nikkislipp

colour + fibre + thrift


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Woolversations: Superwashed Out (Part 3)

Dear Noel,

As a prologue to a post I’ve been trying to write for over two weeks, my life seems to have lurched into overdrive lately 🙂 My to-do lists have exploded all over the place, and the really busy part hasn’t even started yet…it’s still early December! The only time I’ve been able to find some quiet time to think and write has been after midnight, when my brain ain’t so spry. 

I must finally admit that I probably won’t be able to reach the bar set with the comprehensiveness of your last post and will have to stick to point form for a lot of this post or risk possibly never getting it written at all. Ever. 

I think for my sanity, I’m going to have to keep these posts shorter!!  🙂 🙂 🙂

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Noel, you knocked it out of the park with your last post! I thought it would take weeks of work and posts back and forth to gather all that information…

I’m always excited to reply to you right away….and then life gets in the way, so I’m sorry for this much-later-than-expected post. I kind of knew this would happen…I get overwhelmed easily, especially at this time of year, and things just don’t come together the way I had hoped. With the holidays coming up, I imagine we both might need a bit of leeway, and I’m totally okay with that 🙂 Journey not destination, right??

Anywho! Let’s see if I can gather the copious amounts of notes I have into something coherent…..

On learning about superwash…

It’s funny how there are stages of growth as a knitter, and there are times I look back and shake my head at how little I knew–and how little that mattered to me…I just went ahead and knit what I want, whether I was using the right yarn or technique or not! Or, how my life totally changed when I knit with wool for the first time, and then hand-dyed merino and silk for the first time…I still hadn’t even clued in to superwash yet at that point.

But as for learning about, or becoming aware of, superwash, I can’t really recall a specific moment. In fact, I’m not even sure when superwash started becoming a thing. I was surprised to hear your account of it, because I always sort of assumed that it was a permanent fixture in the market, or at least in Korea when I first started knitting. I can’t remember what I thought, but it sounded processed and chemical-ey, so just probably not good for the environment. I bought superwash since that was what was available, but I was still dabbling with all sorts of random natural and unnatural yarns: mystery mill ends and brightly coloured acrylic. (I’ve always been, what do you call it–thrifty? super cheap?) Then I got into dyeing, and spinning, because handdyed yarns and fibres weren’t really available in Korea, and also because I was still poor and thrifty 🙂

I’ll still knit with anything, but I would have to say learning how to spin taught me the most about the properties of wool and other fibres, and the construction and best use of different kinds of yarn. (I just received a bunch of breed samples from a friend, which will teach me even more, I’m sure!) It’s kind of like how learning French and Latin gave me a better understanding of the underpinnings of English vocabulary and grammar–learning how to spin makes me a much better knitter/crocheter. I love the various properties of wool, and superwash sort of turns down the volume on that sort of textural hedonism for me. Not quite as fun for the hands.

Reading through some of the comments on blogs while gathering more “social” information about superwash, you’re not alone in thinking that superwash was “pre-felted.” That seems to be a logical connection that many people have made to fabric or cotton that was “pre-shrunk.”

On different perspectives of superwash…

You say you’re not a scientist or have a doctorate in in textiles, but you definitely have an analytical, detail-oriented eye! Your post gathered all the facts that are so central to this whole discussion, and now I’m curious about the connections and meaning and personal preferences people have with their fibre choices–the social practice side. In fact, this time, I did go back through a lot of the comments on all those links I shared last time to get to know what people are saying about superwash, and what kinds of knowledge are out there. I came into this project hoping to know more about the technical side of superwash technology, but I’m finding that a good number of my questions come from the other side of the cloth, so to speak.

So, until we delve further into the environmental impact of superwash yarn, here are a few random thoughts on the significance of superwash wool (in no particular order of importance or certainty, riffing off your succinct pros and cons list, as well as opinions gleaned from various comment threads on the web, mixed with some of my own thoughts):

  • It’s so readily available that it could be argued that it’s pushing natural yarn out of the market….according to the textile trade magazines, demand for manmade fabrics is on the rise
  • Sometimes I think that superwash is more vibrant, and sometimes not. I’m going to have to do a dye test with both a superwash yarn and an untreated one in the dyepot at the same time to be sure
  • One of the selling points of superwash early on must have been that it makes yarn softer & gets rid of the scratchiness, which was most likely true back when most wools felt like carpet wool. Nowadays there are so many fine wools…and the softness of suprwash feels more like a synthetic slickness to me.
  • It’s not any more expensive at the retail-to-customer level, but what about the hidden or indirect environmental cost? There’s a term for that in business, but I can’t recall what it is at the moment. It might be mentioned in the video for The Story of Stuff, if I remember correctly…
  • Apparently, superwash doesn’t have as much of that lovely “sheepy” smell. Nooooo!
  • Also another good point raised somewhere: you can’t compost it, with the synthetic coating.
  • Superwash treated yarns have less tensile strength, and absorb less moisture than natural wool.
  • Apparently, also, the same resin treatment is used on paper towels? www.pburch.net/dyeing/dyeblog/C1307213733/E20091119090430/
  • So, if the resin coating wears off after a while, does that mean that it adds to the microplastic problem I’m beginning to hear about lately in the world’s water systems?
  • I’m seeing a lot of hesitation and fear of handwashing woolens, as if they’ll shrink up immediately upon contact with water to about a tenth of their original size…one commenter admitted feeling “heart palpitations” on the prospect of hand washing. Is this the result of over-effective marketing strategies on the part of the superwash contingent? (Not that I’m a conspiracy theorist or anything, but you gotta ask sometimes: who benefits from this way of thinking? Haha…) The truth is, you really do have to put in a bit of effort to felt something…and thing is, if we do wreck something, all we have to do is cut it up into squares for felted coasters, and our punishment is….we have to go knit some more. The horror. ;P
  • Yarn construction could play a larger part in this issue. Merino 2-ply yarns are incredibly soft and appealing, but they are quite delicate, susceptible to abrasion, and easily felted. But people love them, so to compensate, they are superwash treated and have nylon added. However, when it comes to sock yarn, for example, a merino 2-ply has no business trying to be socks. Why not choose a wool that is more durable, such as BFL or Corriedale, or blend it with other durable natural fibres such as silk or mohair, and then give it 3 or 4 plies to make it last longer? A 2-ply merino should be kept for a beautiful lace shawl, which is where a 2-ply construction really shines, in which case, there is no need for either superwash treatment or nylon. (Gives me an idea on writing a post about sock yarn construction for durability. Or just generally, alternatives to superwash wool.)
  • Since we’re not at a point yet where all yarns are labelled “treated/untreated”, making it difficult to make better purchasing choices, I’m having success if I look for breed specific wools (somewhat less likely to be superwash), or indirectly, looking for “hand wash only” or “good for felting” in the descriptions of yarns, which usually means that it is non-superwash.
  • No matter what, we don’t have to panic or start feeling bad if we have superwash in our stashes, or if we occasionally buy it in the future…Better, not perfect is the goal here, and for the love of macaroni, don’t throw out the superwash (saw this in a comment somewhere) and go buy new untreated stuff! Totally counterproductive, environmentally, haha. 🙂 (I think I might do a post at some point about environmental implications of crafting choices, as well as guarding against “green-washing”. Like your set of criteria for using superwash yarn, I have a set of shopping criteria…a sort of consumer pyramid, that I should do a post about as well….)
  • It’s ironic that hand washing makes your superwash yarn last longer. (Plus, I totally hear you on the joy of handwashing–getting reacquainted with each piece and recalling the pleasure of creating it as you rinse it and block it….)
  • I love that you have a specific set of criteria to avoid laundering often. In this day and age of hyper-cleanliness, it is almost blasphemy to say, but I also think that we don’t need to do as much laundry as soap companies’ commercials lead us to believe 🙂
  • Food for thought: an implication of choosing non superwash is that you might have to embrace “slow craft” and become comfortable with making fewer things. If you have superwash you have time to wash 40 things at once, maybe with natural yarn, you only can wash a handful in the same time. Hand-washing isn’t really more difficult, it just takes more time, which can lead us to more mindful craft, and our ability to be satisfied with less. I think we often choose to craft for these reasons, but we can also apply these mindsets to our crafting choices, as well.
  • We can all avoid buying superwash for at least one reason: knitting for others who don’t know how to care for knits. Join the Selfish Knitters group on Ravelry, and knit only for yourself. Then you can be sure that the recipient is totally knit-worthy. Just kidding! (Sort of.)
  • Every once in a while, instead of choosing to buy an untreated yarn instead of a superwash….choose not to buy any yarn. Stash dive, reclaim a knitted item you don’t wear much, or found at the thrift shop, use scraps, frog your UFO’s, do a destash trade, knit with some leftover spaghetti or electrical cord, etc. (See, now I’m getting into the topic of crafting choices, which I should save for a later point. I think once we have fully explored all the topics related to superwash, I will go back and do a summary post of all the main learnings.)

So that is my rambling, sort of unfocused response to your Part 1, some points more or less informed, and some points more or less serious 🙂

Part 2: I didn’t intend for you to go to the trouble of answering all those questions right away! They were just some interesting questions I hope to touch on over the course of these woolversations 🙂 I think we’ll need more time (probably after the holidays) to do some more in-depth research on environmental impacts, so in the meantime, I’d love to hear your response to some of the wacky things I put forward in this post 🙂 And Part 3 is absolutely fabulous, a fantastic start to what I hope will become a long and comprehensive resource for the mindful knitter. (Looks like I have lots of podcasts to check out!)

So now, I hope you forgive me for messing up your marketing/blogging schedule…and now I can hop over to Instagram and comment on all the interesting things you’ve been doing lately. Are you planning on telling us more about your new studio?

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Woolversations: Superwashed Out (Part 1)


Happy Wednesday Thursday, Noel!

I loved reading your post last week, finding out what brought you to your love of the fibre arts and what got you thinking about superwash…

Like you, and like many, I think, my current love of making comes from my childhood as well. I grew up with two extremely thrifty and practical grandmothers, who grew up during the Depression and the Second World War, and so practiced “make do and mend” like a personal calling! They were also beautiful crafters, artists, furniture refinishers, interior decorators–even gardeners and canners–and taught others the value of hand-making their whole lives. My dad’s mom in particular was a gifted wool rug-hooker, and my mom’s mom taught my mom and aunt how to sew everything from home decor to clothing, which my mom passed down to me–sewing was as normal as breathing growing up, as was generally making anything decorative, or, of course, hunting down unique items in yard sales and thrift stores… Going to the store to buy something NEW is generally my LAST resort (unless we’re talking a Starbucks Chestnut Praline Latte, which I had today, and was delicious. The red cup did not offend me at all.)

My Nan (sewing grandmother) taught me to knit when I was about 8, and I dabbled on and off, until about 2007 when I was teaching English in Gangnam (of Gangnam Style fame, yes) and all kinds of stressed out. I picked up crochet as something to do to get my mind off work and then got back into knitting with a vengeance. I quit my job teaching, and then knit furiously while I tried to figure out what to do with my life. At some point I thought “I wish I could get paid to knit!….. Hey, wait a minute….some people do!” So I got myself into dyeing and then eventually opened an Etsy shop. But it took forever, because I just couldn’t find a base I liked. I just couldn’t bring myself to pour superwash chemicals into the world on my behalf or that of my customers. So I got my yarn base custom spun. Now I’m trying to expand my repertoire of yarn bases, but I’m still not finding as many non-superwash bases as I’d like, so I’m starting to offer a mix of untreated and superwash in my shop. My hope is that, in a few years it will be more common, so I would like to add my voice to that conversation…to push awareness a bit faster in that direction.

At this point, I really don’t know much about the subject. All I know is that it’s a highly chemical process that keeps wool from felting if put in the washing machine, and the process mainly takes place in China. I’d love to ask questions, do some research, and then gather resources for others to use. More knowledge on the subject will help me steer my business, be more clear about what the knitting community is looking for, and be able to provide whatever seems lacking in the market.

I think this snippet from Lion’s Brand Wool defines superwash well, and this blog post gives the generally understood reasoning behind choosing superwash yarns. (I didn’t know, however, that superwash wool stretches more than untreated, so it’s even more important to swatch and measure it after washing…) I have a reading list to start to learn more though, which I will read through this week (I’m especially interested in any comments included), from the following (somewhat random) sources: About.com, Woolful, My Plastic-Free Life, Swicofil, Paula Birch, and Annie Cholewa. Which should be plenty to get me started learning. I will summarize when I’m done for those of you who don’t have time to do all that reading! 🙂 Most likely in list form, since you and I have determined we both quite like lists.

Speaking of lists, here are some questions I have that may or may not get answered in the course of this investigation/conversation:

  1. What keywords/terms do people usually use to describe non-superwash yarn? What do search stats show…are people searching for these keywords?
  2. What about organic, breed specific, local, or vegan yarns?
  3. What about dyes?
  4. Is raising sheep also environmentally problematic? Processing wool?
  5. Do people generally choose or prefer superwash, or just buy what is available?
  6. Which countries/regions does wool generally originate from, and where is it mostly processed/spun/superwash-treated?
  7. Which companies (especially in Canada, for me) offer non-superwash yarns? Where is it available? Are many other Etsy sellers offering untreated yarns now?
  8. Does SW/non-SW make a difference to the base cost of wool/yarn?
  9. Who else in the knit-o-sphere seems to be talking about this, what resources might they have compiled?

So, Noel, and other readers of this post, do you have any questions? I have gone ahead and started a Ravelry group, as I have been wanting to for a while, and although it is fledgling and kind of spartan in its decor, it is a great place to start chatting amongst ourselves, and to start compiling any resources we find, so come join me at the

colour + fibre + thrift Ravelry group

See you there! 🙂

 


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Woolversations: Introduction

So I’m trying to decide whether to catch up on my Youtube queue or listen to the Knitter Punks podcast for the first time while I write this post, but I keep getting distracted by wanting to read more about Slow Fashion October…oh, and Wovember is just beginning…there’s so much to know, I have so many questions, and I want to hear what everyone else thinks about it all……

But I think I should tell y’all about this Woolversations project that Noel of Wanderlust Woolves and I are about to embark on, instead. (Check out Noel’s blog post about this project from her point of view, too.)

 

I’ll close all those other tabs and start at the beginning.

Once upon a time, a few years ago, I decided to put my fledgling dyeing talents to the test and open my own little Etsy shop. I hopped onto the interwebs to just order up a small amount of appropriate yarn bases to start with, aaaand…..I couldn’t find what I was looking for. I searched high and low, but I could not find a multi-ply non-merino, non-superwash-treated sock yarn with no synthetic fibres. LOTS and LOTS of 2 ply superwash merino with nylon, though.

Luckily for me, though, I live pretty close to a large commercial yarn manufacturer, and I arranged to do a custom spin of a 4 ply untreated merino fingering weight yarn with a little bit of extra twist in the ply to add a bit of durability instead of added nylon. I was thrilled with it, and to my surprise, it actually has become one of my very favourite yarns to knit with. Still one of the only non-superwash fingering-weight yarns out there (that I can find), which flummoxes me a bit, because I always think that if I’m looking for something, there have got to be others out there looking for the same thing…..

And then along came Noel last spring, and put in a huge order of my mini skeins–about one of each colour, back when I had over 40 colourways on offer. She told me she had been looking for untreated wool yarn to no avail, and had been just about to give up when she stumbled across my shop.

This told me two things: a) that I need to do more marketing, obvs, and b) I am not alone. We chatted back and forth a couple times, and she wrote an absolutely glowing blog post about the package I sent (which still makes me blush whenever I read it–which I occasionally do, when I need an ego boost), in which she also mentioned her then-upcoming book, Microdermy Knits

 

…and mentioned that she planned to do a post at some point on her blog about superwash.

Something I also intended to do at some point.

When I had some free time.

Soon.

Just like I’ve been planning to blog more regularly as a way to market my small business and to share my ideas. But it always seems to be about, maybe, 7th on my priority list, which means it is perpetually something I’ll get to…next week.

But I didn’t quite get around to it right away, and the summer got busy, and we both had lots to do…but in the fall, after Noel had released her book, the idea was still bouncing around in my head. It occurred to me that maybe if we worked together, we could get that post on superwash wool done, and at the same time, I would be motivated to resurrect my dead blog, and we would both get (hopefully) a bit of exposure for our endeavours, and possibly get a community conversation going…

So I sent Noel a PM on Ravelry…

From: nikkislipp Sent at 12:24 AM September 28, 2015
Subject: Hey there 🙂
 
Hiya Noel 🙂

How’s it going? Busy? I bet you’re busy…

I read your last post on the blog, what a lot of ups and downs! I hope business keeps looking up 🙂

So, thing is, I’ve had this little idea simmering away in the brain pan for a while now, and I’m wondering if you would be interested in a little blogging collaboration? It might be beneficial for us both, well, blog-wise, anyway…not sure how much closer it will get us to our hoped-for knitting millions, but I suppose it could be considered research/marketing….

I won’t bore you with the details if you’re swamped, but if you’re curious, let me know!

Have a great week,
Nikki 🙂

p.s. are you planning to post on Instagram any shots of your fabulous little dollhouse with the microdermies in it? I’d love to repost on my Instagram 🙂

From: NoelMargaret Sent at 1:11 PM September 28, 2015
Subject: re: Hey there 🙂
 

Hi Nikki!

Good overall here. You? I’m always drooling over your new colorways! Those neons are delightful!

Yes, busy as ever – and in a very good way! Still only have one car between me and my husband, which makes for a bit of frustration right now, but hope to get the car back this week.

I’m certainly interested in hearing what you have in mind… please spill the beans! I’m always busy, even when I don’t ‘need’ to be… if it’s something that I can realistically fit in and would be good for both of us, I’m willing to try it out 🙂

And on the instagram note….short answer is YES! I took all those pics using our regular camera, so it’s just a matter of me getting them onto my phone. I should get to that – thanks for a little nudge 🙂

Talk soon and I can’t wait to hear about your collaborative blog idea!
~Noel

From: nikkislipp Sent at 2:22 AM September 30, 2015

Subject: re: Hey there 🙂

 

I’m really liking the recent bright skeins I’ve done, too–now if only I could get some good, not too sunny, not too dull photography weather! Then, as the saying goes, I’d be in business, har 🙂

Hope you get your wheels back soon! I don’t drive, but I do know the frustration of not being able to just pick up and go whenever you need to, without scheduling days in advance, factoring in possibly conflicting schedules…

But one day, lounging in the back of our chauffeur-driven limos (llamas?), this will all be a distant memory…

Aaaanyway, so what I was thinking is:

Hearkening back to when we both mentioned in passing that we each intended to do a bit of research into superwash treatments, untreated wool, et cetera, and given that my blog is dead as a door nail and I feel that maybe if I had something to kick me in the pants & hold me accountable, it might be able to return from the dead, I thought it might be an interesting idea if we explored the topic as a back and forth conversation between the two of us, and then publish periodically on both of our blogs. We could do it as an email exchange, and then publish the same exchange on both blogs every couple weeks, or we could do it more chat-style, or even have back-and-forth blog posts.

I don’t want to explore this thought (right now, in my own head) too much in advance, though, because it would be interesting to see how it evolves from our interaction, but I do have a couple small notes here and there from things I’ve picked up in the rav forums recently while poking around for other things…organic wool, durability of untreated wool, the idea of bamboo being misleading…so it could go in some other interesting directions as well. We can try it out starting with one topic, and see how it goes for both of us & see what comes of it.

I would imagine that it would be best to get at least a couple posts’ worth under our belt before we launch it, if we decide to make it a regular series….but then again, it could be fun to just wing it, too, and maybe it ends up only being a couple posts long…

Again, I’m deliberately staying vague, though I’m chomping at the bit to go fill two pages with brainstorming ideas, because I have this tendency to go ahead and build elaborate plans for world domination, down to the shape of the ice cubes in the celebratory drinks, and then realize there’s no more room for collaboration & I haven’t invited any one else to the party, haha.

So, yea? Nay? Thoughts?

(This PM could even be part 1)
–Nikki 🙂

From: NoelMargaret Sent at 10:25 AM September 30, 2015

Subject: re: Hey there 🙂
 

Llama chauffeurs – haaahaaaahaaa!

okay – a lot of ground to cover, so here it goes:

the weather and cars… ahhh, if only every day could be perfect for picture taking. What’s it been like where you are in Canada? It’s been decent here and today is the first we’ve had rain in a LONG while, so I’m not too put off yet. Although, when we’re on day 4 of rain, I’ll probably be singing a different song 😉 Hopefully getting our car back tomorrow! In some ways I wish I didn’t rely on my car so much… when I was in college, I didn’t have a car and I was actually a lot better off for many reasons. I don’t mean to pry, but I love to hear how folks make due without their own vehicles (I’m totally serious, too), but do you live in a city or bike or what? If you’d rather not get into it, just tell me to bugg off, I promise I won’t be offended 🙂

BLOG – PART ONE: I’m glad you’ve brought this all up & you’ve touched on a whole lot of points that have been rolling around in my brain and I’ve just been, well, putting things off. So first, I want to address the “dead blog” because I think it’s important that we’re both on the same page if we decide to move forward on this: I think you were saying that you feel your blog is dead, if I read that right, let me just say that you’re not alone! I have had a blog on/off for about 3 years….my latest version is still not what I had hoped it’d be and I know it’s not reaching a lot of folks and I cannot get people to comment or share or anything. That being said, I believe there is a trend that unless you already have an established blog with a hearty following AND you post regularly, the days of hosting a flourishing blog are tough to maintain. I have been teetering on the idea of actually ending my blog and transitioning it into something else at the end of October, but between participating in a blog tour for a book I have a pattern in and then getting your note, I’m rethinking the timeline of the transition….Which bring us to the next thing – collaborating to re-invigorate our blogs!

BLOGS – PART TWO: I say YES, let’s commit to this collaboration, but with this caveat (which you’ve actually addressed) – we let this be an organic thing in the sense that it is a conversation. This way, we can let it grow and meander and allow the forum to drift from being on a blog to going somewhere else if that’s how it goes. I think choosing a starting point (such as superwash fibers) is perfect for us, since really, this is how we “met”. And lately, it’s something that has become more disconcerting to me as a person working in the fiber arts industry / community. Superwash is EVERYWHERE and people honestly don’t know what it really is and they aren’t asking what it is either, but I digress and we can get into it more later 😉 I think that making THIS / THESE conversations our first “posts” is brilliant! So how do we want to move this forward from here? My initial thought: I’m thinking of editing our conversations here as my first post. Then for the next ones using email to “write letters” back and forth and posting those. I’m also thinking that the blog posts, for me, would offer links and images to what we’re talking about so folks could have visuals and outside resources for things like superwash info. I think it would be prudent to decide on a schedule of releasing/posting so we can keep things going and alive. Do we want to do this 1/week, 2/month, 1/month? What are you thinking? Ohh, and I think getting a couple conversations / posts under our belts might be good before we let things go live (then maybe we can “advertise” and generate a buzz on ravelry/facebook/instagram/twitter/websites…) and we can decide on a “launch date” and be all fancy that way 😉

WOOWIE! Okay, is it me or does this already feel like something beautiful is growing? I seriously can’t wait to hear back from you on this (and the yarn goodness too!) and keep the conversation going! Thank you Nikki for prompting this – no matter what direction this ends up going, there’s a new spark in me already!

YAY!
Noel

From: nikkislipp Sent at 3:50 AM October 1, 2015
Subject: llamas.
 

😀

Weather’s been perfectly nice here, early fall, not too warm or cool, a few leaves here and there, only one day of rain recently…otherwise nice and sunny, producing overexposed yet overshadowy photos. Great for drying yarns outside, though 🙂 Fall must be lovely where you are 🙂

Driving: Don’t worry, it’s not prying at all! I just never got my licence 🙂 Mostly, I know I would be a really nervous driver, so I’m really sure that the world is safer if I stay off the roads. Also, I didn’t want the expense, the responsibility, or the environmental guilt, haha. But I don’t blame anyone for driving, especially in North American cities, it’s nearly impossible to have a life or any independence here without a car. Cities–residential areas/suburbs–just aren’t built for public transportation or walking. Living here in the big suburb of Toronto, I just don’t have the same lifestyle as when I was living in the thrumming metropolis of Seoul…24-hour everything within 30 feet of your front door, and a cheap, ubiquitous and awesome public transportation system. Have you seen the Seoul Subway Map?

I’m a cave-dweller-night-owl, though, so it doesn’t bother me. I’m trying to get back to Seoul, but until then I’m just focusing on building my little business & saving up my pennies 🙂 And you’re right, it was also different when I was living downtown Toronto near campus when I was in university. I walked a ton more then, and when I was in Seoul as well. Now I’m a knitting couch lump, haha…

BLOG STUFF!
Yes, yes, I meant MY blog is dead, not yours! You’ve got a lovely li’l blog there! But now I see that’s not much of a selling point because I guess I won’t be sending much traffic your way, ha.

I’m not too worried about my blog’s traffic dead-ness, though. Just my own lack of writing on it. There is so much I want to write, but it’s always a few levels down on my priority list, so other things always get in the way.

I don’t expect we’ll see as much commenting on blogs in general going forward. See, for me, I think blogs occupy a different role now then they did in the early-mid 2000’s heyday. Pre-Twitter and Facebook, that’s where the different communities were (well, I guess along with chat/groups/mailing lists). A lot of the blogs that became well known then are still kind of like that, but mostly the interaction is now happening on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, Ravelry, Pinterest, etc. But the content is still ON blogs. And then it’s tweeted, pinned, shared, etc. Social media’s too brief to explain things in depth, so I (would) like to have my blog as a central place to put all my social media buttons on, and to be able to refer people to when I want to explain more about, say, my dyeing methods than will fit in an Etsy listing. Searchable long-term reference, in other words. I guess, though, that I just don’t have the same motivation to post now, knowing that I might not get direct feedback 🙂

All that being said, I am totally open to expanding into new formats as well for this project of ours…your blog, mine, podcasts, Periscope?? your Ravelry group?? or other things?? Who knows what new publishing platform will pop up next week!

Having a launch date is great, just so we get to be “all fancy that way” hahaha 🙂 Love it! And is twice a month good? Or would once a month be more realistically do-able given all the other plates we have spinning… Twice a month is good, right? I don’t expect there will be too much editing/rewriting of our emails before publishing…. I ask because I always have a tendency to bite off more than I can chew, which in this case, would also be because of my tendency to chew more than I bite off (judging by the length of this email so far…I can blab.)

Okay, I’ll start turning off the taps now.………I’m so excited to see where this all goes! I’m going to have so much fun chatting with you about this 🙂 And remember, my opinions are just my opinions, I hope they don’t come across as overly forceful or anything…feel free to disagree 🙂 In fact, I’m really looking forward to hearing different viewpoints and the reasoning behind them! Yay, it’s fun already!

😀
Nikki

 

…Followed by lots of emails back and forth hammering out the details 🙂

Anyway, Woolversations will be a series of blog posts as a “conversation” back and forth, about wool. Starting with a discussion of superwash wool, and seeing what other related topics it leads to from there. We will be raising questions, sharing opinions, conducting research, and maybe even suggesting some solutions… Possibly. Who knows? We just want to start and see where things go from there.

We also will be carrying the conversation over to the Wanderlust Woolves Ravelry group, and Instagram, where we are @nikkislipp and @noelmargaret. We’ll be using the hashtag #woolversations, and asking questions and starting conversations over there, too, so we hope to hear from others in our knitting community. After all, there’s so much to know, I have so many questions, and I want to hear what everyone else thinks about it all……

Watch for my first post next week!

In the meantime, if you have any thoughts or questions for us to keep in mind as we begin, please leave comments here, on Noel’s blog, on Ravelry, or, my favourite, on Instagram with the hashtag #woolversations with an accompanying fun photo! I always want to meet and follow other knitter peeps on IG! 🙂

 


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Thoughts on Blog Reboot

Is blogging still a thing?

Or should I just spend my time on Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest or Instagram?

It’s taking me forever to wrap my head around the full picture of what an effective and comprehensive social media strategy should be for me and my business and my goals, and although I do know that each social media platform has its practical uses, and I actually enjoy using some of them (Pinterest and Instagram), I haven’t really come up with a system, and that frustrates me. In fact, I’m frustrated that I don’t really have a system for anything. There’s just too much and I am overwhelmed most of the time.

Blogging is something that has been on my to-do list every day for years. I keep feeling that it is something that would be useful to do…originally when I was living overseas and thought that my family and friends would like to see what I was up to, and now as documentation of my knitting/dyeing/spinning/making process, and as content marketing for my business. It makes sense to keep a blog. Will I have the willpower to keep it up, though, is the question.

I guess time will tell. It’s probably clear from the tone of this post that I’m not exactly doing backflips at the prospect of blogging regularly, but this time, instead of hyping it up and setting up an over-ambitious schedule, I’m just going to start wherever I am and see if I grow into it. No pressure, since that is one guarantee that I will eventually run away screaming.

Okay, so I’ll give blogging a whirl again, but what for? I don’t intend to go jump on the cheerful crafty blogger bandwagon. I don’t want to redesign the blog, bump up readership and have dozens of advertisers. I don’t imagine I even want to drive people to the blog or even increase the commenting on the blog. Does anyone other than me still use an RSS reader anyway? I do, but I don’t read whole blog posts any more; I just skim for relevant information. I don’t really expect any one to read my blog posts from beginning to end, either. I just need a place to hold my original content for linking, pinning, and sharing on other platforms. A place to write a little bit more about what I’m doing than will fit in an Instagram caption, or that I can link to for more information in my Etsy listings, or a picture and some related content that I can actually pin on Pinterest.

I want to use this blog for my own purposes, mostly. I want to use it to organize the information that I have that is currently jumbled up in a mixture of bookmarks, delicious links and Feedly “read laters”–for my own use, and to be able to share information that I have researched on a topic with others, by simply sending them a link. At the very least, email them a link to a recipe on my blog.

I also want to eventually use my blog (or create another) as a community-building tool, but for right now, I think I will also use it as a method of conversing with myself to get my thoughts clear on my goals and ideas. I am the type of person who needs to talk things through in order to be able to know what I really think about an issue…I like to verbally explore my thoughts on an issue in order to discover what I intuitively think about it. It’s hard to find people to talk to, though. So maybe if I do this process within a blog post, it will be like being able to give myself feedback.

Or I’ll just get  more confused. We’ll see about that, too. I might even be able to get feedback from others–though I hope that happens in a more public forum. I’d love conversations to happen on Ravelry, Instagram, Facebook, or Twitter. Maybe that will eventually grow from this blog.

Anyway, I’ll try to keep the blog posts about blogging to a minimum, and I’ll be jumpstarting this whole blogging thing again with a collaboration with a colleague on yarny-related issues. Doing a collaborative set of blog posts will definitely keep me motivated, and that will hopefully lead to a series of posts on catching up with my life since I stopped blogging–an overview of all the current aspects of my knitting and yarny business and my (possibly super boring?) life . I’m definitely not an expert, and I have no clue what I’m doing or where I’m going. I feel alone and overwhelmed most of the time, but I don’t want to dwell on that, though, neither do I want to pretend to be super peppy and perfect all the time.  Maybe I can connect with other people stumbling along the same path as me by sharing some of my ideas and generating some conversations. 


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A yarny dilemma…

dilemma
As a yarn enabler, I love to help people help themselves to my yarn, heck, to any yarn within squooshing distance, really…

I can take extra pictures of yarn combinations, help peruse possible projects, strategize decisions, make suggestions…so feel free to contact me any time. But the following situation has come up recently, and although I consider it the highest compliment when someone wishes to own more than one skein of my yarn, I do realize that, sadly, the often finite nature of one’s personal budget may force one to make–gasp!–painful yarn choices, so I thought I’d offer up a description of my dyeing process for future reference.

The situation: You’re coming back for more yarn, and you have a budget for two skeins. You know you want the semi-solid green, but you’re torn between the purple/brown variegated and the rust/teal variegated. Which do you choose? (Colour choices changed to protect the innocent. Well, innocent until proven guilty.)

The tl;dr answer: Pick both the variegated and let the green go.

The full answer:
I like to have about two-thirds of my stock as tonal and semi-solid yarns, and about one-third variegated. For my semi-solids, I use one colour and let the dye take unevenly to produce either a subtle or pronounced variation of depth of colour. Tonals are created by using a small range of similar, or analogous, colours, and the skein is generally one hue, but with more depth and richness. Like, if I did a generally red skein, but with splashes of purplish red, deep pink, and wine. I like to have more of these kinds of colours available, because they are much more versatile than variegated in terms of pattern choices, mix and match with other colours better, and allow for more complex stitch patterns.

Variegated yarn is so much fun, though…nothing beate it for a fabulous pair of socks, or for one of those trendy but super-simple designs. Garter loves variegated yarn, and when you just want to knit on autopilot, success is guaranteed with a lovely, highly colourful skein.

Since I kettle dye/immersion dye my yarn (it’s hand-dyed, but not hand-painted yarn), and I only do one skein at a time, all of my skeins are unique and unrepeatable. It’s not terribly scaleable as a business model, but I really prefer to do it this way because I find that it produces a much richer, natural-looking, unpredictable result. Doing a semi-solid or tonal yarn this way is pretty simple, and though I may never get the exact shade again, I will always make another yellow, or pink, or blue, or purple, or teal… If you miss it this time, I can pretty much guarantee that you’ll see something pretty similar in the future.

But variegated is where the alchemy happens. I always go in with an idea of what I want to produce, mix up colours as I go, layer on dye in different stages, splash and dribble, and pour until it feels right. Then, the combination of water, vinegar, heat, and time do their thing, and I have absolutely no control over what happens. In fact, every single time I do a variegated yarn, I am absolutely convinced that I’ve totally ruined it this time…this one looks like complete clown barf…oh well, I guess I can overdye it later….but then I hang it up to dry, and I think that it might not be so bad, and then I finally reskein it, and I’m in love.

You have no idea how hard it is for me to SELL my variegated yarns. I mean, I try to recreate them, but to no avail. The resulting skein is also lovely, but never the same. This is why I recommend, at least with my yarns, if you see a variegated skein you love, grab it while you can!

(**whispering** I’ve just finished dyeing up big group of mostly variegated yarn, as I plan to introduce mini-skeins to my shop soon. I’ll be heading to a craft fair next week, and I’ll list the unsold new skeins after that, along with the minis. Hopefully all goes well, and I’ll have to dye up another batch to restock the shop later on in April, which will be more tonal/semi-solids…)


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Recipe: Thai Chicken and Rice Soup

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Ok, well, to start off with, even though I’m starting blogging again in order to sort of talk through my path in life, and sharing the process of discovery, I certainly don’t intend to only do post after post of navel gazing….one of the things I’d love to do weekly is share recipes. I take a lot of food photos, and I need to do something with them, other than just Instagramming them 🙂

This has become my mom’s favourite soup recipe, and is quickly becoming mine, too. It doesn’t need to simmer for hours, and you can stuff a lot of vegetables in it, too–I add more than the original recipe. Have some nice, freshly baked bread to go along with it, and you’re in heaven!

(adapted from this recipe)

Prepare ahead:

2 cups cooked rice
2 cooked chicken breasts, diced

Saute in a bit of vegetable oil:

1 small onion, chopped
1 red pepper, chopped
3 stalks celery, chopped
1 carrot, diced

for a couple of minutes, then add

1 1/2 c. sliced mushrooms

until slightly wilted, then add:

5 c. chicken broth
2 T. lemongrass paste
2 t. thai fish sauce
2 t. Worcestershire sauce

Simmer 5 minutes, then add

1 c. half and half cream (or milk, if you prefer)
1/2 can coconut milk

In a bowl, whisk together:

2 t. red curry paste
2 t. chili garlic sauce (more, or less, to taste)
1 small can tomato paste
1 T. cornstarch

Add this, along with cooked chicken and rice, simmer 5 minutes more, season with salt and pepper, and more chicken stock if necessary. Makes lots, maybe 8 servings?


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Blogging IS the way

MEANING

I have about 3.5 new ideas per second. You should see my notebooks…I have been known to have half a dozen going at any time, for different types of thoughts, though I’ve been trying to keep it to just two these days. I have waves of ideas that come so fast, I can’t even write them all down. Sometimes, on those days when I’m particularly creative, images of fully formed designs flash whenever I blink my eyes. Heaven forbid I take a shower, because I know I’ll forget half of my thoughts before I can towel off and get to a pen and paper. And why is it that three of the best ideas I’ve had all day pop into my brain just as I’m drifting off to sleep?

Thing is, I work for myself, and whatever happens or doesn’t happen is entirely up to me. If I do something, great! If not, there are absolutely no consequences (other than I don’t really get anywhere, and I have to live with the daily soul-crushing frustration of failure). No broken promises, no irked coworker left in the lurch, no missed appointments. Thank goodness for that, but since nothing is on fire (again, yay!) and there are no deadlines, nothing is a priority. Or rather, everything is of equal priority. Where do I start? I could just pick something out of a hat, but every time I try that, one or two steps into the planning process, I realize that this action relies on some other idea to be done first, but when I look at that project, I realize that I have to have this other structure in place first. Then I realize that all my great ideas are actually this great big ball of tangled thread, hopelessly complicated. Hopelessly overwhelming.

If I could just sit down and figure out the whole picture and fix my life once and for all, I could just get started! I’ve been waking up with that goal on my day’s to-do list for several years now (okay, actually, most of my life) and I think that anyone who has also been on this human journey can tell me that it doesn’t work that way.

THURS. TO DO

  1. laundry
  2. pay bills
  3. decide ultimate answer to life
  4. make soup

I know how ridiculous it looks! I laugh! Silly me! But you know, just like how you need a car to get a job, but you have to get a job in order to buy a car, I can’t start without a plan/system/goal/purpose/answer, but I can’t develop a plan/system/goal/purpose/answer unless I start.

All of which to say, I’m coming back to blogging. I have some ideas, but I don’t have a plan for it, exactly, but this time, because I’m tired of making endless lists and unenlightening mind maps, I think I’ll use the blog to figure it out as I go along, and document my process.

Oy, there’s so much to do….shall we begin?