Monday, August 31, 2009

The good news and the bad news

The good news is:

I finished spinning the 8 oz of Corriedale for the shop! I plied it this morning. It just needs to be skeined, have the twist set, and then dry and it'll be ready to go up. I'm super excited. I hope someone makes something lovely out of it!

The bad news:

My spindle broke. I KNOW, NOT SUPPOSED TO HAPPEN. The hook came out. My spindle right now is just an Ashford teaching spindle that I've had for over a year (I told you I was poor) and I guess it just couldn't hold up under the heavy wear. (I'm guessing the ~5 oz of wool on it at once didn't help...) Anyway, the top of my lovely little top-whorl spindle was so mangled that I couldn't put the hook back in without divine intervention, so to finish off I turned the little guy into a bottom-whorl spindle. He works, but I so prefer top-whorls. Sigh.

The good news:

I finally learned how to spin lofty yarn (or, to use a technical term, SMOOSHY SOFT YAY MINE) in any sort of consistent way. This is very good news. For some reason it had eluded me for a long time, and I was beginning to get frustrated.

The bad news:

I learned halfway through. Erm. So this yarn is a little more thick-and-thin than was originally planned. It's still about a dk or a light worsted, never gets heavier than worsted for sure. Overall it's pretty consistent -- I think the gague would even itself out. But still, consistency is one of the things I pride myself on in my spinning, and this is slightly less consistent than I'd like. Blah. But on the bright side, that does give it more of a handmade look!

The good news:

I got to spend an evening at home with my kitty, spinning and watching movies (Wristcutters: A Love Story. Odd, but I liked it.), and it was chilly enough that I could feel fall coming on -- I love fall.

The bad news:

Said kitty would not stop trying to chew on my spindle, and if he weren't already broken I would be forcing her to pay for a new one for me. How? I DON'T EVEN KNOW.

The good news:

The corrie was lovely to spin with, and was handpainted.

The bad news:

It wasn't handpainted by me. It was like that when I got it. Sadness. Hopefully more dyeing soon!

Pictures tomorrow.

Thursday, August 27, 2009

Long time, no dye.


So, obviously I couldn't sneak in a blog post while in Pittsburgh (it was a great wedding, by the way), and what's more, I got very little fiber-related work done in the past couple of weeks. The good news is we have a new colorway, called Blood Oranges. You can find more information about it here! I've been wanting to do an orangey colorway for a while. This one was more complicated than anticipated, mainly because of the base yarn, a very special silk/kid mohair blend that I absolutely adore but don't plan on offering anymore, so snap it up while it's there!

In non-dye but fiber-related news, I'm still working on that handspun I've been promising to put up for a while. Spinning on a spindle is fun but really time-consuming. I think I may start a Buy Elizabeth A Spinning Wheel fund (with all my extra income -- HA!). The yarn is turning out beautifully! Here's a (fuzzy) sneak peek:

I'm also working on any number of knitting projects, which I just may have to start parading out so we don't go this long without an update anymore! So, for next time: an exciting story about the most tinking I've ever done in my life. (Okay, so it's really not that exciting, as you probably guessed). But there will be pretty pictures!

Wednesday, August 5, 2009

Announcing two new colorways!

Exciting news! We have two new colorways available for purchase at our shop. Read on for pictures and links!

Both of our new colorways are water-inspired. This will shock those who know me well. I am an avowed water-hater. I'm terrified of anything deeper than a bathtub. (I do keep clean, thankyouverymuch). But, despite my hatred for actually being in the wet grasp of any body of water, I find the colors you can see in water if you look absolutely enchanting.

The first new colorway is called The Shallows, available now on beautiful baby alpaca yarn. This one is inspired by lake edges, with the seaweed and the rock bottom still clearly visible through the water, with just a shading of darker blue where there's probably a dropoff. I'm very pleased with the green -- it reminds me very much of the seaweed I used to get my feet tangled in. (How can you not think that's terrifying, honestly?? See, I used two question marks, that's how serious I am!)

I've tried to capture the nature of the colorway best by showing three different views of the skeins. I'm so fond of this one, I'm rather tempted to keep it for myself! You can see more information or purchase The Shallows here.

Our second new colorway was meant to be space-related, not water-related at all. I was going to do pretty swirls of deep purple and black and just shimmers of other colors, and call it Deep Space. (I still think that'd be a lovely one. You may see that colorway sometime.) But the minute the beautiful hank of silk I had planned to dye in this colorway hit the dyepot, I just couldn't imagine putting any black on that beauty. Silk drinks in dye so greedily and the colors that come out are so, so vibrant -- black would have been wasting a gorgeous canvas. So we get the colorway Far Below instead.

On our 100% wool fingering weight yarn:Even after I had dyed these skeins in the gorgeous purples and blues that the silk required, it wasn't quite right. Something was missing. It all looked so cold and lifeless -- perfect for space, but not for the ocean! I added a little warmer purple, for the flash of coral and fish's fins, and it was perfect.

You can find Far Below on silk here, and on wool here.

My fiance and I are attending a wedding out-of-state this weekend, so I probably won't be able to dye any yarn for two or three days, but keep an eye out here in case I can sneak a quick entry!

Monday, August 3, 2009

The early years

Thought I'd share today a bit about the first few attempts I made at dyeing. The very first was at a workshop at Kenyon College, my alma mater. A lovely woman who ran a local yarn store brought lots of her unsold white wool of various sorts and her dyes and, for $5, we each got a skein of yarn and a quick tutorial on acid dyeing. I got gorgeous mohair, almost 300 yards of it, and then we dyed it. It turned out rather beautifully, for a first attempt, and I made fingerless gloves of it, which I still wear. After that, I didn't really do much dyeing for a while, until my adviser and I decided it would be fun (and educational, of course) to do an independent study on Roman clothing (did I mention I was a classics major?) and I decided to make a few historically accurate outfits. After a bit of research, I realized that if I wanted to get a fine, thin wool in Tyrian purple, the purple of the Roman empire, I was going to have to dye it myself. Armed with scarlet, blue, and purple Ashford acid dyes, I set about dyeing scraps in my microwave until I found a color and temperature that worked.

Making that toga praetexta was probably one of the most time-consuming things I've ever done in my life, and most of the work was stitchery, not dyeing, so I won't bore you with the details. It turned out beautifully, though, and I had time to make a Roman bride's costume too, with the hallmark yellow veil or flammeum, which I also dyed.

The best part? I got to dress up my classmates and professors in the clothing I had made and show it off at a presentation. (My toga draping skills could use some work...)

Since then, I've been dyeing only for myself, until now. Dyeing yarn is such a fun, creative process, it seems like a waste to let all the products just sit in a box for all time. I'd never have a chance to knit them all myself, after all; not only do I have other yarns to knit, but I have fiber to spin, and sewing to do (you didn't think I had dropped that entirely!), not to mention new techniques to learn! Somebody has to use all this pretty hand-dyed yarn.

In the future, I'm hoping that we'll have a steady supply of base yarns to display our colorways on. For now, as we just begin, base yarns are going to be a little varied, but feel free to request something, or describe a colorway you'd like to see, in the comments or by email (

Sunday, August 2, 2009

Firefly Mountain Yarns grand opening!

Welcome to the blog for the new yarn company, Firefly Mountain Yarns! You can visit us at We don't have that much available yet, but we're working on a number of exciting projects, including two dk yarns, in baby alpaca and silk, and getting our first handspun up for sale!

In the meantime, let me introduce myself and tell you a little about the company. I'm Elizabeth, the one who dyes and spins the yarn. I've been knitting since I was five, but I have only been playing with yarn seriously for the past two years or so. Before that, I still loved fiber, but I was much more interested in sewing. I started dyeing and spinning a year ago, and I'm excited to share my yarns with you all!

We're based in South Bend, IN. I do all my dyeing out of my apartment, and we're a completely non-smoking company.

Please check out our yarns and check back here for updates and, hopefully, some fun!