Friday, December 16, 2011

Dyer Moments: Shayla Myst Morrigan

When I design knit patterns, my inspiration usually begins with a color.  I like to design textures and patterns that represent, in some way, the color I’m working with.  If a particular dye lot reminds me of fire, or a stormy sea, or a leafy vine, I’ll try to reflect that in the stitch pattern or overall shape.  But where do those beautifully colored yarns originate?  I'm particularly fond of the work of indie-dyers, and so I've created this interview process - Dyer Moments - to expose the people that make the colorways that inspire new design.  


Join me today in getting to know Shayla Myst Morrigan!


Describe the first time you dyed.
~ I saw so many pretty colors in the world around me and wanted to see if I could translate those colors into yarn. So I bought a dyeing kit from Knit Picks, just to see if I could dye at all. I made a huge mess in my kitchen and was tickled when the skeins were finally dry and the colors were so pretty.

How did you begin your business? 
~Some of the women in the Harry Potter Knit/Crochet House cup group really liked the skeins I'd dyed and someone suggested that I sell them. Since I already sold herbal salve online, it wasn't a big leap to add yarns to my shop.

What inspired the name of your company?
~ Many years ago I wanted to come up with a name to represent my online presence, so I began looking up various names and words. Alina means "away from home" and Shea means "a magical place".

What inspires your colorways and how do you name them?
~ A lot of my colors are inspired by the things I see in life. From Morning Glories, Nightshade, & Bright Vincas to Melted Lipstick, Nightfall, & Chocolatey Mint, it's all out there in the world to see. The names just come to me as the colors form in the pots and they just seem "right".

Do you also knit? Crochet?
~ Yes, both! I also like to spin and I weave a little bit. I can't imagine sitting for very long without some project in my hands.

What is your favorite color and do you have a favorite pattern for showing off your yarn?
~ This varies between deep purple and rich green. One of my favorite colorways is Nightshade since it has both colors. Favorite patters? I think that changes every time I see a new project that someone used my yarn with.

What is your favorite fiber/yarn to dye?
~ I carry a base called Frosted Moon and I love how it soaks up the color and gives just a hint of sparkle.

Is there anything especially cool about your yarns we should know?
~ I try to get really soft yarns. I ask companies for lots of samples, and when they don't quite feel soft enough to make baby clothes, I probably won't carry them.

Describe your background / education. Does it have any influence on your company?
~ My mom was known as an "Earth mother" so there was a lot of hippy-ness going on during my younger years. A lot of time spent outdoors looking at pretty flowers, interesting leaves, animal tracks, and so much more. I think that really influenced my ability to see beauty in so many things. Education? Well, I was home-schooled, then in college at 16. The most useful class I took was interpersonal communications, but I still have trouble communicating even now. (The other classes dealt with computer programming, drafting, and math.)

What advise would you give others looking to dye?
~ Play! Don't be afraid of adding a little extra color, or a little less. Trust your intuituion. If a color doesn't look right, over-dye it with a harmonizing color (blue for cool colors, bold orange for warm colors) and you'd be amazed at the way it changes.

Tell us about your biggest dye “fail”.
~ Mud. I was trying for a soft blend of blues, greens, and browns. Sadly, I dropped the skein fully into the brown (while my tongs were on the other counter) and the whole skein ended up looking like the mushy leaves at the end of winter. I over-dyed in in black and never put it in the shop.

Most importantly, what’s the best way to purchase your yarns? Are you in retail stores or do you have a shop online? Do you offer a yarn club?
~ I have an online shop through Etsy (http://www.etsy.com/shop/AlinaSheaCreations) and you can keep up with the weekly updates through Facebook (https://www.facebook.com/alina.shea.creations).

~ I do have a yarn club! I have so much fun coming up with colors and gifts each month and the members are truly amazing people. Most of the information is found on AlinaShea.com (http://www.alinashea.com/club.html)

Shayla Myst Morrigan - Alina Shea Creations
To get a better idea of the people behind the product…I ask our dying interviewees these insightful questions developed by Bernard Pivot.

What is your favorite word?
~ Illume. It just seems to hold all the magic of a tiny point of light growing slowly to help us to see clearly.

What is your least favorite word?
~ Can't. Only because so many people believe it when they use it and everyone has so much potential for "Can".

What turns you on creatively, spiritually or emotionally?
~ So many things. The sparkle in my kids' eyes (14 & 19), the love from my friends, the purring of my cats, the wind blowing the bright leaves in my yard, The snow glittering when the temperatures drop, the rain hitting my window...

What turns you off?
~ Intolerance and beligerance. I think they just send out such negative energy that it hurts anyone around the one doing the sending.

What is your favorite curse word?
~ I don't really have one, but I usually say "snack crackers" when I'm really mad.

What sound or noise do you love?
~ The wind. It has so much life to it.

What sound or noise do you hate?
~ A car's tires screeching. That one stops me in my tracks everytime in a near panic.

What profession other than your own would you like to attempt?
~ Alpaca breeder, or farmer, they are both tied.

What profession would you not like to do?
~ A public defender. You don't really get a choice in who your clients are and that could easily go against a person's own morals.

If Heaven exists, what would you like to hear God say when you arrive at the Pearly Gates?
~ Yes, you made a positive impact in people's lives.

Please visit Shayla at http://www.etsy.com/shop/AlinaSheaCreations

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Mismatched Dye Lots

If you are following along with my blog, you know of my most recent Fail, caused fully by over confidence in my own memory, and lack of project preparation.  I ended up ordering another skein online as I could source none locally.  Now I wait.  The likelihood I'll get the same dye lot I bought at my LYS is extremely remote.  So remote in fact, I think I'd have better luck in the lottery.

I'm very fortunate that the project this happened on will not be badly affected by the mismatched dye lots.  If it is noticeable at all, it will be very subtle.  The recipient will be entirely too thrilled with the gift to care, if in fact he did notice.  This mismatch will only matter to me.

So this situation has given me time to think about dye lots.  In most projects, mismatched dye lots spell disaster.  A single color project with mismatched dye lots will have an obvious color shift in some lights, while not so obvious in others.  This can be downplayed by alternating skeins with each row, or it can end up looking striped.

Multicolored projects like "scrap-ghans" can actually benefit from multiple dye lots, seemingly contributing more color and variety to the end project.  This got me thinking... in what other ways can I make mismatched dye lots "art" instead of "fail"?

I'm curious what could be achieved working with a collection of different dye lots of the same color.  Could an afghan project look like a study in monochromatic tones?  Would it be too subtle too notice or would it be just subtle enough that the effect would be unique and classy?

Have you ever intentionally created a project with mismatched dyelots?  What was the result?

Sunday, December 11, 2011

Over Confidence = Knit Fail

Friday I visited my LYS to pick up supplies for a new design test knit.  I'd estimated my needs, and KNEW that I had one skein of the red yarn I needed at home, so I purchased 2 Navy skeins and just 1 more skein in Red.  Saturday I started the actual knit work.  At one point, approximately 20% of the way complete, I grew a little nervous about the amount of yarn remaining and reviewed my estimated yardage needs against my actual usage, did a little math, and decided I was in the clear.  Sunday, I worked another 20% before I chose to re-evaluate, just to be sure.

My need to review my supply over and over should have been a clue that my subconscious knew something I was missing.  My math was good.  My color memory, not so much.  When I went to pull that other skein out of my stash, as it was coming close to time for the new ball, I discovered that the "Red" I'd previously acquired wasn't just from another dye lot, but another color shade altogether. Christmas Red and Burgundy aren't even close.

How big an issue is this?  20% = 100 four foot long rows or 2600 stitches.  I'm 40% done, which means I may have to pull 5200 stitches out to recover my yarn.

Is my LYS open Sunday's? NO!  Am I panicked?  YES!
Do I know better than to start a project before visually verifying all supplies and tools? YES.
Were lessons learned?  Indeed and follow thusly, as we all should be reminded.

  1. Over Confidence = Knit Fail  (Even seasoned astronauts have checklists.)
  2. BEFORE beginning project, gather all supplies and tools to verify their existence and attendance in full required quantity.  (Just like baking cookies!)
  3. MAINTAIN a stash inventory online at Ravelry.com
  4. REFER to your Ravelry stash online if in store with doubts as to your stash.
  5. REFER to your Raverly stash online if in store and purchasing anything in addition to, to compliment or to supplement your stash. (How many of us have bought the same yarn over and over because we loved it? Or, as in my case, the wrong color?)
  6. CALL your LYS as soon as you suspect an issue.  Don't wait until they are closed to realize you MUST have that yarn.  MOST LYS will happily hold yarn for you with a simple phone call.
Keep your fingers crossed for me the LYS still has this in stock for me.
Happy knitting all!

Thursday, December 8, 2011

Great Resource & Free Patterns

If you haven't checked out Knitty.com, you're missing out.  I love this knitting e-mag.  It's published four times a year and every issue is jam packed with wonderful new innovative knit patterns.  Their Deep Winter issue was just released and I've already picked out a couple of favorites for my knitting queue:  Sleepless by Mary Keenan and Groove by Stephen West  Visit Knitty today and tell me which patterns speak to you!

(No, Knitty didn't ask for a review, nor did either designer.  I wasn't compensated in any way.  I just tell you about things I love!)

Sunday, December 4, 2011

Online Learning Opportunity

I found a wonderful new online learning opportunity - Craftsy.com.  Craftsy features online video classes in such subjects as Quilting, Sewing, Crochet, Jewelry, Paper Crafts, Cake Decorating and Knitting.  They also offer Free Patterns.

I'm currently enrolled in two classes: Knit Sock Workshop with Donna Druchunas and Mastering Lace Shawls with Laura Nelkin.  I haven't started reviewing the Shawl course yet, but I have begun working in the Sock course.  I find the video format easy to watch, pause and jump-to-points when life interrupts or I need to re-review.  I haven't used any of the other various resources such as video note-taking, online Q&A, or course discussions.  I've really only scratched the surface of this resource, but thus far, I'm a believer and recommend this to anyone interested in taking a knitting class online from home. (No, I haven't been asked to review this site, to endorse it or any one and no, I haven't received ANY compensation.  I simply show you what I believe in.)

Some of you may be wondering... Why are you taking these classes?  You already knit socks and shawls.  Yup, I do, but there is always room for improvement, opportunities for new techniques, and tips you can gain from other teachers.  And at the price of just $29.99 each - it's a opportunity that simply shouldn't be passed up.

Have you found great online class resources?  Please leave a comment and tell me about them!

Green Bin Farms Onions!

This weekend we got snow.  Nothing even close to say a nor'easter, but freezing temps none the less.  After consulting with a very knowledgeable gardening friend, we decided it was time to pull the onions out of the garden, rather than risk losing them.

But what to do with all those onions?  Our gardening friend had an answer for that as well.  Being a big fan of our Roasted Garlic and Onion Jam, she suggested we make more and gift it to friends - clever girl!  And so we did.  We made ten 8 oz jars, with a little bit of leftover for our fridge stash.

Still we had leftover onion greens, which we dried and sorted/sifted into onion powder and onion flakes for cooking with.  We initially started the dehydrator in my studio and quickly realized all of my yarn was going to stink intensely of onion, causing us to relocate it to the garage  You should smell the garage!

What did you do this weekend?

Saturday, December 3, 2011

Giveaway Winners!

Winners have been drawn and (drum roll please) congratulations go to Knittingdancer and Nikki57.
Please email me your mailing addresses and choice of pattern.

Thank you to all who participated.  A new giveaway is coming up SOON! so stay tuned.

Friday, December 2, 2011

Dyer Moments: Shannon Shaw

When I design knit patterns, my inspiration usually begins with a color.  I like to design textures and patterns that represent, in some way, the color I’m working with.  If a particular dye lot reminds me of fire, or a stormy sea, or a leafy vine, I’ll try to reflect that in the stitch pattern or overall shape.  But where do those beautifully colored yarns originate?  I'm particularly fond of the work of indie-dyers, and so I've created this interview process - Dyer Moments - to expose the people that make the colorways that inspire new design.  

Join me today in getting to know Shannon Shaw!

Describe the first time you dyed. 
"Don't Call Me Nymphadora"
~The first time I dyed, I had a skein of Patons wool & some grape & lime Kool-Aid. I dyed half of it lime green & half purple. I still have it. I haven’t found the perfect pattern for it yet.

How did you begin your business? 
~I started dyeing with Kool-Aid & then graduated to what my friends call “big girl” dyes. I bought Jacquard Acid Dye from Knit Picks & some of their Bare yarn. Once I was comfortable with my chosen dye method, I started building up my inventory before I officially listed my first items in my shop last year. What’s a little ironic is that 10 minutes after I set myself up on my Etsy shop as a seller, I got a call from my regular job that they were closing in 2 months. Needless to say, it was the kick in the pants that I needed to get my inventory built up & open my shop.

What inspired the name of your company? 
~After I found the wondrousness of Harry Potter, I searched online for Harry Potter quilt patterns & found a site on Livejournal. An amazing person had listed free quilt patterns she designed especially for Harry Potter on a Livejournal community, hp_paperpiecing. I joined Livejournal with the username of hermione_jean. On there I met others who adored Harry Potter as much as I did & got me back into crocheting & eventually teaching myself to knit. I learned of Ravelry from them & carried the same username over. It just became who I was known as & I didn’t want to change that familiarity so I kept it when I started my Etsy shop. Plus, who wouldn’t want a company named after the brightest witch of her age.

"Hagrid's Pumpkin Patch"
What inspires your colorways and how do you name them? 
~My favorite fandoms inspire my colorways. I usually come up with my ideas while I’m listening to my audio books or watching movies or my favorite TV series. I always have a notebook with me to jot down the ideas. I’ve got many colorways jotted down that haven’t been dyed yet.

Do you also knit? Crochet? 
~Yes, I knit, crochet & spin.

What is your favorite color and do you have a favorite pattern for showing off your yarn? 
~I love green but if you want to know my favorite colorway I‘ve dyed up so far, it would have to be…all of them. Really, that’s like trying to choose a favorite child. ;) Honestly, I adore anything that has been knit or crocheted with my yarn. It always gives me a thrill when I see something made with my yarn.

What is your favorite fiber/yarn to dye? 
~I love to dye with merino yarn especially superwash because I don’t have to worry too much about felting it.

Is there anything especially cool about your yarns we should know? 
~I don’t know how “cool” this may be but I’ve had a dear friend tell me that she loves my yarn because I put thought behind the colorways & the names of my yarns. There’s always a reasoning to them. They aren’t haphazardly thrown together.

"The Unbreakable Vow"
Describe your background / education. Does it have any influence on your company? 
~I have a B.S.B.A. in Business Management & Accounting. I wouldn’t say it’s had an influence on my company but it has given me the knowledge I’ve needed to run a business. I feel the influences have been from my family. I was taught to sew when I was 8 by my mother & to crochet at the same age by my grandmother. I’ve always dabbled in crafts whether it be sewing to quilting to yarn.

What advise would you give others looking to dye?
~I would say just start dyeing, try all the methods you can & find the one that suits you best. Don’t be afraid to make mistakes, sometimes those are the best.

Most importantly, what’s the best way to purchase your yarns? Are you in retail stores or do you have a shop online? Do you offer a yarn club? 
~My yarns are only available in my Etsy store. I’m on my second yarn club which starts in December. I have plans for another one after that & possibly one in worsted weight.

Shannon Shaw - Hermione Jean Creations
To get a better idea of the people behind the product…I ask our dying interviewees these insightful questions developed by Bernard Pivot.


What is your favorite word? 
~Magic

What is your least favorite word? 
~Ignorant ~ It’s not the word that I dislike but that some people are ignorant.

What is your favorite curse word? 
~I don’t really curse all that much but I do say crap a lot.

"Hogwart's Halloween Feast"
What sound or noise do you love? 

~I love the sounds of water. It’s very soothing.

What sound or noise do you hate? 
~The sounds of town. It’s too much noise, I live in the country.

What profession other than your own would you like to attempt? 
~I would love to be a costume maker for the theater or movies. I think that would be so much fun.

If Heaven exists, what would you like to hear God say when you arrive at the Pearly Gates? 
~Well done!


Please visit Shannon at http://www.etsy.com/shop/hermionejean

Thursday, December 1, 2011

Extreme Knitting

As Christmas nears, many knitters begin to feel the weight and magnitude of their holiday knitting.  Here's a quick video to show you what extreme knitting really looks like.  Perhaps your project won't seem so daunting afterwards.

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