I get so much use out of my Shameless hat and mitts this time of year, but especially the hat:
I have closed comments on this thread because I don’t have the time or energy to respond to the negativity that this post has begun to generate (I’m leaving the comments there, though). It’s fairly predictable pushback, a cycle I’ve seen many times online before, and I don’t want to contribute to it. While I have been assured that my original post was not inflammatory or unfair, I am altering some of the language in it. I can’t prove that my concept was copied – is there such a thing as coincidence? sure! is there such a thing as parallel thought? sure! do I think that’s what happened with this concept? not really! But I also don’t know the individual designer and I don’t want to be unfair to her. My issue was with a big company more than an individual.
To the question of why I didn’t try harder to reach out to the company or designer, and why I waited three months to write this post – my regular readers know that I’ve had a lot of trauma and grief in my life in these last few months. I don’t think I need to justify myself any further about that.
Last year, I was so excited to release my free conceptual knitting idea into the world. Crackerjack was initially created as a baseball-themed infinity scarf, a way of charting one team’s progress over a single season. It was inspired by other conceptual knitting ideas, and I freely gave credit and linked to those. In my release of the customizable download, I encouraged people to interpret it however they would like – not only with baseball, but with hockey or football, or whatever sport they liked.
At the end of the 2014 baseball season, I finished my Detroit Tigers version:
I was so happy with how it turned out. But more than that, I was so pleased with the response. I loved watching people interpret the concept for themselves, and I loved hearing from people about their own enthusiasm for baseball and for this project. High-profile knitters and designers tweeted their nice comments and sometimes their own works-in-progress. Someone even sent me this article from their local newspaper, about my design. And then, even Knit Picks posted a picture on Instagram of a Crackerjack-in-progress – what a thrill! I felt I’d come up with a genuinely unique idea, and that people liked it.
Then late this summer, 18 months after I published the concept, someone alerted me to the fact that a large yarn company was promoting a concept with a striking resemblance to what I thought was a unique and pretty specific idea.
I’ve seen this happen plenty of times before, where a large company takes an idea or an inspiration from an independent designer, profiting from their work on a much larger scale than the independent designer. We like to think the knitting community is kind and mutually supportive, but I have seen this happen many times and heard sad tales of it from others. In my case, I wasn’t making a profit from my idea – I was giving it away, encouraging people to interpret it however they would like (including using it for hockey or football). It was a concept, not a pure pattern, but with some pattern and calculation support. I did it because of my love of knitting, my love of baseball, and my love of the knitting community. However, as an independent designer, even my free designs can indirectly contribute to my livelihood, because sometimes, when a person knits one of my free designs, they then check out and purchase one of my paid patterns. Or they visit my blog, which in the past (but not currently) has had some advertising revenue linked to it.
But mostly, for me, the issue is not lost revenue but an issue of integrity. Given that the company and designer are also giving the design away for free (but presumably profiting from yarn sales, as the pattern is designed for one of their yarns), why couldn’t they give credit to the source of their inspiration, just as I gave credit to the sources of my inspiration? What would that have cost them?
edited to add: It’s entirely possible that I am wrong about all of this, and that, as suggested by some in the comments section, this is a matter of coincidence or “parallel thought.” It’s a pretty specific idea, and executed precisely like mine, and well after mine was published, so I’m not inclined to see it as a coincidence. But if it were a case of coincidence, it would have been very easy for the company or designer to say that to me when I contacted them in August.
I will say that, as a designer, I do a thorough search of Ravelry before I publish anything (and, in contrast to what a commenter says below, there was nothing I could find on Ravelry before I published Crackerjack that was a sport-themed conceptual knitting pattern – I do wonder if some of the commenters know what I’m talking about when I talk about conceptual knitting). When I search Ravelry to make sure what I’ve come up with doesn’t too closely resemble someone else’s design, I clarify for myself how my design is different, and from where my sources of inspiration came. If I were ever to be contacted by someone who thought one of my designs too closely resembled theirs, I would be very ready to make a response.
Crackerjack was an idea that was so close to my heart, my little brainchild, a genuinely fun and creative idea, and something I felt very proud of. I’m flattered that a company of some size and influence thought the idea was worthy of imitating. I’m less flattered at the lack of communication regarding the inspiration.
This is not an April fools joke! The free Crackerjack Socks worksheet is available now in my Ravelry store.
These are toe-up with an afterthought heel and optional calf-shaping. As we go through the season, I’ll be posting updates on my own knitting, including some detailed photos and explanations when I get to the afterthought heel. In the meantime, feel free to ask any questions you might have.
Let the games begin!
I don’t know how it is where you are, but where I am, it is very cold and there is more than a foot of fresh snow on the ground and I am NOT COMPLAINING. Because I am a knitter. Which means I am happy for any excuse to: a) sit inside and knit, and b) haul out all my woolens and wear them all at once. I’ve been told that the reason I think a cold, snowy winter is so lovely is because I’m not the one that digs our cars out of the snow after it’s all over. And this is true. Because not only am I a knitter, but apparently I am also a princess. A princess who is happy to sit inside in her handknit socks with a cup of hot tea by her side and needles in her hands.
Sometimes those hands need warming up, even when I stay inside. Some people find fingerless mitts to be utterly useless; I find them to be indispensable. Especially if they are the kind that I can also pull up over my fingers while I read. Because wearing mittens inside while reading is ridiculous, but wearing fingerless mitts pulled up over your fists is not ridiculous, it is brilliant.
For Christmas, I wanted to make a special pair of fingerless mitts for my stepson’s girlfriend. She’s a massage therapist with a magical touch (she is SO GOOD, y’all), and her hands deserved something extra-special. So I spun up some prized fiber – a gorgeous silky cashmerino from FLUFF, an amazing but not currently in-business independent dyer. The fiber started like this:
And then I spun it into this:
The blues evoked for me the gorgeous Great Lakes, and the silvery browns called to mind the Petoskey stones (fossilized coral from more than 350 million years ago – and our state rock!) that can be found along the lakeshore. Lindsay is a true Michigan girl who loves the lakes and their landscape. I’m calling this simple design “Charlevoix,” after the town where she has spent a lot of happy time beach-going and rock-hunting.
I never got a single picture that truly captured the yummy colors and texture of this yarn or these mitts. But as you can probably imagine, the silky cashmerino has a delicious look and feel to it. The mitts are smooth, lightweight, and slightly nubbly.
They are also the most basic possible knit – you just make a tube, as long or as short as you wish – and embellish it with a baby cable as you go.
A baby cable is the simplest cable in the world to make, and you certainly don’t need a cable needle to do it. It’s made over two stitches – every third round, you knit the two stitches together but leave them on the lefthand needle, then knit into the first stitch on the lefthand needle, then slip both stitches off. Offset by a purl stitch on either side, it’s just a sweet, simple little detail. I love baby cables!
These took about half the yarn I spun – so roughly 150 yards of light worsted – which means I have enough yarn leftover for another pair (or a matching accessory). They were extremely fast to make, too, making them perfect gift-knitting (or perfect in-between-big-project-knitting).
I’m sure you could figure out how to make these just from the pictures and my description – knit a tube, make a baby cable along one edge of it – but in case not, I’ve put together a one-page pdf explanation, which includes three sizes. You can find it for free in my Ravelry store: download now
I’m joining in the Cyber Monday fun and offering 20% off all my knitting patterns from now through Sunday. No code required – just go to my pattern page and click “Buy Now” on any pattern, and the discount will be automatically applied. Or go through my Ravelry pattern store. Either way, happy knitting!
So from the beginning – and by “beginning” I mean since, like August or September or whenever it was I first had this idea – I’ve been planning to use my beloved Stonehedge Fiber Mills Shepherd’s Wool in worsted for my Crackerjack. And now all of a sudden, on the verge of casting on, I find myself second-guessing myself, because of the colors. As I’ve mentioned, the navy I ordered last fall actually looked more like black. So I had finally settled on using what is labelled as Royal Blue but tends towards navy, though it’s not a true navy.
It looks more royal in this picture than it is in real life.
When I showed the yarn to My Old Man, he told me that the blue was fine but that the white was off!! It really is more of a cream.
Then I pulled out some Brown Sheep Naturespun sportweight, left over from my child’s Chevron Love Mittens. When I compared it to the Stonehedge, the colors looked perfect:
The Brown Sheep colors look so crisp together – they seem truer to the actual Tigers colors, don’t they? Of course I would need to order more – in orange and grey (I think “Orange You Glad” and “Grey Heather”) but also more of the navy and white, since I don’t even have full skeins of that. These skeins are much smaller than the Stonehedge, so I think I’ll need two skeins of each color to make sure I have enough. A sportweight will also give me a different gauge, so I’m going to swatch this weekend and change all my calculations.
Even though I think I’ll be ordering all new yarn for this, I should still be okay for Opening Day (48 hours away – woohoo!) since the Tigers start at home, and navy and white are my home game colors.
You guys! It’s almost time to cast on!
Opening Day is almost here!! Which means it’s also almost time to cast on for Crackerjack – woohoo! It’s been very fun to watch people’s knitting plans come together. As you know, the free downloadable worksheet is available now. But as you are making your plans, here are a few additional thoughts:
- Yarn yardage. I didn’t stipulate yardage in the worksheet – it’s difficult to know how to estimate when we are all using whichever yarn we prefer, and when some people are using four colors while others are only using two or three. The yarn I’m using comes in skeins of 250 yards (yet another thing to love about Stonehedge Fiber Mills!) and I’m using four colors. I think 1000 yards (light worsted) will be more than enough for this scarf, but I could certainly be wrong, especially, if, say, the Tigers go on a winning streak and I have to use up all my blue. I will happily order more yarn if that happens! I can tell you that with my handspun Spy vs. Spy, I used 8 ounces of yarn for a 55″ tube. Stonehedge Fiber Mills Worsted comes in skeins of 250 yards to 3.99 ounces. So 8 ounces of that yarn would come out to a little more than 500 yards. So you can see that my approach is to estimate things based on my experience with this yarn and this type of tube, but it’s not a very specific or mathematic approach – so if others want to ring in with how you would estimate yardage for this kind of tube, let me know!
- Colorwork options. Janinga wrote in to say, “If the tube ends up a little short (as it might for a hockey season, say), one could add some team themed fair isle a la the “favorite things” cowl. I’m considering this for a red wings scarf.” WHOA – wouldn’t that be awesome?! It actually makes me want to make my loop smaller than I’d planned and then knit a big blue old English D on a white field to finish it off. Wouldn’t that be fun?
- Rav group. Kat start a Rav group for Crackerjack knitters. Yay! If you’re on Rav, come join us! I love that we have a place now to keep up with who is doing what, and what teams people are cheering for.
It’s still cold here, but with Opening Day almost here, I feel certain spring will show up soon!
All right, y’all. Things are getting real up in here! I’ve got the downloadable worksheet already to go for you on Ravelry – you can check it out here (that link will directly download it). If you want to read more about this concept, you can check out my original explanation here.
The downloadable worksheet includes a color key to fill in with your team’s colors coded to wins, losses, home, and away. There is also a chart for you to plug in your gauge numbers and figure out your calculations for cast on and estimated length. I don’t actually do the math for you – you’re smart! you can do that part yourself! – but I do try to help you figure it all out. I’m happy to answer any questions if there are things that are confusing.
When I first had this idea, I didn’t realize how many teams had red, white, and blue as their colors! We are going to look like a very patriotic bunch!
I think I have sorted out my color conundrum (I had become undecided between “Creamsicle” – a light heather orange – and “Orange” – a brighter, truer orange), and I’ve gotten my gauge swatch done. Now I am going to wind the rest of my yarn and count the days till next Monday. I’m looking forward to cheering and knitting along with the rest of you!
Thanks so much for all the Crackerjack love! It’s been so great to know there are so many knitting baseball fans out there, and it’s been exciting to hear from folks who think this concept is a fun idea! I can’t wait to see all the different iterations of this.
I’m working on a free downloadable worksheet for the project – a place to plug in all your calculations as well as keep a record of your color key. In the meantime, I know that lots of you are already busy picking yarn. As I mentioned, I’m going with my beloved Stonehedge Shepherd’s Mill Worsted (a Michigan yarn!), though I’m suddenly on the fence trying to decide between two different shades of orange.
Cathi, a Colorado Rockies fan, is thinking she’ll go with an aran weight, and she’s decided to use two different shades of grey (instead of one grey and one white). Here’s the key she made:
On the left you can see part of the pattern that would have been made by following last year’s record. I think her scarf is going to look so great – don’t you just love Colorado’s colors?
If you are planning to knit a Crackerjack, what yarn are you thinking? Have you figured out which color to use to show wins and losses, at home and away?
(And any Tigers fans want to give me a hint about what shade of orange you’re using? I’m quite torn between the bright orange I showed you on Thursday and a much subtler shade I have on-hand).
I know that most sports fans right now have their minds on basketball, but not me. It’s officially spring now (WOOHOO!) and I can’t help it – I am leaning towards baseball season, hard. Please tell me I have some fellow baseball fans out there, yes?
I grew up as an Atlanta Braves fan, like my mama and my grandmother, and it took me more than a decade of living in Michigan to finally open my heart to the Tigers – I had a hard time making the switch from National League to American League love (thanks to that pesky designated hitter rule). But once I did, I became a fully committed fan. Now, I am ALL IN.
All my fellas are all in, too. It’s been great fun for My Old Man (a lifelong Cardinals fan) and me to introduce our kids to the love of baseball.
What does any of this have to do with knitting? A lot, actually, but I will have to save most of my musings for another day. For now, I just want to talk a little about a conceptual knitting project I have in mind, and to see if anyone else might want to join me.
Are you familiar with conceptual knitting? The first conceptual knitting project I’m aware of was the Sky Scarf, by Lea Redmond. The idea is to knit a scarf that matched the sky – a different garter stripe each day based on the weather: rainy, cloudy, sunny. It’s a very cool concept, and it makes each project unique to the knitter, based on when and where s/he knits the scarf. A similar concept really took off last year, with the My Year in Temperatures scarf, each stripe representing the actual temperature of the day. I’m captivated by the idea of conceptual knitting not only because of the uniqueness of the finished project, but also because it’s a long-term idea executed in very small increments – if you keep up with it, you only need to knit a little each day, and at the end you have a kind of living document of that year or season.
I was thinking about conceptual knitting last fall, as I was eagerly cheering my team on in the postseason as well as wishing for a Tigers-colored handknit to keep me warm in October. The idea for Crackerjack took hold of me and wouldn’t let go. Now that this year’s regular season is about to begin, I am ready to make it happen.
The plan is to create an infinity cowl that I start on the first day of the regular season and finish on the last day of the regular season, with the hope of getting to wear it during the postseason while cheering my team on to the World Series (a girl can dream!). Here’s how it’s going to work. Detroit Tigers colors are navy blue, white, and orange. Since they wear grey uniforms for away games (as all teams do), I’m going to throw grey into the mix as well. So I’m going to work this project in those four colors – blue, white, orange, and grey – and I’m going to assign each color to a home win, a home loss, a win away, and a loss away. I’m going with white for home and grey for away since those correspond with the uniforms for those games. So here’s what I came up with:
Please to be ignoring my terrible writing.
And here’s how a portion of it would have looked if I had done at the beginning of last season:
I think it’s going to be super-fun to see how the colors stripe and block, based on how the season goes. I hope there will be a LOT of blue and grey!
And here are my yarns:
The blue I’m going with is actually not a navy – I bought some navy last fall and it was so dark it looked black. Paired with the orange, it looked like I was getting ready for Halloween. I don’t want actual tiger stripes in this project, just Tigers stripes. But the blue I’ve got is not quite as royal as it looks in this picture (nor is the orange as neon as it might seem here). Stonehedge Fiber Mills is one of my favorite yarns, and it’s Michigan-made, which is a bonus.
I’m wondering if anyone else out there might want to try this with me? I would suggest going with white for a home game (either win or loss) and grey for away (either win or loss). If your team only has one additional color (like the New York Yankees, for instance, whose colors are navy blue, white, and grey), then I would suggest picking whichever color you like the best and assign that one to all wins, whether at home or on the road. So taking the Yanks as an example, you might do blue for wins both at home and on the road, white for home losses, and grey for road losses. Assuming a lot of wins, you would have a scarf with a lot of blue, interspersed with lines and blocks of white and grey.
Personally, I think this will be a fun way to chart the 2014 season for myself, not to mention that, by late September I will have a Detroit Tigers infinity cowl to wear while I watch the postseason.
I’ve created a pattern page on Ravelry. It has the most rudimentary instructions there (essentially what I’ve already said here), but I will be updating it in time for Opening Day, with an actual (free) download – it will be more of a recipe than a full-on pattern, so that you can use whatever yarn you’d like at whatever gauge that works for you. I just thought I’d go ahead and post all of this now, in case anyone would like to join me – so that you have a little time to gather your yarn.