Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Snow Day...

So.. my laptop hath bit the dust. Again. Data retrieved and on a cd, and now I am working on Nora's laptop (see: very old, outdated software and arguing over who's turn it is to either play elementary games or get some work done).

Look! Wintergreen Candy Cane Yarn, self-striping! (please excuse the photo quality. we're working on it but it's a different laptop... did I mention?) I'll get it on the website as soon as it's my turn with the laptop later today...

So it's a snow day today! You know, when we lived in the back of beyond, 4 inches of snow was no big deal. Plow trucks came by at the crack o' dawn and the bus was on time and the kids went to school as usual. Here? 4 inches and every school district gives up and stays home. Had to plow out our own road to get husband off to work, and still haven't seen a city plow truck. So, we're having a snow day. Now, if you'll excuse me, Nora & I have to go shovel some snow, look into building a snowman, and then watch 'Horton Hears a Who'.
...P.S. On a club update note, we're just about ready to ship out the 5th kit of the TsockFlock Tsock Club. Most kits this year have averaged at least 3 skeins of yarn (or skeinlets etc) giving me about 600 things to put in the pot, somehow or another. Somehow, we've wrangled this one into roughly 1400 skeins to go out this ol' round-up. (Love the cowboy-ish references or what?)

Holiday knitting progress:

The answer to my Christmas knitting list: Get the recipients to knit (or crochet) and give them yarn for Christmas. 2 down, 17 to go.

Tuesday, December 02, 2008

Random-esque and Denial

Before I forget, and before those of you who asked for it THINK I forgot, here's the latest in self-striping colorway yarns. Let's call this one 'Promise', and it's already on the website here for you.
And also before I forget, Angie S., come on down! Your the next contestant - no wait, wrong game show. But Angie does win! She was the first correct answer in an email contest for the club members. The most recent Tsock being all Margarita-ish, I asked for the correct origin of 'the worm' in the bottle. Angie was first with the most complete answer, "...Technically, the worm originated in mescal, not tequila, and it is an agave worm. However, mescal can mean anything made with the agave plant including tequila. In 1950, Mexico City entrepreneur Jacobo Lozano Paez hit on the idea of putting a worm in each bottle as a marketing gimmick...."

I'm going to award an Honorary Mention to Waldmaus for her smarty-pants answer: "...I’ll tell you where the worm in the mescal originates. It hatches from an egg, because it is not a worm at all, but a caterpillar, and caterpillars hatch from eggs..."

There were so many of you that sent in an answer on this one, I'll draw a couple of names from the entries as winners as well. Thanks for playing!

So... did you all have a good Holiday (for those of you who celebrate Thanksgiving...)? We actually went to visit family and had a lovely time, and Nora & I had a wonderful head cold which we succeeded in sharing with family. Feel the Love. (Zicam, anyone?)
I would like to say here and now that I took a suitcase of knitting projects - or potential projects, along with a spinning wheel and even fiber. I am thrilled to report that I do indeed remember how to spin (it's been months), and that I can even manage to put sticks & strings together on occasion... though more often than not it's followed by much ripping and cussing. Actually, I've matured. I've grown past the cussing, and now ripp in subdued and sullen silence... oh well.
Take this for example. An exercise in simple cables, because lately it was as if my knitting had become just a way to get to ripping, as if the ripping was the intended purpose all along. Very frustrating. Anyhoo, I began casting on hats. Simple, basic, add a cable... still going ok, getting bored now... the urge to cast on for an aran sweater or something was getting to me but that way just leads to more ripping and so I cast on one more hat allowing myself 'more' cables to keep the boredom at bay. (And while we're at it, let's change the yarn, the guage, and needle size, eh?)

Now up until now, we had a nice run of hats with no ripping - a novelty around here and I was starting to breath a sigh of relief. I mean if baseball curses can be broken... anything could happen and I might break the run of ripping I'd been doing. (though sometimes denial wins and instead of ripping it would get felted as if another felted bowl was the intention all along...)

Denial is a strong thing. I have cast this hat off. It is complete. It has not a single error (we won't speak of the 2 cables I had to fix in row 3 cuz they are fixed now). It is technically, a hat. It does not fit. I knew it was 'snug' at the 1/2 way point. (That's what I called it. Snug.) My grandmother loved the color and kept telling me it was hers. I finished it and handed it over. She tried it on, I guess to see how it looked with her denial as well. Eventually, even she had to admit it did not fit. And so, I will rip it. Perhaps tomorrow, maybe the next day. I find it interesting to note that the yarn I used will indeed felt... oh well. (Does anyone need a felted bowl or three?)

I took a moment at home to show my grandmother the scarves that Stephanie was working on, and she thought that was a pretty good project... and so off to the yarn store we went. On the way home, we actually had to call the house and have someone dig through the stash for needles just in case we had to stop elsewhere - the yarn store was out of straights in that size and she prefers straights. I love that the overwhelming desire to cast on a new project immediately does not fade with age. Here's what she had later in the evening:
My mother was also 'knitting' with us, except she crochets. One minute she's digging through a bag looking for a hook, and then everything gets blurry for a while...

...and the next thing you know, this happens (or something similar anyways. She makes amazing felted purses, one-of-a-kinders):

Anyways, that's what I did on my vacation ;-) How 'bout you?

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

New, New, New.

Sale! Let's have a postage sale, wanna? Any order over $60.00 placed by Friday night midnight EST (Nov 21st) I'll refund 100% of stateside postage - and up to $4.00 off (refunded) on all int'l postage. So, now's your chance for gift-shopping for other knitters, or to drop a huge hint to your family about your wish-list.

New Colors (finally) listed:

For Georg (Nora dyed this for Georg as a custom request - pics of the socks she made me are below.)

Burnt Orange - One of the Colors in the Change-Ringing colorwork in The Nine Tailors Tsock.

Key Lime - a 2-tone colorway that will self-stripe. Believe it or not, this color was an exhaust re-mix after dyeing the cuff for the Margarita club sock!

Getting in the Holiday Spirit? Try 'Candy Canes'! Self-striping yarn just for you and Santa.

Wanna make some Candy Canes decorations? We can help with that as well!

All of the new stuff can be found on the FlockSock Sock Yarn page here.

Monday, November 10, 2008

Similarities and a Sale...

So... do you get the impression that what I dye has an effect on what Nora decides to wear, or is it just me?

For the record, she was disappointed that morning when she could not find any green socks to wear. The irony was not lost on me. It's not easy being green...

In other news, yes I'm older now, and hopefully wiser by one full year. I have a couple of wonderful things to show you that I received for my big day.... but I did not get any new batteries so the camera batteries are charging and I wanna do one post for it all and I'm short a couple of pictures.

I'd also like to remind everyone that tomorrow is Veteran's Day here in the US. See a serviceman? Thank them for their commitment. Know someone who is a Veteran? Thank them for their service.

**Sale Notice!
Are you a veteran or currently serving in the military?
I'd like to offer you 10% off your yarn or Tsock Kit purchase today. Go shop and I'll refund your 10%, mention your status in the comments of your order to qualify.

Thursday, October 23, 2008

It's still Wednesday, I swear.

I know I said Wednesday, I know. Let's pretend it's Wednesday now (couldn't we all use the extra day anyays?) and announce happily that more kits than you can shake a dpn at are now available.

The Nine Tailors with it's amazing Change-Ringing meets Color-Work and Cabling:
(btw, did you know we had a change-ringing sock coming out? Just kidding.)

Turandot poses her Riddles:
(our first kit released to the public in our Bamboo-Ewe yarn.)

And The Iceman Cometh:
It's Ice Cream - 3 scoops on a waffle cone and it's got ZERO calories!)

Want more? Okee dokee, I've got more:

Finally, due to popular demand... The Vintage Leaf.

Have you knit a leaf yet?

(*Please note: Club members! Your discounts will be refunded when I process your order to ship to you.)

And I would like to apologize to Caroline M of the comments. She not only did not get linked, but is feeling left out. She nicely sent me tea all the way from the other side of the world, and I somehow neglected to link to her, leaving her out of the link-love-fest. Please now go and visit her blog and say hello, would you? Oh and look! You can visit her flickr pictures as well!

(I like to think it was purely an accident, my forgetting her link. Subconciously though, I think it has something to do with the fact that I'm jealous that her blog has finished objects on it, and projects that actually show progress... I'm working on my issues.)

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Get Ready, Get Set.... Oh wait - It's Over.

Got your cup of tea and comfy seat? I'll wait, go get your tea.
I wanted to post before we went to Rhinebeck, about getting ready for Rhinebeck.... but it took every ounce of energy to Get. Ready. For. Rhinebeck.

New colors, new kits, new displays, new pixie... well, there were lots of new things going on. So, here are a few pics of the pre-party after the fact.

That's 'Teenage Romance' and 'Rose Garden' drying in the sun.

This is how we packed up kits this time around. It saved a ton of space over using the Rubbermaid containers. See that reddish-brown color under the gold for Oktoberfest? Those are for Oktoberfest... in an Irish Red, followed under that by Chocolate Stout, both new colors for that kit this year (and both expected up on the website this week). We seem to favor the alcoholic socks around here... go figure.

Yes Waldmaus, Christmas-Yarn does exist. This is 'Candy-Cane' and yes, it sold out and yes I'm making more.

At Rhinebeck, we found that all of our imaginary friends really DO exist! Here's a few pics for proof:

This would be BrewerGnome folks. In full Kilt-mode. And what's that in his hands, you ask?

Well that would be his brand new spindle. TsockTsarina a-spinnerated him in about 4 seconds flat. She handed him her spindle with a length of spun yarn to wind on and asked him to hold it for just a minute (subtle she ain't). A minute later & he'd wound it on and was spinning away. Her work finished, I'm sure she moved on to her next victim.

Kathe & Mardi debate the benefits of french fries verses fried dough or some such critical question.

Juno explains once again that she is not taking interviews and cannot be bothered with paparazzi or pepperoni or whatever famous people talk about on their cell phone... Kelley does some shopping... or not.

Stephanie & Cassie enjoy the sunshine... do either of these women look sleep or caffeine-deprived? I think not. The very picture of calm and poise. (We shall not be showing the picture of ME with them. I am the very picture of dazed and under-caffeinated. And it's my blog so I get to post only good pictures of me.)

This person here? This gal who calmly surveys her domain, sizing up any & all? This would be Jesh. Jesh is most formidable in her mad super-awesome spindle-making skillz. (btw, if the blue gloves on the hands next to Jesh look familiar, they should. Glenna borrowed them from Lisa as it was a bit chilly over the weekend. Even with the cold, I think Glenna had an awesome time meeting everyone - I know we're glad she came.)

Anyways, See what I mean about the spindles? (Jesh, I borrowed this pic from your blog.)

We had them in the booth for sale - if you missed them, cry for they are worthy.

This handsome young man is modeling a sweater made from handspun wool from our own Buddy... a beautiful natural colored Border Leicester ram we had on the farm a couple of years ago. Buddy has passed away, but his sweater lives on. And apparently, hangs out with famous folks because 'small-bob' gave in to be part of the photo-shoot.

Let's see... zuzusunshine brought us cupcakes - we adore her. Another raveler (who's name escaped my short-term memory short-circuit) stopped by with even more cupcakes that had creamcheese frosting and I dunno what else but they were cupcakes and we adore her as well.

Someone from Canada brought chocolates - very good but I wish I could remember WHO so I could ACTUALLY thank her... oh the lack of short term memory skills when sleep deprived! Anyone remember who that was?

The delightful dmcubed stopped by the booth for what could be the best 4 minutes of the entire festival and made me SIT DOWN for a backrub with something called 'nukkles'. If you ever get the chance to be nukkled.... drop whatever your doing and give yourself over to the dark side - or at least, to whoever is doing the nukkling.

The lovely knitterotica brought me tea... all the way from Hong Kong. How cool is that? Dragon Pearl. Awesome.

BrewerGnome brought me Pickles & Jam - very good I might ad.. as well as a delicate Jasmine Tea I am enjoying as I type this monster of a post...

And when I got up Monday morning after falling asleep around 1am (wicked drive home)... I found this on the counter waiting for me and I wept tears of joy and gratitude. Caroline in the UK has rescued me (again). She wondered in the comments of my recent tea-less post about how I'd come to miss the general order of things... in that you generally ORDER more tea before it's all gone. I say to her now so there is no question that I am the queen of de nile. Queen, I tell you. I refused to actually LOOK in the bag because that would have been proof that I'd consumed more than my fair share in the recent weeks and couldn't face the reality of the dwindling supply. (I'm the sort of gal who puts off procrastination. Honestly. I'll tell you all about it later when we have more time.)

Anyhoo, at Rhinebeck I also found these (the socks, not the feet) tucked inside a 6pack of home-brew:
Knit for me by Georg who is the beloved Tserf. The colorway is one of Nora's, and I have already been asked to ask Nora to dye more of it. They fit perfectly, and I love them. Thank you, Georg (and thank you for loaning me your jacket Saturday. I would have been hypothermic if not for you.)

Also at Rhinebeck, I bought this and think it is absolutely surreal.
Let's see... what else went on at Rhinebeck.... Anyone care to guess what these are?

Or this. Anyone want to guess what this is?

Well, if you guessed Turandot, and then Nine Tailors (you guys knew we had a change-ringing sock coming out, right?) and lastly The Iceman Cometh for the first picture, you'd be correct. If you are hoping that the small leaf-colored packet is the Vintage Leaf as a stand-alone kit.... your prayers have been answered. I expect to have all 4 up on the website tomorrow available, yea, they are ALL even in stock waiting to ship out to you as we speak. How about we all meet back here tomorrow to go over the details on those little rays of sunshine, hmm? Great. Now I'm off to bed because tomorrow is going to be a busy day.

Saturday, October 11, 2008

Acts of Kindness

I have about 7.2 minutes to make a blog post (about how long for the next round of dye pots to heat up), so let's cut to it, eh?

DING! We have a winner! A TsockFlock Club contest winner!
The question (asked via email): In the 1967 movie/musical of Camelot, what is Guinevere doing at the beginning of the song 'Take me to the Fair', and who was she doing it with (character name)?
The Answer, provided correctly first was Enjay: "She's winding a ball of yarn with sir Lionel." Wanna see? Here, let me show you:


New Business:

Guess what this is:

Give up? It's the empty bag of this:

Ty-phoo tea sent to me from club member Caroline in the UK and it's downright awesome. I know, because we did taste tests. There were 160 teabags in this set, bundled in smaller groups... I thought surely it would take me longer to go through that much tea but I guess I underestimated myself (over-achiever that I am, apparently). It is, alas, completely empty and sniffing the tea dust does little to help. I must give in and order more as I am now drinking a runner-up in the taste tests and miss my OO greatly.

This does bring up a point of thanks I think I missed out on while a bit busy early on in the year. I wanted to thank several folks for sending me wonderful things during a sleepless period of dye pots earlier... I'd show you pictures of wonderful tea blossoms and German chocolate and Gummibärchen... but those wrappers are dust and the contents enjoyed and remembered happily. So, not only was I so busy I never quite got around to the public thank-you's but now that we've moved and had to pack up (and since lost track of) my squirreled-away notes... I've forgotten who sent which and don't want to get it all wrong. (except the Gummibärchen. That could only have been Waldmaus.)

I do have pictures of a non-edible that requires thanking and is worth talking about though! This came in the mail recently, and I was delighted.

This is a Scentsy Wickless Candle. The 'candle' is a ceramic pot and warming dish with a small lightbulb to melt the scented wax in the dish that sits on top. The pot is called 'Merino' and I wish I had a merino sheep this color! It came with 3 different scented wax bits for the candle, and the Nutmeg & Orange Zest is delightful. You can get yours from Jan here. Thank you very much for mine, Jan!

Now, I have not been sitting around sniffing wax & drinking tea as tempting an idea as that is. I've done a little dyeing, here & there as well. Who am I kidding, I've dyed A TON of yarn in the past couple of weeks, though once it's all neatly wound, labeled and hanging on a rack it doesn't look to me like much of a dent has been made in the 'to-dye' list. I guess we shall find out soon enough as it's 4 days to be done & ready for Rhinebeck... (Excuse me. I need to sit down for a moment, the room just spun.)
Random Yarn Sighting: Look! Bubble-Gum!

There's tons of other new colors, (below the Bubble-Gum is a hint of Chai...)but the dye pots have reached 'optimum dye the yarn temperature' so it looks like my 7.2 minutes are officially up and there's about 16 days' worth of yarn to finish today.

Thursday, September 25, 2008

What's in a Name?

I just checked, and I cannot believe it has been more than a month since my last post. And then I got to thinking about what's been going on for that month, and I guess I can see how time flew by.

In the beginning of the month, Glenna moved up from Texas to work here for us. We got her technically moved into an apartment, but I didn't give her time to actually unpack anything. The recent club kit York & Lancaster needed to get dyed, packed up & out the door. As soon as it flew, we took a look at the 'Rhinebeck Plan 2008'. We immediately realized that the most critical issue was not the 'how much yarn' question, the dyeing, the inventory, or (my favorite) what's for dinner. It was our name. What's in a name? Well, we're not exactly Vancalcar 'ACRES' at the moment. This pointed out the problem with naming a business after a specific location... we'd moved and hadn't taken the location with us.

We do plan to move back to a farm, and we've been looking to no avail. It felt as though we'd taken a holiday from farming that will last the winter here. And so, with that reference, this just seemed appropriate:

It's even been sighted in the wild, by a club member:

So! Now that it's official, Please note that Rhinebeck still knows us as Vancalcar Acres, but we'll have new 'signage' in the booth with the new name etc. and you can find us in our regular digs there in space 26D - Building 26 is closest to the 4-H entrance/gate.

Speaking of Rhinebeck, the Pixie has created this amazing techno-yarn 'thing' using some magic called 'MSProject' and more magic called 'Excel'. The magic tells her (and she cracks the whip) how much yarn I have to dye per day to get ready for Rhinebeck, and I find it suspiciously similar to the numbers I faced without Pixie Magic... no chickens this time at least. (You folks remember 'The Plan', don't you?) At least I've got 6 weeks 4 weeks 22 days 20 days left (they make me stop dyeing to pack the truck and drive).

Plenty of time. I'll just dye a few extra skeins a day...

Monday, August 18, 2008

Out of Control.

You know when you think things are going along AS THEY SHOULD, and someone throws a wrench into your machine, your plan, your whole stinkin' organization... ok, maybe it wasn't quite that bad. Maybe, I even finally stood back and allowed the door to be opened a crack - allowed a chink in the armor to become a gaping opening for the enemy to come blazing in.

Spinning. I speak of spinning. Specifically, the Tsarina and her Spindle (plural, actually cuz the girl went SHOPPING when she fell down the rabbit hole). Here we were, minding our own business, with a lovely little tsock business. My own little Tsock Tslave, as it were (she thinks I'm some Yarn Slave, but I've got her number... I think...) and then some upstart comes along and grabs that door and rips it RIGHT. OFF. THE. HINGES. Goes and sends the Tsarina a spindle and a WHACK of fiber. and not crap fiber, either.

This means war. I mean really. Club member and all. Did she think she'd get away with this? Without Repurcussions? I swore she'd get coal for her next club kit. Coal. And then, I did a little searching on 'coal' as it were, and found it... boring. Very. Boring.

It needed some fire. And so, Mistress 'I-can-make-the-tsarina-a-spinner', here's your Lump of Coal (though I think we're going to call it 'Embers' here).

Sunday, August 17, 2008

What's New?

Blog? I'd like to introduce you to the new Yarn Pixie (Ain't she purty?):

Yarn Pixie? I'd like you to meet the blog.

Yes, this means we've come across someone in Pixie-land who wants to come work here with the Yarn Fairy, and we're absolutely thrilled to have her. She knits, she weaves, she spins, she does voo-doo on a chakra wheel, and she knows how to 'make yarn go' around here. She brings with her some awesome ideas that I think you all will love in the coming months.
She is moving all the way from the grand country of Texas, and is looking forward to actually using all of the hand-knit woolen goods she's amassed while waiting for winter down there. She is expected here in early September, and we can't wait!
Take a minute and tell miss Glenna Chumbley congratulations in the comments, will ya?

And in other news, I recently had the chance to be in the right place at the right time. You see, there was a lady who wanted to learn to knit but missed our appointment. I had yarn on needles ready for her to start her first hat, in pink for her daughter. When she didn't arrive for our class, Nora & I headed off to Karate and that's when fate stepped in. There was a young girl there sitting next to me during Nora's class with a broken leg. I was working on a sock (big surprise, eh?) and she asked about it. She explained that she'd recently gotten a knitting kit, but neither her nor her mother knew how to knit and it was all greek to them.

hmmm. recipe:

  1. yarn on needles ready to go with instructions in bag.

  2. young lady wanting to learn to knit

  3. person with teaching skills on just such a subject

By the time Karate class was finished, she was happily knitting away on row 2 when Nora came over. She took one look at the young lady knitting the yarn that was previously in mom's bag, with mom leaning over to help this 'other' girl, and announced loudly: "I'm learning to knit!" hmm. a little jealous maybe?

We have tried in the past but with little success. She refused to let me show her more than one time, she refused to sit still for more than 2 minutes, and was then wildly frustrated when she didn't produce any 'knitting'. This time? This was diferent. Over the next week, she told everyone we met she was learning to knit. She produced 2 needles and about 3 feet of sock yarn and told me she was going to knit. One needle was a 10dpn, the other a 5dpn. I feared the conversation regarding the needle choice and string length but started anyways... and she listened. She put the string in the trash. Gave me the needles and asked which ones she should go get from my bag. I explained we needed heavier yarn, like the hat yarn the girl at Karate had, and so she announced she wanted to dye the yarn for her hat. hmm. I gave it a couple of days, she persisted.

2 days ago, we dyed the yarn in purple and gold. She pestered me until it was dry and wound into a ball. She stood by patiently while I cast on for a hat. I faced with trepidation our first knitting lesson.

She sat next to me on the couch.
I showed her a knit stitch several times, and she watched quietly.
I put the needles in her hands and knit a couple of stitches with her.
She knit the next couple of stitches, and automatically her fingers held back the stitches on the left needle so they wouldn't slide off.

We worked on where to keep the stitches on each needle in relation to the tips so they don't fall off, I fixed a couple of drops as they happened. She knit almost the whole first row before we took a break. We've sat on the couch a couple of times today for short knitting sessions, a few stitches knit and then taking a break to play. She asked me once how far the girl at Karate had gotten on her first lesson. Interesting. She talks now about teaching dad to knit when she teaches a knitting class. Hear that? My daughter will be teaching knitting in her yarn store, and her store is going to be next door to mine so we can visit because we're both dyers (her words, not mine).

Saturday, July 26, 2008

Saturday night - Somewhere Else.

Emailed to me by a blog reader & friend in response to yesterday's blog post 'Friday Night'. She captioned it 'Jennifer's Backyard on Saturday Night':

Talk about yer 'Deer in the Headlight' looks. Geesh.

I would like to say that the animals in my backyard do tend to live a 'pre-hunter' bambi-esque lifestyle though. Today, the doe was joined by (and I kid you not), a pair of squirrels at the top of the tree, 2 rabbits and a groundhog, all hangin' out at the ol' pear tree. I wonder, what kind of quasi-wild/suburb gossip goes on out there? I dunno, but if a skunk starts showing up for the party, I'm calling Animal Planet. Or Disney.

On the yarn side of 'As the Forest Turns' here, Colleen has an excellent idea in the comments for that Bamboo-Ewe yarn... and call me Burger King, but you can have it your way. (and please, do NOT call me Burger King. Or Burgermeister-Meisterburger, or any Burger - I jest.) So, without further sleep-deprived commentary from teh dye potz, you can haz all 7 colors at once in tiny skeins if you want. Clickity:

Friday, July 25, 2008

Friday night.

Remember the pear trees I mentioned? Well this gal is eating my pears. 2nd night in a row.

Look! Something Shiney! It's Bamboo-Ewe, in spring pastel colors! (Hey, what can I say? In the spring, we were still a little busy with January Leaves. Someday I might even get around the Valentine's Day Sale I had been planning...)
This is a 40% Bamboo, 40% Wool, 20% Nylon blend 4ply sock yarn, non-superwash (it felts shiney as well). Ain't they purty?
Peach, Lavender, Pale-Blue, Spring Green, Yellow, White and Pink. They were a custom request but oh boy do I like them! I have plans for a tank-top in the Spring Green, a baby sweater in the pink & blue, a striped felted bag with all of them.... so many ideas, so little time.