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

Website is up!

November 30, 2013

It's just past midnight on the East Coast and that can only mean one thing: has officially launched!

The site is still a bit of a work in progress, but it's all shiny and pretty and yaaaaaaaay!

Also remember to like us on Facebook for your chance to win bitchin' free yarn. Winner will be announced a week from RIGHT NOW!

Taking this show on the road. Again.

November 26, 2013

Hey all,

Just wanted to let you know that Dear Hubby and I will be traveling for Thanksgiving, so blog updates will be scattered. Yarn will still go out on schedule, and the website will launch on time, so don't fret about that. I hope you all have a happy and safe holiday (Americans) and/or a happy and safe Thursday (the rest of the world).

And don't forget - if you have "liked" the TSY Facebook Page, you have until December 8 to do so for a chance to win a custom skein of Socktails!


November 20, 2013

Just wanted to let you know that I'm going to be futzing with the blog a bit as I try to integrate it into Things may get wonky or even disappear. But don't worry, I'm backing up everything so nothing should be lost... probably... heh.

Blast from the Past: Dye Notes for Cosmopolitan!

November 19, 2013

In a recent poll, many of you voted that you'd like to see the dye notes that were included in the yarn club packages. You speak, and I listen! So here you go, the first ever Tipsy Sheep Dye Notes: Cosmopolitan!

:: :: ::

Let's set the scene a bit, shall we? You've just come home, exhausted, from a long day at the office. That one coworker - you know which one - has completely screwed up that same simple task he always screws up, and you were once again forced to pick up the slack or else let the whole project fall to pieces. You really don't know why that guy hasn't been fired yet, but you're probably going to do a private happy-dance the day it finally happens.  Then your train was late, and there was a freak summer rain storm so of course you didn't have your umbrella, and now your hair (that you spent so much time on this morning) has just gone completely flat. You can't wait to curl up on your couch with your good friends Ben and Jerry and veg out with a Supernatural Marathon. 

But wait, what's this? By your door, in a little box? Who's it that adorable sheep on the return label? OH YES! It's that yarn you ordered weeks ago and had totally forgotten about! You remember seeing a shipping notification in your inbox earlier this week, but Stupid Coworker Sucks-at-Life's repeated failures had pushed all thoughts of yarn and knitting out of your head. Until this moment. This glorious moment.  

You push open your door and fumble with your keys to slit open the packing tape on the little box. A few mini boxes of Nerds lie nestled in the warm woolly folds of a skein of beautiful magenta yarn. And tucked inside that box, folded the way you remember passing notes in middle school, are two little pieces of paper. The first is instructions for a new knitting technique - the i-cord bind-off, which you promptly memorize and vow to use on every stretchy edge for the rest of your life. The second is a note from the dyer herself...

Dear Awesome Human Being,

Thank you so much for signing up for a Tipsy Sheep subscription, whether it was just for this month or you’re along for the whole ride.  This is the maiden voyage of Tipsy Sheep, and it has been more fun (and more difficult) than I could have imagined.

This month’s colorway was inspired by the classic Cosmopolitan cocktail.  It’s been several years since I had one, and that was at my sister’s bachelorette party… Let’s just say it was a very long, rather scarring weekend!  But I decided to put my negative associations aside for the sake of you wonderful knitters and give this drink another shot.  Here’s the recipe I used:

1 ½ oz vodka
½ oz Cointreau
1 tsp lime juice
1 ½ oz cranberry juice – NOT cranberry juice cocktail

Pour everything into a shaker with ice (or if you’re not fancy like I am, a glass with your hand held over it) and shake it up, baby.  Then pour it into a cold cocktail glass (or a wine glass, whatever you have), and garnish with a wedge of lime or a twist of lime or orange skin.

It’s surprisingly hard to find straight cranberry juice at the grocery store these days.  I saw tons of bottles of cranberry juice mixed with apple, blueberry, grape, pomegranate, raspberry, cherry… everything but straight cranberry juice without added sugar.  The pure stuff was on the very bottom shelf in a tiny bottle, but it’s definitely worth it for this drink to get the pure 100% cranberry juice rather than something that’s been sweetened to within an inch of its life.

I must confess that I have a weakness for flavored vodkas, so when it came to mixing my Cosmo, I went with a blood orange flavor from Skyy that is absolutely delicious.  I also used Rose’s Sweetened Lime Juice instead of fresh because (1) I had it already and (2) it helps to offset the tartness of the pure cranberry juice.  Also, I don’t know if you know this, but Cointreau is just a brand name of triple sec (orange liqueur) so you don’t have to spring for the fancy stuff to achieve the same taste.  Cointreau is the International Bartender Association’s listed liqueur for the Cosmo, though, so if you want to be all official about it, go with the one in the snazzy bottle.

Hubby was out of town for drink night, so I had a total old-lady-alcoholic night and drank alone with my cats.  I spent the night marathoning the only proper show to watch while drinking a Cosmo… that one show about a 30-something successful Manhattan woman trying to have it all, stumbling through the misadventures of life, love, and career with the support and advice of her mismatched but awesome friends… by which of course I mean Liz Lemon on 30 Rock.

Seriously, if you haven’t seen that show, check it out. Pretty sure it’s on Netflix, and the DVDs are available for all but the latest (and sadly, last) season. Tina Fey and Alec Baldwin are hilarious in it, and I laughed my ass off… and not just because I accidentally mixed myself a double Cosmo due to a lack of normal-sized shot glasses in my house.

I was surprised when I mixed the drink at what a gorgeous, jewel-like magenta pink it was.  That color became the main inspiration for the yarn, as did the lush purple-y burgundy of the cranberry juice.  Because there was barely a hint of lime taste in the cocktail, I kept the lime in the yarn to a minimum, just a small bright pop nestled between sections of orange.  I tested a few different orange dyes before finding one that was just right – not so bright as to overwhelm the magenta, but rich enough to hold its own in the colorway.  During the sample runs, I noticed how easily the lime and the orange would muddy each other, so I decided to fade them out nearly to white as they approached each other, creating some nice pale areas in the yarn that help break up the otherwise very saturated colors.  I created some variegation in the magenta and cranberry sections as well, producing some pretty, paler pinks and reddish purples to keep the yarn (and the final knitted piece) from getting too color blocked.

Dyeing two whole kilos of yarn is a very different experience than dyeing a few small sample skeins, I’ll tell you what.  I ran out of dye three times and had to remix, and all told it took nearly three hours to achieve the effects I wanted.  Then I couldn’t get the bundles into the steamer pot because they were so big, so I ran to the grocery store to buy the biggest pot I have ever seen. The dyed skeins wound up being super heavy, as they were saturated with a whole bunch of water and dye, so my hubby had to help me wrestle them into the steamer pot.  There was also a rather large puddle of vaguely pinkish water all over the garage floor by the time I was done, but it cleaned up easily enough.  My shoes took a good soaking, too, but they’re the same shoes I wear when painting so it just gave them more character.

Overall I’m extremely pleased with how this colorway came out. It’s as bright and fun as the cocktail itself, with vibrant jewel tones and darker berries.  I’m in love with those little sections of brilliant lime, and the lush orange is just gorgeous.  There is nothing boring or tame about this colorway, and I suspect it would look awesome in a lacy shawl or pair of socks.

I hope you have as much fun knitting with this yarn as I did making it, and thank you again for your support of this venture.  Hopefully I’ll see you again next month!

Happy knitting,

P.S.  I’m sorry the shipping boxes for this month were so crammed.  Office Depot has been completely sold out of the right size for a few weeks now, so I ordered them from another supplier and they hadn’t arrived in time for shipping.  Next month the yarn should have more room to breathe. :)

You clutch the note to your chest as you peer more closely at the yarn, flicking on the kitchen light to get a better look. Yes, you see it now - the subtle variations within each color, fading from pale to bold and back again. Visions of socks and shawls dance in your head as you inhale the warm, fuzzy scent of wool - with just a faint aroma of flowers, leftover from the dyer's soap. This is going to be a good night.

You know what's great? Free yarn. You know what's better? Free yarn you design yourself!

November 17, 2013

Hello fellow fiber addicts.

I'm very excited to announce that will be launching in just 2 weeks, on December 1 2013!  The website will feature an integrated blog, dyeing and knitting tutorials, and a new-and-improved shop!

And who knows, maybe it will have more than just yarn...

To celebrate this momentous day, I'm hosting a little giveaway drawing.  "Like" the Tipsy Sheep Yarn facebook page and you'll be entered to win a skein of Socktails* that YOU get to design!

It doesn't have to be cocktail themed, either - just choose up to 5 colors that you like, or send me an inspiration photo, give me some rough guidelines on how much of each one to include in the yarn, and it will show up on your doorstep!

Entries will be accepted up until December 8 (one week after the shop opens) to give me plenty of time to get the yarn to you by Christmas whatever winter-time gift-giving celebration doesn't offend you.

And don't worry - if you "liked" the page before this giveaway was announced, you've already been entered :)

*Socktails: 75% superwash merino, 25% nylon, 100 grams / approx 463 yards of fingering weight yarn.

Things I'm learning as I build the website.

November 15, 2013

It has been a looooooooooong time since I last built a website (probably 2006, which is in internet years) and I've never tried building anything so complicated as a web store nor tried to integrate a blog into it. Here are some things I've discovered:

1. I don't remember jack about html, css, php, or any other acronyms used in making web stuff.

2. Pretty sure this shit's gotten a lot more complicated in the last 7 years.

3. ZenCart is really hard. I may give up on it altogether.

4. Blogger is mean. There's no longer a straight FTP publishing option, which is what you USED to use to integrate a blog into a website. Furthermore, it appears this change was quite recent since there are NO tutorials on how to do it without the FTP option. I'm going to try a workaround with the new custom URL option, so things might start looking a little funky around here for the next week or so.

Good night, sweet prince. Helloooooooooooooooooo nurse!

November 14, 2013

Well, it's finally happened. My KnitPicks ballwinder has died. I bought it for about $20 maybe 8 years ago and it has served me well. For Tipsy Sheep alone, it wound nearly 51,000 yards of yarn, and who knows how much more for personal projects.

But something inside it has stripped, its wibbly-wobbly base-bit is slipping, and it's making some truly horrifying clacking sounds that I'm going to interpret as its death rattle.  I'm going to give it a proper Viking funeral in my bathtub to honor it for its many years of loyal service.

And yet something wonderful will arise from this tragedy, as I've just placed an order for a truly magnificent heavy-duty ball winder from Nancy's Knit Nacks.  It was shockingly expensive, but since Tipsy Sheep is now officially a business (I got my license, registered the name, and everything!) it counts as a business expense, which softens the blow a little. And she offers a wholesalers discount for licensed businesses with a Tax ID number, so that helped, too.

The best part about this winder is that, when Tipsy Sheep inevitably becomes an enormous success, I can purchase a power base for the winder that will make it fully automated, so I can wind up to 5.5 yards per second instead of the measly 1/2 yard MAX I can wind by hand.

It will be a few weeks yet before the winder gets here, and in the meantime I'll be winding the rest of Alaskan Ice Tea by hand. I'm sure the pins in my wrist will just love that, but that's how much I care about my amazing customers :)

Holy crap we have a Facebook page.

November 13, 2013

I'm still getting the hang of this social media thing (which is ridiculous, because I'm not even 30 so it should still be instinctual), but figured Facebook would be a great way to connect with knitters who may not know of or use Ravelry, and for each of you to connect with me and with Tipsy Sheep in a more one-on-one kind of way.

The Facebook page will be used for things like announcements, GIVEAWAYS, fun promotions, and maybe even contests and whathaveyou.

Gallery Update :)

November 12, 2013

After a painfully long drive up from SF to Portland yesterday, hubby and I arrived home to an extremely happy kitty.  She followed us around all night, purring and demanding belly rubs, and meowed very loudly whenever one of us would leave the room. As I type, she is sitting next to me on hubby's computer chair, pretending to nap but really keeping one eye open to make sure I don't leave the house again.

She thinks I can't see her if she hides behind her tail.
While I'm being held hostage by kitty snuggles, I've updated the gallery post to include pictures of Blue!

My my my...

November 9, 2013

Whatever could this be, I wonder?

December 1, 2013. Stay tuned for more details... And maybe some sweet giveaways... 

Preview photos: Alaskan Ice Tea!

November 7, 2013

This is a first - posting photos of the yarn before giving a little summary of the dye experience.  Truthfully, at this point, I'm not finding any major revelations with each dye any longer; mostly it's just small refinements of technique and resolving minor annoyances. For example, this month, one of the colors just did NOT want to go into the yarn and I wound up using twice as much dye as usual.  My ball winder also committed suicide, resulting in some pretty horrific tangles that took up to five hours PER BALL to fix. But now I have an excuse to get a bitchin' new ball winder, a million times nicer than the dinky plastic one I've been using, so that's a plus at least.

Despite its resistance, this yarn turned out beautifully. The main blue is bright but cool, nearly a perfect match for the finished cocktail and reminiscent of a glacial lake. The darker blue provides a subtle lowlight, the color of an arctic sea, while the streak of lime-lemon-and-orange gradient creates an engaging highlight.  

Words can't really describe it, so I'll quit wasting bandwidth and just show you some pictures. Click the cut to see more :)

On the road!

November 4, 2013

Dear Hubby and I once again spent a whole day in the car, roadtripping from Portland to SF to spend a week in the fog with my family and his main office. I managed to finish dyeing Alaskan Ice Tea before we left and plan to make this a working vacation -  I brought my swift, scale, winder, and labels so I can skein up these beauties!

Blog posts will be pretty sporadic this week since I won't have regular access to a computer, but I've got some sweet stuff in the works for Tipsy Sheep and will do my best to tease you with hints and previews.  :)

Details for December - Alaskan Ice Tea!

November 1, 2013

Now that those cute little hanks of Blue are winging their way across the globe to their new homes, it's time to look toward the next colorway: Alaskan Ice Tea!

The yarn is mainly a cool, bright blue reminiscent of a glacial lake; a deep arctic ocean blue forms a small area of lowlight, while a streak of gradiated lime, lemon yellow, and bright orange creates a bright and lively contrast. It's like a Bob Ross winter seascape you can knit with. The cocktail itself is a variation on the classic Long Island Ice Tea, using blue curacao to give it its signature color and flavor, and a splash of lemon-lime soda to make it sparkle.  

Within each shipment you will find:

  • 100g (approximately 463 yards) of soft, durable, and machine-washable fingering weight yarn in a blend of 75% superwash merino and 25% nylon.
  • A peek into the process with dyers notes about how the cocktail's ingredients translated into the colors used, and funny anecdotes ... and, yes, me drinking the inspiration.
  • Learn an interesting new technique (such as fun cast-ons and edge finishes).
  • Learn to make the signature cocktail yourself - the recipe is right inside the yarn label!
  • I am addicted to candy, and you should be, too.  Allow me to enable you.

As with previous colorways, only 20 will be produced in the first run.  You can choose to receive just the Alaskan Ice Tea, or sign up for 3 months and get one ball of new yarn each month until February! If you go for the 3 month option, you will receive:

December: Alaskan Ice Tea - see above.

January: Pretty Rickey - pale peaches and pinks, rich cherry red, and flecks of lime
February: Tequila Sunrise - a smooth gradient of sunny yellow to orange to pinkish red

Each month is $25 for US customers, with the 3-month option being $75 - it includes everything listed above plus shipping costs.  International customers, please select the international option from the drop down menu.  All yarn goes out on the first of each month!

Sign up soon, as only a limited number of skeins are available!

Choose your subscription!

Blue has been released into the world.

Fly, my beautiful fiber, fly free.

My patronus is Tina Fey.

Everyone should be receiving an email shortly with your tracking information.  If you don't get it by the end of the day, please leave a comment here and we'll figure out what went so horribly wrong.

Stay tuned for info on the December 1 mailing of Alaskan Ice Tea!