Category Archives: Blather

Catching Up

The Summer of 2015 has been the busiest yet in this little Oregon town.

Remember the fleece sale back in February? Well, we hauled all that alpaca and wool off to the Snow Peak Fiber Mill here in Lebanon, Oregon and Kathy worked her magic and turned it into 36 pounds of the most wonderful sliver for spinning –

Sliver CollageClockwise from upper left: light gray, dark gray, creamy white and dark brown. Please forgive the crappy cell phone pics – more will be added as we start to spin up all this wool-y goodness!

Not pictured is a creamy/gold batch that has a bit of Honey Silk added.

And here is my personal favorite –

BlackjackBlack fleece is impossible to photograph, so you’ll have to trust me when I say that this alpaca fleece is as black as black can be – not a hint of red highlights or a brown tip to be found. Blackjack’s fleece was combined with a 20% dyed black bamboo and 10% dyed black superfine Merino for a sliver that is, well, let’s just say I doubt I’ll be sharing this batch with anyone else ๐Ÿ™‚ JK, girls! I might have some to spare after I spin enough for a sweater for myself…Maybe.

The Sweatshop Girls have all been very busy this Summer, hence the lack of posts. We made a trip over the mountains and met some new friends, leading to a Great Fiber Adventure that I’ll be writing about very soon.

We also had a Dye Day (where, oh where, did I stash those photos?) and have been making soap, as time and weather allow, for the Holiday craft shows coming up very soon.

I’ve also started a blog for The Sweatshop Girls and hope to entice Awana and Jean into posting because this isn’t all about me. Really ๐Ÿ™‚

Stay tuned for more updates and some current events – the weather has turned here and Autumn is on her way, “forcing” us to come inside as dusk comes earlier every day and bake bread, spin and knit late into the evening…

Let’s talk about copyright

Copyright is a hot topic with crafters and likely to raise the hackles of some of my readers but I feel compelled to share my views on the matter after an incident at Knit Night yesterday.

One of the regulars, I’ll call her Twit because sharing her real name here would not be nice, was showing off a hat she’d knit and discussing making more for sale. One of the other regulars, who knits and sells her own hats at craft faires around the area, questioned the origin of the hat pattern.

“It’s a free pattern on Ravelry. Cute, right? Everyone loves it so I should be able to sell a bunch of them!” Twit was quite pleased with herself.

“Uh…just because the pattern is free doesn’t mean you can knit up a bunch and sell them…” began T.

“Oh, come on! You sell hats, don’t you?” Twit asked.

“I do sell hats, but each one is my own pattern and I would never even consider selling a hat made from someone else’s pattern – it’s a violation of copyright,” T responded.

At this point my ears perked up and I zeroed in on the conversation. I design, write and publish knitting patterns, so I have a vested interest in what people think about this subject.

“It’s not a violation of copyright because I’m not selling the actual pattern,” replied Twit, a smug smile on her face. “I won’t be selling the pattern, just the hats, besides my nerd husband deals with open-source software and he says it’s just fine…” or words to that effect. WTF her husband’s hobby has to do with copying a published pattern (whether offered for free or not) is unclear.

T was dumbfounded. Her mouth was actually hanging open and this is a woman who is rarely at a loss for words. The whole room was electrified, all eyes darting between the two. Or maybe it was just they could all feel my hackles rising.

“True, the actual pattern is the copyrighted item,” I said, “but making hats from someone else’s pattern and selling them as your own with no credit, attribution or payment to the author is a violation of my understanding of Fair Use. It also depends on the copyright notice on the pattern itself…”

“If a pattern is offered for free on Ravelry I can do whatever I want to. It’s not like I’ll be making a million dollars from it!” Twit retorted.

“No,” I said, “you won’t be making a million dollars, but why should you profit from someone else’s hard work? Personally, I offer free patterns that clearly state on the copyright notice that they may not be used for profit but may be copied so long as the copyright remains intact. I also state that if the knitter has any questions they can email me. I’ve had people write that they wanted to knit 5 items and sell them at a church fundraiser and I’m happy for them to do it. I’ve had people ask to use my pattern to teach a class and I give permission for that. I DO NOT give permission for someone to knit 50 items from my pattern and sell them for their own personal profit and I doubt you’ll find another designer willing to do it but you could always email the author and ask,” came out in a rush because I could see she was winding up to defend her position.

For the record, the pattern is Regina (Ravelry link) by Carina Spenser and has a copyright notice that reads: “Copyright 2011 by Carina Spenser | www.carinaspencer.com* | Not for commercial use” at the bottom of each page. This, IMHO, is very clear – this author does not give you permission to use her pattern to make money for yourself. As if that weren’t clear enough (and it’s obviously not clear to a certain Twit) there’s a box at the end of the pattern with the following (bold mine):

TERMS & CONDITIONS
ยฉ 2011 Carina Spencer. All rights reserved. Pattern
is not to be reprinted, reproduced, or distributed
without permission from the designer. Items
created from this pattern are not to be sold for
profit without a license, but are always allowed for
use in trades and craft swaps.
LICENSING
If you are interested in knitting this pattern for resale
or charity fund raising information on cottage
industry licensing is available.

But back to the conversation last night.

“It’s a free pattern and I can do whatever I want!” Twit insisted.

“It’s just not right,” T replied, “no matter how you look at it, it’s stealing and you won’t find me selling hats designed by anyone but myself.”

“Oh, that’s just ridiculous…my husband…”

“Right!” I interrupted, “it’s only a MORAL crime, so it doesn’t matter!” Oh, I was fuming. Sadly, this went right over Twit’s head but shut up the rest of the room. We had a little discussion in one corner while Twit went on and on about how many of these hats she was going to make but I knew if I didn’t step back I would likely cause a scene that wouldn’t soon be forgotten and I really like most everyone in the room.

All that being said, here are my views on copyright and fair use:

I will knit an item for another person, for pay, from a published pattern, but only if they buy the pattern. Before y’all start flooding my inbox with requests, be warned that I have many conditions when knitting for others that have nothing to do with the complexity of the pattern and I don’t come cheap ๐Ÿ™‚ I have knit for cash, but the first stipulation is that the item is not being sold and the pattern was acquired legally. No exceptions. Ever.

I have a clearly worded copyright notice on all my patterns. If you buy a pattern from me, you are welcome to knit up the item as many times as you like for yourself, friends and family, so long as you’re not making money doing it. If you are knitting for cash, I ask that you purchase the pattern for each item knit for sale. It’s only fair and right.

If you’re knitting items for charity or fund raising (not your Vacation Fund raising, mind) please drop me a note and I’ll likely give you permission.

If you want to use my pattern to teach a class, please drop me a note and I’ll likely give permission.

If you want to buy one of my patterns and make a dozen copies to sell in your shop, I do not give permission and hope you get shingles.

If you buy one of my patterns, make 50 items and sell them for a bunch of money in any venue I will be very angry when I find out (and the knitting community really isn’t all that big) and will use every resource at my command to force you to see the error of your ways. Yes, I will take you to court, I will shame you in the knitting community, I will destroy your reputation. If you’re going to make money selling knitted goods, get permission or use your own designs.

If that makes me a hardass, so be it. I put hours and hours into each design. I have 20 years of knitting & designing experience. It’s not just my hobby, but a real side-line that I hope to turn into my main job some day soon. You wouldn’t let me come into your office and steal cash from you, so why should I sit back and let someone steal from me?

Rant over.

* Do follow the link – Carina’s designs are just lovely!

Starting to roll…

After taking a much-needed week off from the world, we’re back in the saddle and moving forward with 2015 goals, one of which is to get all of my knitting patterns revised, updated and back online for sale. To that end, two free patterns magically (re) appeared on the Starting Over Designs website on a brand new Free Patterns page with links to download them from Ravelry (no, you don’t have to be a member of Ravelry to get the downloads, but, really, if you’re a knitter you should belong to Ravelry. Srsly.)

The first is a simple neckwarmer pattern –

First WimpleAny yarn, any gauge, make it loose like the model above…er…the neckwarmer is loose, not the model…uh…or make it fit snugly. Either version (and there’s also instructions for a ribbed version – pics if you knit it up and I’ll post with full credit here, please?) has a flared lower end that fits over the shoulders and stays in place under your coat.

Also up is a cuff-down short-row heel sock patternย  –

SR Heels 1Knit in worsted weight yarn, these socks are a great introduction to the short-row heel and won’t take forever to finish. I always shudder when a prospective sock knitting student expresses their desire to knit socks with “sock yarn,” especially if they’ve never knit with DPNs because it takes freakin’ forever to knit a pair of socks on US#0 needles and if you’re learning the techniques for the first time as well, you’re setting yourself up for an exercise in frustration.

While I’m expounding on socks, let me just say that I knit my socks very tightly and I do it for a reason: back in the early days of my sock knitting career I was learning what gauge was all about (self-taught, not a knitting teacher as far as the eye could see) and what worked for my particular feet and like most newbies I used the gauge and needle size printed on the yarn ball band as a guide.

My socks were successful for three wearings and then the bottom of the heel just gave out. Just. Gave. Out. Gone. All that knitting wasted.

A bit of time under my Thinking Cap and I came to the conclusion that, for me, socks need to be knit quite firmly or they will wear out on the bottom of the heel and at the point of my big toe. The simplest way to get the gauge that works for me is to knit worsted weightย  yarn on a US#3 needle. The resulting fabric is firm and wears very well. My skin can’t be seen through the fabric when the socks are on my feet and I think this is the most important requirement when knitting socks you want to last awhile.

Now, I’ve been told that my sock knitting gauge is “constipated,” and it’s fine for you to believe that and to scoff, but in the end, I’ve had some of my wool socks for the better part of ten years now and they’re still going strong. Can you say the same?

Where was I? Oh, yes! When I teach a sock knitting class I encourage my students to knit the first pair for themselves using worsted weight yarn and a US#3 needle. The “course” is three classes spaced a week apart and the final class is spent with finishing and discussing changes to be made to future socks to make them even more custom fitted. I have been known to write up a personalized pattern for those who have hard-to-fit feet because I believe the whole point of knitting socks is to have warm feet, but more importantly, the socks should fit their intended feet perfectly.

There are few things in life more enjoyable than custom wool socks on a cold Winter day.

Midsummer Spin In & Fiber Faire

The Sweatshop Girls* will be at the Spin In at the Wren Community Hall on Saturday from o’dark-thirty until 4:00 with stuff to sell –

Wren FlyerThe Sweatshop has been humming with activity these past two weeks and more and we have some fabulous New Stuff for your fiber needs:

  • Cotton storage bags for your washed wool – these are fantastic for storage: pack your washed sheep’s wool tight (don’t worry, it won’t felt) pull the drawstring and store in a copier paper box. You’ll be amazed how much you can fit into one box. A handy clear window on the bag provides an easy way to add a label. I’ve stored washed wool this way for years and it was in perfect condition for further processing after a little bit of fluffing. No worries about moths or condensation, either, provided you keep the boxes dry and inspect periodically.
  • Nylon storage bags for those fibers that stick to cloth bags – alpaca, angora, silk, etc. The seams are on the outside so there’s nothing for your fiber to snag on – just upend and dump, no wasted time (or fiber) left in the bag and you don’t have to use plastic and worry about condensation problems.
  • Our handspun yarns will be in the handspun yarn tent – come see what we’ve been talking about!
  • We’ll have a lovely selection of raw alpaca fiber for sale in pretty much every color alpacas come in, from white to almost-black (I kept the one True Black for myself and I’m not even sorry ๐Ÿ™‚ ) and every shade in between.
  • Knitting patterns, blank greeting cards, stitch markers and stuff I can’t remember right now…

The SOD team has expanded to include Awana, who is learning all about fabric, sewing and cutting and using her powerful sense of color, texture and matching** to drum card some yummy batts for your next spinning or felting project:

AwanaAnd Jeanie who brings a breath of fresh creativity, mad organizational skillz*** and artist’s sensibilities, rounding out the perfect Design Trio we are becoming:

JeanieYou can find us under the black pop-up somewhere on the grounds outside – look for the red handspun shawl hanging from the awning. We’ll probably be the women laughing the loudest…

* The Studio is quite hot in the evenings right now. Even with fans, we’re all sweating, hence the new moniker. Of course, we’re also not getting paid, so in that sense the name also fits ๐Ÿ™‚

** Awana has strong ideas about what “goes together,” something I’ve been told I lack. Letting her have at it and match fabrics and colors has really amped up our product quality.

*** Jeanie used to be an event planner and has an inherent need for a Schedule, a Plan, a Method of Attack – something sorely lacking here at SOD. Stay tuned for pictures of the new white board ๐Ÿ™‚

Busy Summer!

It’s been a Crazy Summer so far. Obviously blogging has fallen by the wayside.

Events not blogged about (yet):

  • Columbia Gorge Fiber Fest
  • Rug Hooking class
  • Revy’s rubber fetish
  • Dentist visits
  • Alpaca shearing
  • Long Draw Spinning class
  • Black Sheep Gathering
  • Sabu’s new haircut
  • Trailer repairs/remodels
  • Alpaca fleece tumbler
  • Mom’s yard sale
  • Visits to various Cool Places
  • Sabu and Sleep-away camp
  • Various and sundry new projects being planned or underway

Whew! I have a lot of ground to catch up on!

We’ll be back later today to start crossing things off the above list. Hopefully we’ll be able to keep up better in future. Lots of irons in the fire!

Weekly Update – Issue One

I’m having a lot of trouble composing regular posts for this here blog. Time is just flying by, the ideas and inspiration coming fast and furious. I find myself with no time at the end of the day to even get the laundry and dishes washed, much less compose a coherent blog post! These updates will (hopefully) fill in the blanks between FOs and document some important ideas before they are lost to the ether. I do read back over past posts on occasion ๐Ÿ™‚

SANYO DIGITAL CAMERALast weekend found Sabu and I in Yachats with some free time. We walked on several beaches, including this particular spot where the sand appeared to be black. Upon closer inspection I discovered that it wasn’t sand at all but tiny little stones, worn smooth by the sea. I took several pictures and collected some especially pretty samples for inspiration later. It was warm behind the rocks and Sabu decided to lay on her back while I mucked about taking pictures and sifting through the fascinating rocks.

The weather was perfect and I got some great pictures which I’ll post tomorrow.

Awana came over and we did some Project Planning. Whenever we get together the new ideas flow fast and furious. Thankfully I take notes ๐Ÿ™‚

The regular Wednesday night gathering at Knitty Gritty was even more exciting than usual. Kristin brought a hooked rug to work on and was instantly besieged with questions. Silly girl! She thought since the majority of us bring knitting or crochet projects to work on that we would have no interest in rug hooking. Ha ha! By the time it was over she had agreed to teach a two-day class and had six signed up. More on that when it happens in May.

Thursday was Laundry Day and I spent the evening at the Laun-dro-mat, washing fabric, felting sweaters and washing clothes for like three hours ๐Ÿ˜ฆ It’s all done now, but I hate such an ordinary thing taking so much valuable time.

Many new ideas swirling around my head and I hope to bring them to fruition soon. I’ve always been interested in rug hooking but figured it wouldn’t fit into my already tight “hobby” schedule. Now that I know someone who can guide me, well, it’s become a bit of an obsession. Being a drafter by trade, it just seems logical to design my own patterns and fill Towanda with hand made rugs. I may have lost my mind (again) but it feels like a good fit with the other things I like to do and there’s plenty of wool fabric in The Stash that can be dyed and used up. Seems like kismet, right?

Don’t tell me if you think I’m crazy ๐Ÿ™‚

Studio is all set up!

DSCN0410

The old Singer 301A all set up

 

Sunday I hauled the rest of the Big Stuff over to the studio and now it’s all set up to Get Shit Done. Looking at the back room, I wonder where all this stuff used to be. I also wonder WTF I’ll do with the stuff that’s left. I want to get a bed back there so I can quit sleeping on the fold-out couch* and get some paint on the walls. I have some ideas that I’ll share as they get closer to realization. Just let me say that having all the Crafty Stuff elsewhere is good for my mood.

The first project to be completed is a set of skirts for the table at the craft show this weekend – no pics because they are just tan twill and boring.

I haven’t talked about the craft show? Oops. Awana and I are going to have a table Black Friday and Saturday at the Lincoln City Cultural Center’s “Not Quite 11th-hour Santa Holiday Fair” where we will be selling our wares in the hope of de-stashing some of the great stuff we have no room for. We’ll have washed wool and carded batts for spinning, stitch markers, hand knit hats, hand spun/hand knit shawls, handmade soaps, and knitting patterns. If I can find my sewing mojo again there will also be an assortment of wool project bags. Come on out and see us if you’re in town!

* It’s no longer the adventure it once was. I woke up Sunday morning with all the teeth on the left side of my mouth hurting. I mean, really hurting. Like I need to get to the dentist ASAP hurting. I need some work, so my thought was that finally everything is going to hell and the dentist will be able to buy a new car just from the cost of my new mouth. Monday I woke up with the upper teeth on the left hurting. Biting down, I can feel what happened – I think I’m grinding my teeth in my sleep. Probably because I’m cold. Another blanket on the bed and the heat turned up a few degrees should take care of it. I hope so – my dentist’s office is closed until December 2…

Busy, busy, busy!

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Endorsement Kitty is ready for his close-up!

Although nothing much is happening here on the blog (what second OFFF post?!?) preparations are moving forward for a Craft Event next month. Details later.

At the request of the Knotty Knitters, I have finally re-knit and worked up the pattern for my very favorite cabled neck warmer. The pattern is available for free download on Ravelry. It’s still in rough, abbreviated form, but will soon be updated with charts and more comprehensive instructions. It was screaming to be released into the wild and I could do nothing but comply. There will be a matching hat and gauntlets in the near future, so stay tuned.

Tonight after the weekly get together at Knitty Gritty, Mr. Nosey, Crazy Helper Dog and I will be getting ready for the Great Soap Making Marathon of 2013. This entails fishing all of the equipment and ingredients out from under the kitchen sink, finding a place to stash them out of the way for a day or two while some sort of kitten-proof set-up is devised to house the curing bars.

The soap will then be made (after some recipe research – we never make the same batches from year to year) and set aside to cure for 4-6 weeks until it’s ready for use. The whole place will smell like a French bordello, but there’s nothing to be done about that. No pain, no gain.

It’s slightly more complicated than staging a war on three continents because Revy is Very Determined to have his way and his way is Into Everything. No matter what. Nothing will stop him. Laundry day is a nightmare and he has taken to hiding my (dirty) wool socks.

My new studio space is rumored to be available on November 1, so expect a Moving Day post and some pictures of the space once it’s all set up. Oh, who am I kidding? I’ll post pics as soon as I can get in there to see the space in person. I am over the moon about finally having a place to let my creativity run rampant with no one to put a damper on it. Who knows what might happen?

All this as the leaves turn and fall and the weather gets cooler. The last week has been chilly but sunny every day after morning fog and I am loving it! The soft light is perfect for photos, but I have been inside the office during the short daylight hours, so you will have to wait for another day.

And with that, I must be off. Happy Knitting!