True Colors: ID Card

As a child first in a small town in rural Botswana, and then in the capitol Gabarone, Tshepo Ricki Kgositau (born 1987) loved to play house and dress up. She loved to be the mama and try on makeup and high heel shoes, raising eyebrows in her community. Teachers expressed their concern about her, and wondered aloud if something was wrong with her. You see, Ricki had been assigned male at birth, but had been living her truth her entire life. In middle school, she finally had more widespread support in her community, which gave her the confidence to be her most full self truth. In her early ‘20s, Ricki lost her ID card, and ran into a huge problem when she tried to replace it. Since the government had her on file as being assigned male, but she presented as female, she was told she could not get a new card. For 7 years, Ricki fought through the courts to be permitted to be fully represented in her government-issued ID. and finally, in 2017, she won the case, allowing all Trans folk in Botswana to be fully (and legally) represented as themselves on their ID cards. Our ID Card colorway is in honor of Tshepo Ricki Kgositau and the inspiration she has been throughout her life. This colorway used to be called Time-A-Turner.

You can find all of our in-stock True Colors yarn on our website.

True Colors: Blues Mama

The Mother of Blues, Ma Rainey (1882-1939, USA) was one of the first people to record a Blues song, in 1923. She grew up in the deep south, and was born shortly after slavery was abolished. The arc of her professional career typified what was available to Black musicians in the US at the time: she started out performing in minstrel shows and traveling with vaudevillian acts, and later performed the Blues in a more modern way. She was at the forefront of the Blues movement in the US, and was a strong mentor to many female blues musicians who were coming up. Although many of Ma Rainey’s songs that mention sexuality refer to love affairs with men, some of her lyrics contain references to love affairs with women, as well, such as the 1928 song Prove It on Me, which refer to an incident in which Ma Rainey was arrested for taking part in an orgy with other women in her home. 

“They said I do it, ain’t nobody caught me.
Sure got to prove it on me.
Went out last night with a crowd of my friends.
They must’ve been women, ’cause I don’t like no men.”

Ma Rainey was not only an inspiration to other Blues performers of her time, but she also was a huge inspiration to the sexual revolution of the 1970s, and songs like Prove It on Me became important touchstones to lesbians confirming their truth. We named our Ma Rainey-inspired colorway Blues Mama. This colorway used to be called Flame Cup.

You can find all of our in-stock True Colors yarn on our website.

True Colors: Jewel Box Revue

The Jewel Box Revue was a drag show that played the biggest stages possible, like the Apollo Theater and Radio City Music Hall. The show featured 25 drag queens, and one drag king, Stormé Delarverie (1920-2014). Delarverie was born in New Orleans, and was bullied for being biracial and a butch lesbian. She joined the circus as a teenager, and rode jumping horses for a time. Her work with the Jewel Box Revue was revolutionary in many ways, one of which being that the Revue performed for and featured both Black and white people, not something that was super common in the segregated 1950s. Delarverie was also one of instigators of the Stonewall Rebellion. After her time at the Revue came to a close, she was a protector of her community, and she patrolled the streets of areas of NYC heavily populated by the LGBTQIA+ community until she was in her mid-eighties. To honor this amazeballs woman, we renamed Taking Umbrage Jewel Box Revue

We have a little ditty of a neckwarmer made up in Jewel Box Revue: Shannon’s Alma Lou in a one-skein Bulky neckerchief.

You can find all of our in-stock True Colors yarn on our website.

True Colors: Mapping DC

Mapping DC is our homage to Benjamin Banneker, who lived from 1731-1806, in the USA. He was a Black man in a time when Black people were still being enslaved across America. He had a brilliant scientific/engineering mind, and he was instrumental in mapping out the original borders of Washington, DC. He had little formal schooling, and was, throughout his life, an almanac author, astronomer, surveyor, landowner, and farmer. Banneker was also a civil rights activist, and began a letter-writing relationship with Thomas Jefferson, calling him out on slave ownership. He told Jefferson that he hoped he would “readily embrace every opportunity to eradicate that train of absurd and false ideas and opinions which so generally prevail with respect to us.” He shared his almanacs with Jefferson and pushed him in every exchange to recognize the humanity of the Black person. Bannaker never married, and was likely deeply closeted for his entire life. As his funeral was happening, his house burned down, thought to be the work of arsonists who could not stomach a Black man with the depth and breadth of knowledge and intelligence that lived in Benjamin Banneker.

This colorway used to be called Phoenix Tears.

We’re sharing Mapping DC made up into a shawl, paired with the lovely Aquamarine in Shannon’s The Ticket (in DK) and Squeezebox Cowl paired with Grey Wolf.

You can find all of our in-stock True Colors yarn on our website.

True Colors: Dance, Dance, Dance

We are dancing our way into this colorful homage to dance legend, Alvin Ailey (1931-1989) with a skein of Dance, Dance, Dance! Growing up in rural Texas during the Great Depression, Alvin had the twin challenges of virulent and violent racism and homophobia working against him, all while struggling to survive extreme poverty. He and his mother moved all around the South and eventually to Los Angeles, where he met (and was mentored by) Lester Horton, a gay white dance troupe leader who prioritized racial integration and acceptance. After Lester died, Alvin took over the choreography of the dance troupe, and eventually grew it into the Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater, which is still thriving today in NYC. The dance troupe’s cultural impact continues to be felt to this day, and their most famous work, Revelations, may be the most often-seen piece of modern dance in the world.

Dance, Dance, Dance is our colorway honoring Alvin Ailey. This colorway used to be called Hospital Wing or Madame Pomfrey.

Dance, Dance, Dance

Unfortunately, we don’t have a sample showing off this lovely colorway made up, but when you do, please make sure to share it with us!

You can find all of our in-stock True Colors yarn on our website.

True Colors: Affirmed

Maryam Khatoon Molkara (1950-2012) was a Trans rights activist in Iran. Assigned male at birth, Maryam suffered discrimination from both her family and society at large throughout her life, including being institutionalized and injected against her will with male hormones. She was a devout Muslim, and in order to have gender affirmation surgery, she needed the blessing of an ayatolla (Muslim leader). She went to the Ayatollah Khomeni in Tehran to ask for that blessing. In order to attract as little attention as possible, she dressed in men’s clothing for the visit, but the ayatolla’s bodyguards beat her up, before his brother intervened on her behalf. She plead her case to the Ayatolla, and he gave his blessing via a fatwa (declaration), so she was able to have surgery reaffirming her gender. She campaigned for the rights of Trans individuals throughout the remainder of her life.

Affirmed is our colorway honoring Maryam Khatoon Molkara. It used to be called Love, Loyalty, and Innocence.


We are showcasing Shannon’s Ananke pattern, made up in one skein of Affirmed in Sock, today. Her kiddo Astrid again expertly modeled the pattern. 😉

You can find all of our in-stock True Colors yarn on our website.

HerStory November 2020: Wilma Mankiller

Wilma Mankiller, the first female Principal Chief of Cherokee Nation, is our November HerStory recipient. She was born into extreme poverty in Oklahoma, the grandchild of displaced Cherokees who were forced to walk the Trail of Tears. Until she was 11, Wilma lived with extended family on land called Mankiller Flats, but her immediate family, believing in the promise of the Indian Relocation Act of 1956, moved to San Francisco looking for greater opportunities. Those opportunities didn’t pan out, and the family continued to struggle throughout her childhood.

Mankiller married at a young age and had two daughters, but she found herself constricted by her husband’s patriarchal views. She enrolled in community college and soon found a place in the activist community protesting the Vietnam War and working for Native rights through AIM, the American Indian Movement. Her activism deepened, and she founded the East Oakland Native American Youth Center and worked with the Urban Indian Resource Center to develop legislation that became the Indian Child Welfare Act.

In 1977, Wilma divorced her husband and, with her mother and children, moved back be with family and tribe in Oklahoma. After a horrific car accident that killed her best friend and left Mankiller facing a long recovery, she began to explore and embrace the Cherokee ideal of “being of good mind” (a beautiful vision of personhood which inspired our colorway name this month). Once back on her feet, Wilma put that ideal into practice, prioritizing service to others and looking to the bright side through all challenges, including some pretty major health problems.

Being of Good Mind

Mankiller eventually moved to a tiny town deep in Cherokee Nation called Bell, where she worked as a community organizer and grant writer. She advocated for safe and affordable housing and clean water, with community involvement as the cornerstone of her work. Her approach became a model for other grant programs around the country, and her generosity and activism inspired many after her and paved the way for her 1983 appointment as Deputy Principal Chief of Cherokee Nation. In that role, she fought against the misogyny that came directly from colonial influence and was elected Principal Chief of Cherokee Nation. She believed that having a female chief was a first step in a return to traditional Cherokee values of balance between the sexes. Her influence can be seen today, in Native American activists’ return to tradition and rejection of the colonial mentality that has caused so much damage to their communities. It can be seen in the advancement of Native American women and girls, and in the deep community-building that occurs in Native American communities. We could all learn a thing or two by embracing the ideals that Being of Good Mind reflect, and of thinking of community first and foremost. Thank you, Wilma Mankiller, for being of such good mind and offering this inspiration to us all.