Knowledge is power
There has been a fair amount of activity over on the Designers forum at Ravelry.com, tossing about the idea of a union. Again. The last time I posted on that forum it lead to death threats. That is not hyperbole. I do not post on that forum any more. But I have a few things to say on the issue (ok a lot of things but I will try to edit down to a few) so here they are, in no particular order.
I am pro-union. I grew up in a union household, and I was a proud member of TWU Local 764 for many years, where I was honored to be selected by my peers to serve as a shop steward and a member of a contract negotiating team. I am not tossing around the words 'proud' and 'honored' lightly - my union years were an important part of who I am today. I do not think a designers' union is a good idea for a variety of reasons, which if listed would take me well out of the edited post ballpark so I won't go on and on. But here's the biggie.
When I was a union member, the people who spoke on my behalf were people that I trusted, people that my peers and I had elected to speak for us, people that had gained the respect of the people on both sides of the negotiating table by acting responsibly, even through disagreements, even through the occasional scream-fest. There are several people posting on that thread who I would not trust to give me directions to the corner grocery store, let alone have a voice in how I run my business. No I won't say who they are - and they probably aren't who you are guessing. That's not the issue. The issue is before you follow someone into an endeavor that will take a lot of time and money and brain-space away from your own business and your own life, make sure that person is worth following. Do some research, don't just skim the threads and think you are making an informed choice. Follow who you like, but know who that is. Your name and reputation are at stake.
OK well maybe it's not a union, it's an association or guild or society. I have a little experience there too. I am a past member of the American Society of Journalists and Authors. Membership there is something that one aspires to - the barrier for entry is high. That's as it should be. It was not formed to educate aspirants (although there is a lot of education that happens once you are a member), and it was not formed to bring new people into the industry. It was and is a membership organization that self-selects to high standards, for people who are working professionals, who can then interact with either other and the industry at large to the betterment of all.
That's not the kind of society I see being talked about. I see a society or guild or union or whatever that pretty much anyone can join so it doesn't seem 'elitist', and that whoever screams the loudest - or has the most free time - will wind up leading. How do you think an organization like that will benefit the design community? More to the point, how do you think an organization like that won't actively hurt us as a whole by making us look like a collective of excitable idiots?
But back to the knowledge is power theme of this entry. I have heard over and over again that established designers don't share financial information because they are afraid of retribution from the big bad publishers. I call bullshit
. I see people, new people trying to run a business in the needlearts industry and I tell them all kinds of things. I overshare. I'll tell you anything you want to know if I think you are running or trying to run a legitimate business, whether full time or part time, whether focused on traditional publishing or indie publishing.
I worked hard and spent a lot of money and time acquiring my extensive network of contacts and information. I am not posting the results of that effort for all to see - but I am happy to share with those I look forward to working with as colleagues. If that's elitist I can live with that.
Anyway, believe it or not I DID edit this post down! And I hope that discussion on Ravelry and here and wherever else leads to some interesting discussions. All I am asking of anyone in this business is to look before you leap - then leap away!
Back in the saddle!
Trying to get back in the blogging habit. I know I have said this in the past, but as Twitter (where I am @Hooked4Life) is getting me back into communicating with like-minded people mode, I find that sometimes I have things to say that 140 characters - or even 280! - can't quite cover.
In today's news, it is officially official that I will be teaching at Vogue Knitting Live in Chicago, November 1 - 3, 2013. Here is a link
to the save-the-date flyer - as you can see, I will be in great company.
I am very excited by this - I have had many great teaching experiences in the Chicagoland area and am so pleased to be going again with the Vogue crew!
Look out for my newest class offering - and all day Irish Crochet workshop, aimed at finding modern uses for traditional techniques. Allergic to thread crochet? Come anyway and work in yarn - it's really going to be a joint exploration and a judgement free zone.
Speaking of Chicagoland - I was there last weekend and all I did was eat (well, and teach - hello to Northern Illinois CGOA!). I tried local legends Walker Bros for pancakes, a fabulous Tapas place,
for deep dish pizza and a really terrific salad, and
for Chicago-style hotdogs. My hosts were greatly amused that I kept pronouncing the latter in the manner of someone who speaks Spanish, Por-tee-yos, instead of how it's spelled, which is what the locals call it. Of course I have issue with people who call the basketball team the Boston SSSSSSeltics, when it should be KKKKKeltics for God's sake!
See you soon?
New year, new patterns.
Ok, it's February but January was a bear of a month with tons of things to do - like Vogue Knitting Live in NYC, closely followed by TNNA which was in Phoenix this year.
For VKL, I designed a pair of luscious fingerless gloves in Tosh Sock
, in a beautiful colorway called Midnight in Manhattan which is only available via The Yarn Company
in NYC. They are beaded and embellished with silk ribbons, but the actual stitching is fairly simple so don't get put off by how complicated they look! The lovely Tavy from The Yarn Company had a great time wearing them at the show - they got quite a bit of attention.
The Fanciful Gauntlets pattern is available via your local yarn store (if you are a local yarn store, you can order from Bryson Distributing
, $6.00 retail.
What else is going on? Working on trying to blog more regularly, again :-), hauling LL around to every Irish dance event within a million miles now that she is back in fighting form, and working on a million magazine projects now that the book is done. And oh yeah, now that the book is done I have to start thinking about PR for it! It won't be in your hands until September but I promise you it is worth the wait! I saw the cover at TNNA and it looks terrific. If you wanted to see the cover too, you should follow me on Twitter as @Hooked4Life . Even when I am slow about blogging and don't do new podcasts anymore, I am a pretty prolific tweeter.
OK, lots more to say but I am going to pace myself. My first blog post back in a month should probably not be the size of my last book! Later 'gators!
First project of 2012!
On New Year's Day I took up the challenge issued by crochet supporter and good friend Laura Krzak, and spent part of the day making a chemo cap to donate. I chose Halos of Hope
because the president, Pam Haschke, had done a really interesting episode of Getting Loopy with me - you can hear it here
I grabbed a skein of pretty blue LB Collection Cotton Bamboo
from the stash and a G/7/4.5mm hook and went to town. I also used an F/5/3.75mm hook for the single crochet edge.
For those of you who asked when I tweeted pix (I am @Hooked4Life), I didn't use a pattern but quick made one up. Here it is, in one size. If you wanted to quick size it up, you could use a bigger yarn and hooks, or add 1 sc to the first rnd which would add several stitches to the finished brim as you increase for the crown.
I got about 3.75 dcs to the inch in dc, the cap as 17" around unstretched (I wanted it small since bamboo grows and Pam said smaller is better than larger) and about 6" in height from the end of the crown increases to the edge of the brim. I used well under one skein of yarn. I don't know that I could get two whole hats from one skein but there is a lot left over.
Halos of Hope Chemo Cap
Ch 4, join into a ring with sl st in 1st ch.
Rnd 1: 7 sc in ring. Join rnd with sl st in 1st st. 7 sc
Rnd 2: Ch 3, dc in same sc as sl st, 2 dc in each sc around. Join rnd with sl st in top of beg-ch. 14 dc
Rnd 3: Ch 3, dc in same sc as sl st, 2 dc in each dc around. Join rnd with sl st in top of beg-ch. 28 dc
Rnd 4:Ch 3, dc in same dc as sl st, dc in next sc, *2 dc in next dc, dc in next dc. Rep from * around. Join rnd with sl st in top of beg-ch. 42 dc
Rnd 5: Ch 3, dc in same dc as sl st, dc in each of next 2 next dc, *2 dc in next dc, dc in each of next 2 dc. Rep from * around. Join rnd with sl st in top of beg-ch. 56
Rnd 6:Ch 3, dc in same dc as sl st, dc in each of next 3 sc, *2 dc in next dc, dc in each of next 3 dc. Rep from * around. Join rnd with sl st in top of beg-ch. 70 dc
Rnds 7 - 19: Ch 3, dc in each dc around. Join rnd with sl st in top of beg-ch. 70 dc.
Rnds 20 - 22: Change to F/5/3.75 hook. Sc in each st around. I did not join the rounds but worked in a spiral so it would be neater. End off.
With larger hook, ch 6, join into ring with sl st in first ch.
Rnd 1: Ch 1, work 12 sc in ring. join rnd with sl st in 1st sc. 12 sc
Rnd 2: Sc in same st as sl st, ch 3, * sk 1 sc, sc in next sc, ch 3. Rep from * around, join rnd with sl st in 1st sc. 6 ch-3 loops
Rnd 3: (Sc, hdc, 3 dc, hdc, sc) in each ch-3 loop around. Join rnd with sl st in 1st st. End off.
Attach flower to hat carefully so that your stitching is mostly on the outside of the hat - we don't want bumps inside! Weave in all ends. If you have pets or the yarn is as all musty, wash it in UNSCENTED cleaner like Soak before you send it!
Happy New Year to you all - enjoy this pattern, and please consider making one to donate to the charity of your choice!
This pattern is my New Year's gift to you, but please don't steal it, sell it, print two billion copies, or generally be a jerk about it. You may absolutely link to this post from any blog or forum. Thank you.
Bits of thoughts
But here I am with time to blog, and no camera to hand, so I am going with the fact that it's probably better to get a post up than not, despite the lack of eye candy.
Oh wait - a crappy picture is better than none, right?
Look! It's my thumb, but also LL holding a first place trophy! Woo-freaking-hoo LL! If she earns two more of those before May 1 2012, she will be eligible for 2012 North American Nationals in Chicago in July. Here's hoping!
In other news, may I introduce you to some chocolate that is perhaps the most divine chocolate I have ever eaten, ever? And I have eaten a lot of chocolate! It is raw, gluten- and dairy-free, ecologically sensitive, and screw all of that, it tastes divine. The name of the company is Gnosis
and it gets the MBT seal of approval. I tasted it at the Chocolate Expo at the Meadowlands about ten days ago and wish I hadn't cheaped out but had bought some more. It is not a bargain by any stretch but it was so delicious a square at a time was enough, so the smallish bar I bought lasted three days which is practically unheard of at my house. I had the Fleur de Sel flavor but am looking forward to trying more.
We went to Chocolate Expo so LL could meet Buddy Velastro of Cake Boss fame. She did, he was charming, and I will talk more about that when I am near the camera because I actually did get some good pictures of them together.
In other news, in case you hadn't heard, I decided to stop producing new episodes of Getting Loopy.
I am at peace with the decision, but last night I didn't quite know what to do with myself around 8:00 PM on a Monday night. I kept feeling like I was missing something - that I should be somewhere else! But I will get used to it. You can still download all the archived episodes at ITunes, now and forever, but I will be dismembering the GL website and premium account at BTR shortly before the end of the year.
Working hard on some new submissions, waiting to hear on the fate of some others, and have many many new patterns coming out in the Hooked for Life
pattern line soon. Sometimes change is good!
I have a Fedex account that I use all the time - ground for delivering print patterns and samples when I am actually ahead of schedule, and of course express in all its flavors when I am hot on the trail of a deadline, which is pretty often.
I have two locations that I use frequently for drop-0ff - at one the last truck out is 4:30, at the other it's 8:00. I prefer the earlier one because the location is closer and it has a parking lot, but sometimes those extra few hours count.
A couple of weeks ago I saw a new-to-me location, about halfway between my two usual haunts, with a 5:30 last truck. I had a box ready to go between 4 and 5 so I thought I would give it a shot. It was a newer location with untrained staff and the woman on duty had never seen my pre-paid ground labels before and was worried about whether she was handling them properly on her end, so I left her my cell phone number and suggested she call me with any problems.
About 20 minutes later the phone rang - it was the manager at this drop-off location. He was grilling me about the label - kept asking me if it was new, and saying that if I had peeled it off another package it wouldn't work. I was sort of offended by this line of questioning - did he think I was trying to scam Fedex somehow? - but assured him it was a regular label from my long time account and he should just send it on. All was well, the package went out, but I decided not to use that drop-off anymore because it just bugged me.
Last night I dashed to my usual haunt, racing to beat the 8:00 PM deadline (yea baby, made it with six minutes to spare!), then figured since I was in town I would run a couple of errands before I went home. Strolling through the drug store, I caught a look at myself in one of the display mirrors - messy hair, wrinkle clothes that I clearly just threw on at the last minute, shoes inapropriate for the weather that I just grabbed because they were by the door, and a general harried, not quite put together look about me.
And the lightbulb went on - maybe that's why the manager at the new location was so concerned that I had stolen or was trying to mis-use a pre-paid label! When I am that close to a deadline I am just trying to get the work done, not really worrying about what I look like to the outside world. He probably took one look at me dashing through and assumed I couldn't possibly be a responsible business owner! It occured to me that even my regular guy only sees me at my worst!
He shouldn't have judged me by my appearance, but now I feel like someday I should go to all of my regular drop-off spots when I am put together and not rushing, just to let them know that I am not always a crazed harridan with yarn clippings falling out of my pockets.
Back to the wool mines -
I thought with all of the podcasting I do, that I was sort of done with blogging. I always felt pressure to be clever on cue, blog regularly, have adorable pictures, what have you, so blogging always felt like a chore instead of a joy.
A year or so ago I found Twitter and loved it - still do! I got in the habit of sharing my thoughts with people again. 140 characters was perfect - no pressure! No pictures needed! I could write when I felt like it, publish in seconds, and not have it take up any space in my already crowded brain.
And I still write patterns by the dozen, and a new book is almost finished, and I did some videos for a video company, and a bunch of guest blogs and articles, and I am blessed to have as much work or more than I can handle. But I realized recently that I don't write for me anymore, or at least not more than 140 characters at a time.
So here I am, back where all this crafty stuff started, at the Alpaca Addict blog. With a gratuitous alpaca picture for you all. I am not promising anything here to anyone but myself - but when I have stories to tell, here is where I am going to tell them!
BTW, my friends above are on the Silken Suri Alpaca Ranch
in Colorado, which I visited the week before last. Shortly thereafter, LL and I got stuck in Denver due to Hurricane Irene. Interestingly enough, the last post I wrote here detailed how I had gotten stuck in St. Louis due
to a canceled flight. Clearly, I fly too much :-)