Monday, August 31, 2009

New For Black Trillium Fibre Studio

Not that dyeing yarn isn't enough, but I thought it might be fun to add some variety to my Etsy shop. I've done stitch markers before, and of course I chose itty bitty crystals and the smallest gauge wire known to man. The entire project was ridiculously time consuming, and my photography sucked as per usual. Project bags, though, that's more my style: useful, fun to make, and cheerful (when using my preferred nutty bright colors). I could even hand-dye the cotton, although that's another can of worms for a different day.

Red Coral project bag with Dinnerplate Dahlia in Merilon Sock. That skein of yarn, incidentally, is named for the amazing Dahlias coming out of my friend Shelby's garden - some of them were bigger than my head and just amazing colors the way that only Dahlias can be.

I'm also very pleased to get to share Squire Country Crafts' sock blockers with my customers. I discovered these lovely creations at Twisted a while back, and watching the way people lit up over them at Sock Summit really made me sit up and take notice. To make them a Black Trillium exclusive, the trillium part of my logo has been stamped onto the top of each one.

My next project today will be to finish writing up the September newsletter for my shop, including a sneak preview of this coming month's color exclusive. Tomorrow, I will get to post the exclusive in Merilon, BFL Sock and Roman Blue Sock. No stragglers, this time.


Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Try Me

I thought we'd hit a big milestone when the Dude started making his own lego designs. Now I'm wondering if it was a good thing after all:

Now we're flying this mad kamikaze bastard. What do you want to bet he flies w/o a 'chute?


A friend brought by his hand-sewn great coat to show off this weekend, and it was a total of about a minute after he left before I started to feel the burn on getting out my own sewing machine. This coat project was one I helped cut out in preparation for the Portland Pirate Festival, which is part of the why on show-and-tell, and so you can imagine yards of charcoal felt and shiny pewter buttons. Its an amazing period piece and apparently an infectious agent as well.

My first quilt top has been in progress for a very, very long time. Longer than the Lizard Ridge blanket, I expect. The colors totally scream "kid's room", which is good because this is supposed to be for my son's bed. I didn't do as much border as I originally planned in the interest of actually finishing the thing, so it won't quite cover the hand-me-down Queen that is supposed to be where my son sleeps. I'm hoping something new and fun for his room will induce the Dude to consider his own bed a good place to crash.

We finished up the last border yesterday afternoon, so as soon as my husband was home and dinner was over, the little guy and I ran over to the fabric store to get a backing. I chose something rather unexpected that will be a fun surprise every time the quilt gets turned down, and since red is my son's favorite color, I think it works. Don't ask me to make matching curtains, though.

There are probably as many people making project bags on Etsy as there are indie yarn dyers, yeah? I've bought a couple, but for years have avoided draw-string bags thinking they weren't the most sensible option. Zipper box bags had a more finished look to me, and struck me as more practical. Then I got my little Rav Party Swag Bag during Summit, and found the little guy very addicting. How smooth is that opening! If I have a bag for every sock project that means no more tangled needles and wondering where my ball of yarn got off to. So I made a few.

Now that the kid's quilt top is finished, I'd like to start one for the family bed. I have an older quilt from my BF's grandmother, and it was made for a Queen bed in grass green, ecru and pink. Not. My. Colors. I've been playing online w/swatches (first pic) and with patterns (second pic). I could buy half a couch for the price of the fabric I'd need for a king-sized quilt, so this project might go on a while.

And all of that sewing means this is all I've finished on the Christmas knitting.

Sunday, August 23, 2009

Christmas Is Already Too Close

If you read the same knitting blogs I do in about mid-November, you will find that 90% of the post subjects will be about how far behind the author is on their gift knitting. For two years running, I've been right there with everyone else. This year, I defy tradition.

From left to right: Louet Gems Fingering in black, Black Trillium Meriamboo in some random moss-green color, Liza Souza Timaru in Agate, Madelinetosh Sock in Oxblood, STR Light in Spacedust, STR Light in Knitters w/o Borders, Fly Designs Monarch in Fire, STR Light in Korppi. (Yes, I could link to all of these, but honestly, you could also google them. I'd rather knit than write html.)

I made a mental accumulation of how many people I wanted to give knitted socks to this year. As its possible that some of them might view this post, I'm not talking about who they are. Chances are pretty high (like 99.9%) that if you've gotten socks from me before, you're going to get another pair this year. Rather, that's what I plan to do. I'm open to a few other big things getting in the way.

My list is about *counts on fingers* six or seven people long. Not too bad, eh? One of those lovely folks (move along, Joe, nothing to see here) is pretty overdue for several pair at once, so maybe eight or nine pairs of socks. I'm going to be smart about this and make a plan. To that end, I went through my sock yarn stash and nominated all the things that I think are ready to go. This happens to include all my STR Lightweight, which I've found since casting on yesterday for the first pair, that it knits up very fast with 60 stitches on US 2's. Scary fast, in fact. I cast on last night while we watched a show and finished about an hour ago. Sock-in-a-day. I thought knitting STR Medium was speedy-licous enough. Hah.

So, step 1: start a project to get the ball rolling. Chee-eck.
Step 2: choose yarn for the rest of the group. Chee-eck.
Step 3: document my craziness w/photos and a blog post. Chee-eck.

Now for the hard part: all that knitting.

Thursday, August 20, 2009

An August Yarn Sale

Hi all, I'm at it again. It seems like when there's just a little too much yarn hanging around, I feel compelled to put some of it on sale. So, two of my base yarns are 25% off until Sunday.

Merino Sport
Meriamboo II

Wednesday, August 19, 2009


Black Trillium just got mentioned in another podcast! It's a short mention, along the lines of "I saw Coraline", but as a long-term lurker on Jessica's blog, its very fun to hear my yarns mentioned outside of my teeny-weeny Portland knitting community. Thanks, Jessica & Erin!

A friend came by with some lovely flowers from her garden. This little guy broke, but he looks pretty fun floating in one of my random teacups. Among the flowers now gracing my table are some amazing (and huge) dahlias, and their colors are driving me to try and get a similar effect in the dyepot. I suspect a merino/cashmere/nylon base would get me one step closer, and, tra la la, I have a new wholesaler who sells just the thing.
Now that the Lizard Ridge is done (well, still missing the crocheted border, but who's counting?), I'm taking a break from longer-term projects. Things that take more than a year to complete. Hah, you believed me there for sec, didn't you. I might have even believed myself for about six minutes after posting photos my King-sized blankie.

I pulled out all of my Dream In Color Smooshy stash, and found that the color combo worked. All six skeins. I did some yardage calculations against my first square knit up on US 4's. If I want a blanket that is about 50"x50", I need 3100 yards, or seven skeins. And my local yarn store was happy to oblige. An additional skein in Plum Paisley has thus joined the team. In the log cabin spirit, and with a twist of Moderne Log Cabin from the first Mason-Dixon Knitting book, I cast on and am knitting away at large swaths of color. I'm already 5% of the way done! (feel free to snort, snicker, or otherwise doubt my sanity - I do)

A sneak peek of September's exclusive. The first test went so-so, tweaking will ensue. If you'd like to hear the full details when they're ready, give me a holler at and I'll add you to the mailing list.

Sunday, August 16, 2009

Lizard Ridge - King Sized

Alright - that's it! There's no more knitting involved in this project! All the ends are sewn, the borders crocheted on, and then sewn together. There's one final step before I block it - a border on the entire blanket, but I couldn't resist getting some pictures up anyway.

Finding a way to photograph this puppy is giving me a headache. Getting the angles right, getting the whole thing in the frame, trying not to get too much else. I think the only way a good square-on picture is going to happen is if I suspend myself from the ceiling. That makes sense, doesn't it? So yeah, my photo, big hack job. Oh well.

A note on scale: I had no idea how large this thing was going to be. I added pattern repeats, entire squares, several borders. Unblocked, that baby covers my entire king sized bed. Not all the way over the pillows. Yet. That's what, 76" wide and 80" long? No wonder it took two years.

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Brilliant Colors

I feel as if I can breath again. As much as Sock Summit was an incredible experience, I'm somewhat relieve to return to life with less excitement. For instance, I went to Knit Night for the first time in three or four weeks tonight. It was quiet, and I wasn't stressed about whether or not I was going to have enough time to get everything done.

I'm sharing pictures from my simple pursuits of the last few days. Watching the tomatoes grow. Tough business. This little dwarf determinate threw out long branches toward the bottom, but pretty much didn't go up at all. The plant next to it is spindly and overly tall by comparison, and I think I should be feeding them more. The third pot over has a volunteer, which I find exciting just because it found its way there without my help. My fourth pot on the porch has pumpkins that my son planted. They're flowering, but I really can't picture actual fruits. My four little pots are a poor substitute for a real garden, but somehow that doesn't reduce the pleasure in watching things grow.

I have been using my plants to get a better idea of how my camera works. Today, though, the camera was doing something I really don't think it was supposed to. Is there ever a good time for technology to go screwy? The answer is obviously "no way sucka" and so I'm hoping a solution will present itself or the problem will just disappear. (This is me wishing out loud for a few less things to be on my plate)

Two years ago, I started the Lizard Ridge blanket from Knitty. It seemed genius at the time, but that probably describes half a million other hair-brained schemes of mine. In the intervening time, I've expanded the project by adding a pattern repeat to the individual squares. I started that right away, so no do-overs necessary. I then thought it would better accommodate the expanded length of each square if I arranged them in rows and columns of five, adding another square to the original 24. Then I noticed my first square, done all those months ago, was significantly smaller than the rest. Oops, felted potholder. Ravelry, in a swift move of brilliance and deplorable accuracy, showed me how blankets with this many colors looked a bit jumble-y, so I added a crocheted border in black to set off each pane like stained glass. Almost 26 squares later, I'm so close to finished I can taste it. What will I agonize over when I finally finish this monster?

Sunday, August 2, 2009

Round and Round

Here we go, I'm going to be skeining and skeining, followed by a flurry of labeling, and then it will be time to set up for Sock Summit. Cutting this a little close? I never miss a deadline, but that doesn't mean I get a full night's sleep beforehand.

Things I've learned thus far:

1. Portland is *not* near the ocean. If it were, we wouldn't get heatwaves reaching nearly 110 degrees. Okay, maybe it got hot in Seattle and at the coast as well this last week. I am tempted to insert a few key swear words right here. +100 degrees outside (and inside, no A/C) isn't conducive to dyeing loads of yarn.

2. I'm ready for the next step. Meaning, I've sort out a lot of what it means to sell my yarn wholesale as well as retail. I'm very happy to keep selling my yarn on Etsy, although I can't see myself starting up a proper website with a shopping cart and all the coding headaches involved therein. I'm also quite happy to have several well-placed and very fun-to-work-with wholesale customers. I wouldn't be able to be at Sock Summit without them.

To add to that, I've had several inquiries lately regarding expanding to more stores, and these conversations have sparked some very interesting thought processes for me. For instance, am I comfortable working with a store where I really have to become somebody other than myself in order to live up to the retailer's perceptions of a wholesale relationship? I think not. My wholesale policies are getting a lot more detailed and much clearer as I work through some of these quandaries.

3. I may not be as ready as I thought to have another baby. I'm spending all kinds of time building up this business, and really having fun doing it. I'm nervous about starting from square one with a new youngling. I'm also nervous I'd get all this biz stuff started and then have to watch while I lost traffic, customers, and wholesale accounts because I couldn't keep up with my mom jobs as well as my business. Lucky for me I have time to think about this some more. Sometimes the getting the second one started isn't as "whoops" as the first, if you get my drift.

4. I'm a sucker. As long as I don't really think about it, I can feel okay about having just set us up to pay our cellular carrier *even more* moolah because I fell for the Crackberry Storm a little too hard. Alright, the truth is that anybody who knows me very well knows for a fact that I'm a sucker. It's why I'm normally such a tightwad control freak. One look at the closet in my son's room and you'll see that I can't say no to a sweet face and a few batty eyelashes.

I'm doing my best to stay *up* on things, and I know I'm not really present where I could be more so right now. I think the Yarn Harlot just put it very well on Twitter tonight: do you want Sock Summit or do you want sleep? Some good things will come of all this sleeplessness, that's the feeling I get.


Nighty-night. (see you on Twitter, my fellow insomniacs)