Interesting (1)

KFI has published this statement on Ravelry (copied wholesale):

The allegations and claims in The Knit With’s recently filed complaint are without merit. We intend to defend the lawsuit vigorously in the proper legal arena. Our attorneys are currently in the process of preparing the appropriate legal response.

~ KFI ~

And looking at a previous post by the same user (KFI, usually(?) Jeff Denecke posting), two months ago:

KFI is a very different company from what it was even 3 years ago. Internal management has changed, customer service staff is all new and improved, warehouse staff is improved – in reality there are only a handful of people left in the company that were here during the height of complaints about KFI. We have improved ourselves, and hope folks will give us a chance to show it.

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I will admit it. I read Perry Mason mysteries (uh… in between reading other stuff). I find this back cover (which is all that remains of the book because somebody was playing with it) particularly amusing.

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I am intrigued by the fact that Bliss consented to KFI’s filing for a US trademark registration for DEBBIE BLISS for the new magazine (you can look it up). Previously, when she had filed for a trademark registration in the US for her yarn (never registered — the application was abandoned, I don’t know why), it was in her own name.

Allowing another, arm’s length company (I assume — we do not know the arrangement between them) to be the owner of a trademark of her name reminds me of Another Designer Who Should Not Be Named and her problems with Another Distributor — although mind you, it was not the same situation. In that other situation, She didn’t like what She thought the company was doing in Her name, and She severed Her relationship with the company and obtained trademark registrations for Her name, Herself.

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Trust no one?

To recap:

1. There was a big blow-up two years ago about Debbie Bliss Cashmerino yarns (distributed in the US by Knitting Fever (KFI)) not containing the cashmere they were said to contain. After the initial scandal, nothing concrete seemed to come of it. (However, you might have noticed that as a result, at least one yarn — not a yarn distributed by KFI — had its content relabelled as a result of the manufacturer’s self-examination. I’d name the yarn, but I honestly can’t find the e-mail/wayback magic/ball band I need to back it up.)

2. It’s back, because The Knit With (TKW), the yarn shop that was most vocal about what was viewed as KFI’s duplicity, and that had actually procured its own test results, sued KFI and others last week (including Debbie Bliss herself) for the alleged deliberate mislabelling of yarns. This is not a class action suit for the end users, in case you’re wondering.

3. This lawsuit came hot on the heels of the news that Elsebeth Lavold Silky Wool, also distributed in the US by KFI, had been mislabelled for a few years. When it was first released, Silky Wool had been labelled (and apparently manufactured as) 65/35 silk/wool. It turns out that shortly after its release, the composition had been changed to 45/35/20 wool/silk/nylon because the mill determined that the original blend was too fragile; however, the product was not labelled correctly until mid-2008. In this case, KFI asserted that it only learned of the mislabelling shortly before it contacted its customers (retailers) and took some corrective action. (Not every KFI customer is happy, though, but this seems to be an ongoing theme.) For more info: Rav thread and Rav yarn page.

4. The next public blowup will either be about silk or organic fibers. (That’s a prediction, not fact. It’s also a pretty obvious guess to make.)

I had been trying repeatedly to upload at least part of TKW’s complaint to Scribd. I can’t get it to upload, so I gave up and tried another service. You can view the first part of the complaint here — this is the part with the backstory.

A quick summary of the rest of the complaint (since I had done the factual allegations previously), after the jump.
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I am a lawsuit/PR shill

… so apparently, I am a primo target for press releases when somebody in the craft yarn industry sues someone else. That’s it. Is that it?

I received an e-mail from a PR agency with an interesting subject line and a PDF attachment. I downloaded the attachment and read it.

(Uh… so apparently, I am stupid enough to download attachments sent from an unknown source called “Communications Specialists”, simply because I am led to believe the subject matter is interesting. Why yes, this computer is running Windows. Why did you ask?)

Actually, when I read the subject line — “Knitting Fever Sued in Federal Court” — I thought, wow, if that’s about the cashmere, that’s old news, kind of. The public part of the tiff started so long ago, and seemed to have died off, that the general public has probably lost interest except for dropping a random comment in a yarn shop about whether one’s yarn contains the percentage of cashmere indicated on the label, followed by a vague explanation that there was a dispute aired publicly between some company and Knitting Fever about Debbie Bliss Cashmerino and how somebody had a lab test done showing that the yarn didn’t contain the claimed cashmere, and how somebody else had a lab test done showing that the yarn did, and each side claimed that the other’s tests were flawed and that Cascade Yarns (who contaced yarn shops with information about Cashmerino content) was just jealous because Knitting Fever’s Ella Rae line was barging into Cascade 220′s market space and that James Casale, co-owner of The Knit With (a yarn shop in Pennsylvania) who also took up the dispute was just bitter because KFI and his shop weren’t doing business anymore.

And I never posted about it. I started to, mind you, but I draft posts like I knit sweaters: I start lots of them, and never finish because I get distracted by something else. I found a couple of drafts, and they’re not in great shape. For now: The Knit With’s “Yarn Recall” page, with many PDFs. Carol’s (love ya) names changed to protect (against) the litigious. Eleven pages of speculation at Knitter’s Review. Two other pages from Knitter’s Review, in which it appears Cascade launched a salvo.

(By the way, speaking of cashmere: that thing I’m knitting of yarn that I firmly believe is pure cashmere and obtained from a source not mentioned in this post that I messed up by inserting a single twist is doing just fine, thanks. Decided to reknit in the round, and not a twist in sight. Had a momentary lapse when halfway done, wondering whether I had just run out of one of the yarns I was using. Fortunately I found the other cone.)

And then nothing really seemed to happen, more exciting things like Ravelry turned up, and aside from the resolution that I would never buy a wool-blend yarn that claimed to have 15% or less cashmere — because, well, why, really? What difference does that amount of cashmere really make? — as I was saying, aside from that resolution and a general mistrust of labels (exacerbated by the recent disclosure about Elsebeth Lavold Silky Wool, also distributed in the U.S. by Knitting Fever), we had nothing to show for it.

(Another aside: speaking of the pointlessness of low cashmere content, I bought some Fiddlesticks Knitting Luscious Tweed recently, and to my fingers it felt just as soft as Jo Sharp Silkroad (Aran/DK) Tweed. Luscious Tweed is 90/10 wool/silk; Silkroad Tweed is 85/10/5 wool/silk/cashmere. I remember reading about an acceptable 3% variation (provided it is unintentional) in content; what does that do to 5% cashmere?)

Anyway, here I am, folks, doing exactly what you and those unknown PR people would expect.

Newsflash! On Tuesday The Knit With sued Knitting Fever, Designer Yarns, Filatura Pettinata, Sion and Diane Elalouf, Jeffrey Denecke, Jr., Jay Opperman, and Debbie Bliss (hands up those of you who think the last individual was named out of pure swank). The complaint alleges false advertising, breach of express and implied warranties of merchantability, unfair competition, and even invokes RICO.

The complaint is a hefty 60 pages that I haven’t read through yet, and I’m certainly not going to finish tonight. I’ll edit this post once I’ve finished the first 82 paragraphs.

Edit: here we go…
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Just to dispel any misconceptions…

Well, the cashmere double-twist loop is back to its original state (a misshapen ball of four strands of cashmere held together). Despite the fact that it had been knit up for close to half a year, when ripped the yarn wasn’t as kinked up as I might have expected. Could it be the fibre, or all the oil in it?

When I got to the last (first) two rows, I saw that I had even used that trick for avoiding twists when joining in the round. You know the one where you work the first bit flat, and then join in the round? In theory, because you have a few rows of fabric flapping off your circular needle, you’ll be able to see whether you have an inadvertent twist or two when you join for working in the round.

Yeah, well, here’s a hint: work more than two rows flat before joining in the round. Also, consider using a long enough circular needle so that your stitches aren’t crammed together so tightly you can’t distinguish twists from ruffling. I think I had 40+ inches’ worth of stitches in aran weight packed onto a 24 inch circular, so the cast-on edge ruffled up and down, and I missed the place where it ruffled all the way around the needle’s cable the two rows I had worked didn’t stick out far enough to be obvious.

Andrea (in the comments in the last post) took comfort from that flub. Uh, I also have this one hanging around:

(the fabric is not my bedsheet, it’s cotton voile from Emma One Sock)

I think this one predates the cashmere. It was supposed to be ribbing for a hat. After I noticed the twist, I decided to keep going and steek it (just the ribbing, not the whole hat) because it was too big, anyway.

(Also, Rachel, on the mismatch between a bottom-up body and top-down sleeves: well, it doesn’t bother me… it may depend on the stitch pattern, but it doesn’t seem to be glaringly obvious here. I think it bothers me more with colourwork.)

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No-sew, no-knit

linn_red_setin1I love top-down set in sleeves. After the initial effort of figuring out how to pick up the stitches along the armscye and working out any decreases that are needed before I hit the bicep line (I think I pick up the stitches at a different rate than suggested by Barbara Walker in Knitting from the Top), which isn’t painful at all, there’s the fun of working short rows. And even though the short rows continue to increase until they reach the full width of the sleeve, that’s not painful either, because the rows will never get too long and unbearable, because hey, it’s only a sleeve.

And then throwing in some cables is not only fun, but it impresses yourself because it’s just so neat that you’re working a short-rowed, cabled, set-in sleeve knit from the top down.


(Okay, it doesn’t look like much, but the recipient is at least acting like he’s pleased.)

This is a cabled pullover or jacket knit gansey-style, with the body worked from the hem to the shoulders. The jacket will have no side seams, and the pullover body is worked in the round for one neckline (crew/turtleneck), and flat for another (shawl collar)… I had wanted it all to be in the round, but the shawl collar neckline begins below the armhole bind-offs, and the alternatives didn’t seem to be much more fun (either steek something — and this is an aran-ish gauge — or begin rounds on the body front, or break yarn after the tubular part is finished and rejoin at the neck edge).

linn_cashmereI started one in Colourmart cashmere mill ends, four strands in natural-ish colours. The yarn had an oily yet acrid smell (the yarn was meant for knitting machines, after all), but I could deal with that because I knew just how soft it would become after laundering.

It was going to be nice. Was . See the problem?

Maybe another picture will help…
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Ease over decades, again

Finally — and actually, it’s been sitting on the server for a while, now — here’s the table comparing the pattern measurement/drafting instructions from the hand knitting design books listed in this post. The table also includes Righetti and Mary Thomas’s Knitting Book from 1938, which I didn’t have at the time I started compiling this information. I have also since acquired Elalouf’s The Advanced Knitting Architect, but I haven’t checked whether it gives the same drafting instructions as his first book.

As I said in the first post, I compiled the information when I decided to write about ease. I can’t remember if that’s completely accurate; either I decided to write about ease, or I needed to figure out what kind of ease to use myself. Whichever. I also used this information to learn out how to draft the typical set-in sleeve of a knitted sweater, but in the end figured out that I preferred a more mathematical approach to the sketch-on-graph-paper (such as Thomas, Vogue, and Michelson & Davis) or the knit-until-it-fits-together (such as Duncan and Elalouf) — hand knit sweater sleeves generally being designed with front-back symmetry (even though our bodies aren’t), it’s easy to compute the numbers for pattern instructions in advance.

There’s an obvious trend in the amount of ease recommended overall — as we progress from the mid-20th century to the early nineties, sweaters get looser, reflecting the styles at the time. Righetti even mentions including sufficient space for shoulder pads; the styles depicted in the 80s-era books include gathered sleeves, which I always associate incorrectly with the “Princess Diana Black Sheep Sweater” (a stranded colourwork sweater in red, patterned with an array of sheep, all white, with the exception of one black sheep). Once Diana appeared in public with that sweater, it got knocked off right quick. I had one of those knock-offs (somebody bought it for me, I didn’t choose to get it); while I don’t think the original had puffed sleeves, for some reason the tween-sized version I had did.

The looseness of the fit determines the shape of the set-in sleeve cap. For example, Newton gives a final bind-off of 4 to 6 inches, which is frankly huge and appropriate only if the sweater is rather loose fitting; having such a wide final bind-off implies a relatively shallow sleeve cap. The fit of the sleeve around the bicep is loose, since she suggests the same amount applied to the body (4 to 6 inches). She also says the sleeve bicep measurement should be about twice the sleeve cap height plus 1 inch, which is a bit odd: Newton says the set-in sleeve armscye depth (the vertical measurement) should be 2 to 3 inches less than the drop-shoulder armscye depth of 8 to 10 inches; this gives a maximum value of 8 inches for the set-in sleeve armscye depth. She also says that the height of the “classic”-fitting sleeve cap fitting into this is about 2/3 the armscye depth; that’s 5 1/3 inches. But twice this height plus 1 inch is 11 2/3 inches. That’s nowhere near the same amount as a bicep measurement plus 4 to 6 inches, which suggests there’s either an error in my notes, or Newton was referring to the bicep measurement of a drop-shoulder sleeve, or she was referring to the bicep measurement of a set-in sleeve but really meant to say that the finished bicep measurement of the sleeve is supposed to be twice the armscye depth plus 1 inch.

If I had to recommend only one book for use in drafting knitting patterns, it would be Righetti; it actually deals with different body shapes and teaches fitting techniques (e.g., short rows) to accommodate larger bumps and curves. My second choice would probably be Michelson & Davis. Both Righetti and Michelson & Davis offer a “worksheet” method for computing pattern instructions (they work through examples, and present the process in a sort of fill-in-the-blank way), but for those who are really arithmetic-phobic, Michelson & Davis do demonstrate the graph-paper method of drafting. Righetti, of course, has the advantage that it is still in print.

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… and the cat is still really pissed off

Yeah, hi, it’s me.

I thought I had been clever a few minutes ago in coining the phrase “Schrodinger’s copyright” to describe “poor man’s copyright”. You know the folk alternative to copyright registration where you put your work in an envelope, and mail it to yourself using registered mail (or your country’s post office’s equivalent), then keep the sealed, postmarked envelope in your files until such time that you need to prove you were the copyright owner, at which point you would produce the envelope with a flourish and open it in court?

The fallacy of poor man’s copyright, of course, is that it is not actually proof of copyright; it is proof that somebody, presumably you, stuffed an envelope with the work in question on a given date. It might prove the date at which something existed and was in your possession, but it doesn’t automatically follow that you are the author or copyright owner (it’s probably more convincing evidence of non-infringement of somebody else’s work in some circumstances).

The drawback of poor man’s copyright, though, is that while the envelope is sealed, no one (except you) knows what’s in there. And once you’ve broken the seal to produce the contents, you can’t use that same method of proof again. Just like a maybe-dead, maybe-alive, cat caught in a thought experiment.

Then I did a bit of searching, and found somebody else started using the phrase first. Damn.

However, on reflection, that applies to a contemplated situation of infringement as a consequence of the DMCA. So it’s not actually Schrodinger’s copyright… it’s Schrodinger’s infringement, and henceforth I shall refer to poor man’s copyright as Schrodinger’s copyright, which will necessitate a five-minute explanation about cats, poison and an aside about Dirk Gently.

Posted in legal briefs, themes, useless | 4 Comments