Tuesday, April 29, 2008



There's no yarn content in this post. I have been dyeing sock yarn, and will spend the afternoon doing more of that, mostly repeats of existing colorways that I ran out of. The thing is that this past week, a couple of people I knew have passed away, and I want to remember them, not only because they were special and I'm sad that they're gone, but because in their passing I've seen something of myself that isn't sitting too well with me right now. I'll get to that later though.

A fellow knit blogger, Crafty Momma, died suddenly at her home last week. She was in her early 30's, a devoted wife and mother of three young children. We had exchanged blog comments a few times, and I was always touched by how loving she was toward her hubby and kids. Her posts were more about the ups and downs of family life than knitting. Which I enjoy--that's more interesting to me than blogs about knitting and nothing but. So I was shocked to hear that someone so sweet had died too soon, and very sad when I think of the husband and children who love and need her.

Very early yesterday morning, our neighbor of 11 years died. Her name was Zainab, she was from Pakistan. She was in her late 70s, I estimate, and had emphysema which seemed worse after she returned from a trip to the East coast to visit her daughter. Over the years, she had extended us many more dinner invitations than we accepted, and I regret now that I didn't spend more time with her. Zainab had raised three children, and she was living in a house too large for just her and her husband--she loved having a houseful of guests and was a superb cook. I learned from her to make some of the dishes that are now my favorites. Because Muslims bury their dead before sundown, her funeral was held yesterday afternoon. I hadn't been to a funeral in a very long time, and never to a graveside ceremony. Everything was done according to the Koran. Her body was wrapped in a white sheet, and her sons lowered her into the plot, positioning her so that she faced east and was on her right side. It was so hard to see the devastation of her family, especially her husband, who when I offered my condolences, said "she was with me 55 years". After a few months, he will go to either the east coast or Los Angeles to live with one of his children, and the house will be sold. Zainab brought so many people together, and helped make our neighborhood a nice place to live. I am sorry to see that period of peace, comfort and friendliness come to an end--we were lucky to have it and I think we took it for granted.

Which brings me to my own nagging flaw. I don't regret making the decision to start Stitchjones, because yarn is my passion, but I think I have been taking myself too seriously in some ways. More important than whether Stitchjones ever becomes profitable or not, is that I am fortunate enough to have a husband who wants me to do what makes me happy, friends who are willing to lend their talents to help me succeed, and yarn and fiber to dye. There is no need for me to seek the attention of knitting celebrities, only to do what's in front of me to do, and take joy in it. And reach out more, something that is hard for me to do.

Ok, enough of the serious. Pretty things next post, I promise!

Friday, April 25, 2008


get your happy on

It's April 25, and you know what that means: flower pictures around Chickenlips's yard!

The lilacs outside the master bedroom window are coming out.

As are the Winesap apple blossoms on the side of the house.

Today started out cloudy and on the chilly side, but as you can see, we now have sunshine which is supposed to last through the weekend. Suits me fine as paint.


Because of all the Harlot hoopla this week, the dyeing agenda was light. With J. leaving tomorrow for a week-long trip, and a long-awaited wholesale order close to happening, I will be working on lots of sock yarn next week, mostly building inventory of existing colorways. However, this week I did dye some fiber.

This one I named "Spinners Delight" because I'm fast running out of roving colorway names, as will be evident as you read on. It sold within an hour of being listed on Etsy.

Another merino. This one is called "Bulb Flowers" as it reminded me of iris and gladiola.

And a couple of Bluefaced Leicester's. I particularly like this one, it's almost enough to make me want to take up spinning. Whoa, there, I said almost. Anyway, this one is "Embers".

(eta 4-26-08: Sold!)

The more I think about it, the more I realize I must have been out of me head. But I named this one "Yamhill County" and it's too late now to do anything about it.

There's one more, but I can't show it to you, it's top secret. I didn't even photograph it. I guess when it comes to some of my projects, I'm like Nigel Tufnel is about his six-string Fender Bass VI. (Nigel: "It can't be played, ever. Don't touch it." Marty DiBergi: "I was only pointing at it." Nigel: "Well, don't point, even.")

I'm actually close to finishing a knitting project! The Kia is finally fixed--I brought it back yet again, this time to have the correct part installed, and a job that was supposed to take 90 minutes took 2 1/2 hours. Knitting makes delays bearable, however I was still subjected to over two hours of network TV in the customer waiting area. Just a few more rows, though, and I'll have something cool to post about next week.

(ETA 4-28-08: sorry for the disappearing photos! I've re-added them; hope this fixes the problem.)

Wednesday, April 23, 2008


The Yarn Harlot owns my building.

I met the Yarn Harlot last night at her appearance at the World Forestry Center, sponsored by Blue Moon Fiber Arts. Tina et al. did a wonderful job, booking a venue large enough to hold us all, and featured a special sock yarn colorway just for the event. It was such a great evening that I didn't even miss the cookies and coffee. (Just a wee hint for next time.)

Here is proof positive that I did indeed meet Stephanie, who was gracious despite being mobbed by lots of people, something that freaks her out. You'll have to take my word for it, though, that I was wearing makeup and a clean shirt.

Hi-jinks abounded with the PDX KnitBloggers. There will be lots more pics from them, as I didn't have the presence of mind to photograph such moments as Stephanie sniffing the yarn I gave her (yes, she did, and she said it smelled good. I try to leave in a little of the sheepy-ness) and our own Duffy serenading Stephanie with her rendition of "Traveling Sock" sung to the tune of "Little Deuce Coupe". That stood the place on its ear.

My mates Kathleen and Cindy.

There were some 400+ knitters in attendance, one of them being MonicaPDX.

And those who couldn't make it were not forgotten. Here is Judy, the inventor of Judy's Magic Cast-on, brought along by the PDXYarnHo.

Hillary was not there, at least as far as I know, and has nothing to do with this post.

Since I got nothing else, here are some cute animal pictures.

Saturday, April 19, 2008


Desperate measures

Not really, it's just that I've spent the better part of a week trying to create a sock colorway for the Yarn Harlot. The first two, although not bad, were too bright, so I chose some darker colors with just a couple brights (cuz after all, I'm Stitchjones and that's how I roll). I made two skeins, the main difference between them is that the gold in one is more yellow than the other. Here they are, guys, let me have it. If you think the Yarn Harlot would go "blecch" the moment she was alone, because she has way too much class to behave that way in front of people, tell me so. I'm a big girl and I can take it, and I would rather know the truth than embarrass myself.

The gold is more yellow in the second photo.

Now for the name. I'm a proud member of the PDX KnitBloggers (represent!) and wanted to somehow convey a souvenir of Portland. Tentative colorway name is "Willamette Crossing". However, I'm very much open to suggestion on this.

I'm making this a quickie blog entry for various and sundry reasons-- I just wanted to flash the yarn so I could get some input before Tuesday. Thanks all, and my dad's doing fine. The ER doctor thought an infection was causing the blood in the urine, so she put dad on a 14-day course of antibiotics and he's going to follow up with his doctor in a couple of days. The immediate problem has cleared up.

And one last thing--Stitchjones.com is being built, even as we speak! I love it, and I guaran-damn-tee you'll love it too.

Friday, April 18, 2008


Omigawd! You guys! Seriously!

I have news of the most amazing, stupendous, fan-freaking-tastic kind that I hope you're sitting down (well, duh, doesn't everybody sit when at the 'puter?). No, it isn't that Rush is coming to town, that's old news but no less awesome. Nope, I'm not a mega-star of the fiber world yet, although I will be by next week. (More on that to come.) And no, I'm not pregnant--I don't even have the organs for it anymore. (That was probably more than you wanted to know.) Are you ready?

I've lost SIX POUNDS, people!!!1! Without even trying! I found that out at my doctor's visit today, along with my BP, which is 136/80. Not perfect, but last November it was around 149/90. Hmmm, let's see, what was my work situation then? I'm not saying it did have, but it might have, had something to do with my high blood pressure. I think what happened is that since I became a full time dyer, I'm on my feet a lot more, and when I'm doing yarn I don't eat. When I do eat, I consume far less sugary foods, and I know that's helped a lot. My diet is far from optimal, but I have made measurable progress since the beginning of the year, and I feel just great about it.

One of these years I will have a finished knitting project to share with you. I'm still cranking away on the wrap for Jodi--it's more than three-fifths done. I also cast on for a short-sleeve cardigan from last summer's VK and knit about 7-8 inches of it. Then sanity returned and I realized that while I love the yarn, phosphorescent lime green would not ever look good on me. I ended up frogging it, and cast on for another Baby Surprise Jacket, which I love knitting. The really fun part of making them is finding the perfect little buttons to sew on. Josephine's Dry Goods and the Button Emporium are great places to find 'em. Ah, Portland. We are blessed, even if our weather sucks ass. They're predicting snow showers. On April 19. Can you believe that? And here I was today going out in sandals and wondering why I was freezing.

I dyed some Corriedale roving this week. I have to say that while I enjoy dyeing fiber a lot more than I thought I would, I'm not inspired the same way as I am with yarn. Yet when I get results I really like, I do get satisfaction from it. Top to bottom: Sherbet, Peace Like A River, Bright Red Bug (for Duffy's snazzy VW), and Vanity Fair. I like the bright and dark colors best, and I think next fiber session I'll focus more on the brights.

The next few days will be primo knitting time, in which I might actually get something finished. My SIL is having a hysterectomy on Monday, so I'll go hang out at the hospital to lend whatever support I can, having undergone the same surgery in December of 2004. Oh, and I took one last whack at dyeing a colorway for the Yarn Harlot. It's still drying, so I'll put up a photo of it before her visit next Tuesday and maybe you guys can help me come up with a name! Provided, of course, that it doesn't look like total shyte. The other two that I dyed became new colorways, which I put up on Etsy. It would be lovely if they sold--I'll have to wait and see.

When I was a kid there was this radio station in Boston, WBCN--this was when FM radio was ultra hip and cool, practically "underground". Anyway, every Friday at 3:00 pm, they would announce that the smoking lamp was lit. "Smoke em if you've got em, roll em if you've got em." How times have changed. But whenever Friday comes around I can't help but remember that. Is there such a thing as a knitting lamp? The Ott-Lite just doesn't have the same charm...

Tuesday, April 15, 2008


How do you dye a color for the Harlot?

If you haven't yet seen this hilarious bit, you must go here, scroll down and watch the vid, and then my post title will make a lot more sense. Last post, I received suggestions from a sister PDX Knitblogger about the Yarn Harlot's favorite colors. Since I'm not a close personal friend of Steph, at least not yet, I was grateful for the input and yesterday I set to work. The full size skeins are still damp, but I did some mini skeins and they were dry enough to reskein and photograph this morning. Here's the first one.

Bobbie, I love ya, but to me this looks so much like That 70's Colorway! I mean, check it--we've got Harvest Gold, Copper, Avocado...in other words, it's my mom's kitchen! Which isn't necessarily a bad thing, I just...didn't see the Yarn Harlot in it. I actually like the colorway and think it will be a good seller. Nevertheless, I still needed a colorway for the Harlot. So, W.W.S.J.D.? (What Would Stitch Jones Do?) Why, try again, of course.

Some color migration going on in the mini skein, but the actual skeins came out much cleaner. I tried to incorporate the gold, green and tan, and added a couple twists of my own--magenta and pale aqua. I'm thinking of calling it "Viva Harlot!" If I go with that, when I write the colorway name on the label I'll of course put the upside-down exclamation point in front of the "V".

Here are a couple kettle dyed offerings which I put up on Etsy yesterday.

This is "Syrah", superwash merino light worsted. I let it sit in the dyebath overnight to cool, which was a really good plan as the color completely exhausted. There wasn't a bit of bleeding when I washed the yarn.

And here's a BFL. I mixed vermillion with pink and got this--I call it "Tea Rose".

I have more to show you, which won't be going on Etsy, at least not for a while. But as it often does, life just got real crazy real quick. My dad is down at the emergency room. He passed quite a bit of blood in his urine, so we've got to find out what's causing that. Hopefully it's something simple that can be easily corrected. He isn't in any pain, thankfully, and my brother's there with him. He doesn't want mom or me there, because it's a "guy" thing. Well tough beans, Dad, I'm on standby and if you have to be kept in the hospital overnight, I'm coming down there and so is Mom.

Anyway, I'd best get moving, as it's almost noon and I haven't managed to get dressed yet. Which I need to do so's I can take out the recycling--we're frickin' drowning in plastic and cardboard! To those of you who read regularly and watch Etsy for new items--thank you and bless you. I appreciate it so much, I really do! I mean, I'm doing what I love, but the icing on the cake is when people notice and tell me they like it.

Another sister PDX KB'er, Duffy, posted a pic of the view from her window. I enjoy seeing what my blogging friends see when they look out their windows. Here's the view out our family room window--it looks out on the back yard and the neighbors' behind us.

I'll have more yarns and rovings next post--and I'll let you know what's going on with my dad.

Friday, April 11, 2008


Welcome to Slackerville

Since only my friends read this blog (that's irony, BTW, but since I'm from Boston's North Shore, my enemies can eat me), I can admit that "Slackerville" was my pejorative nickname for Portland's Pearl District when I worked there. Yeah I know, age wears our veneers thin and my prejudices tend to come out at the most inopportune times and places--I just got a little tired of the dazed, artsy-fartsy, soy-macchiato-sucking, "creatives" who looked like they just rolled out of bed at 12:50 PM and would leisurely meander across the street wherever and whenever they felt like it (crosswalks, how gauche!) when I had the hammer down, as much as one can in a 35 mph zone, trying to be on time for a job I miss not at all, except for my co-worker. However, the adage that we become the thing we despise must be true, because today I've been slacking off rather than working. This week I rented some movies: "Lions for Lambs", how can you go wrong with Redford, Streep and Cruise? Excellent-- well paced and thoroughly watchable. The other one, "Closure" with Gillian Anderson, was kinda meh--the whole premise was violence and revenge, which is usually not my cup of tea. The exception being the highly stylized "Kill Bill" movies, both of which I enjoyed.

Early in the week, I dyed up some 4 oz. batts of merino fiber. Top to bottom: "Butternut", "Field & Stream", "Grape Arbor" and "Karma Chameleon".

Not much new in the way of yarn since last post, although I did design a new PowerTrios (TM) sock kit. This one is "On the Road". I was going for green countryside and city neon.

Cindy knit up my hat design in Stitchjones' BFL worsted, and it came out looking great! The "Seedlings Toque" pattern, as well as everything else pictured in this post, is up on Etsy.

This weekend I'm going to be throwing some merino and BFL into steaming crockpots, possibly handpainting some Corriedale fiber, and knitting like gang busters (what exactly are gang busters? What did we do before Wikipedia?) on Jodi's wrap. It's about half done, but the middle of April is fast approaching and my deadline is the end of the month. The hankering for a pretty new spring handbag prompted me to start looking for knit (not felted) bag patterns and lusting after some sturdy cotton yarn. When I couldn't find one I liked, I remembered that I sort of know how to design things. So in the middle of Crap Wherehouse, of all places, I got a wild hair and came home with a bagfull of Reynolds Saucy Cotton and a fat quilting quarter for lining. I got out the trusty Barbara Walker stitch book and started swatching. I'll keep you informed, for good or ill. There's also a new Stitchjones kit under development, and when it can see the light of day I'll show you that too!

Today was gorgeous weather and I went gallivanting around in it. Tomorrow's supposed to be lovely too, so I wish you all a great Saturday, here on the upper left edge or wherever you happen to be!

Monday, April 07, 2008


Now it can be blogged

Last post, I alluded to an idea I had which seemed like a good thing at the time, because the more I thought about it, the more jazzed I was. It still seems like a good idea, although the particulars still need to be worked out. But first I must show you some yarn.

This is a custom colorway made just for Olga Uberstrickenfrau, and it's called (natch) "Uberstrickenfrau". I was so happy with how it came out, and so happy that the Frau was pleased with it, that I thought, hey! Why not give the upcoming Stitchjones sock yarn club a knitting blog tour theme? Just think, each installment will have a colorway created especially for a knitblogger, (based on the blogger's favorite colors, of course,) and accompanying the skein of yarn will be a sock pattern and something extra--a little giftie to celebrate the featured blog! Sound good? The Stitchjones website is having a complete overhaul, lube oil & filter, and once it's retooled, we will launch the sock club. I am so stoked I can hardly wait.

My most favorite superwash merino yarn finally came in! Yesterday there was a bit of kettle dyeing, and here is the best from the dyepot. The colors may be a bit distorted on the monitor, but it's a study in pinks ranging from deep fuchsia to bright pink. I named it "Sakura".

I wouldn't say that pink is my signature color, because "Steel Magnolias" is over-quoted IMHO, but I do love the color pink. I was going to call this "Pink Venom", after a local metal band which has one or two members that are currently the objects of My Michelle's obsession. Please, God--I don't care if my future son-in-law has tattoos or piercings or hair down to his ass as long as he is good to my daughter. I only ask that he not bear the nickname of "Flippy"--because each time I hear it, I think of a trained seal and start to giggle uncontrollably.

Oh yeah, the yarn. Got sidetracked there. It's merino Aran, and I gave it the boring and generic name of "Pink Rainbow".

I'd best skein up for a sock yarn dyeing circuit party tomorrow. Today I did some more roving, and got a bit more daring with the color combos. No dyeing Wednesday, as I've got to take the car in to Kia Service to have a warranty part installed, something called an "idler pulley". I can't imagine why this part was left out on the assembly line, because the engine of our 2007 Rondo makes a particularly obnoxious squeaking-ratcheting sound when in idle. Not exactly great advertising for Kia Motors when a practically-new vehicle sounds like a tired old junker! Also, I'm getting tired of ducking in embarrassment each time I'm stopped at a red light, so I'm glad it'll soon be fixed.

Have a great rest of the week, everybody! Next post I'll show you my sexy fiber. Oh, and thanks to everybody who volunteered to do test knitting and make samples for me! It'll be a bit longer before I have any patterns ready, but as the business grows I will definitely need your services.

Thursday, April 03, 2008


Quickie inventory

Let's see. I've got 6 lbs. sock yarn, 2200 yards of worsted merino, 2 lbs. worsted merino superwash, 1 lb. Bluefaced Leicester, 2 lbs. merino roving and 2 lbs. Corriedale top which I just ordered this morning. That should be enough to keep me busy for most of the month, until my favorite dealer supplier restocks that scrumptious sock yarn on kilo cones.

Thanks to the Wednesday night Sip n' Stitchers, a radical offshoot (make that a really fun bunch) of PDX Knit Bloggers, for cleaning me out of handpainted roving! Seriously, I appreciate your support of my cottage industry--you're helping keep Stitchjones afloat and able to continue purchasing the best available undyed yarn and fibers.

In the interest of stash reduction and curiosity about a hat design I'd been mulling over, I made this cute little topper. I named it the "Seedlings Toque".

I used Plymouth Suri Merino for the sample. The design uses "Elm Seeds" stitch, which is done on the purl side of the work. Not being a designer (or much of a knitter, for that matter, but we can talk about that later,) I knit it flat and seamed up the back. The talented knitress Cindy is helping me out by knitting the hat in my kettle dyed BFL. I just wanted some sort of pattern in my product line. There will also be a scarf, once I get some of that squooshy soft merino superwash dyed up. Between dyeing and working feverishly on Jodi's shawl, I haven't had any time to knit personal projects, so I'm wondering if anyone out there might be willing to test drive my scarf pattern and make a sample for me with Stitchjones yarn? There's yarn in it for ya! (which is a fun way of saying I can't pay in cash but can give you yarn from either my personal stash or inventory of hand dyed.) I know there's a Ravelry thread called "Testing Pool", but I thought I'd check with my blog friends to see if anyone was interested.

Next post I'm going to show you something...oh, truly magnificent, a piece of smoked glass new colorway--which ties in with an idea for a Stitchjones sock club! (that was a vintage snippet of Monty Python back there.) For the now, though, I'm keeping it under wraps. It'll all make sense when I unveil it--I promise!

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