Saturday, June 27, 2009

It Rains, But It Frakking Pours

Pop Culture Zoo colorway

Things are definitely building at Black Trillium, and a lot of it seems to be happening at the same time as Sock Summit. My dear husband, the Editor-In-Chief of Pop Culture Zoo (for which this colorway was named) is heading off to San Diego Comic-con 2009 starting with Preview Night on July 22nd, and isn't coming home until that following Sunday. I get to be in Seattle that whole time, which means no dyeing for five or six days(eek!), but I'll get to see my BF and her fam instead.

Then we come back from Seattle and the madness begins. I'm going to attempt to take part in Dye For Glory (what a great name) in two of the categories, and the judging should give me some idea if I need to dye mass quantities of my entries or just a few. I have colors picked out, but I can't reveal anything until I list them in my stash. I'll tweet the heck out of it, don't worry.

Then the Summit happens. I'm hoping to be part of the set-up crew, and I'm working Saturday, in the Twisted booth. You'll know me by the knee-high orange and red stockings I'll be wearing, probably with shorts because I don't think I'm going to have time to go skirt shopping between now and then. Maybe in Seattle on my forced mini-vacation from the dyepots.

Right around Summit, I'm delivering two more wholesale orders for entirely new wholesale customers. I'm as shocked as anyone, I didn't really know that anybody outside of local yarn stores had noticed my yarns. But apparently somebody in Canada thinks my work is worth looking at. There's a new feature on my sidebar to let everybody know where to get my yarns, and I'll post links there once I can share them.

So, if you're curious to hear updates in Ravelry, check out my new-ish group, or catch up with me on Twitter to see when I post new items.

Saturday, June 20, 2009

Black Trillium Sale - Comicon or Bust

San Diego Comicon 2009 is a month away for my dear husband and his website, Pop Culture Zoo. This is the biggest news event of the year for him, where he gets to talk to actors from shows such as Twilight, Battlestar Galactica, Leverage, and Doctor Who, as well as writers, directors, and various other VIP in the pop media world. I'm doing my part to send him there, by fund raising through my yarn business. Please, check out the sale - 25% off all yarns - and help us get where we need to go this year.

Thanks, and spread the word.

Wednesday, June 17, 2009


I want to share my version of a recipe, what my son very affectionately calls "Sconage":

1 1/2 cup flour - white mostly although sometimes I use a little whole wheat as well
1/4 cup soy protein powder
3 tbsp granulated sugar - this can be increased to 1/4 cup for extra sweetness
2 1/2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt - decrease to 1/4 tsp if using salted butter
1 stick butter - what is that, 1/2 cup?
6 ounces half and half
1 egg
1 tsp vanilla (or dudilla, as my child likes to say)

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Combine all dry ingredients, then cut in butter until the sizes of small peas. Combine wet ingredients separately until smooth but not frothy. Make a well in the dry ingredients and pour in egg mixture. Mix gently until flour is moistened, then using hands fold dough two or three times. I want my dough to make a small cake or ball that can be easily handled into the pan - I don't like crumbs and bits falling everywhere - but this might be over mixing by some standards. Be wary of overusing your hands to mix, as your body heat will melt the butter and all those lovely little pea-size solid bits of butter are necessary to make like and flaky scones. Cut into fours and space evenly in a Pyrex baking dish. Yes, I prefer Pyrex, sorry for the gratuitous plug. Bake for as long as it take for the edges to brown, usually about 15 minutes.

They rise like crazy and will continue to cook for a couple of minutes after they have been removed from the oven. The thicker the original pat, the taller the scone and the longer the cooking time. A batch of these usually lasts all of five minutes in my house, especially when my beloved spouse is home.

We're watching the original Superman movie today, with Christopher Reeve. We have the super crazy big set with all the movies, including the Return with the new guy, so we watched all the extra features including Reeve's screen tests. Does watching him now give anyone else chills? He was so young and sweet when he got his Superman role. What an amazing human being.

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Roman Blue Sock in Rainier

Roman Blue Sock in Rainier - I am so loving this color combo that I might just have to knit some for myself!

Saturday, June 13, 2009

Cookies To Sweeten The Soul

I am so lucky - today, I received a box of cookies from Canada.

They are made by a lovely woman whom I am beginning to think of as a dear friend - she pushes me to go beyond where I think my limitations are creatively, and she has been a wonderful person to get to know as both an individual and a customer.

I'm not sure if my photos convey how wonderful and sweet these cookies are, and how detail oriented their maker is. They certainly taste like a little bit of nirvana.

This guy kills me! He has a fluffy tail! The squirrels eating my tomato plants on the porch aren't one quarter that cute.

My child thinks these cookies are absolute genius, and he's right. They are beautiful, tasty, fun and hand-crafted with care.

El, you bless us with your creations. Thank you so much! Maybe there's a box from Canada waiting for another lucky person at Milk.

Maybe I Needed To Hear This

I've been getting reminders from my own sense of indignation at the words and actions of others that anger is not the best medium to react from. Therefore, this will be my mantra:

Act so as to encourage the best in others, and by so doing you will develop the best in yourself. - Felix Adler

With that reminder to myself, I still want to know how the creativity of one person, while being similar, can be threatening to another when they themselves feel secure in what they are doing? Creativity is not insular in a highly virtual world, as demonstrated by the necessity of the Creative Commons Copyrights. Someone is bound to do something like mine, sooner or later. To think that that person owes me a debt of deference is absurd, egotistical and unrealistic. Prior knowledge would have to have occurred, and that's just to begin with.

I want to encourage others to express their creativity. If what they do happens to mimic mine because what I do inspires them, fantastic. I would be hurt by being directly referenced without credit, as might happen if someone used my yarn photos to stash a yarn I dyed in Ravelry and called it their own. But if the world can be a better place with my work in it, all the better. There is more than enough room for us all, and to some degree the market will determine whose work continues to grow.

I can be hurt, feel anger and pain as well as any. I am not always the kindest with my words, either (see Sara Mosle post for embarrassing examples). We are all human. And I will continue to do my work the way that suits my sense of personal expression. Along with my mantra of encouragement, I will also do my best not to engage in or create drama. Felix, buddy, help me through this rather frustrating time.

Friday, June 12, 2009

Between the Actual and the Virtual

A fourth dimension has developed between the true color of the yarn I'm trying to post and the color picked up by the camera and then displayed by my computer. Into that nebulous place goes all the light, life and variation of a skein of yarn and out the other side comes something considerably more drab and unimaginative than I like to believe I'm dyeing. To say this process is frustrating to me would be the grossest of understatements.

I have studied much in the way of science my whole life. For me the comfort of science is that when you have a clear understanding of the right process, you can repeat that process over and over with the same result. This is true of chemistry in the most reassuring way, and cooking and dyeing are chemistry. Which means I can mix the same amounts of flour, cream, butter, sugar and salt and I will get scones consistently.

Photography is not a science I excel at. It feels more like a lottery, where I put in time, energy, money, and I get back something very flat. Granted, the real yarn is still around and I can keep trying. But in the end, I eventually have to pick the least bad of the end product photos and use something to post new things on Etsy. I want my work represented to the best of my ability, and in this I am sorely deficient.

It has been pointed out to me, with examples, just how deficient I am. That wasn't a fun moment for me, as I'm very conscious of my own lack of talent and knowledge. I like being good at something. Which I think means investing in photography classes and another, more powerful, digital SLR camera and some lenses. I'll get a better set-up eventually.

Thanks to all my customers that have bought my yarn in spite of my crappy photography. I have only had one less-than-positive feedback and I feel I have done what I can to address it. As with all things, there is a learning curve, and right now I'm feeling it. If I suddenly disappear off the face of the earth, it's because that black hole between the yarn and my camera has finally swallowed me up.

The dude. He doesn't care what comes out the other end, as long he's in at least one shot.

Thursday, June 11, 2009

Sara Mosle: Clueless Anti-Feminist

It was bound to happen. Somebody was going to find a way to piss all over Etsy and label it "feminism". There are so many holes in this article, it might be better posted on as "swiss cheese".

Why am I so annoyed? Obviously, I fit the suggested demographic of the article's primary "argument". But unlike the author, I believe my choice to be a stay-at-home-mom is a perfectly valid option that doesn't violate feminist principles. I've been to college, I've traveled and lived abroad. My husband didn't tell me to stay home with the kid. He'd tell you he'd switch with me any day of the week. And his ego isn't so fragile that my making a better income would destroy his self-image. I certainly don't have an investment-banker father that expects a proper capitalist offspring to tout the ways of money. I'm an uber-liberal who believes that feminism is about the ability to make your own choices. Being pigeon-holed by a rich bitch who's big worry is her next book deal pisses me right the hell off.

Okay, so I'm ranting.

It seems a bit anti-feminist to me to suggest that men would "have evaluated the [Etsy] site on purely economic terms and found it wanting" while women could be lulled into believing they can gain meaningful income from hobbying. As many yarn dyers can tell you, their Etsy sites are nothing like a hobby. The concept that women can't evaluate pro's and con's on sheer economic merit is a numbing mind-fuck of false stereotyping being perpetuated by somebody who values money over thoughtful content.

Nothing about Etsy promises that if you sell your wares through them, you'll be magically transported to a world free of toil and unfairness. No, that belief fits more clearly into post-modern feminist canon than anywhere else. A high-power career is the only gateway to enlightenment? You've just lost me entirely. Work ethic, not sensationalism, is the ethic that enables me to reap the unique benefits of listing on Etsy.

I should probably apologize for the personal attacks on Ms. Mosle's character. I might, later. I would really have appreciated a little more of a two-sided perspective, you know, a couple good interviews with Etsy shop owners or something. But in digging around the internet on Sara Mosle, I find only things that support the idea that this woman knows nothing about real work. I can't devalue her choices in motherhood - they are her choices to make. I wish she could return that view.


I can't seem to shoot fast enough to get a head shot, not that they don't peek around the feeder often enough to eyeball me and make sure I'm not going to come any closer. I've been at this for two years and this is the best photo thus far. Enjoy!

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

My Hero

I love doing these bright colors. But I don't much care for space dyeing. Still, want to keep this one. See Superhero here.

Monday, June 8, 2009

Meriamboo II Comparisons

Blush, Ginger, Mocha
Mocha, Shy Violet, Ginger
Glacier, Ginger, Mocha
Lahki, Ginger, Mocha
Align CenterEarl Grey, Ginger, Mocha
Bella, Ginger, Mocha
Ginger, Mocha, Casey
Ginger, Mocha, Corona
Dirt, Ginger, Mocha

Thursday, June 4, 2009

Sock Summit Mania

After months of build-up and tense announcements, the class registration went up for Sock Summit. The rest is history - crashed servers, violently disappointed knitters, emails flying, chat threads extending into the sunset. I may not do this very well, and be warned I am not a kind person by nature, but I think there is some evidence that this could all have been a little less nutty.

The facts are these:

1. Check the stash listings for Socks That Rock. With more stashes and projects listed than any other sock yarn, I think that says something for the popularity of Tina's dyeing. From my own experience, the amount stashed on Ravelry is about one tenth of the actual yarn sold.

2. Two years ago at Blue Moon's annual "destash" in Scappoose knitters were fighting each other to get to the yarn. I wasn't there, but I surely won't be going in the future if that's the atmosphere. The Blue Moon booths at events like OFFF and Madrona are bad enough.

3. Every time the Yarn Harlot does a talk or a signing, the event is obscenely over capacity.
Two years running, Powell's here in Portland was inundated, so finally Tina helped get Stephanie booked at World Forestry Center's 300-person hall and it was still packed beyond fire code.

4. When the Yarn Harlot tries a new sock yarn and blogs about it, that dyer gets inundated, becoming a star overnight, though sometimes only for just a few days. This phenomena has its over verb: getting Harlotted. Examples: Fiber Optic, Sereknity, and Crash Into Ewe, to name a recent few.

This, I think, begins to demonstrate the power of Tina and Stephanie. Not the power of the sock. Let me say that again - it isn't really just about socks anymore.

The pressure in the air has been building about the Sock Summit since the idea was first introduced. When the list of teachers went up, I think it occurred to all of us that SS09 might turn out to be a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity. There are yarn dyers out there that believe that getting a booth at Summit will be the thing that transforms their dyeing "hobby" into a full-time job.

The combined popularity of Tina and Stephanie seems to have brought some folks to the point of hysteria. Are they The Beattles of the yarn world? Either way, I am sad to find that people were downright nasty when they didn't get the classes they wanted. Seriously, folks, we're knitters, we know better. Apologize and GET A FRAKKING GRIP.

If there is a next time, ladies, please, Please, don't let anybody talk you out of what you should know by now is true. Over prepare, if you can afford it. And then redouble your efforts, just in case. Neither of you seems to do things by halves anyway. Just saying. From my perspective it seems that none of the organizers should have been shocked by the response, although they didn't deserve to get slammed by crazies for making a simple mistake.

Monday, June 1, 2009

Baby Soft Merino Sport

I wanted to share a small moment with you that is currently happening on my couch. My son doesn't like wool next to his skin - not even superwash or wool heavily mitigated by cotton or acrylic. Right now he is curled up with my Second Wool Peddler's Shawl, made entirely out of Black Trillium Fibre Studio Merino Sport, wrapped around his pajama-less body and loving it. We're talking full body wool-next-to-skin contact and he's pleased as punch. Of course, I won't tell him what the thing is made of.