Monday, September 17, 2012

On intellectual property and plagiarism

I got a very nice email this week that got me thinking.

Almost six years ago, I published a free sock pattern for socks with arch shaping that, because it's knit on the bias, hugs your foot in an amazing way.

I figured out the pattern myself, inspired by a stranded-knitting sock pattern I didn't own and didn't know anything about. I think Grumperina knitted those. Or maybe it was Lene. Whatever; I saw the pictures, I made my sock. I started out wanting to knit a stranded, arched sock in Fall 2006 Vogue Knitting. The pattern was such a mess I gave up after several attempts and made my own pattern (you can read the history of my struggles on this blog). I pulled math out from between my toes and put together a sock that was initially very ugly.

I bugged my friends to test-knit, I went to forums and friends to have it tech edited. People loved it. I gave it away. It was translated into German and a couple of other languages, and the whole thing made me very, very happy. People found mistakes and helped me correct them. The hundreds of people out there who have made my socks could not make me any more grateful to them.

Enter the email this week...someone telling me about a pattern, for sale, that is more or less a copy of mine.

Here's what got me thinking: intellectual property is a serious thing. The fact that someone is selling something i give away for free? Not cool. It's entirely possible the person came up the pattern on their own...but looking at the pictures, it's doubtful. It's much more likely that someone simply stole from me.

I don't have time or resources to do anything about it, but I hope if you are knitting socks with arch shaping you'll use my free pattern before you'll pay for someone else's.

And I'm glad, down deep in my heart, that someone cared enough to tell me, even though I am all but absent from the knitting community these days.

Knitters, thank you from the bottom of my heart for your support, community, and goodness. I appreciate your care and concern so much, and like the email said, "we all know you are the author of this pattern." I miss you all and I miss my yarn and needles.

Love you. xo

Friday, September 16, 2011

Introducing Henry

Well, I've gone and gotten a kitten.

I wasn't planning on getting another cat, but the more time passed with Fee as an Only Cat, the more I realized she was lonely and bored.

Fee would like me to tell you she is really not-sure about this small creature made of springs and teeth. His kitty manners are particularly lacking. He has an annoying habit of smacking her in the back of the head when he walks by. He tries to eat her food. He's taken over some of her favorite spots. She has worn herself out hissing at him; it's the only way she has to tell him what he can and can't do.

Then again, he's warm, happy, funny, and very entertaining to watch. He seems to be...getting bigger. Maybe he is not going to stay a kitten for much longer? Maybe he will learn some kitty manners? She is not so easily annoyed with him anymore. The house seems warmer and happier. It is good to have a friend.

She is no longer bored. Was she ever able to jump that high? How can he be in such an incessantly good mood?

This is Henry. Henry is about six months old now and has lived with us since July. He was left in a flower-pot at a tile store, rescued, and is quite happy with his new home.

Tuesday, January 04, 2011

Christmas knitting

Technically, this is birthday knitting, but since my stepmom's birthday is December 25...

here is her present, agonizingly kept secret through a massive test of the my will, when all I wanted to do is shout from the rooftops "I DID A LACE PROJECT AND IT TURNED OUT!!!" But I had to wait until it was delivered and opened, you know. Then I got a cold and -


My history with lace is a long and frustrating one, and it seems that the last couple of projects have got me over the hump. I am not going to tackle a cobweb shawl any time soon, but I am sure a lot less afraid of it than I was.

This is the Autumn Leaves Stole by the wonderfully talented Jared Flood of Brooklyn Tweed. (I'm linking to his blog instead of Ravelry because I love his narrative about the pattern. His pattern writing is really clear, just detailed enough, and utterly awesome.

Here it is all bundled up after blocking and finishing. This is really the true color of the yarn:
Autumn Leaves Stole - actual color

Here's a shot of about a quarter of it. At the bottom you can see the row of leaves with no stems...that's the seam row.
Autumn Leaves Stole folded

followed by a close up of the small leaves (up near the neck)
Autumn Leaves Stole - small leaves

and the larger leaves (down near the edges).
Autumn Leaves Stole - big leaves

And one more pretty picture just for the sake of prettiness. Don't you think life should just plain have more pretty in it? I do!
Autumn Leaves Stole

I used Cascade 220 in a lovely emeraldy-teal color (chosen rather competently by my dad, GO DAD!). The color literally looked different in every shot I took of it. It took a week to knit each half and a few tense hours on a Sunday afternoon to kitchener stitch the two halves together. A quick soak, a lot of pinning - this thing is 19" x 72"- a little supervision by my kitty Fee (she kept monitoring it to make sure it was all right I guess) and there it was.

Not bad for two and a half weeks, and my last knit project of 2010. I'm one of those people who couldn't wait to see 2010 leave and 2011 come in. Except for this. Hope you all like it. My stepmom does & I'm so glad. Happy birthday, Donna! You are completely awesome.

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Stunned at my sudden bravery

Apparently knitting the Great Gray Thing has given me courage like no other knitting project. I'm midway through a lovely worsted-weight lace project, which you can see more about over at Ravelry, but not here (yet); I cast on for a sock with only an approximation of what I was going to do with it (and it's worked); and I've a sudden urge to knit something from Rowan.

Yes, you heard me. Rowan. Which, aside from knitting a Debbie Bliss pattern in black yarn on 2mm needles is the kind of thing I'm most afraid of when it comes to knitting. The idea of knitting a Rowan sweater normally sounds to me like 1800 yards of pure torture. But for some reason it sounds like the perfect winter knitting.

First I need to finish the lace and the sock, and then I'm going to buzz through a giant garter-stitch scarf (because I've decided that a 14 or 15" wide scarf makes the garter stitch new again), and THEN I'm going to get my grubby, lanolin-covered paws on the Rowan PureLife Autumn brochure, and make a large cabled sweater.

I am not a sweater-knitter. We'll see if I actually do it.

In the meantime, in addition to everything else in my life, I'm thankful for warm wool socks and that I have all the yarn I can knit. Happy Thanksgiving to you, knitters. :)

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

In Which The Great Gray Thing Is Finished

Knitters, this is my first-ever Elizabeth Zimmerman project.

(crickets chirping)

Yes. Yes it is. I don't know how in the world I've managed to be a borderline-obsessive knitter for the past six years and not complete a single one of her patterns. I *love* Elizabeth's writing. I *love* it when I see someone's finished project. Why haven't I done one of my own? I have no idea.

But I have now.

This...THIS is the Great Gray Thing.

The Great Gray Thing

This is five skeins of 220 Tweed wool, knit with #10 needles through fall football games and movies, through a few episodes of Lie To Me and The Walking Dead, through reading several books on my iPad's Kindle app.

This is 39,000 stitches. This, dearies, is the July (Pi) Shawl, where I increased up to 576 stitches with a faux-increase round every 6 rows, then added five repeats of gullwing lace, then did EZ's sideways 8-stitch applied i-cord-ish border. For most of October and November, my stitches were bunched up on the biggest Addi circular I had, and I knit blindly, having absolutely no idea what the finished product was going to be.

This is it stretched out.

Stretched Out

This is the reason I knit.

Wednesday, November 03, 2010


I've been sniffly, sneezy, sleepy, and a little bit achy lately, so last night it was time to make a pot of soup. The recipe is mellow, flavorful, comforting, and good enough to share; it owes a nod to this recipe (Deborah Madison, not Julia Child).

Fall soup

Potato Leek Soup With Chicken
makes about 6 good-sized bowls

1.5 pounds potatoes - either Yukon Gold or red potatoes will work
1.5 pounds leeks (remember to figure in that you won't be using the stalks...this is about 3 good-sized leeks)
1 rotisserie chicken, skinned and shredded
2 medium carrots
2 quarts organic free-range chicken broth (because I said so)
2 tbsp organic butter
a bit of heavy cream
2 bay leaves
black pepper

Rinse and slice the leeks and potatoes into 1/4" pieces (cut the leeks lengthwise, then slice them up, and cut a 3" potato into quarters, then slice). Peel and slice the carrots into 1/4" slices. If you're not familiar with leeks, you can use anything that's light green or white. The dark bits tend toward bitterness.

In a 6 qt dutch oven or other heavy pan suitable for soup, melt 2 tbsp butter on medium heat. Add the leeks and potatoes (this will look like a lot, but don't worry!), stir with a wooden spoon, and cover. Leave them alone for 10 minutes while you shred the chicken.

Remove the skin from the chicken, take the meat off the bones, and shred it with a fork. Use all of the white meat and add a bit of the thigh if you want for some more flavor (about 2-3 cups of shredded chicken). Save the drumsticks for a snack later. Once it's shredded, give it a rough chop with a kitchen knife to make manageable pieces. Set aside.

Stir your leeks and potatoes. Some sort of carmelizey happiness will be happening in the pot, just stir it up. Add the broth and scrub a little at the bottom of the pot with your spoon to sort of faux-deglaze it. Add 2 tsp pepper and 2 tsp salt (this recipe takes a lot of salt, and you'll probably salt it again). Cover the pot again, leave the heat on medium, and go away for 10 minutes.

Give the pot another stir, add the chicken and bay leaves, turn the heat to low, and cook for 45 minutes. Then fish out the bay leaves and add more salt and pepper if needed.

Serve it up and stir in a little bit of cream if you want - it's good both ways.

Friday, October 22, 2010

A Cautionary (Knitting) Tale

I seem to be doing a rather fantastic job lately of messing things up. At some point around a year ago, I went to the yarn shop on a Thursday night and bought two lovely skeins of ShiBui Sock. I started knitting some socks with it, and remembered writing myself some notes on gauge and needle size in the book. I finished the first sock, let the knitting drop...and when I went back to knit the second, I couldn't remember the name of the pattern, the book it was in, or if I had even used a pattern. (This is why you should always start a Ravelry project page for your new projects!)

A few months later, I found my Favorite Socks book (in my knitting bag, ugh) and guess what? It was right there, covered with some sort of half-intelligible sticky notes with a few directions to myself I started the second. Finished the second. And this lovely pair of socks...

Diagonal Rib Socks

...don't match. Everything is the same except I didn't go down far enough in needle size for the second, so I got an ugly pool of blue instead of a nice stripey sock.


That's not an elephant modeling the socks, by the way. That's just a bad camera angle.

I should have realized when I was running out of yarn (the ball is from the first, smaller sock, and the few little pieces are from the second, pooly, bigger sock).


These are the Diagonal Cross-Rib Socks from Favorite Socks. Please, if you make them, use the pattern journal (or make two at a time).


Fee says meh. She thinks they are fine. I agree. What do you think?

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Little Cat-Powered Rocket Ships

I think I have neglected knitting and this blog for so long I probably don't have any readers left. But if this post should pop up in your RSS feed and you stop by...welcome. I don't know what happened, or why I took such a long break, or why I suddenly can't stop knitting. I am dreaming in wool lately, y'all. So here are a few things that happened.

In January, my cat Grady had a serious problem with breathing, which led to an echocardiogram, which confirmed a diagnosis of advanced hypertrophic cardiomyopathy. (That's a common heart disease in cats...think of it as thickening of the heart muscle. It's progressive and there's no cure.) He seemed to do very well on medicine, just a little slower. In July, he stopped eating and things got a lot worse. (By worse I mean, no matter how much I tempted him with all his favorite food and treats, I still mostly had to shove food down his throat and hope he'd get better.) He lost 5 pounds. On September 30, I took him to the animal hospital to be boarded for a few days while I was in Michigan. He died in his sleep while I was away. While not totally unexpected, it was a bit of a surprise. He'd been outside to walk around with me every day for the last week or two and easily gone a hundred yards at one go. He seemed interested in life, and happy. The vet said his heart just stopped. He found him sitting with his nose touching the ground, his head tipped forward like he was resting.

Here is a picture of Grady as I remember him best.


Do you grieve the loss of a pet? Yes. You think you aren't going to, but then you see him everywhere. You accidentally call his name when you're looking for the other cat, the one who doesn't really know what happened and seems a little down herself. It's an odd feeling to know this little critter, who was cuddly and funny and mostly a big old grump, is just gone. He's not out there waiting for me to pick him up. He's just...not there.

I'm sure I've told enough crazy cat stories on this blog. My first knitting post in ages actually does have something to do with him, though. I decided to make these super-easy, totally awesome slippers back in August. I wasn't sure if I was going to like knitting again, so I went to JoAnn and spent as little as possible on some wool - some yarn by Debbie Stoller called Full O'Sheep. Turns out this stuff is a cat magnet.

All week long that week, I worked on those slippers. Whenever I set my knitting down, Grady got up from wherever he was and sat on it. Just those slippers - not the sock I had picked up again. I knitted the first big L and just let it sit so he could lay on it whenever he wanted. I ripped out the short side of the L and thought about making him a blanket, then decided to leave it since he liked it how it was. I was a little short of yarn, and decided not to finish them as long as he wanted to lay on them.

For two months, Grady sat on those almost-completed-but-not-felted slippers. When I dropped him off that day at the vet, I debated bringing them with me for him to lay on. Here is a very bad picture of Grady laying on the slippers.


Last weekend, I sewed the slippers up and felted them. I feel they have a sufficient amount of Grady fur in them to make them more than just a pair of slippers, but I won't go as far as to say I'd knit with cat hair. The slippers are so comfortable and thick, like a pair of felted socks. I absolutely love them. They look like little rocket ships (for future pairs I might choose more subdued colors). Yes, I could have done a better job sewing them. But they are just fine as they are.

Norwegian House Slippers

Norwegian House Slippers

Norwegian House Slippers

And that is the story of my Schmady Slippers.

Wednesday, September 01, 2010

it's been a YEAR?

Where have I BEEN?

Granny's Monster Blanket

Nowhere, really. I'm still making granny squares and also hexagons and knitting socks but I am not talking about knitting so much anymore. I did recently start reading knit blogs again, so...we'll see.

But I did order a copy of the Knitter's Almanac: Commemorative Edition and I'm very excited about that.

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

long lost

Been crocheting like mad. Knit "Heelless Sleeping Socks" for my Gran from Knitting Vintage Socks. Seriously contemplating making a Babette blanket in Fisherman's Wool (maybe even all one colour).

Confession: I'm a Twitter addict. I'd love to say I had more to say than 140 characters, but mostly I just tweet.

But I miss my blog. Tonight I read over at Ravelry that 282 people have made my Arch-Shaped sock pattern. That is just wow.

I love all of you. :) If you love yarn, you are my friend.

Monday, April 20, 2009

Dear Everyone

Dear Everyone,

I have just now realized that I ***must*** make granny squares. LOTS of granny squares. How should I channel all this ambition?

I think I need to place an order with KnitPicks. This week I also bought a new bag from Swell, a cat tree, and it's only Monday.

Can someone come over and hide my wallet for me? Thx.


Wednesday, March 11, 2009

American Idol Bingo, week 4 (first finals week)

I put this together every year at work, and decided to share 'em this year online too.


Friday, February 13, 2009

Where have I been?

Mostly microblogging on Twitter - or whatever you call it. I keep up a pretty steady stream there all day and send my recent tweets to the blog sidebar. Just don't have much knitting to talk about or much to say knitwise. Sorry for that, but now at least you know where to find me. I'm @jenshow. :) Will probably start blogging American Idol soon.

Happy Valentine's Day! xo - jen

Thursday, January 15, 2009

Back at it!

I'm almost done with a sock! I've been working on a lovely yellow Reversi sock in Louet Gems sock yarn:


(Yes, I took that pic with my iPhone and then used the 1974 filter in Camera Bag.)

I love knitting. I have taken so long off that I'm not anywhere near what I used to be - can't knit for hours at a time - but what I'm doing, I love. :) Happy Thursday!

Monday, January 12, 2009


In response to PETA's latest publicity stunt (calling fish "sea-kittens" in the hopes it will make people stop eating them), Grady and Fee request that you now refer to them as The Land Fish.