Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Why it's practically here!

For some reason my brain seems to discount the days actually passing starting sometime in the first week of December right up until the 20th or so.  I don't know why but the urgency of gathering gifts to give doesn't seem to register until it is practically too late.  Now, last minute Holiday shopping can be stressful enough, but last minute Holiday crafting?  A sure fire way to get ulcers (which actually might be a good combatant for the ever threatening holiday weight gain).

It's also pretty interesting to note the reactions to handmade gifts.  To some people it is extra special since you put so much of yourself into the item... in fact, probably too much (I always seem to find I've knitted a strand or  two of my hair into things).  Other people seem disappointed while at the same time acutely aware that it should be considered extra special since you made it.  For all those crafters out there who are giving lovingly handmade items, I hope that whoever receives them is as grateful as my boyfriend is.  

When we first started dating, I told Daniel about my knitting obsession.  Now, I can't remember if I offered to knit him something, or if he asked for it; but I do recall being shocked at how the thing that mattered most to him was that I made it for him.  Now, that might seem like a no brainer, but honestly, I thought whatever "it" would be and the functionality would be more important.  Or the color!  Or how soft it was.  Anyway, not wanting to put anymore pressure on him or myself by making him something complicated and time consuming, we decided on a simple scarf.  Again I was taken aback, someone who actually wore scarves?  Coming from a lifetime in Southern California this was an extremely exotic notion (outside of West Hollywood).   When I went came to visit him last March, we made a trip to the local Michael's to pick out some yarn.  He chose some soft charcoal colored yarn in a bulky color.  A few days later as I waited... and waited... and WAITED for my plane to leave (and take me back home to Southern California), I started work on his scarf.

Having limited access to my knitting supplies, I worked out a simple pattern that I could remember and do despite having forgotten my row counter.  The result ended up being what I call the Fiver Scarf.  What  I really love about it is how much Daniel seems to appreciate it.  Since the cold weather started, every time he goes to put on his pea coat, he knots the Fiver scarf around his neck.  Once when I exclaimed over how wonderful he was to wear it, he simply said to me "I like it... besides, my girlfriend made it for me".  This man bears it like a badge of honor instead of a hiding it like he would with an unsightly blemish.  If you want to make one of your own click here.

Monday, December 12, 2011

Well, that was quick!

So, my face is nearly as red (or maroon) as this plum colored hat!  In my last post, I mentioned ever so briefly how my brother's friend Andrew and his wife were expecting a baby girl?  Well, things were certainly moving along quite a bit quicker than I had known.  Turns out expecting was the wrong word, it's more like she's here! In fact we nearly shared a birthday.  Joanna was born on November 8th, only three days before I turned thirty.

Despite having a baby that's younger than all of the condiments in our refrigerator; as well as an actively and well entertained toddler to look after, second time mom Becky Shattuck still found time to find me on facebook to send a thank you message.  If you're impressed about her juggling skills on that alone, you should check out her blog, where you'll find that Becky posts more days than not.

Just as I didn't know that Joanna had entered this world, I wasn't aware of the amazing blog that Becky has.  I find myself returning to it and getting a vicarious thrill of exploring the world for the first time through the observations of a toddler, and "100 ways to entertain" one.

So I'm really enjoying the warm fuzzy feeling that's coming from reading her post about the plum colored hat that went along with the first sweater I made.  I've purloined a few pictures of Joanna modeling the hat from Becky's blog (though since it's with permission, it's more like I just snagged 'em instead of stole them).  This hat was made using the wonderful pattern Baby Berry Hat by Michele Sabatier, available for free on her blog.

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Sweaters to some, Jumpers to others

While I've been knitting obsessively for a number of years, up until recently I'd never tackled one of the most basic of projects, the sweater.  Why did it take me this long?  Well, considering that this is my first winter away from Southern California, up until recently, there hadn't been much need to knit myself one.  Besides, my UCLA sweatshirts are basically the only way I show school spirit aside from hissing and grumbling whenever the crosstown rival, USC is mentioned.

Knit one for a boyfriend?  Again, up until relatively recently, there hadn't been a boyfriend to knit for.  Besides, I'd hate to tempt fate with the boyfriend sweater curse.  Never heard of it?  Well, it's basically the well acknowledged idea that as soon as a knitter has begun knitting her boyfriend a sweater, the relationship is doomed to failure.  Personally I can see that one being a self fulfilling prophesy... think of how long it'd take to lovingly stitch together an adult sweater, and compare that to how much the typical guy cares about and for his clothes.

Finally I accepted the challenge when my mother asked me to knit a baby sweater for her to give as a gift.  The active lady that my mother is, she has met a number of people through jazzercise and yoga that have become friends.  One of her classmates had a lovely baby girl around six months ago, named the brand new person Julia.  Here I have a great picture of the active Julia modeling the sweater I knitted.

Of course she's got on the SECOND sweater I knitted... not the first.  The first one turned out to be nearly infant sized due to a simple and silly mistake I made.  Knitting needles come in different sizes; and just like how Americans use the word "sweater" while British use the word "jumper" to mean the same thing, there are US standard sizes and the metric equivalent.  I should have been knitting on US size 10 needles, which are 6mm.  Instead I briefly glanced at the pattern and used US size 6 needles, which are actually only 4mm in diameter.

After yoke and first sleeve of the sweater had been finished I realized my mistake.  Though rather than rip it out and restart, I figured I'd chalk it up to a learning experience and finish it up.  The good news is that my first sweater may still get some use.  My brother's friend Andrew and his wife are expecting a little girl... and while she'll be able to cry, she probably won't be able to tell anyone that it's because of the sweater.  Oh, and if you're  interested in the pattern, it's called "Pretty Baby Sweater" by Lisa Vienneau.  Not only is this gem available for free, it also doesn't require any sewing of seams, just a wee bit of crocheting!

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Warning: Cold Slimy follows...

Example of how NOT to take a photo.
Lately I've been discouraged.  I'm not sure exactly what it is.  The weather?  The annual onset of holiday stress?  Or just the general pessimism that comes with an economic downturn.  Still, I can pinpoint one the reasons that my enthusiasm has been firmly curbed.

Nearly a full week before Black Friday, my boyfriend and I braved crushing crowds in pursuit of a spice rack at JCPenny's.  On our slow and tedious way towards the escalator, we shuffled past the section devoted to winter accessories.  That's where I found my own personal rain cloud, disguised as sock monkeys, felt eyed frogs and owls, garter stitched pandas and penguins.  Admittedly this particular storm had begun brewing much earlier and across the country.  This is evidenced by a picture I took of some hats in a store along the "boardwalk" at Newport beach on the last day of my visit home.

These adorable hats (click here for more examples) are the latest example as to why I should stop trying to pursue knitting things for others.  Lovely machines churned out these little gems, no doubt in places where the labor regulations are more accommodating for the bottom line of companies like JCPenny (who owns the brand Arizona Jeans; the label these babies are imported under).  As a knitter I notice that not only is the fleece lining sewn in, but the shaping of the crown is done by cutting the knitted fabric and then using a sewing machine; this is basically like watching someone put packets of ketchup on filet mignon.

To add insult to injury, is the reason of WHY these hats are considered cute and chic...  It's because they try to look handmade.  Basically the first stitch a knitter learns is... well, the knit stitch.  After a number of rows of this you have a fabric that has been done in "garter stitch".  This is is the foundation of knitting, just like the foundation of reading are the letters of the alphabet.  Essentially, they want to appeal to the crowd that likes to look at handcrafted items on Etsy, but would prefer to pay less.  But who are you supporting when you pay less?  It's not unreasonable to assume that you could be supporting sweatshop conditions.  According to Green America's Retailer Scorecard which wants to curb sweatshop practices, JCPenny earns the grade of D- (out of a typical A-F grading system) for subcontracting to five companies out of the nine named with documented poor human rights records.

Thank you for letting me share my own personal rain cloud.  I can daydream about trying to make a living doing various things with knitting; but perhaps it should remain just that - a daydream.  There's no way I can compete with the sweatshops.  The cost of materials and shipping alone are typically at the upper limit of what the average American would pay for a knitted accessory.  When I make something I don't expect or hope to get minimum wage for my time, but I'd like to help the household expenses a bit.  The silver lining?  There are a handful of people out there that have been willing to support my daydream.  Moral of the story: if you want something that looks handmade, buy handmade... and the spice rack?  I'll get one elsewhere.

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Intimidated by warm fuzziness

Confession:  while I yearn for luxurious fibers to knit with, I cringe at the thought of actually using them.  Silk?  Mohair?  These are idols I worship at, not merely yarn to be used as I would an acrylic.  Gracious relatives that know me and my addiction have gifted  me with some of these amazing yarns.

Among my gems are five skeins of Rowan's Kid Silk Haze in a color called "Marmelade" and three skeins of Noro's Silk Garden, also made with silk and kid mohair with a touch of lamb's wool.  While I did celebrate a thirtieth birthday earlier this month... these are actually gifts from previous years.  

What have I been doing with these luscious fibers?  Mostly hoarding them, like a dragon.  In fact, I don't want you to look at them too hard in case it makes them lose a touch of their softness or their enviable coloring.

While I did flirt with projects for each of these yarns, I still couldn't bring myself to try them for fear I'd screw up on the pattern.  Yes I know I can unravel them; but I don't want my precious yarn to lose anything from my mistakes.  Besides, the inevitability of needing to trim ends and thus CUT these beauties?  I'd rather slash a finger... well not quite, but close.  

In my heyday of playing World of Warcraft, I was very very tempted to use the Noro to make my own Murgle from a pattern called "More than a Fish" by Ixetal Cilona.  However, having had no experience with making amigurumi, it seemed like a terrible idea to try and learn on my precioussssss Noro.  Still, aren't they cool?  Just check out some of the finished ones like Nordly's on Ravelry.

Also I thought about using the Rowan's Kid Silk Haze with a project posted in the Winter 2007 issue of the ezine Knitty.  Featured was this gorgeous cowl pattern by Rosemary Hill called "Ice Queen".   The yarn is so lightweight that you can put small beads on it which look like little ice crystals.  Even though this yarn is as light as a feather, the "haze" makes it surprisingly warm, all while being so soft you just want to rub it until your fingers fall off.  Of course it wouldn't have been very "ice queen-ish" in the marmalade hue, but doesn't that mean it would be warming in color as well?  Then the sad realization hit me.  I don't wear cowls.  And while I usually give away nearly everything I knit, the hoarding dragon within me wants to hold onto these luxury fibers even after they stop being in skein form.  Then again, knowing me, that may never happen.  

Oh the materialism!  It reminds me of when I was in grade school and Junior high.  I would get these Lisa Frank stickers.  While I loved looking at them, I never stuck them to anything.  I knew that whatever it was would eventually be tossed or forgotten and I couldn't stand that; so in my desk they remained.  After discovering boys I did happen to forget about my Lisa Frank stickers.  That was of course until I found them again in my college years.  Finally I was able and grateful to use them.  They were perfect for sticking all over government addressed envelopes, when taxes were due, responding to jury duty, etc.  

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

... he called me Nurse Ratched!

Total Knee Replacement
My father is currently working his way through his fourth week of recovery from his total knee replacement.  Working being the operative word, since for him to get the most out of his surgery he needs to be in a constant rotation of walking, physical therapy, and icing the joint to keep the swelling down.

The surgery and hospital stay occurred at Kaiser Permanente's Sand Canyon facility in Irvine.  Despite replacing parts of his femur and tibia, they had him walk away from the operating table.  No rest for the wicked, eh?  Due to some complications that came as a result from an anti-nausea medication he stayed in the hospital a few days longer than originally anticipated.  I have no idea why, but dear old dad was in a lather to get back home.  When I visited him in the hospital, he had his own room.  Everyone that came in was warm and friendly, even the woman who maintained the cleanliness of the room.  While I was there he had a visit from a Golden Retriever named Meggie.

Hospital Harpist?
If that weren't enough later on soft music began drifting into the room.  I glanced out into the hallway from his room and said "Dad, there's a harpist in the hallway."  Not a sentence you anticipate hearing, let alone in a hospital.  My father felt the same way, replying with, "You're kidding."  I think that he, even like me, didn't quite believe his eyes.  The lovely harpist even nodded a consent to let me photograph her.  When she had finished her song my father thanked her, and she replied quietly and shyly that Kaiser had asked people from the local symphony to come volunteer and play for people in intensive care.  Again... why he was in such a hurry to get home I'll never know.

Where'd they put that 3"?
Unlike most patients, my father was replacing his knee not due to constant pervasive pain in the joint, but rather because he had so little range of motion.  This is largely a result of a motorcycle accident he was involved in during 1997 ( I remember it was April-ish of my Sophomore year), where they placed some serious hardware in his knee.  The total knee replacement made the hardware unnecessary, but don't worry, the pops has maintained it as a souvenir/trophy.

Nurse Shirley on duty
Once he was home my Dad and I had some serious bonding time; aided by Doc Martin on Netflix and some gnarly pain killers they prescribed to him.  With the pain killers being on a four hour rotation, my father's physical therapy two to three times a day, and the required elevation of his leg and icing; for the first two weeks my dad and I were busy most of the day everyday with his recovery.  Oh!  Great tip:   make your own gel-ice bags with a gallon ziploc and 3 parts water to 1 part rubbing alcohol.  So, due to my nagging ways, my father sometimes called me his Jiminy Cricket or Nurse Ratched; depending on his mood.  Of course I maintain that the negative comments were caused solely by the pain killers wearing off; and never by my own poking and prodding.

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Back in Chicago

Here I am, my first full day back in Illinois and it's about time for me to catch up on my blogging.  Seems like an ideal time to blather about one of the major reasons as to why I went home in the first place.

Fall color just before I left
Originally I had a vague notion about wanting to be home for my 30th birthday.  Then, while trying to nail down the dates with my mother; she mentioned that the end of October and the end of November were going to be a little busy for her.  It's not unusual for my mother to be stressed out in early November, since she works with Los Angeles County and one of her responsibilities has to do with making sure all voters have requested materials and know their polling place.  On top of all of this, my father had scheduled his total knee replacement for October 24th, which required a caregiver for the first week or so after he got out of the hospital.  My silly mother.  She had been wringing her hands and wondering how she was going to pull everything off, and didn't want to impose by asking her daughter to come home early to help.  I swear, this woman makes Atlas look like a pansy.

November Nudes
Anyway, I offered, and got to spend nearly a month at home.  Part of it was spent finally being able to turn the tables a little bit and help my folks out.  Unfortunately, being at home and without my computer didn't exactly lend itself to being able to blog on a regular basis.  So, in an effort to get back into the swing of things I'll be posting multiple times this week.  Must say, it's great to be back with the boyfriend here in Illinois; but he did something terrible to the trees around here, they're all naked now!

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Vacation at home

Playing tourist in a place where I've spent more than 98% of my life (after doing the math, I've only lived approximately 1.67% of my life outside of California) is a little odd.

Last week I went with my father to the island of Catalina for a day trip.  Definitely worth a day trip, unless you become part of the publicly available (for two bucks) private beach where you can get toasted with booze while you toast your tootsies.  The pops and I went on two tours, one of the island via bus (complete with stomach churning puns) and another one of the famous casino in Avalon (where there has never ever been gambling).  Sadly, we didn't go on the famous zipline, but with my father's knee replacement surgery just a few days away, it will have to wait until another trip post recovery.  Despite being able to see it from Irvine on a clear day, this was the first time I set foot on the island.  And considering the water coming out of Balboa harbor, I was shocked at how crystal clear the water was in Avalon bay (a mere 22 miles away... according to the Catalina Flyer which does the trip twice daily; alas, not as catchy as the song). 

Then Sunday I went with my mother to the Los Angeles County Museum of Art (LACMA).  We went to see the exhibit on Tim Burton's work.  I'd show you pictures, however photography and phones were prohibited from being used.  Heck, they didn't even want you to look too hard at some of the art and sculptures.  They covered some of his work from Beetlejuice, Edward Scissorhands, The Nightmare before Christmas, The Corpse Bride, and several of his other movie ventures.  Oh!  Did I mention they're turning Frankenweenie into a full length movie in stop motion animation?  But honestly, does it compare to the charm of the live action short with Shelly Duvall as the mom?  With that heart wrenching scene in the windmill of the mini-golf course?

Wednesday, October 19, 2011


Five minutes after arriving
My have I been remiss.  Last Wednesday I left Illinois for a visit home.  I'm not sure it would qualify as a "vacation" since I'm going to be the primary caregiver for my father after he gets out of the hospital.  The good news is that he's going in for elective surgery; a knee replacement, and will hopefully be happier than ever about four months from now.

Those that know me are probably very much aware of how I've been jonesing for a cat fix over the past five or six months.  Since I moved to the Midwest, I had two brief encounters where I was able to pet a kitty for a few minutes.  Yeesh, the kitty drought is over in a big way.

Grayson going to Mammoth
My first night home I was cuddled by my parent's two cats, Shirley and Katrina.  I figured it was a good fix.  The plan had been to go up to Mammoth on Friday to spend some time with the Storms family where I'd also be able to visit with my former cat Aeris.  Aeris was in theory my cat, until he decided to adopt Kevin.  Since then they've been inseparable.

Not surprisingly, the plan got altered.  Kelli called up on Thursday, saying one of her friends found a young stray kitten, and asked if I could keep him overnight and take him up to the Mammoth area.  He was supposed to go to one of Kevin's mom's friends.

Oh, Thursday night... I met this little gentleman.  He really is a prince. Easily the most considerate and wonderful kitten I've ever had the pleasure of caring for.  He curled up with me the first night and mewed whenever he needed to go use the litter box.  With his wonderful manners, his little gray suit, it seemed like Grayson was a great name for him.  About five weeks old, he only had one little setback on Saturday when he kind of forgot how to eat.  Whoever said weaning was easy?  I think he finally was able to set paws on the floor Sunday when we finally were able to stop cooing over him for about five minutes.  By Friday afternoon we had enough pictures for a twelve month calendar.  By the time we arrived home on Monday, we had almost enough for a 365 desktop one. 

On his way back from Mammoth
Of course the plan has changed again.  He would have had the life of a barn cat with Kevin's mom's friend; but now he's going to the lap of luxury surrounded by a home with three teenage-ish children.  I haven't told him of our impending separation, but knowing this champion, he'll do just fine.  So, while I really want to sing his praises more, I'm going to go downstairs and play with him and a piece of yarn until this afternoon.

Saturday, October 8, 2011

Knitting for good

The Mossy Jacket pattern included in the book.
A few weeks ago I picked up a book from the local library.  It was buried in the 746's (Dewey decimal system baby... hey I worked at a library for a few months), with all of the other nonfiction books on the subject of knitting.  Amid all of the stitch-ionaries, teach yourself to knits, baby pattern books, vogue knits, and stitch n' bitches, was this little paperback called "Knitting for Good!: A Guide to Creating Personal, Social, and Political Change, Stitch by Stitch" authored by Betsy Greer.  So I tucked it into the pile of books I'd be keeping on the nightstand for the next few weeks.  

One of the main reasons I decided to look at this book is due to something my mother pointed out to me. She said that one of the best ways to feel better in your own life is to help someone else.  If anyone would know, it's her.  I swear, there will be an effort to canonize her even though she's not Catholic.  Not surprisingly that's one of the main messages in "Knitting for Good".

There's something kind of wonderful about putting purpose and meaning into the little things you do and the things we take for granted.  Most of us are wearing clothes where we have no idea where it came from.  Sadly, most of the time it's from a sweat shop in an impoverished nation.  Just a second... yeah, the t-shirt I'm wearing?  It was made in Haiti... (bought pre-earthquake) which according to wikipedia "is the poorest country in the Americas as per the Human Development Index."  Probably would have been a better idea to go get something through American Apparel.  The author of "Knitting for Good", Betsy Greer, encourages us to make more of an effort to look at our consumerism and the effects it has.

Along with these messages, the book also has a number of patterns of things that can be used as donation items, from pet blankets to hats for the homeless. Though I must say that my favorite feature of the book was the small vignettes from numerous contributors on their experiences with donation knits.

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

What? Were you expecting?

 As so many things happen, it all started innocently enough.  My mother expressed some casual interest in my knitting as we chatted over the phone one morning.  A mistake on her part, but hopefully she won't learn from it.  With no further encouragement required I started yammering on about a few sets of Converse style baby booties I've been knitting up for Kelli to give to her friends.  All too soon for me (coffee makes me chatty), my mother had to return to her work duties.  Fortunately, due to the wonders of the internet I was able to continue trumpeting my knitting accomplishments by sending her pictures of the booties.

Apparently she was taken with them as well, and forwarded the links of the pictures to my Aunt Jan along with my verbose description of the booties as "what I've been up to".  Not surprisingly, Jan quickly responded with her usual warmth and encouragement as well as piqued curiosity:
Wow, Dania, those long fingerless gloves are beaut-i-ful!  And the booties, so little and perfect - - - any announcements forthcoming?
Oops.  Perhaps in the future I should put a better description for baby items that I've knitted.  Anyway, I did write back immediately with the following:
Ummm... announcements forthcoming?
Well actually yes!  I'm kind of expecting at the moment.  I plan to give birth to another hat pattern within the next few weeks.  Oh!  And I'm gonna be home to visit my folks in about two weeks.  And that's about it on the forthcoming announcements.  Just recently however, the boyfriend and I both survived yet another bout of my PMS.
In the meantime, for those with the inclination, with or without kiddos of your own or on the way, I highly recommend getting out those straight needles and knitting up some of these Baby Chucks.  Click here for my post on the first time I made 'em.

Saturday, October 1, 2011

Stings, doesn't it?

The beekeeper's quilt 
I suppose we shouldn't be surprised that a pattern called "The Beekeeper's Quilt" comes with sweet honey and some stings as well.

The backstory:  In July a pattern showed up on Ravelry from Tiny Owl Knits.  Despite the pattern costing $5.50, as of today, there are over 1,600 projects currently completed or in progress on Ravelry.  So, why are they so popular?  Well, it could be nearly insane cuteness and cavity inducing sweetness of the creator, Stephanie Dosen (emphasis on insane, I was mesmerized  by her v-log found here; very entertaining even for non-knitters), or it could be the nature of the project (it's very portable, quick to create, requires a minimum of concentration, uses up scrap yarn, is rather different from the usual knit blankets).  

Click for link to the about page
However, despite the warm and fuzzy statement on Stephanie Dosen's about page that says "it seemed the only thing left to do was to write down all of the patterns so that everyone could join in & knit along," it rings a bit hollow when you consider that 'everyone' is in reality those with $5.50 to shell out on a pattern for a tiny hexagonal pillow aka "hexapuff".  

But hey, if it's a relatively simple concept I can just make my own right?  Maybe even post my version for free; after all, it's not like I'm reverse engineering one that was made.  Still, give credit where credit's due and mention the source of the inspiration; afterall, certainly kudos goes to the originator right?  Oh no.  Turns out.

Purloined's Honeycomb and her cat Butters
September 28th and 29th:  Earlier this week I saw a pattern called Honeycomb by purl-oined; which from the description was a free version of a hexagon puffed pillow inspired by Tiny Owl Knits.  Now, I had seen the original pattern when it came out and dismissed it, not only due to the extravagant price tag (I'm still able to afford the high cost of living and therefore in no position to be buying patterns), but also to because of the fact that it uses sock yarn (I have yet to make a pair of socks, I like worsted weight yarn personally).  Since this one was free, and cited that you could use whatever yarn weight desired, I was intrigued enough to invest the time it took to click on the blog link, have it load, and peruse the pattern.  

Fran's non copyright infringing Sack-boy
So with passing interest, I went to the blog where this pattern was posted.  I perused the pictures and pretty much dismissed it as not my thing.  My interest really peaked when I got down to the comments.  A comment from 'Fran' (please see pic to the right) had been deleted by the blog/pattern author 'Purl'.  Purl responded with:

"If you'd like to leave a comment, please remember:That being a bitch is just going to get your comment deleted. Nobody forced you to come here, so don't be rude. This isn't the original pattern, but it is a version based on it, as I mentioned. If you don't like it, that's fine. You don't need to broadcast hate on a blog that is about sharing and love."

I kind of figured I'd encounter at most comment or two from people who were fanatical about the "beekeeper's" original pattern and the cutesy wootsie creator as well as well as some comments from those grateful for a free version.  Ok, that's a lie, I didn't expect very many comments at all, considering it had been posted for at most few mere hours before I saw it.  Being who I am (and grateful that we live in a world where inspiration and innovation can cause amazing things to happen), I immediately had to post my comment... about her cat, and lightly teasing people who were undoubtedly going to freaking out and start talking about calling lawyers, and "there should be a law!" and whatnot concerning vague copyright violation threats.  

I was looking in the WRONG direction.  Comments on her blog?  A few people did I guess; but the real venom is found in the comments section of the Ravelry post.  It makes conversations about politics and religion look tame.  At the start it seemed people were pissed about Purl's lack of mention of the designer of the original inspiration and accused the anonymous Purloined as trying to take credit for the design.  Her nearly immediate response was: 

Nope, I never claimed this was original.
Everybody should calm down. I realize you all have as much of a right to be annoyed as I have a right to make my own version, but you’re getting a little worked up.
You are all right. It is a great original; it’s fantastic.
So I made myself one like it. And a lot of people I know liked it, so I posted it here.
Nobody is telling you not to use the original pattern.
Use it! It’s lovely. I don’t have the original pattern. I have this one.
So be angry if it makes you happy, get totally inflamed. This pattern is different.
To the several people who pointed out that mine isn’t as symmetrical or has a different number of stitches-- please understand that is the point. This is not her pattern. I didn’t try to write her pattern. I did, however, try to write one based on the photos and inspired by her pattern.
So lighten up. If I’d wanted to try to claim credit for this idea, I would certainly not have posted a free pattern. Nor would I have used an anonymous user. 
And Now:  Purloined has actually removed the text citing the name of the pattern she was inspired by. This is apparently after getting contacted by Stephanie Dosen with the request to not mention her pattern's name. Also, to those in the Tiny Owl Knits group got a message from her.  A comment from Maddie cites that:

This was posted by Stephanie in the TOK group. I agree: purl-oined’s words were mean-spirited, but it doesn’t take back anything said for us to bring out the torches and the tar and have a witch hunt. Over a hexagon. Let’s all move on with our lives, K?

Things seem to be settling down since the original outburst, however this does bring up the endlessly debatable topic of Copyright and copyright infringement.  Apparently "Honeycomb" is not an exact replica of "the beekeeper's quilt", according to some of those who have seen both patterns.  My pathetic vague recollection of something someone might have casually mentioned once about copyright law is that something has to be approximately 10% different from the original.  Then again, if you want a more intelligent discussion of copyright violation, let us consider Regretsy's take on the subject.

Personally, I'm kinda torn.  I'd like to be able to charge something for some of the patterns I design (hey, I can daydream of being able to support myself).  However, there's something so warm and fuzzy about sharing something you created with the world; for people to customize as they see fit.  Besides?  Who am to call a pattern "mine" when the combination of stitches I'm using has almost certainly been conceived of before, even if it's not in EXACTLY the same way.

Monday, September 26, 2011

Wait? How can "Regretsy" be a warm fuzzy?

In the crafting community, if you're moderately computer savvy, and want to try and make a go of attempting to fund your chosen addiction by trying to sell the finished product, you've probably got an Etsy store.  That way, people who appreciate handcrafted goodies, can put their money where their mouth is.  Of course, Etsy makes my idea of what is a warm fuzzy feeling look like a Brillo pad.  They're so concerned with hurting the feelings of sellers (or perhaps their profits), they are willing to overlook their founding principle, namely to have a place where people can sell handcrafted or vintage items.

So, do mass produced non-vintage items make it onto the site?  Oh, like you wouldn't believe.  While you can voice your opinions about re-sellers on the Etsy forums, it's lacking something.  I don't know about you, but there's something that makes my heart pitter-patter at the thought of a person hand crafting something and sending it to someone who genuinely appreciates the fact that it is unique and not made in a sweat shop.  It's like the re-sellers have taken my warm fuzzy feeling and used it like a dog would use a fire hydrant.  I want vindication.

For this and so many other reasons, I have a special spot in my heart for Regretsy.  I love how they call out re-sellers, you can check those out under the banner 'Not Remotely Handmade'.  Side by side comparisons with the original product, nearly always using the same picture, it lets you see how much you would have saved.  Also this site does a great job of pointing out some items which are answers to questions that no one asked.  Aside from holding up a mirror for Etsy to see what it is advertising, Regretsy and the followers (April's Army) passionately support at least one charitable purpose each month (click here for examples).  Oh, I also forgot to mention how much unholy glee I feel reading the hilarious posts.

Friday, September 23, 2011

A girl and her knits... I mean fed

Lexi recipient of most of the things I knit, and constant giver of warm fuzzies, has done it yet again.  One of her constant haunts of the internet is "A girl and her Fed" webcomic.  Personally, I imagines she wants a burly man’s man (who could sell Old Spice without trying), to be a Fed of her very own.  And honestly, who wouldn’t love a gun totin’ marsupial ironically named Speedy?  

A girl and her fed is a comic all about your civil rights. And, you know, an undead pixie army. But mostly civil rights. No really! I couldn't possibly sum up the entire plot of this comic, it's that awesomely complicated. But what I can tell you is that it's well written, well drawn, and funny enough that I often find myself with various liquids coming out of my nose because I'm laughing so hard.

Oh, right.  I suppose you’re asking yourself why there should be a post about a webcomic in a blog largely based around knitting?  This is where Lexi comes in.  She’s the head cheerleader when it comes to my knitting, and decided to write to the author of AGAHF, in an effort to bring together two of her favorite things (whether this is like the combination of peanut butter and chocolate or chainsaws and personal grooming has yet to be seen).

Yesterday morning I noticed the traffic to the blog trended away from those in search of free knitting patterns.  Instead leaning to those who would understand the other side of my personality!  Those who would look at and appreciate a Valkyrie or Viking hat, a tissuebox cover that looks like a NES controller, maybe even the R2D2 beanie, or perhaps even the Horde hat.  Anyway, to those of you visiting from AGAHF, thank you, you rule, may the ghosts of historical figures keep you company!  And dear author/Otter, you madame, rule.