Posted by: jinniver | October 30, 2008

100 posts and (free!) hand-dyed yarn

When I first started knitting, a little over a year ago, the only sources of yarn in my area I knew of were Michaels, Hobby Lobby, Jo-Ann’s, and Wal-Mart.  I knew there were nicer yarns out there, thanks to all of the knitting magazines I read, and I read about that mythical wonder called a “local yarn store.”  I just couldn’t find one, and the result was a rather limited source of inspiration.

Knowing the big one-zero-zero was coming up, I found myself staring at more yarn that I have room for in my current storage set up (the one that, once upon a time, seems so spacious) and wondering just how I’d gotten there.  It took a bit of thought and reviewing of my blog, but I finally managed to piece together a timeline.

First, there was KnitPicks.  Actually, first there were knitting magazines, but I can’t remember which ones in particular.  At any rate, several had the same ad that caught my attention:  the one for KnitPicks Harmony circular needles.  I had a pretty sizeable collection of inexpensive bamboo needles, both straights and circular, but I wanted the Harmony needles.  Their appearance generally cause one of two reactions:  either the knitter hates the colors, or she loves them fiercely.  I adored them.  But, although they weren’t really expensive, I wasn’t about to spend that much money on something that might not work well.

That meant I needed a review, preferably several of them, that I could trust as being impartial.  I found just what I needed on Knitter’s Review Forum–a rather lengthy and in-depth thread about the needles from actual knitters who could report on the pluses and minuses.  It convinced me to buy them, but more than that, it introduced me to my first knitting forum.  At the time, I didn’t have a “real life” community to share my love of knitting with, so I cherished the new internet one I’d found.

While reading one of the threads, I saw a post by someone named Genuine, and her signature had a link to her blog.  There was no way I could resist a blog entitled The Lumpy Sweater, so I stopped by.  I loved it so much it became my first daily read knitting blog.  I greatly enjoy Genuine’s sense of humor and perspective on all things knitting.

One of her posts made reference to a sweater that to her was reminiscent of wrapping crime scene tape around the wearer’s chest.  Now this I had to see…except that I couldn’t.  The link was to the pattern page on Ravelry, and I was not yet a member.  At that point, I’d only heard vague rumblings about the site, but they were promising rumblings.  The lure of the sweater pushed me over the edge, and I signed up.  A week later I got my invite.

I hadn’t been a member for very long when I got sucked in to the now infamous MCY thread, which eventually became its own group.  It was natural for our conversation to move from a specific independent dyer who was alleged to be defrauding her customers and faking her death to members of the group who were themselves indie dyers.  And that’s how I was introduced to Artsygal and Castle Fibers.

They were the first independent dyers I ever bought yarn from, and it was amazing the inspiration that could come from…well, I can’t call it a “simple” skein of yarn, because there’s nothing simple about what these two women put out.  I bought my first sock yarn ever from Artsygal– a bamboo/merino blend in one of my favorite color combinations of purple/yellow/green, and two wool/nylon blends that I was drawn to because of the colors but had to have because of the names:  Neptune and Yo Ho Ho!  I’m still trying to figure out what I’m going to make with those yarns. The yarns are almost too pretty to put on my feet and hide under jeans and shoes…so I’m collecting all sorts of non-sock patterns for fingering weight yarn.

yarn 004_editedyarn 008_editedyarn 006_edited
Crocus, Neptune (top), and Yo Ho Ho! by Artsygal

From Castle Fibers, I picked up a skein of gorgeous purple sock yarn, but then decided to branch out a bit. I picked up a skein of a wool/silk blend that was in some gorgeous autumn colors (and I still wish there had been more than one skein!). Then with great trepidation–because I wasn’t sure my knitting skills were worthy–I added two skeins of gorgeous lace weight, hand-spun silk yarn: one in the colors of the morning sky, and one in beautiful browns and golds.  The only one I’ve made any attempts to knit up is the first of the silk lace weight, which I’m turning in to a rather luxurious lace scarf.

Meloncholy Maybe, Leaf Pile (top l-r), Dawning, and Honey & Chocolate (bottom, l-r) by Castle Fiberts

It was really from these purchases that my love of yarn and my adventurous pattern searches sprang…so it seemed appropriate, on the occasion of my 100th post, to share my first and best inspirations.  In that spirit, I’m giving away two $50 gift certificates–one to Artsygal and one to Castle Fibers.  To enter, all you need to do is post a comment in response to this 100th post and you will be entered to win!  The winner will be chosen in a random drawing (using an online random number generator) on November 8, 2008 at 10 pm CST.  Why November 8?  Because that’s my baby girl’s first birthday…and since it was her impending arrival that inspired me to pick up knitting in the first place, it seemed appropriate!

(Please make sure you use a legitimate email address when posting, so I’ll have the means to contact you and send you your gift certificate!)

But that’s not all!

“The Sarah Winchester of Fiber Arts'” 100th post is being sponsored by Artsygal!  Shop at Artsygal during the month of November and use the discount code TenOffFromJen to get 10% off of any item on the site (except the sock club, which is already offered at 20% off retail).  This is a special gift from Artsygal to my readers–so please say thanks while you’re taking advantage of the offer and buying her store out (if you get there before I do, that is!).



  1. I’m so glad you found ravelry and knitting. I love your logic, humor and funny stories. Fun times. 🙂

  2. I admit it, I’m a lurker. I never know what to say!
    But I thought you should know that you’ve got a loyal reader!
    nataliemarie of Ravelry

  3. Hooray for 100 posts! And happy early birthday to your baby too! Oh.. and I’m planning on starting a contest on my blog too – will post details either tomorrow or Saturday!

  4. Congratulations on 100 posts! The internet has so many wonderful things for knitters – especially when a local yarn store isn’t available.

  5. Congratulations on 100 posts and yay for Ravelry!

  6. Congratulations on 100 posts! Ravelry has expanded my knitting in ways I’ve never imagined!

  7. I don’t want to win, but i sure want to say congratulations! I’m glad that I played a little part in helping make you a knitter!

  8. Yay on 100 Blog posts! I love reading your stuff (here and on Ravelry).

  9. I don’t have a LYS anywhere near me, so all my yarn purchases have been made over the internet. I also don’t really know any people who knit (who live near me), so I too was really lucky to have found ravelry. 🙂

  10. Kudos for your 100th post!

    Happy, happy birthday to your baby girl!!! November 8th is *very* special in our family, too. It is the birthday of my husband, his mother AND her mother! When our first child was due (yup, on November 8th!) I had to leave the house for the day because of all the phone calls from Grandma and Mom…lol! Our son held out for a few more days and we always joke that he was late because he wanted his own separate birthday.

  11. Loved your story! The knitting journey is such an interesting one. It has a way of sucking you in. And there is always something new and interesting to learn.

  12. Congrats on reaching 100!!

    I’ve heard so many positive stories coming out of that debacle. Funny how one major screw-up could bring so many people together, create new friendships & introduce people to *much* better yarn!

    Yay for Rav, and Yay for first birthdays!

  13. Well done on 100 posts. I wonder have I been subscribed long enough to have read most of them? Anyway, congrats all around!

  14. Congratulations on 100 posts. What would we do without knitting and the web?

  15. I’m so proud of you—you did a blog contest with such a cool twist; a sponsored coupon from one of your favorite dyers? Genius! Tenofffromjen is definitely the ‘catchiest’ coupon code I’ve seen, ;0

    I think November you’ll see more blogging from me because I am going to be writing a novel (nanowrimo) so I will definitely be blogging about knitting to avoid writing the novel. Isn’t that peachy? I hope whoever wins really enjoys it!

  16. Congrats on 100 posts, and for finding awesome yarn 🙂 My birthday is Nov 1 . . it’s a good month 🙂

  17. Congratulations on your 100th post!
    And your little babies 1st birthday. Such a big day! Get grandma or auntie to run the party so you can enjoy it.

  18. Happy 100th post! And it’s been a pleasure sharing bib “patterns” over on Ravelry!

  19. Congratulations! And how very generous of you to share the yarny goodness!

  20. Congrats on your 100th post. And I’m so glad we met on Ravelry — I love having a new cyberfriend with whom I have so much in common. 🙂

    And Happy Birthday to the little one!!!

  21. Very neat contest! I too love hand-dyed yarn, but I’ve never tried either Artsygal or Castle Fibers.

    Found you via Ravelry, btw.

  22. Awesome contest! I’ve gotten into indie dyers as well, via looking around on If you haven’t spent much time there, I think you’ll love it. Some great fiber folks there.

  23. Congratulations on 100 posts! And thanks for the generous contest!

    In case my blog info doesn’t work, I’m blakdove on Ravelry.

  24. Congrats!!! I have enjoyed knowing ya on Rav!!!

    What will we ever do when Homestead’s checkered flag waves?

  25. I’m always up for a contest, but I’m happier about getting directed to your blog. Adding it to Bloglines now…

  26. Congrats on your 100th post! Thanks for sharing your great story of your new found love of yarn and knitting. I crochet and am in the process of learning how to knit. Listening to people’s stories help inspire me to practice harder and harder on learning how to knit. Thanks!

  27. Woohoo! Congrats on your 100th post. I would never find the time to keep up with a blog. I love your story about discovering fantastic yarns.

    And happy upcoming bday to babygirl!


  28. Whooo Hooooo for your 100th post!!!! Thanks so much for doing this


  29. What a saga! You could never have imagined or anticipated this growth in knitting and yarn knowledge. Thanks for sharing it with us, and for the generous contest.

  30. Another lurker here from Rav. You have a wonderful gift of putting words together and they always put a smile on my face. Thank you for 100 posts!

  31. happy 100th!!! big day-. thanks for the great contest.

  32. happy 100th post.
    Great contest!

  33. Congrats on that 100th post! I’ve found out about your contest from your post on Ravelry, and I enjoyed reading this recap of your stashing journey.

  34. Congrats on your hundredth post! I found you on ravelry too — thanks for the generous contest, and happy birthday to your daughter!

  35. Congrats on the 100th post! Was fun reading about how you got there. So glad we’ve “met” on Ravelry. Just think how much fun you would have missed if you hadn’t wanted to see that sweater so much! LOL

    And Happy B-day to the wee-one!

  36. Ah… The MCY debacle… The epic thread that made for better drama than your average Lifetime show!

    Congrats on your 100th post AND on discovering the joys of really nice yarn! May your future be filled with more of the same!

  37. Congrats on your 100th post. Ravelry opened up a whole new world of knitting for me as well. Also the world of blogging, as i had a very different impression of blogs before reading ravelers blogs. And even though you’re a jr. fan. I’m glad we’ve become cyber friends!!

    Ria (tonyfan4ever)

  38. Congrats on your 100th post! And Happy early Birthday to your baby girl! (I’m a November baby too! :D) I’ve just recently begun playing with some of those fabulous indie dyed/spun yarns myself. They are just sooooo gorgeous! Until recently, I stuck pretty much with solid colored yarns, but some of those have been just toooooo gorgeous to pass up! Thanks for sharing your love of them with us! 😀

    share32006 on Ravelry

  39. Congratulations on the 100th posty – it’s always nice to have a rich bloggy history to read and reflect on where you’ve been… Good times! Looking forward to the bloggy future!

    A warm & fuzzy birthday hug to your little too, of course

    (Yo Jas! You didn’t tell me we had this Six Degrees of Yarny Separation going on LOL)


    ~Anne aka harajukuroxy on Ravelry

  40. Hahaha I love your story ! I do know what it is to search around inch by inch, since I live in Quebec, knitting is not popular at all and I really mean it, it’s not popular ! So there are not many places to buy yarn and learn about it, so I tried and made my first order on internet and I found the wonderful world of handdyed and I am in love too….

    Congrats on your 100th blog post and happy birthday to your little princess as well !


  41. Congratulations on your 100th post! I think all of us have a similar story of how we discovered yarn and knitting and the joys thereof.

  42. Congratulations on your 100th post and what a great story.

  43. That’s an amazing story, and a tempting offer! After looking at the sites, I badly badly badly want the yarn.

    So sign me up!

    By the way, the layout of your blog is beautiful.

    I’ll also be mentioning your contest on my blog for my Wednesday contest shoutout.

  44. We did have a lot of fun on the MCY thread, didn’t we? It was my intro to Ravelry in a way. I had bought MCY yarn on ebay. When I read the thread, I put it in water and it bled all over the place! It was a time-sucking as the political threads have been lately.

    Congrats on your 100th post, and Happy Birthday to your cute little one!

  45. Yea for 100!!! I am a new knitter and I hope to make it throught my first year like you! See you around Ravelry.

  46. Congrats on the 100th post!
    I started knitting in 2004, and to me yarn was yarn-weights, content meant nothing to me. I tried to make and felt a Booga Bag using Red Heart! When I first heard of Ravelry, my thoughts were “why would I need that??”
    Now I can’t go a few hours without checking it!

  47. Great purchases.

    And happy 100th post!

    Also, Happy early Birthday to your little one 🙂

  48. Happy 100th!
    I always love a good *how I got addicted to YARN on the innernets* story.

  49. I’ve lurked for awhile but have never commented. Congrats on 100 and tell the kidlet Happy Birthday from a NASCAR fan. Will you be bringing her to the un-wedding party?

  50. Congrats on 100 – what a nice post! I have taken a similar path to yarn frenzy myself. Best wishes for 100 more!

  51. Congratulations on 100 posts!

  52. Congrats on 100 posts! I came here via the accidental hat post on the Daily Chum, and looked around – and found lots to look at!

  53. Congrats on 100, Jen! Sorry, took me a couple of days to get here after reading your post but I’m subscribed now!

    Happy Birthday to your little one! Today is my oldest little ones birthday and she’s 28! Time sure flies! 😦

  54. I am so inspired by your blog and agree..Ravelry rocks. I moved recently and because I was able to connect through Ravelry, I found friends immediately at the LYS in my area. I didn’t feel so alone. I have added your blog to my “must read” list…Keep it up girl!

  55. Gratz on your 100th!!
    Ravelry is soo addicting and my stash has multiplied because of all the new stuff i’m learning about on there… its dangerous!

  56. Congrats on the 100th post! I agree with you on the overwhelming stash… mine needs to stop growing. Although, if that happened, I’d be sad.

    sigma75 on Ravelry

  57. What a wonderful post and a generous contest! I started knitting for my first child too, almost 4 years ago.

    Cristi-Lael on Ravelry

  58. May you have another 100 posts to look forward to!

    I will confess that my first step from chain store yarn was to cascade 220. not exactly a big leap!

  59. Congrats on 100 posts! I didn’t last more than 3 on my knit blog.

  60. I went from Red Heart Supersavers to Noro Kureyon. Not too shabby, I think.

    Gods only know how many posts I have on my craftblog, or how long I’ve been posting things there. Maybe I should check, no? Congrats on hitting 100!

  61. Contest closed!

  62. Congrats on 100 posts! I love em! I don’t have the energy to blog myself…but I love reading yours. What a wonderful contest!!


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