June Club Package: The Story

Looking for yarn? It’s here. Fibre? Here. Supercool project bags? Right. Here.

What follows is all about the June Smart-Ass Knitters/World Domination Club package.  If you haven’t received your package yet, and are trying to avoid spoilers…STOP READING HERE!

OK, fair warning.  😉


OK, seriously!  If you’re not going to believe me, for the love of meat, believe Otis!

Once upon a time, I started a yarn dyeing business.  It included plans for a club of some kind, that would likely start signups in Fall 2010.  In February, more than one of you asked when my “sock club” was going to start.  “Sock club?” I asked…”Yes, the sock club you should start.  We decided.”

And over the next 24 hours, the whole concept came together. (Did I say 24 hours?  Yeah.  No kidding.  The psychological evaluation is inconclusive.)   There would be a yarn club, but since I rarely knit socks, I wanted it to be more than that.  A 1 skein club.  Projects that would take 1 skein of yarn, and offer some variety to those of you who joined.  I swear to you, within 24 hours I had all the designers lined up and excited to get started.  It was all a little crazy.

And there should be swag.  I live in an area of Canada where high quality artisans are everywhere you look.  I love their work, and knew you would too.  So “artisan swag” was born.

The yarn is great, but I really wanted to support artisans and designers that I respect and admire.  So this club has been all about collaboration.  A dance.  Bouncing ideas off of each other until we find the combination that works.  It’s been an amazing experience.  So when we sent off the first packages on June 15, I was excited to see the response.  Excited for me, but also for my designer and my artisan.  They are every bit a part of this whole process.

First, the design:

*Asterisk* by Stephannie Roy, Indigodragonfly MCN Lace.  (Stephannie has blogged about her design here.  Go look.  I’ll wait.  And say Happy Birthday to her if it’s still Friday where you are!)

*Asterisk* is a modular, triangular shawlette.  I love every tiny detail of this piece, from it’s little belly-button of a beginning, to how the “wings” swoop gracefully out, to the i-cord edging detail.  When Stephannie showed me the prototype mini-shawl at our clandestine sooper-sekrit design meeting, there was actual jumping up and down (I don’t squee…but there was probably squeaking of some description)

Here’s a shot of the shawl.

photo ©Stephannie C. Roy

Modeled by the lovely Emma.  Check out this next photo:

photo ©Stephannie C. Roy

If that isn’t a smart-ass look, I don’t know what is.  Stephannie’s in BIG trouble.

*Asterisk* will be released in kit form starting on December 15, 2010.  The pattern will be released for individual sale in February 2011.

When trying to decide what Stephannie’s colourway should be, we were at in a room full of knitters.  Apparently yelling her name across a room doesn’t get Stephannie’s attention.  But yell “HEY!  Paging Dr. Smart-Ass!” does.  And so the colour name was set.  As for colours?  Well, Stephannie wanted a very variagated colourway to show off her design, so LOTS of colours were in order.  Dark Copper was the first obvious choice to throw in the mix.  It’s the colour of Stephannie’s hair.  Chartreuse – her favourite colour.  Those 2 strong colours have big personalities, so something was needed to ground them.  I chose Plum and Navy.  The surprise has been seeing how many other colours were created in the dyepot by the layering of only 4.

Question from the comments: How do I really know that those colours will go together?  I never truly know until I try.  But instinct and experience help  a lot.  Could also be the Spidey-sense.  😉

Every dye lot was a little bit different.  All used the same colours in the same concentration, but I varied how the colours were placed and how much of each colour.  On purpose.  There are a lot of you out there, and I liked the idea of you all having slight variations on the theme.  It also allowed me to try to match skeins with your colour preferences.

I’m about 60% of the way through the shawl.  Mine looks like this:

What kills me about this colourway?  I hate orange.  Hate. It.  I now want an entire wardrobe knit from this colourway.  Collaborating sometimes means you’re pushed outside of your comfort zone.  You grow a few inches when that happens.

Susanne James was this month’s artisan.  Susanne is a Haliburton-based potter that I met at an Arts  Council event last December.  She arrived at the event with a crate full of her pottery and immediately started transferring all the food to her platters and bowls.  Smart woman.  I quickly found out that Susanne is also a knitter.  And that she makes yarn bowls, needle holders, yarn bells and other “knitting pottery”.  Smarter woman!   Clearly she needed to be one of the artisans for the Club.

Susanne came up with small, clay pendants that have knitting shorthand stamped on them.  To the average person on the street, they could mean anything.  But knitters will automatically know what they mean.  YO.  M1.  K2.  SSK.   From the moment the first package was opened, many of you have made these your own.  Personalizing them.  I love that, and Susanne does too!

Here’s mine:

Imagine you’re starting to teach a class.  Imagine one of your hired artisans is taking said class.  Imagine you’re speaking very knowledgeably and intelligently to the class, and suddenly stop dead when you realize that said artisan is wearing her swag prototype.  And it’s really cool!  She’s taken the minimalist budget you’ve given her, and she’s made something beautiful and fun and has taken the attention to detail beyond your expectations.

Yep.  Jumping up and down.  Quite possibly there were high pitched squeaking noises.


Colour Stories: Wounded in the Act of World Domination

Back in October, my friend Stephannie had a nasty fall at work.  After determining that she was ok…nothing broken, just really sore…my inner smartass couldn’t help starting to work.  Bruised ass…good for really nothing else…should at the very least inspire a colourway.

For a while now, I’ve noticed that a certain group of knitters (I suspect all of us, really) have both tendancies for smartass-osity and a not-so-secret desire to take over the world.  You, you, you…and yes possibly you.  And so the Smartass Knitters for World Domination was born.  Clearly Stephannie is one of us, and on the day that she saw her pink daisy rainboots fly up in the air in front of her, she took one for the team.

Interestingly enough, this colourway is also a study in how different fibres take colour.  All of the below used the same combination of colours in the same concentrations and identical amounts.

Organic Merino Sock yarn, 100% organic merino

MCN Lace: 2 ply, 80% merino/10% cashmere/10% nylon

MCN Sock: 4 ply, 80% merino/10% cashmere/10% nylon

Merino Sock: 2 ply, 100% merino

Because of the vast differences in these, Ron has given them sub-names.  They are, from right to left:

Impact, Bedridden, Donut, Repentance.

Today’s lovely yarn bling brought to you by SNOW.

Colour Stories: Rachel H’s Tiara

Not all of my colour names are blatantly obvious.  Rachel H’s Tiara is one of those colours.

Way back in the Sock Summit planning days, in the midst of tornados of post it notes and mountains of spreadsheets, my friend Rachel H declared herself Queen of the Spreadsheets.  And mentioned something about deserving a tiara.  Now I’ve seen Rachel in action.  She is a master wielder of the clipboard.  Organizer extraordinaire.  And this weekend, she was busy tallying thousands of donation emails for Knitters Without Borders.  Ask, and she’s there with bells on.  So the request for a tiara?  I thought it should happen.

And she’s a knitter…so the yarn version of a tiara?  What would that be?  There is sparkly yarn…like Dream in Color’s Starry.  That would definitely work and would be the obvious choice.  But I am nothing if not obscure, and I really wanted to make it happen with colour. Something with life and sparkle.  Something that stands out from the others, but not in an expected way.  Something that changes subtley in different lights, making you pay attention.

This is that colour.  Even in the most subtle light, it glows from within, and yet is unassuming.  Like Rachel.

Because of all the hard work that she’s been doing for Knitters Without Borders, $1 from every skein in this colour will always go to Médicins Sans Frontières/Doctors Without Borders, every time it’s dyed.  And I plan on dyeing it a lot.