Bitch (n): a difficult or unpleasant thing or situation

(One of the definitions of “bitch” in the Compact OED. Trademark examiners often consult dictionaries, and these days, Google, if they suspect that a trademark is descriptive.)

The most recent Cast On podcast by Brenda Dayne (she talked about Rogue in an earlier podcast and has a smooth radio voice… how can I not admire her?) features the knitting trademark story of 2005-6.

(Of course, there was another knitting trademark story competing for attention last year that I’m not finished writing about either, but it has to come in second to any story involving words that they’re still afraid to speak in Madoc, Ontario. Quinte, you will never be anything but a rest stop on the 401 until you embrace the future. It’s full of cussin’.)

Brenda recounts the factual basis for the controversy, mostly accurate. (The month in which CafePress started shutting down stitch and bitch group shops may have been earlier, and if someone had called up Anne Macdonald to get her impressions on the whole issue, it’s news to me; but how else can Brenda say that Macdonald was “surprised” by SFSE’s claim as the originator of the phrase “stitch and bitch”?)

Brenda notes that she personally doesn’t care who attains or retains what rights to what registered trademarks (a position shared by others), but what ticks her off is the “name-calling of a woman who has done so much for the knitting community” — referencing Gregory Garvin’s letter calling Deb Stoller “Ms. Stole-it” and suggesting that she gives feminists a bad name. Brenda goes on to say that this was done by a “petty little marketing man with a tenuous grasp of the English language” with “no real idea of who his customers are and, quite possibly, the smallest penis in the world.”

She’s clever with the irony, she is. She also probably figures that she’s out of the legal reach of SFSE.

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17 Responses to Bitch (n): a difficult or unpleasant thing or situation

  1. Angel says:

    How about something like “Knit Bitchy”?

  2. caroline says:

    hay all this stitch and bitch stuff i was ASTOUNDED when I read about it in the papers … I was using the phrase in Hong Kong in 1996… so typicial of one of the US race to claim that she invented such an obvious rhym….e capitalism rules ok… should I sue her ???

  3. Zabet says:

    Podcast Brenda (as I call her in my head to not confuse her with Brenda Jannish from the Chicago Stitch ‘n Bitch) did say “quite possibly” before “smallest penis”… so, even if she is wrong (and Dear Universe please don’t let it come to an actual measuring), is it still be defamation?

    Also, Franklin, I found your blog from Jamie’s link to your cartoon… I love it!

  4. Franklin says:

    Thank you, Auntie, for the cartoon attribution. I truly appreciate it.

    The best thing about the SFSE imbroglio for me is that it drew my attention to your blog, which I had somehow previously not encountered.

  5. Vivienne says:

    “Stitch and Bitch Club on Mondays, bright and early” (chapter 5, Barbara Kingsolver, ‘Animal Dreams’, copyright 1990) – which is rather earlier than the 1997 Elissa Meyrich claims for her group in the LA Times article – unless the replacement of “and” by “‘n’” makes a difference.

  6. j. says:

    Which reminds me… here’s a link to the 2003 Seattle Times article about the Starmore trademark incident. It wasn’t actually about copyright, it was about trademark infringement allegations used to shut down eBay auctions. (Sigh. I’m so behind on reformatting old content.)

    Much mockery was made of the “endless sniping and jealous rage” and the “you know it when you see it” nature of spotting trademark infringement.

    That’s the only link I can find to the article right now; the individual who copied and reposted it apparently found herself dealing with eBay VeRO complaints and was successful against them.

  7. Scout says:

    “We’re not a bunch of grandmas out here!”


    I can’t believe I’m in the LA Times over this whole thing.

  8. j. says:

    … by Franklin @ the Panopticon.

  9. Chris says:

    ScoutJ posted a very funny cartoon about it…

  10. Valerie says:

    There’s a new article on the controversy in today’s L.A. Times:,0,5071951.story?coll=la-headlines-pe-california

    Interesting, even with all the “hip knitter” language.

  11. j. says:

    Quick! HEN PARTY is still available to register!

  12. Kate says:

    My grandmother belonged to a church guild in the 50′s the premise of which was for the church women to get together and create handmade items for those in need and for the church’s annual sale. Their husbands all referred to the guild as “stitch and bitch”. Gee, do you think SFSE is going to track the remaining little old ladies down?

  13. Chris says:

    Thanks again for following this and translating it for us!

  14. j. says:

    Remember. A defence to a defamation action (in most places, and likely subject to some nuances depending on the exact fact scenario in each case — you know I have to put in those disclaimers) is proof that the statement was the truth.

  15. claudia says:

    I am really, really enjoying your commentary on this dispute.

  16. Janice in Ga says:

    I listened to the podcast today too. It did occur to me to wonder whether someone could get all legal on her for that “S****nB***** podcast” statement.

    I liked the comment about the penis, though.

  17. Scout says:

    We were listening to that today at my shop but once it got busy in the store I had to turn it off. I also thought it might offend sweet little ole ladies coming in to knit since I knew she mentioned peni somewhere in the podcast!