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Behind the scenes: shop updates

I haven’t had time to update my website/shop in … months!

Which seems really ridiculous to me, but it’s just how things are in my life, between dyeing, shipping, teaching, cooking, feeding (dad and a host of animals), cleaning (hahaaaa, okay, I should clean more), driving dad to medical appointments an hour or three hours away, blah blah blah, lather rinse repeat.  🙂

I also haven’t had a lot of excess yarn FOR a shop update, but realized this week that (a) while waiting for new yarn to arrive, (b) finishing up orders using the yarn that I have, and (c) dealing with our first heat wave of the year (not a great time to dye yarn anyway!) … it’s time for a shop update.

Shop updates aren’t quick and easy.

At least not for me – I’m sure other dyers are much smarter and more efficient with these things.

I added a lot of yarn to my website yesterday – yarn that I already had photos or “stock” photos of.

Today, I’m photographing more yarn.

I photo in bunches (minimum six photos/skein, of which I use one to two), then upload photos to my trusty PC laptop (where Photoshop resides), then flip through all those photos, deleting the out of focus or otherwise not great photos, then compare photo by photo each skein to choose the best photo per skein.

THEN, each of those winning photos goes into Photoshop:

  1. Trim the edges for the right “frame” of the skein in a rectangular landscape mode
  2. Is the color too cool?  Warm it up.  Too warm?  Cool it down.
  3. Adjust the brightness and contrast.
  4. Add 3 more points of brightness when it looks perfect (maybe 5 points if I’m adding it to Etsy) – many images seem to darken a bit after uploading.
  5. Adjust to 1000 pixels wide, save, return to original size.
  6. Crop to a square image (adjusting as needed).
  7. Adjust to 1000 pixels wide, save adding an “a” to the end of the previous image file name (which tells me that it’s the square image).

Now I’m ready to write up a description for each skein, including all the necessary details, upload the image(s), make sure that the weight is set correctly, preview before publishing to make sure it looks okay, add all the necessary tags and set up in the right collections (for my own website) (like “new” and “ready to ship yarn”).

And voila!  Done!

So, that takes around 20 minutes per skein, when you add it all up:  photos, editing, description, preview, posting, corrections, etc.  If I have 20 skeins to add, that’s not a big deal.  But … I have, easily, 200 skeins that have amassed during the last few months.


I have my podcasts on, cold drink continually refreshed, and I’m just working my way through each batch of skeins.  While doing all the other work that still needs to be done.  🙂

I’m sure there’s an easier way to do things and it might help if I wasn’t so particular about photo quality.

But I’m nearly always happy, or at least satisfied, with the results when I finish it all up.

Want to see the shop update?  There are several pages of new yarn already available and even more to come.  You can see the new skeins on the website now, by clicking HERE.



Dyeing in the woods (dyeing yarn, that is)

This is my view from the back doors of the dye shop.

Pretty nifty, right?

Behind our property is nearly 10 acres of pretty wild, overgrown forest.

Which isn’t so nifty now that it’s summer – and fire season.

This weekend will mark three years of living in the woods, which is … awesome.

In the city, you live by your commute.  Traffic rules your life.

In the woods, the weather reports rule your life.  And fire season.

Fire season is a very real thing.  Our community was pretty much destroyed in a fire in 2008.  We still see the scars and burns, even in the woods behind us.

And with this year’s amazingly abundant Fall and Winter, we are surrounded by grasses, brush, trees … kindling.

So, everyone cuts and mows and rakes and discards and burns piles of branches and cut down trees (controlled burns).

We clear our 100 foot perimeter around our homes – at least as much as we can – to create our defensible space.

We firm up our evacuation plans, make sure the cat carriers and dog kennels are located, and that the photo albums and baby books are on one shelf for swift removal.

And then …

We continue our lives.

Which, for me, means dyeing yarn.  Teaching the dyeing of yarn.  Shipping yarn.  Taking care of dogs and a herd of cats.  Taking care of my dad.  🙂

And squeezing every second of joy from these long, long days of sunshine and warm breezes, before the days slowly become shorter and shorter, yet again.

I used to hate the summer heat and complained bitterly as the temperatures soared.

Now, maybe through my advanced wisdom gained from advanced years (haha), I just smile, try to enjoy, and remind myself that before we know it, I will be unhappy because the roads are icy and I’m too scared to drive the 45 minutes to town.  In which case, I’ll take the heat.  🙂

What are you most enjoying these last precious days of Spring, as we melt our way into Summer?




Wow, I’m flabbergasted that I stopped blogging for so long, but … I did.

So, hello!  I’m slowly returning to the world after being seriously overwhelmed with business, life, and everything in between in the last few years.

Since Mom passed away, life has been a bit crazy.  My dad moved in with me.  Then we moved together to the mountains.  And added puppies to our family.  And more kitties.  While Phydeaux continued to grow exponentially, but without the infrastructure needed for solid growth.

I’m scaling back as I type, deciding what Phydeaux can do, and what we don’t need – or want – to do, moving forward.  I cancelled exhibiting at this summer’s tradeshow (TNNA) in Washington DC, in order to work on current yarn shop and retail orders, as well as focus on my family (dad, dogs, cats).

Phydeaux has been SO busy for so long.  Which is awesome, but also exhausting, when you’re a business of one plus some part time help.  I’m relearning to love knitting and dyeing and everything in between, which is amazing.  While taking actual time off during the week, which seems crazy (but I love – and need – that time off).

I love my life.

I love my business.

I love all of my wonderful, talented, amazing customers.

I love what I get to do every day.

And I need to also love ME.  I kinda forgot about doing that in the last year or two.  So that’s what I’m working on.  As should we all.

On the way to Phoenix #plflive2016

A photo posted by brenda phydeaux designs & yarn (@phydeauxdesigns) on

So, things have changed a bit at Phydeaux HQ.  Instead of a few cats in our combined household, we now have four cats (!!!) and two horse-sized dogs.  And a feral cat colony.

They sure love their papa #bullador #bulladorsofinstagram #dukiedog #belladog

A photo posted by brenda phydeaux designs & yarn (@phydeauxdesigns) on

Hard to imagine life without all these furries.  They sure make things … interesting.

This is Whitey- not the most creative name, but his tail ha a white tip, so it works. #feralcat #feralcats #tabby

A photo posted by brenda phydeaux designs & yarn (@phydeauxdesigns) on

And there is still yarn.  And knitting.  Lots and lots of yarn and knitting.

Time to refill the online shop with ready to ship yarn … #phydeaux #handdyedyarn #knittersofinstagram #dyersofinstagram #yarn

A photo posted by brenda phydeaux designs & yarn (@phydeauxdesigns) on

I have so much to share with you.  About life and animals and family, as well as yarn and knitting and business.  For now, here is our newest family member, Wiggie, formerly feral (she was the runt, very very tiny), not sold on being a pampered indoor princess yet. Definitely not sold on me yet (sob).  But we love her and aren’t giving up on her.  She just doesn’t know she loves us yet.


three types of hand dyed yarn colourways

hand dyed yarn

We talked last time about striping and non-striping variegated yarn, but there are many other types of hand dyed yarn colourways!

We’ll talk about three types right now:  semisolid, tonal, and variegated.

Semisolid colourways

Semisolids are, well … almost solid.  Meaning, an entirely indigo blue skein of yarn, with some variation in depth and tone.

melisandre angelique phydeaux hand dyed yarn

Melisandre (see above) is a great semisolid example:  deep, warm reds without introduction of other colors (no pinks or blues or oranges).

Sometimes, a semisolid is dyed in one, single pot of color:  submerge the yarn, let the dye strike, ad it’s done.

Phydeaux semisolids generally take at least three pots of dye, layering colors on top of one another.  For instance, Melisandre takes four pots of color in different shades and tones of red, building and interacting with one another to create that final, rich warm red with a much deeper final, sheer glaze.

Semisolids can be somewhat “flat,” (one shade/tone) or much more dimensional (multiple tones and shades).  When I’m working on a new semisolid colourway, I’m gauging the color’s dimension and depth with each pot of color.  The colourway isn’t finished until I’ve reached a sufficient depth (meaning the colors seem more three dimensional than two dimensional) and dimension (meaning that there is more complexity to the color than initially meets the eye – there may be pots of color that you couldn’t ever guess involved in the process).

Semisolids are perfect for garments and projects involving complex lace stitch patterns.  More variegated colourways can make a lovely lace stitch pattern too confusing for your eye to really see.  In most cases, save your variegateds for more simple lace patterns.

Sometimes, semisolids are less solid and more “tonal,” making them… tonal.  Meaning, there are more colors than just “red” or “blue” (more about semisolid vs. tonal).

Tonal colourways

Tonals are my favorite colourways to dye.  I love creating a colourway with shifting shades, tones and color families from seemingly disparate pots of color.

hand dyed tonal yarn from phydeaux:  colourway mediterraneo

For instance, Mediterraneo (see above) involved four pots of color, moving from bright sky blue to neon green to golden yellow to deepest brown.  Each layer builds on the previous layers.  If I stop adding colors too soon, there will be jarring spots without color, lacking transition.  By adding additional layers of color, the transitions are seamless and more interesting interactions are created.

Tonals are great for just about any kind of project, from straight stockinette blankets to more complex lace stitch patterns.  I love a garment worked in a dimensional semisolid, but please do alternate skeins when doing so, to avoid weirdly different arms or lapels.

Both semisolids and tonals can be dyed in infinite ways, from kettle/immersion dyeing (which is how I dye these colourways) to applying dye onto the yarn laid out on a flat surface, to crockpot dyeing to steaming via microwave or oven, or any other number of methods.

Variegated colourways

We talked a little bit about variegated colourways last time (striping vs. non-striping).  Variegated colourways are probably the most popular when it comes to Phydeaux yarn:  lots of color, short color repeats, and non-striping overall effect.

They’re also, usually, the most difficult and time consuming to dye.

pumpkin spice in soie fingering, hand dyed by phydeaux

For instance, Pumpkin Spice, Phydeaux’s #1 or 2 most popular colourway, is notoriously time consuming:  I dye in pairs (two skeins to a pot) and it can take up to a half day to finish one pot.

Why so long?  I’m continually manipulating the yarn to place random bits of color.  Sometimes, the color just doesn’t want to “stick,” and the gold and deep pumpkin colors can be particularly obstinate about not sticking.  Each time I dye it, I think, “this skein is never going to turn out,” and then it ends up being gorgeous and  I have no idea what my issue was.

Of course, other dyers have their own methods for dyeing variegated colourways.  There is no right or wrong way, as long as the dyer gets their desired results!

I love variegated yarns in accessories and sweaters.  Or used in tandem with semisolids or tonals in stripes or other colorwork patterns.

You really do need to use alternating skeins with hand dyed and painted variegated yarns, regardless if the yarns are semisolid, tonal or variegated.  Every skein is so unique when hand dyed – alternating rows reduces jarringly obvious transitions between skeins.

Semisolid?  Tonal?  Variegated?  Which is your favorite?  Share in the comments below!

Next time:  a brief history of variegated colourways