of it to be scarf and not fringe. The drape of it will hopefully make up for what the scarf lacks in length. I made it for my sis-in-law and friend, Darla, whose birthday is coming up at the beginning of next month. I'm also making her a pair of Fetchings in Noro Cash Iroha, the same shade of blue as in the scarf.

Since I got that great yarn order a couple of weeks ago, I haven't sold a solitary skein of my hand dyed yarn. My Etsy shop is still getting plenty of views, but sales have just come to a standstill. Strange thing, this yarn biz! I have a feeling I'm going to learn just how strange it can be. No worries though, I'm up for an adventure. I'm doing what marketing I can, while continuing to make yarn. Here is a new sock colorway, let me know what you think. I'm not fishing for compliments, it's just that no knitters have seen this yet, so I'd hate to think I was doing acceptable dye work when in actuality I am making ugly yarn!

It's another Rush-themed one, and here is the story behind it. Rush was nominated for a Grammy for Best Rock Instrumental, for a song called "Malignant Narcissism." The band has been nominated in that category before, and in other categories various times, but they have never won a Grammy. Rather than launch into my usual tirade about the injustice of it, I created this colorway and named it "La Villa Strangiato" after another great Rush instrumental.

Someone who helps keep my spirits up when sales are slow, is the awesomely talented Kerin. I don't know where I would be without her. Her graphic design skills, and knowledge of how the fiber world works, are going to put Stitchjones out there with the big girls and boys! At least, that's how I feel whenever I talk to her--I get the shot of self-confidence I need to keep going. Kerin's abilities are certainly going to take her to the top. She has great news of her own, so drop by her blog and check it out!

Today I dyed up some of my current sock colorways to build inventory, plus a new one which is on the drying rack (read: shower rod) now. When it's all reskeined and beautiful I'll post a pic. And realizing that I have less than a week's worth of yarn left, I placed an order for 10 kilo cones of the sock yarn I'm currently using (and loving). That's 90 100-gram skeins, y'all. I'm in this for the duration.

Have a lovely Valentine's eve, all!

Monday, February 11, 2008


Pretties for you

It's true, I admit it. My secret wish all along was to have my own yarn shop. Seriously, though, doesn't this cunning bookcase unit look just like it could be at a LYS? I'll wager that a lot of yarn shop owners get their display shelving from Ikea. The stuff is perfectly built to hold yarn. Thanks and kudos to Mr. Stitchjones--I know he prefers that to Mr. Chickenlips--for the assemblage, and for being an all-around great husband.

So my "organization system," if you can call it that, is like so: orders, top left. All the yarn in the top left box was delivered to All About Yarn today. Top right: mostly kettle dyed worsteds, a couple of handpainted DK's. Bottom left: inventory building. A few skeins were taken to Twisted yesterday for sale on consignment. Tomorrow is going to be a big dyeing day.

I don't consider any of this my stash, because it is for you guys. Yarn is happiness, and happiness is meant to be spread around. That way, I get to make more pretty yarn! I have a couple of new sock colorways planned. And this came out of the dyepot yesterday, more superwash worsted.

Thank God Rush has so many songs. Without their impressive body of work to draw from for color names, I'd be up a creek! However, I winged this one, and named it "Sligo" after County Sligo in Ireland. It's just so...greeny, and St. Patty's day is approaching. Seems like wherever we look, the shamrocks are right behind the red valentine hearts, no?

Chickenlips' Knitting

Hear that? It's "Taps", and I'm playing it on my imaginary trumpet, for my Salt Peanuts cardigan. I frogged an entire back and half the left front in a fit of pique. Couldn't bear to photograph it, and I don't really wanna talk about it. Oh the humanity.

With the sweater yarn--Lavold Angora in Robin Red--I've begun a kimono. In the Knit Kimono book, there are instructions for designing your own. Basically, you make 6 rectangles and slap 'em together, no shaping. Which never looks good on me anyway, except for short row bust shaping by which I continue to swear. I know I'm going to run out of yarn before I finish, so the thrill of the hunt is on. I think the yarn is discontinued, and what's left is going fast. One day soon, I will finish something. Trouble is, and I don't think I'm alone here, is that I can't stop starting new projects! Rummaging through my stash this afternoon, I found a skein of Cherry Tree Hill sock yarn. I'd begun a Dublin Bay sock with it, hated the way it was coming out, frogged it, started a Baby Surprise sweater and ended up frogging that. Getting a wild hair, I started this. I never wear hats. Never! But I love to make them. So let the third time be a charm.

Today was a pretty mellow day. Even weather-wise--it's still on the chilly side, but for once, it was clear and dry. About the only thing of note was that I left Jimmy in the back yard while I ran errands, and when I pulled into the driveway here he comes sprinting across the front yard to greet me. Uh-oh, the fence is no longer dachshund-proof. And if Jimmy can get out, so can Buster, because he's smaller. Looks like I also have to figure out how to shore up the fence tomorrow.

I'd best call it a night, but I'll resurface in a few days, hopefully with more good news to share!

Friday, February 08, 2008


Approaching maximum storage capacity

Taking a break from doing yarn to blog. This isn't all order fulfillment, either--I've still got yarn soaking for two more colorway lots. But I'm going to shamelessly implore my tired, hard working hubby to assemble my Ikea bookcase this weekend, as I am running out of room for all this yarn! Hey, life could be worse, because yarn is one of the things I love, it's right up there with chocolate cake, Rush, and baseball. The observant reader will note that I didn't go for the obvious joke and say "sex" because, well, that's a given. My point is that there's no way I can rassle with that 700-pound box the bookcase parts are in, and as a yarnie with a growing business I'm starting to have organization problems. Orders in progress need to be separated from inventory, and short skeins for sending samples to yarn retailers and designing also need to be kept separate. And oh yeah, I might need the dining room table to, uhhh, actually *block* something! Like an FO, what a concept. Believe it or not, I'm still knitting, plugging away on works in progress.

My production of kettle dyed worsted continues slowly, an experiment or two per week. While I love handpainting, and I can see improvement with each batch, I'm discovering I can get predictable results. That's a good thing, as I want to keep making and selling my sock colorways. However, the dyepot is where the real challenge and mystery lies. Mixing custom colors, whether I am actually blending dye shades or letting the mix happen in the pot, is a variable that I can't fully control and am willing to accept as part of the fun. Here are two I did individually, trying to get them to come out the same. Even though they didn't, I think they'd be pretty knit in alternating rows.

I don't keep stock mixes on hand; I dye and mix colors intuitively. Sometimes it works and sometimes it doesn't. But for a big batch, say a sweater's worth, I'd use the same mix throughout.

Well, enough of that, or I'll have to change my blog title to "Chickenlips Dyeing" and that just doesn't have the same ring to it. I do have a story, though, about my illustrious brother. You may remember I was really mad at him last October. He hasn't exactly been forgiven, but I can't stay mad at the ass clown. This week, he and the wife were at the neighborhood watering hole at happy hour, and as he put it, "we got happy". At home, he put on some disco and started dancing on the furniture. He fell, and to avoid falling on his wife, he artfully turned his body in mid-fall and ended up with a sprained ankle. Is there a message here? Not really, I was just going to wish everybody a great weekend with one of my favorite expressions from the 80's, which is "boogie till you puke" but really, puking's no fun. Neither is getting a sprained ankle from dancing on the furniture when you're bombed.

Tuesday, February 05, 2008


Bouquets of joy

J. brought this home from work last night. It had been a long time since he brought me flowers and I got all teary, mushy and sentimental. We were celebrating, y'see. Not an anniversary, or a birthday, but my first wholesale deal. I'm excited and proud to tell you that All About Yarn is the newest retailer of Stitchjones handpainted sock yarn. Not only did the owner buy most of a suitcase full of yarn, but also took a half dozen of my Chain Lightning sock patterns (good thing I gave them the Kinko's treatment) and ordered nearly a dozen more skeins.

I am eagerly awaiting a ginormous shipment of merino 3-ply superwash, so I can complete the order, and keep on doing what I do! That nice cash infusion will help me stay afloat for a while. In the meantime, since I'm right out of sock yarn to dye, I'm doing more kettle dyeing with worsted, and catching up on some knitting.

Here is the first of a pair of Noro socks, and incidentally these are the first socks I've ever knit on size 0 needles. There has been much kvetching on Ravelry about the Kureyon sock yarn, that it's rough, uneven thickness, has chaff in it, blah blah blah. Man! Want some cheese with yer whine, people? I absolutely love the yarn. None of those issues bother me. I tried on my sock and it felt fine even prior to the wool soak. Our feet are less sensitive than our hands. Hey, and the abrasive quality can only be a good exfoliant for those rough dry heels, corns and calluses, no? What, nobody saw Monty Python's Life of Brian?! "Always look on the bright side of life..."

Yesterday while I was at All About Yarn, I stayed true to my no-more-stashing vow, but that doesn't cover books, of course. I'd been coveting this book for some months, and finally bought it.

I've still got the Salt Peanuts cardigan on my coffee table, looking at me and plaintively, nonverbally saying "Finish me!" So I will, before I start another sweater project. In the meantime, though, gorgeous kimonos to knit?! Word.

I Am A Shameless Brazen Hussy

...because on Sunday, June 1, I have a date with four men. My favorite four men on the whole freakin planet. The man I married, and these three.

Rush tickets went on pre-sale this morning. Even though I was spot on at the moment the sale began, I could only get 200-level seats. Not sure how the best seats can be snapped up in a nanosecond like that, but WTF. I'm gonna see Rush. And drive y'all nuts as the show date gets closer, whether I'm still here or over at stitchjones.com. It'll be a while before that looks anything like a website, but all in good time.

I've gotta go pick up my kid from school now, as her license restrictions won't be lifted until Friday. But I had to get in a blog post, especially since the news is all good today!



Sunday, February 03, 2008


Actively ignoring the Super Bowl

I don't think the game has started yet, but my daughter hates the Patriots and is spewing so much hate and discontent that I retreated to the bedroom where the computer is. Me, I grew up in the Boston area and am just happy they have successful sports teams to celebrate over! Whatever. I ran out of sock yarn to dye, but I ordered more over the weekend and it should be here in a couple of days. I'm declaring another indefinite moratorium on buying yarn to stash; I'm being a good girl, knitting from my existing stash, and staying out of the LYS's (except to try to sell them my hand dyes, hehe).

Here is a smallish watch cap, your basic 2 x 2 rib, made in Butternut Woolens handpainted yarn. I bought this skein from Shelly last September at Oregon Flock & Fiber Festival, and now I can't remember if it is her sock yarn. It's a bit on the sport weight/DK side. I loved working with it--a great color palette, soft and sproingy feel. If I could be half the fiber artist Shelly is, I'd be very happy.

Biz Notes

About a dozen years ago, when I was a Mary Kay lady and went to the weekly success meetings, I heard a lot of slogans that have stayed with me, and I believe they can only help me as I try to make a go of it as an indie dyer. "Treat your business like a business" was one such slogan. I'm trying to make good financial decisions, and make sure all my business and marketing materials are as professional looking as I can make them. I am not a graphic artist or designer, but I did get my sock pattern printed double-sided on pastel paper. I have a couple of sales opportunities coming up, and I've got major butterflies. Trying to avoid tranqs, as I don't want to become hooked. Those of you who know me, know the last thing I need is another addiction!

Today I fought the mob at Ikea and bought this, except in birch, not white. I'm building a good size inventory, and need a place to put it. In the meantime, though, I'm having fun dyeing, and just for schnitzengiggles I made these.

Colorway: "Alice Cooper". I custom-mixed a shade I call "goblin green," and combined it with stage blood red and raven black. It's getting tons of hits on Etsy, which is encouraging.

This colorway is "Gene Simmons". Stage blood red, kabuki makeup white, studs 'n' spikes silver and raven black. I put it on my favorite Ravelry discussion board, "Love to Dye," and it got positive comments. It's good to know there are other sick individuals out there.

Because I don't want to limit myself to sock yarn, I kettle dyed a couple small skeins of superwash worsted weight merino last week. This is the prettier of the two.

I call the colorway "Salmon Dave" but wait, it isn't my bad pun! A few years ago there was an R&B ensemble in the Portland area called Salmon Dave. They were smokin hot. I imagine they have disbanded by now, because I haven't paid much attention to the local music scene since Sweaty Nipples, but I hope they reunite sometime.

And that's about it--I'd better get back in the TV room before they eat all the chips. Ciao!

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