Thursday, March 24, 2016

A Day in the Life of an Indie Dyer: Lattes & Llamas

Today, we have a special guest post penned by one of our fabulous dyers from our Indie Dyers collection,  Jacquline from Lattes & Llamas

Once upon a time, before my sister and cohort had a baby, our average day was smooth sailing. We’d sleep in until 9 AM, because what’s the point of owning your own business if you can’t stay up late knitting?! We’d enjoy a leisurely breakfast while we made of list of what needed to dyed. Then, I would set the yarn to soak and pull out the right dyes while Megan-Anne worked on Geek-A-Long stuff. Once the pots got going, our day would be divided into half hour spans: 30 minutes of watching Netflix and knitting or answering emails and then 30 minutes of setting up the next dye batch or rinsing out yarn. We were a well-oiled machine that sung along loudly to classic rock songs, and had no appreciation for just how much sleep and downtime we had.
Natural Brown Lhasa Wilderness yarn prior to dyeing or washing.
This week, we worked on a few new colorways for Bijou Basin Ranch. Last time, we dyed two colors (Black Forest and Black Cherry) on BBR’s natural brown Lhasa Wilderness yarn and loved them. Now we’re excited to put together a blue that would complement the red and the green. Here is a glimpse at the fairly atypical day as we worked on the new blue colorway: 

1 AM: Megan-Anne finished a commission that is due later in the day. It still needs to block. At the same time, I’m working on website updates. If Mabel is sleeping, we’re working. By the time the commission is sitting in a bowl with some Allure wool wash, Mabel has woken up and demands her milky-tribute. 

1:45 AM: I’m off to bed and Megan-Anne is pinning out her commission to block. By 2 AM everyone is sleeping. 

6 AM: Megan-Anne’s husband gives Mabel her first breakfast. We use the opportunity to take showers and start pouring gallons of coffee down our gaping maws.
Megan-Anne folding baby clothes and downing coffee while we argue about the best blues.
7-9 AM: Coffee. Talk about what needs to be done. Coffee. Design color charts or work on editing patterns. Coffee. Get in a heated argument about what’s more likely to over-dye effectively, Brilliant Blue or Royal Blue. Coffee. Also, some coffee.

9-11 AM: Megan-Anne nurses Mabel and my niece reluctantly goes down for a nap. This is it. The only part of the day she is guaranteed to sleep. We rush downstairs to handle all the tasks we don’t want her in the room for. She can’t be around when we mix colors. We have a brief argument over how to best cook the yarn, and ultimately decide we better do it both ways to see which one turns out better. At the same time, we throw together the colors for the skeins we need to dye for our next yarn show. Generally, we run about five pots at a time. 
One of our test colors ready to cook.
11 AM - Noon: Special Mabel time. She’s up and wants to play. Megan-Anne puts her in the baby Bjorn so that she can keep working. Watching her try to take a sweater off her blocking mat while Mabel is in the Bjorne is hilarious. I could sell tickets. 

12-6 PM: I run pots while Megan-Anne teaches, works on commissions, or takes Mabel to one of the many appointments that newborns have. 

6-8 PM: Dinner. We try to eat together as a family, and most nights we pull it off. We take the time to remind our husbands we exist or watch something from the rapidly filling DVR. Generally, at least one of us is still knitting during this time.

8 PM - Midnight: Mabel goes to bed at eight, and that means it’s back to work for us. We go look at the yarn that was done that day and decide if anything needs to be tweaked. We plan, design, and work on commissions. We make a list of people we have every intention of calling/emailing back tomorrow, but we’ll probably forget anyway. We aim to go to bed at midnight, but most of the time there is still stuff to do. One or both of us doesn’t make it there until one or two. 
The natural brown Lhasa Wilderness yarn beside one of the blues we cooked that day. 

And that’s a day in the fabulous life of Lattes & Llamas! Our winters tend to involve less dyeing and more Geek-A-Long madness, but I wouldn’t do anything to change it. It’s been a strange, crazy journey and we’re lucky to have such supportive husbands, who believe in us, even though it means we all had to move in together and they share a den.

Click here to visit the Lattes & Llamas website & here to see their exclusive hand-dyed colorways available only at

Wednesday, March 9, 2016

Celebrate National Craft Month!

March is here, and did you know that it's National Craft Month? We have lots of ways to celebrate, starting with our gorgeous new hand-dyed colorways from ModeKnit Yarns:
They are available here on our website and also in our brand-new Etsy shop, located here! For all of our fans who are also on Etsy, this is a great new way to shop for your favorite luxury yarns from Bijou Basin Ranch, and we're offering FREE shipping for all Etsy orders this month with coupon code BBRONETSY.
Of course, being able to find the perfect pattern for your special skein of yarn is always a bonus, and we've made it easier to search our pattern database in our online store: you can now sort by yarn weight! Let's say you have your eye on a skein of Tibetan Dream in one of our new gradient colorways; simply click here and you can see all of the patterns which can be made with fingering weight yarn. It doesn't get easier than that! You can also easily view our patterns for lace weight yarn and patterns sport weight yarn.

Last but certainly not least, we're sponsoring a Yarn and Wine Tasting event that is being put on by the Jessie at Home Blog next month, and we'd like to share our interview with Jessie herself, who will tell you about this unique event in her own words!

Can you tell us a little bit about your blog, and how you got into knitting?
Jessie At Home is a crafty blog that focuses on crochet and knit. I post 1 free knit pattern each month, and 3 - 4 free crochet patterns each month. There are also tips and tricks, pattern round ups, link blasts, reviews, and the occational post about other crafts and my family.
I learned to crochet from my Great Grandmother when I was 8 or 9 and never stopped, and I learned to knit when I was 12, but didn't really catch the knitting bug until about 2005.

What made you decide to host your own event? What has the planning process been like?
As with so much in my life, the Yarn and Wine Tasting event came about on a whim. I was chatting with a dear friend, Roy, who owns a vineyard. Roy and his wife were like second parents to my husband when he was a teenager, and the are essentially another set of grandparents for our kids. Anyway we were chatting, and I said, "Hey, you know what we should do?!" A couple weeks later I sent him a message on Facebook, and he replied at about 11 pm. By midnight, we had decided to run with it. I love working with Roy, and I've been having a blast with all the sponsors. One of my favorite things about this profession are the truly symbiotic relationships that develop.

What can attendees expect to find/experience at your event?
So. Much. Fun!!!!
We will start off with the tasting yarns and notions on the tables, and move right into the wine tasting portion. So you can knit or crochet while you are tasting. Then for the remainder of the time you will be able to order glasses or bottles of wine if you would like, as we continue with the fiber fun. There will also be soda and water available. There will be at least as many door prizes as attendees, and they will be won throughout the event, so everyone will win at least one! In between the door prizes, we will take questions and tips from the attendees. When you leave, you will take with you a goodie bag with a value over the cost you paid for your ticket. So, even if you don't drink alcohol, you will still get your money's worth. It is our goal that you will all leave with an idea of new products to try, and with more knowledge of your craft! We will be sure to included a list of all sponsors, along with what they provided, in your goodie bag so you can look up whatever you want to purchase.

Have you ever had a knitting project go terribly wrong?
Oh, yes!! When I was first designing the adult version of my fairie coat - the Katherine Coat - I had the top done and the paneled part of the skirt half way done. I hated it. The skirt was pulling the top SO long! So I pulled it all out. 1 month of work, rewound into over a dozen balls of yarn, totaling over 1000 yards! I started over with a tighter gauge and a much shorter top before the skirt went on.
I'm so glad I did. I LOVE that coat now.
Jessie, modeling a crochet hat of her own design.

What are your 3 best knitting tips that you wish you knew when you were first starting out?
Lifelines!!! It's so easy to just rip back a row or two in crochet, but with knitted lace? No way that's happening without a lifeline.
There are a lot of cast ons and bind offs. They are not all created equal, and what works the best depends on your pattern and yarn.
Your mood effects your gauge. Really, it does! If you're stressed you will most likely knit or crochet tighter, if you are happy and relaxed, you will most likely knit or crochet looser. Keep this in mind when working on a long term project that needs to have an even gauge. Check it often!

And one bonus tip my Great Grandmother Helen Clark taught me that is true for both crochet and knit: NEVER be afraid to rip it out. If it didn't work, fix it. A sweater does you no good in the corner of your closet because you can't see past the mistake you never corrected.