Thursday, July 7, 2016

Black Sheep and Tour de Fleece

It's been a wild couple of weeks! I'm thrilled to announce that the wonderful Pearl Fiber Arts in the Pearl District of Portland is now a retailer of Tell Tale Yarn Co yarns! They carry my favorite (but shh don't tell my other bases I said so!) 100% mulberry silk lace weight-- Siren Silk-- in five delicious colorways. If you happen to live in PDX or are passing through, you should definitely hit them up. Cindy specializes in local handdyers of the Pacific Northwest so it's great to find that skein (or five...) of souvenir yarn. I mean, it doesn't count as stash, right? Tell her I sent you! <3

This past month it was the 42nd annual Black Sheep Gathering in Eugene, Oregon. It's a fiber fair, sheep & fleece market, with great classes and a huge fiber/yarn marketplace. Noriko of Norichanknits and I drove down from Seattle to spend the weekend down there and shop and network and yknow generally geek out over all things yarny and fibery and spinny goodness. Typical yarn people things.

I'm pretty sure this is right after Noriko just bought her new Jenkins spindle, so you can see why she's so happy...!
I totally meant to take a *billion* super cool photos so I could gush about all the things I saw, but I got around to pulling the photos from my memory card and they're like... 90% cute animals. My only excuse is that I was just completely overwhelmed by the massive amounts of fuzzy cute?

It was kind of amazing. And smelly. But that's okay.

Conveniently, this segues nicely into the second half of our post. I'm competing in an annual spinning event called Tour de Fleece-- obviously a play on Tour de France. I've decided to captain the Reddit Knitters team on Ravelry this year, and I'm planning on rounding up (and hopefully dyeing up!) some cool fiber and yarn prizes for the participants. It's all a big self challenge, so the only pressure is the pressure you put on yourself. The idea is that you spin something for fifteen minutes-- spindle, wheel, whatever-- every single day the Tour rides. It's a great way to try out new things, tackle overdue spinning projects, and get better at your craft-- all in a super laid-back and supportive atmosphere. It's never too late to join in, so grab a tuft of your favorite fiber and go! I'm hoping to do a weekly recap of my progress on my projects!

I'm trying to challenge myself by spinning a thick-ish (worsted?? aran??) yarn. I have 8oz combined of this great fiber and I've split it down the middle so I can 2 ply. I will have to make two skeins, since I only have 4oz bobbins, but I think this is one of the few times I'd ever want the 8oz bobbins haha. :p If I manage to finish that, I've got a couple colors of some solid dyed merino that I want to card into a nifty gradient and spin that up too. I highly doubt I'll get through all of that, but if I some how do, I'll have to come up with another project. At least I've got the stash for it?
Left: Fierce Fibers Merino/Bamboo in Bleeding Heart Gradient. Right: Fierce Fibers Merino/Bamboo in Peacock Gradient.

So, look forward (hopefully!) to another post in a few days, and I'll show some of the stuff I've done so far!


Monday, May 2, 2016

Remember to breathe

April has been the busiest month I can remember having in a very long time. Between back-to-back weekends in Portland, prepping for Yarn Train, birthdays only days apart, weddings and rehearsals, new game rooms, lots and lots of deliveries, orthodontic appointments, and delivering yarn to Acorn Street, I mean jeez. Totally out of breath!

Oh, yeah. Did I not mention that? As of now, you can come check out Topsail Tussah in person at Acorn Street Shop in Seattle! They've got a great selection of some of my favorite colors (Fathom and Thorned Rose are both among those there!) and a shop exclusive called Acorn. If I can say it without sounding too egotistical, it's completely divine. It's a brown base with flashes of golden yellow and an even-keeled green. I mean, swoon. And it's only available there, so you'll have to come visit them in person.

Fenella-- the owner of Acorn Street-- has been completely and totally wonderful, and has put together an incredibly lovely shop. They've got a great selection of fantastic yarns (Mmm Shibui and Malabrigo, I can't really ask for much more!) and all of the staff I've met have seemed absolutely wonderful. I think you'll find it worth your time to stop by-- and 'sides, it's on the LYS Tour coming right up here.

omg. ^

Yarn Train was absolutely wonderful. I'm always super stoked to get a chance to show off my yarn in person to people, and I just want to thank everyone who oohed and aahed and maybe even took a skein or two (or in the case of some people, like 20!) home with them. 

As far as testing out the Etsy reader-- I loved it! It took me a minute to get the hang of it and figure it out, but it was really great. It was nice to be able to link people to my Etsy shop and get sales numbers, and just for inventory management. Even if you don't have all of your items in inventory, you can just ring a "Quick Sale" and enter amount and still have it count as a sale. The credit card fees are the same as Square, and it just adds a whole lot of functionality. A notable upside is that the reader is designed such that it has a little lip that extends behind your phone/tablet so that the reader is stabilized while you're swiping. It's pretty awesome. I'm disappointed that it doesn't have chip reader functionality, but I think I can live.

I totally meant to take loads of photos, but you kind of just get super swept up in the fun and flurry. I also totally meant to follow the "shopping list", but see above. Stuff I am super excited about: 2 more skeins of Blue Moon Fiber Arts Silky Victoria. I love this yarn to DEATH. I absolutely adore polwarth, and obviously, I have a thing for silk and this yarn combines both. I also, um, bought yarn for a second A Cropped Sweater for Winter. Yes, I realize the first one isn't finished. But, really, it's gonna fit this time and I will use this template for all worsted weight sweaters from here on out, seriously. And two gradient braids of merino/bamboo from Thoroughly Thwacked that go together really nicely. I will probably spin them sort of heavy (worsted maybe?) and make a nice big cozy shawl or wrap or something.

I finally have a moment to breathe, and it's beautiful. Today is a gorgeous 80F in Seattle, and I sat on the deck in the sunshine and typed this all up. I'm looking forward to finally getting to finish some sweaters (I know, totally inappropriate for the weather, but oh well!) and catching up on some overdue chores. It's only a brief moment of respite before I throw myself back into it all, but it's definitely welcome.


Tuesday, April 5, 2016

Choo choooooooo

The days always just seem to fly by! I hadn't intended to go this long without blogging, but it's been a busy month. Although, I said that last time too, didn't I? In all seriousness, it has been freaking ground zero over here with both of our businesses! Bobby is working on games for two new locations, and one is due to open this weekend.

As for me, the annual Seattle-to-Portland Yarn Train is this weekend! It's exciting for a number of reasons-- partially because some of my favorite people in the whole world use it as an excuse to fly out to Seattle, and partially because I use it as a vending event and I bring a metric crapton of sock and silk and yknow, sell to people. Also of course the actual event, is kind of a huge part of it.

The Seattle-to-Portland Yarn Train is a yearly event put on by the Snohomish Knitters Guild. 150+ knitters/crocheters/weavers/spinners/fiber artists all get on the same butts early train out of Seattle. We reserve two or three cars just for us, and as you walk up and down the train, it's just row after row after row of yarn people. Once you get there, several of the PDX yarn stores run discounts, trunk shows, special order lots of yarn, etc. My group grabs a couple of hotel rooms and we leave the next afternoon. It's really fantastic. I look forward to it alllllll year! :]

(That's from last year, and that is quite a lot yarn spread across the eight of us!)

It's 4 (well 3, really, it's 2000, not really any day left) days away, and jeez. I still have a few hanks of silk to dye, and a couple of overdyes in some colors because I wasn't pleased with the first round. Also all of the reskeining, labelling, listing in the shop, etc.

I'm also a bit nervous because I'll be giving my new Sell on Etsy reader a go. The fees are exactly the same as Square and it hooks people into my Etsy shop so they can leave reviews, etc. I'll have my Square Reader with me as a back-up, but hopefully all goes well. I'll write a thorough review of it afterwards.

And of course, I'm also in the midst of a huge order for a local yarn store. And yes, that's a sneaky half-announcement, but you guys will get more details in a while. But assuming all goes well, you'll be able to shop my yarn at a physical retail location in Seattle. <3

But in other news I can talk about-- My new favorite base is now live in the shop-- Tidal Twinkle! It's the best most squooshy comfy blend of 75/20/5 Superwash Merino/Nylon/Stellina. I've already made up a sample with it and it knits up beauuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuutifully. And with the new base-- new Sea Shanty gradient kits. 231 yards per 100 gram skein, and the kits are also 100 grams.

Knitting wise this month, I've had a bit of a rough go. I've just come to the conclusion that I need to frog the sweater I wanted to wear to train, because it just doesn't fit quite right. I'll reknit it afterwards. But I did knit that sample up and it came out wonderfully. The pattern is Gefen by Rachel Leggett/@arbortwist and it's fantastically written. If you wanted to knit it in Tidal Twinkle, it works out perfectly with 5 garter ridges on both top and bottom. I knit it with US 5's, you should probably do it with 6's unless you're also a chronically loose knitter like me.

At any rate, I hope to see some of you on train! If not, I'll be taking lots and lots of photos, and I'll be sure to write a thorough postmortem.


Saturday, March 5, 2016

Sparkle and Silk

It's been an awfully busy month! The new season of Monday Night Pinball-- which is a team-based pinball league-- started up. Each week, 10 player teams play head to head at various pinbars in the Seattle area(bars with pinball games in them, for the uninitiated) and we fight for the glory of our "Home" location. Half of your games in a season are at your home location, and half of them are "away" games.

I'm part of the Soda Jerks team-- based out of Full Tilt Ice Cream in Ballard, which is where my boyfriend, Bobby owns and operates pinball and arcade machines. It's a really good excuse to hang out with a whole bunch of people I really like and enjoy a shared hobby. Also, there's a lot of time in between matches, or if I'm sitting out a round, so it's a really good excuse to sit down and knock out some mindless knitting. :3

I've been pretty busy at the dyepots lately-- I had a big order of sparkle yarn in DK weight come in, and I'm steadily working  my way through it. I'll be sending a hank or two out to designers, and I'm really excited about working with some rad people! <3 

The sparkle yarn makes basically every colorway more exciting and awesome. I'm resisting the urge to just dye like a million neon hanks, because I don't think anyone else likes neon nearly as much as I do!

I've just finished reskeining a hank into five separate groups to gradient dye it. I've got this cool grey-minty thing in my head that I think will look really cool and be very spring appropriate. My previous continuous gradient dyeing experiment turned out fairly well. I've got roughly 700yds of this gorgeous 80/20 merino/tussah silk lace weight blend and it's probably going to become a shawl of some sort. Now taking suggestions-- I like crescent shaped shawls especially, and don't much care for triangles.

More stuff that came out of the dyepot last month was that silk I talked about contract dyeing for a friend. She requested a color that would be appropriate for the upcoming Boo Knits Danse Macabre Mystery Knit-A-Long in April. I'm absolutely beyond thrilled with how it came out, and my only regret is that I'm about 90% certain that I can't recreate it, which is a damn shame because I kind of want to keep it all to myself. The thick and thin characteristics of this yarn lend itself really well to the sort of creepy, eerie vibe this color has, don't you think? I always really enjoy doing custom colors for clients, it's a lot of fun to take their words or photos or examples and figure out the best way to render it in yarn form.

The other big contract project I've been working on lately is a 9 hank gradated sweater set in the aforementioned DK sparkle. It's still under wraps as I'm finalizing it, but it's coming out ridiculously awesome. It's this great gradation from teal green to this amethyst-y sort of purple and she's been very excited with how it's coming along. I can't wait to show you guys the finished set.

And finally-- you should join me and the Reddit Knitters group on Ravelry in an informal Knit-A-Long for A Cropped Sweater for Winter. It's an uber cute, uber quick cropped sweater with some cute scalloped colorblocked details. I've already cast on (and had to rip back because I can't read a line of instructions to save my life, apparently) but it's not too late to join the fun. I'm super in love with the yarn I've picked, Malabrigo Rios in Pearl Ten and Teal Feather. I kind of get the feeling that I'll be making multiples of this, but I guess we'll see, huh?

Join meeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeee~


Thursday, February 18, 2016

With Love, Universe.

Hi! Welcome! I wasn't sure if I should just start a post and launch into it as if it wasn't my first blog post, but that seemed a bit silly. I figured maybe a short introduction was in order, and then we're all on the same level, yeah?

I'm Arianne-- the owner and artisan behind Tell Tale Yarn. I started dyeing so I could have easier access to indie dyed silks, really. It's kind of a thing for me-- something about the way silk takes dye is really magical. I love dyeing wool too, of course, but something about the natural luster just kind of reeled me in. I knit a lot of openwork lace shawls, and the cool thing about silk is that it sort of just stays put once you block it, so that also made it a really attractive choice of fiber for me, I think!

I learned really quickly (maybe not quite quickly enough, based on some of my earlier projects!) that I don't really care for hand painted yarn. Especially given my aforementioned tendency to gravitate towards lace shawls-- it makes a bad pairing most of the time, at least to my eye. Low immersion, kettle dyed yarns though... the color shifts are gentle and subtle and smooth and beautiful. It's so swoonable, yknow?

I have a lot of fun doing what I do. I never expected I'd end up doing something so artistic in nature. I always figured I'd go into computer science, or biology or chemistry-- yknow, something science-y. But I guess, if you look at it the right way, dyeing is inherently science-y. You have to calculate specific weights of dye based on the weight of your dry fiber, how much acid to add to the bath, how long to heat your yarn, etc.

Speaking of dyeing, I wanted to talk about my dyeing experiment tonight! I had a go at dyeing a continuous gradient skein and thought it came out pretty well. I think I need to refine my skeining technique for this though, it's hard to do it and not have it get super tangled as you go. I'll have to post photos tomorrow when they're dry!

I sort of winged the actual dyeing process. I had two pots of water on the stove, one was just water with an appropriate amount of citric acid added. The other I would add my premixed dye liquor, let it come to temp and add the first section of yarn. I left a long section of yarn between each tied off mini skein and as I switched colors I took care to let that piece get dunked thoroughly in the bath. This is probably better explained by a photo!

Do you see the blue yarn coming from the pot closest to the camera, and then the bare white yarn leading out of the further away pot? And the remaining subdivisions of the hank are in the prebath on the counter.

I also was doing a bit of silk dyeing for a friend, and as I was carrying the very last bath to the postsoak-- I noticed something. I promptly set it down and grabbed my camera. I thought it was really fitting! Some days I approach the dye pot, and I feel like everything that comes out is magic. It was a really nice ending touch, thanks universe!