Well, something happened.

Evidently I was waiting out some kind of development to prompt me to blog… about anything.

Withdrawal (by Deb Stoller) of cancellation proceeding against STITCH & BITCH CAFE trademark (except I can’t get the second page of the filing to show up right now — I can only see the cover page).

Settlement? Moving on to the next great catchphrase? Anybody?

ETA: press release should be forthcoming.

Posted in stitch v. bitch, themes | 10 Comments

Let's make a deal

There are some things I’ve written in bits and pieces to others about publishers and publishing contracts and whether it’s worth it for an author of hand knitting patterns (or rather, the designer and pattern writer, since these roles are frequently combined) to self-publish, or publish through a third party. I figured it was time to collate some of them in one post. (A lot of this is on Ravelry, which already does have several thousand members and everybody will be assimilated soon, but those posts are buried in old forum threads, now.)
Continue reading

Posted in design, knitdotbiz, themes | 24 Comments

Reduction to practice

Leigh Witchel did some investigating for his article in the most recent knit.1, looking for the first knitting blog. And what happened? Nobody owned up to having posted a knitting journal entry before me (March 19, 2001). Me! Surely that’s impossible (Leigh was specifically looking for knitting blogs/journals, not just knitting websites).

As he writes, I could have sworn that someone must have done this before me, but I couldn’t figure out who it was — all the suspects claimed to have started later. I even had a printout from Dangerous Chunky’s website (an entry in which she wrote about my site, and I thought that was so awesome I printed it out and I still have it) but apparently no joy was to be had from the links on that page, either.

But do I count, anyway? I blogged back then the way I blog now, which is to say quite infrequently, and in between my first post and my second, other people started up their online knitting journals and did a better job of it.

(I leave it to those of you with nothing better to do to dig up that post on the Way Back Machine. I’m not going to link it, because it was lame. About stashing too much. With a poll, I believe.)

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If it's on a t-shirt, it has to be true.

They will fight using trademarks, and they will fight using t-shirts?

I confess that because of the early hour I don’t know what to think. It would make sense as some kind of third-party guerrilla tactics designed to lower the brand’s value, because otherwise it seems like a misguided attempt by the company to have a little fun, but with the same end result of damaging its own goodwill. You decide. And see who else hearts this New York sewing enterprise, too!

I don’t know who this Jenna in Toronto is, but if Google is correct, she’s a 22-year-old Russian model working as an escort. That’s some classy clientele!

I wonder, whom do Elissa and Gregory love?

Posted in stitch v. bitch, themes | 21 Comments

Ease over decades

When I set out to write about ease, I decided to survey a small number of books in my knitting library to see what they had to say on the subject of “average” or “typical” ease when designing a hand knit garment; specifically, how they translated actual body measurement to garment dimensions. I actually took notes — I recall making notes from one book while I was on a train (somewhere along the Toronto-Ottawa-Montreal corridor) while the person across from me exhausted his laptop battery playing some video game.

The books I surveyed were:

  1. Ida Riley Duncan, The Complete Book of Progressive Knitting (Liveright, 1940) and Knit to Fit, 2nd ed. (Liveright, 1970)
  2. Sion Elalouf, The Knitting Architect (Knitting Fever Inc., 1982)
  3. Vogue Knitting: The Ultimate Knitting Book (Random House, 1989)
  4. Carmen Michelson & Mary-Ann Davis, The Knitter’s Guide to Sweater Design (Interweave Press, 1989)
  5. Deborah Newton, Designing Knitwear (Taunton, 1992)

As you can probably tell, only two of these books are still in print. The other three I bought second-hand at various times. Obviously my design instruction library is seriously focused on the 80s and 90s; not too long after the survey, I finally bought Maggie Righetti’s Sweater Design in Plain English. At the time I did this survey, I also had (and still have) Ann Budd’s The Knitter’s Handy Book of Patterns (that’s the first one in the series) and Barbara Walker’s Knitting From the Top; I didn’t consult them for the survey, I think because neither discussed ease or measurement in absolute terms the way the other books did. Budd’s “Handy” series, of course, isn’t really directed towards designing your own patterns, but rather provides a framework for basic knitted garment shapes. All three of these books are still in print.

Before I go on, I’ll say that while I’m happy to own all of them, I find I’m most inclined to go back and re-read Walker, Righetti, and Newton. With Walker and Righetti I’m likely to read out of idle interest; from time to time I agree, but I do find myself disagreeing with points here and there. I just read Newton over because of her description of her creative process — not because I’d do the same thing, oh, no! I shudder a little when I look at the lavendar cabled motorcycle jacket. But it’s interesting that Newton wrote a book with concrete examples about how she translates her ideas into swatches and garments. Walker’s book, of course, is most unlike all of the others I’ve mentioned here, because it goes into great detail about knitting many garment shapes from the top down. (I also own stitch dictionaries, including Walker’s four treasuries, but I tend not to use them. I look at stitch dictionaries from time to time, note interesting patterns, but then… tend not to use them.)

The book I’m least likely to consult out of the numbered list is Elalouf; while that is in part because I can never find my copy (but it’s available for free from Knitting Fever on its website! it’s not a big book; rather, it’s a cerlox-bound booklet), it’s also because the designing methodology is covered in significant part by Michelson & Davis. both Elalouf and Michelson & Davis explain pattern drafting with a similar chart format and with worked examples, too, Michelson & Davis has better diagrams and provides worksheets and formulas to follow when doing your own calculations. Both books also cover different sleeve shapes; the content of both books is similar, but Michelson & Davis has more detail. If you’re hunting for books on drafting knitting patterns and are wondering whether it’s worth the effort to hunt down Michelson & Davis, then look at Elalouf’s book online, ignoring the section on “constants” (this is Elalouf’s way of explaining certain constant-but-still-variable numbers in a pattern, like a 7.5 inch armhole depth for a size 38 sweater; Michelson & Davis do a better job of explaining where numbers like that come from). If that kind of methodology works for you, but you want a different (or better) explanation, you might be happier with Michelson & Davis.

Both The Knitting Architect and The Knitter’s Guide to Sweater Design stick with hem-to-neck construction. I’ve never seen Elalouf’s second work that goes into different construction methods, The Advanced Knitting Architect; evidently it’s back in print now, because here’s a review. But the information in the first Elalouf book is generally covered in Michelson & Davis, and Michelson & Davis has more content.

Next, once I format the tables: a survey of how these books identified body measurements and instructed its readers on ease.

Posted in design | 8 Comments


First, there was the skein. The ball of yarn. The one and only.

One Skein.

The One Skein Wonder.

One Skein Wonders (the book, not to be confused with One Skein Wonder, the pattern. Don’t make me post a responsive comment about copyright, trademark, and titles, thanks).

What’s next? Why, why not two balls of yarn?

You know those television commercials for men’s disposable shaver heads that feature three — no four! five! blades? That’s what I’m thinking.

Posted in bitch | 13 Comments

Doubly addicted

Another gem pulled in by Google: spinsters welcome needle exchange programme

The Minister of State with responsibility for the National Drugs Strategy, Pat Carey, has said the Government will have to look at introducing needle exchange programmes across the country…

[T]he move has been welcomed by spinsters representative group NEVERADIT who said that the programme will do wonders for the knitting industry.

‚ÄúWe‚Äôre stuck at home all day with nothing to do but to write to the papers giving out about filth on the telly and saying how things are not like they used to be,‚Äù said their spokeswoman Ida Lovett…

“Our only outlet is knitting and if we have to exchange our knitting needles every few weeks, sure it will get us out of the house, and save us a few bob on buying new needles,” she said.

Ahahaha. (Ahem. While I am guessing that The Register appreciates the significance of its news sources, some readers of MetaFilter may not get it. And that should be enough of a hint as to whether this is for real.)

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Dog stock

Since I don’t actually get a paper copy of The Globe & Mail, I have to rely on Google Alerts to tell me that Jo-Ann’s stock (the company doesn’t even have outlets in Canada) is a dog this week:

Yesterday’s close: $22.50 U.S., down $2.40 over week It’s hard to know what would be worse – spending a day in jail, or being forced to wander through the aisles of yarn, fabric and knitting supplies at Jo-Ann Stores. Actually, we’ll take jail. Shares of the largest U.S. fabric and crafts retailer got a knitting needle in the eye after the company posted a second-quarter loss of $18.4-million, hurt by markdowns to clear out discontinued items.

Sure, if “jail” is the Nicole Richie version. If wandering through Michael’s is the equivalent (without as much fabric and sewing stuff), I’d rather spend an equivalent time in a lock-up (damn dried flowers and other whatsits gathering dust make me sneeze). Although, on the whole, I’d rather wander through Toronto’s textile district.

Posted in Uncategorized | 4 Comments

If it's on the Internet, it has to be true

Let us all give thanks, and a tasty seed-filled treat, to our little bird who tells me it’s time for an update. This time, two things:

1. Another extension of time in the cancellation proceedings. The “remember I said?” schtick has officially overstayed its welcome, so let’s just check back on October 13, 2007.

2. I think I didn’t realize (or I had forgotten) that there is a Wikipedia entry for Stitch ‘n Bitch. This ignorance isn’t really surprising; a review of my search history indicates that I had recently consulted that site for “content management system” and “Lynda Carter” and “DIY culture”… but nothing knitting related. Sites like this, which pool the knowledge of users all over the world, are a terrific resource — as long as you realize that sometimes the contributors have their inherent biases or axes to grind.

At this point, you’re probably expecting to see an example illustrating this very point. How fortuitous!

Clicking on the link above will provide you with, of course, the current version of the Wikipedia article. It was actually a hard-fought battle to get it, and (temporarily) keep it, in that shape. Fortunately for us, Wikipedia tracks the changes that were made to an article since its creation, and you can see by following the edit history and the talk page that there have been several skirmishes over the article’s content. Even skimming the edit history gives you a hint of what happened. In short, the content of this article has flip-flopped between a version that mentions knitting groups using the name, the SFSE boycott, and various issues regarding the disputes involving SFSE, and other versions that omitted one or more of these things but expanded on SFSE’s services, like this one. (If this is an example of a pro-SFSE editor’s work, one wonders why the references to Debbie Stoller were left in. So that people searching for Stoller’s name would find this information about SFSE? Because deleting it would have been too radical an edit? I wonder.)

What has happened to this article is called edit warring, and as a consequence the article has been protected against further edits for a month. This isn’t the first time that this sort of thing has happened to this article, according to the history, but just for fun let’s take a look at the latest straw that might have broken the camel’s back.

Specifically, let’s step back to earlier today. There was some radical cutting and pasting to line 19.

It used to read:

In fall 2005, Sew Fast Sew Easy took legal action to police its trademark to prevent consumer confusion with products found on the internet. Due to letters claiming trademark infringement from Sew Fast/Sew Easy’s lawyers, knitting groups that had accounts with [[CafePress.com|CafePress]], an online merchandise site, were forced to remove all items featuring the phrase “Stitch ‘n Bitch”. Local groups that communicated with each other through [[Yahoo! Groups]] were similarly forced to remove “Stitch ‘n Bitch” from the name and description of their group.

But then it was changed to:

In fall 2005, Sew Fast Sew Easy took legal action to police its trademark to prevent consumer confusion with products found on the internet. In 2007, the internet encyclopedia [[Wikipedia]] was sent a cease and decist order requesting their company information be posted in the online encyclopedia since they are the legal trademark owners or have the entire article removed.

(Note: we don’t know that SFSE had its lawyers do this, since it could have been SFSE’s personnel who did this work, so the sentence referring to “Sew Fast/Sew Easy’s” lawyers may have been inaccurate.) But otherwise, who could have wished to delete this information about actions taken against knitting groups? I wouldn’t know. All I have are clues.

Item: IP address (which I didn’t bother looking up myself).

Item: Spelling and sentence structure.

Item: The edit refers to cease and desist correspondence. Unless this action were publicized (was it?), generally only two parties would know that a C&D letter had been sent: the recipient, and the sender. (Also their lawyers, but their lawyers wouldn’t be editing Wikipedia.)

Plus, the talk page for this article, where contributors can explain and debate the changes made, includes this unsigned comment in support of the August 17 edits:

This article will continue to be changed back until either Wikipedia removes this article or Debbie Stoller stops attacking Sew Fast Sew Easy. I support Sew Fast Sew Easy in their endevours to continue using their trademark which they have been using for years until Debbie Stoller decided to sue Sew Fast Sew Easy because she was denied trademark status.

Could this be the aforementioned “cease and desist order”? No, that would be too circular.


An inherent axe is a painful thing.

Posted in stitch v. bitch, themes | 14 Comments