Thursday, March 14, 2019

Independent Art to the Rescue … Cause It Ain’t Over Till It’s Over

My crafty friends, I am so thrilled to be able to announce, via revealing my newly created artwork, the world-wide independent designers and dyers who will be taking part in this summer’s Progress, Hope, and Happiness Year 3: Adventure + Renewal collection and maker event!

Kudos to each dyer who created new colorways and/or otherwise stepped up to the plate and willingly supplied yarn support to nine designers and their summer creations. Yarn support is currently winging its way around the globe so that creation can begin. The collection’s big reveal will occur May 31st, which is also the beginning date of the related maker event, which will last until the end of July. Since dyers make their own design support decisions (I coordinate the call), even I have no current idea of the shape the collection will take. I won’t know until designers provide me with their sample photos in May so I can create this year’s look book (and the look books from the last two collections can be viewed here and here). I genuinely like it this way – some mystery built into the process is nice for me. Design revelation toward the end of May is always so thrilling and that joy is, hopefully, reflected in the final look book to which the public will have access.

I am also pleased that I have developed and continue to coordinate an event that is truly independent – independent designers, independent dyers, no outside money of any kind, participating designers and dyers do all the social media posting as a collective. I would be remiss if I did not talk about this week’s crafty elephant in the room – the Chapter 11 bankruptcy filing of F+W Media, the parent company of many magazines and book titles, including the entire family of Interweave knit and (sole) crochet magazines. This bankruptcy filing touches a large, large, swath of the design and maker community (and a quick look at the names on the almost 550 pages that make up the creditors’ list will provide you with a snapshot of just how wide a swath it is). I also feel for all of the day-to-day editorial staff at these publications – they work so hard, and their professional lives are currently in limbo. Since the bankruptcy pleadings have openly stated F+W will be looking to secure a sale of Interweave (among other assets) within the next 90 days to an as-yet identified buyer, not only do editorial staff not know about their immediate professional future, but the design community’s willingness to submit designs to current calls becomes a dicey proposition. For myself, I withdrew a submission I just sent in last Thursday, and I will not submit to any additional Interweave call until the dust settles on either an Interweave sale or a bankruptcy discharge, whichever happens first. At that point, I will reassess the facts on the ground to determine whether or not I will once again start to submit (although I want nothing more than to see a positive outcome so I can do just that). For the record, I am also on the creditors’ list, although I am only out some royalty amounts on four designs (and I am not planning on ever seeing any of that money). There are many other designers and contributors who have not, and perhaps never will, receive far larger sums for their unpaid-at-time-of-bankruptcy hard work.

I have written, both previously on this blog, as well as across most of my social media, that makers need to pay indie designers a fair pattern price for their designing work, and that my designing for individual publication as well as for third parties went hand-in-hand. There can be, unfortunately, no more excellent example of that inter-relatedness than this week’s events. We rise and fall together. In the initial dyer and designer call for this year’s Adventure + Renewal collection, I wrote that this year could be the most stressful of all of the last two previous years. Of course, I had more geo-political ideas in my head when I wrote those words. I never envisioned that the stress could and would hit so professionally close to home.

Businesses come out at the other end of a bankruptcy filing and continue to exist (just ask many a car company and/or airline carrier) – that’s what the bankruptcy code is there for, to provide a fresh start. I cannot, however, be optimistic about a company whose own bankruptcy papers admit (in an uncharacteristically honest assessment that I believe on its face) it managed to piss away $6 million in fresh capital, and who are searching for buyers in order to liquidate. I genuinely thought after F+W cleaned house at the end of 2017 it had turned a corner, but unfortunately not. I also noted to myself a concern about the lack/quality of the advertising in the winter edition of Interweave Crochet (although, editorially, I think the magazine is as strong as it has ever been). For my crochet-design loving heart, this bankruptcy also touches upon how consolidating crochet publishing into just a few voices has detrimental consequences. In the U.S., there are only two other major crochet publishers, and one of them is electronic, no physical publications. F+W had purchased a second crochet title and then proceeded to discontinue publishing it, leaving only three U.S.-based crochet magazines that potentially might be seen on the periodical shelves.

Nevertheless, just like Brexit – it ain’t over till it’s over. Yogi Berra was never so prophetic. My hope is that a strong publisher scoops up Interweave and, at least in terms of Interweave Crochet, re-imagines a more robust and forward-looking publication. There are many ways that might be accomplished, but no matter how, I hope it is accomplished with its current editor. I expect she may have good ideas on how the magazine could be tweaked and/or otherwise reinvented.

In the meantime, I am going to continue getting ready for this summer’s Adventure + Renewal collection. I cannot tell you how pleased I am to be in the company of these independent designers and dyers – artists all – whose work as a group brings much summer designing and making joy. I urge everyone to support independent designers. They are the collective designing voice that will keep craft and DIY/slow fashion moving forward and growing. DIY is here to stay and your support, in the form of pattern sales, keeps those independent voices steady and strong. I hope I see everyone take part in our May 31st maker event!

Saturday, March 2, 2019

And The Sneaked Chapter Releases Begin

Alright, everyone - damn the self-publishing torpedoes, because here I go, leaning all in on round two. As I wrote about here at the beginning of last month, I shall be putting forth my sophomore book effort in September. After some technological snafus yesterday, I am pleased to announce that my first sneaked chapter of that second self-publishing effort has been delivered to everyone who (so far) has purchased a pre-publication package. 

In it, they have also received the pattern to the first of the designs from the book to see the pre-publishing light of day - Go Green or Go Home - a long wrap/wide scarf filled with all kinds of tunisian crochet goodness. Just get a load of those cables and small shibori-like bobbles - and it all comes to life with two strands of Neighborhood Fiber Co. yarns held together. It was a cold day when this was photographed, yet my model was really very warm with this wrapped around her shoulders. It is a perfect transitional piece to wear, and an excellent travel project.

Neighborhood Fiber Co. Rustic Loft
(foreground) and Rustic Fingering
I am so thrilled, and not a little bit nervous, to share this first sneaked chapter. This is a very personal book - not only the copy and the designs, but also all of the artwork and design layout. If I had a steep learning curve with my freshman publication Leather, Lace, Grit & Grace, this one puts pressure on me to get it right. Let's hope I succeed. I'll get back to you on it at the beginning of September.

There is still plenty of time to get in on my pre-publication package, although as of today, the price just went up a small notch. However, perhaps the design and awesome yarns will entice you?