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

Gallery Post!

August 31, 2013

Here you will find photos of each available colorway, with new photos added AFTER each mailing goes out (so as to keep it a surprise for those of you who don't want to know what's coming).

First available: July 2013

Mint Julep
First available: August 2013

White Russian
First available: September 2013

Kir de Reddit
First available: October 2013


Coming Soon: Blue!

Just a reminder - last chance for White Russian!

August 30, 2013

Just a friendly reminder that tomorrow is the last day to get in on the White Russian colorway, which ships on Tuesday.  Orders will close at 11:59 PDT on Saturday, August 31.  You can also still sign up for both White Russian and October's mailing of the Kir de Reddit colorway. More info available in this post.

Tipsy Sheep Part Deux

August 28, 2013

I'm just about to start dyeing the final colorway, Kir de Reddit, and if the samples are any indication, this is going to be an awesome yarn. I'll be posting details for it after the White Russian mailing goes out, but I thought this would be a good opportunity to introduce the next round of Tipsy Sheep subscriptions!

Based on the voting post, the cocktails you all most want to see made into yarn are the Alaskan Ice Tea (7%), Tequila Sunrise (7%),  Blue (6%), and Pretty Rickey (6%). So congratulations, you've just picked the four colors for the next round of yarns! This one will run from November through February with mailings on the first* of each month, on the following schedule:

November: Blue
December: Alaskan Ice Tea
January: Pretty Rickey
February: Tequila Sunrise

As with the first run, you'll be receiving 100 g (463 yards) of 75/25 superwash merino/nylon fingering weight yarn, as well as a few juicy extras like dye notes, instructions for fun techniques, and tasty treats to snack on while you're working up the yarn!

Seeing as how the first mailing of the new run won't be until November, I thought I'd give you loyal readers a chance to get in on it early AND save a little money doing so.  Normally, each individual month is $25: $20 for yarn and $5 to cover shipping costs. (This is already a discount, since when the yarns hit the Etsy shop they'll be going for $22 plus shipping.) So a four month subscription would be $100. However, for early subscribers, the cost will be $95, which is either free shipping one month or 25% one ball of yarn, however you prefer to think of it.

The normal $100 cost will return when the month-to-month option becomes available again in October, so if you're sure you want all four colorways, please sign up now!  There are currently 16 slots available. Here's da button:

Tipsy Sheep Part Deux: Four Months!

* First non-Sunday, non-US holiday day of the month. So the actual mailing schedule will be November 1, December 2, January 2, February 1.

Just a reminder - one week left for White Russian!

August 26, 2013

Just wanted to let everyone know that there's one week left to order White Russian before the September 1st 2nd 3rd mailing.  The 1st is a Sunday...

And the post office will be closed on Monday the 2nd because of Labor Day.

There are still 12 10 unclaimed skeins sitting here, waiting, watching, yearning to be loved.

Free stuff!

August 22, 2013

I've said it before and I'll say it again: I love KnitPicks. Their yarns are great, their accessories work well and are well-priced, and their customer service is absolutely amazing. Like, I received a set of their interchangeable needles, uh, 5 or 6 years ago as a Christmas gift, and when one of the cables broke a few months ago THEY SENT ME TWO NEW ONES FOR FREE. I didn't even have to pay shipping. You can't beat that.

So anyway, KP recently released a new superwash version of their popular Wool of the Andes worsted yarn. I like WotA okay, and it comes in a great variety of colors, but I'm scared of yarns that can felt... so superwash WotA is right up my alley. They haven't made all the colors available in superwash yet but there are some decent options.

KP sent out an email this morning offering a free ball of WotA superwash! Just add a ball of the color of your choice to your cart and enter TRYSUPERWASH (all caps, very important) at checkout. Just pay shipping.

I'm just said that they sent this coupon out the day after my last order shipped. :(

White Russian Preview!

August 20, 2013

I really love this yarn. It might be my favorite dye yet.  It's a rich palette of browns and cream with a spark of pure, undyed white. Deep chocolate fades into a warm coffee, which in turn fades into toffee and soft cream and finally warm white, and then goes down through the spectrum again. There are slight tonal variegations within each color, adding a richness and texture to the yarn.

It looks delicious. I want to eat it.

So without further ado, here are some preview pictures for those who don't mind spoiling the surprise!

Dyeing Round 3 is complete!

August 16, 2013

I dyed the White Russian yarns on Tuesday and Wednesday and spent most of yesterday winding the first kilo (which dried super fast, yay!) into 100 gram skeins. It looks AWESOME. And I kind of want to eat it. It makes me think of vanilla-chocolate-swirl ice cream, which is kind of what a White Russian tastes like to me anyway, so I guess that's a success. How'd it go? Well...

1. The Dexter Kill Table method is holding strong. Excessive use of plastic wrap is definitely making the whole steam bath process easier. I think I may have to cover more of the garage in plastic sheeting, though, since I'm starting to get very faint stains on the floor. They'll probably wash out with bleach (like the ones in the kitchen did...) but I don't want to risk permanent staining.

2. I have to accept that I will always hate the big skein. I love the samples, I love the little 100g skeins, but for some reason, when I finish dyeing the big kilo skein, I just hate it. Maybe it's because at that point I've been staring at it for several hours and fighting it to get the dye to penetrate through.  Maybe my brain just can't wrap itself around that much yarn. By the time I pull it out of the steam bath, rinse it, and hang it to dry, I'm convinced that it's the most hideous thing ever and my subscribers are going to hate it, and all I can see is the flaws. Then I divide it into smaller skeins, and suddenly it's beautiful and all I want to do is hug it. I have to learn to trust my samples, which I keep making until they're perfect, and just keep reminding myself that the final product will look better than the intermediate stage.

4. Dyeing earlier in the day is the way to go. My garage starts to get super hot at like 2 or 3 in the afternoon, so I planned my dye sessions this time so that I'd be done around then. It's a lot less exhausting without heat and dehydration sapping all my will.

3. Dubstep is surprisingly good music to dye to.  I'd barely heard of dubstep until a classmate of mine at SFSU shoved his headphones over my ears and made me listen to it. Not bad. I recently got the whole Skrillex  discography from iTunes and decided on a whim to put it on while dyeing this time. It was actually a really good soundtrack. Upbeat enough to help me forget how tired I get while dyeing, but not so melodic as to make me zen out to much.  When I paint, I like to go into that quiet, still place where the act itself becomes a meditation (which is why I listen to the O Brother Where Art Thou soundtrack while I paint), but I feel like dyeing requires a different mindset. The only dubstep I have is Skrillex, so if you'd like to recommend others, please do so in the comments.

Yeeeeeeep, that's about it. Great life lessons from dyeing. I'll post preview pics of White Russian on Monday (behind a jump, as usual, so those of you who wish to can keep it a surprise) and maybe some other stuff too. Yay stuff!

Cocktail inspirations

August 13, 2013

So.... thinking about continuing the yarn club and/or expanding the Tipsy Sheep line, and I've been browsing for cocktail inspirations for several days. Here's the list of cool things I've found so far:

Alaskan Ice Tea - aqua blue with highlights of pale yellow, lime green, and bright orange, and a bit of darker blue thrown in for fun.
The Smurf - like the AIT, but with a bright strawberryberry pink as the main color
Brain Squash - orange, lemon yellow, bright grapefruit-y pink, and a warm cherry red
Tequila Sunrise - A smooth gradient of rich yellow to orange to pinkish red
Passion Killer - melon pink, lime green, and white. Probably closer to a self-striping than a true handpaint.
Blue - deep purplish blue, berry, lemon and orange
Pretty Rickey - pale peaches and pinks, cherry red, and flecks of lime

So, which of the above do you most want to see?

survey tools

I'm still looking for pretty drinks in the purple spectrum, and I'm thinking of asking a couple local bars for the recipes for their signature cocktails - like the Ms. PacMan from Ground Kontrol and the Fast Talking Clara from the TARDIS Room.

Please leave any suggestions in the comments - I'd love to hear what other drinks you might be interested in seeing adapted to yarn form.

Review: Unofficial Harry Potter Knits 2013

August 9, 2013

The print edition of Interweave Knit's Unofficial Harry Potter Knits collection hit shelves on Tuesday, though the digital edition has been available for a little longer than that. I purchased the digital edition earlier this week and, knowing that pretty much everyone loves Harry Potter, figured I'd do a little review on it. Some parts of this review may be specific to the digital edition but all notes on the patterns will hold true for both.

I admit that I browse knitting magazines the same way people browse Playboy: it's really not about the articles, I want to skip to the good stuff.  That being said, the articles included in this magazine look pretty interesting. There's an interview with costume designer Jany Temime (who took over for Prisoner of Azkaban and all subsequent films), an article on the meaning of knitting in the Harry Potter universe, and the locations throughout Britain that inspired J.K Rowling and the pattern designers in this magazine. There are a few more articles too, but I skipped those altogether because OMG there are so many patterns in this magazine, can we just get to them already?

Fair warning: every single pattern in this magazine is for a clothing item or accessory. It all goes on your body; there's nothing in here for home, or even a bag or anything.  I was really hoping for a Burrow-inspired blanket or something like Hermione's Bag of Greater Holding (or is that a D&D thing? I can never remember). As much as I love sweaters and socks and hats and whatnot, I also love knitting things I know will bring character and coziness to my home.  Overall the count per item is as follows:

Sweaters: 11 (4 pullovers, 2 cardigans, 4 vests, 1 shrug/wrap)
Scarves/Shawls: 4
Cloaks: 3
Socks: 5
Hand (gloves, mitts, fingerless): 6
Hat: 2
Other: 1

That "other" category is one hair accessory: an Umbridge-inspired bow. So overall this collection is pretty heavy on the sweaters - I count vests as just sleeveless sweaters - and on extremity accessories.

The patterns are divided into  5 different categories:

History of Magic: These patterns seem to be inspired by Hogwarts itself and some of the major events that take place there. Modern Stripes House Scarves, The Sorcerer's Sweater, Dragon's Egg Socks, Heliopath Vest, Tracery Vest.

Care of Magical Creatures: Inspired by the staff of Hogwarts (mainly Dumbledore, Madame Pomfrey, and Hagrid) and the classes they teach. Dumbledore's Smoking Hat, Dumbledore's Warm Socks, Herbology Socks, Pomona Mitts, Hagrid's Sweater, Forbidden Forest Scarf, Juicy Fly.

Transfiguration:  Not quite sure why these patterns are grouped together. Albanian Forest Mitts, The Gray Lady's Cloak, Ignotus Peverell's Cloak, and Mermaid Song are all based on myths; Fred & George's Socks and the E.L.F. Cap don't seem to fit in at all...

Charms: Seem to be inspired by the two young heroines of the novels, Hermione and Ginny. Pattern's are light and girly and fun, definitely my favorite category by far. Ginny's Cardigan, Sword of Gryffindor Mitts, Mudblood Cardigan, Hermione's Time Turner Mitts, Yule Ball Engageants, Bluebell Flames, O.W.L. Mittens.

Defense Against the Dark Arts: Patterns inspired by the Order of the Phoenix and the Death Eaters they fight.  Order of the Phoenix Winged Vest, Severus Pullover, Tonk's Togs (a two-part pattern: pullover and vest/sleeveless over-sweater), Narcissa Socks, Malfoy Manor Wrapper, Lestrange Cloak.

There are a lot of patterns in there, so I'm not going to go over them one by one, but I'll give you my top 3 favorite and least favorite patterns.


3. Juicy Fly. This is that Umbridge-inspired black bow. I just really don't understand who is supposed to wear this. Maybe if you shrunk it down a little and put it on a headband or something? It's just so weird.

2. Forbidden Forest Scarf.  Two words for you: tentacle porn.

1. Modern House Scarves. No. No no no. NO. *baps you on the nose with a newspaper* The HP house scarves (both the wide stripes of SS/PS and CoS, and the trapped-bar style of PoA and beyond) are iconic. Classic. Beautiful. Not-to-be-messed-with.  These scarves aren't even in the right house colors!


3. O.W.L. Mittens. OMG OWLs. I love the idea of these mittens - little knitted cheat sheets for your OWL exams! These are traditional trapezoid-shaped mittens (as opposed to rounded ones) with the top side featuring "a parliament of owls" in white on a blue sky, and the bottom a list of handy-dandy spells. Two-word spells, and really long ones, have half on the left hand and half on the right, so when you look at the palms of your hands they will spell out "Expecto Patronum" and "Expell iarmus." My one issue is that the right-hand glove says "Leviosa," and the left at the same line says "Lumos," as if each is just a one-part spell. It's "wingardium leviosa," people. Levi-OH-sa, not Levi-oh-SAH! And "lumos" can be combined with "maxima" to create a brighter light. Sigh. I mean, if you're a complete nerd/stickler for detail like I am, it would be too hard to re-do the chart to have the PROPER WORDS on the mittens.

2. Sword of Gryffindor Mitts. I'm a sucker for sleeveless gloves, and the vintage German lace pattern on these is just gorgeous.  I love the buttons along the ulna (... uh, outer portion of the arm. Is that a phrase I can use for it?) and the fact that unlike some fingerless glove patterns I've seen, there's an actual thumb bit instead of just a hole. The underside of the gloves is very plain so you won't go blind making so many lace panels. I love that the description markets them as "a handy place to conceal your wand in case you come across the Carrows in the corridors." I'm totally buying a wand just so I can do that.  Maybe something in a rosewood...

1. Ginny's Cardigan. There's a reason this is the cover photo. It's a nicely-fitted cardigan with an absolutely adorable owl-ish motif on the back panel. I love the yarn choice for this (Classic Elite Woodland in Prussian Blue), a soft slightly heathered blue that Ginny would totally rock. Normally I just sub in whatever (usually cheaper!) yarn I want for whatever yarn the pattern recommends, but in this case I think the designer's choice was spot-on. And in addition to the cute owls on the back, the front also sports a very pretty button band and adorable pockets. I love the extra long rib sections at the hem and cuff. I'm definitely going to be knitting this one just as soon as I finish the other sweater I'm making, actually no probably not, I can't wait...

HONORABLE MENTION goes to Dumbledore's Warm Socks. There's nothing terribly fancy about these socks. They're worked toe-up (my preferred method) with a short-row heel (also my preferred method) in a fairly simple seeded rib pattern, with a contrast toe, heel, and cuff. I just freaking love Dumbledore and thought it was so cute that what he really wants in life is a pair of warm, cozy socks; and I also love that some HP fan out there loved Dumbledore too, enough to design a pair of socks he'd really like and use, and even put his initials at the top - Albus Percival Wulfric Brian Dumbledore.

The photographs in this magazine are wonderful and showcase the knit items beautifully...but Interweave, I'd really like to have both a physical and digital copy of this, as it is going to KILL my printer trying to print any of these patterns. All those gorgeous full-color photos (and the way you colorized each page to look like aged paper) are going to suck my ink cartridges dry, even if I print in only black and white.  Would it be so hard to include a digital download link with each physical copy you sell? Because I would have totally bought the print edition if I could have also gotten the digital for free, or even a couple bucks extra.  The margins are infinitely higher on a digital copy, so I can see why you'd sell them separately but... come on.

I bought the digital edition because I hate carrying entire books and magazines in my knitting bag when all I really need is one pattern. I was thinking I could just print whatever pattern I was working on, but that's pretty unfeasible with the amount of color that's on each page. I'd rather have bought the physical edition and just sucked it up and carried the whole thing around with me. Maybe I'll get Dear Hubby to print out the pages I need on his fancy (and free) laser printer at the office.

My one big gripe with the digital format is that it gets kind of screwed up in my browser and on my ereader.  Whenever the letters "f" and "i" occur next to each other, the characters either disappear or are replaced by one big box with an X through it.  It's got something to do with the fonts chosen, and apparently something called "ligature" where part of one letter interferes with part of another letter (in this case, the line through the "f" and the dot of the "i") and makes it hard for the browser/reader to see... so it just leaves it out. I can't figure out how to turn off ligature and essentially separate the characters, so I just have to tolerate this utter nonsense. Again, really wish I had a print AND digital version.

I bet you didn't know I make t-shirts, too.

August 7, 2013

I didn't spend a billion freaking years getting my art degree and not learn a little something about design.  I know a lot of people who follow this blog are nerds for more than just knitting (I'm looking at you, Game of Thrones people), so I figured since I'm doing all kinds of self-promotion this week, I'd share a few of my shirt designs.

Here's my most recent one, inspired by the work of Karen Hallion, who creates beautiful crossover art of Doctor Who and the Disney Princesses. I created my own little crossover between Doctor Who and Game of Thrones: Daenerys meets the little blue box...

You and me. Fire and Blood. You watch us run.

I'm also a huge fan of Jim Butcher's Dresden Files series, which you should really read if you're at all in to urban fantasy. A much-beloved but oft-overlooked hero of this series is the Blue Beetle, the stalwart steed of protagonist Harry Dresden. Putt-putt-putting for great justice (in between trips to the repair shop).

How a  wizard who describes himself as close to 7 feet tall fits into a VW bug, I'll never understand.

Finally, I give you one design that has nothing to do with pop culture and everything to do with motivation.  I took up running recently in an effort to get in better shape (before a heatwave sapped all will to do any sort of physical activity). Sometimes it's hard to push through and finish a run, so I started imagining various things were either chasing me or waiting for me at the finish line. Here's the first of a whole series I have planned:

If his vision is based on movement, you'd better be able to haul ass.

Those are probably my favorite designs, but I've got a bunch more that I've made over the last 6 months or so. Here's a thingamabob the shirt website made to show you:

Thanks, handy-dandy RedBubble slideshow widget thingy. You're a champ.

Don't worry, I'm not going to turn this blog into a giant sales pitch. Just wanted to share.  I'm fairly proud of most of those designs (the Game of Thrones/Doctor Who one took forever and I just love it) and figured you might get a kick out of seeing them. I'm thinking of putting a small banner in the sidebar or at the bottom of the page, but if you think that's a bad idea or would be annoying, please tell me.

Later this week I'll be posting a review of the Interweave collection, Unofficial Harry Potter Knits 2013, which I purchased a few days ago. Spoiler alert: If you're thinking of getting it, please do, because it's pretty awesome.

Thinking about the future of Tipsy Sheep.

August 5, 2013

Pull up a chair, dear reader. I want to talk to you.

We're halfway through the original 4-month plan of Tipsy Sheep, and I'm starting to think about where to go from here.  I have a lot of yarn left from each of the first two dye runs, enough to start an Etsy shop or even approach a LYS to try and get on the shelf (anyone in Portland work for a yarn store??).

I'm also toying with the idea of starting another subscription yarn club for 4-6 months to help build up the line and get the name out there.  Perhaps even branch out into other weights of yarn. Thing is... well, as I mentioned, there's a lot of yarn left.  Like, more than half.  Like, I haven't sold enough to break even and have been consistently losing money on this venture.  I didn't really start this project intending to become a millionaire, but I'd hoped to at least get back the costs of the yarn and dye for each run, which hasn't happened.  As much as I love dyeing yarn, I don't know how I can continue doing it if I can't sell enough to cover costs.

So I'm asking for help.  Please. Spread the word. Post links on Facebook and Craftster and Twitter and Pinterest and whatever other social media you can think of. If you have a blog, maybe give a shout-out - I could even send you a mini-skein of yarn to do a review on. If you sell yarn or other crafts, please teach me your secrets.

I hate to sound like I'm begging, but I kind of am.  Hubby and I want to move back to San Francisco in a few years, and it's one of the most expensive areas of the city. We're relying solely on his income and whatever I make through making and selling art, including yarn.  If this doesn't work, I'm going to have to get a 9-5 job. Oh glob, please, don't make me work in an office and wear pantyhose and sensible shoes.

Details for September - White Russian!

August 2, 2013

I am so excited for this colorway.  White Russians are pretty much my favorite cocktail, and apparently after 1 or 2 of them I'm completely hilarious. The dye notes for this one should be pretty interesting.

As stated before, your 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.)  The yarn compares most favorably to KnitPicks Stroll Fingering.
  • 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'.
The cap remains at 20 subscribers per month.  If you choose to sign up for the 2-month option, you'll receive packages for:

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

Each month is $25, with the 2-month option being $50 - it includes everything listed above plus shipping costs.

The White Russian is a soft, warm, creamy off-white color, which will be featured heavily in this month's colorway.  There will also be areas of coffee and chocolate browns to represent the Kahlua liqueur that gives the White Russian it's sweet signature flavor.  There will also be small areas of yarn left completely undyed, leaving the soft white of the bare fiber to represent the cream in the cocktail. Like the Mint Julep, this will be a mellow, subtle colorway with smooth color transitions and smaller bursts of heavily saturated color.

Hopefully this all sounds appealing so...

Choose your subscription

Spots remaining for September: 10

Mint Julep awaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaayyyyy!

I got a towtruck out to jumpstart my car (Bea, as she prefers to be known) so I was able to get to the post office today!

Are you excited? I'm excited.

Everyone who ordered Mint Julep should be receiving an email shortly with your tracking number on it.  US customers should expect theirs on Monday or Tuesday; international customers, it will probably take another week or so to get to you.

I apologize again for the delay.  It shouldn't happen again. Here's a picture of an otter to make you forgive me.

Also, did you know that otters hold hands while sleeping
so they don't drift away from each other? TOO CUTE.

I'll be posting the info for September's colorway, White Russian, shortly. 

Well crap.

August 1, 2013

So, you guys know how I was in SF the last 10 days or so visiting my family? We took hubby's car down there and left mine in the garage, and someone (totally not me) left my car door ever so slightly opened and sucked all the sweet life out of the battery.  I have jumper cables, but they're too short to reach from inside the garage to a car outside, and now I have to get a tow truck to help me.  They're ridiculously expensive if you don't have roadside assistance through your insurance. Did you know that? I didn't know that.  But they are.  And I freaking just changed insurance, new policy (including roadside assistance) effective midnight tonight... so no tow truck until tomorrow morning.  Which means I can't get to the post office to mail Mint Julep on time. Sad face.  My deepest apologies to all of you who ordered MJ, but it won't be going out until tomorrow.