Wednesday, September 30, 2009

FO: Crayon Box Socks

Hey all, I wanted to share with a finished pair socks by Monique:

Those lovely beauties were knit in plain stockinette out of my BFL Sock. Monique blogged about the socks here.

If you would like to send me photos or links for a pair of socks you've made from one of my yarns, please email me at blacktrillium (at) popculturezoo (dot) com. Ravelry is great, but I'm discovering that less than 1/10th of the knitters in North America use it. So let's keep each other up-to-date on how things are knitting up!

Take care, and happy knitting!

Sunday, September 27, 2009


One of the things I love best is having choices. Right now, I can choose to dye up all sorts of things from Wool & Bamboo yarn to Merino spinning fiber that has this luscious silky texture that's just to-die-for. Over the past month I've expanded my Black Trillium etsy site to include way more than yarn: project bags, sock blockers, and now, roving. Here's a preview of what's going to get posted this week:

Monday, September 21, 2009


I sat on the idea overnight and also got some great feedback from regulars. We all seem to agree that the 500th item should be free. So here's how this will work:
  • The 500th item purchased from my Etsy site will be free.
  • Beware: purchasing 2 quantity of the same item generally counts as "1" on Etsy. Don't ask my why, I didn't code it.
  • Sadly, the sock blockers will not able to count as the 500th item as they aren't in my inventory but rather custom made-to-order by Squire Country Crafts, but they will help us get closer to the magic number.
  • The item will need to be purchased, but a full refund for the item and its relevant shipping charge will be made through Paypal.
  • Don't worry, I'll tell you when it happens - especially if you're the purchaser.
I don't have any idea how long this will take - could be a week, could be a month - but I would count on something closer to three weeks to a month if I were betting. So, good luck and enjoy!

Sunday, September 20, 2009

Nearly 500 & a Wee Contest In the Making

Let's start with a little timeline:
  • May 2008: Reserved for my own use knowing I wanted to start a yarn-dyeing business.
  • July/August 2008: start dyeing with some friends from my local yarn shop.
  • September 2008: first yarn item sold on Black Trillium's Etsy site.
  • October 2008: separated from dyeing partners, became my own man.
  • November 2008: really started dyeing for myself as Black Trillium Fibre Studio.
I'm reflecting on this right now because I'm trying to take in the fact that in less than a year, Black Trillium Fibre Studio has sold nearly 500 items via Etsy while at the same time acquiring and keeping up with the needs of four wholesale customers. I think this is pretty spectacular and that I probably have the coolest group of customers on the planet.

Something must be done to make that 500th sale special, and I'm open to ideas. I'm leaning in a few directions*:
  • 500th sold is free
  • one my own skeins of Wollmeise could be liberated
  • free shipping on order that includes 500th item
Nothing is decided at this moment, but I will post my decision tomorrow. Please let me know which way you think I should go!

* My lovely sock blockers will sadly have be outside the contest as they aren't under my roof.

Thursday, September 17, 2009

Always Something To Learn

My son was very small once (ages and ages ago, it seems) and during that five minutes or so that he was tiny he didn't sleep much at all and certainly not while he was alone or uncuddled. I was mostly fine with that, but there wasn't much to do while maintaining bodily contact to increase the possibility of a non-cranky baby.

Joe started a blog during that time, keeping me company while he surfed the internet and began to figure out that he could express his writer's gene that way in an electric medium. I thought, "Hey, if he's doing it, why can't I?" Of course, I sucked at it. I think all of those old posts have long since been deleted, for which I am very grateful.

Lives and children grow and evolve. Joe is now the creator of no less than three blogs, none of which he posts to because he has also started an online pop culture ezine. Pop Culture Zoo is the actuation of a life spent collecting knowledge about the TV, Movie and Comic book industry and turning it into amazing interviews, editorials, reviews and general press articles. He scoops people all the time, which amazes the heck out of me, because I don't have the foggiest idea where to look for any of that stuff, ever.

I am also the author of several blogs, including this one that I started because I wanted to take part in the general push toward every knitter having a blog. Aspire To Knit is the only one that I keep up on, but I have fallen into a familiar pattern yet again. I like to rant, kvetch and editorialize wise about other people's failings, what they're doing to piss me off this week, and what might generally be wrong with the world. And you know what? It kind of makes me ill.

It isn't that I tend toward negative thoughts all the time, but more that I'm weak in accepting an assumed anonymity only the internet can create the illusion of providing. And I know from experience how small the hints have to be in order for one person to make a connection between unprofessional vitriol and the identity of the person being spewed about. I was approached at Sock Summit by a blog-reader of a another dyer who had taken me to town about something-or-other. I had never met the approacher in person and the blogger only once. Its a darn small world out there, and there is no such thing as anonymity.

The really unfortunate mixer that winds up happening is that I rant in one post, and then talk about my business in the next. As a customer, I think that would make me really uncomfortable and I would probably tend to go elsewhere. This is not what I want, for my business, or for peoples' perceptions of me.

To this end, I am contemplating an end to blogging for the time being. I have never been faithful to this particular medium, whereas Twitter really makes more sense to me and so I utilize is regularly. Ravelry works for me, Facebook is at least mildly interesting, and if I really want to get my writing wiggles out about something worth reading, Joe is kind enough to let me do interviews and write book reviews for his site. I've even begun work on a new book column for PCZ, called "Ex Post Facto", that only really needs a logo and some editing of the rough-draft-in-my-head of my take on Twilight.

I will still post, but from now on it will have to be about either knitting or Black Trillium Fibre Studio goings-on. And eventually this might be a place I can post pattern PDF's. No promises, no expectations. Just what the witch doctor ordered.

Sunday, September 13, 2009

Utterly Un-PC

Here's my 2 cents on being a socialist if it means proper health care for Ev.Ry.One.: if Canada and England can do it, then the US can sure as heck suck it up and do a good job taking care of its own.

During my first marriage, one of my aunts-in-law was sick with cancer. Her HMO covered several different treatments, but living in rural Montana didn't provide the greatest opportunity for cutting-edge medical facilities. After trying surgery and chemo and I'm assuming everything else they could where she was being treated, her doctor referred her to a program at the University of Washington that had a fantastic chance of success.

Guess what.

My aunt's insurance denied her the opportunity. And she died.


My husband's brother suffers from an organ failure that makes him completely uninsurable unless he takes part in a group plan like the ones some of us are lucky enough to have through corporate employers. He recently landed a good job that would provide such insurance. However, after years of taking medications to ensure he continues to live through having only one kidney, and one that didn't originate in his own body, his bones have grown brittle and he recently broke his hand. The insurance he's going to be taking part in doesn't kick in until next January. Four more months is a long time to wait to have your broken bones looked at for someone who can't take pain killers for fear that it will destroy his donated kidney.


My husband's family has a rather reliable history of kidney issues: kidney stones go back at least three generations. My sweet hubby really hit the jackpot on this particular issue. He's had four kidney stones in six years, on both sides, and the one he tried to pass last year was two inches in circumference. Yes, you read that correctly, 2 INCHES. Last year, the contract for Nike's IT changed hands, and my husband along with 70% of the rest of his department, was laid off by the new company so they could hire newbies for half-sized salaries. In the meantime, we chose not to go with Cobra because we would have had to given up eating to pay the bill. He got a new job, with seemingly fantastic insurance with one small kicker: a 30-day wait period. I'll leave you to guess when the kidney stone happened.


All of these stories are a matter of record with insurance companies, so I'm not outing anyone. However, none of these stories would have had the chance to end as badly if socialized health insurance were in place to regulate outrageous fees and make sure everyone is cared for regardless of employment status, geographical location, or pre-existing condition. At this point, two of the people mentioned in my post are still alive. However, that is not a guarantee. (And if you think you're going to tell me that someone with kidney stones can't die from them, try losing both your kidneys because of stone obstructions and being denied a transplant because you're uninsurable.)

I would ask, no plead, with everyone who thinks socialized health care is a bad idea to get out of the way and let it happen. Do you want to be part of the selfish crowd that denies those in need the right to proper health care? Everyone deserves to live.

Thursday, September 10, 2009

Just Some Pleasant Photos

I am reminded by a more-tolerant friend that my expectations of other people's behavior choices are often way higher than is fair. Everyone makes mistakes, and I am certainly no stranger to having to apologize for yet another idiot-brain takeover on my part. Instead of blogging, this is going to be a visual post because otherwise it would be a venting rant. I'll get over it anyway and regret kvetching in public, so better to get ahead of myself and act like a grown-up before I feel like one.

Although I am still very joyful while elbow-deep in my dye pots, I think sewing is feeling a little more magnetic at the mo'. Hopefully practicing this new skill will help me through the coming school year and this next growing phase for my business. The project bags are getting slicker by the seam, and now I'm experimenting with what sort of pocket might work on the inside of my current design. Lots of fabric is on the way too, which means happy fun experimentation and lots of scrappy quilt squares are in my future.

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

September Color Exclusive: Retro

Retro, my September space-dyed colorway, has gone up. And on time? I know, I better not raise hopes too high.

Its up in Merilon and Roman Blue Sock, and the BFL sock will go up in as much time as it takes me to wind the skeins and take pictures.

Now to start thinking about October & November. Retro & Big Tree were two color combinations existing in the creative chaos of my head that were really begging to get out. That means my creative inner space is empty and just waiting for new inspiration. (Okay, yeah, that sounds a little woo-woo-ey, but its still accurate.) October begs to Day-of-the-Dead/Hallowe'en'ed, but how does one do that tastefully? Would November be too late to do a fall leaves/last blaze of glory thing? December is obvious - one year as a dyer on my own, my own birthday - a celebratory theme will ensue. Just talking through things here.

If my next idea is anything like Big Tree, I'll see something in a Pottery Barn or Williams-Sonoma (my old workplace) catalog that will really jam. By the way, has anyone seen that new 90th anniversary edition Kitchenaid Artisan mixer? Its metallic cherry red with a glass mixing bowl and it screams for a custom flame paint job. My wants.