Thursday, August 27, 2009


With apologies to Warren Zevon

...because my last blog post could have been titled "Poor Poor Pitiful Me".

First of all, you guys are awesome and I appreciate your words of support and encouragement. I've stopped crying and today I feel so much better about things in general, even though my situation hasn't really changed. I know it will change eventually, and that alone helps cheer me up. I just want you to know that I loves each and every one of you!

Michelle and I came home from Spokane late Monday afternoon. The life remembrance for Jennifer was held the day before. We cried a lot, but laughed some too, because she left us with some great memories. The one I shared was of her at about age 3 or 4. Back then, I used to knit with Red Heart or Berella--imagine! And all I made were afghans. It's only been in the last 10 years that I really began learning about knitting and wool. Anyway, I was working on an afghan while visiting with the inlaws, and little Jennifer said she wanted to knit. I started to show her how to make a stitch, but she said, "I can do it" and started taking the stitches off the needle. It was funny at the time, but upon reflection it showed determination and faith in herself, which are essential traits for an artist. She was a talented painter, and her paintings were on display at the memorial gathering.

I will always miss you, sweet Jennifer.


On to happier topics. Here is what Mr. Stitchjones sent yesterday for our 20th wedding anniversary.

I love the little pink flowers in the bouquet; they really seem to set off the red of the rose blooms. And being sent flowers, who doesn't like that? Thanks, sweetie!

Now that I can knit with the big girls and boys, here is a sock I finished for Michelle's size 11 feet. (Thank God she doesn't read my blog, she'd kill me for that.)

The yarn is Malabrigo Sock in Ravelry Red. I bought it a couple of weeks ago from Knitting Bee. I'm using my Size 2 square dpns, which are like a size 1 gauge-wise, and the second sock is about one-third complete. I like to make socks on the plain side, so the pattern is yer basic seed rib stitch.

Last post I mentioned loving some new yarn colors that I dyed up. Here is some Alpaca Lace in a medium-pale turquoise I call "Alpine Lake". Couldn't resist a little wordplay there.

I got a sample of a new 100% merino sportweight. The jury isn't out on it yet. It doesn't seem to be a true sportweight, it's very similar to the base yarn I use for Titanium Sock. I may go with the sportweight I've used before, which comes from Henry's Attic. This is what I did with the sample skein, which is 100 grams/350 yards.

With fall coming, I definitely want to make more of this color. It's the mix I use for Forest, with Raven added.

Ya know, I love naming colorways. However, I'm stuck and don't know what to call this. As a matter of fact, it's been forever since I've held a contest on the blog, so let's do that. Leave your suggestions for a color name in the comments. Be creative. (Of course you're creative; you're knitters!) Be outrageous. Capture the Stitchjones "je ne sais quoi" --oops, I spoke French there and hurt myself! Seriously though, since it's naming my yarn, I'll have to pick the winner personally. I hope that's OK; I unfortunately can't use the random number generator thingy on this one. The winner will get a Stitchjones goodie. Let's set the deadline for Saturday, September 5th, at midnight in Bangalore, India. Just kidding! Midnight Pacific Daylight time.

One more thing- please leave an email address, if you would be so kind.

Let the games begin!

Thursday, August 20, 2009


Juliet of the Spirits

"Juliet of the Spirits" is my original design. It's named for my favorite song by the B-52's.
The picture of the finished garment is very poor quality, and I apologize for that but it's all I could do under extraordinary circumstances (which I'll tell you all about later). Here is the best photo I could get of the stitch detail in the lower part of the top. It's knot stitch, which once I got the hang of it I rather enjoyed doing.

The garment was knit flat in 2 pieces and seamed at the sides and shoulders. A band of seed stitch separates the A-line skirt from the bodice, and seed stitch edgings were picked up and knit using smaller needles.

The p's and q's:

Yarn: Dale of Norway Svale in Chinese Red - 12 balls

Needles: US 5 (body) and US 4 (neckline and sleeve edgings)

Size: to fit my 3x girth!

I haven't written up the pattern, but I will add the project to Ravelry when I get a chance. Maybe I'll wear it to knit night when I a) fulfill my seemingly unending in-law obligations and b) can stop crying about the stupid stuff that's going on in my life right now. This is the third day I've been off-and-on weepy, and my daughter's getting really sick of it. So am I; however, I don't have any tranqs on hand at the moment.

It's not that I want to depress everybody; I just wanted to feel good about finishing this project and have my husband here to photograph me wearing it. As big as I am, I'd still put on makeup and fix my hair and pose in front of some trees or something. I'm proud of this design and just want to rock out with my bad self. However, since Sock Summit I've seen Mr. Stitchjones for exactly one day, and I miss him. He's away on business the entire month of August. Next Wednesday we will have been married 20 years, but I won't get to see him. We have to postpone our celebration/second honeymoon for a month.

I know that isn't enough to make me slide into despair, but unfortunately that's only the tip of the iceberg. Don't feel obligated to read on, really. I can tell you right now there ain't much good news in this post. I just don't have anywhere else to air all these little things that combine to make one huge bummer.

Our niece's memorial is Sunday, the day she would have turned 24. It's in Spokane, so I have to drive there tomorrow. It's about a 7 hr. drive, which I know I can handle, I'm just not used to it. Getting there wouldn't be a problem, except for the fact that we have some legal issues going on which has created a money shortage. Because of this, I am behind on Stitchjones monthly bills and have temporarily suspended business advertising, so that I can get caught up. Having to drop everything and run up to Spokane (for the third time this year) is going to put me behind on wholesale orders, which means my customers will have to wait longer for their yarn and I will have to wait longer to get paid the balance due on their down payments.

Are you beginning to pick up on the domino theory at work here?

In order to be able to buy gas and incidentals for this unexpected trip, I had to borrow a small amount of cash from my elderly parents. (Humiliating.) My father, who is the type of guy who'll give you the shirt off his back and throw in his wristwatch too, offered without hesitation, and at first I said no but then I realized I had no other means. But then, my mother started in with the third degree about how we handle our finances (she doesn't know about the legal stuff) and declared my business to be a failure. (Thanks Mom, I love you too.) So another hurt on top of 54 years of guff from dear old Mom, added to the constant cash shortage, added to the grief of losing our young niece (whose father is the self-centered, overdramatic brother-in-law I can't stand) has me a teary mess. I'm just trying to hang on and make it through the next three days.

See, I told ya it wasn't good.

I have made lots of mistakes, but when I search my heart, I have no malicious intent toward anyone, truthfully. So I don't think it's karma. It's just life, which is quite difficult right now and I need to be honest about that or go insane. And I've made enough trips around the sun to know that eventually, it'll get different.

(I can haz change now?)

Stitchjones at the Crossroads?

I mentioned temporary cancellation of my advertising, which means that after this month you won't see Stitchjones ads on Ravelry or Google Ad-words. At least, not until things get back on track. Since Sock Summit, retail sales have fallen off, and I'm convinced it's a combination of the following: a) knitters "caught their limit" or went over-budget at SS09; b) the economy sucks the butt of a dead woodchuck right now; and c) there are more sources and options for yarn than ever before. That includes yarn stores, both brick/mortar and internet; indie dyers, Etsy, what have you. These provide fiber enthusiasts with a vast number of choices.

So I'm tinkering with the idea of sharply curtailing my retail business and concentrating my efforts on being a wholesaler. I have three wholesale orders in progress, about 150 skeins of yarn total, plus one order in the pipeline and 1 prospective new customer. I also have 2 sock clubs coming up in 2010 and other opportunities to put my dyeing abilities to work. This is just thinking in cyberspace; I haven't made any firm decisions yet except about advertising for the time being. Given my emotional state at the moment, I know this is not the time to make further business decisions!


Whew. I've unburdened myself a lot, and just by writing it all down I feel a little lighter. I sometimes think that I should never reveal the fact that I have problems, that things are sometimes less than perfect (or sometimes downright suck). However, I'm too old to pretend to be Polly Perfect, and most importantly, none of this is going to stop me from doing the things I love, or cost me the loss of people I love. I went to spinning yesterday--they let me hang out and knit with them, even though I'm not a spinner yet--and got support and hugs. It helped a lot to know I'm valued and that my friends care. If you've stayed with me to this point, please know that you're appreciated and loved.

I'll post next week. Believe it or not, out of my personal anguish this week have come gorgeous new yarn colors! Now I understand a little better that thing about great art being born of suffering.

Thursday, August 13, 2009


In memoriam

Jennifer Lynn Spence

1985 - 2009

On Monday evening, our dear niece died suddenly, of cardiac arrest. She was just a couple of weeks shy of her 24th birthday.

At the age of seven, Jennifer became seriously ill and was in intensive care for several weeks. It was the onset of juvenile diabetes. She was insulin dependent throughout her life. Jennifer graduated from the Cornish Institute in Seattle two years ago, and moved to the Bay Area. She developed health complications from her diabetes, including asthma. We know very little about the circumstances of her death. An autopsy was ordered. Her father, my husband's brother, lives in Spokane, and her older sister lives in Seattle. The two of them are traveling together to Oakland to bring Jennifer back to Spokane.

The news has hit our daughter especially hard.
As we wait for more information from the family, we remember a young woman whose artistic gifts shone through serious illness and a broken home.
Thank you for your love and prayers.

Tuesday, August 11, 2009


Mission accomplished

SS09 is over. And it was good.
All I can do is jot down my experiences, ranging from Wonderful to Meh to Feh! (there's only one in the "Feh" category, and it doesn't really have to do with Sock Summit.)
Before I get started, let me offer you a piece of banana cake which I baked last night and slathered with chocolate buttercream frosting. All from scratch. There's also coffee. Cream and sugar?

OK. Here is my list of The Wonderful:
-seeing so many friends and customers all in one place!
-the excitement and star-struck-ness (if that's a word) of the attendees, meeting and taking classes from so many well-known people in the knitting world.
-the parade of gorgeous handknits! Endlessly fascinating and inspiring.
-Meeting some of my Etsy customers.
-Being shown some beautiful things made from Stitchjones yarn.
-Handing out my business card to knitters who wanted to view my products online, and also to yarn shop owners looking for indie dyers who wholesale. Woot!
-Seeing people I haven't seen for ages.
-The nice things I heard from people who buy my yarn at local shops.
-My personal favorite compliment: "I/my husband gets such a kick out of your yarn label! 'Color Goes To Eleven'--from Spinal Tap, right? Great marketing." (I usually respond with the truth, which is "I love it when people get what I'm about.")
-Obviously, selling quite a bit of yarn! While I wouldn't have minded selling more, I'm pleased overall with my sales volume. I now have three wholesale orders booked, two of which came in before Sock Summit, and as soon as all the credit card payments fund into my bank account, I can place a materials order which will keep me busy dyeing all through August and well into September.
-And one last thing, which is mightily awesome. I can't reveal any of the specifics right now--but I can tell you that sometime in the future, Stitchjones yarn is going to be featured in a book! OMG, could you die?!


The "meh" part of Sock Summit is really regret that I couldn't spend more time in the marketplace. There was so much to see. I would have liked to take classes, but my first reason for being there was to grow my business, and I haven't yet figured out how to clone myself, although I'm working on it!


And one thing I really didn't like, although it certainly isn't the fault of the event organizers. I have always hated officious pricks, ok? Just a pet peeve of mine. I hate it when someone is telling me to do something I clearly cannot do, but won't offer assistance, just stands there and watches me struggle and fume. It so happens there was an officious prick barking orders at me on the drive-up ramp at the loading dock. At the end of the show, Kathleen was doing her usual efficient job of helping me tear down and pack up. I was so wiped out that I couldn't back up the minivan in ju-u-ust the right way to suit this dude in a sport jacket, who kept trying to get me to move six freaking inches to the right because there was a truck and trailer on my left. There was plenty of room between the vehicles for people to walk and transport stuff, but he was being so picky-perfectionist about it that I could have slapped him! Standing there with his hands folded, as useless as you-know-what on a bull. I could have done without that.


OK, that's quite enough of that. I was so preoccupied with vendor concerns that I neglected to take any photos at the convention center! However, if you go to my blogroll and visit my friends' blogs, or for that matter, go to Ravelry, you'll be able to see lots of pics. If you go to my friend Rachel's blog and scroll through her photos, you can see me holding her daughter, Miss Hazel Rose. Who was sporting a Lantern Moon tattoo on her little baby leg. And totally rocking a Stitchjones button! Only the best for this future knitter. ;)

In an attempt to reserve as much funds as possible for the business, I showed as much restraint as I could in the marketplace. Here's all I bought:

Small project bag. Love the original Beatles logo. The bag is lined with a print fabric that says "All You Need Is Love". I bought it from the booth next to mine, Susan's Kitchen. Susan's a sweetheart as well as a talented dyer!

Some coveted Mini Mochi in Strawberry Lime, and a skein of STR Lightweight in Spirits "Narikama". I've learned a great deal about wool dyeing over the past couple of years, however I am astounded by this. "Spirited from the color orange" is what the product blurb on Blue Moon's website says. Howdeydodat?! It is so beautiful! They achieve this by adding white to a color, apparently. I didn't even know there was white dye. Not that I'm anxious to try it, I'm just in awe. Here's a close-up to show the color better.

When the marketplace was slow, I knitted on a fine-gauge chemo cap (which is actually "Tipsy Sailor" from Interweave a few years back). Instead of Koigu I'm using Kona Superwash, a Henry's Attic base yarn I discontinued last year, handpainted a medium aqua blue, and Size 2 circs.

OK; now I'm gonna knit! Still on post-Summit R&R, you see. :)

Saturday, August 01, 2009


The party's about to start!

Approaching Defcon 5 level of readiness for Sock Summit. Dyeing for the show is finished; just need to reskein and label yesterday's batch. I now have 4 sock patterns for sale; I've printed those, plus extra copies of Katherine Vaughan's designs using Stitchjones worsted weight yarns. (Link is to her blog--scroll down to see the awesome Good Day Sunshine Tote. It's available in my Etsy shop.) I've gone to the bank and got some cash to make change; made a special "Summit Mix" CD to play while setting up and bought batteries for Michelle's portable stereo (no electrical outlet in my booth). Some of the songs are ones that inspired a lot of Stitchjones' sock colorways: Twisted Sister, Alice Cooper, Gene Simmons/KISS, and of course, Rush. Made Czech glass bead stitch markers and got a few more buttons from Zazzle. Went to Costco on Sunday for a 4-ft. table. Now I'm just trying not to go bonkers thinking I'm gonna forget something! Yes, I do make lists, but you know how it is.

Today I put "Kamikaze Raspberry" semi-permanent color on my hair, so I look rather grotesque. No photo, sorry, you'll have to come see me at Sock Summit or stalk my friends' blogs for pictures! All I can say is, I look like Bozo the Clown's love child. It's not so bad though--most people who come by the booth will be looking at the yarn, not at me! Also, it'll wash out eventually.

Lace all over the place

The yarn biz being nothing if not seasonal, I'm looking ahead to Fall '09 and predicting that the watchword will be "lace". I'm bringing in 2 new laceweight yarns: Nirvana Lace (70/20/10% baby alpaca/silk/cashmere) and Alpaca Lace (100% alpaca). I just added both yarns to Ravelry, so if you go to "Yarn" and look up "Stitchjones" there they'll be.

Here is a blog post from a happy customer of one of my customers, Knitty-Noddy. I must get cracking on this hand dyed laceweight thing; I think it's gonna be hot hot hot!

I do have a Noro Kureyon sock finished, but I've been lax on taking photos. The red Svale baby doll top is about four-fifths done and languishing on the coffee table. I cast on for this so I can use up some of my stash.

And of course, I'm thinking about fall and winter knitting too! I bought this pattern today (the Calluna Cardigan from Knitpicks), having first seen it on Yarnhog's blog. Yarnhog is rocking the design in Cascade 220, which I happen to have in my stash.

I'm intrigued to see how it will look knit up. I have always fallen hard for orange!

Well possums, I'll be incommunicado (at least on the blog; Facebook's another story) until next week. I'll have lots to report! Hope to see many of you at the Oregon Convention Center for the biggest knitfest this town has ever seen. We're gonna stand Portland on its ear!

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