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 -

Sunday, August 25, 2019

Some Publishing Updates

Well, my maker friends, we are entering the last week of August, and with sunset times getting earlier each evening, as well as a slight nip in the night air, that almost-autumn feeling is upon us. To where has the summer gone? 

I have been so busy over the meaty summer months that I did not get the opportunity to post here on the blog, and considering the fact that I released the third sneak peek from my upcoming book, that is saying something. So, without further ado, here are most of the additional patterns from the third sneaked chapter of the book.

Watercolor Pops is thehe amazing crescent-shaped shawl, thanks to lovely colorways from A Hundred Ravens. Just two skeins of fingering weight yarn produces a shawl that easily stays on the shoulders or (my preferred way of wearing it) coiled around the neck cowl-like. The "pops" of lace in the body offset a rather linear stitch pattern which, with a final little bit o' lace at the edge, combine to produce an accessory that is feminine and graphically pleasing.

The necklaces and earrings are pieces in a series of jewelry designs all put together in the same chapter under the title "The Month of Jewelry." Each of the pieces appear throughout the book and are meant to be worn with other designs. I am definitely loving the mixed media approach to these jewelry designs. Researching the materials used was definitely a great guilt-free way to get in touch with my inner material girl.

I am about a month away from commencing the mother of all pattern tests for the designs in the book. I have so much to prepare between now and then, but if any readers are interested in testing some of the book's designs, definitely send email and I will be more than happy to add you to my tester list. Be aware that all patterns will be crochet, and there will be a good mix of accessories and garments, across a wide spectrum of sizes. 

This is, of course, my second self-published title. Self publishing is more important than ever to me, given this year's earlier F+W bankruptcy filing. We are coming to the end of the bankruptcy, and the relevant design magazines and related online resources in which I have intellectual property have been sold to Long Thread Media and Peak Media Properties. I will have more to say once the final bankruptcy dust has settled (because there are motions before the bankruptcy court that could have implications on the shared intellectual property rights I have with both new entities), but in the tentative first communications between both, Long Thread has been awesome, and Peak Media has been ... well ... just like it's predecessor, F+W. One wonders what, exactly, has changed? All I can do is sigh, shake my head, and pour my energies into my own book.

It is going to be a busy autumn of design publishing here at chez Voie de Vie, so I hope you'll be around to take a peek both at the new book, as well as a few single designs published by third parties, all due between now and the end of the year.