Wednesday, June 30, 2010

There's a lot of brown in this post

I've been up to a lot of different things and just haven't been blogging much about them. Here is a partial roundup.

I started working on the fiber I got as part of the group project my spinning guild is doing. One of the guild members has a sheep farm, among her animals a prize winning Romney sheep named Debbie, and a subset of guild members decided to buy Debbie's fleece together and divide it amongst ourselves. I got a pound, about what most other people got. A pound is a lot to spin, to me. I've had it for six weeks or more but haven't had a chance to deal with it. It's composed of unwashed locks, so I have to wash it first before anything else can be done with it. This weekend I started sorting it and putting it into lingerie bags to wash it.

Above is some I have begun to sort through. Below is one clump; I hope you can see how tangled it is; I had this idea that the locks would separate cleanly (and magically) into pieces that I could easily lay out into rows for washing. Not so!

One thing you cannot see is how much lanolin is in it. It's surprisingly free of vegetable matter (aka VM), but very greasy. This left my hands feeling extremely soft, once I washed the lanolin off.

After a while I got better at telling which end was which of the lock - the outside inch or so is brown with dirt (which I understand will wash out). You are supposed to lay them all in the same direction, so I tried to be careful about that. Below, you can see I have laid some of it into a lingerie bag; in the next picture, I tried to show the rows of locks inside the bag - I'm not sure if you can tell.

I filled two bags so far, and only have one more empty bag on hand. I need to go to Target and pick up as many as they have there. I think I might need up to 10 or 12. The next step, once the sorting is done, is to wash it carefully in very hot water, without agitating (so as not to felt it). I need to read more about how to do this, but I have read in several places about doing this in the washing machine. But is that going to leave a lot of lanolin gnarliness in my machine, afterward?

You may see one or the other of these ads in the next month on Ravelry. In fact, if you do, I'd love it if you dropped me a note saying so. It's not that I don't trust their record-keeping, but I certainly have no way of knowing if it's real. That said, they claim I will get around 30K impressions, in my exact market. Given that it cost me only $15, this is quite a deal. After all, I paid $150 for a print ad in BUST magazine, which, while I love BUST, did not seem to result in any additional traffic to my shop and definitely did not result in any additional sales. Not to mention there were no metrics to come out of it. Another time, I paid for a promo spot on Etsy which was useless as well, and they also provided no numbers. So, this is another test foray into buying advertising and I am keeping my expectations low, but I have to say that Ravelry is impressing me so far with how they are doing things. In particular, the fact that you can upload multiple creatives and they will split the impressions among them is very professional. I have yet to see what kind of statistics they provide, but I'm optimistic based on what I've seen so far.

In other news, I've been doing some fiber dyeing. I'm pretty excited about it. Maybe some planet moved out of opposition to another or something; all I know is after over a year of being completely blocked about doing any dyeing, last night I finally just went down to the basement and cleaned off the work table I have set up down there, filled up a pot with hot water and put it on the hot plate, measured out some fiber, and put it in the pot along with some dye. I have some leftover mixed up liquid dye that I would like to use up, rather than trying to figure out how to dispose of it safely. But it's just basic colors - blue, yellow, and brown - and I have felt constrained by that. I'd rather do something with more muted colors, the colors I have dancing around in my head, colors I have to mix from scratch. However, I figured it was best just to get working, rather than get all hung up on the particulars. So I used some of the brown and some of the blue.

I just now noticed that it matches the color scheme of my business logo. There are worse color schemes I could have picked for my first foray back into the world of dyeing!

Thursday, June 24, 2010


I'm on about row 27 of Section B of Pine and Ivy. Here you can see the second lifeline, which I just added.

It's not super easy to see because it's kind of blurry (sorry, iPhone photo), but if you enlarge it you can see the pink one about 2 inches back and a new brown one just along the working edge. Just putting that in took me about 20 minutes. I hate this project.

Two nights ago I dropped a stitch again and couldn't recover from it. We were in the car on the way home from work and I had a minor meltdown. Once at home, and after having some dinner, I was able to recover things after all. But Adam told me if I didn't put in another lifeline, I would be a fool (and he would say "I told you so" if it happened again). Anything to avoid that. I took his advice.

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPhone

Monday, June 21, 2010

The Color Yellow

I planted these calla lilies last year and got foliage from only two, and no flowers; this year, all three came up, and two are showing flowers in this amazing brilliant yellow.

I didn't have any idea what color they would be when I planted them, but sort of expected white or green. Yellow? Who knew?

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPhone

Saturday, June 19, 2010

My favorite

Chicken cacciatore. Adam knows I love this dish. I don't do recipes on my blog, but I think he started with Giada's many moons ago and by small adjustments has gradually made it his own.

After dinner the kitchen is mine to clean, first, and then to bake a special sussy for my SIL, who has to have a surgery on Monday morning. I don't want to spoil the surprise so I won't be more specific.

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPhone

Monday, June 14, 2010

A photographic experiment

Something I've really struggled with since starting to sell my yarns online has been photographing them and having the color in the pictures match (or really get anywhere close to) the yarn color. I got a good camera; I made a light box; I got some halogen lights from IKEA and set them up on the sides of the light box; and still the pictures required a lot of futzing in Photoshop to adjust the balance. Even though I saved the adjustments into a reference file so I could just drag and drop them onto new photos, it didn't always work; and besides, that's cumbersome.

I'd read something about White Balance a while back and decided tonight to see if I could investigate a little further, see if this problem could be addressed if not resolved. I read an article (here) about WB and found in the Canon 5D manual how to adjust it for my camera.

There are 9 settings, and the last 2 are adjustable further (this is color temperature. I don't understand the units but I can grok the ranges).

So I did a series of 18 pictures - without flash and with flash, on each of the settings, the last two at whatever their default temps are, I didn't pay attention. The ones without flash were too dark and orangey. With flash on, the tungsten and fluorescent settings were VERY blue, the shade and flash settings were on the orange side. The best in my opinion was the custom, at the default temp. Here's a set of thumbnails of the tests:

I think the last 2 on the left, custom balance and custom color, are the best, both in terms of not too blue and not too orange, and in terms of how true to the yarn colors they are.