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Greydient Series Pre-Order & More News

Hello friends!

It is cooling off here in far northern NY (and I am not sad about it!). Autumn is on the way and we are ready to kick into high gear. We have been working on so many things for the past 3 months, and I’m happy to bring some progress news about a bunch of them today.

1. The website got a bit of a refresh: it’s easier to read, more organized, offers more guidance on the ordering process and there is now a separate pre-order tab in the shop. If you are brand new to Vivid Fiber Arts and would like a quick orientation, this post will give you all the information. If you are a returning customer, here’s a quick overview of what has changed.

2. The Greydient series pre-order is open through next Sunday night 8/18 at 11pm EST. We have expanded the series adding two new colorways: Rose Quartz and Smokey Topaz. We have also doubled our product line to include the laceweight base yarns. Additionally, Advent and 8 Crazy Nights are available for pre-order for some who want to start early holiday projects. And I also added Pure Purple because … actually purple doesn’t need a reason. 😀 The colorways included in this pre-order are:

Rose Quartz, Smokey Topaz, Moraine, Upstate Grey, Geode, Aventurine, Casco Bay, Blue Steel, Advent, 8 Crazy Nights, Pure Purple. To go to the shop, click here.

3. VFA Maker Team: A few months ago we started informally having samples made up as we dyed colorways. I feel it’s really important not to just see how yarn looks in a product photo, but also how it works up. I design the yarns we make to look great in *projects*, not just in the cake or just to be a pretty skein that sits in your stash. We have two samples made in every colorway- one knit and one crochet. It’s been going really well. We have decided to keep that going and have a pool of VFA customers who can make sample projects when they have time. Big thanks to everyone who has participated so far! If you’re interested in learning more about the VFA Maker Team, see this page here.

4. Giveaways! So we don’t sell our “seconds”. Honestly, at this point, we don’t have a lot of seconds because we are just that damn good very lucky 😀 . But sometimes I’ll have some skeins that are fine, but maybe one too many joins, have a fuzz or a speck of something on it. Stuff that I wouldn’t in good conscience sell because I’m super picky, but stuff that anybody would be happy to have. So I’ve decided to just start giving them away. I’m never going to have time to do anything with them and I hate for them just to sit in a box. So I will be randomly sneaking them into orders as we pack them up. I’m giving away 5 gradients this month and they will be scattered amongst the pre-orders placed this week. So when you get your package, you might have a surprise in there!

5. Rhinebeck: To confirm; we will be at Indie Untangled again this year on Friday October 18th in Saugerties, NY (yes, it’s sold out). I will be teaching gradient dyeing on that Sunday at the festival itself (yes, my class is also sold out). But do not fret! We will be in town all weekend (and Monday bc we are not driving ever again on that Sunday- lesson learned). If you will be at Indie Untangled or the festival stay tuned bc we have some fun things planned for you (that will *not* be sold out) 😀

6. Are you interested in wool? We are. Many of you have been asking for wool for years. The original gradients we tested were all wool. I’ve wanted to do wool for a long time, but ran into big challenges sourcing ethically-produced base yarns in animal fibers. It’s very difficult to trace a supply chain and know that both the animals and the people that help make the base yarns are treated well. Sustainability and human rights are two of the many issues that are important to us as a company. After many many dead ends, we have found a US mill that is using American merino that is ethically-sourced from the western part of the country. We will be trialing their base yarns extensively over the next 4 months. However, we will never compromise our first love which is plant-based yarn, particularly Tencel. We will be sending out a questionnaire and seeking some feedback from you on this in a separate newsletter. So if you are interested, keep your ears and your emails open.

I am really happy to say right now the shop has the most yarn we’ve ever had in stock. We’ve been working really hard over the past year to increase our output, expand the laceweight product range – all without decreasing our quality. Tiny improvements over time have added up quite a bit! I’m enjoying having more things available for people and not instantly being sold out and stressing. We’ve also invested quite a bit in shipping and inventory management, so we’ve been able to keep up with an increasing number of orders.

Huge thanks to all of our wonderful customers who are, as always, so encouraging and supportive. And a warm welcome to all our new friends who are just joining us now. We look forward to a very fun autumn (and spring for our many Southern Hemisphere friends!).

Hope you’re having a great day wherever you are-

Amy

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How To Order

Welcome! Our ordering process is a bit unique, so here’s some information to help everyone understand what various things in the shop mean, how to order and what to expect.

In general, there are three types of products and you will see 4 tabs at the top of your screen when you are in the “Shop” section of the website:

1) In stock: Products that are currently in production (i.e. we currently are dyeing this colorway and it is available to ship or will be shipping in the next few weeks). When something is “In Stock” status on the order page, that means we are currently accepting orders for this product, and it is currently in production. That does not mean it will ship immediately. We wind and package things as orders come in so that they are “fresh” when they are sent out. We usually ship twice a week. If you have an urgent need, please email us through the Contact Us form to get a shipping ETA.

2) Waitlist: Products that are not currently in production. Although this product is out of stock and we are not dyeing it currently, you can put your name on the waiting list by choosing your product (including base yarn preference) and clicking “Join Waitlist”. We will let you know when this colorway or product is back in production. Certain colorways are restocked regularly, some are seasonal and are only dyed once a year.  We usually let everyone know what’s coming up in the rotation on the News Update post. When something that you are on the waitlist for comes back in stock, you receive a personalized email alerting you so that you buy whatever you had your eye on.

3) Pre-Order: We do not ever do “Etsy-style shop updates”. They are chaotic, stressful, and further a scarcity mindset that just isn’t a fit for us. People have lives, jobs, and we do not expect anyone in New Zealand or the UK to get up at 2 am to order yarn. In order to create a different way that is relaxing, fun, and inclusive, we have extensively modified our website to fit our ordering process (and we continue to improve it.)

We do several large pre-orders a year. Each pre-order is a set series of gradients. For example, we do a large pre-order once a year for all the Fade To Black gradients, same for the Greydients series. When a pre-order period is open, that means that whatever you order will be made for you. Full stop. It’s just a matter of us getting through the orders. There’s no missing out, no getting “cartjacked”, and all end yardage options are available so you can customize your yarn set to any project you have in mind. So you can take your time, consider what patterns you might have in your Ravelry queue, look at yardage requirements. look at other projects and modifications. Please put your choices all on one order if you can. Some people are conditioned to order one thing and check out immediately so they don’t get cartjacked. That is not necessary during our pre-orders. You can always put in a second order if you change your mind about something, but it’s not necessary to rush to check out when a pre-order period is open.

Generally a pre-order is open for about a week and it’s usually the second week of a month. We receive hundreds of orders in a very short time frame. When the pre-order period closes, we go through and will automatically combine all your orders for shipping purposes. We then refund any excess shipping charges if necessary. It generally takes about 4 weeks from the time the pre-order period *closes* for us to get through all the pre-orders. It can be up to 6 weeks in cases of large or very complicated orders with a lot of end yardage requirements that need to be matched. All orders are shipped USPS Priority Mail insured for domestic customers. International orders are sent USPS First Class Package International unless otherwise specified. Please see the FAQ for more specific shipping related questions.

There is a fourth tab that says All Products that will show you everything we ever make, and functions kind of like a gallery or catalog so you can see all our options. See the FAQ for more information.

Key things to know:
a) you must first make an account on the website in order to join waitlists and have your chosen items saved to your profile / associated with your email address. If you do not input an email address, the automatic notifications won’t be able to send.
b) for more information and details on how the waitlist works, check out this blog post “How Does the Waitlist Work?”
c) for information on how to physically add yourself to the waitlist (what to click where), check out this blog post “Quick Tip: How do I waitlist something?”

For all orders of $80 or more, we offer free US shipping and reduced international shipping rates.
Please feel free to familiarize yourself with our store policies here. We have a very generous return policy.
To subscribe to the Vivid Fiber Arts newsletter, click here.
For more information on our terms & conditions, click here.
For more info on our privacy policy, click here.
For any specific order questions or for other questions, please contact us so that we can help you .
If you’ve gotten this far, thanks for taking time to read. Please add this item to your shopping cart *when you submit your first order of $80 or more*, and we’ll send you a little welcome gift.

Thanks!
Amy & Team VFA

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News Update

Hi there!

I thought it might be helpful to keep a running update on what we’re working on so we can keep you in the loop.
This will give you an idea of what’s available for waitlist, open for pre-orders, and what we will be dyeing next.
To contact us about a specific order question, please use the Contact Us form on the website.

Most recent news update 8/13/19

8/13:   Check out this blog post for more information on the Greydients Pre-Order, the VFA Maker Team, Rhinebeck, Giveaways and Wool Gradients

PRE-ORDERS CURRENTLY OPEN 8/13-8/18/19:  All Greydients: Aventurine, Blue Steel, Casco Bay, Geode, Moraine, Rose Quartz, Smokey Topaz, Upstate Grey.  We also added 8 Crazy Nights, Advent for early holiday projects, and Pure Purple just because purple.

**Please note: if your order is a mixture of “in stock” and “pre-order” items, they will all ship together when pre-orders ship in 4-6 weeks. If you would like your “in stock” items to ship sooner separately, please put them on a separate order.**

Waitlists: Please join the waiting list for any products (colorway + base yarn) you would like to purchase in the future. This will enable you to get automatic notifications when something is available for order. Under “My Account”, you will now see all your waitlisted items in one place. Please log in, review and update your preferences (including which base yarn you prefer). We have suspended availability of the Tencel base due to mill issues.  We may bring it back when supply is more consistent. It is recommended that you waitlist for the High Twist Tencel base if you want fingering weight Lux.

If you need technical assistance with the waiting list function, please contact us so that we can help you.

Upcoming Restocks: The entire Fade to Black series will be returning later this year (*dance dance dance*). We will also be restocking Pure Blue, 80s Night, Red Hat Lady, Emerald Isle, and Quasar .

If anyone needs a status update on an order, please contact us directly via the contact form. We do not monitor Ravelry messages, Instagram DMs or Facebook messages continuously- particularly when we are head down working on pre-orders. All customer service issues need to go through email so they are routed appropriately. We aim to get back to people within 24 hours, usually sooner. I check my spam folder every day, but if you haven’t gotten a response from me, it’s likely an email issue so check your spam folder too.

RETURNS/EXCHANGES: We have a 30 day return/exchange policy.  Please check out your order right away when you get it.  We’ll either get you something else more to your liking or arrange for a return/refund. Due to the extremely generous nature of this policy, we adhere strictly to 30 days from delivery date. After that point, please feel free to take advantage of the VFA Ravelry group “ISO/Destash” thread.

Any questions at all, please contact me directly.

Thanks!

Amy & Team VFA

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Quick Tip: How do I waitlist something?

WHY would I want to join the waitlist for something? < Check out this blog post here for more details on the “why”

HOW do I join the waitlist for something I would like?

To join the waitlist for a product, you just have to do three things. The screenshot below might help you:

1. Log in: In the top right hand corner, it should say “Log Out” indicating that you’re already logged in (in green box). If it says “Log In” there, it means you’re not yet logged in. So you would click “Log In” at that point and complete your log in.

2. If you *are* logged in, then you would go to your desired product (in this case Lux Birdsong 150g) pull down the menu to whichever base yarn you are interested in (indicated in the yellow box)

3. For things that are not in stock at the moment and are available for waitlist, it will bring up a grey “Join Waitlist” button (indicated in the red box).

4. If it says “Leave Waitlist” That means you are already on the waitlist for that item  (You can click that thought to leave it if you no longer are interested in that colorway.)

If that doesn’t help out, just send an email through the contact form on the front page of the website, and we will help you out!

 

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What Makes a Gradient Look “Smooth”?

People are always asking “Why do your gradients look so smooth while others have more obvious stripes?”

There actually is no one magic ingredient. There are a lot of things that go into making a smooth-looking gradient (If that is indeed a goal, and it doesn’t have to be).

A couple of things contribute to the smoothness of a gradient in which the yarn is dyed (as opposed to where the color is “dyed in the wool” and then spun- a totally different process -think Noro or handspun):

How many different colors (hues) does the gradient contains: A “color change” involves going around the color wheel clockwise or counterclockwise from one color family to another color family e.g. (red to red-orange). The more color changes there are in a fixed length of gradient yarn, the fewer yards that are available for each color to play out and blend. The colors have a limited amount of “room” to blend into each other. That is why you will see the smoothest gradients are usually ombres (no actual color “change” per se, just dilutions of same color/hue), or one-way gradients that have 2-3 main colors depending on the yardage. The longer the yardage, the more room there is for each color to run its course. The idea is that your brain will mix the colors your eyes see over a certain area.

Yardage and weight of the yarn: As an extension of the concept above, you will see a lot of gradients on finer weight yarns- fingering & lace bc there’s lots of yardage in the standard 100g to let the color changes blend and play out; there’s lots of “room to run”. This is also why it is very rare to see a smooth gradient on 100g of bulky weight yarn or on small circumference items like socks- there just isn’t a lot of room to run. It takes a lot of skill to get a smooth gradient on these types of projects.

The contrast of the values of the colors (or lack of): Value = how light or dark something is. When you look at a picture of colors and then make it black & white, it is easy to see what colors are lighter in value than others (e.g. yellow is going to be lighter in value than purple). If you have a large difference in value between adjacent colors, your eye will be drawn there. Big jumps in value contribute to perceived “stripeyness”.

How many different shades of dye are mixed and applied in succession, and how well they are blended once applied to the yarn/fiber:

Let’s say you have 700 yards of yarn and want to dye a rainbow. You decide, OK …
100y red, 100y orange, 100y yellow, 100y green, 100y blue, 100y indigo, 100y purple. BOOM done!
You will have awesome rainbowey yarn, but will be pretty stripey- your colors changes will be very distinct and there will be large jumps between segments.
It looks like this:

Gradient-Steps-1.jpg

This may be what you want and it might look great. Stop there- start your project and enjoy. Done 🙂

However, if you were looking to work towards something smoother looking- you could go up to 14 segments of 50y i.e. 50y red, 50y red-orange, 50y orange, 50y orange-yellow, 50y yellow and so on, and also blend at the junctions a bit more.
It will look like this with 14 hues x 50y each:

Gradient-Steps-2.jpg

The more steps you have, they more they will meld together into a fluid color shift.

Take in mind, it might look smoother, but it’s a lot more work- twice as many colors to mix and twice as many colors to apply and blend.

Take it further- this is 28 colors x 25y each:

Gradient-Steps-3.jpg

This is even smoother bc there are more hues for your eye to mix.

I typically mix anywhere from 24-48 dyes to apply to one skein then apply and blend them in a pattern to make inbetween shades. The more colors I’m trying to “accomplish” in one skein, the more dyes I have to mix i.e. If I’m trying to dye a cobalt ombre I might only need 24 dyes to accomplish a smooth result, a smooth rainbow might take 48 or more. This conceptually would result in at least 47-95 different hues (and then they blend on the yarn to make even more) to get my definition of “smooth enough”. That may be completely impractical/overkill for some, that might not be smooth enough for others. The smoother the gradient, the more time it takes to make. At some point, a dyer has to make a decision of how smooth is “smooth enough”. The human eye is exceptionally sensitive to differences in color and value; you need to decide what is “stripey” for yourself- everyone has different thresholds at which something goes from being smooth to “too stripey”.

The difference between:

Gradient-Steps-3.jpg

Gradient-Steps-1.jpg
and this

is a huge difference in time and expense.

Dyers who dye their yarns in the form of a “blank”, a pre-knitted piece of knit fabric, they can get some of those in between colors by letting the knitted fabric soak up the dye and letting the dye blend in and mix where it meets on the actual yarn. You can smoosh the dye around and make it mingle even more. It’s very fun to see the colors meet up and party! I initially started dyeing gradients in blanks, and it was great. However, there are a few drawbacks to this type of dyeing production-wise and it wasn’t my very favorite end product aesthetically, and that’s why I didn’t choose that method for myself. But there are plenty of gradient dyers who use this method exclusively and are very popular.

But then what’s an Ombre? Isn’t that the same thing?

Not, not exactly. “Ombres” are a subset of gradients. All ombres are gradients, not all gradients are ombres. Ombre is from the French verb “ombrer”, to shade or from Latin umbrare ; from umbra, shade. Without getting too crazy about color theory- ombre is basically the same color but on a progressively lightening (or darkening) scale= dark pink to light pink, but still the very same pink base hue throughout. Most paint chip cards you see at the home improvement store are ombre gradients because they are just increasing concentrations of the color i.e. increasing amounts (grams) of the same pigment will be put into a gallon of white base paint.

Magenta-Ombre.jpg
Magenta Ombre

Looks like this:

This is pure magenta on the left 100%, followed by 93%, 86%, 78%, 71%, 64%, 57%, 50%, 42%, 35%, 28%, 21%, 14%, 7% dilutions. On your monitor, the balance of the % is white (lack of color). On fiber, with dye which is transparent, the balance is water (lack of color).

Hopefully, this will give you a little insight into the types of things that your eye notices, but you probably didn’t consciously pay attention to.

So next time anyone is wondering “Why are smooth gradients so expensive?” Now you have an idea of what goes into making it smooth. They truly are highly technical works of art. When you take into account the time and skill involved, and then the quality/fiber of base yarn (e.g. superwash wool, vs cashmere/silk), you can make the judgment about whether you are getting fair value for money when you are comparing or evaluating different yarns. Truly, a large number of gradient dyers are underpricing themselves, while a few are labeling yarns and braids “gradient” when their products aren’t gradients at all.

This usually holds true: if it’s something that’s easy to do, a lot of people will do it and the price will be lower because there’s more competition.
And as in all things: generally, you get what you pay for.

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Shipping Hints For the Holiday Season

The holidays are a fun time of year. Something that is not so fun is losing an eagerly awaited package to damage or theft. When it is yarn- true heartbreak.

All our domestic packages are sent USPS Priority Mail. Overall, we have had very few problems with our USPS service; we use address verification, compliant barcoding, and track everything. However, all shipping company transit times start to run longer starting on Black Friday. Priority Mail usually takes 2-3 days from NY to most places during the year. It was running 6-7 days to the West Coast last December.  So it will usually take longer than what the USPS tracking website displays. Also when it started to get really crazy towards Dec 20th, USPS did not scan every package at every single stop. So it would go from my main Northeast depot in Springfield, MA …. then nothing for days… then magically “Delivered”. So don’t be surprised if that happens.

Package theft is rampant during the holidays. I insure all domestic packages. However, insurance does not cover anything if the package is listed as “Delivered” in the USPS system (which would be the case if it was stolen off your doorstep). If you live in an area where missing packages might be a problem, there are things you can do. This really applies to all the packages you’re receiving this season, not just mine. Hopefully this will help!

  •  Consider temporarily changing your order shipping address to your work address if you know you will be there during the day.
  •  Use a PO Box if you have one
  •  There’s an option “Adult Signature Delivery Required” which is available for an additional fee from USPS
  •  I can ship it “hold at post office” and you can pick it up there
  •  Install a lock box by your front door where your mail carrier can drop packages then put the lock on.
  •  When you go to look up your tracking number on the USPS website, there is an option “receive text messages about this package” This is great to let you know when something actually arrives so it doesn’t sit out.
  •  If we start to get close to mid December and you have had bad shipping issues in the past, I am happy to hold your order till Dec 28 when it’s a bit safer to ship.
  •  All domestic orders are insured against damage. If you receive a damaged item, keep it and keep the packaging so I can file a claim for you.
  •  Insurance claims are great for recovering costs. I will make every effort to replace an item if you want. However, if I don’t have any left, I can only offer a refund. I cannot guarantee a replacement.
  •  International Orders are sent First Class Package International- this is NOT insured and it takes up to 4 weeks to some countries. NY -> Canada was running 16 days last year. NY-> New Zealand was running 20 days. If you want your international package insured, please note that in the order notes and I can get you a shipping quote. If it’s too much, you are free to cancel your order, or you can have me hold your order till after the holiday shipping season is over and it’s safer to ship. Enjoy the happy chaos!A