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The Blue Brick has grown beautifully, but with that come the necessary growing pains and we are long overdue for an overhaul to the way our store works. Increasingly long lead times have, completely understandably, led to frustration for folks awaiting their yarn packages. Ombre is not like tonal yarns, and I can only dye so many per day, limited by the size of my basement. We are so busy these days that we have made the extremely difficult decision to back out of Festival Twist this year, one of our largest and most enjoyable events, because we cannot prepare the stock while still looking after online orders. I confess to wanting to roll my eyes at everyone who has told me “it’s a good problem to have” (tell my customers that!).

We’ve talked about an inventory based store before, and I have generally avoided it because I didn’t want to limit what folks could get. However, it’s finally time to reduce our online store to inventory-only. We are not there yet, we’re going colour by colour as we generate sufficient inventory, with the goal of moving almost all yarns to an inventory basis within the next two months.

Special colours, heavy metal, sweater quantities and collection releases will still be dyed to order due to volume.

Ombre:

  • All moving to inventory.
  • The following colours are still available but when sold out, they’re gone: Maple, Cape Spear, Wheat Kings.

Tonal:

  • Sock, lace, and Muskoka luxe are moving to inventory. Escarpment DK and Tobermory worsted are being left as-is; because if you order a sweater or blanket quantity I will need to dye it all in the same batch. These items will still be dyed to order as a result. If you want a sweater quantity of another base please email us, and we’ll be happy to help you place the order.

What does that mean for our customers?

Pros:

  • If you were able to order it, it’s already on our racks and ready to be shipped.
  • Bases that I have only a few of, but don’t normally carry, such as MCN sock, or worsted gradients, can be added to the inventory.
  • My dyeing life will be simplified. Once the colours are all up to date I’ll be dyeing to top up inventory, and not to fulfill orders. This should make for a more streamlined process at our end.

Cons:

  • If you order more than one of the same colour you may want to add a note to the order letting me know if they’ll be used in the same project. Otherwise you will get the two skeins on the wall which may or may not be a perfect match.
  • If there is a colour you want and it’s not in stock it won’t be available. In that case you can definitely write to us and inquire after either a custom order, or when we plan on restocking.
  • During busy times, after festivals, or when our suppliers are backed up, there may be shortages in the online store. We will our best to level these out so they don’t impact the customer.

We hope that this new system will allow us to fulfill more quickly and reliably once it’s in effect. Again, it will take time to fully top up and switch over all the colours, with the goal being two months out.

Thank you everyone, for your patience with us as we get over these growing pains. Hopefully the new system is more comfortable for everyone!

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So far, I’ve stayed out of the discussion on IG about racism and inclusion in the knitting world. I’ve never made a secret of the fact that I’m brown in my posts, or that my family is multi cultural. I grew up in the diverse city of Toronto, and felt that I hadn’t really experienced racism in any meaningful sense. 

I also personally didn’t connect with a lot of the rhetoric, which didn’t seem conducive to positive change, and in some cases felt tantamount to bullying. I’m all for education, not shaming. I’m all for that which unites us, and against that which divides. I wasn’t personally a fan of having folks who were obviously well-intentioned with their hearts in the right place feeling super guilty all of a sudden for the circumstances of their birth. Historically, I’ve had way more trouble being a woman than I have being brown, and I feel strongly that us ladies need to stick together.

Then, at Stitches West, I overheard this conversation in the washroom (from a stall, they couldn’t see me).  It was two vendors discussing the show, totally normal, and then one vendor said: “I didn’t make as much money as usual. I think it’s because it’s a very ethnic group this year and it’s full of trash who aren’t spending any money”.

I came out of the stall, and we immediately all looked at the floor. So, before you ask, I don’t know who they were or what companies they represent. I scrubbed my hands, face burning, and ran out of there.

I don’t know what made me feel worse, that I internalized the humiliation, even though the comment wasn’t intended for my ears, or directed at me, or that I immediately began gaslighting myself on their behalf. “Did I really hear that?”, “Maybe they meant something else?”. 

Then I thought a little harder about my own past; I remembered that I initially took up Karate, 25 years ago, because my family was targeted in a racially motivated hate crime at Scarborough bluffs. That was a Big Obvious Thing, where anyone would get it. But there were also small insidious things, and they’re harder to get.  I realized that downplaying hurtful things is a trend. 

Every time someone asked me “where are you from really, after repeatedly being told that I was born and bred in Toronto. Every time someone joked that I was “practically white” and meant it as a compliment. That time I made small talk about the weather at a baseball game and was told “we don’t get cold, we’re Canadians”, as though somehow I wasn’t (effectively divesting me of the only country I have). Every time a friend has said something racist and then exclaimed “I don’t mean you! You’re different!”. Every time someone was surprised that I didn’t have an accent, or that I turned out to be brown in person after only talking on the phone. When Saks Fifth Avenue opened in Toronto I went looking for a dress for a wedding. A staff member politely told me “the Bay is that way”, assuming I was lost. The list goes on. 

So now I think, I need to say something on behalf of both myself and others. And you know what? I don’t even know what that something is. Maybe it’s as simple as “Hey, this happened, and I can’t pretend that it didn’t”, or “Hey, the problem is real”.  Part of me also wants to say “If you’re reading this, I sold plenty to BIPOC shoppers, so maybe you just suck.”, (It’s petty, I know).  

Worth noting: the incident was reported to the organizers and they had a funny feeling they knew who the vendor was. That kinda tells me they have done this before, or have a reputation for being racist, but seem to be getting away with it, which is the point I’m trying to make. And no, it wasn’t reported by me because I was still feeling awkward and humiliated about outing them. That tells me something else, about the tendency to internalize hate and redirect it to ourselves. So when people trying to instigate change come off as excessively forceful, perhaps we should have a little empathy towards them before we judge. 

Having said that, this is worth a read:

https://medium.com/s/digital-trauma/how-woke-became-a-weapon-304f265282df

“Plenty of activists argue that shaming those who err while striving to help build a resistance is a counterintuitive practice. “To organize such a movement necessarily means that it will involve the previously uninitiated — those who are new to activism and organizing,” writes Keeanga-Yamahtta Taylor, a Black female activist and author of From #BlackLivesMatter to Black Liberation, in a piece reflecting on critiques of the history-making Women’s March. “We have to welcome those people and stop the arrogant and moralistic chastising of anyone who is not as ‘woke’… [movements] are built by actual people, with all their political questions, weaknesses, and strengths.””

Another great quote:

 Patrisse Cullors, a queer Black woman and co-founder of the Black Lives Matter movement, spoke about the downfalls of woke shaming in an interview with Complex last year. “Woke shaming is really unfortunate,” Cullors said. “If we are trying to build a movement to save all of us, we need to be able to invoke faith in people who are new, who are learning, and who are willing to grow. There is a difference between people who are bigots and people who are trying to figure out their way in this. We should have patience.”

Regarding how we can do better, maybe it doesn’t need to be Big Obvious Things. It can be little helpful things. When my dad worked as a factory manager he would stand by the punch clock in the morning and learned to greet everyone in their own language. Something I’ve always respected him for. Something to model myself after.

“Treat everyone with politeness and kindness, not because they are nice, but because you are.”
Roy T. Bennett, The Light in the Heart

S.

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We’ve added a new tool to our website! Watch the video below to learn more :)

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Holiday kits are ready to roll out at last! Everything on this list is scheduled to ship before or on November 30th, which is hopefully ample time for holiday deadlines. All prices are in Canadian dollars and we ship worldwide for $12 CDN.

How do you find all these things? At 11am EST tomorrow they will all hit the website in their own new section called “Holiday kits”. These products will be available until Monday evening at 9pm EST and then we take them down. As much as we’d love to, we won’t be able to accommodate late or custom orders while still hitting the holiday deadline, so you’ll want to set your clocks for this one ;)

Let’s start with the 2018 holiday colour, “Sugar Plum”. Sugar Plum is rich and deep, transitioning from silver through purple-pinks to a warm reddish purple. It comes with its own pattern, the Sugar Plum cowl. The cowl requires one full 600 yard skein and one 150 yard twin, and it all ships together as a kit with a printed pattern. These kits will be $65 CDN each. You can choose between Merino/Cashmere/Nylon and Merino/Cashmere/Stellina if you prefer sparkles :)

Next up on the list is our calendar. Earlier this year I had asked folks if they would be interested in prints of my yarn photography, and I received a lot of feedback asking me to combine prints with a calendar, so I took a lot of time to search out the largest size on the thickest cover stock paper I could find. The result is an 11×17 calendar on a lovely uncoated paper, single-sided so you can cut out and frame each month

To protect the calendars, they will ship with cardboard backing and an extra protective bag inside an oversized mailer. Each photo has been curated carefully to provide a year of inspiration. Calendars will be $49 CDN each.

Lastly, our pendant/yarn combos. These were a blast to make! Because resin dyes and yarn dyes are not the same thing it was a challenge to recreate our colour ways, and I enjoyed the exercise and the change of pace. The results are shiny and detailed, a silver-plated “pewter” (zinc-based alloy) on an 18″ silver plated snake chain with hand painted resin designs protected by a thick coat of jewelry-grade resin for a perfect, glassy finish.

Once you click on the colour you like, you will be prompted to choose the pendant you want from the list. Pendants will be numbered and you will get the exact one you order. Each one has been hand-poured and is one-of-a-kind, I couldn’t recreate the exact one  twice even if I wanted to ;)

We tried to cover off as many of our popular gradients as possible. Each one comes packaged in a vinyl box with its yarn, caked and ready to use. The inserts include the yarn inspiration photo, base information and a download code for a free copy of our “Emy” shawl pattern. The yarn can be either Merino/Cashmere/Nylon or Merino/Cashmere/Stellina; your choice :) The entire thing comes protected in its own cardboard box , cushioned with holiday paper and ready to gift. Kit with yarn are $79 CDN each.

We ended up with a few pendants that were lovely, but didn’t especially match any of our yarns. They will be available for sale along with a few Sugar Plum pendants that, for simplicities sake, also do not ship with yarn (in case someone wanted both a pendant and the cowl kit). These are the only pendants that will be available without yarn and you’ll be able to choose them from the list by number. Pendants without yarn will be $37 CDN each.

Want to complete your holiday package? For an extra $5.50 CDN you’ll get a super adorable, hand made Christmas card by Crafty Lindsay (@CraftyLindsay on instagram) featuring our mascot pups. Cards are blank inside for your own festive message.

Lastly, did you think I’d forgotten Mist? Mist joins the permanent collection tomorrow and will be in the “tonal yarns” section. To learn more about this gentle tonal you can click here.

Happy shopping tomorrow. We had a blast putting together this year’s collection and I hope very much that you enjoy the pieces as much as we did!

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The Blue Brick | Inspired Yarns by The Blue Brick - 8M ago

A few years ago, Tito and visited Vancouver Island, rented a car and drove to Tofino. We shot there for several days; the driftwood, the kilometres of empty beaches, the massive trees, Tofino was a dream. We went during the off season, so it felt like we had this magical place to ourselves.

The mist created a very cool effect; there was little to no definition in the day at all. The tide was out and the ocean seemed so far away.

There was a shot I took that day that has always felt kind of magical to me. It’s a picture of the sand and the ocean and the sun, but so very different from the way we typically imagine sand, ocean and sun. Rather than powerful blues in the sky, a blazing sun, warm brown sand and an ocean going through all the blues and greens we expect, I saw this:

I forgot about the shot and moved on. But lately I’ve been experimenting with grey, and in my search for the perfect grey (not too cold, not too slate, not too dark… grey is more complex than you’d think!) I remembered this colourless day. Little-to-no details in the world, defined by shadows and shimmers and little else.

“Mist” is the result. A gentle semi solid that will show up detailed patterns as beautifully as stockinette and is warm and silvery, without feeling flat. I went through several grey iterations before hitting the right mix, and there are so many dyes in here to make this shade. There is taupe, black, grey, brown, gold …. we’ll definitely need to make big batches of the dye now that we’ve nailed the recipe.

I am in love, and Mist will be joining the permanent collection in our next shop update, scheduled for November 1st. It will include Mist, the holiday pop up (Sugar Plums) and a few other goodies (TBA).

Some people would have decided that the day was too cold and wet and glum for a walk along the beach, and eschewed the idea in favour of a fire, a hot drink, a good book. These things were tempting us that day, but we are photographers, and that means that we pursue those unique conditions of light that can redefine a typical scene and make magic out of the ordinary. I was very grateful for the gifts we got on that morning walk, and I hope you enjoy the new yarn as much as I enjoyed making it.

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The Blue Brick | Inspired Yarns by The Blue Brick - 9M ago

This autumn we wanted to do something a little different to celebrate the coming of cooler weather. These past few weeks you might have seen some yarns with a slightly different flavour showing up on instagram; instead of having our photography inspire the yarn, we’ve brought real, natural items into the dye station with us and used them to direct our dyeing process. Each item was part of a carefully curated collection of living things.

When the yarn was done, we staged photography of the finished yarns with their living inspirations. The result is a collection of  7 gentle yarns, all of which will launch in our online store on September 15th.

First up; Wine Grapes.
These grapes were gifted to us from Frogpond Organic Vineyard in Niagara on the Lake. The colour is a deep, slightly variegated blue. Not too saturated, not too navy, just rich blue with black flecked throughout.

Birch
Birch was pure delight to work with; this colour is so subtle and yet so nuanced. Beige doesn’t seem to cover it, there are black flecks, shades of warm grey and an almost rusty/peach tone to cover the oxidized areas of the branch where to bark has come away. Anything but boring, this neutral was made for sweaters and accessories.

Succulent
This one could get confusing because we also have a tonal named succulent, and indeed we did try this colour as a tonal as well. As lovely as that tonal was, the gradient won the day. Softer than our usual gradients this gentle colour will shine on shawls! Succulent plants are such a wide world, we really enjoyed seeking out the right plants for our shoot.

Quill
Quill is the most variegated of the lot and a personal favourite. The feathers are from a turkey and the yarn attempts to evoke all the shades of brown, beige, deep almost blue-black and pale, warm grey while remaining wearable and workable.  The result is a rustic yarn that’s anything but shy.

Cabbage
“Do you really want to name your yarn after a vegetable no one likes?”. Such were the words of a close friend when she saw this photo. She raises a valid point, but once I saw these small ornamental cabbages in the nursery I knew I had to do something with them! Slightly bluer than grass-green, flecked with brown, blue and gold throughout, this will hopefully redefine how you feel about green yarn, and maybe even about cabbages, too.

Flora
Pink is not normally my jam. As another close friend said, The Blue Brick has a “look” and these light, floral tones don’t normally fall within my zone. However, once we were done we stepped back and thought “here’s a pink I can wear”. Gentle and nuanced with purple and coral, this semi solid yarn would be great by itself or in a fade.

Nest
Nest was the yarn that started us on this journey. My dear friend Kim (of Kim’s Barn!) gave us these lovely farm-fresh eggs. I marvelled at the variation of colour that her chickens could produce and the gentle egghshell vibe I got from them. This colour could also be expressed as something I have yet to do; a fade set. The eggs beg to be made into a palette for a larger project, do they not? Perhaps I’ll try.

This collection will launch September 15th. Whether it’s a pop up or a permanent addition remains to be seen; we’ve been over our heads lately (as you know if you’ve been waiting for yarn) and I want to keep it manageable for us. If it becomes permanent it will be at the cost of other colours which will have to retire. Its a tough decision and not one I’m ready to make right now, so for the moment I’ll pile up on these colours for the upcoming Kitchener-Waterloo festival and prepare them for online sales come mid-month. You’ll be able to order any quantity you like, in any base, when the colours launch.

We enjoyed this series and the challenges that came with it; subtle colours, nuanced tones, softer, gentler changes than we’re used to. The results are so wearable, lovely and versatile. I hope you’ll enjoy them as much as we do.

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We’ve added a small, but useful function to our website that will help users coordinate different colourways, both tonal and ombre.

  1. On any product page you will now see two tiny buttons on the left.

Click “Add to compare” to save the product to your personal collection. When you are ready to view all the products together, click on the “Compare Products” button below.

Now you can see them all side-by-side – handy for building fades or multi-skein projects, or seeing how a particular ombre works with a particular tonal.

Hope you find it helpful – always feel free to send us your feedback!

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