Fingering, not fingerLing
Dyeing yarn, not Dying yarn (are you killing the thing?)
If you’ve dropped stitches, you’re losing stitches not loosing stitches.
That is all,
Fingering, not fingerLing
Dyeing yarn, not Dying yarn (are you killing the thing?)
If you’ve dropped stitches, you’re losing stitches not loosing stitches.
That is all,
….is what I had said after seeing the prices for a NKK (Nancy’s Knit Knacks) heavy duty ball winder. $250?!! And that’s not including postage.
So, guess what I did? Yep, I bought an electric winder that self-winds. No more achy shoulders and wrists!
I know there’s a cheap Boye winder that’s available at your big box stores but those things are evil contraptions that do a poor job of winding balls. No wonder they’re so cheap! And that thing can’t wind larger put-ups like this baby I got. (Bought for a cool $142 from E-bay, of course. That site is like a treasure hunt sometimes. I saw this listing and man, I was determined to buy it since something like this doesn’t show up often. And tah-dah! In my hands. Muahahahahaha!)
It’s supposedly vintage/rare because they don’t make these anymore but the one I received looks and feels almost new. This definitely sat in someone’s attic/garage for a long time. Hey, I’m not complaining!
After a bit of a hiccup in the very beginning (the wooden core wasn’t spinning the first time I wound a ball due to not having been used in a long time. By the second ball, it was just fine. Perfect little center pull balls that look like those crochet thread balls. Check out the Youtube video of the winder in action.
As much as I love my Royal winders (both the small and the long discontinued jumbo winder), this is infinitely easier to wind from my cones. I have not tried winding off of a swift yet so we’ll see how that goes.
So I went a little overboard…..
A spinning/weaving shop closed and had consigned its entire stock to DBNY (discontinuedbrandnameyarn.com).
Tons of cashmere, extra fine merino, merino-silks, cashmerinos….you name it, they had it and I bought it. Much of it was Colourmart yarns while there was a healthy does of Jaggerspun, Henry’s Attic, and Japanese cashmere yarns thrown in there as well.
Of course, it was discounted (cheaper than buying from Colourmart) so I kinda went hogwild.
And since I have all these lux fibers to knit with, I am going to destash ALL my workhorse yarns. No sense knitting with stuff that’s not soft. Goodbye Cascade 220, goodbye Knit Picks Wool of the Andes, Good bye KP Palette, goodbye Ultra Alpaca, goodbye Araucania Nature Wool, goodbye Patons Classic Wool, and on and on and on….
Quick, hide your babies! By babies, I mean your lovely yarn stash.
I recently got a very large package of coned yarn that had a fair amount of bug damage from an ebay seller that will remain anonymous. Not only did the bugs eat through the entire cone, I found dead casings and even found one squirming bug that I quickly killed with my thumbnail. Ew ew ew ew!
Now, there were no mention of bugs or damage in the Ebay listing so I was pretty pissed. 15-17 pounds of yarn and they all got bugs. CRAP!!! Where did this woman store these yarns – in her barn or something?
The Ebay seller was nice enough to refund me the entire amount, minus the $70 in postage (I know, seriously. Has this person never heard of UPS or Parcel post before? Who sends a 20 pound box via Priority Mail across the country?)
For a person like me who has more yarn than most yarn shops, any hint of bugs and I go nuts. What if the bugs get to any of my stash? That’s a real fear and I try my best to keep my yarn room clean and bug-free.
Luckily, due to the box being so heavy and large, I had opened this buggy package out in the garage so the bugs never had a chance to even set foot in the house.
Normally, I would just chuck all of this into the trash but here’s the thing. These were REALLY nice luxury blend yarns….with you guessed it…cashmere. (not to mention the $70 out of pocket postage I paid for all of it) What’s a girl to do?
I’ve bagged them all in a vaccuum bag, threw in a ton of mothballs (die, you mofos, die!!!) and they have been sitting there in my garage for several days now. I’ll take them out one by one, skein any that’s salvedgeable and then boil all the skeins and let dry in the summer sun. That should get rid of the mothball smell as well as kill any remaining remnants. I guess these won’t be going in my regular stash.
Sheesh, you gotta stay vigilant and Ebay is just one big minefield.
Everyday I see overeager semi-noob dyers jumping onto the hand-dyed yarn selling bandwagon. They see brands like MadelineTosh, Lorna’s Laces, and think, ‘Hey, let me get a piece of that action too!”
Well, I also see small hand dyers call it quits every single day. Even semi-large ones that have a considerable following have trouble keeping afloat and close up shop.
It’s unfortunate really, but I kinda see this market already at saturation point. I mean, there are so many freakin dyers that it’s almost impossible to differentiate one from another since most are using the same yarn base, the same dyes, similar techniques, and same POS (point-of-sale). Unless something totally unique came along, I doubt one will survive longer than a few years and with barely a profit.
From a business standpoint, one really needs to bring supply costs down. Let’s do a simple breakdown of material costs:
That right there already costs a ton, although one can get away with not buying the bigger investment pieces of equipment until later. Now, given that a typical hand dyed sock yarn sell for $24-25/skein and only receive about $12-13 when sold wholesale to LYSs, you’re looking at $2-3 profit. If you consider that the minimum wage is close to $9 these days, how many skeins would you have to sell to make a decent living? 1500-2000 skeins a month? Can one person even dye that much yarn? And will said person be able to sell that many?
So you don’t want to sell wholesale and have the yarn shops take half your money. Well, what about website or Etsy costs if you decide to sell online only? postage? paypal fees? How will you market your yarn? Placing ads on Ravelry? Coupons or sales? Supplying yarn to up and coming knitwear designers? That costs more money.
Applying for a business license in your state and paying business taxes on your sales. More money out of your pocket
I don’t want to be a party pooper but honestly, people jump into this whole dyeing business without a plan and it’s sad really. Yes, your yarns are beautiful but that only gets you so far.
There’s been a big fuss over Lotus Mimi, a supposedly 100% mink yarn. Now, I say supposedly because no one is certain if it did contain mink in the first place. All we know is that the yarn was sent out for testing at a lab and it came back as a mix of angora, wool, and nylon. ZERO mink.
Well, how about that. Trendsetter, the U.S. distributor of the yarn was quick to pull the plug on this fake yarn and is doing a massive recall on the product. Lotus Yarns of China, which originally sold the yarn is claiming that they were duped by the actual manufacturer of the yarn and had no knowledge of the fiber content switcheroo. Supposedly, Lotus had test results and documents to prove the yarn was indeed mink back in the day when Trendsetter first contacted Lotus to distribute the yarn and the brand in the U.S.
Who knows what the truth is? Somebody is lying and lots of people are pissed and rightly so. $26/50g ball of a mostly wool-nylon blend yarn? And what about the angora content? A lot of folks are allergic to angora so this is really bad form on the part of the Chinese. In the past, I’ve defended Chinese yarns despite China’s poor reputation for knock-offs of everything under the sun because I figured, who would go out of their way to make fake yarn? (I mean, yes there are fake cashmeres on Ebay going for $2/ball but c’mon, unless you’re stupid, you know that’s not real cashmere, right? I hate those people who buy these ridiculously priced yarns and complain that they turned out to be not cashmere but nylon or microfiber. Uh-duh!)
Well, you got me China. You and your minks….which by the way are most likely sable. (and no, not the ‘Stash Accumulation Beyond Life Expectency’ kind)
Sable is commonly found in Northern parts of Asia with the lowest quality (cheapest) grown in China. The Chinese character most often used to sell “mink” yarns is ‘貂
Anyway, from Ravelry posts like this that are pointing out the mink yarns don’t look quite right under the microscope as well as speculation that the yarn is a kill fiber (supposedly, the mink are brushed but how one would go about doing that without hurting the animal and not accruing a ridiculously high labor cost is beyond me) I’m going mink free from now on.
What’s even weirder is that Craig Turner of minkyarn.com, a purveyvor of mink and mink blend yarns suddenly announced he was leaving the mink yarn business and going the route of Italian mills……and then suddenly deleting his blog post. Did he find out something we’d rather not know? Who the hell knows? But this “Minkgate” sure is fishy.
As much as I like exotic fibers, I don’t approve of killing animals just to get yarn (with the exception of NZ possums because they’re an ecological problem) and I don’t like having to second guess if what I have is real or fake.
That said, there have been other instances of fake yarn in the past. Let me briefly mention some of them:
So I don’t know if any of you are familiar with Artfibers, the eclectic specialist yarn shop in San Francisco that sold only their own line of yarn.
Well, they closed a few years ago (due to the owners wanting to get out of the business after 20+ years and San Francisco’s real estate prices becoming just ridiculous) and had a closing sale. I thought about ordering some then but hemmed and hawed too long to buy anything.
Flash forward a year. The owners still had a storage locker full of yarn and they had set up a website called The Yarnist to try to sell off some of the remaining inventory. I had the page bookmarked because I saw some yarns that peaked my interest. Namely the following:
nom nom nom
Camuse (65% baby camel / 35% cashmere)
Sortie (100% superfine merino – 15.5 microns! That’s softer than most cashmeres!)
Svalbard (80% superfine merino/20% cashmere)
Yaqui (100% yak down)
100% yak down – yes please!
Majolica (70% Superfine Merino/30% Silk)
ManRay (70% viscose / 30% stainless steel)
These are fiber contents you don’t typically see in most LYSs so at the prices they were selling for, I was more than interested. They also had all these yarns custom spun for them from Italy and Japan (Lineapiu and Hasegawa among some of the mills that spun the yarns) so these were total one-of-a-kinds. How many times have you ever run into superfine merino yarns? I’ve only seen one, yes, one yarn in the entire retail yarn universe.
Well, today they’re liquidating everything. I guess they no longer want to hold onto their storage locker or deal with running a yarn website. It’s all on the chopping block. At a ridiculously low price: $20/lb for up to 49 lbs and $16/lb for 50-199lbs. 200 or more pounds of yarn and you’re looking at $12/lb. These are all on cones so even better for me who hate joining yarn and weaving in ends.
I went batshit crazy….as in, I was about to drop a 200lb order until I looked at my bank account balance that was looking rather paltry. Scratch that plan. The minimum order is 10 lbs so I did what a sane person would do: order just 10 pounds. (just 10 pounds. hahaha, most people would consider that a lifetime supply of yarn, right?)
Got on the phone first thing in the morning (even though I have phone phobia and hate calling people I don’t know…yeah, I don’t even like calling restaurants for reservations or take out.) and made my order. (The owner, Roxanne, is really sweet and was really patient with me.)
Guess who’s got a shipment of baby camel, cashmere, and yak down on my way? Me, me, me!
Now, off to go destash some rustic wools I’ll never be touching again with a ten foot pole. Only luxury fibers for this yarn snob!
eta: totally kicking myself for posting this all over the internet because some of the stuff I wanted is sold out. Me and my big blabber mouth!
So, I had posted my rant about Malabrigo…
This time, it’s gonna be about the other cult faves – Wollmeise and Madelinetosh.
Not to sound like a pompous snob, but hey, at this point in my life, I think I’m allowed to judge yarn (move over Clara Parkes! I’ve got a good 13,000 skeins of yarn and 200 cones in my stash. How about you?)
And while my experience with Malabrigo was less than perfection (I have used the Worsted Merino, Chunky, Finito, and Lace versions as well as its 100purewool cousins, so I did get an overall feel for the yarns), the Wollmeise and Madelinetosh experience was actually not too bad.
The yarns I encountered was Wollmeise Dk and Wollmeise Pure; Madelinetosh Tosh Sock, Pashmina Worsted, Tosh Merino DK.
Here are my rather brief reviews:
Wollmeise: substantial feel, solid colorway that looks almost factory dyed, soft and tightly spun base. Overall, a very nice yarn but I can’t quite see why there’s a rabid fan base. I admit that it’s a really high quality yarn but don’t really see why there’s such a high premium. Nonetheless, if you come across a destash/ yard sale that has any of the Wollmeise yarns, don’t hesitate to snatch them up. High quality through and through. No dyes coming off onto your fingers while knitting and no dyes leeching onto lighter colored yarns when washed. Whatever this Claudia (the dyer) is doing, she’s doing a good job.
Madelinetosh: TOTAL HYPE. There, I said it. The dyes aren’t set correctly and some of the yarns pill like crazy (Pashmina series), almost to the point of Malabrigo. At your price point, what’s your excuse? My god, America, are you this dumb to get suckered into buying overpriced yarn? There are SO many indie hand dyers out there deserving your $$$ and this brand ain’t it. You might balk at this statement and wonder how many yarns I have actually used to give such review. How about 20 skeins? Is that enough of a test run? I made a ton of mini skeins to sell off after using a certain yardage for my scrap yarn scarf project. Lo and behold, many of these suckers bled like crazy. I don’t care if your yarn colors are beautiful – set your colors so they don’t bleed onto other yarns. Your prices sure don’t justify this nonsense. Maybe I’m just a cranky knitter who doesn’t like seeing one company monopolize the hand dyeing market.
Continuing from the last post, I wanted to explain why I bought this machine. Normally, it is a device that is used to wind bobbins/spools for spinning and/or weaving. And we don’t have to get into any more detail than that because I do not partake in either of those activities. I’m strictly a knitter and not counting those bouts of dyeing yarn, I don’t stray into other fiber arts. Knitting and knitting only.
So what prompted me to plunk down a good chunk of money for this? Well, it started with cobweb silk cones of yarn that I had purchased online a few years ago…
DBNY (that’s Discontinued Brand Name Yarn, for those not in the know) had these cobweb Botto Poala cones of spun silk at discount prices and I thought to myself, ‘Hey, I’ll just wind those up in multiple cones and hold them quadruple stranded.’ Well, I found out that this cobweb weight yarn was SUPER thin, as in 2/100 count. (that would be approximately 5500 yards/100g. Holy crap!!!!! Yeah, let’s scream together.) In order for me to get fingering weight, I would need 10-12 strands held together. Ridiculous, I know, but hey, I don’t give up that easily. 10 cones it is, gosh darn it. I took to hand winding a cone and then another. Did I mention just those 2 cones took me about 6 weeks? My arms were about to fall off and I still had 8-10 more cones to go. As a bonafide yarn lover, I normally revel in these things. But this was beyond ridiculous. I’ll keep winding off the yarn onto another empty cone (or toilet paper cardboard roll if I ran out of actual cones) for a good 20 minutes and then realize I barely made a dent.
Off to the back of the closet they went (along with the remainder of the stash that won’t see daylight for another decade or so…) until one day I came across a Youtube video that used an electric drill to wind up yarn onto spools. Yeah, they weren’t cones but i was willing to give it a shot. I dragged out my husband’s tools from the garage and off I went to finally wind these up. Well, it didn’t go so smoothly and about 1 minute in, I was already having trigger-finger fatigue. There was no way in hell, I’d be able to wind these super thin yarns onto a spool this way without hurting my index finger. So much for that.
Not too long ago, I received a bug damaged cone of extra fine merino cone of light laceweight yarn and the winding was brutal, I tell ya. I noticed broken strands on the cone and figured I’d just wind off the single cone onto multiple cones and this took FOREVER!
I thought to myself, ‘There has got to be another way. No way that there isn’t some device out there.’
So I went and did what normal person does these days: I Googled the shit out of the thing.
Result: Turns out there’s a cone winder adapter for double ended bobbin winders. Too bad that these electric winders from Schacht or Leclerc cost $275-365 and then another $60-80 for the adapters. (not to mention the extra postage) Did I really want to spend $350-440 to wind a couple of cones of yarn? Nope.
And this is where E-bay kicks in. Some entrepreneurial folks have gone and rigged up their own system by doing the woodwork themselves and tacking on a sewing machine motor (w/foot pedal) for a lot less. Did I mention a cone adapter was included? Hells yeah!
And, E-bay wanted to kickback 5% of sales that day. Well, no brainer there. Bought for $189, free shipping, 5% kickback, and I figured I’ll destash the thing after I’m done. No sweat.
So, I present to you the glorious cone winder that will save my shoulders and joints! Ta- dah!\
I’ve been winding off all my laceweight cones onto multiple cones and it’s fun watching it spin like crazy. The only downside is that the motor is small and gets overheated very quickly, especially with super thin yarns. I usually wind only 1-2 cones at most and then let it cool for an hour or two. But so far, so good. More cone yarns, here I come!
Fresh off the plane (ok, not really, since it’s been 5 days) from my 2 week trip to Korea, I’m still walking kinda dazed from jetlag. Normally, it would only take me a few days to adjust to the 16 hour time difference but right now, my 22 month old with a bad case of cold/flu is not cooperating with me. Going to bed at 3-4 am and getting up at noon is no fun.
Regarding my trip, it was to visit my parents who haven’t seen my boys for 2 whole years so despite the rather large chunk of change we spent on airfare (let’s just say it cost an equivalent of a few thousand skeins of yarn. Ouch!) it was worth it. We got to eat lots of great food, meet some old friends and relatives and just hang out in what must have been the longest streak of sunny days I’ve seen. (turns out Korea is having its worst drought ever so I guess the sunny weather was a bad thing….)
And regarding knitting and yarn…well…I did get to finish knitting a hat while sitting in the subway but I did not get a chance to make it out to DDM (Dongdaemun), the ultimate craft mall I told you about before. My parents, who used to live smack dab in the middle of Seoul (that’s right; we were Gangnam Style) kept moving further and further away from the city to their current home, located waaaaaay out there. (I mean, no subway access?!!!) It did only take me a bit over an hour to get to DDM when I took the express bus last time but it’s a whole other beast with 3 kids. (and no, I was not gonna ask my parents to watch all three of my rambunctious kids to go yarn shopping all day. You can imagine their expression if I told them that)
I had wanted to buy a buttload of cones from a vendor that sells industrial millends for cheap but oh well. (most cones he sells goes for about $2-3/100g. Even for really nice stuff like Italian spun extra fine merino and silk blends. Yeah, tempting.) Perhaps next time, (if there ever is a next time….)
Per usual, I arrived home to find several packages (not all yarn, mind you) as well as the accusing stare my husband gave me. I opened them up to show him that most of them were not yarn. (ha! that’s right. A book! And a mini tripod for your smartphone! And a funky looking machine, which happens to be a motorized double ended bobbin winder……
Now, what the heck is a double ended bobbin winder and what is yarnphreak doing with it? Next blog post! Stay tuned!