Hello lovely internet folks….nearly everything is on sale both here and on Etsy to help you with your holiday shopping needs. I know money is tight these days. If there is anything you like but it is just not in your budget please make me an offer, and remember I also take payment in the form of barter.
October totally got away from me on account of every single member of my family coming down with that change-of-weather detox: AKA a bad chest cold. Of course they didn’t all feel poorly all at once, so it was a 3 week marathon of coughing. So this mama, being the only healthy one in the house, ran the household, along with prepping wholesome meals to help speed up the healing process. All the while filling orders as they came in, which was not many, and for once – I was glad.
It is my pleasure to take care of my family and understand the privilege I have to be able to drop everything and do just that. I have many tools in my arsenal to assist in their healing, but ultimately rest is the best remedy.
That said, I am feeling a bit burnt out from my 3 week nursing-everyone-back-to-health stint and not feeling 100% creative just yet. I’m dabbling in a bit of hat knitting and crochet to get back into the swing of things. I’m planning on doing an article on some of my fave easy hat patterns in the coming days, once I have some examples to post.
No New Products, but Almost Everything on sale
So I have no new products to share, BUT I’ve decided to put most things on sale as I’m happy to fill orders. Discounts are automatically applied. You will also receive any bulk or tiered discounts relevant to that category – EVEN IF IT’S ON SALE. So the more you buy, the more you save. Simply add the items to cart to see the final cost.
The sale is running until December 3rd. I am not planning on having any sales in December past that, except clearance items. This is to encourage shopping EARLY for the holidays. I hate the stress of rushing orders and worrying whether they will arrive on time or not.
Alright keeping it short and sweet this month. Hope you are all well and if not, are able to get the rest you need.
There is something both lovely and reverent about taking a raw fleece and turning it into a wearable garment. In the beginning, I bought raw fleece for the sheer economic benefit: I get all that wool at a discounted price and all I have to do is throw some elbow grease into it!
Sometimes a little elbow grease turns into a lot. Processing fleece by hand can feel like a back breaking endeavor. I’ve learned my own do’s and don’ts over the years of trial and error fleece scouring. It will vary from person to person, but here is my process, step by step.
I decided to film my process of scouring. It’s easier to show rather than describe, and I’m a visual person who appreciates seeing things happen in real time.
This is crudely filmed with my cell phone for educational purposes. Please excuse my mumbling/fast-talking… I’m not comfortable talking to myself out loud – HA! I did not edit these videos but did sub-title them, so you can understand me better.
Step 1: First Soak
Sheep fleece needs to be scoured in order to remove dirt and lanolin, AKA wool wax. Lanolin is secreted by the sebaceous glands and helps waterproof the fleece for the sheep. Raw wool has a delightful pungent “barn-y” smell which I happen to like…and my cats adore! It tends to keep this smell mildly even after washing, but I don’t find that it lingers after being transformed into yarn.
fill plastic bins with hot water for soaking the wool
add a de-greaser. The most popular cost-effective product for scouring fleece is blue Dawn (I kick it up a notch by adding Simple Green)
start adding the unwashed wool, careful not to over fill the bins
gently press down on the fiber to encourage the release of dirt.
don’t overly manipulate the wool so to not encourage felting
let soak 24 hours
How Much Soap?
I don’t measure the amount of soap degreaser I add. It depends on how dirty the fleece is. In this instance the wool wasn’t too dirty so I squirted in some Dawn and added a splash of Simple Green. I wish I could be more specific, but it’s really by feel. If your fiber is not getting clean, add more soap in the next water change.
Why I chose this Fleece
This particular bag of fleece was super clean. It also had a uniform crimp, a nice feel in hand and was a combo that I had never spun before: Romney, Corriedale and BFL (Blue-faced Leicester). I figured it would be a breeze to scour.
As mentioned in the video, Simple Green and Blue Dawn are my fave products for scouring. It’s cost effective and readily available. There is some amazing scouring products out there specifically for wool, and they work well, but they are on the pricey side (yes, I’m cheap). Plus I have to order it rather than pick it up at the local hardware or grocery store.
Step 2: Rinse and Repeat
24 hours later
You see oily lanolin residue floating at the top of the water
Drain & refill bins (away from septic whenever possible)
I’m Cautious With Septic Systems
When I lived in town, I never gave much thought to dumping the dirty water down the drain. Then we moved to the country and I started to question whether I should be dumping this greasy water down the drain. I’m not sure if lanolin would build up in your pipes overtime like cooking grease, but I’d rather not take the chance. I empty the bins in a discreet area on our property away from the house, just in case.
The fleece is back in for a soak and already you’ll notice the water has become clearer compared to the first soak
It’s not necessary to leave the fleece to soak for 24 hour periods
You could change the water more frequently, but this is what works best for my time schedule
How Many Soaks?
Your fleece will get cleaner with each water change. How many times will depend on how dirty the wool is.
The fleece soaked for 48 hours and then drained
I placed it on a clean part of lawn and rinsed with the hose
A slight bit of oily residue floating on top in the water this time
Feel very little oil when touched
Will attempt a final soak
Can repeat if needed
When the water looks relatively clean and the wool feels fairly clean you can prepare your fleece for its final soak.
I spread the fleece out on the deck for inspection
It feels pretty much clean at this point
I contemplated what I should make with it
Currently thinking I should spin it into an art yarn, to preserve the gorgeous crimp
Will make an up-coming video on the process of making yarn with this fleece
For the final soak, I added a bit of vinegar to the hot water to remove any soap residue
Fleece will feel gummy (sticky) if the soap residue is not removed
A gummy wool is hard to work with
I don’t mind a bit of lanolin in my fleece before spinning
Don’t forget the Vinegar
Adding a bit of vinegar to the water for the final soak is important to make sure all the soap residue is removed. Just like adding the Dawn and Simple Green, I don’t measure. A splash of vinegar will do. Remember you can always repeat this step if you still notice any soapy residue in your fiber.
After the final soak, I laid the fleece out on the lawn to dry a bit in the sunshine
Time for Drying
After the sun disappeared for the day, I brought the fleece inside to prep for the drying racks. I ran small amounts at a time through the salad spinner to remove excess water. A salad spinner is a dedicated tool in my studio. I use it a lot: even for freshly dyed yarn to spin out extra water before hanging up to dry. I purchased mine after Christmas a few years back for 40% off, so keep watching for those sales!
I placed the fleece on the drying racks set up in my basement
these racks are repurposed merchandise racks obtained for free
Will leave for a few days flipping ever so often
could run a dehumidifier or add a heat dish if need be
Clever and Free Drying racks
If you are Canadian, you will remember the popular department store chain, Zellers. When it closed several years ago, we snagged these merchandise racks for free. Our basement has pegboard already installed so they hang off pegs (also from Zellers). These racks have gotten a lot of use over the years. I’ve even used them outside for drying fiber in the summer months. They will rust over time if left outside, however. It’s always great to find inexpensive tools and you can’t beat free!
Do’s and Don’ts when purchasing a raw fleece
DO decide what you would like to do with the fleece once cleaned, what breeds you would like to check out, and your budget. It is easy to get overwhelmed if you don’t have a plan, esp at a large wool show or fiber festival.
DO be adventurous and try new fiber breeds. If you are like me and want to work with as many breeds as possible, then budget is all that needs considering before shopping
DO ask questions. You can usually tell how the animals are treated by getting to know the producer. Some farms breed sheep for both meat and fiber, so keep that in mind if you don’t agree with meat eating
DON’T buy a fleece that is not well skirted. If there is a ton of VM (vegetable matter), dirt/mud or poo, it’s best to skip this bag. The more dirty a fleece is, the cheaper it tends to be, but remember this means more work for you (and a lot more discarded unusable fiber)
DO take a look at the crimp: are they even in size/length? Is the crimp appealing to you?
DON’T buy a fleece where there are broken locks – and/or evidence of lice
DO check for the bag over for second cuts, which happens when the shearer goes over an area more than once.
DON’T buy a bag of fleece with too many second cuts. Those shorter cuts are a pain to pick out and not good for spinning.
DON’T buy fleece that appears to be matted or otherwise unhealthy
DO purchase a fleece that you like the color, crimp, feel and price of!
A Note on Free Fleece
I’ve been given free raw wool in the past. But now that I’ve picked and scoured many a fleece I would probably say no to any incredibly dirty ones. For the reasons stated above, it is a tedious job. Also to keep in mind, hobby farmers don’t always produce a healthy fleece, and meat breeders are not concerned with the quality of fiber. So you may end up with a lot of discarded, unusable wool. Not a great return for all that work.
Keep in mind alpaca does not contain lanolin in their fiber so that’s usually an easy one to work with. I’ll do a separate post about alpaca fiber in the future.
If someone asks for a product in return for the free raw fleece (eg. just make me a sweater), I would caution against this. It really depends on how much usable wool you get and people are often unaware of how much yarn is needed for such a product.
Browse for yarn inspiration
Looking for some handspun yarn inspiration? You can check out my handspun yarn section to see some of the skeins I’ve made in the past. I’ll be blogging the progression of processing this fleece in the future.
Scouring fleece does not have to be a daunting task. Know what to look for, and trust your gut. Be sure to have fun, and I’m happy to answer questions or hear your comments. 🙂
“Autumn is the season to find contentment at home by paying attention to what we already have”
Bidding Adieu to Summer
The weather has changed suddenly and I find myself frantically getting the garden ready for winter. Typically this happens far more gradually, but this year it was BOOM: frost incoming. Add to that 3 family birthdays, out-of-town family visiting, and one tropical storm Fiona all last month. Needless to say I don’t have much of an update regarding new products…this is more of a, yes, I am alive, and here’s what I”m working on post.
How to: Scouring Fleece
I got the inspiration to film a few short videos on my process of scouring sheep fleece and I’m working on a blog post about it. I wasn’t in the market for more raw fleece but I met a delightful producer at the Fleece and Fibre Festival in Billtown, Nova Scotia last month and I couldn’t resist buying a half fleece romney/corriedale/BFL mix to process. The videos are very crude and I hate the sound of my own voice, but I think it it’s valuable to share what I have learned for those curious or who want to give it a try. The post is now live – CLICK HERE TO VIEW
What’s New: Supplies in Stock
I replenished some jewelry making supplies and with that, a few strands of interesting bead caps and beads I look forward to designing with soon! I also picked up some Canadian wool roving (roping) from Custom Woolen Mills in Alberta. It’s been a few years since my last order and I enjoy experimenting with the different types (breeds) of roving. Not to mention buying Canadian! This time I got two of my favorites: Corriedale & Targhee. My Corriedale yarns for sale are from this very mill. I have not tried their Targhee yet, I’ve only spun Targhee top from a US producer, so this should be fun!
Unfortunately, due to the cost of shipping bulky items in Canada, I had to remove the free shipping option on Etsy. BUT there is now a COUPON CODE for saving the shipping on Etsy orders $65 CAD or more. If you are in the US, you are subject to Etsy’s free shipping Guarantee and have to spend $35USD to save on shipping. Ironically, it’s cheaper for me to send bulky items with tracking to the US, than it is in my own country. Go figure, Canada Post!
The code for saving the shipping on Etsy is: FREESHIP65
All light pack/flat items remain free shipping on Etsy (such as jewelry, stitch markers, or keychains).
What else is new
I’ve also been working on updating handspun yarn listings with new videos, and splitting some of the bundles now that shoppers have the option to pick and choose their own sets of yarns and receive a discount at checkout.
I’m always refining things here on the website, and I was horrified to realize I messed up the pricing for the new fiber section. Items were way too expensive! I’m not sure how I did it since I use a spread sheet/formulas to price products. Those prices weren’t even what was listed in the spreadsheet! Word of the wise: don’t do something as important as pricing unless you can give it 100% of your attention!
“The meaning of life is to find your gift; the purpose of life is to give it away.”
In this month’s Studio update:
Fiber Braids for spinning or felting, now in stock
The first commercial indie dyed skeins are now available
Videos are starting to be added to listings
Handspun bundles are being converted back to single listings
What’s new on Etsy
Near future plan: share more knowledge so others can grow their creativity
A productive Month, overall
I even surprise myself, how much I packed in the month of August! Every day had an element of productivity, and I was filled with such drive and joy to complete each task. Unfortunately, I seem to have hit a wall now that it is September. Or perhaps I just need a break! I still have a fair bit of tasks to accomplish so hopefully this feeling of no motivation leaves soon. I have a feeling October will be a challenging month, and I want to be free to go with the flow.
September is typically a busy month for my family. Several birthdays, getting back into the swing of homeschooling and desperately chasing the sun/warmth before it’s gone for another season. Although there is much to celebrate, I can’t help but feel a little sad that my fave season is soon coming to an end.
However, there is still an entire season to enjoy creating color, and I usually can still take advantage to hanging yarn and fiber out to dry after dyeing. There is plenty of harvest still to come from the garden and the changing colors in nature are always an inspiration.
I’ve listed some braids I had dyed for personal use, either Merino or Targhee top. As much as I’d like to spin them all, it would be impossible to accomplish with my current schedule. Better for them to go to other fiber enthusiasts to enjoy! I’ll probably dye some more in tandem with yarn in the future, so I look forward to expanding this section. There are discounts if you buy more than one. Discount will be applied at checkout. Visit the brand new fiber section to browse them all.
Testing the waters with Hand Dyed Commercial Yarn
Here’s the first commercial hand dyed skeins. I ran out of time to fully explore expanding this new line, so I’m listing a few that I had dyed some time ago that I was not sure if I would sell or keep for personal use.
These two are socks yarns, but I also have worsted and DK weight merino commercial yarn that I can’t wait to explore color on! Hopefully the month of September will go smoothly and I’ll have more available in this category soon. Keep an eye on the commercial yarn section for new products.
Adding Videos to Product Listings
Don’t expect cinematographic masterpieces (LOL!). I literally hold up my Canon EOS camera with one hand while holding the item in the other. I don’t edit them so that you see “in real time” what each product looks like with movement.
The video will be listed after the photos for the item. I’m a visual person so I know I appreciate a simple product video. I also like to leave them unedited so that there is honesty in what I am selling. Keep in mind that different monitors and smart phone screens will show the colors slightly different. I’ll continue to add videos to listings this month and make a list of items that need them.
I’m converting some of the Handspun Yarn Bundles Back to Single Listings
Now that I have bulk and tiered discounts set up on the website, I am in the process of unbundling some of my handspun listings. I had bundled yarns to sell in groups mostly for Etsy. Etsy prefers free shipping, which is virtually impossible to offer here in Canada on bulky items.
Currently, the average cost of shipping a small package starts at $24. So, if I am selling a skein of yarn for the same price, I would have to double the price just to cover the shipping. I find that both ludicrous and dishonest. Etsy being a large corporate beast now, sees no issue with this. But as a maker, it prices me out of ever being competitive. So with bundles I could count on a similar cost for shipping 2 or more items without too much out of my pocket.
I’ll keep some of the yarn as bundles, but I feel that the ones I will be listing as singletons again gives the shopper the freedom to chose what skeins they want, and still get a discount.
What’s New on Etsy
I didn’t spend too much time listing new products on Etsy last month, concentrating on the website instead. I still have many more products in the jewelry and accessory category to list in the coming weeks! 🙂
Share More, Give More
I want to finally catch up on website tasks so I can get back to writing how to’s and tip blogs like I used to. I miss it! I’m an autodidact and find it fulfilling to share my experiences with others to aid in their creative growth. Fingers crossed the schedule will allow me to get back to writing this type of content. I will be concentrating on beginner/getting started topics, such as spinning, dyeing, product reviews and basic jewelry making tips. Allow me to help you grow!
“Life is a series of natural and spontaneous changes. Don’t resist them – that only creates sorrow. Let reality be reality. Let things flow naturally forward in whatever way they like.”
Flowing through the Rest of my Summer
Part of my plan to live more intuitively, is to make adjustments to how I structure – or should I say – flow through my day. For the past few weeks I’ve been making a conscious effort to ask myself, “What do I want to do now?” rather than, “I have to do this first”. Of course there are appointments and obligations that I have to keep, but aside from that I will go through a list of the tasks or projects I would like to accomplish in a given day and see what “speaks” to me.
It’s hard to resist the urge to tackle the chores that seem more important, more responsible and more pressing, so that I can get them off my plate to do what is more desirable. The better I got at listening to my inner voice and doing what I desired first, my day would not only flow perfectly, but I struck a good balance between doing tasks I enjoy and doing tasks that are part of life that need to be done. More was being completed and I felt more balanced and accomplished by the end of every day.
I am by no means perfect at it, but I found the latter part of July went much smoother than the first half. I got so much done! Once I started aligning my day by feel rather than expectation, I found even the most mundane tasks would pop in my head to say, “Okay, it is now the right time to switch to (enter chore here)”. Hopefully I can keep it up. I’m excited to see what August has in store. No expectation. Just going to let it happen.
Highlights This month:
Engraved Awareness charms are now available on Etsy
Tiered and bulk pricing is now live on the website
Add a gift note to your order
New products both on Etsy and here on the website
Product videos – coming soon!
Fiber braids – coming soon!
Engraved Awareness Charms on Etsy
Now Available: Tiered and Bulk pricing
I’m really excited to have tiered and bulk pricing set up on the website. It finally came to me just how I would like the pricing to be structured. Let’s take a look at it more closely as the options are different depending on what you buy.
Bulk discounts are available if you buy 2 or more of an item. The price gets lower the more you buy. If you see an item and would like to purchase more than what’s listed, it’s worth asking me if I can make more. The price gets cheaper the more you buy.
Tiered discounts are on products where you buy 1 item, then save on subsequent items from the same product listing. This usually occurs on products that have several options for customization. The above example is from the product listing Custom Charm Necklace with Engraved Letter Charm – Animals & Insects. You will have to add the items to your cart to see the discount. If you don’t see an option in the listing for bulk pricing, then tiered pricing will come into effect.
Discounts for Yarn and Fiber
Yarn discount pricing applies to any items purchased from the handspun yarn category. Since I very rarely have more than one of each skein, it only made sense for the discount to apply to any yarn in the category. This will also apply to fiber braids when they come available (for more on that, keep reading…).
Any items where there is only 1 left and will be retired after sold, will be moved to the sale/clearance section until sold. I’ve also decided that any items that I create that there is only 1 of, will be available on Etsy only. I find these items better suited to Etsy as they get more views quickly.
I still will be running sales from time to time on top of the built-in discounts, or in replacement of. I wanted to be sure the opportunity was always there to save instead of waiting for a sale. If you are a small business in Canada looking for stock I can do better with wholesale pricing. Fill out this form to inquire.
Adding a Gift Note to your Order
Etsy already gives an option to add a gift message to orders, and I’d say the majority of orders I get are for gifts. I have changed the wording to the “order notes” section in the checkout to give a place for customers to write a small message to go with their order. I will include your message in a small handmade note card. Usually I handwrite these messages, but if you include special characters then they will be printed on a label and included that way. I’m happy to offer this little extra free of charge.
The following products are available on Etsy only, and they are OOAK (One of a Kind) or only 1 left (usually made up of charms I have had leftover from past custom work either personal or for customers):
I’ve been catching up with photographing new products so I hope to have many more items available in the coming month.
Fiber braids! I’ve started photographing my available braids of fiber (mostly merino top, with a few exceptions) to start listing for sale, and I’ll have much more once I start dyeing commercial yarn. I like to dye fiber in tandem to either test the color or to use up excess dye. I’m going to put the fiber up for sale hereon the website only first, and gauge the interest. Price is a struggle especially with inflation and Canadian shipping charges. I usually don’t get paid for my time. I hope to have a few up by next month’s update.
Finally, I will be adding a short video of products to the listings. This option is already available on Etsy, and I thought it was such a shame that I was not offering the same visual representation here on the website. Once I get it set up I’ll start adding videos to the products. It’s not for every product, particularly some of the older ones, but I’ll work toward filming those in the future. As a visual person, I know I appreciate seeing items in “real time” as video gives a better idea of size, how it moves/wears, etc.
That was one heck of an update! I hope you are inspired to try to flow through your day, if only for a portion of it.
“Those who flow as life flows know they need no other force.”
– Lao Tzu
As with most of our lives these days, June did not go as planned, at least with my creative endeavours! I had laid out a plan of what to update, what to revamp, re-price and how to execute it all, but per usual, the creativity had other plans. Mostly, it’s taking me a lot longer to finish the goals I had laid out for the month of June. Things weren’t, shall we say, cooperating. Projects would take a completely different turn. On top of it all I’ve been spending a lot of time in the garden (something I should have anticipated!) and on (much needed!) day trips with the fam.
In the end I decided to go with the flow. I’m enjoying the refinement of some older products and listings here on the website. I have some new features coming to make shopping simple, easy & affordable. I don’t mind that it is taking me longer as I think it will be a benefit long term.
One of the biggest epiphany’s I had last month, was that I want to concentrate on making the website more about bulk ordering and Etsy would be the place for individual products. Not to say you can’t order just one thing here on the website, I want the option for discounts up front if you were to order more than one product. To go even further, I have set up a contact form for wholesale/bulk orders for small businesses, events or fundraisers that would be interested in my creations.
Offering bulk ordering sets me up for my future goal to offer my products to local and small Canadian businesses in the future, and reward shoppers in general for supporting my work.
The first step was to try out a new bulk pricing plugin and I now offer bulk discounts on my engraved advocacy charms. It takes a bit to come up with the proper pricing, but I am happy with the outcome. I also revamped the advocacy charms to a more simple design/offering, as that seems to be the most preferred, and easier for me for bulk orders. I manually engrave these charms at time of order which can be time consuming as well as very hard on my already bad shoulder. It was important for me to streamline the design to something I could execute quickly.
New Cool Tool: E-spinner
I mentioned in a past blog post that I was considering an electronic spinner. I went for it with an affordable design from Dreaming Robots! I had my eye on this tool since first seeing it on Instagram a while back. I also had plans to buy a SpinOlution e-spinner since I own the parts that would work with it already, but they never got back to me as the best way to order it and have it delivered to me in Canada. So for now, we’ll stick with Maurice’s wonderful design that is a dream to work with! I even bought the battery pack her recommended so now I don’t even have to contend with plugging it in when I use it.
Bonus: I really wanted a yarn counter to make dividing up my yarn for sale more easy, so I got one of those too!
I’ve been so busy playing around with new features on the website, I didn’t feel inspired to run a particular sale or coupon code this month, but you can always check out what’s in the sale/clearance section or see what’s on sale on Etsy.
I’m sure I have not quoted the original of that saying properly, thus why I could not find the original source, but it describes me perfectly. I love the road less travelled, stomping down my own path and finding new ways to approach life and its challenges.
June has to be one of my favourite months of the year. It’s the winding down of some activities, such as my children’s schooling, and the start of new projects, such as growing season! I also get the itch to dye fiber and yarn since it dries so beautifully outside in the warmer temps. More about that later…
June Studio Project Update
I’m afraid this update won’t be terribly interesting except to prove I am still alive and well. I wish I had an update full of new goodies to share, but I’ve been concentrating on starting my garden as well as refining the products I currently have. I’m also working towards my goal of offering more bulk and wholesale items to hopefully support local markets/small businesses in the future. I’ve also been doing some much needed updating and refining of the website…just like every month. 😉 When you have your own platform vs selling on a platform, it’s a ton of work. Don’t get me wrong, I wouldn’t have it any other way! I love having my own little corner of the internet.
I ordered a few more skeins to add to the commercial yarn I previously purchased for dyeing. I made a fairly sizeable investment (at least for me) in commercial yarn so that I could offer commercial indie dyed yarn along side my handspun. Fingering, DK and worsted weight merino or merino/nylon mixes, and some 100% cotton as well. I’m finding I’m a bit apprehensive to get started. I’m working towards having a group of colorways that I could replicate vs my typical OOAK (one of a kind) stuff. Luckily I’ve done a ton of dyeing over the years and have taken good notes so I think I have some good to go. That said, I want to take my time to do things correctly and that usually means I end up procrastinating. I know I have to just…jump in there, but that perfectionist in me is always afraid to get started.
I think once I get the massive amount of 3-ply BFL spun that I can use for the test dyes I’ll feel much more prepared to start. I haven’t spun in a few days due to getting struck down with a major migraine. I am totally bummed: the last time I had this bad a migraine was in January, right after Christmas, and I was becoming confident that my new regime was finally going to rid me of these debilitating headaches. I normally get one a month, so to go almost 6 months without one is huge! I really wish I had access to a hyperbaric chamber, as my migraines are due to a head injury, I think that would help immensely with healing once and for all. After 28 years, I’m anxious to get rid of these once and for all, and not through pharmaceuticals which just mask the issue.
What creative projects will you be working on at the cottage or poolside this year? Or maybe you are preparing to do some winter knitting in the southern hemisphere. I’m going to do some simple projects in the evening, to use up odds and ends yarn. Below is an example of odd and ends knitted up in a pair of worsted weight socks.
Every so often I purchase a pretty fingering weight sock pattern that I vow to do but truthfully I am so tired in the evenings I’d rather work on something simple and automatic. Lately I’ve been doing socks since I have a basic pattern that fits my feet memorized and I can finish a pair of worsted weight socks in 2-3 evenings. I even do toe-up so that I don’t have to do that dreaded kitchener stitch.
A few of my other worsted weight socks I’ve made, hand-dyed by moi. Now, to tackle the odd and ends of handspun. This will be more challenging as I will have to match up the sizes/gauges, and my handspun tends to be more varied in sizes.
“You realize that all along there was something tremendous within you, and you did not know it.”
I’m calling May the month of (re)Vision: Vision being the key word! Last month’s contemplation and urge for change has lead me to a to-do list of revamping and re-branding.
One thing that has always served me well is visualizing what I want and bringing it to fruition. Many times I cannot see the forest for the trees, however! When you are so immersed in a topic or situation (LIFE!) it’s hard to know for sure which direction to take, what to let go of, and what to change.
Comtemplation and Change
Last month’s Etsy strike was just what I needed to refocus and contemplate what do *I* want going forward. It’s easy to get caught up in the game of: what will sell and what (I think) everyone else wants. I have a good base of product so I have time to play and explore the next level, especially with yarn & fiber. I’ve been reevaluating my products, and giving everything a freshen up: either new photos, a revamp or retirement, if necessary.
I also made a wishlist of what I want to make going forward, particularly with fiber. One thing I’ve been toying with, is whether I should add an espinner to my spinning collection. Ok Leilani, you already have FOUR spinning wheels. As much as I love my treadle power, I can’t help but be curious to see how the electric version measures up. What can I say? I love to spin!
What I’m Working On
Part of the re-branding process: New Business cards! What do you think?
Another item on the VISION list: a static collection of dye combinations for yarn & roving. I’ve also acquired several skeins of commercial spun yarn that I can also dye. In the past I have spun my own bare yarns to dye, as spinning dyed roving and dyeing finished yarn gives two completely different looks. But I came to realize that it will be some time for me to spin a decent amount for sale, and I’d like to get making when the inspiration hits. I also realize some people prefer to knit commercial yarn, which is totally cool too! So it’s a goal of mine to offer both in the near future.
Clearing Out Dyed Roving
Right now I’m thinking about offering the dye combinations in roving, commercial & handspun yarn: full skeins and mini skein sets. Until then, I think I will list for sale some of my hand dyed merino top. I divide this roving into 4oz braids for my own spinning projects, but I may even split them into 2oz as you’d still spin a fair bit with half, especially with a drop spindle.
Now I have to do a bit of grumbling. I’ve found it particularly difficult to find suppliers in Canada for bulk bare yarn or yarn cones. One mill didn’t even respond to my request. I find this an issue time and time again in this country. I either can’t find what I want, can’t get companies to respond to me, or they are not open to my request (which is fine). But it means I have to go to tried and true companies in the US that I’ve used for years who are happy to take my money and do so with the utmost professionalism.
20+ years as a maker who buys large lots of product be it packaging, jewelry components or fiber and this has been a constant problem. Maybe there are better leads via word of mouth…! Either way, I often feel like there are so many missed opportunities for great partnerships in Canada.
No New Products this month, but there is a Sale
No new products for this month as I work on branding and new possibilities, and it may be for awhile, yet (we are heading into mercury retrograde, afterall 😉 ).
I didn’t have time to prepare a sale in time for Mother’s day, but in honor of all the moms, of which I am one, I am offering 20% off all products in the “Personalized Items” section for the rest of May. Here’s a few products from that section:
I’m running a sale om Etsy as well, if you prefer to purchase there. It’s 10% off items in the Necklaces and Pendants section, as well as a few other clearance markdowns. I cannot offer as deep of a discount there, as their fees have gotten really high.
April Showers bring…spring snowstorms. As I sit here and type this, there is 10cm of snow outside and the wind has picked up. I’m confused if it is April or December! Therefore, it’s good day to pour a cup of tea and write my April Update.
“Hello there! Last week I received a gift that a friend bought for me from your store – 2 glorious skeins of green merino-silk-angelina, along with 2 charming stitch markers. I just wanted to let you know that it is a complete dream to crochet with, and has kick-started a creative drive in me that I thought was asleep for good. Many many thanks for all your beautiful work!”
I cannot stress enough how much this message made my day! Yes, we always like to hear positive feedback about our work, but this means so much more to me. Because this customer has been *inspired* to create again with something *I* created. I feel privileged to know my purpose in life: live an inspired life, and inspire others. Needless to say this comment has inspired *me* to continue to keep creating. Truly, what goes around, comes around…
The Trouble with Shipping, and the Hindrance it places on a Positive Shopping Experience
I’ve written several times about the shipping conundrum. If you are a small business you really rely on the mail to get your goods where they need to go. If you are in Canada, like me, you rely heavily, if not exclusively, on Canada Post. Cost of shipping with Canada post has been rapidly increasing over the past few years. Plus the strain that the lockdowns created in 2020 threw delivery standards out the window.
Although Canada Post is reliable in the sense that packages eventually get to where they go, higher volumes mean that it can take longer for packages to reach their destination. In an Amazon Prime world, people aren’t as patient to wait for the goods they paid for. For cheaper items, I have no choice but to send the padded envelopes via regular mail, and when they are taking longer than usual to arrive, customers get anxious as there is no tracking number.
A Shipping Example
Why not send everything with tracking? Let’s take that order for yarn, quoted above. The order sold for $43. Of that $43 dollars, $21.43 was spent on shipping. It was going to Ontario, which is in Eastern Canada. I am located in this region as well (Maritime provinces). As it is a bulky item, the tracking option is the only way to ship, there is nothing cheaper. And this rate is with me squishing the yarn into a mailer envelope, which I really dislike, but have to do in order to keep the shipping costs as minimal as possible.
So $21.43 for a bulky envelope of yarn, leaves me with $21.57 for two skeins of yarn that I made from scratch. Nevermind the packaging and little extras I also include. And the Etsy fees I pay as this order was purchased via Etsy. If you think makers sell their goods to make money, you might want to think again…
So let’s say someone buys a stitch marker set for $17. If I were to send this with tracking, the price would be the SAME as the bulky envelop of yarn. $21 to send a $17 item. I instead, purchase an oversized stamp for just under $2. The item ships regular mail with no tracking, but you can understand why.
Understanding and Patience is Key
A platform like Etsy would say, just increase your prices. But how much is one willing to pay for a stitch marker set? How do I stay competitive on the platform when there are US makers whose shipping costs are considerably less?
I’m not looking to gouge people, I want them to enjoy my creations! I want my customers to feel that they paid a fair price. If I wanted to become rich I would have stopped making ages ago.
I’m also not trying to complain, just to educate. I make it a point to turn around my orders as quickly as possible, usually in 1 business day. If you waited a little longer to receive your handmade package from an artist or maker, please be patient, and don’t give them less than a 5 star review if you truly loved your item. Trust me, if I could hand deliver all my orders, to say thanks in person, I would.
Also, you can trust that if your package ever goes missing I will honor your order with either a refund or replacement. Simply contact me by hitting reply on your order confirmation email. I always get back to people right away so if there is a delay, please email me directly.
An Etsy Strike is A-Brewing
A few weeks ago, I received an email from Etsy corporate stating that there would be a fee increase, 30% higher starting April 11th. To be honest, I’m pretty low key on Etsy, and not up with the politics within the community. Not since the last mass exodus of sellers in 2012. I’ve been on Etsy since 2008, and I started selling on the platform about a year later. I’ve been around with all the ebb and flow of change as it has evolved as a company. I would not exactly call the platform exclusively handmade anymore, since it is full or re-sellers. Buyer beware is certainly warranted.
Recently I learned that several Etsy Shops will be going on strike starting April 11th. Their demands are as follows:
Cancel the fee increase.
Crack down on resellers with a comprehensive plan that is transparent, so sellers can hold Etsy accountable.
Give ‘Golden’ support tickets to sellers affected by extreme AI actions (account termination, 45/90 day holds, etc.)
End the Star Seller Program.
Give all sellers the ability to opt out of off site ads.
Etsy and Me
I stay there because I really like the customers. For the most part, Etsy buyers get the handmade maker philosophy. I keep it as a low-key avenue for customers. I don’t make enough $$ there to be forced into paying for advertising, like some sellers who use Etsy as their primary income.
So when I got the email about a price increase, I shrugged it off as, what can you do? Until I happened to stumble on info on the strike via Twitter. Although I am small beans on Etsy, I’m going to participate in the Etsy strike in solidarity of the makers who rely on Etsy to make a living. I agree whole heartedly with their demands, though I’m very pessimistic that Etsy would ever listen to their sellers.
So I will be putting my Etsy Shop in vacation mode on April 11th, until at least the 18th. I may go a little longer, and take the month to research other avenues to get my work front and center to customers. You can come here to my website to purchase my items, or to contact me for any reason.
The Future is Unknown and What I’d love to Happen Going Forward
If I were to put it out there, what would I want to see for my little handmade endeavour going forward? Obviously, affordable shipping would be high on my list! But past that, I’d love to expand to reach more Canadians, and not just singular item orders, but bulk and wholesale to small retail shops that cater to handmade, or local yarn stores. I can give such a better price if I work and ship in bulk.
I’d love to streamline my sales to come through this website and discontinue using 3rd party platforms. But with a receptive audience built in and me wanting more time to create I simply don’t see myself leaving Etsy anytime soon. In fact, the answer may be to go back and diversify the platforms I use. I stopped doing that for simplicity, but here I sit again wondering how to reach more customers without being glued to my computer hours on end. I already dropped social networking for that reason: too much time taken up when I could be making fantastic things!
This Month’s New Products
April is my birthday month! Despite rising costs with shipping and supplies, I wanted to offer a discount to say thanks! Creating literally saved my life over 2 decades ago. I am grateful to be here today to share my gifts with you all.
Save 18% on your order of $50+ for the month of April* with code: BIRTHDAYMONTH *excludes sale items
It would be my pleasure to also include an additional small gift with your purchase.
“The harder it gets, the closer you are” – Steven Chopade
It always seems that the closer one gets to the end of a task or period of time, one gets the most impatient. That’s certainly me these days, impatiently waiting for spring to start! Thankfully the piles of snow are quickly receding: I almost forgot what my deck and yard looked like!
Today the temperature reached 9 degrees celcius. It’s sunny, and I’m getting my seed starting materials out. Soon it will be time to start some seeds indoors, though I could be starting onions now. Funny how a temp like 9 degrees is exciting and warm this time of year! Come fall we’ll be literally shivering in our boots when the temps reach single digits!
I wish I had some exciting news to report, but honestly I’ve just been taking care of housekeeping. Literally. Spring must be coming because I have been in a cleaning and organizing mood! Besides my house and studio, this sentiment also includes my website and Etsy shop. I’ve been cleaning up descriptions, updating info and freshening up listings. And as usual, I have a ton of new items to photograph and get listed, that will probably take me all year to get through – HA!
I’ve been working on using up my fisherman’s wool that I’ve had kicking around for years, long before I started spinning. Fisherman’s wool is worsted weight, and it’s been so cold this winter, I decided to make some more pairs. The thicker socks are almost like a slipper sock, though I wear these in my boots as well. They keep my feet toasty warm. I’m currently working on my 6th and probably final pair of socks with the Fisherman’s wool.
Click on each photo to be taken to the listing for the item. Also available on Etsy, should you prefer to shop there. Pricing structure is slightly different due to listing fees.
These pewter Celtic knot charms have been around for quite some time, but wasn’t inspired to make anything with them, until recently. I acquired some larger freshwater pearls and I immediately liked the look of the larger darker pearls with this pendant. I’m trying to expand my offerings for good quality items that are not precious metal. With the rising cost of…everything, I want to make sure I have products available with a broad price point so that there is a little bit of everything for everyone.
I’ve relisted These 10mm faceted gemstone earrings with the stones I currently have available: amethyst, golden tiger eye and onyx. But one pair or a set of all 3. I used to have more stones available but am sold out and will not be restocking (at least for now).
This is an older product that I sold years ago on my old website, now available once again. This petite awareness ribbon is gold plate over sterling silver. The rest of the necklace is gold-filled. You can find out more about gold-filled in this blog post.
Gold is the color awareness ribbon for childhood cancers, which is what I originally bought these charms for (by customer request). I would say if you prefer to wear gold jewelry and have a specific cause that is near and dear to you, to not let the officially meaning deter you. This piece is nice and dainty: perfect for daily wear.
Living near a beach (albeit a cold one!) draws me to all things beach related. I adore the ocean and love living near it. This necklace can be personalized with a initial charm that I manually engrave. Sterling silver chain. The pendant is culinary grade pewter. You can learn more about these charms and their wonderful detail and quality in this blog post.
I’ve decided to amalgamate all the personalized products that are offered in both silver and gold, for ease of comparison and ordering. The horse and bunny necklace from this original collection are now only available in silver, and as of now I am not planning to restock the gold.
I’m off to enjoy this lovely end-of-winter day. Possibilities. So delicious…
I can only describe the start of our year as….blah…we all as a family were dragging after all the Christmas hype. Plus, I have my typical winter dry cough that comes along with this lack of humidity and running our pellet stove constantly. It’s so much fun to have a chronic cough in the era of covid hysteria. 🙄
So I took the first few weeks of January essentially off…I filled orders, but I didn’t jump in with my usual zest for getting the year started. I did tell myself I would slow down this winter, so it’s not exactly a loss. I was mostly on the couch: knitting, reading and watching TV/internet broadcasts. My cats were thrilled to have a couch buddy! The lack of energy from being burnt out afforded me the chance to work on small projects that I’ve been meaning to get to anyway.
Latest Projects and Gadgets
My husband was going to buy me the interchangeable Kollage knitting needles set as a Christmas gift, but I stopped him. I already have so many types of needles, it seemed really frivolous to buy yet another set. But by Christmas end, I was still thinking about these needles, and decided to go ahead and buy them (with DH’s blessing. We decided to not exchange gifts this year. Just a few treats instead). Shout out to Darn Yarn here in Nova Scotia. I found them on kollage’s website as a distributor, and I was impressed at how quickly I received my order. I would definitely buy from them again, and would recommend!
I may do a separate post on the kollage needles once I’ve used them for awhile, but so far, so good!
Also shout out to Knitting Anxiety in Montreal, who is also a Kollage product distributor. Their Etsy shop has a great selection of kollage needles and accessories. I bought more firm cables for my interchangeable set since I’m always working on more than one project at once. I didn’t get more soft cables, as I don’t think I’ll use them as often. Again, more in an up-coming kollage post.
New Products and Back In stock
I have re-listed the Catholic Art stitch marker set with a new, updated look. You can now pick from a set of clip on markers or a set of mixed sized closed rings for knitting in the round. The clip on version is great for crocheters, and I love clip on markers to hold drop stitches until I get can around to pick them up. This was a one-time unique purchase of these charms so once they are officially gone I will not be able to restock them.
I’ve listed a gold version of the original KNIT PURL stitch marker set. These markers are accented by sparkly faceted glass beads (KNIT) and freshwater pearls (PURL). The set also come with a clip on marker, for a total of 9 markers.
I’m glad to say that I’m finally coming out of the holiday burn out and winter funk. There is lots of creativity flowing and more new creations & inspiration to share in the coming days.
In this divisive world, I only want to spread love and compassion, and it’s a marvellous feeling to see Canadians conquer fear to love & support each other across the country. Don’t let the media bring you down or fill you with fear and doubt. I am in touch with many folks across the country, and the desire is the same: to get back to loving and respecting each other. I know from experience manifesting the future you want is not only possible but very much achievable.
To celebrate the month of love I’m offering 14% discount until Feb 20th on All orders with the code: LOVEABOVEALL (excluding sale items).
End of year sale coupon code available – keep reading to find out…
I hope you are all having a fun and restful end of year holiday…I know, the two really don’t go together! After 4 days of over-eating and visiting with friends and family, I’m looking forward to taking the rest of the week to recharge and get caught up on a few tasks that have fallen to the wayside these past few weeks.
New Year’s Goals
I’m not one for New Year Resolutions, but this year I have resolved to try to s-l-o-w d-o-w-n as is compatible with the cold and short days of Canadian winters. I tend to treat the winter months as “catch up”, “get ahead” time, even though my body is telling me to rest.
I look forward to curling up in bed with a good book, trying out some new knitting projects, and catching up with some meditation and spiritual podcasts, as well as expanding my own sixth sense abilities. I’m going to be creative when the whim calls, but I won’t be pushing myself to develop new products for the sake of sale.
Coupon Code – save 20% on your Entire Order
I am running a sale for the next couple of weeks. If you spend $75 here on the website you will save 20% off your entire order.
Use code: ENDOFYEAR at checkout. This also applies to clearance items!
“The intuitive mind is a sacred gift and the rational mind is a faithful servant. We have created a society that honors the servant and has forgotten the gift.” – Albert Einstein
My week at glance, at least the creative projects I’ve tackled this week anyway! It’s getting close to the Christmas holidays and thus my “me” time is limited. Still, I have made the commitment to invest in myself more. That means more time for my personal projects and goals. Including, listening more to my intuition, trusting in myself and slowing down to hone my gifts, both physically and spiritually.
Most Satisfying Moment this week
My most accomplished moment this week, was getting my yarn backlog sorted, tagged and listed. It is always a job getting my handspun weighed, measured and priced, not to mention photographed! Descriptions are also hard. I really wish there was a way you could touch and experience my yarns with all your senses. I am quite confident that you would be intrigued and excited to work with my fiber creations.
You can view all my yarns offered in the handspun yarn section. I also have most of my yarn available for sale on etsy, but the full compliment is available on this website.
Some of the New Yarns at a Glace
One reason why I love working with fiber, is that it is incredibly versatile. Not just for the items that can be made with it, but for the fact you can revamp it if you are unsatisfied with the finished project. Like this handspun superwash merino & tencel.
Tencel is a cellulose based fiber, so it’s very much like bamboo or cotton fiber. I blended tencel and merino together and spun it, I assume for socks but I really can’t remember why now. Sometimes I just want to experience spinning blended fibers.
After spinning I dyed the yarn. Tencel being a plant based fiber will not dye with acid dyes, so my thought at the time was to leave the tencel showing as little bits through the wool. In the end, I didn’t like the effect and shelved the project.
So I decided to re-skein the 2 balls and have them take a bath in MX Fiber Reactive dyes. This dye will work on the tencel but leave the merino wool unchanged. I did a mix of slate and grey, and set the yarn to dye overnight. You can read my post on dyeing cotton yarn for more info on dyeing plant based fibers.
After the yarn was rinsed and dried, I loved the grey-blue bits of tencel showing through.
A note on tencel: although tencel is cellulose based (derived from wood pulp) it is technically a man-made fiber, so not exactly “natural” as bamboo, cotton or wool would be.
Experimenting With Setting Yarn with Steam
A few years ago, I saw a video either on a blog or social media where the spinner set their yarns using steam from an iron, rather than going the whole soak and dry route. I was really intrigued by this, esp. by how you could watch the plies of the yarn align simply by the steam.
I really enjoy washing and setting my yarns in the sunshine – something about them being charged in the sun adds to all the good energy I put in when I spin them…not to mention how much I enjoy giving them a good thwack on the side of the house! 😉 But now that it is winter setting yarns indoors becomes a bit of a pain.
The other day it occured to me that I could use my garment steamer to set my yarns. It is an under used tool (I bought it to steam my wedding dress back in 2006 thinking I would use it often after that, but it’s pretty much been sitting in one closet or another over the years). The results were great and very satisfying to watch. I now want to try setting my knitted items with steam, so I may do a separate post on the entire process.
Why My Creations Make Great Gifts
I adore all my orders but the special gifts really excite me the most. It is my calling to uplift others, support them and be there when their loved ones can’t. So when I am asked to send a special Christmas gift to a fellow Maritimer from someone thinking of them on the west coast, I am more than happy to oblige. I also made a simple note card for their gift message. I really hope they like their new necklace!
It’s no joke that I love to spin, and in order to get good at something, you have to put the time in. Needless to say after hundreds of hours spinning over the past 10 years I have amassed a lot of yarn. I do sell some of it, but much of it is here to be used, mostly because I feel it’s simply not up to par to sell.
It was time to do some larger projects, because hats, socks and mitts were not making a big enough dent. I started making sweaters over the summer and this is my 3rd one, I’ll have to do a separate post on the pattern and tutorial I bought to kick start my sweater knitting.
It’s getting late and my bed is calling…until next time,
When I started knitting cotton dishcloths, I thought I’d maybe make a couple to try and that would be it. I gave one to my husband, who washes the majority of the dishes, to try. “Can you make some more?” He said, “Those are awesome!”. They have become his fave dishcloths, and it has become a ritual that every autumn I make a new batch: some for him, some for gifts.
I also crochet dishcloths which I equally like, but this post will look at simple knitted cotton dishcloths that you can easily make on the go or in front of the TV. You’ll have a ton of gift add-ons in no time!
Cotton dishcloths are super absorbent and feel great in hand. I prefer a pattern where front and back look the same or similar. I’ve tried a lot of patterns and the simple, basic knit stitch looks best, in my opinion. To add interest you can accent with different types of stitches mixed in. That means these patterns are perfect for beginners!
Cotton is a completely different textile to knit compared to wool. Yes, the mechanism of knitting is the same, but cotton is not springy like wool. Since it has little to no give I find that it can be hard on the hands if you knit a lot in one sitting. You also don’t want to make your stitches too tight or it’s hard to knit the next row. Too loose however, and you may find your dishcloth falling apart prematurely.
I’m curious how handspun cotton will feel, because I find it to be significantly softer. You can also buy cotton/acrylic hybrid yarn that feels softer in hand, but I personally don’t have any experience with it.
My Fave Memorized Dishcloth Pattern
This is a really simple idea for knitting up a basic dishcloth. I was tired one night and wasn’t ready for bed, so I let my hands and brain do what it wanted.
Here’s the pattern, it’s very easy to remember. I’m using mill ends cotton, with size US7 needles. You can make your dishcloths as big as you wish, so simply use my sizing as a guide.
With MC (main color) Cast on 32
K13 rows with MC
Row 14 – switch to C2 (color 2) – K1P1 across
Row15 – K1S1 (knit one, slip one) across with C2
Row 16-17 – with MC, knit across
Repeat Rows 14 – 17 5x
Then knit MC K13 rows
I told you it was easy! Perfect for beginners, and easy to do while watching a movie or sitting on the bus (or waiting for kids to be done their activity, which is the story of my life).
I like these three patterns as well, free for use from knitpicks.com. Super easy to remember. I make mine smaller than the patterns call for.
Other Types of Cotton Yarn to Knit With
I enjoy making little scrubbies with cotton scrubby yarn. I’ve wondered if I could spin a variation of this, maybe like spinning a bouclé? It’s certainly an affordable yarn to buy commercially, so I’ll stick to that for now. I buy the white and off-white, and dye it myself.
There is also an acrylic equivalent to this yarn, but I have no experience with it. Since it has a texture I don’t do anything fancy with it, just the basic knit stitch. You won’t see the pattern well anyway, due to the yarn construction. I make these even smaller than the traditional knitted dishcloth, by request of my hubby. He liked the smaller size for scrubbing out pots.
Other ways to Come up with Dishcloth Patterns
Think of some of the patterns you love in other projects such as hats, scarves or sweaters. One thing I also like to do is practice new-to-me stitch patterns.
How Long Will Knitted Dishcloths Last
Knitted dishcloths do fall apart eventually. The type of stitch you use, as well as how loose your stitches were knitted will make a difference. I also find really lacey patterns, although pretty to look at, fall apart quicker than basic knit and crochet stitches. At least this is true for dishcloths, they would probably be fine for face cloths.
Once I get through this batch of cotton yarn I really want to try making dishcloths and hand towels out of bamboo. I’ve heard such great things about bamboo for these practical purposes. I love to spin bamboo, so I think it willbe a fun project to embark on. More on that in a future post.
Do you love or hate to knit with cotton? Will this post encourage you to give it a try or do you have an tips or tricks for me? Would love to hear from you…
Last week I was dyeing commercial (aka store bought) cotton yarn in the studio, to add to my existing stash. It occurred to me that I have not seen many blog posts on the topic of dyeing cotton yarn, especially if you want to achieve vibrant, rich colors.
I’m a self taught (indie) dyer so I thought my trial and error experiences would benefit others. The following info is from my own personal experience with dyeing cotton, and should only be taken as opinion. Someone else may have success with other methods, or disagree with my methodology.
Over the years I have come across many posts and videos on dyeing wool yarn, but not so much with cotton yarn. If I do find a post or video, the colors achieved tend to be very muted or wash out quickly, which was my experience early on. This is a compilation of tips that I found helped me get vibrant, lasting color.
Currently I am going through mill ends of cotton, because you can buy these relatively cheap, and the odd knot in the hank doesn’t bother me. You can often get cotton yarn on sale at the local arts and craft store, as well. I re-skein them into smaller yardage as I don’t need large amounts of one color for dishcloths.
I have done a bit of cotton spinning. It’s challenging for me since it is such a short stapled fiber, but I do love the softness of the finished product. We’ll leave spinning and dyeing cotton fiber for another day.
Type of Dye Used
I am currently using MX dyes, which is a fiber reactive dye for cotton or cellulose fibers. At first I used packets of Dylon dye from the fabric store as I didn’t expect to get into dyeing cotton as much as I do. I found they worked just fine. The larger containers of MX Dye is more cost effective for me now. I purchase MX dyes from G&S Dye in Toronto.
Another learning curve I hope to tackle in the future is dyeing cotton yarn with natural dyes, but for now the synthetic stuff will do. If you have dyed cotton or plant fiber with natural dyes I’d love to hear about your experience! 🙂
Dyeing Plant fibers vs Animal Fibers
Here are the 4 main points to keep in mind when dyeing plant fibers such as cotton or bamboo yarn, especially if you come from a animal fiber dyeing background (like me):
No Heat Required
Unlike dyeing animal fibers, you do not need to apply heat in order for the dye to take. You also will not have to add a product like citric acid or vinegar like you do with acid dyes. Instead you should pre-soak your yarn or fiber in a soda ash and water solution prior to dyeing for maximum dye absorption/color brightness.
The most important element to successful cotton yarn dyeing is time, not heat
Set aside at least 24 hours for your yarn to soak in the dye, overnight at the very least. I leave my cotton yarn in the dye solution for up to 2 days. If you are opting to sprinkle on dye for the speckled effect, wring it out thoroughly from the soda ash water, sprinkle on your dye, wrap in plastic wrap and set aside at least overnight. Your yarns will always appear darker when wet, so expect the color to dull by a fair bit once dry.
MX Dyes will not exhaust like Acid Dyes
The first time I dyed cotton yarn I was horrified because the dye would not exhaust, and so much of the dye ran out at rinsing. I thought it was an epic fail. But it turns out, these particular types of dyes do not exhaust, and you can expect a great deal of color to wash out when rinsing. This is why it’s very important not to…
Do not Skimp on Dye when Dyeing Cotton Yarn
It’s important to read the instructions and follow the amount of dye required per yardage as suggested by the manufacturer. YEAH RIGHT! Who has time for that?? I am really impatient, and notorious for not reading instructions (or even taking the time to understand them). Like I have time to weigh and measure every skein before dyeing, then work out the proper amount of dye by using (gasp!) math.
A few years ago, I paid for an online video course for dyeing with acid dyes, and I swore I would stick to using a very precise scientific method. But let’s face it: WHERE’S THE FUN IN THAT?? I prefer to find out via trial and error and learn to feel out how much dye I should use. It feels more artistic and expressive that way. I can always over dye it, if it doesn’t achieve the color I wanted originally.
My Method of Dyeing Cotton Yarn Step by step
1. Soak yarn in a solution of water & soda ash for at least 20 min for best dye absorbency. Soda Ash, also known as calcium carbonate or washing soda, helps keep colors bright when dyeing with fiber reactive dyes. It is supposed to keep your yarn colorfast, though I haven’t found this to be the case (more on using a dye fixative, below).
I use approx. 1 tbsp, and fill my crockpot with water, leaving space for the yarn so it doesn’t overflow. The crockpot is not on, I just use it as a container for the soda ash water. Give it a stir, and the soda ash should easily dissolve in the water.
I have found if I use too much soda ash it won’t dissolve completely, but you want to use a decent amount as this is what keeps the color bright in your yarn. Less dye seems to run out at rinsing when I use the right amount of soda ash.
The Yarn is soaking in Soda Ash and water, what’s next?
2. While the cotton is soaking, make your dye solution. I have 2 ways that I like to dye cotton yarn. The first is mixing the dye with tap water in a plastic container. It’s very convenient, and since you don’t need heat, you just add the yarn, put the lid on it and let the magic happen. Usually I use stacking containers to minimize space used on the counter.
The second way is sprinkling the dye unmixed over top the soaked yarn and wrapping it in plastic wrap. Then set it aside at least overnight.
How Much dye should be used when dyeing cotton yarn?
I don’t have a specific formula for how much dye should be used at a time. Roughly, for a 80 to 100 yard skein, I will put two 1/3 tsp of dye into cold water, mixed directly in the plastic container the yarn will soak in. EXCEPT for black: I always use a ton of dye in order to get nice, true black. I’ll use 1 tbsp of dye for the same amount of yarn, and then dye more skeins in the leftover dye solution into shades of grey. I adore back and grey yarns for contrast in projects.
I have tried re-using the dye solution with other colors, but I find the color is so washed out and light it isn’t worth it. At first, it looks like you’ll get nice, rich color, only to have it mostly wash out when rinsing. The amount I use seems to be just right for one skein, and I can’t push it to get more like I do with acid dyes.
Finishing Your Dyed Cotton Yarn
3. After your yarn soaks for a good bit of time, rinse the yarn thoroughly in cold water. Remember, time is your friend when dyeing cotton, so try to leave it in the dye solution at least overnight. With this last dye run I got the urge to do this pretty late at night. I removed it from the dye bath the following afternoon. You will find a fair bit of dye will run out when you rinse, you may prefer to soak several times until the water becomes clear.
4. Here is the controversial part: to finish your yarn at this point by hanging it up to dry, or soaking it in a fixative such as Raycafix. The first time I dyed cotton yarns the color faded very fast in my dishcloths. Like, almost back to its original color. Mind you, my first dishcloths were a very light color. Little did I know that I did not use enough dye, so maybe the remedy is to simply use more dye. Since that first run I discovered Raycafix and I have not had any issue with color fading or bleeding.
To Soak or Not to Soak in a Dye Fixative
I say it’s controversial because these types of products assumingly contain some harsh chemicals such as formaldehyde. I don’t know this for certain but I do take precautions when using. Let’s face it: if you buy conventional clothing or furniture, you are already exposed to these toxins.
I am pretty sensitive to toxins, and have detox protocols for many synthetic products I come in contact with, even for certain food additives. I’ve never had any known health issues with using this product. From time to time I use a variety of noxious materials, from synthetic dyes for fibers, to patinas for metals or polishing compounds for gold and silver. It’s up to you to decide what you are comfortable with.
I take my yarns outside to soak in their Raycafix bath. I pour a small amount into some hot tap water, swirl around with a gloved hand then allow the yarn to soak for 5 min. We have septic, so I have a dedicated place away from the house to pour out the water. Again, I have no idea if that is even necessary but these precautions are easy for me to do.
If you don’t feel comfortable using a dye fixative, I’m confident you will be just fine using soda ash and a fiber reactive dye.
If you do use a fixative, soak the yarn afterwards in cold water before wringing out and hanging to dry.
I’d love to hear about your experience dyeing cotton yarn! If you have any tips and tricks for me, I’d love to hear them.
I’ve been putting in some much needed maintenance on the website, and I thought this would be a good time to reintroduce myself. I’m Leilani, a maker currently living in the beautiful Annapolis Valley in Nova Scotia, Canada. I’m a born and bred Valley gal, though I spent 20 years away before moving back “home”. I was raised in Hants County but now reside in Kings County.
I’ve been making and selling handmade jewelry for over 2 decades, and spinning /dyeing handspun yarn for 10 years. I also enjoy papercrafting & knitting/crocheting, as well as gardening albeit on a small scale.
I’m a mom above all else, and a wife. My husband is originally from Yarmouth, NS. We met 20 years ago, the same day I decided I would stay away from romantic relationships and enjoy being single. Fate is funny like that.
I have a huge family in the Philippines whom I’ve never met. I’m not really sure why I’ve never made the trip, especially back when I was young, single and working in the travel industry. I blame it on money, scheduling and distance, but I guess in many ways I’m overwhelmed at the prospect. I was raised in a completely different culture. As fond as I am of my Filipino roots, I’m not exactly sure how I would fit in. I didn’t get to know many of my family members until my mom passed in 2008.
I’m a high vibrational empath. What does that mean? For me, it means living more by what feels right rather than following the masses. It also means navigating the world as a highly sensitive individual. That can often leave me feeling emotionally and physically drained. Think of me as the energetic air filter. The global pause in 2020 afforded me the chance to get re-centered and moving in a positive direction again.
If you order any of my products typically they will ship via Canada Post within 1 business day. My packages will typically ship from 1 of 4 places: Canning, Kentville, New Minas or Windsor, Nova Scotia. It really depends on where I am on a given day. I ship with tracking when possible but please understand that it’s very costly (averaging $17 on small envelopes to most of Canada). It’s not something I can afford on my inexpensive items.
The good news is, if you reside in Nova Scotia, you’ll get your order in a matter of days, many times in just 2 days. It’s pretty quick to Maritime provinces in general, and I’d love to pick up more customers in New Brunswick and Prince Edward Island. I ship throughout Canada and the USA. Unfortunately I cannot ship internationally anymore: too many lost or returned packages.
I used to offer wholesale and consignment, and would be open to do it again. I can picture my stitch marker sets being a great addition to a LYS (local yarn store). Handspun yarn is trickier as it is so labor intensive to produce. It’s difficult to come up with a cost that satisfies both me and the store owner.
I often thought my creations would be fantastic in a maker or souvenir shop here in the Maritimes. I can always come up with some beautiful and cost effective earrings or necklaces. Engraved letters for personalization, semi-precious gemstones or themed charms could be focal points.
If any of these options appeal to you as a business owner, I’d love to hear from you. If it feels like a good partnership, I can always tailor the products to match your business.
What else should you know about me? Other than being a mom to humans, I am also a cat mama. We currently have 3 Persian cats, two of which are Exotic Shorthair. A typical evening for me would probably be my latest knitting or spinning project while listening to an interesting podcast (probably health or spiritually themed) and a cup of tea or coffee.
I’m happy to chat or support you on your creative journey…I hope you feel inspired here! If you have any questions or comments on the topics and techniques discussed please don’t hesitate.
Autumn is in full swing here in the Annapolis Valley which means change-of-season chores before the snow flies, and I’m in denial that it’s November! How can Christmas be next month? Weren’t we just swimming in the pool and picking veggies in the garden?
I know a lot of people like this time of year, but I feel sad that summer is over. Shorter, colder days are ahead. Plus, I find the adjustment to less natural vitamin D a struggle.
Handmade Birthday Cards
We’ve had 2 birthdays go by and I forgot to share the handmade elements from each. I figured I’d at least share the cards I made. I customarily do that on Instagram, but I’ve been enjoying my time off social media. More time to create & connect to people in real life, and less negativity and drama!
What’s New on the Home Front
Here’s the latest new products
I’m trying to clear up the back log of products, but it’s slow going. Currently there is 13 new skeins or yarn sets to get listed, and numerous pieces of jewelry. I’ve decided to put spinning on hold until I sell more skeins and use the time to get back into knitting and crocheting again. Maybe this year, I’ll get more Christmas projects made!
This is a revamp of the “Survivor” awareness ribbon and boxing glove necklace. I am officially out of the ribbon charms, and won’t be stocking them. So I decided to re-work this piece to spotlight mental health, though I think the words could be meaningful for many reasons to the owner.
These are trying times, and this customizable necklace comes with choice of inspirational word charm (Live, Power, Honor, Health), and letter charm, that I will engrave at time of order.
Funny story, the day I took the photos for this piece, I could not get a great shot. I was perplexed, as it was shot under the same lighting conditions as any other piece of jewelry. All photos looked far away, with not the greatest detail. So after editing and putting up the listing, it dawned on me: the macro lens was not on my camera!
When I take photos of my yarn I use a regular lens, because macro tends to show too much detail and it doesn’t fairly represent the yarn. But macro is an absolute must for jewelry shots, to get nice close ups and show greater detail. It’s certainly not perfect. I’m an amateur so my photos aren’t the greatest, but I think they are adequate and showcase the pieces with the vibe I want. I may retake these photos, but for now, onwards…
I have offered this necklace with just the silver charm and back engraving for a few years now, and it was…well, boring me. To freshen it up I decided to nix the back engraving and pair it with a letter charm in my fave font, Curlz (engraved for you at time of order). I also decided to ditch the Swarovski crystal accent. While it was pretty and blingy, I felt that something more natural matched the vibe of the piece better. There is a choice of 4 colored pearls: white, peach, grey and dark iris. I also engrave the butterfly charm by way of template.
Much like the engraved butterfly necklace, I decided to refresh the lotus necklace in the same manner. I manually engrave the lotus flower symbol on a sterling silver blank, that I then hand punch into a charm. Instead of back engraving I’ve paired it with a Curlz font letter charm. I chose 4 freshwater pearls that I thought best represented the lotus: choice of white, pink, magenta purple or pale blue iris.
I’m off to work on my current sweater and try out some new dish cloth patterns. My hubs mostly does the dishes (lucky me) and he prefers my handmade ones over the store bought ones.
Waving hi from my desk, which is relatively clean, but ready to be filled with stones and connectors, fiber and dye samples. Sometimes it’s good to clear the space and start anew. I wanted to do this post so that my customers know that the site is current and I am still creating and still selling my creations. A few months back I was have major pains in my shoulder and it was a signal for me to slow down and streamline how I spend my time. The major thing on the cutting block was online time. When I thought about what impacted me the most negatively, it was screentime. Too much causes my energy to be off, I simply feel anxious and out of sorts, not to mention the physical strain on my body from sitting and typing for extended periods of time. I’m also very sensitive to EMF, and can get a migraine at the drop of a hat, so it was a no-brainer to limit my time at the computer.
Limiting screen time means more quiet time, more time to spend at the things that are good for my soul. More time in the garden. More time in the kitchen cooking for my family. More time to reconnect with creative projects that have fallen to the wayside over the past few years. Inevitably, this has lead me even further down a spiritual path of wellness and wholeness, and I realize just how toxic social networking truly is. Yes, I miss sharing and supporting the maker community, but it’s trying for an empath to know every last detail in people’s lives. Add to that the incessant censoring which I am vehemently against, even if I disagree with the opinions shared, and I was done. I still pop on a couple platforms for a short period of time, but there are some I simply don’t miss and won’t be back.
As usual, I’d like to end my post with a little uplifting message. The theme for me the past 18 months, is learn to love yourself again. I didn’t even realize this was what I was working towards, until recently. I have placed myself in the service of others, sometimes in unconventional ways, and I forgot to focus on my growth and what I wanted out of this lifetime. I’m still committed to supporting others, and living a compassionate existence, but going forward I want to extend that support and compassion to myself. What have you done recently, no matter how small, that makes you proud? Start there, and build from that. That is how we will navigate the “new” world.
Last month, my tween had a birthday. She’s really into Seals so this was the theme for her special day. I’m late getting this post up: we’ve been busy doing the usual spring prep around the home, and I’ve been going thru my products and giving them a revamp. Mostly my jewelry and some of my stitch markers, I feel it’s time to freshen up the stock. It’s been a wonderful albeit intense process that has opened the door into new creative ideas. 2021 is going to be an exciting year creatively!
Back to the birthday. Being a maker I try to incorporate as much handmade into the celebrations as possible. I found some wonderful presents from Etsy this year, and I wanted to give a shout out to those artists as well.
This is not a handmade item, but was a cherished gift just the same. Recently, I found out about Ocean Conservation Namibia and their seal rescue efforts. I gave a donation on the birthday girl’s behalf, and showed her videos from their youtube channel. They are a small rescue group that could really use the help. Be sure to watch their videos, and donate if you are able.
I’ve completely fallen off the wagon with weekly blog updates, and I feel like I am always posting and dashing! Back to the studio to create something new…
I dropped the ball on the weekly blog update. After the destash listing blitz I wanted a break from new product listings, coupled with chronic pain (back/shoulder damage and migraines due to being hit by a car in my teens). I just needed a break from the norm. I’m still filling orders as they come in, and taking the opportunity to step back and do a product assessment.
I love to be organized and I feel like everything is out of balance worldwide. The chaos is an opportunity to go within and assess what I have control of changing and bring back in balance. So before I start any new projects I’m taking the time to revisit my products: what could be improved, what should be discontinued (and price reduced) and what inspires me.
That’s what’s up for the next few weeks, so if I’m quiet here, I’m working away! Feel free to drop me a line any time.
It’s a miracle, I got all the destash yarns from my personal stash listed! They are grouped in bundles. A couple of these are new product, I figured I might as well list them all and clean the slate entirely.
Be sure to read the descriptions on each so you are confident on what you are getting. You will notice a slightly higher price on etsy to cover fees. If you are buying one bundle you’ll probably find etsy cheaper as each listing is free shipping. If you are spending more than $45 CAD (approx $36 USD currently) it’s cheaper to buy here on the website. Don’t forget to apply the BULKSAVE100 code to save 15% if you are spending $100 CAD (approx $79 USD currently).
I totally forgot to write an update last week! Retrograde had me motivated to clear up the old in anticipation of the new, so I got lots of destash yarn listed here and on etsy. Last month I decided to go through my handspun closet, and had to finally admit I will never get around to using most of these. So, I’m listing them bundled at a discount.
It’s important to read the descriptions so you know what you are getting. The vast majority of these are experiments: you can’t get better at your craft without pushing the boundaries of what you know. You may find deficits in these yarns compared to what I normally offer for sale, or you may not know what the hell I’m talking about because it’s premium handspun fiber and suits you fine. 😉
Now that retrograde is over, I’d really like to get the remaining (approx 9 groupings) listed so that I can return to working on new creations. Here’s a quick peek at what’s for sale:
What else was new last week:
Look at this cute project bag, from Llady Llama Fiber Co in the Finger Lakes (upstate New York). She shared this brilliant design for sock knitters with divided panels for each ball. I’ve used it for a few days now and it’s amazing! I love how everything stays organized and I can just unzip and start knitting. This is a handmade item, a collaboration of the fiber artist and her sewing sister. The hardest part was picking the fabric – so many awesome styles to choose from. If you are a sock knitter I highly recommend!
Just popping on here quickly to share what’s new this week. I finally got a new computer but with that there’s set up, transferring my files and getting used to a new environment overall. Needless to say I fell behind this week with all things creative and handmade business related. I did get a couple of listings from my personal stash listed. I really agonized over the pricing. I’m donating my time, and hoping to at least recoup the material costs.
Ugly dye? That doesn’t sound appealing at all! I’ve had many hits and misses over the years in my indie-dye journey. When I started spinning 9 years ago, I swore I would never get into dyeing: another learning curve. But then I started processing fleece from raw and the appeal was there to learn. Soon I learned it was easy to fix mistakes by over-dyeing, salvaging over heated/manipulated fiber by re-combing or picking it, and by spinning the fiber in a more methodical way so to get the color to flow more beautifully together.
I decided to document this mini-experiment for myself to refer back to, as well as for encouragement for those who are interested in dyeing, who feel they are failing at dyeing or are feeling stuck in their indie dye journey. Let my curiosity be your inspiration!
This post will not be helpful if you don’t have some basic knowledge of dyeing fiber. There are many ways to dye and this should not be taken as the best way or the only way.
It all started with this roving I dyed several months ago. I called it my ugly roving:
As people on Instagram pointed out, it’s not really that ugly. I think it had too much going on, and it went back in the dye pot (in this instance a rectangular crockpot with low water submersion) a total of 3 times while I tried to “salvage” it. The second time I added more dye to areas in order to intensify the color. There were these muddy areas where the colors ran together that I simply hated! The third trip to the pot was to add those blobs of purple that I was convinced was the nail in the coffin for this ugly roving. I had officially gone too far, done too much. After drying, I braided it and socked it away. Since it is merino top (good quality fiber) I knew I had to use it at some point.
Recently, it emerged from its ugly slumber due to boredom. I was in between spinning projects with no good ideas. Upon examining it, I decided to strip the roving before spinning it (the action of pulling apart roving into thinner pieces for spinning). Breaking up the color more, instead of spinning the intact roving from top to bottom, would hopefully give me the best chance of harmonizing all that color.
I was really pleased with how it started to look:
My hate-turned-to-love for this roving intrigued me enough to try experimenting some other variations. Again using 4oz of merino top, this “ugly dye” consists of:
New fuchsia (not to be mistaken for fuchsia)
For the second experiment, I decided to lightly soak the roving in water with dissolved citric acid. The bottom was well saturated, but the top was not. It was then arranged it into a rectangular crockpot. Dyeing fiber and yarn in a crockpot is super simple, and I love that I can set it and forget it while I work on other things.
In the first ugly dye, the roving went into the crockpot dry with a little water and citric acid in the bottom of the crock. I also added the original color in sections rather than at random. This time I sprinkled all the colors all over.
I let that sit for awhile, before spritzing it a over with water and citric acid:
After spraying down the top, I walked away for awhile. Probably about 15 minutes. Then I pressed the color into the roving with the back of a spoon:
I know what some of you are thinking. It looks so pretty, why press the color in?? Remember, we are going for UGLY roving… 😉
Like the first ugly roving, there is a lot going on. Nonetheless, I love the “mood” of this dye combo, and there is several interesting patterns and striations of color that does not come through in the photos.
For the 3rd ugly dye experiment, I decided to soak the roving entirely with a water/citric acid solution. Then into the rectangle crock. I erred on the side of caution and omitted the purple as I knew the dye would travel around more on a thoroughly wet roving, and it may cause too much muddy color:
After pressing in the dye, I left it in the crockpot for approximately 1 hour. After rinsing, I was dissatisfied with the result. The color was very muted, I assume because the roving was fully wet, allowing the color to spread a larger distance. Sooooo…back for round 2 it went.
Here’s the end result after rinsing for a second time, then drying:
This may be a good contender for plying to the original ugly roving:
The final roving in this project was a dip dye of these colors for comparison. What a dramatic difference:
Now that you’ve seen what can be done with just 6 shades of acid dyes, I hope this is inspiration for your next dye project. If you are new to dyeing, I hope this encourages you to simply invest in a handful of colors to get started. I am far from an expert in this topic (obviously!). I’m simply willing to try and share. I hope to do more posts like this in the future, and if I can assist you in any way on your indie dye journey, please do not hesitate to contact me! 😊
This may be a short post on new projects and products this week as I want to do a separate post on ugly dyes and how I dye them. Sounds strange right? It’s inspired by this roving and spin you may have seen on my instagram:
Let’s see what’s new here and in my etsy shop this week:
Hope everyone is having a creative winter here in the northern hemisphere and that you are remaining positive. Remember: light wins. 💖💫