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, July 02, 2004

Sneak Preview

Well, the official box opening ceremony has occurred, and with you I share the spoils

That's the entire order, laid out on our table in the Koigu room (yes, we have an entire room devoted to their yarns here at the shop---and we'll have an entire area in the new shop...models included!). Deb was lucky enough to be the one who got to open the boxes (she called in the afternoon and all but begged for me to let her be the first to see the contents. Who am I to deny pleasure, especially when it involves yarn. So........she FINALLY arrived just after 6 p.m. (late 30 minutes....tsk tsk...Matt got back around 5:30 and was chompin' at the bit to see what was in the boxes.

After the above picture was taken, a ThreadBear tradition ensued.......

That's Low Helen and Deb fighting over the same KPPPM. It happens EVERY time we get yarn. One time the fight over a specific dye lot went so far as to be settled with a little indian leg wrestling match in the center room, on the wool carpet. (it wasn't pretty.........). Afterwards, they retreated to their own respective corners of the table (they typically are drawn to different ends of the color spectrum, which is fortunate for us). Deb got busy with her side

and she was happy.......creating various projects in her mind with her deep shades and jewel tones and intense solids. Helen was content down on the end with the blues and purples

She's already composed her own Keepsake Shawl and she's getting ready to go sock hunting.

The dogs........

they cannot be bothered...........

All you Kersti hunters out there, here's all that was in the box that's available for public consumption...I have full dye lots (20-22 skeins) of these four multi-color shades

If you're in the market for some, be quick about slipping me an e-mail and I'll work with you to get the yarn out quickly.

We did get some great patterns from them as well--including the traditional pattern booklet that is fair isle designs using KPM (solids) and some KPPPM (multis). They are amazing!!!!

Time to go get Matt fed at the local mongolian bbq...he craved asian and sushi tonight, so we're going cheap-o and it should be tasty. Enjoy your weekend.........and watch for more goodies here and on the main site soon. Matt's here for a week, so hopefully he can get some web-work and color-work done in the mean time.

The Eagle Has Landed

And I cannot wait to get inside the boxes.......check them out

Two artfully (?) decorated boxes from Canada. The art is courtesy of Richard, one of the three master dyers at Koigu. You may remember Richard from one of my February posts.....looking something like this

(Paybacks are hell, darlin'). If you're curious about the writing (as are we....)

That's a number of solutions for the mystery of what TB stands for.....including
  • The Boys (our colloquial name, especially when used by Maie, as in "I just dyed the most beautiful yarn for...The Boys").
  • Tastefully Bold (not a bad choice)
  • Total Bullsh@t (sometimes, I'm sure this fits)
  • Tantilizing Boys (well, at 40, I'm hardly a boy....but I can dream....)

    And the other box...yes, Richard must have been off of his meds Tuesday

    It does, indeed, say "Hi Cowboy".....(shaking head). At least he makes pretty yarn.

    Speaking of pretty yarns, check out what one of our local folks did after learning how to make socks in my "Intro To Sock Knitting" class.......

    Her third pair of socks......ever. AWESOME JOB, SUSAN! They're GORGEOUS. The yarn is P618 (no, we don't currently have any, sorry...wish we did) and the pattern is the infamous Broad Ripple for Sock-Weight Yarn. THIS IS IMPORTANT If you want a copy of the pattern, either print from the PDF window INSIDE YOUR BROWSER (don't use the print button at the top of your browser in the tool bar)


    back up again to the page where the pattern was listed and move your mouse over the hot link (when it turns into a pointing finger). RIGHT click on the link and save to your PC, then find the file and print from there.

    If you try to print from your browser, it will print only the first page and most likely lock up your machine. You have been warned.

    The socks take three skeins of KPPPM for a pair (even in smaller feet), as the ripple pattern sucks up yarn because you're going up and down instead of just around. Trust me, it's true (kinda like how ribbing uses about 30% more yarn than stockinette--it's a function of the structure of the stitches).

    The boxes will be opened with ceremony in about 10 minutes. Look for details later, but the packing slip shows six dye lots of Kersti in multis, two lots in solids (browns, I believe, based on the dye codes), as well as 284 skeins of KPM (solid Koigu) and 260ish skeins of KPPPM. Plus a few patterns we've never had before.

  • Wednesday, June 30, 2004

    No Time to Cha-Cha

    What a weird day........without getting into specifics, I spent most of the day in a harried state. Most of the loose ends that were flailing around are now tied down again, but a couple remain for morning duty. WHEW! So, no Lorna's and BearEssentials post like I promised. I'll go take pix now so you can have an entry in the morning, ok?

    One big piece of good news I did receive (and given the "lions at the gate" so far this week...calling and wondering what is in the shipment that we haven't even received yet, I hesitate to let y'all know this.........but you know me, full disclosure....) is that our Koigu order did, in fact, get packed and shipped as of Tuesday. That means it will arrive here on Friday. Wanna stalk it online? Start here and use this 1ZAA52581246501105. Last I heard about the shipment was that it was delayed in customs today (in Detroit??? our packages ALWAYS go from Owen Sound, ON straight to Louisville, KY to go through customs..). Taiu told me she got a call today from the Detroit customs office, so something's up with the boxes. The good news is that there are two boxes, and they're 50# and 45#, which means, back-calculating and allowing for oddities........we should have about 40 kilos of yarn in the box. If there are six dye lots of Kersti (Taiu told me that much), that leaves about 34 kilos for KPPPM, or 34 complete dye lots.

    From what she also told me, her mother is responsible for us getting a good-sized order this time around (THANK YOU MAIE!!!!!!!!!). Today I sent pictures of our beleaguered KPPPM stock and the entire two-unit shelving where their yarn now resides. Basically, one entire unit is being used for color cards in binders from various yarn companies. The other unit is over half empty, and I drew a circle around the stock of KPPPM we have, and we estimated it to be about 50-60 skeins--TOTAL. We normally have about 1,500 skeins of KPPPM. Maybe now everyone can understand why we're not able to do custom color work with our stock on hand. Even Maie remarked...."it's all gold yarn"....YUP. We've pilfered every bit of color out of it. But........lots and lots of their "rainbow" colourways are coming in this next shipment. YIPPPEEEEEEEEEEEE.

    Now, before you start calling at 10 a.m. on Friday, or if you know that our typical UPS delivery time is around noon, this week is a different animal. Our regular UPS driver is on holiday, so we have subs, and they have been coming LATE IN THE AFTERNOON. Today's delivery was about 4:30 p.m. or so. And, even when the yarn lands on Friday, it's got to be checked in (against the packing list), so I won't have a freakin' clue what's in all the boxes until late that night or over the weekend. Please, PLEASE don't call looking for Koigu yarn on Friday. PLEASE.


    Thank you for your understanding........(grin). We're working as fast as we can (and the "we" this week is me.......Matt's in Michigan all week working on the new space. I'm humpin' as fast as I can. And taking few breaks.) And we're as excited as you to have new Koigu yarns. Trust me on that one.


    Charlottes in Blushing Berries and Cranapple.

    Keepsake in Visions of Fall.

    Charlotte Update

    Blushing Berries is GONE---coulda been five times over, but there was just the one, folks. Thanks!

    Tuesday, June 29, 2004

    Promises Kept

    I told you I would post progress shots of my Keepsake Shawl here I am (finally--what a day!). Here she is, laid out on the floor (just after Tate walked across her to get to the back door.......)

    Coming along nicely, but not as quickly as I'd like it to, as there's precious little knitting time of late (and when I have a minute to sit down, I've been so bushed that I'm not really wanting to do more than just s-i-t). But motivation comes from the progress, and seeing the colors blend

    I adore that mitered corner on the project. It shows up nicely, and it defines the shape of the overall shawl. Plus, check out this aerial shot

    If you're interested in making one of your very own, here's a set of twelve skeins (600g) for the project, as assembled by Matt before he took off for Michigan this morning on one of his "seeking closure" runs

    I'm calling it "Visions of Fall", because that's what I have (and that's what it reminds me of). Lovely autumnal tones mix with pops of color and subtle neutrals, to make what I think will be a STUNNING finished shawl. Want it for your very own? Drop me an e-mail and ask for it! It belongs to the first one who sends........

    On the Charlotte front, how's about a few suggestions.........

    I call this one "Perfect Complements" because that's what blue and orange are--complements on the color wheel. And you'll earn compliments (different spelling, folks) when you finish the knitting and strut your stuff in this lovely lassie. Not your speed? How's about this one

    Part cranberry shades, part apple greens, all beautiful. This one was made from what I call "reclaimed skeins", or those that come back into the fold after someone decides on their own personal combination. It's overall blues tie the shades of cranberry and green together very well. I like it a lot. If you don't, you might enjoy this little number

    "Sunbaked" reminds me of a hot, sunny day and a little bit of a dry riverbed. The perfect neutral for a summer's evening or a fall outing, this could be one of the more versatile items in your wardrobe.

    "Blushing Berries" is gonna be a hot commodity. So many of you are after reds or blues or purples and just a few skeins came back into the folk in this arena. This should satisfy your urge for a red-toned Charlotte.

    One more for good measure......consider a little "Tiger Stripe" for your knitting pleasure

    Matt's high school colors were blues and golds and when a touch of oranges joined in, I had to name it for his beloved Troup County Tigers.

    As with all Charlottes, there's just one of each of these e-mail me fast, and be sure to let me know your ZIP code and if you need the pattern.

    Tomorrow I'll put up something regarding the "Bear Essentials" yarns--these are completely unique skeins created by Matt himself, out of a variety of yarns. We did get a big batch of Lorna's Laces today as well, and there's other goodies I plan to share shortly as well. Keep an eye out and hurry back! Many hugs to one and all!


    Pretty yarn........

    over there........

    I love a good diversion..........(GRIN).

    Back to the knitting and talk about yarns and projects and more, folks. I'll have pictures tomorrow of my Keepsake shawl, but more importantly, I've spoken directly with Grouse, and we've started the reparations process (THANKS for e-mailing........). I've also been in contact with a couple other folks who've been feeling slighted.....and it's all good. Amazing what a little dialogue will do for a relationship.

    Hugs for everyone!

    Monday, June 28, 2004

    If We Don't Learn, We Wither Away

    Folks........we appreciate the love and support flowing out in person, via phone, via e-mail, and over this blog. We do what we can........we, ourselves, mull over how to do it better. And we learn. Thus the topic of today's blog entry.

    First off, I do NOT use this forum as a "bully pulpit" to whack on anyone---despite what someone in my comments from yesterday may think...... Actually, I'm thrilled to hear when someone has a problem or complaint. Since we don't have 360-degree review of ourselves, we wouldn't know where there's things falling through the cracks. I liken it to the hotel/motel operator situation---since the hotel owner doesn't sleep in all the beds and shower in all of the tubs, s/he doesn't realize when there's a mattress spring out of whack or a shower head that doesn't spray as hard as it should. Anyone who serves the general public (um......that's us, as well......) needs to know when something isn't working. And they should feel very much in the "right" to bring it up--from there, it's up to the business owner to make amends or tell the person "piss off". And sorry, but posting the "Grouse" comment and my reply wasn't my using this forum to take pot-shots at Grouse, Another Anonymous, or anyone else out there who has a complaint. Folks--WE LEARN AND GROW FROM OUR MISTAKES.

    My favorite example.....on a research methods class during my master's degree, I missed (what I saw as a silly) question on a midterm. The instructor asked us what the book was that is used to look up search terms for using the ERIC silver platter system to conduct educational research. I answered "that little purple book by the PC" and was marked VERY wrong. To this day, over 10 years later, I know the title of that book is "The Thesaurus of ERIC Descriptors" and I will take that knowledge to my grave. And I knew the name of it again when I needed it during my PhD and to Dr. Joan Quilling in the Home Ec Ed program at Mizzou (who taught my Vocational Education Research Methods course)........THANK YOU.

    And to Grouse, Anonymous, and Another Anonymous, THANK YOU for pointing out issues. We're so close to what we do (we eat, sleep, live, breathe, and poop yarn and knitting...) that we don't know when something's wrong. I know there's times I can do my job better, but we will never know all of what's WRONG without it being pointed out in some cases.

    So, this was not done to make examples of those who have issues with us (DAH, I majorly owe you...yarn, an apology, and more.....and you know who you are.....) and it wasn't done to have everyone rally around us and stand up for us. I do appreciate the support, but.....I said what I said yesterday as a means of explaining a little bit (not explaining AWAY, but clearing the air) and as a means of letting you know we're adult enough to make changes where there are problems, and to let you know that we appreciate them being pointed out to us. And if you're compelled never to read my blog again or order from us again, that's always your choice--and I wish I hadn't failed you (it's my Catholic guilt...."what I have done, and in what I have failed to do.."). I'm not saying "good--go away", as I feel it's unfortunate to lose a reader/customer, but--it's your choice, as always.


    Phildar arrived today, so tonight's all about packing and sending orders for Tuesday pick-up by the letter carrier. Tuesday will bring another HUGE batch of Lorna's Laces (lots of Sampler Bouquets and TONS of Angel in various colourways, including many PINKS), and soon the last of the yarn delivered to this location will arrive (it may well be the Lorna's, actually, as I've stopped all shipments as of the end of the month). I am looking for one more influx of Koigu yarns before we shutter things down here, but I'm still sensitive to their challenges up there and I'm thrilled to get what I can out of them.....especially after the fantastic conversations (two of them) I had with Taiu today (THANKS for your time, darlin.....and I'll belly up to that family table any day! and bring my kugelis and vertiniai/klatskis for the meals). Matt is headed to Michigan in the morning to finalize everything up there, get started on the shop renovations, meet with utility folks (they tried to install a phone today and we weren't there yet), and go to the weekly knit night. He will be spending more time up there than here from now on, getting things prepared for "the arrival".

    Thanks for the love. And believe it or not, thanks for the vitriol. It helps me change and grow.

    Sunday, June 27, 2004

    Flushing Out A Grouse

    If not for having it pointed out to me in comments, I wouldn't have found an entry left on my post a couple days ago (Wednesday, to be exact). Which brings me to another point


    Please don't leave orders or things you need a reply to in my comments.....aside from the very day their posted, I don't often go back and read through the comments folks leave. That's not to say that I don't read the comments--I MOST CERTAINLY DO! I just don't go back in the archives or in posts from several days back and scour through them. If you need to place an order or have a question you want issued, PLEASE E-MAIL ME. You'll have a much better chance of getting a reply (I'm not at 100% on my e-mail replies, as we all know...but your chances are almost sure of getting a response.....).


    Grouse made a comment that was pointed out to me....

    actually "the same as always" would be i send the emails -- you ignore them and send the yarn to people with blogs.

    but good luck in the new city and with the new space. i sincerely hope it is the cure for your many problems in the last 6 months. maybe then i could manage to place an order.

    grouse | 06.25.04 - 1:24 pm | #

    Grouse may have a point, s/he may not. I don't know who grouse is, so I cannot say for certain--but it could well be true (I'm not denying a thing)! What I can say is that this business is completely and totally run by two human beings who most definitely have been over-committed. We're running both a retail and mail-order business with two of us. Two adults. And, in conjunction with that, Matt has handled most of the zoning issues and relocation issues we've had facing us. He completely searched out new sites, he completely dealt with the mound of paperwork for the zoning variance, he completely found our new residence in Michigan, and we both went up to find the new shop space. But for the most part, we do have division of labor--I pretty much handle the day-to-day things at the shop (especially the mail order, probably 95%+ of the ordering, all of the bookwork, and much of the inbound phone stuff). And both of us are pretty much the only folks who've been available to run the mail order inquiries/orders AND the foot traffic in the shop.

    I know, for a fact, that I don't just send yarn to people with blogs. You only see that yarn arrive because those without blogs have no way of displaying what they receive. But trust me, unless there's a URL in the bottom of the e-mail someone sends or I know (from having visited their site or an extended relationship with them over time) they have a blog, I don't know who's online and who isn't. I'm hardly discretionary as to who gets yarn and who doesn't--I try to make sure everyone gets it--blogger or non-blogger. And I'm sure there's many readers and lurkers out there who can attest to this fact---HUNDREDS of folks read me who don't have a blog and many of those order from us, and some rather regularly. So I will take issue with that point.

    One of the other problems we've had in Indiana, that seems to be cleared up in SPADES in Michigan, is the problem of staffing. We've had a couple folks do a little bit of part-time work for us, but from August until we were closed by the city on May 24th, we were open 7 days a week, most major holidays, yadda yadda--we didn't have a day off because there was no one to take the reins for us. Part of that is our own doing (I'm greedy and want to be open 7 days a week) and part is because we just couldn't find appropriate, consistent workers here in town. We had a couple folks come in sporadically over the course of the spring and did a great job checking in shipments and stocking some of the yarns, but no one that was here consistently for a full day or a good part of a day. In January, we had the idea of either closing on Wednesday or having a tag-team of two folks split the day and have us either be OUT of the shop or at least NOT on the floor. But they decided they couldn't do that at the last minute, and we didn't really feel comfortable with other options we had, so we never were away for a regular day off.

    But that seems to be NOT the case up in Michigan. We have four or five folks who've already expressed a strong interest in coming to work for us in various capacities (not counting folks we're talking to about teaching--and Matt and I did ALL of the teaching here, on top of the shop tasks). This is a very strong secondary reason for us looking north to Lansing--it's a SIGNIFICANTLY larger community with a much richer/deeper tradition of knitting, and that combines to mean several very highly-qualified folks who may well make excellent part- or full-time employees. HOORAY! Double Bonus for moving! We've even been told by folks up there that when the shop is set up and running smoothly after the move, they're gonna take away our keys and send us away for a weekend of R&R. I'm gonna vote for a trip up to Williamsford, Ontario.......that's some MAJOR relaxation for me! But either way, we'll take them up on their demands...yup yup.

    So, back to Grouse's point. We have, in fact, had a number of rather significant impediments to running a perfectly smooth operation here. The zoning issue, the volume issue (we're DEEPLY thankful for all of the orders that everyone places with us! WE ARE!!), the employee issue, searching for a new location, having to look for housing for us as individuals because our current landlord wouldn't live up to promises made (verbally--boy, did we learn a good lesson, even dealing with friends and family of friends...NEVER AGAIN will we take someone on their "word"...), and so forth. So yes, orders have fallen through the cracks at times--for that I'm truly sorry. Yes, I've put the wrong thing in the wrong box (not often, but it happens). Yes, I've gotten a name and a stack of yarn separated (twice I've confessed to it here on my blog). Yes, sometimes the volume of inbound mail is hard to manage (we've tried a couple new systems for answering e-mails and trying to manage expectations). But most importantly, we've learned--THE HARD WAY--how to improve our operations. We do plan on having someone dedicated to mail order in the new space in Michigan (probably full time). But, what we do isn't a simple slam dunk ("I'd like two of X and one of Y" rarely happens). Most of the time it involves opinions, descriptions, photographs, and color consultations from Matt, which is the reason so many folks turn to usually don't get that from a mail-order business, from what we hear. And we love differentiating ourselves in that manner--we're glad to provide the service, without question. It's part of our value added, because you can get three skeins of yarn from any NUMBER of places on the web. But you get the right three skeins for your project from us. And you get fabulous colorways that Matt puts together. And you get an answer to "how much should I buy" or "does that color go with the other one" or any other question you may have.

    Long story short---TOO LATE

    We're always eternally grateful for the incredible custo-friends we've made through this business, and we're thankful for the level of activity we have in our business. And that is why you get e-mails way after midnight and a reply at 7 a.m. and packages get mailed out six days a week and pictures comparing colors and recommendations to buy LESS yarn than you asked for and any number of other things we feel make us different and special. And yes, we have problems and will continue to have them--the trick is what are we doing to minimize them. Moving to Michigan is the first (HUGE) step. No, it's not a cure-all, but it's a good dose of strong medicine, trust me! And I'll gladly swallow it (no comments out there..........let the easy ones go.....).

    And Grouse, slip me an e-mail and I'll do what I can to make sure we attend to your needs in a timely manner.....given a second (third? fourth? ...) chance, we tend to come through. Promise!