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.