Friday, January 23, 2015

Setting Up Shop

Etsy shop, that is.
Or artfire (does that still exist?), or Zibbet, or a website, or a booth at a Farmers Market.
Let's talk shop! 

Many don't know that before I was The Fine Lime, I had a crochet shop.  I named it Mo & Ozzy Creative Crochet Hats.  My seldom-used nickname is Mo, Mr. Lime's is Ozzy.  Oh, I thought I was so cute!  And I wanted to include crochet and hats in my name, you know, for Google and stuff.
Maybe not.
You see, it wasn't long before I was making a lot of things OTHER than hats.  And I was learning to knit.  So now what?  And no one could remember Mo & Ozzy.  And my hat was way too cute to be Ozzy-ie.
So choose your name carefully!  Consider the following.
1. Is it easy to remember?  If you want return customers, they have to know your name.
2. Is it too common?  Google it.  I thought about naming my yarn shop a bee-related name.  Nope.  I googled it.  There are a LOT of little spinning bees out there, I guess!  I have a fiber shop I like to shop from and I know it has something about kitty in the name.  It takes me forever to find that shop to make a purchase, so sometimes they miss out on my business.  Choose a name that's unique.
3.  Is it flexible?  Lets be honest, a lot of us creative folks like to hop from thing to thing.  Make sure your brand can take the creative flex!  Don't start from scratch every time you try a new thing.

Tuesday, October 14, 2014

Striped Baby and Toddler Cardigan Pattern

I just wanted to share the pattern I re-did for my boy's sweaters! Hope you have fun trying it out! If you find mistakes, don't hesitate to let me know. Thanks!

Striped Crochet Baby or Toddler Cardigan
This is a raglan sweater that you work from the top down.

Materials: 2 (3) balls (180 yds ea) of A, 1 ball of yarn B (I used a baby yarn - labeled 3 - DK weight. I think you could use something heavier or lighter. I'd just go down or up a hook size.)
Hook: F
Sizes: 3-9 months, 9-18 mo (in parentheses), 18- 24 months (in parentheses)
Dc decrease: YO, pullup a loop, draw through 2 loops, YO, draw up a loop in the next st, YO, draw through 2 loops, YO, draw through all three loops.
Gauge: 4 dc = 1”

1. With A, ch 45 (45, 51), turn.
Dc in 3rd ch from hook and next 4 (4, 5) ch, [2 dc, ch 2, 2 dc] in next chain [corner made], dc in next 7 (7, 8) ch, corner in next ch, dc in next 13 (13, 15) ch, corner in next ch, dc in next 7 (7, 8) ch, corner in next ch, dc in next 6 (6, 7) ch.
2. Ch 2 [always counts as dc], turn. *Dc in next dc and all dc’s to corner chs. 2 dc, ch 2, 2 dc in corner space.* Repeat between * 3 times more, dc in each dc to end of row. Draw B through last 2 loops of the last dc. Stop here for 3-9 month size.
For 9-18 mo size, repeat 2 once morebefore changing color. For 24 month size - Repeat step 2 twice more before changing color.
3. With B, ch 1, turn. Sc in first dc, ch 1, *[skip 1 dc, sc in next dc, ch 1] to corner space, ch 3, sc in next dc, ch 1.* Repeat between * 3 times more. [Skip next dc, sc in next dc, ch 1] to last dc. Sc in last dc. Fasten off B, do not turn.
4. Return to beginning of row just completed. Join A with sl st to first sc. Ch 1, sc in first sc. *[sc in ch 1 space, ch 1] to corner, [2 sc, ch 1, 2 sc] in 3 ch corner space, ch 1.* Repeat between * 3 times more. [sc in ch 1 space, ch 1] to end of row. Fasten off A, do not turn.
5. Return to beginning of row just completed. Join B with sl st to first sc. Ch 1, sc in first sc. *[ch 1, sc in ch 1 space] to corner, sc in first sc of corner, ch 3, sc in last sc of corner.* Repeat between * 3 times more. [ch 1, sc in ch 1 space] to end of row. Fasten off B, do not turn.
6. Return to beginning of row just completed. Join A with sl st to first sc, ch 2 [counts as dc]. *Dc in each ch 1 space and sc to corner 3 ch space. [2 dc, ch 2, 2 dc] in corner space.* Repeat between * 3 times more. Dc in each ch 1 space and sc to end of row.
7. Ch 2, turn. Dc in each dc, [2 dc, ch 2, 2 dc] in each 2 ch corner space to end of row.
Repeat rows 3 through 6.

Sleeves: (Do both alike.)
Fold yoke in half the long way (ends to long back) with right sides facing. Corner spaces should match – these are the armpits! Join A with slip st through both corner ch 2 spaces.
1. Ch 2, dc in corner space. Dc in each dc around sleeve to where you started. 2 dc in the corner space. Join with a sl stitch to 2nd ch.
2. Ch 2, turn. Dc in next dc, dc decrease across next next 2 dc, dc in each dc to last 4 dc, dc decrease across next 2 dc, dc in each of last 2 dc. Join with sl stitch to first dc.
Repeat row 2 6 (8, 10) times. Ch 2, turn. Dc in ea dc around. Repeat until the sleeve measures 7” (8.5", 10"). Fasten off.
With right side facing you and the cardigan upside down, join A to the top of first dc on the left front.
1. Ch 2, dc in each dc to corner at underarm. 2 dc in corner space, skip sleeve stitches, 2 dc in next corner space, dc in each dc to corner at underarm. 2 dc in corner space, skip sleeve stitches, 2 dc in next corner space, dc in each dc to end of row.
For 9 month size, ch 2, turn, and dc in each dc around. For 24 month size, ch 2, turn and dc in ea dc twice around.
2. Ch 1, turn. Sc in first dc, *ch 2, skip 2 dc, sc in next dc* to end of row.
3. Ch 2, turn. Dc in first sc. 3 dc in each ch 2 space across row. Dc in last sc, drawing other yarn color through last 2 loops.
Repeat rows 2 and 3, alternating A and B until the piece measures 7” (10”) from underarm.
Front Borders:
*NOTE: There will button holes on both the right and left side of the piece. This allows for either boy or girl placement and makes it really easy to tell where to place the buttons!
With right side facing, join B with sl stitch to top right of neck. Ch 1, sc in same place and down front edge, working 1 sc under bar of each dc and end of each sc row. Ch 1, turn. Sc in each sc to end of row. Ch 1, turn. Sc in first 2 sc, *ch 2, skip next 2 sc, sc in next 6 sc*. Repeat between * 3 (4) times. Sc to end of row. Ch 1, turn. Sc in each sc, 2 sc in each ch 2 space to end of row. Ch 1, turn. Sc in each sc to end of row. Fasten off.
Do the left side the same way, but don’t fasten off!

Neck Border:
Ch 1, turn and sc in each stitch across the front border, around the neck, and across the other front border. Ch 1, turn, and sc in each sc around. Fasten off.
Sleeve Borders:
Join B with a sl stitch to the top of last dc on the sleeve. Looking at the inside of the sleeve, sc in each dc around. Join to first sc with a sl stitch. Ch 1, turn. Sc in each sc around. Join to first sc with sl stitch. Fasten off. Repeat on other sleeve.
I used 1” buttons on my sweaters and found they were a good size.

Thursday, May 22, 2014

What the WPI?

My yarn listings include WPI . . . and a lot of people aren't familiar with that!  What Part Ice?  When Purling Information? 

WPI means WRAPS PER INCH.  What it boils down to is how many times it takes the yarn to make one inch.  So if I have a yarn labled 8 WPI, it means it takes 8 strands of that yarn to make an inch - that yarn averages about 1/8 of an inch wide. 

Why do I include that information?  Well, I noticed on Ravelry that a lot of pattern writers include the WPI desired for gauge.  If you know the WPI of the yarn suggested, you can swap in another yarn of similar thickness without having to change your hook/needle size or number of stitches. 

How do you figure out WPI?  Well, the best way is actually NOT to wrap the yarn around a ruler.  Because 1. That is tricky and 2. You'll have a tendency to pull the yarn tight, making it look skinnier than it is.  So the best way is to put your yarn gently on the ruler to count.  You will want to cover 2 - 3 inches with handspun so you can get a good average. 

WPI - Knowledge is yarn swapping power!  

This is the WPI tool I use.  You do NOT need a special tool.  Its just less cumbersome and easier to hide from my children! 

You can just use any ruler (as pictured below.) 

Friday, April 26, 2013

I Wanna Touch It!

Oh, how I wish you could!  I really, really, wish you could just reach through your screen and pet the yarns in my shop (with clean hands, of course!) 

A question I'm frequently asked is, "how soft is this yarn?  Is it softer than cheap acrylic yarn?  Is it as soft as my favorite craft store yarn?" 

Well, I do try to give you that info in the listings . . . but knowledge is power!  So, I'm going to fill you in on the details about micron count, how I decide if a fiber is next to skin soft, and a quick overview of fibers I use in order of softness. 

No, not the techie kind . . . the fiber kind!  Micron refers to a measurement - a teeny tiny measurement! - of the diameter of just one fiber.  Finer fiber - or fiber with a smaller diameter - is generally going to be softer than a fiber with a higher micron number.  So if soft is your thing, you're looking for a low number, not a high one.  (Think baby fine hair as opposed to my wiry, coarse hair!)  

In my listings you will see the following descriptors -
  • Not next to skin soft - this fiber is itchy.  It just is.  Its still fun yarn, but don't make a cowl out of it.  It might be best to use as trim or for an item you don't wear on your skin. 
  • Next to skin soft for some - this fiber is just a little itchy if I lay it on my arm.  It might not bother you one bit, but its just a little coarse for this sensitive skinned lime! 
  • Next to skin soft for most - this fiber is a little itchy for my neck, but soft and lovely on my arm.  If I were making something with it, I might not choose a scarf or cowl, but just about anything else would be lovely. 
  • Next to skin soft - this fiber feels luxurious and soft, even on my neck.  I might also call this yummy. 
  • More than next to skin soft - I would bathe in this.  Seriously soft. 
You will probably notice that I like to work with fibers that are next to skin soft for most or softer. 

*remember, each sheep or other cute critter will have its own style!  This is just a general guide based on the samples I've gotten my greedy fiber mitts on.* 
  • Corriedale/Domestic Wool/Superwash Wool/Jacobs/Shetland/Romney/Other Farm Wools - these are often nameless breeds, a mix of wools, or ones you won't have heard of.  Springy and durable, they'd make great socks or other items that see a lot of wear and tear.  These are usually in the 24 to 28 micron range. 
  • Punta Wool - This is usually pretty soft!  Its a blend of wool breeds from South America, and the batch I get does make a difference, but we're usually looking at next to skin soft for most or next to skin soft.  This is my favorite economical option for people who are on a tight budget wanting to use handspun yarn.  Usually Punta is 22 to 24 micron. 
  • Superwash BFL Wool - sometimes the chemical processed used to make fiber machine washable also makes it a little less soft.  See the next entry for more info about BFL Wool. 
  • BFL Wool - Blue Faced Leicester wool is curlier than merino.  It is just slightly less soft.  It often has a subtle sheen. 
  • Polwarth Wool - A merino bred with a little bit of Lincoln, this fiber is longer and curlier than merino too and just slightly less soft.  The polwarth I purchase is usually 21 to 23 micron. 
  • Ramboulliet Wool - Another breed with just a little longer fiber than merino, but just as soft.  I've usually gotten Ramboulliet that is 21 micron. 
  • Superwash Merino Wool - I usually buy superwash lambswool merino, but sometimes not.  This will usually be just slightly less soft than merino, but if its lambswool, sometimes its just as soft! 
  • Merino Wool - This is one of the softest wools I get my hands on.  Most merino spinners use is between 18 and 22 micron. 
Other fine wools I get to work with from time to time include Finn, Cormo, Targhee, and Columbia.  These will often be as soft as BFL all the way to softer than merino. 

Other luxe, insane soft fibers you may see include yak, cashmere,

camel, angora bunny, cria (baby) alpaca, silk, bamboo, milk protein fiber, and tencel.  
I use alpaca sometimes.  Alpaca can vary in softness.  I try to get my hands on the soft stuff, though!  (18 to 23 micron.) 

Sometimes I use nylon.  It can be crazy soft - like faux cashmere - or a workhorse nylon for sock blends

A word on sparkle - I personally find firestar less poky than angelina . . . neither are "ohmygoodnesscrazysoft" but sometimes you just need some sparkle! 

Wednesday, March 27, 2013

Skeins, Hanks, and Balls

One question I'm often asked is, "Why don't you send out my yarn in center pull balls?"  Well.  Lets talk about it! 

When a yarn is pulled off the bobbin of my spinning wheel, I wrap it on something called a Niddy Noddy.  It looks like the letter I, but with the bottom line twisted 90 degrees.  I use that thing to count the yards as I wind off your yarn.  Then, I wash the yarn (still in a big loop) and hang it up to dry.  When its dry, that big loop of strands is called a HANK.  When I twist the hank on itself after photographing, its now called a SKEIN.  I pretty that up and send it to you!  



I do not put the yarn into center pull balls because its not very good for your yarn!  If you're going to use yarn right away, a center pull ball is a fine choice - keeps everything nice and tidyIf you're going to think about it for a little while, store it in your stash, a center pull ball is not the right choice for Fine Lime handspun.  It can cause some problems!  
  • A ball is much tighter and compact than a skein.  For nice, loffty, squishy handspun, it will flatten your yarn out by smooshing the fibers.  This would be an especially sad fate for thick and thin yarn! 
  • A ball doesn't allow for air flow through the fiber, so if the humidity changes, moisture can be trapped inside, causing yucky things like decomposition and mold.  
You can easily create a center pull ball at home.  The fastest/easiest way is to buy an inxepensive swift (looks like an umbrella!  It holds your hank in a big loop and spins as you wind) and ball winder.  For shorter projects, I know several knitters and hookers who choose just to work from the yarn on the swift. A less expensive way is to use a nostepine (tapered stick, basically!  You can even use a large knitting needle) and wind by hand. 

Saturday, February 18, 2012

Marketing Your Handspun Items

I started out in the Etsy fiber arts world as a hooker. As most of us do, I started out with commercial millspun acrylics and cottons. Economical, lots of colors, easy to find and reproduce . . . but boy did I love to buy the soft and wacky. I soon found that I hated making the same item from the same yarn over and over. I was frustrated that my customers wanted super cheap, but super cute hats from super cheap yarn.I found it difficult to justify buying and using the yarns I REALLY wanted.

The number one thing I hear from potential customers in my yarn shop is, "I really love your yarn, but I can't sell anything made from handspun."

Are you sure?

Here are some fantastic tips for marketing your items made from handspun yarn so you can get to working with the yarns you REALLY want to work with and stop cranking out mind numbing creations.
Get your creativity back!

1. Help your customers see what YOU see.
*Make something for yourself or a loved one from handspun and share pics of the item being enjoyed
*Post photos of your beautiful yarns, telling fans what you can make with them.  I know from experience that customers enjoy choosing the materials you use to create their custom item. 

*Share your favorite yarn shop fanpages on your fanpage - let your customers get to know the spinners
*Briefly describe the process the yarn already went through before you transformed it into a finished item - let customers see how much time and care has gone into this item!
*Let the yarn shop do the work - if you bought your yarn on Etsy, link to the listing you purchased in the listing for your finished item.
*Many spinners love to see what you've created from our yarns - share your listing with us and we might just share it with our fans!

2. Highlight the virtues of handspun yarn.
*Handspun yarn is frequently made from natural fibers - which biodegrade, unlike acrylics, which will sit in a landfill forever when they go out of fashion
*Choosing handspun is choosing handmade and supporting a spinner. You are sometimes indirectly supporting the dyer and a farmer too! For example, I'm working on a yarn right now that includes a batt from a fellow fiber artist on Etsy and locks from a young 4H farmer in TN. If you were to purchase that yarn, you'd not only support me, but Amber who carded the batt and Ashley who raised the sheep!
*Handspun yarn yields a OOAK (one of a kind) product. A friend of mine purchased the same lovely roving as I and look at the difference in the yarns! Each spinner puts her unique twist on yarn.

*Handspun from natural fibers will be warmer than an acrylic item.
*Its just plain soft and pretty, am I right? 

3. Dispel the myths!
 *MYTH 1: I won't be able to wash my item - Nope, you can wash it quite easily - a little detergent and cool water in the sink, mere seconds of actual washing, roll it in a towel, and then lay it flat on your dryer on wash day. Or, purchase superwash yarn. I usually have at least 3 or 4 skeins of superwash in my shop.
 *MYTH 2: Wool is itchy - Try merino, polwarth, ramboulliet . . . . many breeds are softer than commonly used craft store yarns. The coarsest yarn in my shop is softer than Red Heart.
 *MYTH 3: It is way too expensive for my customers - First, a chunky handspun will not require many yards or hours to complete your project. Additionally, you may attract new customers who are looking (and willing to pay) for handspun.

Are you ready to shop? Start with just a few items and see how it goes! Remember to educate your customer so they can make informed, happy shopping decisions.