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!

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