Sunday, December 22, 2013

Please help me find my stolen shawl

I hate to be writing this sort of post so close to Christmas, but sadly this is the state of affairs. I have had multiple handmade items stolen this month, and they all pain me. But the biggest loss is this shawl. This piece was stolen from a mannequin at Seed Stitch Fine Yarn in Salem, MA. It is one of a kind - the design is my original design, and the yarn has been discontinued. There are no others exactly like it, and I miss it very much.


Please keep an eye out. If you see someone wearing this, it is the original, because it cannot be duplicated. If you do spot it, I would appreciate it if you could take it from the thief and get it back to me.

On that note, let's please stop being so crappy to each other. To the thief: I bet you thought you were pretty clever, stealing such a unique piece. I bet you didn't even think of the person who spent days pouring time, hard work, and love into it. If you're the one who took it, please return it. I won't ask any questions.

Friday, December 20, 2013

A Gentle Rant About Knitting

A while ago, my friend Liz of Made in Lowell posted Paying for Handmade: A Gentle Rant. Her post has generated a wonderful discussion on the value of handmade. I wanted to take some time to discuss the value of a more specific niche of handmade: knitting.

Knitting is often looked down on as a craft. It's true. Whenever I participate in a craft show, it seems to be the craft that people look down on the most - it's the craft that everyone thinks they can do. In reality, anyone can do any craft - knitting, sewing, jewelry making, pottery, etc. It just takes knowledge and practice. But because knitting is a common pastime, there's this notion that knitted goods have no value.

I often get people coming up to my table and saying things like, "this is easy-peasy" and openly asking me how I made something so they can replicate it. At my last craft show, a woman approached me. "Excuse me, can you tell me what needle size you used for this?" I braced myself. "Actually, I'm sorry but I don't provide pattern information." She stared at me blankly for about a minute, expecting me to say something else. Then she finally said, "you really mean that?" "Yes. I worked hard to design all of these." She left without another word.

So I feel like I have to put this out there: Knitting is not easy. A lot of people knit. Fewer people knit well. Even fewer people have enough understanding about the structure and mathematics of knitting, and are able to make their own designs.

I am a knitting teacher, and people routinely sign up for classes that are too advanced for their skill level - "I figured knitting is knitting!" they say to me, as they realize they won't be able to execute the project. I have had several people with zero knowledge of knitting sign up for my intermediate level class on fingerless mittens - and be completely shocked when they spend a full hour just learning how to cast on stitches. They rarely make it past the ribbed cuff, being completely baffled by the alternating stitches. This is because: knitting is not easy. It's not something everybody does. It's not something you learn in five minutes. It's not something without value.

Knitwear makers work hard on their craft - they spend days designing pieces, making swatches and samples, and refining the design. They work very hard to find a good balance between complexity and time to produce to create affordable goods. Knitting is not a fast craft, even if you're a fast knitter. But people are shocked to not be paying $10 for something it takes us hours to make - because there is a widespread notion about the lack of value of knitting. But I'm sure very few people out there want to be paid $2 an hour.

And something else to think about - J. Crew charges more for most of their machine-made knitted goods than I do for my hand-knitted goods. Please don't expect Walmart prices from me.

Next time you examine an artisan's work, I urge you to think carefully about the skills and time that it took. Please don't undervalue and undermine handmade.

Sunday, December 1, 2013

Holiday Knitting Saga, Part 2

Prep School Mitts

Thanksgiving has come and gone, and here we are in December. Yikes! That happened super fast. There seems to be a common affliction among makers this time of year: this is when we should be focusing on producing as many things as possible, and it's when our brains go into overdrive with new ideas that we don't have the time to work on. Inevitably, we end up caving at least once. To keep myself at least a little sane, I allowed myself to make these new mitts: The Prep School Mitts. Simple, classic, and cute.



I came across this beautiful roving from a farm in New Hampshire and couldn't resist bringing it home. It's now part of my holiday gift knitting list, which I'll be working through frantically after my last show of the season on December 14th. I have to keep this one secret, since the recipients might see this post, but I'm excited to make it!

It's hard to believe that in less than a week, I'll be traveling to Berkshires for Alchemy Initiative. Will I see you there?