Thursday, February 23, 2012

Copyright: Anything is Fair Game? No.

I am being annoyed at the moment and would like friends to weigh in.  Copyright really matters.  I have given lectures about copyright infringement at fiber festival booths ("Why are you selling a copy of those Morehouse animal scarves???") and elsewhere.  I have alienated customers at the studio because I refuse to knock off a pattern from someone's copyrighted design.  But -- there is something really outrageous about a person taking an age-old design, something passed from mother to daughter, etc., and altering a row in it and claiming copyright.  Once upon a time, all of us of a certain age made slippers.  They were all alike, and they were mostly made from two strands of worsted-weight wool (then, it was Red Heart wool or Spinnerin or maybe Brunswick, which was better quality than the cheap acrylic now sold at the big box stores...and Brunswick even had matching fabric, so I likely wouldn't have made slippers out of it).  Anyway:  you cast on maybe 30 stitches, worked a three-part foot with slip-stitch dividers between the sections, then switched to ribbing to the end, pulled the end stitches together, sewed it all up and, voila, a slipper.  Well.  My wonderful Judy Champagne offered to teach one of our new "Hit'N Run" mini-courses and make these we Google for them and find Aunt Maggie's slippers -- under copyright????   What the person did was to move the ribbed section about three rows further along.  Nothing else changed.  It is my understanding that a design has to be substantially your own -- this is NOT substantially different from any of the thousands of pairs of slippers knitted by millions of people in the 1940s into the 1960s.  So I call it a false copyright claim, and I am prepared to use it in my class without attribution.  I wonder if people really think that you can just say you have "adapted" an old design and slap copyright onto it after having done something this minor to it?  Really infuriating.     svb  

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

The Season Approaches.....!

Do NOT FAIL to sign up for Candace Eisner-Strick's incredibly useful, ENTERTAINING workshops on the docket at Artisan Knitworks in mid-April.   Call 586-871-2884.  You will be a better knitter for it -- that much I can guarantee.

Also -- very soon, I'll be renting cute little Enterprise cars more and more often -- the poor VW Bug is getting old, creaky, like the rest of us.....and driving off to various fiber-related events, some of them quite small.   But that's where the new producers can be found -- testing their wings, toes in the water, whatever metaphor you prefer.  In Portland, Indiana, for instance, there is something called the Jay County Fiber Festival (March 8-10), which occurs on the eve of my spring-break trip to Minnesota to visit family and good friends..........might consider folding that one into the Minnesota trip.  The Great Smoky Mountain Fiber Arts Festival is held a week later in Tennessee -- I don't think Larry and I will go this year (it was small, and while the scenery was gorgeous, overall the 'take' wasn't sufficient to justify costs).  But then there is the March 24 all-day Festival held by the Black Swamp Spinning Guild in Bowling Green, OH, which is a must -- LOTS of high-quality yarn and roving, plus some good friends to squeeze.  That may be the formal opening of the fiber fest season for me.   More later!


Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Off to Pittsburgh...!

This past weekend, I went off on a seat-of-the-pants trip to Pittsburgh -- actually Mars, PA -- to take a workshop with Stephen Be, who is an amazing designer-shop owner working in Minneapolis at a place called the Yarn Garage.  Google his shop name and prepare to be astonished. 

As it turns out, SB was trained at a number of art schools, including the Minneapolis Institute and the Parsons School before undertaking a number of detours into work that I took to be wholly unsuitable (I cannot imagine this quite interesting man working at Munsingwear!).  But now he's doing his thing with yarn and other fabrications.......The workshop was supposed to be about making creative use of knitting and ancillary crafts.  No rules, he kept saying -- and what happened wasn't his fault, to be sure.  As it turned out, I didn't feel very well, and so was absolutely not prepared to crawl around on the floor with everyone.  He decided we ought to work on ArtFelt projects, which involved ArtFelt backing, big pieces of thin feltable wool, and other kinds of yarn to create designs for scarves and hangings that woud be hauled off for heat treatment at the end of the workshop.  First, I'm not a wall-hanging, needle-felting kind of person -- especially when you have to do entire acres of it on your hands and knees.  I had brought a plain-jane felted mohair scarf that I had hoped to do something with and to with embellishment.....also a yard of gorgeous black suede that seems to me to fairly sing for "poncho" or "capelet" transformation, with some kind of artful crocheted trim and sleeves, etc.   But I frankly didn't think that I was going to get much help with these off-the-main-drag projects, given the size of the class, and the very idea of being on my knees did me in.  I begged off on the ground that I didn't feel good.  Not untrue.  I went to the market instead and connected with friend Demian of Blue Heron Yarn, walked off with three gorgeous skeins of his metallic-rayon yarn, and contemplated driving home.  The weather was turning.

I should have followed my first instinct.  Didn't feel good.  Postponed.  But:  How much harder would it have been, after all, to sit in a fancy rental car on cruise control than to sit in my room knitting?  Overnight, the weather turned really nasty.  VERY early in the morning, I got in the car, quite alarmed at the amount of snow, the wind, the weather reports, and began the trek back.   Just outside of Pittsburgh, things worsened -- there was a squall-type blizzard.  Cars were moving at about 25 miles an hour.....kept moving.  Then I got lost looking for some kind of decent breakfast (not to be found at the Sheraton Four Points, where the Pittsburgh Fiber Festival was held -- they wanted a HUGE sum of money for a big buffet, and all I wanted really was outmeal, which they wouldn't provide).  I found myself lost and hungry, having got off the road to wait out the storm, and then I really got lost -- decided just to drive and see where I ended up.

The result was just amazing.  Getting lost can be delightful.  I found myself in Beaver Falls, Pennsylvania, across the street from Geneva College -- which I gather is a Christian College of some quality.  I saw "coffee" on a big brick house, stopped basicaly in a no-parking  zone (who cares when it's snowing?), and went in.  I had accidentally stumbled on the Beaver Falls Coffee Company, a really great espresso and light meal place specializing in WAFFLES!   The coffee was superb.  The students with whom I got to talk were really really really FINE.  And then the waffle came -- a big, fluffy affair called a Veggie Waffle laced with -- you guessed it -- vegetables.  I skipped the sour cream -- it didn't need anything.  Savory.  A restful, delightful place to spend an hour.  If you're anywhere near this little town, it's well worth the detour.  The owners live upstairs!

Then I got back in the white Chrysler 200 and found the freeway with the help of my trust Mathilda, who I had thought I wouldn't to the Ohio border, when all of sudden another big blizzard.  At that point, I was really glad I'd grown up in Minnesota.  I'm generally not undone by snow and ice.  Just slowed down.  And, predictably, I got to the studio in late afternoon.  

But the 4.5 hour trip had become 6.5 hours, I was exhausted, and so I went home and dropped into a chair, thinking that I'd never get up again.

I did, of course.  Everyone, stay well, and happy looping, whether knitted or crocheted!   svb

Back Again!

Sorry for SUCH a long wait for another entry -- or two in this case.   First,  let's have a look at Knit Michigan.   Every year, a number of Michigan shops gather in a Bloomfield Hills, Michigan, school for a charitable event called Knit Michigan.....This year, I offered a couple of classes -- one of them involved making knitted and crocheted flowers, and it was immensely fun.  We made a huge pile of yarn in the middle of the table and, working from my overlong handout, just lit into it and made some blooms, which is a lovely thing to do on a February day in Michigan.   In the market area, I caught some quick snaps of good friends -- among them, Joanne Cole, one of my favorite yarn company reps:
....and then there was Deanna Van Asche, who does the most amazing vintage-style beading (on the left, with the beautiful necklaces):

......and of course our great, great friend Sybil Williams, who's seated just to the left of center in a shawl that she started and finished in one of our Knit-Togethers:
....and finally, a spinner whose name I didn't learn, but who epitomizes the event's ecumenical spirit:

....and now let me move on to a description of my recent trip to Pittsburg.   See next entry!!!!    svb