Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Phat Fiber Giveaway!

Go check the Phat Fiber blog for your chance to win some Rocket Yarn Astrobatts. Many thanks to Jessie for all she does with Phat Fiber and her kind words about my shop. I especially love her Rocket Yarn version of the song Rocket Man. :)

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Rocket News

I've been toying with the idea of starting a newsletter for a while now. I just wasn't sure I could come up with enough material. Well that is no longer a problem. I have almost a full notebook page of newsletter item ideas. I'm not completely sure if it's going to be quarterly or a little more frequent but if you sign up I assure you that you will not get more than one email a month from me. So ... if you would like to sign up for "Rocket News" please send an email to celena [at] rocketyarn [dot] com with "rocket yarn mailing list" in the subject line. The newsletter will be sent in PDF form to your email address. Here is a small sample of things you may see in the newsletter:
  • Upcoming Events
  • Customer Photos & Product Reviews
  • New Products Coming to Rocket Yarn
  • NASA News
  • Upcoming Shuttle Launches and Mission Updates
  • Contests
  • Coupon Codes for RocketYarn.etsy.com
  • Free Patterns
  • Space Trivia
I hope to get very creative with this and keep it interesting. If you would like to submit a product review or a customer photo please send it to the above email address. It can be of something you've made using my hand dyed yarn or yarn you've spun using my fiber. It can also be a silly customer appreciation photo of you wearing some Rocket Yarn goodies like Angel sent me. (See the post below.) I love the silly! :)

Sunday, August 16, 2009

Customer Appreciation Photos

I've been selling yarn & fiber on Etsy for over two years now but have never received any customer appreciation photos until a couple of weeks ago. They were so much fun I just had to share them with you. Angel looks like she would be a blast to hang out with. Check out these photos:

And yes, that is my hand dyed fiber on her head! What a hoot!

I noticed that Angel was also an Etsy seller so of course I had to go check out her shop. Turns out she actually has two active shops:
Angel's Purple Pantry of Paper & Yarn
Angel's Purple Pantry of Handcrafted Baby Treats

I personally love this hat from the first shop. And check out her adorable baby props in the second shop. What a great combo of funky yarn and cute babies. This photo is just too cute for words.

Angel is actually very new to spinning and sent me photos of hats she made from her handspun yarn. Aren't they adorable? She is obviously a natural born spinner because these hats are made from some of her very first handspun and they look great!

Thanks Angel for the great photos!

Florida Fiber In

Well it's official ... I am doing a demo at the Florida Fiber In this September. I was a little nervous about it when they first asked so I politely declined and said that I would let them know if I talked myself into it. It sounds like a fun thing to do but I've never actually dyed yarn or fiber in front of anyone but my family. I'm not sure why this makes me so nervous but it does. Well I've had quite a few requests to start teaching dyeing workshops and finally decided that this fall would be a good time for me to start doing so. I emailed the Fiber In folks and told them I would be willing if they would still have me. I'm the first demo of the day which I'm very happy about. I can go ahead and get it over with early and then relax for the rest of the day. Here is the info from the demo schedule:

Florida Fiber In Demonstration Schedule – Sat. 19th, 2009

9:00 – 9:45 – Two Sock Yarn Dyeing Methods – Celena Crews, Rocket Yarn, Lake City, FL

Come see Celena share how she creates yarn to "Dye" for! Two of her sock yarn dyeing methods will be demonstrated and she will explain her "method vs. colorway" system of dyeing yarn. Question and answer session about yarn and fiber dyeing after the demo so bring your questions.

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Phat Fiber Giveaway

Check out the latest Phat Fiber Giveaway. It's a spot in the Moonwood Farm Moonbeams Fiber club ... Yummy!

From Moonwood Farm listing:
"Moonbeams consist of a soft array of fibers, mainly alpaca, but also generous amounts of bamboo and milk protein fiber. Sometimes I may add some baby angora goat (kid mohair) or some satin angora bunny fiber."

Sounds heavenly!

And if Phat Fiber is new to you ... go check out the website and read all about it at PhatFiber.com.

Wednesday, August 5, 2009

October is for Spinners KAL

There is a knit-a-long started on Ravelry that I wanted to share with you. My very talented friend Sharon (aka Idyllicchick) is one of the owners of Hanks Yarn & Fiber in Gainesville, FL. Aside from being a talented knitter, spinner and LYS owner, she is also one of the nicest people I've ever met. And now it turns out, she is an amazing pattern designer as well. Who knew?!?! :)

I fell in love with this pattern when she wrote it last fall and the KAL starting on Ravelry reminded me that I wanted to blog about it. Check out the pattern October is for Spinners. It's a free pattern from Hanks Yarn & Fiber year of free scarf patterns. And while you're at it, check out all the patterns from 2008: A Year in Scarves. Lorena wrote some beautiful patterns as well. I see at least two I plan to make for gifts this year. Very talented LYS owners indeed! This year they are doing afghan squares. You can see them here 2009: The Year of the Afghan.

There is a blog post about the October is for Spinners scarf here on the Hanks blog. Believe it or not, this amazing pattern is Sharon's first published knitting pattern! The pattern starts out with a spider and ends with a web. It is knit with 4 strands of lace weight held together and you gradually drop a strand as you go so you end using only one strand for the web. So creative!

(photo borrowed from the Hanks blog)

I'm going to knit this up myself as soon as I finish my S'mores Revontuli Shawl. I dress like a witch at halloween every year and I think this scarf would make a fantastic addition to my costume. I'm thinking of dyeing up some pencil roving in a progressive dye so I can spin yarn resulting in a scarf that starts out with an orange spider and ends with a black web. Or should it be a black spider and an orange web? Or how about black to purple? Black to gray to purple? Hmmm ... so many ideas floating around for this! What do you think?

Shuttle Rolling Out to the Pad

A friend I worked with at NASA sent me these photos of the shuttle rolling out to the pad.

Monday, August 3, 2009

Method vs. Colorway & Finger Painted Yarn

So if you've read any of my yarn listings, shop policies or rocketyarn.com you've seen my mention of the fact that I dye in methods rather than colorways. Well I had an idea for a different method of yarn dyeing recently and I wanted to share the results. I decided to name this method "finger painting" because of the way I manipulate the dye with my fingers after applying it to the yarn/fiber I'm dyeing. I also use dyes that have not been reheated. Acid dyes often fall out of solution as they cool, some colors more so than others, and often have to be not only reheated but filtered as well to avoid what I call "the speckles". Well I was thinking about this and I had an idea to try a sort of messy way of dyeing yarn involving not reheating and filtering my dyes. A method that would allow the color to sort of be all over the place. A method that would require a lot of manipulation with the fingers after the dye is applied. A method that was truly art. So I tried it and was very happy with the results. But what do I call it, I thought? My first idea was something like "random pour and smoosh" but after watching my kids do some finger painting I had one of those "aha!" moments. And thus "finger painting" was born here at Rocket Yarn.

Let me go down a side path for just a minute. I've been blogging for years but due to the increased attention on Rocket Yarn and my family constantly bugging me to stop with all the yarn talk and to get back to posting about the kids, garden, etc on my personal blog I decided that Rocket Yarn needed a blog of its own. I'm not sure why I didn't decide to do this sooner. Probably because I feel a little spread out this way as I feared I would. I'll post something here and then I'll go post on my personal blog to go read the Rocket Yarn blog. Seems kind of silly but alas, I'm getting off track again. Ah yes, another blog ... so I've been working on a list of things I want to blog about here. If any of my trusty three readers have suggestions please email me at celena[at]rocketyarn.com. I'm always open to requests and suggestions. :) Now back to our regularly scheduled program...

Methods vs. Colorways - what does this mean anyway?

Some dyers come up with a specific color combo dyed in a specific pattern with dye they have measured and mixed to a certain concentration and they repeat this specific dye job many times over. That is a colorway. That is a great thing for those who do it. That, however, is so not my gig. I'm an engineer by education and day job and I use my yarn/fiber dyeing to fulfill that side of me that screams with artistic ideas and loves color ... that artsy side that needs to get out. That artsy side that is boxed in by being an engineer. When I break out the dye bottles there is no specific weighing and measuring. It's all art, baby! ;)

So what do I mean when I say "method"? To me, it's the way I apply the dye to the skein of yarn. When I set out to dye something I first decide two things. What is my base color going to be and what method am I going to use? For example, my "plasma dipped" method of yarn dyeing involves selecting a color (purple) and a few dyes to slightly shift that color (yellow, black, gray). I then fill containers (chinese take-out soup containers ... the best!) with the base color (purple) and then add a seperate shifting color to each container (purple + black, purple + yellow, purple + gray). Then starts the dipping ... overlapping sections dyed multiple times allow me to create a skein of yarn in which the colors gradually blend/fade into the next rather than changing abruptly. I think this gives the finished knitted item a more smooth look to it as far as color goes. It may end up being a true semi-solid or it may be more variegated. Just depends on what colors I used, how many times I over dipped and what end effect I was going for.

This dyeing philosophy is what makes my items mine. There are a ton of very talented and unique fiber artists out there. We all have our own way of doing things. You could put ten of us together with the same three bottles of dye and the same base yarn and you would have ten completely different skeins of yarn at the end of it all. That's one of the things I love about being a fiber artist. They say dogs resemble their people ... well I think skeins of yarn do as well. :)

So what was the point of all this anyway? I was going to introduce my new method of yarn dyeing but decided this would also be a great opportunity for some explanation. Now you know what I mean by "method vs. colorway" and will know what to expect when you see me list ten different yarns that say "plasma dipped purples". Please note that this only means I used my plasma dipped method of dyeing and the base color I started out with is purple. It does not refer to an actual colorway in which you could expect all ten skeins to be nearly identical. My yarn is art and no two items are ever exactly alike. Well slight caveat with the Astrobatts. Some of those will be mostly the same. But again, I digress ...