A big welcome for Mama Smart-Ass!

This is so exciting.  I’ve invited my very first blog guest!  None other than Indigodragonfly’s Kim McBrien, the Grand Poobah Smart-Ass herself, who has agreed to be interviewed here.

I’ve blogged before about the Smart Ass Knitters World Domination Club, and about the wonderful packages I’ve received, with special yarns like Neither Bloody Nor Bowed, in celebration of the ultimate smart-ass Dorothy Parker, or #^@& You!, in celebration of, well … life.  And now signups are open and underway for this year’s club.

So welcome, Kim!

First, tell me about Indigodragonfly.

We are a small, family run, indie yarn company deep in the woods of rural Canada.  Me (Kim):  a lifelong fibre maven.  I distinctly remember my first knitting.  I was 4.  Ron:  roped into the business by the lure of the yarn fumes.  And Otis:  a 13 year old Wheaton Terrier and the true brains of the operation.

What yarns and fibres do you sell?

A wide range of yarns in a variety of weights from lace to worsted.  Primarily Merino blends (100% merino, merino/silk, merino/cashmere), however we like variety and try to make sure we have something for everyone.  We have plant/silk based yarns for those allergic to animal fibres.  And are experimenting with breed-specific yarns like Polworth.   We dye spinning fibre as well, as you can see in a review in this season’s Knitty here.

What else do you sell?

Artisan-made items for knitters.  I’ve always loved handmade things and prefer them over commercial goods. Most of our dishes are made by craftspeople, so it made sense to me to work with craftspeople to develop special pieces for knitters.  We have yarn bowls, covered yarn bowls and needle holders by Susanne James;  project bags and needle bags by Darby Bayly; and, coming soon, stitch markers and shawl pins by Erin Lynch.  We’ve recently added wonderful handmade needles from Dyak Craft to our line up.

We also sell Schacht products:  spinning wheels, small looms and other fibre tools.

One thing that I love is the fantastic names you give to your colourways.  Where do you get your inspiration for the names?

That would be Ron’s fault.  You see, left to my own devices I would give the colours deep, insightful, thought provoking names.  But after my very first dye day, Ron said “See that red one? You should call that Squeals When Boiled.”  There was also a purple that was the exact same colour as my favourite flowers in my Nana’s garden, that was going to be called Flowers from My Grandmother’s Garden.  Know what that one got called?  Groverkill.

Groverkill - photo by indigodragonfly

So we put them up online and people LOVED the names.  And that changed the direction I thought I was going in.

The inspiration can come from anywhere.  One of my oldest friends, Carol, INSTANTLY started coming up with a list of names for us based on lines from our favourite movies and TV shows.  All the Princess Bride, WKRP and Yoda themed colours can be blamed on her.  Others come from some of our favourite fandom obsessions like Firefly and Buffy the Vampire Slayer.  Sometimes the colour just speaks to us and we know what its name is.  Sometimes a name comes up in conversation or something we overhear.  I Think I’m Going to Suffer From Abandonment Issues, came to us that way. We hear it and if one of us says, “is that a colour name?”, it usually makes it to the list.

photo by indigodragonfly

Tardis - photo by indigodragonfly

What are some more of the stories about the names?

Vicious Penguin – Named by a very young smart-ass-in-the-making in Texas, after a schoolyard game she plays with her friends (we give $1 from every skein sold to a kid’s food program in our community in her name).

Vicious Penguin - photo by indigodragonfly

Housedrop – “Housedrop” is a word used on one of the Ravelry Boards I frequent.  Someone hurts someone we like?  Drop a house on them.  It’s highly variable but always has purple (witch’s skin), black (witch’s clothes), acid lime green (witch guts!) and turquoise (the “WHOOSH” the house makes when it drops).  Sometimes there’s white.  Bones.  😉

Housedrop - photo by indigodragonfly

Self-Elmolation – It was just the right colour, and the name was funny.  And then I overheard someone at my local Knit Night say, “see the little black bits?  Those are the charred pieces of Elmo.”  Yes, I think we hit it dead on.

Self-Elmolation - photo by indigodragonfly

In your Rav group we came up with “Intelligent Donkey” as an alternative for Smart Ass, and then proceeded to discuss what colours would be appropriate.  What usually comes first, the name or the colourway?

It can go either way.  And that situation is not all that unusual.  I’m willing to name a colour just about anything, but if it’s not clear to me WHAT that colour should be, I get input from the person/people who suggested it.

With something like the Buffy series of colours we’re working on, we think about the character and find colours that suit them.  THEN we find a quote that suits the colour.

The Earth is Doomed (Giles) - photo by indigodragonfly

It can really come from all angles.

Some of your profits go to the Otis Houndation.  What is that?

Well Otis is the chief quality control supervisor, as well as being our dog.  And Otis Foundation is, I’m sure, a wonderful charity…but clearly already taken.  So Houndation it was.

We’ve had so much support in this venture from the knitting community, that we wanted to give something back.  On the first anniversary of Indigodragonfly, we decided to put aside $1 from every skein sold (including Club skeins) to be used to support knitting events and projects, local arts events and projects, and local artists who need assistance.  So far we’ve been able to sponsor the Ravelry party at Rhinebeck, Winter Folk Camp,  and the Arts Council~Haliburton Highlands.  We were also able to help a local blacksmith/jeweller replace some of her equipment after her studio was broken into.

How did the Smart Ass Knitters World Domination Club come about?

Once upon a time I was convinced that NO ONE would EVER buy yarn from me again.  So I quit.  The End.

And then someone in my Ravelry Group asked when I would be starting my sock club.

“Sock Club?  What Sock Club?”

“That Sock Club we all want to join.”

“Oh…um….well….”  And the conversation started, with about 10 or 12 people telling me what they wanted in a  Club.  Shipments every 2 months.  A variety of projects.  Some extra stuff in the package, but please don’t let it be boring.  In 2 days, I had it all planned out.  I even had designers picked out.  And because I love hand made things and live in an area with an endless supply of talented craftspeople that I’d love to promote more, I started to rope them in as well.

And the name?  The first designer I hired was Stephannie Roy, who I happen to know in real life.  I’m not sure exactly how it happened, but at some point we started using the #smartassknitterworlddomination hashtag on Twitter.  So CLEARLY the name of the Club had to be…

Besides, now I get to say to my father, “Remember all those times you told me not to be a smart-ass?  Well…”

What are the different options for joining the club?

We have a 6 month/3 package version and a 12 month/6 package version of the Club.  You can pay for the whole club at once, or pay monthly installments.  Each package includes a skein of yarn, a pattern for that skein and a piece of “artisan swag” – a handmade object that is usually knitting related, or related to the theme of the package. [Note:  There’s also a “Nut-Free” option for people who have allergies to certain fibres]

You recently began (or were coerced into) selling sparkly yarn.  Does this mean that there may be sparkly yarn in the future of the club?  😛

Coerced is about right.  Bullied.  Forced at sparkly unicorn-horn-point…

And um, you KNOW I can’t answer that.  😛  Nice try though.

Hey, I had to ask at least one smart-ass question, didn’t I?  *snort*

And on that note…

Many many thanks to Kim for visiting!   Signups are open for the 2011-2012 club, until the 14th of April.  I’ve already signed up, for a year this time.  So get yer fibre-loving booties over to:


and join me!


Great yarn, great swag, great patterns, great fun.

(I almost added “And tell ’em Chana sent you,”  but that sounds so incredibly hokey, doesn’t it?

So I didn’t add it.

But I had to tell you I didn’t add it, so you’ll know I refrained from being hokey.

I think I’ll go knit now.)

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4 Responses to “A big welcome for Mama Smart-Ass!”

  1. Roberta Says:

    Bad, bad Chana!

  2. Marina Says:

    This interview was great! Now all I need is a job that would pay for my fiber addiction… BTW, since indigodragonfly is local to me (of a sort), and I can get it in LYS, and I’m coming home in June… Need I say more?

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