Black Dog

Just a little outpost on the web for me to ramble, post pix, share ideas, and be a part of the crowd.

Friday, November 21, 2003

Quick, Someone Get A Pen

Get the number of the semi that hit me yesterday.............URGH! I adore the "after effects" of the cooking and fun of Third Thursday--the joy of watching folks consume. I know I get it from both of my grandmothers, as they were both feeders........they would cook all day until their legs would drop off, feed their families, and then just collapse (and either not eat at all or just nibble and pick, which took me years to understand that they couldn't stand to be around it any more). There's some serious satisfaction for me in the knowledge that I've worked hard, that I've put out something good, and that people enjoy it. And when something doesn't work out quite right, or isn't up to my standard, it really REALLY bothers me. But at the end of the evening, I'm dog tired, I can get a little cranky (sorry if I was, Matt...), and if something was a bit of a flop, I'm upset with myself. Dinner last night was great--two kinds of sish kebabs (chicken and beef), a Persian chicken salad that I really REALLY liked, some interesting rices, and a couple unusual and tasty dips (a cucumber/yogurt dip laden with mint and dill and a roasted eggplant dip with eight pounds of garlic in it--a Persian babaganoush, I suppose) plus lavash bread. But the desserts, well...............the rice pudding was nasty (wrong rice, odd recipe and flavors) and the chocolate cake intended to be Martha's birthday cake.....I did a little interpretation with mixed results. The cake was supposed to be a buttermilk/chocolate cake that you frost in the pan while hot. I decided to make layer cake with it and frost it on a plate. BIG mistake, as it crumbled when the frosting-covered knife hit it. Matt took some candles and did an interpretive thing with it (wish I had a picture--it was hilarious). But based on the amount of "ugly cake" consumed, it was tasty as all get out (and it was).

This gets translated into the daily operations of ThreadBear, as well. When I have to disappoint someone, when yarn doesn't come in, when I forget to include something in an order (twice last week.........URGH), or when something falls through the cracks, it really, really bothers me. And Matt and I both realize there's some serious growing pains going on right now--we're not able to give the SNAP customer service that we used to when we were not as busy as we are now. We're eternally grateful for the opportunity we've been given, and as the walk-in business has grown, we've had to do most of our e-order processing in the evening and early in the morning (Tuesday and Wednesday we were up until after midnight boxing up things to send out). And we're still figuring out how to do that most efficiently, even to the point of discussing adding our first "real" employee--YUP. Last week we picked up a second computer, and we're having issues networking the two together and sharing the DSL connection. When there's two machines here, we'll BOTH be able to help folks, Matt can work on the website (which is sorely in need of attention), and we'll both have the opportunity to blog (OK, truth--Matt will be able to blog, as I hog the computer now). I bring this up because the last two weeks have found us behind in getting back to folks and today I got an e-mail from a justifiably irate person in a peninsular state because an e-mail s/he sent went unrecognized for too long and s/he's rightfully upset with me and says s/he won't be back--and they've been fun to work with for awhile now, and I hate it that s/he's disappointed. I'm working on a new way of managing my incoming e-mail, Matt's trying hard to network us, and we're going to focus on being more efficient and using the time we have to the best of our abilities. Another joy for me, running around the blog rings, is but a memory at times when we get ultra-busy, and I am trying hard to keep up with folks and their projects (I get such great inspiration from the other knitters out there). But time's a scarce resource, and I like to focus where I'm needed.

Please don't take this as some sort of "woe is me" or "I can't stand what I'm doing"'s just me doing a little explaining today, before getting to the fun stuff. And a bit of a public apology to someone as well as an explanation of how things have changed, especially if you've been with us since the beginning.....and watched things grow. So away we go....................

Third Thursday was a blast, but my favorite part is always the sharing and talking and visiting after the chowing down. A special bonus of the evening were the two newbies that joined us from the Louisville area--much thanks to ANNIE and CINDY, who fit in just right with the rest of us at the asylum. Early in the evening I heard Annie claim......."but I am the center of the universe"........yup, she'll fit in perfectly around here! And Cindy brought her wheel and spun a little, and Annie had some beautiful silk that she purchased at Fleece Fair last April (Anita claimed Annie snatched it from her--I hear a little green monster in that story). All in all, it was a smaller group than normal, but a VERY fun one. Deb was tipsy, Anita finished socks, Martha had a birthday, Helen knitted like a fiend, Cathi and Matt showed up later, and of course, Lana and Josh came by! See what Lana did?

It's knitted with Classic Elite's new yarn called Beatrice, which she got last month at Third Thursday (and knitted up in a MONTH). No pattern needed for this knitter, she just followed her good sense of construction and style and came up with this. Supposedly that's version 2.3 or so on the neck, which I think is quite fun. It gives her a little room for some self-expression, too! See....

That's our Lana. And I would have to agree with Josh, eventually she may disappear, as she continues to do a fantastic job with her weight loss. I could learn a good bit from getting my own zip code last month and all.

If I sound all too maudeline this morning, it's not completely true. I do have PLENTY to make me happy here. We had a ton of Cascade 220 show up yesterday, along with a big box of wonderful books from Interweave Press, including some weaving and crochet titles to go with our spinning and knitting stuff. Also, look at this sofa of love from Uruguay

These kilo bundles, combined with the great patterns and books that were packed in with them, had one heck of a journey over the past two weeks. They went from Massachusetts to Nebraska to Massachusetts to Indiana. WHEW! That would tire you out. But they're home now and they are loved. And amazingly beautiful. And missing their backordered siblings...........but soon, soon they will be united.

And with that, I'm off to get the day started and the shop ready to open in 40 minutes (while Matt snoozes from being up until 4:30 a.m.--those computer types and how they love to be up late). And Ray and Stonering and JoJo and.....--don't you be worrying about me (but it's sweet that you do). We're getting some control on things, and it will be better soon.

Thursday, November 20, 2003

NEWS FLASH--Two-fer Thursday, I guess

I've been shakin' the trees with different vendors this morning, trying to pry loose several yarn orders. It's working--it's WORKING! Plus I got some amazing news from one of our best business partners..........and amazing artists!

  • Noro Yarns--should be shipping today or tomorrow, which means they'll arrive Tuesday or Wednesday

  • Debbie Bliss Yarns--should be leaving tomorrow (slight chance today)--Wednesday arrival

  • Classic Elite Yarns--left yesterday (but some back orders in LaGran mohair in black and white)

  • Other assorted KFI yarns--today or tomorrow (traveling with the Noro and Debbie Bliss, as above)

    But the best news of all.........the most amazing news?!?!?!?!?! Our Koigu will leave today from Canada, so that means a delivery of Tuesday (slight chance of Wednesday, if I don't quit bothering Taiu on the phone and she can't get the customs paperwork done). But best of all? In the box coming next week (which is predominantly Rumba in multicolored combinations, Fancy in all colors available, and some Kersti and other treats) THE NEW KOIGU SOCK BOOK

    It's going by a couple names--"Koigu Fun Sock Book 2" and "Take Along Socks", but either way, it's a winner. Taiu tells me there's a pattern in there for "Cozy Toes", which are socks knitted with KPPPM and AND warmth.

    Interested in a copy? Pre-order yours for just $10.80 ($12 retail) and we can ship it out next week, when they arrive. Need some KPPPM to go with? Gladly (grin). Drop me a note if you'd like to reserve a copy. WAHOO! And all this, with me on a sock bender right now. PERFECT TIMING.

    Now do you see why I adore the folks at Koigu? Amazing yarns AND incredible service. They're the best!

  • Thursday Quickie

    I'm off, shortly, to go make yogurt dips and kabobs and all sorts of wonderful Persian things--Matt did some tiptoeing around upstairs (it was dry to the touch, but I wouldn't put furniture down) and found the cookbook. Now to get the house and shop in order.......this may be more monumental.........

    First off, MAJOR THANKS to Gwen, who took the time and energy to respond to a passing comment I made in yesterday's entry. She was kind enough to leave the following comment:

    ooh! ooh! I know why it's all purls! We use the same trick with Eros at the yarn shop where I work. Counterintuitively, purling with Eros is often easier/faster than knitting with it because the two threads of the yarn are in front of the needle rather than behind it. You can see what you're doing better and so its easier to avoid sticking the needle into the strand rather than under the strand of yarn.

    Talk about leveraging the power of the Internet..........THANK YOU THANK YOU Gwen, and thank you everyone else that reads, comments, suggests, and corrects me here at Black Dog. You are appreciated more than I can express! And she's exactly on target--while you may purl slower than you knit (99.384% of you, me included), I thought about her comment and remembered back to working up that scarf Tuesday night and she's right--I didn't have the splitty problems and needle between the railroad tracks problems that I did when I made other things with a railroad ribbon when knitting. GO GWEN!

    And now, one last item.............

    Lily In Da House

    The latest creation of Julie, the brains and talent behind Black Sheep Bags has arrived at ThreadBear, and she's four times more beautiful than in the pictures and just amazing to see in person! She arrived yesterday and has been all the rage here (Julie, you've out done yourself with this one). Several locals that saw her yesterday want to make her NOW. And so will you! So I present......

    The Great Lily Introductory Offer

    Between now and Saturday, November 29, we're running a special promotion on Lily. You can get a pattern and the yarn to make the bag for one low introductory package price. Details are:

  • Lily in Cascade 220--select your color from the color card here, and the yarn plus pattern is just $15 (plus postage), rather than $18.70 full retail

  • Lily in Kureyon (as pictured above)--select your color from stock on hand, and the yarn plus pattern is just $32.50 (plus postage), rather than the $39.50 full retail price. Colors currently on hand are 32, 128 (limited), 130, 131, 102, 95 (limited), and 116 (as seen in the picture above--VERY limited). Kureyon color card here.

    I'm sorry that we're not able to take orders for kits for Noro Kureyon stock other than what's on hand, but that a problem with the distributor. They have promised and promised and promised to ship Noro yarns to us, but they have pushed back the delivery date three times on all yarn shops, claiming everything from late arrivals in port, slow customs processing, and now computer problems (Wednesday's call to them elicited no response other than "we have no computer systems and cannot print picking slips for the past three days"). Um.....if that's the case, wouldn't some manager's head be exploding right now and some IT person not have a backside? I am not comfortable taking back-orders for Kureyon right now because we have no idea at all when it may arrive here at the shop--supposedly two different boats have docked from Japan but the yarn sits in a warehouse somewhere, waiting to be shipped.

    So if you're interested in a Lily kit at the introductory price (or just a pattern, which is $5.50 full retail/$4.95 ThreadBear), slip me an e-mail with the information--which yarn (Cascade 220 or Kureyon), which color (up to you), where to send it, and what your preferred payment method will be (check/money order/credit card/PayPal) and we'll get things processed and mailed out starting FRIDAY (it's Third Thursday folks, I have to go cook for the day and Matt's got PLENTY to do here with organizing and helping and running the shop by himself today).

    Personally, I also think Lily would be stunning using Araucania Nature Wool and we have most every color of that on hand as well. I think the subtle striations would be amazing in this pattern (when felted, this yarn is stunning---lights and darks and beautiful color). We have the worsted available for $6.75 a skein ($7.50 regular retail) and two will do the trick. I also think it would be amazing in Manos del Uruguay, which arrives today after a long vacation from Massachusetts to Nebraska to Massachusetts to Indiana, but it would take four hanks. Just an aside....

    Have a fab Thursday and do something wonderful for yourself and someone you care about in the VERY near's precious and short.

  • Wednesday, November 19, 2003

    The Third Week of the Month

    It typically kicks my (wide) butt. Monday is the Franklin Knit Night (Hey Christie, Renee, Pam, Kris) and Tuesday is Columbus Knit Night (hi to all who were there), Wednesday we're open late, and Thursday is our monthly dinner-and-knit-night extravaganza. This month is supposed to be "The Flavors of Persia", but my Persian cookbook (graciously given to us by Lana and her husband Josh---THANKS!) is somewhere upstairs, and our landlord painted the wooden floors last night with oil base paint, so the cookbook is now held hostage by wet paint and damp weather here in Columbus. I may have to go recipe hunting online (which isn't a bad thing) or change the theme and do Persian another month (the cookbook from Lana & Josh is AWESOME but I am also concerned about finding requisite ingredients in a town of about 30k people--I know, I know....plan ahea.......d). If you're in the area tomorrow, the 20th, around 6:30 p.m. and are hungry, drop by at 703 Hutchins--all you bring is your knitting and a smile!

    But amidst the work is always fun. And having two consecutive evenings out of the house meant some actual knitting time! I was able to finish this

    with a quick kitchener of the toe last night. I am totally in love with this patterning sock yarn, and I'm really REALLY pleased at how the Strong Heel (not more sturdy, but Strong as in the designer's name) works with the stripey yarn--it doesn't break up the patterning with a heel flap, so it's more smooth in transition from leg to heel to foot. Count me as a convert! And, I went and ordered 150+ skeins of Opal sock yarn on Monday, set to arrive Friday or Monday of next week, and more in December and January from the new collections, as they are received from Germany.

    Speaking of ordering, I went on a bit of a yarn bender on Monday. I ordered a host of new books and replacement stock from two book suppliers, an obscene amount of Lana Grossa (including some of every colorway of all of the new 100g balls of Meilenweit sock yarns, tons of Due Chine and Bingo and Royal Tweed and Amica Lux and Caldo and........well you get the picture), and a monster-huge amount of Brown Sheep. I think I'm on a bit of a sock kick, as we just got in a big batch of Lorna's Laces last week (our shelves are burgeoning) and I requested information to order Fortissima, Stahl, and Trekking sock yarns, which arrived yesterday (and Addi Turbo needle information, too). I've felt the need to knit Koigu socks lately, but I've resisted for now--but I may have to give in. I can't explain it, but I am really into the idea of quick projects and fun yarns. Yet I want to knit a big, cabled aran sweater (I pulled out my stalled A.R.A.N. sweater over the weekend and I've been fondling the sleeve in progress). Here's what the finished sweater should look like.......courtesy of Claudia Krisniski's picture of hers at Esther's site

    I think I'm in love again............but mine's in a wonderful shade of deep burgundy. Mmmmmmmm

    I did start AND finish a little quickie project last night

    It's a slinky little scarf made with railroad ribbon following this pattern, which is a freebie from Plymouth Yarn (our initial Plymouth order leaves PA late this week and will be here two days later). They call for a double strand of Eros (if you know how to find the inner end on that cardboard ring, lemme know--I think you have to rewind the original put-up or buy two) but I used two balls of Dazzle, which is a very similar yarn put up in smaller balls at half the price ($4.50 from us). So for $9 you get a great accessory that knits up quickly (despite it being all purl stitches, I made mine in under three hours last night). And speaking of it being all purls, why couldn't this be reversed from YO p2tog to K2tog YO and speed up the entire process? Here's a close up of the knitted fabric

    which I think is really neat. I am going to make another today, using two different colors of Dazzle just to play with color a little bit.

    Lest you think I've lost my touch, we did get some new yarn in--finally--despite my mis-estimating when it would arrive (some day soon I'll learn how to count to four and to add that to another number). Here's the latest shipment of BearFoot, the new sock yarn from the fantastic ladies at Mountain Colors.

    Top row, left to right---Pine Needle, Wild Raspberry, Alpine, Ruby River, Clearwater, Obsidian, Yellowstone, Wilderness

    Bottom row, left to right--Glacier Teal, Indian Corn, Huckleberry, Lost Trail, Sagebrush, Golden Willow, Firestorm

    We also have Clearwater and Marias Falls on hand from the last batch (this stuff tends to go fast--this batch is already nearly half gone due to folks waiting on delivery and getting "first dibs" last night once it arrived and we had it checked in). I expect two more batches in the coming weeks, as this is an amazingly beautiful, SOFT yarn that would make phenomenal socks--I WANT A PAIR! (there I go again, on a sock bender.........). Feel free to adopt any/all of the above skeins..........

    With that, it's time for me to get busy around here. Folks need yarn shipped to them, people keep walking through the door, and there's always new stock to put up on the shelves (our Manos del Uruguay was rescued from Nebraska and will arrive tomorrow, but I'm sure we'll get something in today via UPS, and a batch of Jamieson DK and Lorna's Laces Shepherd Sock are still in bags.....). Have a great afternoon and we'll be back shortly. Be well, and be good to eachother!

    Monday, November 17, 2003

    Foggy Monday

    Both in the weather and in my head, it's foggy around here. After a busy weekend of events and friends around, I crashed hard yesterday. I napped in the afternoon and fell asleep early while Matt assembled the new computer desk (now two computers to serve you better---seriously). Speaking of events........

    Peasley in da house

    Sarah came down with her handmaiden Irene (seriously--it was great to see Irene and she was a TON of help around here). She ran a day-long workshop for us, and since it was from 10 until 5, there was the obligatory lunch spread

    Friday night at midnight I was making chicken stock and making chicken salad. The stock turned into Tortellini Soup, we had mini-croissants with the chicken salad, crackers, blondies, veggies and dip, and more. And of course, before anyone came downstairs for lunch, Tate was on duty protecting everything

    At least that's how he explained it to us. Overall, I think a fun time was had by most, learning took place with EVERYONE, and Sarah will be back for more classes in the near future. She's an amazing teacher and even better---a wonderful friend. THANKS SARAH!

    Speaking of great people, have you seen the Knitting Basket Project that is the fantastic brainchild of Teresa, Wendy, and Deb? Not only do we think it's a great idea, but we've joined in the collecting by putting up a collection jar

    for our walk-in patrons to use to make donations. The jar, which was meticulously created by the wonderful Martha and Anne, sits right as you walk in the shop. Whatever we collect will be matched by ThreadBear and added to the main collection. It's a wonderful project and an incredible idea, pulling together the power of the web to help out the less fortunate, and we're glad to be a part. Check it out here

    I managed to sneak in some knitting this weekend, during visiting time with our guests. I made progress on the Meilenweit Jacquard sock

    It's too difficult to put this one down, so it's flying off the needles (given the amount of knitting time I have compared to progress, I'm ecstatic). But I also worked on another project last night, in an effort to try something different. We have a yarn from Classic Elite called FAME

    that's a rayon/silk blend withe some fun colors. When combined with mohair, they call it BRAVO, so I paired it with their LaGran mohair

    and started knitting

    I'm not overly thrilled with the result and it will be ripped out, as I think that up close it looks a little too much like cheap discount store yarn

    so it's going to be ripped out and a new attempt made. There's got to be something fun to do with the FAME yarn, but so far, I'm at a loss. Has anyone used it for anything they've made? HELP!

    Lots of new stuff arrives today, including our Manos del Uruguay, Plymouth, and Mountain Colors shipments (including the awesome BearFoot sock yarn). Friday we received our long-awaited pashmina French lace-weight kid mohair from Mango Moon

    Awesome color and 350 yards of fine, soft yarn. This is the same mohair used in the Mango Moon sweater kits and comes in some amazing colors.

    And with that, it's nearly 9 a.m. and I've got to get busy for the day. Have a great day and a wonderful week and we'll be back soon. Matt will be posting more and more in the coming days. Time to go wake him up, after he worked so late last night.