Now taking orders for January's colorway, Pretty Rickey! Or sign up for two months of yarn!

Cosmo will be available until midnight tomorrow!

June 29, 2013

Since I'm heading to the post office early on Monday to mail off the first round of subscriptions (yay!), I have to stop taking orders at midnight tomorrow - 11:59 PDT on Sunday June 30.  If you're wavering on whether or not to get Cosmo, that will be your deadline to decide.

I will be opening up a shop at the end of the 4-month yarn club, either on Etsy or via my own website (depending on how sales go and if I can afford/justify web hosting costs).  Cosmo will be available for purchase again sometime in November.

Holy Crap!

June 28, 2013

I posted a picture of the Cosmopolitan colorway to a few different places on reddit, and suddenly the blog is exploding with pageviews!

Pretty much my face right now, my outfit's not nearly as cute.

Hope you all like what you see, and please use those handy share buttons on the right to let your friends know!

So bummed right now

June 27, 2013

Beware: This post has absolutely nothing to do with yarn or knitting.

I may have mentioned this in a previous post, but my husband and I just moved from San Francisco to Portland last month. We're still unpacking some things, but as we do it's becoming increasingly more obvious...

I have lost my Gargoyles comics :(

David Tennant knows how this feels.

I loved that show when I was a kid, so when I found the comics as an adult I was stoked.  The comics pick up the storyline after creator Greg Weisman's final episode, 3x01 The Journey, and completely ignores the whole "Goliath Chronicles" debacle that was the rest of season 3.  Weisman had so much more planned for series - including this whole time travel arc for Brooklyn, and a spin-off that takes place in the future and stars a descendant of Goliath and Elisa.  Alas, he will almost certainly never complete them, because even though Gargoyles was his creation, Disney owns the rights to it and they charge a whole bunch of money for licensing.  Not that Disney is ever going to touch the Gargoyles franchise again - they just don't want anyone else to touch it.

Anyway, sad face. Miss my Clan Building books.  I hate having to re-buy books when I lose them. Rar.


June 25, 2013

So the poll has been up for 5 days now and the results are 5 to 2 in favor of posting a preview.  Well, okay, one of those "yes" votes was me, so it was really 4 to 2, but the fact remains that there are slightly more people who want to see Cosmo pics than do not.  However, I am a kind and benevolent blogger, so I'll place the preview pics behind a jump so that those of you who want to maintain the surprise can do so. And if you're reading the blog but haven't signed up to receive yarn, maybe these pics will encourage you, so I'll put the PayPal button after the jump as well.

Also, can I just say how awesome it is to marathon Sailor Moon while winding yarn for hours on end?  I don't really have to look at what I'm doing unless something gets tangled, so I'm free to read the subtitles and wallow in nostalgia.

These little babies will be going in the mail in less than a week! Are you excited yet????? 

Click to see previews...

All skeined up and nowhere to go...

June 21, 2013

I finished skeining and labeling the first kilo of Cosmopolitan yesterday... and I'm torn as to whether to post a preview or not.  I'm one of those people who always shakes her Christmas presents and begs for hints, but I know I'd be pretty bummed if I actually knew what I was getting.  Everyone who signed up for subscriptions has done so totally blind - which is a stunning show of faith in me, by the way, and I thank you profusely for it. So I have to ask: do you want the colorway to remain a surprise until you open it in the mail, or do you want to see pictures right now?

Loading web poll...

We now have a Ravelry group!

June 20, 2013

If you haven't heard of it already, Ravelry is an absolutely amazing resource for knitters, crocheters, and fiber lovers in general. They have a plethora of patterns (most free, some for a small cost) for all skill levels, and you can share your projects, progress, and questions with other users.

And now Tipsy Sheep has its own group! And I have absolutely no idea what to do with it!

Maybe we could share patterns and photos of what you all wind up making with the yarn?  And if you, oh I dunno, feel like promoting/sharing this with your friends........

Knee-deep in balls right now...

June 18, 2013

I've decided to use any profits from the first round of subscriptions to get a second yarn swift with a built-in counter, because my current set up is a little, uh, exhausting.  Protip: If you're going to be measuring large amounts of yarn, get a good yardage counter, not a dinky little plastic thing.  I got this little guy for under $10 at KnitPicks:

I broke all my nails when we moved and they still haven't forgiven me.
You should have seen their former glory.

And he's a little bit "special."  The yarn has to be fed in at a very specific angle for it to move the little wheel inside, so I need to use one hand to keep tension on the yarn and guide it in.  And I need to use another hand to spin my ball winder, and unfortunately lack the necessary third hand to spin my swift (holding the enormous kilo skein) to keep it from catching.

It's also supposed to secure to your work surface with these little suction cup things:

That sketchbook is where the magic happens. ALL OF IT.

Which are a joke. They don't suction, no matter what kind of surface I try them on.  So I have to hold it to keep it from moving.  My hand hurts from being in this twisted claw formation for 6+ hours yesterday winding yarn, holding the feeder strand with my ring and pinky fingers and the counter in place with the rest of my fingers.  I was basically Spocking for most of the day.

I also suspect that it doesn't keep very accurate yardage, based on the fact that when I reached the count that was supposed to be 100 grams according to the yarn manufacturer, I would weigh it to find it only at 80 grams. WTF? So I'd take it off the ball winder (still attached to the giant skein) and run it through again, to find it 30+ yards short the second time!  After I wound up on those 30 yards the weight was more like 97 grams, which was much better, but I'm still very confused as to how that's happening.

Anyway, after many hours of winding, I have 8 enormous balls of yarn off the big skein, ready to be turned into cute little skeins of their own.  Yay!

This really is my "yay dance." For reals.

I found a table-top swift with a built-in counter that measures based on turns of the swift rather than yarn passed over a wheel, but it's pretty expensive so... tell your friends to buy yarn :)  Still 15 slots left for July!

Free yarn!

June 13, 2013

As you can probably tell from my project post, I'm kind of a big fan of KnitPicks. They just sent out an email saying that until June 18, you can get a free ball of their Brava acrylic, which comes in worsted, sport, and bulky weights.  I've never used Brava before, but it's free, so why not? Just add a ball to your cart and then use code TRYBRAVA3 at checkout to get it free.

A few things I've learned from my first HUGE dye run.

As of yesterday afternoon, all of my dye supplies had finally arrived - the last thing I needed was a large folding plastic table to be my work station, and as soon as it got to my door, I was a-dyeing.  Most of my dyeing in the past has been smaller scale runs, a few hundred grams at a time.  Never had I attempted to dye 2 whole kilos of yarn at once.  It was quite an experience, and took me about 3 hours to apply all the dye. Here are the notes I made to myself for next time:

1. Make at least 3 times as much dye as you think you'll need.
I had to stop and mix more dye 3 times yesterday, and wound up using nearly a quart of each color.  I definitely need to mix a few quarts at a time rather than a pint.

2. Use at least 3 times as much plastic wrap as you think you'll need.
I thought I'd laid down plenty, but when I rolled the dyed yarn up to let it set for a few minutes, suddenly there was an enormous, vaguely pink puddle on my garage floor. Whoops.  (It got all over my shoes, too, but those are my painting shoes anyway, so no big deal.) My new mantra is, "I will not be stingy with the glad wrap. I will not be stingy with the glad wrap."

3. Dye one kilo at a time, for the sake of your own sanity.
Here's something you may not know - a kilogram of yarn is a FUCKTON OF YARN.  Each kilo formed a skein that was about 4 feet long, a foot wide, and about 3 inches thick. It is super hard to get even dye penetration through that much yarn.  Because I was doing two kilos at once yesterday, I didn't have as much room as usual to sort of spread out the skein, exposing more layers to get more controlled dye application, so it took forever to get it through the whole dense mass.  Doing one kilo at a time will mean more dyelots, but I think it will be better for my perfectionist brain, and who (besides crazy dyers like myself) buys more than a kilogram of yarn anyway?  What the hell do you need 4600+ yards of sock yarn for!?

4. This stuff is freaking heavy. Dye on weekends when hubby is home.
Two kilos of yarn holds a lot of water/dye.  Those things must have doubled or tripled in weight by the time I was done.  I almost couldn't lift the rolled fibers into the steam pot.  And speaking of the steam pot...

5. This stuff is freaking huge. Use the biggest pot you can find.
After I had wrestled the dyed fiber into a rolled bundle, I realized there was no chance that it was going to fit in the steamer pot I had purchased, even though said steamer pot was an enormous 3 gallon pot.  The rolled bundle was at least a foot across, and while I could have stuffed it into the steamer pot, I was worried that having the plastic wrap in direct contact with the metal sides would melt it into the fiber.  So hubby - who came home right as I was finishing up applying the dye and scared the bejeezus out of me because I was working in the garage - made a mad dash run to the grocery store with me.  We wound up getting a 21 quart (5 1/4 gallon) stock pot, then sticking a strainer in the bottom to keep the yarn out of the water.  Even then, it barely fit.

Despite these unexpected difficulties, the whole dye went really well, and the fibers are currently drying and looking fab-u-lous, even better than the test skeins I did. :)

What are you knitting?

June 11, 2013

I'm one of those people who always has multiple projects on the needles because one of two things always happens:

  1. I get bored and/or frustrated and have to start something new to keep myself from lighting the project on fire.
  2. Some shiny new pattern or technique catches my fancy and I just HAVE TO MAKE IT RIGHT NOW OMG!!
Right now I have three four things going:

Slytherin socks!
started: July 2011

These are knee-high sports socks in the colors of House Slytherin.  In the picture you can see the other pair I made in Gryffindor colors... which took me over 6 years to complete.  Granted I was working on those very sporadically, but it looks like the second pair is right on track to take at least that long.

The pattern was originally a paid pattern available from atypically.knit, but that website has been down for a few years now.  You can still find the pattern in the Charmed Knits book, along with several more awesome Harry Potter knits.  The book has gone out of print but there are still a few dozen used copies floating around Amazon.

I'm using Brown Sheep Nature Spun fingering in Enchanted Forest and Silver Sage.  Someday, perhaps, I will make matching scarves for both of these pairs of socks, since Nature Spun has those same colors available in worsted weight.  Someday...

Slipstream Socks!
started: March 2013

I looked around forever trying to find the right pattern to use with this yarn - KnitPicks Imagination in Giant Peach, a color that has since been discontinued.  I must have frogged a dozen different patterns because they just didn't look right with the colorway.  Then finally, in the latest issue of Knitty, these socks appeared.  I'm just about to reach the heel turn on the first sock and I'm pretty happy with how it's turning out.  The pattern is fairly complex, with 3 different charts for each size of either foot, but it's easy to follow so far and I'm learning how to do 2-stitch-wide cables without using a cable needle... which is kind of like sorcery.

Bergen Street Cardigan
started: November 2011

I started this sweater to keep me sane during the worst class I've ever had to take - a once-a-week, 4-hour lecture on art, power, and sexuality in Renaissance Italy.  Knitting was the only thing that kept me from falling asleep.  The last thing I need to make is the button band, which I don't think I've touched in about 6 months. I'm actually kind of scared to finish this sweater, since I've gained a bit of weight since I started working on it and now I'm scared that after all this work, it won't fit me :(

Knit in KnitPicks Swish DK in Marine Heather and Cobblestone Heather. Pattern is from KnitPicks, too. I have a few extra balls of each so - when I do eventually someday finish the sweater - I plan on adding pockets and a hood, because a girl has needs.

Biker Boy
started: I don't even remember anymore.

I started knitting this many years ago as a Christmas present for my brother. It was my first attempt at a sweater and I had no idea how much work was ahead of me - my brother is a very large man.  This project has been living in a box in my yarn closet (or shelf or drawer, depending on where I was living at the time) and I really don't know if I'll ever finish it. I think I've even lost the grey that I used on that bottom edge. All I've gotten done is a few inches on the back panel. Odds are good my brother has forgotten I ever promised him this sweater, but I can feel it sometimes, watching me... waiting... wanting to be whole...

Pattern is from Debbie Stoller's Son of Stitch and Bitch and is being knit in KnitPicks WotA Worsted in Coal and a mystery gray, possibly Dove Heather.

So, what little UFOs (unfinished objects) do you have cluttering up your life?

Also, a reminder that there are still 15 slots left for the July Cosmopolitan mailing. Use the PayPal button at the top of the page to subscribe!

These are my cats.

June 7, 2013

Gonna take a break from yarn blogging and introduce you to my two fuzzy assistants.  Well, actually, at best they're distractions, and at worst they are tiny furry demons sent from the bowels of the earth to shred (both literally and figuratively) all my hard work.  But they're cute, so we have to forgive them.

Hard at work.

This is our primary fuzzy, Pandora, more commonly known as Panda.  She's 3 years old and Dear Hubby and I adopted her from the San Francisco SPCA as a kitten.  We had just moved in together and quickly realized we needed a cat.  We went to the adoption center a few times, and of course fell in love with every kitty there - including one older cat named Cat Benetar who we came thisclose to adopting, but on Decision Day she had already found a home.  The day we went to take home a kitty for real, there were a bunch of kittens in the shelter, and we of course played with ALL OF THEM. It was a beautiful day.

Panda took one look at us, decided we were her hoomins, and promptly fell asleep on my lap in the kitty ritual of ownership.  She's an incredibly snuggly kitty (most of the time), and will jump up on my or hubby's lap the minute we sit down, especially if there's a blanket involved.  You always have to be careful setting things down on our bed, because odds are good that there is a hidden PandaLump nestled under the blankies.  She's very skittish around strangers, probably because hubby and I are hermits who never have people over, so she's never really been exposed to other humans.  She regards us as her staff, tasked with feeding and petting and belly rubs (on her terms only), and in exchange we are allowed to bask in her fuzzy glory.  Favorite activities include snuggling while watching Buffy, batting around toy mousies, and stalking bugs.

She also likes to be Big Spoon:

And sometimes Bendy Spoon:

Then we have Olive.  Olive is new.  She started life as a stray who hung out on the hill behind our house in Daly City (about 10 minutes south of San Francisco) with a few of her fuzzy friends.  I looked out the back door one day and saw her curled up on the concrete patio and promptly had a heart attack, because I thought she was dead.  But the second I cracked open the door to check on her, she looked up at me with these gorgeous green eyes and I knew I had to be her friend.

Olive, before she had a name, suspicious of the box I left for her.
Yes, our yard was hideously overgrown. Oh well.

As you can see, she's missing most of her tail, which means she has kind of terrible balance/jumping ability in addition to the usual awkwardness of young cats.  I started leaving food out for her, and we slowly built a cautious friendship.  About 4 days before we were scheduled to move from Daly City to Portland, I finally got close enough to pet her and get a really good look at her... and realized she was pregnant. Well shit. I knew that no one would feed her after we left, and that she and her kittens would probably be in a lot of trouble without that extra food, so I called a local rescue.  They sent someone out to help me trap her (which was scary for both of us), and then took her to the SPCA to get a checkup.  Unfortunately, they had to terminate her pregnancy for her own health, but they also spayed her, microchipped her, and treated her for fleas and parasites.  Rather than release her back into the wild, hubby and I made the decision (along with the people at the rescue) to take her with us to Portland.

That was like 3 weeks ago.  She's just now starting to warm up to us, and she and Panda are on semi-civil terms.  So far her favorite activities include walking around talking to herself, hiding inside the couch (because there's a hole in the lining), and letting me pet her in exchange for treats.  The vets at the SPCA estimated her age at around 10 months, so she's still pretty young and very full of energy.  The other night she discovered that there was an outside to the couch as well, which she has since decided is kinda nice.

So. Much. Yarn.

June 5, 2013

My yarn swift and I spent about 6 hours of quality time together yesterday turning these:

With bonus fuzzy assistant!

Into these:

Tucked safely in a closet to protect them from said fuzzy assistant.

My yarn swift is a boss though.  I spent several weeks shopping around the interwebs looking for one that would expand to the right size to make good dyeing hanks - which, for my preferences, is about 8 feet in circumference.  Most umbrella swifts available only open up to about 60", and while I found some Amish swifts that can hold skeins up to 80", they were clearly all too small. And there was no way in hell I was winding 9000+ yards of yarn by hand around some chairs.

I'm an adult, dammit. I have standards.

After looking through several knitting websites, I finally decided to check Amazon (which I really should know by now has absolutely everything) and found one from a company I'd never heard of before: Stanwood.  Turns out they're an importer who carries bonsai tools, lawn sculptures... and knitting stuff. Interesting.  But their large yarn swift opens up to 8.5 ft circumference and was only $48 (compared to $60+ for smaller swifts from other websites), so I was pretty much sold on it.

And you guys... seriously... you guys, it's awesome.  I may or may not have hugged it when I took it out of the shipping box, and may or may not continue to lovingly stroke it several times a day.  Look at this thing:

My husband and I have side-by-side nerd stations.
Do not judge us, emulate us.

I've never in my life encountered a swift so big, and I love it.  I only have two complaints: 
  1. I wish the bit that secured it to the table opened up a little further. Right now it can fit on a 1.5" thickness, which is about 1/4" too small to clamp onto my coffee table so I could watch TV while winding. First world problems.
  2. I wish it had come with washers to cushion the moving parts from each other.  Wood squeaking on wood really starts to grate on your nerves after a little while; after more than 6 hours, I was about to strangle somebody.
Overall though, I am quite happy with it.  I might get my husband's former boss, who's a machinist, to make some sort of cranking mechanism so I'm not spinning it by hand the whole time.

And while hubby's out of town on business, I might just tuck it into bed beside me.

Now taking subscriptions for July!

June 3, 2013

I've had "June is Busting Out All Over" stuck in my head for the last four days, which can only mean one thing: it's time to officially open Tipsy Sheep for subscriptions!

Each shipment will consist of:

  • 1 100g skein  (approx 464 yards) of hand-painted yarn in a colorway inspired by the cocktail of the month.  The yarn is a fingering/sock weight in a 75/25 blend of superwash wool and nylon that is SUPER soft but has enough strength to make for a good sock.  And because it's superwash, it's machine washable, which was a must for me as I was shopping for yarns. (I loathe and despise handwashing.)
  • Dyers notes about how the cocktail's ingredients translated into the colors used, and funny anecdotes about the dyeing process which, yes, includes me drinking the inspiration.
  • Instructions for an interesting technique (such as fun cast-ons and edge finishes).
  • The recipe for the inspirational cocktail, which will be printed on the yarn label.
  • There may or may not be candy. Just sayin'.
For now, there's a cap of 20 subscribers per month, because I've never produced this volume of yarn before and can't really understand how much work it will be until I'm elbow deep in dye and tears.  You can subscribe for just this month or for the full 4-month planned run, which is as follows:

July - Cosmopolitan
August - Mint Julep
September - White Russian
October - Kir de Reddit (a variation on the Kir Imperial suggested by reddit user SewHappyKnits)

One month's subscription cost is $25, which includes everything above plus shipping. Your package will ship on the first of the month (or the first weekday of the month, no post on Sundays) with all of the goodies above enclosed.  So the first cocktail (Cosmo) will ship on July 1, Mint Julep on August 1, etc.

After 4 months, I may continue to do a monthly yarn club mailing to introduce people to new colors as I develop them, or go straight to a store model, or maybe some combination of the two.  It really depends on you guys and what you're interested in.

After each month's shipment, subscriptions will open up for the following month and will stay open until all slots are filled.

Current slots for July: 13

Just pick your option from the PayPal button: