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One With the Sloth

One of the many awesome things about my bestie and her honey (who shall henceforth be known as “manbestie” because his awesomeness is of the same caliber which is why they’re together!) is that they love to watch Animal Planet. When I get to hang out with them, that’s one of the things we do. As a result, I now know what a sloth is.

We’ve watched Meet the Sloths a few time. They just crack me up! They go along at their own pace, many with goofy little smiles on their faces. I get the impression that when people talk about sloths, they think they’re lazy because of how slowly they move. After watching this show, I’d say they’re anything but. When they want something, they will dang well put their all into getting it. There was one little guy that had lost an arm if I recall correctly. Did that stop him from trying to climb trees? Nope. Did falling out of said trees and hurting himself stop him from climbing trees? Nope. Did he seem worried about it? Nope.

Well, I’ve decided that this is how I’m going to approach the spinning course for the remainder of this level and the future levels. I am going to be one with the sloths. I am going to keep on keeping on. Sure, I have fallen out of trees because I missed a detail, didn’t fully comprehend the assignment, can’t read minds on how to mount assignments (there is a suggested template, but it does not work for every assignment – that’s a whole other rant that will be saved for after the fact)… However, I am NOT going to let this stop me. Ten years from now, I won’t give a rat’s ass that I didn’t mount my assignment “correctly”. I won’t care that I lost marks for under plying. I won’t lose any sleep because I wasn’t able to achieve the expected angle of twist.

I had decided last year after I had the proverbial wool pulled from underneath me that my sole purpose for doing this course is to make me a better spinner. No matter what my marks are, that is what is going to come out of this. I will be a better spinner. I will have tried fibres I never knew existed. I will have the opportunity to find what I like, what I don’t like. It will likely open even more doors for fun and experimentation with techniques and fibres. The most valuable piece of it all though is going to be the feedback. I have found that on the rare occasion, it can come off as snarky and maybe a little condescending. Whether or not that is the intention, I’ll never know. I’m not paying these people to be my friends and sugar coat stuff though. What I need most from them is to know what I’m doing right and what I can do to improve. They have all delivered. Look at Gordon Ramsey – absolute asshole in the kitchen, but he knows his shit. If people can filter out the condescending asshole piece and use his feedback, there is no doubt their skills become stronger. Fortunately for us spinners, it’s not THAT bad!

When I went into this course, I did it for some right reasons and some reasons that are starting to change. The main reason was my love of spinning. That will never change. Another was to help me with the loss of Mom. That has helped me IMMENSELY. To show my little hunny bunny that you’re never too old to go back to school or follow your dreams. I LOVE that I have removed that excuse for him. I will continue to do so! hehehe

Another was to be an instructor. There is no doubt that spinning has changed my life. I want to share that with other people in the worst way. HOWEVER… This objective has caused me a lot of stress and heartache. I had it in my mind that I have to have perfect marks in order to achieve this. A year ago last fall when I got a horrible mark, it killed me. I had missed a HUGE part of the assignment. If I knew that was to be included, I’m sure I would have ended up with high 80’s or even more. It was in an area I’m somewhat strong in. But for some reason, I missed that part that had to be included. I was crushed. Absolutely crushed. I saw my dreams of becoming an instructor fading very quickly. I’ve noticed other things since the beginning of the course that has me questioning things as well. I feel that assumptions are being made without confirmation and I fear that this is impacting my future in instructing too. Or at least I did. Assume away. You probably have no clue. Again, if I don’t end up instructing because of crossed wires and assumptions, that will save me a whole world of pain.

After processing all of that, it had me re-evaluating WHY I’m taking this course in the first place. Enter the sloth.

THAT is when I woke up and realized that marks aren’t everything. It’s one person’s opinion. Yes, there are guidelines to be followed, but if you gave the same assignment to another instructor to mark, there may be a different outcome. As I pondered it further, I asked myself if all this stress was worth it? I have enough stress going on in my life without this. So I had two options. Either I recognized that I’m navigating uncharted territory, pat myself on the back for doing my best and take the feedback and run. Or freak out over the fact that I’m not perfect so nobody will want me to teach for them because all instructors are born perfect. Uh, no. I’m at a place in my life now where I believe that if you’re going to judge my CURRENT skills based on marks I obtained at a time that I was just LEARNING those skills without seeing my work NOW… You’re wasting MY time. It would be the same thing as assuming your reading level today hasn’t changed since your first evaluation in kindergarten. I want to be an instructor with my whole heart. But I also refuse to sell my soul or jump through excessive hoops to achieve this. I was put on this earth to teach. However, I have a lot of other skills to share in my bag of tricks. If teaching spinning doesn’t pan out, there’s not much I can do about that. I am confident I will find my place regardless. If it’s meant to be, it will happen.

If you’ve read this far, you may be asking what prompted this post. Well, for the most part, it’s seeing my poor classmates freaking out over the twist and grist assignment we have due at the end of February. Some of the most experienced spinners in our group are losing sleep over this. I’m not saying don’t put your all in and don’t try to wrap your head around it. However, it’s not worth losing sleep over though! If you get it wrong, guess what? The sun is still going to come up tomorrow. Your wheel will still be there. You won’t be any less of a spinner because it’s not perfect. If you don’t end up understanding it, the instructors will explain it to you and help you grasp it. I could be wrong, but freaking out about it is likely causing you to shut down. So any information you find at this time may not stick because of where your head is. This is NOT your fault. You’re LEARNING. Mistakes and not understanding things are a part of learning. If you don’t get perfect, be gentle with yourself BECAUSE YOU ARE LEARNING!!!!!!

I’m just going to be over here, being my sloth-y self. I feel I do understand the assignment, but for all I know, I could have it all wrong. Only one way to find out, right? So yes, I’m going to dive it and get ‘er done. This is the approach I had to take with one of the bigger assignments due in October. I just got to my breaking point. I stressed about and then I conceded. Whatever. I screwed up, but by the time I realized it, it was too late. What could I do about it? Nothing. I’m expecting lousy marks and I don’t really care. I did my best with how I understood things. I know where I went wrong. Knowing your mistakes are far more valuable than a mark that probably won’t have that much bearing in your life.

I don’t know what has changed within me. I was starting to think that my give-a-damn was busted, but it’s not. I still care. I do think that I’m getting worn thin from the other garbage going on in my life, so I’ve had to just scale everything back so I don’t let it overpower me. I think that smack of reality upside the head with that one assignment had a part to play. I think that practicing martial arts has made a huge impact too. But those sloths… I am going to be more sloth-like from here on out. I’m going to start early, do my best, go at my own pace and not stress about the outcome. Detach from the outcome. Once you hand that assignment in you have no control over it. The stress isn’t worth it.

Those sloths have their shit together.

Gifting Your Work: Think it through before you’re too generous

If you’ve been reading my posts for awhile, you’ve probably figured out by now that I get the urge to rant every now and then. There’s a method to my madness though. I’m HOPING that by reading my rants, you may save yourself from some heartache or wasting your time. I think this is a big one because I’m sure that many of you like to gift you work. Or maybe not. Maybe you’ve figured this out long ago. For your sake, I really hope so.

I get the impression that a lot of people think that I give handmade gifts because I don’t have the money to afford to buy gifts. That couldn’t be further from the truth. Why would I put all the thought, time and effort into something when I could just pick something out/up in 10 minutes? I’ll tell you, buying a gift sure would save me a lot in the long run!

No, when I make a gift for somebody, it costs me more than you may think. The time that I put into that gift is time that I’m not putting into making items to sell or fulfilling orders AKA making money to feed/clothe my son. Or it’s my allotted “free time” (although what I like to do in my “free time” is the exact same thing I like to do when I work). So that six hours I spent working on your childs’ Minion toy? Yeah, I could have spun up a couple of skeins of yarn or whipped three or four hats. If we’re talking minimum wage here, that means that I’ve invested over $60 PLUS material into their gift.

We’ll start with those afghans that I made for some of my “friends” when we were in high school. I put quotations around “friends” because they sure as hell didn’t turn out to be friends (this only applies to a couple… The ones I’m still in touch with are there for a reason – I love them!). The very first one I made an afghan for turned her back on me because of someone else’s actions before we even graduated. I can’t count how many hours I wasted on her. And she wasn’t the only one to get an afghan from me. I’m going to be honest. I deeply regret making most of the ones I made. (My bestie still has hers though and she proudly had it on display until her little dog decided he wanted to adopt it. And by adopt it, I mean dig at it, potentially destroying it).

Another thing I regret is the Wonder Woman Minion I had made. Well, regret is an understatement there. I spent far more than six hours on that one. I didn’t have a pattern. I went based on pictures. She was a work of art. And for what? I won’t go into details, but let’s just say that there are two faces and some throwing under the bus involved. Now that I know what I do now, I would never have bothered.

And then there’s the ungrateful “family” member. I made them an afghan for Christmas one year. In that case, I did have to make the gift because I didn’t have the money. But it was the nicest yarn I had in my stash and it was NOT cheap. I’d never seen the afghan after I gave it to them. I was asked to make a sun hat for their child – never saw the child wearing it or got the picture I was promised. I have made a lot of things for the kids over the years and have never seen them worn/used after they were given to them. I didn’t have the money to get them a wedding gift at the time – I felt that anything I could afford wouldn’t be good enough. So I thought of what I could make. Nothing came to me. Why? Because I knew deep down it would just get shoved in a closet, re-gifted or donated (I have no issue with donating something after it’s been enjoyed, but this would have probably gone directly to the bin).

I don’t ask a lot from somebody when I give them a gift. A thank you is nice. Appreciation of the love, time and effort is a bonus. When I make something for somebody, I have put a lot more than thought into it. My son is proud to give gifts that I make. Any time he gets invited to a birthday party, I always ask him if he wants me to buy the gift or make it. So far he’s always asked me to make it. There may have been one exception. The other piece to that is that if the child gets a handmade gift from me, I hope they know they have/had a place in my heart. I wouldn’t put that time/effort in for just anybody.

Anymore.

There have been others that haven’t even said thank you.

No, in light of recent events, this really has me reconsidering gifting the things I make. A piece of my heart goes in to every piece of my work. And many of the past recipients don’t deserve a piece of my heart. I have ended up regretting it. I don’t want to do that anymore.

So please, for your own sake… Don’t do what I have done. Make sure that if you’re going to be investing all that time and money into a gift you want to make for somebody, think long and hard whether or not they’re worth it. Will you regret it? Is there a remote chance? If your gut is telling you yes, then save yourself and listen to it.

Timeout and a Drum Carder

I decided last week that I needed to put myself in a timeout. There have been some things going on in my life that I’ve had to sort through. I decided that one thing that may help me was to put myself on a Facebook timeout. I did on Sunday and I don’t have any regrets. 

Don’t get me wrong, I totally adore my online friends. There are some that I feel closer to and treat me better than many of my biological family members (blood certainly does NOT make you family). I just wanted to make sure that I didn’t vent in the wrong place or lash out at the wrong person. 

One thing I don’t miss is feeling obligated to check in. Maybe it’s just me that feels that way. I think a lot of that though is the ridiculous notifications of whether or not something has been read. I HATE that feature. I swear the only reason they put that on there is to cause drama. You know, because there isn’t enough of that in the world. 

One exciting thing that did happen is that I finally got my drum carder. I wanted one from the first time I used one at the fibre arts program. 

My Drum Carder - keepmeinstitchez.wordpress.com

My Drum Carder


I know this tool is going to take me to some amazing places. I figured it fitting that the inaugural project be something near and dear to my heart. Just before Mom went into the hospital, I had started spinning some yarn to make her something. I never got the chance to even show her what I was spinning. I decided that I was going to finish spinning what was on there and use my new drum carder to process some more wool. I think I’m going to design a wrap and name it after her. I can no longer feel her arms around me, but I can wrap myself up in loving intentions initially created to wrap around her. 

I bet you didn’t know Ashford made cat traps too, did you?

Ashford Cat Trap - keepmeinstitchez.wordpress.com

Ashford Cat Trap – free with purchase of a drum carder

A Pattern Rant… Again!

I got my first order for a couple of very popular character hats. My customer had sent me a picture of the ones that she wanted and I was able to find the exact pattern. So rather than try to figure it out on my own by looking at the picture (which I could have easily done), I figured I would support yet another independent designer and purchase the pattern.

I am so sorry I did at this point. I say “at this point” because I do have a message in to the designer asking for the missing information.

This pattern had no gauge. It had no measurements, finished or working. So even if I followed it to a “t”, I wouldn’t know if it fit until I finished it and checked it with the measurements my customer sent me. Thank goodness I’m not a crochet newbie! Could you imagine if this was one of your first “big” projects and it didn’t fit? Things like that are enough to make some inexperienced stitchers throw down their hooks in frustration and blame themselves. That makes me sad.

I buy patterns a)to support designers and b)to save myself time. I know there are a lot of wonderful free patterns out there. When I run across one, you bet I sing the praises of the pattern and its designer. I also know there are a lot of designers cranking free patterns out and not having them tested because of time constraints. I’ve ran across my fair share there as well and some of them were atrocious. When it comes to a choice of a free pattern versus a paid pattern of a similar item, I will purchase the paid pattern. Reason being is if there are any issues, I feel the designer is responsible to address them because they have been given money out of my pocket. I’m not saying I wouldn’t send a message to a designer of a free pattern, but I don’t feel they should be held as accountable because what it comes down to is: you get what you pay for.

When I pay for a pattern, I expect that this pattern will save me time and I will get the required size IF I MATCH THE GAUGE. If there is a gauge and my item doesn’t turn out, the onus is on me. When I see that there is no gauge, I’ve already made up my mind that I won’t be purchasing any patterns from this designer in the future, no matter how well-written and illustrated it is. Sadly, that’s the case with this one. It looks like an excellent pattern.

I have messaged the designer and I politely asked for this information. I also suggested that they may want to include it in the pattern for others because I’m sure I’m not the only person in the world that may or may not match their gauge. We’ll see how it goes… Sometimes designers take offence, even when you tactfully point out that they’re missing important information. My intention is to help. I don’t want to nitpick or degrade them. BUT we’ll see what their reaction is. My attitude will depend on that.

UPDATE: I did get a message back and she said that I wasn’t the only person asking for a gauge. She sent me one and said she’s working on the others. Yay! So… I won’t be naming names (and I wouldn’t have anyway), but I will be posting finished results when I get them done and linking to where you can purchase the pattern as I do with all my finished items. It may not necessarily be the next finished item I post, so please don’t jump to conclusions as to who it may be. And even if you do, this gal has a ton of good stuff to say about this person’s work because the pattern itself is great! I won’t post a finished item or a link to a pattern if I wouldn’t recommend it to my friends.

Chaos is the New Normal

There has been a LOT that has happened in my life in the last 4 months. Two of which were part of my biggest nightmares. I’m not going to get into that right now. That’s not what this post is about. In time, I may share what has happened. Just please know that I’m okay and I’m dealing with it. I have literally had the rugged pulled from beneath my feet. ANYBODY would be feeling that way if they were to experience what I have for even just the last year.

No, this post is me. Thinking out loud. In the form of typing out loud.

I feel that I am at a crossroads with my fibre path. I have a LOT of people waiting for me to finish items for them. When each one contacted me, I was up front with them. I told them what was going on in my life. And if they wanted to wait, that would be wonderful. If they want to make other arrangements, I understand. I just can’t commit to a finish time with all that was going on. They didn’t mind. January is supposed to be a “dead” month in the Highlands. Not for me! Even when I “took time off”, it was still spent stitching. This good!

I have had 6 different people post or tag me in a photo of a hat that looks like a Cabbage Patch Kid hat. The ORIGINALS. (and on that note, it’s LANSDOWNE PARK and SKYDOME). The reality of it is that I really, really want to work on these hats. BUT with the order list I have, I don’t really have time to.

So this is my question:

Which path should I pursue? Do I stick to orders? Do I take less orders and work on more novelty items? (Charchar is ONE meow away from being “toast”…)

So in a nutshell, I have been operating at Ludicrous Speed since… Let’s just say it’s a long time. So that means that I don’t have the time to spare to write posts. I do think I’m going to post more photos of what I’m doing just to keep in touch and let people know that I’m alive. I’m usually quite a wordy person. I guess that’s why I actually have to set time aside to type up posts. Well, they say a picture is worth a thousand words. Voila. A thousand words in 30 seconds!

Off I go to work on orders…

Whiny-sinus-infected-crabby Pants Post

Hurray for germs passed around at school! (I’m so hoping you’re sensing the sarcasm there). I’ve been sick for almost 2 weeks now, which is why things have been so quiet here. It started out as a fever and a harsh cough. It’s evolved into a sinus infection. Not just any sinus infection, but the WORST sinus infection I’ve ever had. I went to a doctor last week in Haliburton, but I ended up with a resident quack who didn’t know what the hell she was talking about and felt it was more important to push her personal beliefs on me rather than treat my illness. I think I’m on my mend now even though today my body feels like it went out and painted the town last night and left my soul at home. I was curled up in a blanket last night, so I know my whole being was physically at home. It just doesn’t feel like it.

Mom has gone for another round of radiation this week. I won’t get into too many thoughts on that, but I will say that I really do feel there is more that they could be doing for her than what they are. To those greedy gov’t and big pharma a-holes that are suppressing the cures for the almighty dollar… Karma is a bitch in the case of what you’re doing. I hope you all meet her soon. We’re not not all naive, mindless sheep. I’m going to stop there…

I feel like I’ve lost my crojo, sewjo and knitjo since I got hit with this bug. But this is another one of those cases where I’ve been working away and not noticing it. I’ve made 2 5″ doll outfits for my daughter-from-another-mother. Number 3 is on the hook. The true indicator of how lousy I’m feeling is that I didn’t take any pictures of them. Either that or I don’t want to post any pictures of them just in case somebody asks me to make some. I’m going to be frank here. I DESPISE doing thread crochet. I’m more than capable of doing it and I do it well. I just like my instant gratification and ability to effortlessly hide ends.

I came up with a pattern for a pair of slippers for a friend of mine. I have 1 slipper done. I’m working on a cute little hoodie. I’m very close to finishing a shrug that I’ve been working on. I also have a bag very close to being ready to be sewn which is from an old dress. Now I just have to figure out which project I want to work on. Since I’m at Mom’s for the week, that narrows it down to knitting or crocheting. Right now I just feel like curling up in a blanket and going to sleep. I’m hoping I feel better by the weekend so I can just let ‘er rip.

And this is why I stay off Facebook and don’t update when I’m feeling under the weather. I PROMISE I will have a more positive, uplifting post the next time I check in.

Copyright… From the Horse’s Mouth

It seems there are some out there that didn’t like my post regarding designers thinking they can dictate what you can and can’t do with an item you completed from their pattern. You’ve bought the pattern, you paid for the materials, invested your time. Yet they think they can tell you that you’re not allowed to sell YOUR work or can dictate where you sell it? That’s like my LYS saying you can use the fleece you purchased here to make your own yarn, but you can’t sell that yarn locally or online because we want to reserve the right to sell ours there.

So I decided to send an inquiry to the U.S. Copyright Office to get the answer straight from the horse’s mouth. Sure, I did my homework and researched the subject thoroughly online. I just wanted to make sure all my “t”‘s were crossed and my “i”‘s were dotted.

This is the message that I sent to the U.S. Copyright Office:

Can you sell an item you have made from a pattern? Can pattern designers dictate what you can do with an item you have made from a pattern they have written? I purchased a crochet pattern and nowhere in the listing did it say that it was for personal use only. It was only after I was 3 rows from being finished that I discovered this. Am I legally allowed to sell this item?

This is the response I received:

Generally, you may do what you wish with your own personal copy.

The first-sale doctrine is a limitation on copyright that was recognized by the U.S. Supreme Court in 1908 and subsequently codified in the Copyright Act of 1976, 17 U.S.C. § 109. The doctrine allows the purchaser to transfer (i.e., sell or give away) a particular lawfully made copy of the copyrighted work without permission once it has been obtained. This means that the copyright holder’s rights to control the change of ownership of a particular copy end once that copy is sold, as long as no additional copies are made. This doctrine is also referred to as the “first sale rule” or “exhaustion rule.”

If you have additional questions or need further assistance, our contact information is listed below.

Sincerely,

cfk
U.S. Copyright Office
Attn: Public Information Office-LM401
101 Independence Avenue, S.E.
Washington, DC 20559-6000
Email: copyinfo@loc.gov
Phone: 877-476-0778 (toll free) or 202-707-5959
Fax: 202-252-2041
Website: http://www.copyright.gov

There it is. Don’t believe me or don’t agree? The information is right there to contact them yourself. Nowhere did they say that I’m not allowed to sell the finished item regardless of what the designer says in the listing or on the pattern.

As I had mentioned before, I won’t purchase a pattern from somebody who states their wishes in the listing that they don’t “allow” items made from that pattern to be sold. Even though I don’t always buy a pattern with the intention of making the item to sell, I do need to have that option in case things don’t work out the way I had planned. I want to respect peoples’ wishes. I would also much rather support a designer that supports their customers. Word of mouth is a powerful thing. If a friend sees an item I made and asked where I got the design, you bet I’ll send them to the designer. BOOM! Another sale for the designer. I also believe in giving credit where credit is due. I’m sure there have been a few sales generated from my finished pieces for those designers who encourage sales of finished items. That fuels their business and allows them to keep writing patterns. They help us help them help us help them…

Happy stitching.