Sunday, September 16, 2018

... And Then When a Test Design Restores Joy!

Yes, folks, another design from me this year. This one has been a while in the making, and events this spring and summer put a serious roadblock in getting it done, but it's here now and ready for some testy tester testing. 

I am thrilled to show off (what I am tentatively naming) the Lost Tee. A great season-transition piece, it is worked up in A Hundred Ravens Yarn Patos in the Sea Glass and Andante colorways, with a fun side-to-side construction. The slightly inverted u-shaped hem is edged with some lovely lace, and once seamed, the sleeve and collar edgings are worked.

It is a relatively easy piece to complete, and it uses the same amount of yarn as a few pairs of socks (less depending size)! The testing period starts tomorrow and runs through the end of October, so if you're interested in getting in on the test, feel free to check out my Ravelry group which has all the rest of the information.


Wednesday, September 12, 2018

When a Published Design Brings Little Joy

There are very few instances that writing a blog post presents difficulties for me - I have and continue to love writing regularly on this blog. However, today's post has definitely presented me with some challenges.

It has (and continues to be) a busy design year for me. Heck, it's just been a busy year in general, so I value my design time. In one of my absolute busiest periods in the early spring I took time out to create a series of designs for a major, big box yarn manufacturer. I ultimately only worked up two of the designs proposed (for a host of reasons, none of which I will go into in this post, know that I am not upset one little iota about that point).

I discovered last week that one of the designs created has actually been published on its website. It did not inform me of the publication, but I did a quick search not only to satisfy my own curiosity but, for contractual reasons, to also keep track of any publishing date (since my rights in these two designs revert back to me two years after initial publication). Let me also state right up front that the yarn manufacturer has done nothing contractually wrong - it has control over the timing of initial publication including, but by no means limited to, never publishing either of the designs. That is its sole right.

Said yarn manufacturer also has the sole right to edit the design and/or use it in whole or in part (again) as it sees fit. That is exactly what it has done - on the right is the design as I worked it up in the spring. The yarn type and colors were all approved beforehand, as well as the stitch pattern. What has been published (and I will not link to it - you will have to do some investigating on your own, dear reader, if you would like to see this design in final published form) has been added to and embellished a fair bit. If I am being completely honest, I am not thrilled with the additions. Nevertheless, I still think this works out well for makers - they actually have an opportunity to view both versions, download the project directions from the yarn manufacturer's site (it's a free pattern!), and then work up the design in whichever form best fits them. (I also will be creating a Ravelry project page with this sample project, so makers can look there for yarn particulars, although the design has not yet made it to the Ravelry database, and since I have no control over nor responsibility in initially publishing this design, I will not be adding it myself.)

What makes me sigh about this? Well, let's get my design ego out of the way first - yes, I am partial to my own, original version. No big insight there. 

Beyond that, however, I did not pay attention to my own complete history with this company. I have a design track record with it (and it's several sister yarn labels) both directly and from third party design publications. You can read about some of the positive interactions here; alternatively, you can also read about one (of many) not-so-positive exchanges here. Because the history is long and mixed, and personnel has changed and/or otherwise shifted, I thought I would give working with them another shot. Situations (and people) can change.

However, I should have listened to my own voice. Some of the same issues (including actual non-receipt of yarn!) still exist. More importantly, I think that some fairly fundamental business and other viewpoint differences between myself and this yarn manufacturer exist, do not mesh, and cannot be reconciled. Full stop. 

I am frustrated most with myself - I expended precious time and energy that I cannot ever get back in a result that does not satisfy me on most levels. I reiterate that this yarn manufacturer has done nothing contractually wrong, yet I have a sour taste in my mouth. It is a fairly safe bet that this spring's designs submission is the last I will produce for this yarn company.

C'est la vie, and all that.

Tuesday, September 11, 2018


This is a portion of a sidewalk "of remembrance" found
in the greater Puget Sound.
It is yet another September 11th anniversary. I have not always marked the occasion on the blog, but if you'd like to read the few times I have, feel free to do so.

I have previously written it took a month for subway service to resume into lower Manhattan after the attack. Just a few days ago, Cortlandt St. subway stop finally reopened. Renamed WTC-Cortlandt, it is a little jarring to see rubble photos of it from that day. What the photos bring back most vividly for me was, once we were finally able to travel by subway into the downtown area, how it all smelled. Just like now with all the wildfire smoke in the air here in the western United States, for the months after the attack in New York the acrid smell actually hit the back of one's throat almost immediately once above-ground. Of course it added another lingering layer of unease, since it was unclear what exactly was being released into the air from the smoldering attack site.
A pub in lower Manhattan,
snapped in autumn, 2001,
after the attack.

I've written this before - that day seems like a lifetime ago in some alternate, parallel reality. I thank the luck of graduate school scheduling every day, because that Tuesday found me in class and not at my internship office in the third WTC tower to fall that day. I view the signs of life in the photos I snapped post-attack in lower Manhattan with amazement and gratitude. There was a certain sense of comfort derived from the mundane. Shopkeepers engaged with the normal tasks of business somehow felt like a warm blanket. Having an internship, as well as studies and all the normal expectations of graduate school, kept me grounded. While some of my fellow classmates actually left school (and at least one fled to Canada), what I also remember was, on the one hand, a sense of common purpose, and yet on the other hand, the inevitability of the war we would commence. 

There is no nice, tidy way to end this post. I've made my own personal peace, but as a country we remain in foreign battlefields as a direct result of the events of this day 17 years ago. We also, oddly enough, are more fractured as a society than at any point that I can actually remember. I pray we do not let fear win.

Monday, September 3, 2018

Marking Labor Day

Nothing gratuitous about this photo: the underlying blanket is a
project that was the subject of my previous sole post dealing with
 Labor Day in 2012! It has stood up well to life with George Bailey.

It is amazing to me that I have only written a singular blog post concerning Labor Day in the United States. That seems almost impossible to me, and I expect that my tagging and keyword skills are failing me at the moment. Nevertheless, I aim to rectify this gross oversight.

Labor Day, celebrated the first Monday in September every year in the United States, became an official holiday by an act of Congress in 1884. Its origins come from the late 19th century labor movement in this country. (For more on the history of the holiday, check out more facts here on the U.S. Department of Labor website.) The holiday's main aim is to celebrate the achievements of the American worker. I do note that in many countries internationally, labor is celebrated on May 1st.

This holiday is particularly poignant this year: not only with the recent deaths of Senator John McCain (a former POW whose service to this country underscores the freedoms and past achievements Americans have worked so hard to achieve and maintain) and singing icon Aretha Franklin (a true, clear voice during the U.S. Civil Rights movement of the 60s), America is feeling its grief. It is almost as if we collectively needed this long weekend to take an opportunity to just breathe.

Additionally, this is a time when the American worker is also feeling the pinch and sting of  economic stagnation resulting from current federal domestic legislative policy. For a brief, yet succinct, overview you really should listen to this NPR interview. 

For my part, I continue to attempt to build a solid designing track record as well as writing record marking historical female achievement. It may, perhaps, be a small drop in an underrepresented bucket, but they are drops of which I am nonetheless truly proud. My articles in the past two issues of Knitting Traditions Magazine represent some of my most prized research and writing efforts, and I would urge everyone to pick up copies of both editions and read them together. Back to back, these issues present quite a unique snapshot of what animated a fair amount of women in the second half of the 19th, as well as the turn of the 20th, centuries. Of course, it goes without saying that my self-published title Leather, Lace, Grit & Grace, with its stories of early 20th century female pilots, rounds out an incredibly exciting time in women's history. The marking of female achievement in traditional as well as non-traditional female roles, as well as the current surge in U.S. women's political activity, leaves me in no doubt that this time in 21st century history will be remembered as an exciting and active one for women in all spheres.

Happy Labor Day to everyone who celebrates it today!