When people find out what I do, I get a lot of vacant stares, faux seizures, and mad dashes for the fire escape.
As it turns out, yarn is really boring if you're not a knitter.
I feel like saying, "I'm a fun person! Just get to know me!" But they are too busy being revived by EMTs to pay me any mind.
Have you ever tried to show someone who was not a knitter your latest stash acquisition, the one you've been petting and ogling all day, only to have them give you a halfhearted, "That's nice."
My husband used to be that person, until I trained him better.
I said, "Honey, when I show you some yarn, here's what I want you to say:
'WOW! That is spectacular! Those color combinations are amazing! Is it soft? Oh my goodness, yes! It is really soft! WOW! I am highly impressed!'"
He deserves an award for putting up with me, he really does.
Do people ever see you knitting and proffer excuses about why they are not currently, at that very moment, churning out a 3X cabled sweater for Uncle Ivar?
I hear things like:
1. My grandma taught me when I was a kid, but I was bad at it/haven't done it since then.
But what they're actually saying is: I tried it and failed. That makes me uncomfortable. I'll stick with microwaving popcorn.
2. I am not good with my hands.
What they're actually saying is: I am intimidated by how fast and easily other people knit. Does it look like I have magic hands?
3. I don't like all that counting.
What they're actually saying is: I had a mean math teacher in school who made me forever question my ability to do anything with numbers. Numbers try to steal my soul while I'm sleeping.
4. I would love to learn to do that when my kids are bigger.
What they're actually saying is: I am too overwhelmed with my life right now to think about one more thing. Why do these children want to eat dinner day after blessed day?
5. I tried making _________, and it didn't turn out/was too small/too large/full of holes.
What they're actually saying is: I don't understand the fundamental principles of knitting. I'm not the kind of person who asks for driving directions or reads the instructions before assembling the 650 piece IKEA bookcase.
6. Whenever I try to knit, it takes me forever to make one inch.
What they're actually saying is: I have serious perfectionism issues. Can you recommend a self help book?
7. I tried to knit a scarf, but had to keep starting over because I made mistakes.
What they're actually saying is: I really need someone to sit next to me the entire time I'm knitting. In fact, why don't you just knit this for me?
8. I always think that I'll learn to knit when I'm retired.
What they're actually saying is: knitting is for senior citizens, and I never want to be one of those. I'm going to stay forever young.
What kind of reasons for not knitting have you heard? I should add them to my decoder cheat sheet!
The little egg dyeing kits you buy this time of year have never satisfied me. Not only are the colors too pale, they take too long and they don't allow for much customization.
I like to customize things. Which is a fancy way of saying do things my own way.
I'm sure my mother would be happy to tell you all the ways that I "customized" things growing up.
I once cut up an entire National Geographic magazine and glued the pictures to my bedroom wall. Glued with glue. Dozens of pages. My customizing wasn't so popular at age 11.
I think I've improved since then.
You can color eggs with acid dyes like we use here in the studio. But I don't want to outfit my children in safety gear, and I'm going to go out on a limb and assume that you don't want to, either. So I stick with safer items.
Boil some eggs. I like a mixture of sizes and colors. I have medium, large, extra large and jumbo eggs -- white and brown -- bubbling away here. The variation in size creates a more visually interesting display. But use whatever you've got.
Once they've been cooked through -- twelve minutes or so -- cool them down buy running them under cold water.
I like to use shallow dishes for egg coloring, it gives you more control over customization.
Speaking of customization, I was once given a solo part singing in a school performance. I was in second grade.
After I'd been through two rehearsals, the teacher decided to bring in some backup, likely because I was not a very good singer. But I was a good memorizer, so I knew all the lyrics.
I felt this other boy -- let's call him Mark -- was an affront to my sensibilities. I wanted to show the music teacher that I was a better singer than him.
Every time we would practice, I would purposely try to sing much, much louder (read: better) than him. He would, in turn, try to sing louder than me, until we were both louder than the piano accompaniment and were shouting the lyrics instead of singing them.
The teacher said, "Sharon! Mark! This is not a singing competition! Try to sing at the same level as the other person!"
What I heard was, "Sharon! Sing way louder than Mark so everyone will know you're the better singer and I made a mistake in giving him half of your singing responsibilities!"
I wore my hair in a ponytail and a pink and white striped dress to that performance. I sang only a little louder than Mark when other people were watching. Just to customize.
So. Shallow bowl. Put a little water in it. Just eyeball a couple of tablespoons.
Roll the egg around so that some of it gets wet. That will affect how it takes color.
There are several ways to proceed at this point. It's very customizable.
Here's the first. Add a drop of food coloring directly on the egg.
Then add several more in any pattern you feel like. You can use any color you want. I'm going to be wiping off some of this red, so don't worry that I'm teaching you how to make eggs that belong in a Stephen King novel.
Roll the egg around in the water/food coloring solution that's now in the bottom of your shallow dish.
You could, if you wanted, stick your face through a door and psychotically yell, "Heeeeeeeeeere's Johnny!" to the people on the other side.
Take the egg out and blot it with a paper towel. It will create a textured look, and you can blot as much or as little as you like. I blotted this egg until it was a pretty coral color.
Coral is very big for spring.
You heard it here first.
Method #2: Kool-Aid (powdered drink mix). Add a little water to a shallow dish again, and this time sprinkle some powder directly onto the egg.
Roll the egg around in the solution to make a base color. This egg turned out a light pink.
I then picked it up, added a drop of blue food coloring onto my paper towel and rubbed it into the egg. This creates a layered, marbled effect that you can't get with the little dipping kits.
I eventually added a teeny bit of green, too.
Tip: If you have a dry paper towel, you'll be blotting (drying) the egg. You can get more precise, deeper color this way. If your paper towel is damp, you get a smearing effect, which creates a lighter wash of color.
The egg on the right is eventually how this one turned out. The base of pink created those purple shades you see.
Method #3: Several drops of food coloring (or a shake of powdered drink mix) into a dish. Roll the egg around.
Add a drop of blue to a damp paper towel and rub it over a lot of the egg. You can stop whenever you like the way it looks.
This is all about customization, remember?
I'm never one to leave well enough alone, so I added a drop of green to this one, and smeared it around.
The more damp the paper towel is, the more it will wipe off what's underneath it. If you're not happy with how something is looking, you can literally rinse it under water. Or swab it with a wet paper towel until you're happy with it.
Here I started with another swirl of pink, to which I added a drop of yellow.
I kept going with the yellow until I was happy with the results. The subtle color variation is so appealing to me. I also love how blotting forces the color into the pores of the shell, and brings out the texture of the egg.
Try coloring some brown eggs. They yield rich, beautiful shades.
Here's a drop of green.
Smeared around with a damp paper towel.
I then dabbed on some yellows. (You can use a cotton swab if you want to keep your fingers cleaner.)
Method #4: Add a small amount of one color to the bottom of your shallow dish. Then add one drop of a contrasting color.
Roll your egg in it for an instantly marbled effect.
Here are some more examples of eggs I made today.
This was a brown egg. I started with yellow on one side and had it transition to a deep teal on the other.
Pale blue, green, and yellow create a lovely mint color. I wrapped this with some lavender yarn.
Deep blue, added one drop at a time and burnished into the shell with a paper towel.
Red + blue + yellow = chocolate brown. Tied with a minty green yarn.
Blue, green, and red, added a tiny bit at a time and mostly wiped off with a wet paper towel.
Pale green tied with lavender. You can use any scrap yarn that looks pretty.
I like this buttery yellow and pink with the purple yarn.
Then, inspiration: instead of using plastic or paper faux-grass, which frankly gets everywhere and is irresistible to dogs and cats, I could use scrap yarn.
I snipped open a leftover skein of Titania on Lindon and cut it into sections 3-4 inches long.
You can use it to line a basket.
Or to layer in a hurricane vase.
Or to make charming little nests.
I hope you'll try these -- for a couple of bucks in eggs and food coloring, you can make a gorgeous centerpiece, create memories with your children/grandchildren, or add a bit of whimsy to your home.
And it's totally customizable, in a way that will not upset your mother, music teacher, or your second grade nemesis Mark.
I brought this back from April 2011, as I still love this method of egg coloring. I'll be reading the new comments, so please feel free to leave them. Thanks for reading!
My blog has been sick. I've finally nursed it back to health. What a not-fun experience that was.
I have updates for you!
We are almost done collecting squares for Knitters for Newtown. There's still time to get yours in, if you mail them in the next week or so. It will take us a bit of time to make all the blankets, and I'll be sure and update you on that! For reference, here is the mailing address:
Three Irish Girls
Attn: Knitters for Newtown
PO Box 161165
Duluth, MN 55816
I have another important announcement, too. One that I've giving very careful consideration to and am excited and nervous to take public.
I love my website. I love my local yarn shops. I love my customers. I love my family. And I've decided that I am going to focus my attention on helping yarn shops help you, our customers.
The decision not to sell yarn on our website anymore is a hard one. I've met some of the best people in the world because of my little internet domain. And now that we've met, we're not going to un-meet. I'm still going to be here.
I hear all the time from people that they don't have a local yarn shop to go to that sells our wares. They would really like to touch XYZ in person and decide on the exactly perfect shade of blue without the hazards of monitor calibration.
One of the reasons so many of you have a difficult time finding yarn locally is because we just don't have the capacity to sell via our website AND run our large yarn clubs AND do trunk shows AND have lots and lots of wholesale clients.
My love for the LYS has been well cemented over the past few years of traveling around the country from Florida to Alaska. I want to make sure you have a place to go to knitting nights, to take fun classes, to fondle lovely yarn, and to get help when you need it. Try as it might, the internet cannot replace a physical store.
And that's not to say that internet retailers won't continue to be a valuable part of our family. There will always be someone who lives just outside of driving distance from one of our retailers, or someone who needs a skein of something that their LYS doesn't have the shelf space for. We love our webstores too.
Making the move to selling yarn only through our retailers will also do something else, something even more important. It will give me more time to spend with my babies, who are growing at warp speed, and are practically ready for retirement.
Our internet business has grown rapidly over the past nine years. We've never seen less than 15% growth in a calendar year, and in some years, it's been closer to 50%. With 50% more business means 50% more emails and packages to ship, 50% more skeins to make perfect. All of that takes about 600% more time. Even with lots of help in the studio, the volume of emails and packages is just staggering.
As I was thinking about this issue, I kept asking myself the question, "What do I really want?"
I kept coming back to the same answers.
I want to use my creative talents to make people happy.
I want to do good in the world.
I want more time to kiss chubby cheeks and sticky fingers.
Once I figured out what I wanted, I needed to figure out how to get it, and after a lot of soul searching, this is what I came up with.
Shipping one big box to a local yarn shop instead of 120 individual packages a day will save over 40 hours a week in work. Answering twenty emails from yarn shops instead of six hundred emails a week from individual customers will save another 40 hours, at least.
Not having to devote 80+ hours a week to these tasks will mean we can take on more retailers, and we can get them their yarn faster. Which, in turn, will be better for you. You'll have more places to shop, and those places will be able to have a larger selection.
And it will get me more time with:
1. A ten year old boy who likes to cook and quiz me on trivia. (The apple doesn't fall far from the tree.)
2. A red headed eight year old girl who just got her ears pierced.
3. A six year old sunbeam who never stops talking.
4. And an eight month old Baby Shamrock who is very proud of her four teeth.
I know this might be a lot to digest. But I know that this is going to be a win-win for both me and all of you.
Now, to answer some inevitable questions.
Q: I placed an order on ABC date. Will I still get my yarn?
A: Yes indeed. We're not going to leave anyone hanging.
Q: What about your yarn clubs? I love those yarn clubs!
A: Sadly, March is going to be our last yarn club shipment. We will be contacting club members individually, don't worry.
Q: But... but... but...I love all of those exclusive club colorways! What will happen to them?
A: Some of them will head into the vault. But some of them will be made available to our local yarn shops so more people can enjoy them.
Q: When is the last day to place an order on your website?
A: March 31, 2013 will be the last day. You'll have until 10:00 pm Central.
Q: But YARNISTA!!!!!! NO!!!!!!!!!!!!
A. I know. But it really is going to be OK. I'm not disappearing.
Q: I own a yarn shop and am interested in opening an account. How do I do that?
A: Drop us a line using our contact form, or at threeirishgirls AT gmail DOT com.
Q: Will you still write this blog? Will you still make the blankets for Newtown? Will you still work in your new studio?
A: Yes, yes, yes.
Q: What about your lookbooks and patterns?
A: Still working on them! We've had some challenges. But they are forthcoming!
Q: Will you still teach workshops and do trunk shows?
A. Occasionally. And we are developing a traveling trunk show with sample garments! (Sadly, I do not accompany said trunk show.)
Q: This announcement makes me sad. What should I do?
A: Hug your family. Knit something with pretty yarn. Send happy thoughts and deeds out into the world. Good things will come back to you.
Thank you for reading. Thank you for your support over the past 9 years, and for your support in the coming 9.
Happy knitting to all of you.