Thursday, June 21, 2012

Too Little, Too Late?




After an overwhelming response by the knitting, crochet, spinning, and handcrafting community, the US Olympics Committee issued an apology followed by "follow-up" reiteration of said apology:

JUN 21, 2012, 12:07 PM ET
Statement Update:
"As a follow-up to our previous statement on this subject, we would again like to apologize to the members of the Ravelry community. While we stand by our obligation to protect the marks and terms associated with the Olympic and Paralympic Movements in the United States, we sincerely regret the use of insensitive terms in relation to the actions of a group that was clearly not intending to denigrate or disrespect the Olympic Movement. We hope you’ll accept this apology and continue to support the Olympic Games."
Statement from USOC Chief Communications and Public Affairs Officer Patrick Sandusky:
"Thanks to all of you who have posted, tweeted, emailed and called regarding the letter sent to the organizers of the Ravelympics.
Like you, we are extremely passionate about what we do. And, as  you may know, the United States Olympic Committee is a non-profit entity, and our Olympic team receives no government funding. We are totally dependent on our sponsors, who pay for the right to associate with the Olympic Movement, as well as our generous donors to bring Team USA to the Games.
The letter sent to the organizers of the Ravelympics was a standard-form cease and desist letter that explained why we need to protect our trademarks in legal terms. Rest assured, as an organization that has many passionate knitters, we never intended to make this a personal attack on the knitting community or to suggest that knitters are not supportive of Team USA.
We apologize for any insult and appreciate your support. We embrace hand-crafted American goods as we currently have the Annin Flagmakers of New Jersey stitching a custom-made American flag to accompany our team to the Olympic Games in London. To show our support of the Ravelry community, we would welcome any handmade items that you would like to create to travel with, and motivate, our team at the 2012 Games.”
After reading some of the responses to these "apologies," it's clear that most of the respondents do not find the USOC's apology very apologetic.  What's your take?  As for me - I will always support the young men and women who participate in the Olympics, representing our country.  However, I do not support the obvious willingness of the USOC to insult millions of US Citizens under the guise of a form letter. In my opinion, that behavior denigrates our athletes.


If you'd like to read and respond on the TEAM USA website, please follow THIS LINK.


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Wednesday, June 20, 2012

An Open Letter To The US Olympics Committee







Recently the US Olympics Committee sent a letter to Casey of Ravelry to cease & desist using the word, Ravelympics, as they own the trademark to any part of the word Olympics and can enforce the trademark as it's clear that Ravelry is using their site name + Olympics to create Ravelympics.  To read more about it and read the actual letter, please visit Gawker and read their article: Knitters Outraged After US Olympics Committee Squashes Knitting Olympics - and Disses Knitters.


Dear US Olympics Committee:

While I understand that Ravelry should respect trademark and change the name of the Ravelympics to something else, I do not like the assertion that knitters coming together from all over the world to participate in friendly competition, while promoting the Olympics is somehow disrespectful to athletes. And the notion that knitters from all over the world, coming together for events, could not possibly promote education, culture, respect, world peace, and harmony as the Olympics do is just absurd. Wherever global tragedy strikes, knitters are lending a helping hand with hand knit toys, blankets, hats, mittens, scarves, prayer shawls, and the like. They sell patterns on Ravelry to benefit victims of global atrocities and natural disasters or to bring light to illnesses. They come from such varied backgrounds on Ravelry and use knitting as a way of connecting our cultures. Shame on you, US Olympics Committee, for writing a letter that could've merely stuck to the trademark infringement issue, but chose to insult millions of men and women for whom knitting is not a frivolous distraction, but a way to create, connect with others, and give back.


Sincerely,
Outraged Knitter


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Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Book Review: Cardigans & Closures by Melissa Leapman




Book Title: Cardigans & Closures
Author: Melissa Leapman
ISBN: 978-1-59217-365-5
Publisher: Annie's
Approximate Retail Price: $14.95 (USD) / $17.95 CA
Category: Crafts/Knitting
Techniques: 7 Closure techniques for hand knit cardigans and jackets
Patterns: 7
Availability: Paperback and Electronic Download

Ever knit or want to knit a cardigan or jacket, but are too intimated to put the finishing touches on it?  Melissa Leapman shows you how in this class-masquerading-as-a-book!  Melissa takes you through the different types of closures for cardis and jackets by presenting you with a pattern, thorough instructions, and color photography - making each pattern a lesson.  Let's take a look at the lessons provided in this resource:

PART ONE: Keep It Simple With Afterthought Closures

Lesson One: Overcast Button Loops
  • Pattern for Melissa's Casual Jacket - sized Woman's S (M, L, XL, 2XL, 3XL)
  • A quick knit that uses chunky yarn and (4) 2 inch buttons
  • Skill Level: Easy
  • Written Instructions with a Chart included for the textured pattern


Lesson Two: Inserting a Zipper
  • Pattern for Melissa's Tweedy Hoodie - sized Woman's S (M, L, XL, 2XL, 3XL)
  • A slip stitch hoodie that uses 3 colors of worsted wt yarn and a 24" zipper
  • Skill Level: Easy
  • Written Instructions

PART TWO: Buttonhole Essentials

Lesson One: Eyelet Buttonholes
  • Pattern for Melissa's Le Charme cardigan - sized Woman's S (M, L, XL, 2XL, 3XL)
  • A lace cardigan knit in DK wt yarn and uses 9 buttons
  • Skill Level: Intermediate
  • Written Instructions and a Lace Chart included

Lesson Two: Incorporated Simple Three-Row Buttonholes
  • Pattern for Melissa's Rustic Jacket - sized Woman's S (M, L, XL, 2XL, 3XL)
  • A stockinette stitch cardigan with garter accent knit in Aran wt and using (7) 25mm buttons
  • Skill Level: Easy
  • Written Instructions


PART THREE: Beyond The Basics

Lesson One: Neat One-Hole Horizontal Buttonholes
  • Pattern for Melissa's Rebecca jacket - sized Woman's S (M, L, XL, 2XL, 3XL)
  • A textured cardigan with bottom lace detail knit in Aran Wt. yarn and using (4) 7/8" buttons
  • Skill Level: Intermediate
  • Written Instructions

Lesson Two: Double Thick Button Bands
  • Pattern for Melissa's Funky Boyfriend Cardigan - sized Woman's S (M, L, XL, 2XL, 3XL)
  • A cabled, v-neck cardigan knit in Aran Wt yarn and using (7) 1" buttons
  • Skill Level: Intermediate
  • Written Instructions and Cable Chart included

Lesson Three: Double-Breasted Closures
  • Pattern for Melissa's Double-Breasted Mosaic Cardi - sized Woman's S (M, L, XL, 2XL, 3XL)
  • A mosaic cardigan using slipped stitches to create the colorwork knit in Bulky Wt yarn and using 8 buttons
  • Skill Level: Intermediate
  • Written Instructions and Mosaic Chart included
This is a very nice resource for knitters to have in their arsenal.  I find finishing garments to be intimidating, but less so after reading through the patterns.  While the patterns in this book may not be every knitter's cup of tea, they are varied in styles and do provide great how-to(s) for specific closure techniques.  This is a concise book aimed at the knitter who is already tackling sweaters, seaming, and finishing garments, but needs help with closures.  This book is not intended for newbie knitters.  

Connect with Annie's Via:

Disclosure: Annie's (DRG) provided KnitPurlGurl with a FREE copy of Cardigans & Closures for review.  KnitPurlGurl was not compensated for the preceding review.  All opinions expressed in the preceding review are of the blog author's and do not necessarily reflect the opinions of Annie's or Melissa Leapman.


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Saturday, June 16, 2012

Book Review: Cast On Bind Off by Leslie Ann Bestor




Book Title: Cast On Bind Off
Author: Leslie Ann Bestor
ISBN: 978-1-60342-724-1
Publisher: Storey Publishing
Approximate Retail Price: $16.95 USD
Category: Crafts/Knitting
Techniques: 33 Cast Ons and 21 Bind Offs
Availability: Wire-Bound Paperback

Cast On Bind Off is the brain child of Leslie Ann Bestor, knitting teacher and manager at WEBS.  As is the case with many knitters, Ms. Bestor explains that she learned the Long Tail Cast On and Traditional Bind Off methods at the beginning of her knitting journey.  Satisfied with the results they provided, she used the staple CO & BO for all of her projects.  As Ms. Bestor grew as a knitter, she started to research other methods of casting on and binding off to enhance her projects, keeping notes about which COs & BOs worked for particular types of projects.  As her knowledge grew, her knitting expanded.  In this collection, Leslie Ann Bestor shares her experience with various COs & BOs with knitters everywhere.

What's Included:


Part One - Cast Ons:

  • Basic
    • Backward Loop
    • Double-Twist Loop
    • Long-Tail
    • Long-Tail, Thumb Version
    • Knitted
    • Purled
    • Cable
    • Chained
    • Old Norwegian
  • Stretchy
    • Alternating Long-Tail
    • Alternating Cable
    • Double Start
    • Channel Island
    • Slip Knot
    • Tillybuddy's Very Stretchy
  • Decorative
    • Lace
    • Picot
  • Circular
    • Circular
    • Invisible Circular
  • Double-Sided
    • Judy's Magic
    • Turkish
    • Figure 8
  • Multicolor
    • Two-Color Braided
    • Tricolor Braided
    • Twined
  • Provisional
    • Provisional
    • Provisional Crochet 1
    • Provisional Crochet 2
  • Tubular
    • Tubular
    • Provisional Tubular
    • Yarnover Tubular
    • Italian Tubular
  • Mobius
    • Mobius


Cast On, Bind Off


Part Two: Bind Offs
  • Basic
    • Traditional
    • Slip-Stitch Crochet
    • Single Crochet
    • Gathered
    • Sloped
    • Three-Needle
  • Stretchy
    • Yarnover
    • Suspended
    • Lace
    • Elastic
    • Icelandic
    • Jeny's Surprisingly Stretchy
  • Decorative
    • Two-Row
    • I-Cord
    • Picot 1
    • Picot 2
  • Sewn
    • Kitchener
    • Sewn
    • Invisible Ribbed
    • Tubular
    • Interlock

I thoroughly enjoyed reviewing this book!  It is definitely a resource book that I will use over and over again!  For each CO or BO, Ms. Bestor explains why that particular technique would be used, the characteristics of that technique, what types of projects the technique is good for, and if any extra materials (such as a tapestry needle) will be required to perform the technique.  Each CO or BO is explained step-by-step along side colorful and clear photos of the technique.  She also includes a little section for each technique called, "Getting It Right", which provides a few tips or tricks for using the technique. The full color photos of exactly what each technique will yield offer an easy way to browse the book.  This is a very concise, yet well articulated resource on COs & BOs.  Note: newbie knitters may have a difficult time with some of these techniques as the instructions might not be as thorough as a newbie would need to understand the techniques.

Connect with Storey Publishing via:
Connect with Leslie Ann Bestor via:
Disclosure: Storey Publishing sent KnitPurlGurl a copy of Cast On Bind Off by Leslie Ann Bestor FREE for review.  KnitPurlGurl was not compensated for the preceeding review.  All opinions expressed in the preceeding review are those of the blog author's and do not necessarily reflect those of Storey Publishing or Leslie Ann Bestor.


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Wednesday, June 6, 2012

What's Needling You?



When was the last time you took a serious look at your knitting needles?  We knitters tend to focus a lot on yarn and a little on the needles.  Just like a tool box, not every tool is appropriate for every project.  You've all seen the commercials where a clueless handyman uses a hammer for all jobs.  Sometimes we, as knitters, try to do the same thing.  Also like tools, we forget that our needles need to be maintained to keep them in top working condition.  In this post, I will examine the different uses and properties of knitting needles as well as organization and maintenance.

Needles come in a variety of materials.  Despite what some "well-meaning" knitters may tell you, there is no ONE preferred needle. - That is to say, one needle does not fit all.  Let's look at the different materials and their properties.
  • Bamboo - Bamboo needles are created from the Bamboo plant, which is a grass.  The stalks are hollow, requiring that bamboo be cut into thin slices and laminated for use in needles.  Bamboo is a nice, lightweight material with moderate grip.  It is a good choice for beginner knitters as the stitches have a lesser tendency to slip off of the needles.  Bamboo will take on a less grippy feel from the natural oils in your hands gliding over them over time.  Because the bamboo needles are laminated, every once in a while the knitter may notice an almost splinter-like protrusion near the tip of the needle.  Bamboo can be sanded lightly with an emery board or steel wool to prevent snagging.  Because Bamboo needles are from a plant source, the needles will swell and become misshapen if exposed to water.  Conversely, if not treated on occasion, the bamboo can dry out and cause more splintering, thus causing more yarn snags.  Many knitters report using wood treatment oils and even hand creams to condition their needles.  Just remember, anything you put on your needles could potentially soil your yarn.  Contacting the manufacturer is the best way to collect information on how to care for Bamboo needles.  However, many knitters simply condition their needles with items they use to condition wood on their spindles, spinning wheels, or around the house.  Other knitters suggest using wax paper or natural bees wax to condition the needles. Bamboo needles oftentimes have blunt tips, making them terrific for loosely plied yarns, as you won't poke through the plies, and for non-lace projects.  Bamboo is a little trickier in projects requiring a lot of lace detail or complicated decreases.  Bamboo should be stored in a dry place where it is unlikely to be exposed to sun, moisture, or other materials that may nick or splinter the wood.  
  • Aluminum - Aluminum needles are also a terrific lightweight choice. Unlike Bamboo, Aluminum needles are less grippy.  They have a mild grip and can be purchased coated or highly polished.  Aluminum needles are an inexpensive choice for those who prefer a metal needle over a wood needle.    Aluminum needles can be a tad tricky for beginners, but offer a smooth surface without the possibility of splintering.  Proponents of aluminum will point out that their lightweight feel, inexpensive price point, and smooth surface, coupled with the ability to find them in nearly every craft store, makes them the perfect all-around needle.  Opponents will point out that aluminum needles can bend easily, typically have blunt tips, aren't as warm-feeling in the hand as a wood needle, and make it easier for stitches to drop off the needles.  However, since aluminum is a good conductor of heat, as you are working with the needles, they will warm to your touch.  Many manufacturers of aluminum needles are also producing a pointier, lace tip option for those who prefer precision knitting instruments. Aluminum needles can be highly reflective, which some knitters point out can cause eye fatigue, especially in conjunction with a knitting lamp.  Because aluminum has a coating of Aluminium Oxide on top, it is very resistant to corrosion.  However, storing these needles with other metals can ultimately reduce their ability to resist corrosion.  Aluminum should be stored in a dry place, where they are unlikely to be bent.  They should not be stored with other metals or metal needles that are not aluminum to prevent corrosion.
  • Plastic/Plastic Derivatives - Plastic needles are a favorite of many new knitters.  Another lightweight and inexpensive material, plastic or plastic derivative needles are easily found at most large craft retailers.  Plastic needles have a mild-moderate grip and allow yarn to move over the needle with a small amount of drag, which is preferential for beginner knitters.  Proponents of plastic needles point out that they are warmer to the touch than aluminum, affordable, and not easily bendable.  Opponents will note that plastic needles have a blunt tip that is not conducive to delicate or intricate lace work.  Plastic needles can also warp in areas exposed to high heat or very cold temperatures.  Many knitters are concerned with the eco-friendliness of plastic needles due to the process used to make plastics.  Unlike sustainable bamboo plants and the natural abundance of aluminum, plastics are completely man-made.  Some manufacturers of plastic needles have turned to recycling as a means of producing a more eco-friendly plastic needle.  Plastics are easily cared for and require no special conditioning.  Some plastic needles can be stained by highly saturated dyes in yarns, but can be easily cleaned and stored.
  • Nickel-Plated - Nickel plated needles are the choice of many knitters who prefer a very slick surface.  Nickel-plated needles have a very smooth, non-gripping surface which allows the yarn to easily glide over the needles without drag or snag.  Typically not a good choice for a beginner knitter, as stitches can easily be dropped off of the needles, nickel-plated needles are terrific for seasoned knitters.  Because of the low drag, it takes less energy to knit and theoretically, less strain on the hands and wrists. Due to the high reflective material, some knitters note that nickel-plated needles cause eye strain, especially when used with a lamp. Nickel-Plating is typically used over steel or brass in knitting needles.  Plating is often used with malleable metals to create a smooth, hard, and corrosion-resistant surface.  There are two types of nickel-plating: electroplating and electroless plating.  Electroplating causes a smoother surface, but a more malleable needle with less corrosion resistance.  Electroless plating causes a non-magnetic needle with better corrosion resistance. Nickel-Plated needles should be wiped gently with a very soft cotton cloth or old t-shirt to remove oils after use.  They should not be stored in leather or plastic, which can cause tarnish and/or cause blueing due to oils and moisture.  It is recommended that nickel-plated needles be stored in fabric needle holders to prevent them for being scratched, which may cause the nickel-plating to flake, thus opening the needle to corrosion and to working improperly.
  • Hard Wood Needles - Rosewood and birch knitting needles (as well as many exotic woods) have become popular choices amongst proponents of wood needles.  As these needles are from a sustainable resource, they are eco-friendly and a popular choice for hand crafted, ornamental needles.  Many knitters with arthritis talk about the benefit of these needles due to their low-heat conductive properties - thus not draining the hands of heat and therefore (theoretically) not promoting stiffness and pain in arthritic hands.  Wood needles can be polished to an exceptionally smooth finish, but still retain more drag than a metal needle.  They often have blunt tips due to the simple fact that a pointier tip can be break easily.  Some manufacturers have remedied this by placing metal tips on the wood needles to provide a warm needle with the ability to knit lace.  Depending on the finish of the wood, the needles have a range of maintenance. Again, many knitters who use wood needles suggest conditioning your needles 1-2 times a year with wax paper, bees wax, or natural wax paste.  Wood needles should not be exposed to high heat or humidity, as the wood can either dry out or swell.  They should not be stored in a highly sunny place to prevent drying of the wood.  Wood needles should be stored in a dry place where they are unlikely to be exposed to moisture or nicking.
  • Stainless Steel - Like it's Aluminum and Nickel-Plated counterparts, Stainless Steel needles are smooth with a slick finish.  Lightweight and typically inexpensive, stainless steel needles can be an affordable option for those wanting a metal needle.  Like Nickel-Plated and Aluminum needles, Stainless Steel needles come in a variety of tip points to work projects from lace to garments.  Stainless Steel does not corrode, rust, or stain with water like ordinary steel.  Stainless Steel contains a passive amount of Chromium Oxide which prevents surface corrosion and blocks corrosion from spreading to the metal's internal structure. Stainless Steel comes in many grades and finishes.  As far as knitting needles are concerned, they are made in a common grade for manufactured items.  This means they are corrosion resistant, but not corrosion proof.  Stainless Steel needles are reflective and are noted to cause some level of eye fatigue by some knitters, especially when in use with a knitting lamp.  Stainless steel can be washed gently with soapy water, but should not be scrubbed.  No harsh chemicals or abrasive cleaners should be used to clean them.  They should be dried completely with a very soft cotton cloth.  Stainless Steel needles should be stored like nickel-plated needles: to prevent nicking or scratching of the material.  Storing them in a dry place, in a fabric needle holder is best.
ONE LAST THING:
Don't forget to take care of those circular needles.  The cables of those needles are easily prone to crimping, and becoming unjoined from the needle.  Some knitters have suggested using Armor All on the cables.  Just remember, whatever you put on your cables could soil your yarn!  Keep those circs away from sunlight as the cables could easily become rigid and brittle.  Also, store them as not to put added pressure on the cable join with the needle.  Many of us want to loop them up and store them, but many knitters suggest using fabric circular needle cases that hang as the best alternative.  Just make sure the the bulk of the circular cable is being hung, not just one small point on the circ.  This will help to reduce bending at the join and unnecessary strain.  Nothing is worse than having the cable come apart from the needle during an intricate lace pattern.  And remember - if conditioning the cable contraindicates the maintenance of the needle material, you must take care to hang your needles in a case that will keep the needle itself from touching the cable.

Hopefully now you know a little more about knitting needles, their properties, and how to store them.  So those of you who have a bunch of needles stored in a big box (you know who you are), it's time to get those needles out, sort them, maintain them, and store them properly.  Without good tools and the care of those tools, knitting can be a frustrating endeavor.  If you take care of your needles, you'll have them for many years and projects to come!


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Tuesday, June 5, 2012

Press Release: DRG/Annie's




FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE:
                                                           
Annie’s is born
Family of craft and nostalgia products consolidated under new name
BERNE, Ind.—Annie’s is the new name for the craft and nostalgia media division of DRG.
The move unites under the Annie’s name the family of products that have been offered by DRG for many years under a collection of well-known brands, including Annie’s Attic, House of White Birches, The Needlecraft Shop, Clotilde and American School of Needlework.
DRG is part of the third-generation Muselman family business headquartered here. It began in 1925 with the founding of Economy Printing Concern. EP Graphics, as it is known today, is still owned by the Muselman family.
Another DRG division, Strategic Fulfillment Group, provides state-of-the-art fulfillment and database marketing services out of a 140,000-square-foot facility in East Texas.
The 1985 acquisition of House of White Birches, a craft and nostalgia magazine publisher founded in 1947, launched the DRG media division. In the ensuing years, the division grew with new products and acquisitions, including craft companies The Needlecraft Shop in 1994, Annie’s Attic in 1996, and Clotilde and American School of Needlework in 2002.
Annie’s craft products (Annies-Publishing.com) embrace varied creative interests, including crochet, knitting, quilting, sewing, needlework, beading, card making and paper crafts. The company serves these interests with magazines, original and selected outside products featured in its catalogs and websites, and membership clubs.
“Consolidating our craft and nostalgia products under the name ‘Annie’s,’ taken from our strongest brand, sends an important message to our customers about the common promise of quality and originality behind our many products,” said David McKee, CEO for Annie’s and DRG.
“Our products are united, too, under a common theme: Celebrating home, family and the creative spirit,” McKee said.
“We began the search for a single name by asking our customers how they best know us,” Annie’s Executive Vice President Michele Fortune said. “Annie’s Attic was the answer. We shortened this to Annie’s, an abbreviated form already in common use among our customers and staff.”
###
DRG (DRGnetwork.com) is part of the third-generation Muselman family business headquartered in Berne, Ind., near Fort Wayne. It is comprised of two divisions: Annie's and Strategic Fulfillment Group (SFG).
Annie's (Annies-Publishing.com) is well known to crafters and nostalgia buffs for its print and digital magazines, pattern books and other related products, sold primarily via mail, websites and catalogs.
SFG (StrategicFulfillment.com) provides state-of-the-art fulfillment and database marketing services out of a 140,000-square-foot facility in East Texas. 
The Muselman business began in 1925 with the founding of Economy Printing Concern in Berne. EP Graphics, as it is known today, is still owned by the Muselman family. It specializes in high-quality, four-color web printing for catalogs and magazines.


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