Wednesday, October 9, 2019

And Boom! A New Design is Out in the Crafty Wild

Well I may have all things personal book test on my mind, but I am reminded that I have also been busy with other third-party published designs - and the Crochet World blog today sneaked my shawl design featured in its upcoming December edition - the Frosted Berries Shawl.

This design started out with an idea to dye the yarn for it - from Jackie Daugherty, the magazine's editor. Using the winter white colorway of Berroco's Ultra Alpaca and Cushing's acid dyes, Jackie worked up these lovely hand-dyed skein (and you can, too - there's a whole article on the process in the issue!).The colorways turned out superbly, and it is squishy Ultra Alpaca - so the rest of the design process was a breeze. Not only is this shawl big and warm as all get-out for the upcoming winter season here in the northern hemisphere, but it is fun to work up. The main shawl body is an easy repeat with increase rows interspersed, and the show-stopping edge is a combination of regular and tunisian crochet, perfect for adventurous beginner tunisian crocheters.

I'll be announcing a little later (once the magazine actually hits newsstands at the end of the month) how you might be able to win a copy of it for your very self, so stay tuned. However, since this is slow fashion October, I hope you might consider a little hand-dyeing experiment of your own.

And keep those hooks at the ready to make yourself a great project with your beautiful brand-new hand-dyed yarn!

Sunday, October 6, 2019

Slow Fashion October - A Solo Road?

Autumn Rustle, the most recent design of mine
published in September as part of a KnitCrate Kit
(yarn included). The single pattern is also available
in my Ravelry design store.
Well, everyone, it is already the beginning of October! Can you believe it? The season for all things pumpkin spice is upon us once again ... and also one of my favorite months the last four years running because of Karen Templer and Slow Fashion October.

However, this October is different. Karen meant for 2018 to be her last year focusing on slow fashion in October only, and I must admit not only did I miss the allusion to it at the time, but also I am slightly bummed. I thoroughly enjoyed our month-long deep dive into all things hand made and slow ... and my wardrobe reflects that deep dive. I have been out of my normal environment every day for a service project since the beginning of September, and I have managed to wear a major piece of clothing (mostly sweaters and cowls) each day. While my wardrobe is still in flux - I want to, of course, knit and crochet more clothing for myself - it is starting to more accurately reflect my mindset and commitment to slow fashion. It is a value I feel strongly about, so the fact that my actions are in line with the value makes me feel all kinds of good. There is no doubt that Karen's (among many others) emphasis over the last four years really was instrumental in my clothing evolution, and for that I owe her a true debt as well as a heartfelt thank you.

This lace topper is just one of the designs that
will be tested commencing next week.
This October will be slightly different for me - my focus is squarely on my upcoming book publication, including testing the designs within the book. If you are interested in being a tester on what will likely be the Mother Of All Pattern Tests, do drop me an email or connect with me on Ravelry (Rav ID Deniseworld).

In the meantime, I hope you will take this time of new, crisp beginnings to deeply dive into your own wardrobe. Make a commitment to pay attention to how materials are sourced for the things you wear, as well as all appropriate appreciation given to the labor it took to make the garments. If you are so inclined, start small and make an accessory or two for yourself. Take chances and be bold. The satisfaction you will feel at truly taking control over how you present yourself to the world, and not just merely picking up something quick that will most likely be tossed into the landfill, will make you never look back.

Tuesday, August 27, 2019

What's New? An Open Letter to Peak Media Properties, LLC

The S-Curve Rug, my first design in the
2015 Interweave Crochet Home edition.

Dear Peak Media:

You are the “new” owner of many Interweave magazine titles, including Interweave Knits and Interweave Crochet. Purchased from F+W Media as a result of its early March, 2019 bankruptcy filing, you are also the owner of the online communities and other intellectual property associated with the titles. However, given that Terry O’Toole, the owner of Macanta Investments (the money behind Peak Media), was the chairman of the Board of Directors of the bankrupt F+W, Greg Osberg, the new CEO of Peak Media was the most recent (and interim) CEO at F+W, the sole editor posting knitting design calls was a former editor with an Interweave magazine title, and even Peak Media’s contracts administrator is the former contracts administrator for Interweave under F+W, I wonder, what, exactly, is new at Peak Media?

From your lack of clear communication with the design and maker communities, to your focus on padding your own bottom line (the only two avenues of electronic contact on Peak Media’s site are for advertising or media inquiries), this seems like business as usual at an F+W Media property – you know, the F+W that failed to listen to employees as it squandered millions in equity funding and imploded – the one that the former chairman of the Board is now in control of the investment money here at Peak Media Properties, LLC. If I was unsure of the exact posture of Peak Media, a recent email from you (addressed to “Dearest Contributor,” which elicited a hearty, ironic laugh from this recipient) made it abundantly clear: the communication stated it had good news – an expanded version of a program, in which I have no control over my intellectual property, and for which you provided absolutely no particulars, was in the works! Best of all, I had less than two weeks to opt out of all this good news. Wow. Insert so much additional hearty, ironic laughter right there.

Now, as an independent designer with 7+ years of design publishing (my own and with third parties), it would be easy for me to just let all this sit right here and marinate. However, as a proud female small (ok, micro!) business owner who has managed to survive the last almost eight years designing in a medium - yarn and textiles - that I have loved since childhood, I find it only fair to put out into the world how I might go about things in this “new” version of the F+W legacy. So … well … here goes nothing:

1. Please let Peak Media Properties, LLC find its humility muscle, like, yesterday.

2.  Once it finds such muscle, let it be flexed in the form of a DAMNED APOLOGY: to designers for squandering their good will and stomping on their intellectual property without any respect, and to the maker community at large for this lack of respect. I not-so-elegantly remind you that, if not for the collective intellectual property of the independent design community, there would be no publication foundation upon which Peak Media Properties, LLC could build.

3. Please publish this DAMNED APOLOGY not only in all of your publications, but also in your competitors’ publications. As I have stated previously elsewhere, we all rise and fall together. What you are doing right now, Peak Media, will have a ripple effect on the entire hand knit and crochet industry which, at its zenith, was a large portion of the income bread and butter at F+W.

4. Going forward, please be transparent in all communications with the design community. It is our intellectual property you wish to leverage for your own gain at, if the past is any indication, our direct expense. In case you were not aware, there is not one independent designer I know that can earn a living wage designing solely for third party publication. Not one. Yet, Peak Media personnel seem to be earning a living wage doing just one job.

5. Sort of in tandem with #4, and on the eve of the long U.S. Labor Day weekend, please pay a living wage for our designs, be transparent about that wage, and provide greater flexibility in sharing intellectual property rights with the independent design community. Interweave publishing titles provide compensation at the mid-to-lower end for independent designs and currently have some of the most restrictive intellectual property rights’ contract clauses in the industry.

At this point I sigh. When I first wrote about the bankruptcy, I was willing to keep an open mind, to see what would transpire, despite the fact that I am one of F+W's creditors (albeit a very small one - other designers were in for far more than me). I maintain that I, as an independent designer who erroneously believed in the good of being published in an Interweave publication, expected too little in the past. Not anymore.

Despite the above, Peak Media does have an incredible opportunity right here, right now. Start to rebuild the trust and good will that F+W eroded. It can be done. Don’t take a wait and see approach – seize the day! Truly lead the Interweave publishing titles you purchased to a brighter place where mutual respect might flourish instead of the muscular, opaque, and lop-sided approach of the past. That, of course, will take a significant amount of public courage and a willingness to think and do things differently.

As the organizational posture currently stands, I will not be creating submissions for any design calls issued by Peak Media titles. I genuinely need to see some deep, structural changes. I am happily close to self-publishing my second soft-cover publication, have third-party-published designs in the works, and consistently self-publish single designs. I have a small core of makers with which I regularly make garments and accessories, and to whom I am not only dedicated, but for whose support I am supremely grateful.  Nothing would make me happier than to augment the former with future designs published in titles run by a Peak Media that viewed me and my creativity as a respected partner and equal, not merely a “dear contributor.”

Very truly yours -