Back to previous post: An Hour In Sp@m

Go to Making Light's front page.

Forward to next post: 2012 Graphic Story Hugos

Subscribe (via RSS) to this post's comment thread. (What does this mean? Here's a quick introduction.)

February 25, 2012

What a tangled web we knit
Posted by Abi Sutherland at 08:29 AM * 84 comments

One of the things one notices, reading about publishing, is how trouble just seems to follow certain people around. An imprint they own will fail in some horrendous and spectacular fashion. So they start another, and it all goes wrong again. They create a new parent company, and its properties also go south in regular and predictable ways. Word gets out that authors aren’t being paid (or paid on time, or the right amounts). Excuses and promises are made. Holding companies fall and rise again under new names. Lather, rinse, and repeat with new authors.

The fiction world is used to this kind of thing. There are resources like Writer Beware and the Absolute Write Water Cooler where these stories get told for the edification of the community. We’ve even done our small part here on Making Light.

As I’ve been discovering over the past few months, the craft world has its own trouble-magnets, vendors whose yarn never seems to arrive with the people who order it and publishers whose magazines change names and holding companies when the going gets tough. But there’s no investigative subculture that I’m aware of; the main online hangout for the fiber arts community, Ravelry, is not externally indexed and is limited to registered members. It also actively discourages the sorts of discussions that make up AW’s Bewares, Recommendations and Background Checks board. (I don’t blame the owners of Ravelry. It would get messy, and not every community is run by a Mac Stone.)

So when one of my friends mentioned that a British magazine had failed to pay his wife, a knitting designer, and that this magazine was known in the community for that kind of behavior, I could investigate the matter a little. But all of the useful sources were behind the Ravelry password, and few of them were as blunt and clear as your average fiction publishing trainwreck narrative. I found it fascinating—but unbloggable.

Well, the murder’s out on the wider internet now. Eight days ago, Ruth Garcia-Alcantud of Rock and Purl wrote an open letter to the publisher in question, not naming them. It got picked up and retweeted within the community, and she followed it up with a more specific entry. Other designers and bloggers, such as Anniken Annis, Joy Gerhardt and Alex Tinsley have also described their experiences. I won’t repeat the stories here; you should click through and read them in full. The short version is that designers talk about seeing their work in knitting magazines, but not getting what their contracts say they should receive in return.

It’s worth, when reading these accounts, understanding a little bit about the process of selling knitting patterns to magazines. It’s interestingly similar and dissimilar to selling fiction to paying markets. I’ll let my friend explain the typical lifecycle of a pattern sale:

[F]or the vast majority of patterns, the process starts with a publisher announcing a call for submissions, generally including a theme, sometimes including a “mood board” or image collage, and including expected milestone dates (submission deadline, finished pattern deadline, sample deadline, anticipated publication date). A designer will submit materials called for in the call for submissions, generally including at least some of a written description, a sketch, and a swatch showing stitches that will appear in the finished work, done in an appropriate needle gauge and an appropriately sized yarn, but usually not in a yarn of any specific make or color. The publisher chooses on the basis of such submissions. Note that these submissions do not include complete patterns or complete finished objects.

When the publisher chooses a pattern, they reply with a proposed written contract. Designer and publisher negotiate as necessary, and sign contract. (Negotiation is usually quite brief.) Designer and publisher correspond regarding what yarn would be good for the pattern and approximately how much is needed. Publisher sources the yarn and sends it to designer free of charge; this is called “yarn support”. Designer writes the pattern and knits one object in the pattern, of size requested by publisher, for purposes of photography and other publicity; this object is the “sample”. Designer sends pattern and sample to publisher. This fulfills designer’s obligations under the contract. Depending on the contract, publisher’s obligation to pay may be triggered on receipt and acceptance of pattern and sample, or may not trigger until actual publication.

Contracts may vary, but generally, ownership of the sample remains with the designer, and ownership of resulting photographs remain with publisher. Copyright of the pattern remains with the designer; publisher receives distribution rights for a few years, generally exclusive, but not always. Publisher receives and retains samples for photography and promotion purposes, but does not own samples, and is generally obligated under contract to exercise reasonable care with samples and to return them within some set period (generally matching the term of exclusive distribution rights) after publication.

From my further reading, I gather that the designer may sometimes supply the yarn for the sample rather than the publisher so doing, and that some contracts leave ownership of the sample with the publisher rather than the designer. But the important aspects of the transaction are: supply of yarn to the designer, ownership and treatment of the sample, timing of payment, and distribution rights. Only the first of those seems to have gone well, perhaps because without the sample the design can’t be published.

I’ve done some searches on the people and entities described in those blog entries, just to verify the details. Sometime before 2005, Kerrie Allman started an online knitting magazine, MagKnits. She took over a yarn supplier, HipKnits, in 2005. In 2008, she and Louise Butt founded a company called KAL Media. It ran a series of craft magazines, both online and in print, including MagKnits (which was closed abruptly in an internet firestorm in 2008), Yarn Forward (which closed in 2011), Knit (started in 2011, but continuing YF issue numbering and publishing at least one pattern contracted to YF), Inside Crochet, Sew Hip, Handmade Living, and Simply Beautiful. KAL Media closed in 2011, and has just been liquidated. The last-surviving iteration of magazines is now published by All Craft Media, whose sole remaining director is Wayne Allman. The group is also launching a new magazine, Modern Quilting, on the 28th of this month.

Now, it appears that the internet has just fallen on Allman and ACM over the past few days, probably as a result of the blog posts. She’s been getting the same kind of edge-case crap that people who catch the Net’s roving eye always do (having got some of it myself, I sympathize), but she’s also got some genuine opprobrium coming her way. Damage control has started: yesterday, ACM announced that Kerrie Allman “will…move into a new role”, and [another name]* will take over as publisher.

I suspect Allman is not a scammer like Robert Fletcher, but more akin to Sandra Hicks of Aspen Mountain Press—a publisher who got overwhelmed and lost track of the details.

Unfortunately, those details seem to have included payment of designers (including my friend’s wife), the return of samples, the tracking of rights on patterns, and the supply of promised yarns to sock and amigurumi clubs. [New editor]*, the Allmans, and everyone associated with those presses, has a lot of work ahead of them to make things right with the crafting community. I suspect that, having broken silence, the people affected are unlikely to keep quiet if this doesn’t happen. I’ll certainly be watching with interest.

Also, and more broadly, I’m interested to see what mechanisms the crafting community develops to police itself. Having seen the particular ways that Ravelry has grown over time, I suspect that said mechanisms will be fascinating.

ETA: There is now an Absolute Write Bewares, Recommendations & Background Checks thread on All Craft Media. If you’re not familiar with Absolute Write, this room there is a place for people thinking of submitting to a given publisher to discuss their experiences. It’s a good clearinghouse for stories of non-payment and other issues, as well as for positive experiences and general knowledge-sharing.

* Name redacted by request—Abi

Comments on What a tangled web we knit:
#1 ::: Serge Broom ::: (view all by) ::: February 25, 2012, 10:45 AM:

this magazine was known in the community for that kind of behavior, I could investigate the matter a little

Knit and Knora Charles are on the case.

#2 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: February 25, 2012, 10:49 AM:

...when honest payment we omit?

#3 ::: abi ::: (view all by) ::: February 25, 2012, 11:05 AM:

Fragano @2:

My initial try at a rhyme ended with a slightly stronger word.

#4 ::: Naomi Parkhurst ::: (view all by) ::: February 25, 2012, 12:24 PM:

I know there are some knitting/crochet designers who are trying to figure out a more general system for making sure designers know how to tell if a particular publisher is reliable. I'm not involved in that conversation because I'm not interested in getting my designs published by someone else, but I should have thought about Writer Beware and the Absolute Write Water Cooler; I will probably bring them up in the relevant thread the next time I'm on Ravelry.

Thank you for this.

#5 ::: abi ::: (view all by) ::: February 25, 2012, 01:47 PM:

Naomi Parkhurst @4:

I'm glad to hear that the community's looking at this problem.

By the way, when I said that I expected that whatever solution would arise was fascinating, I meant that literally and unironically. I've watched the growth of Ravelry with a lot of interest and admiration; it's a complex and viable community and a tribute to the deep culture of the fiber arts. I'm sure whatever comes next will be something worth watching.

#6 ::: Natalie L. ::: (view all by) ::: February 25, 2012, 02:12 PM:

After what happened in 2008 with MagKnits, I would never, ever, ever enter into a business arrangement where Kerrie Allman was involved. And I am not as generous as you: I think she is a scammer. Getting in over your head once is forgiveable. Getting in over your head multiple times is a pattern. She's using the tendency of the knitting and crafting community to want to appear nice to perpetuate her business scams. She's not the only one--look up Jo Watson sometime. Also Eliza/Violet of Lime and Violet. And Mystical Creations Yarn, whose owner faked her own death when people started calling her out on non-fulfillment of orders and poor product quality.

While I love Ravelry in a lot of ways, the fact that it is not a public site bugs (and there are people who think that because Rav isn't public they can put all sorts of personal information in the forums and hello, anyone can get an account these days). As long as the vast majority of these conversations happen in a place that is semi-private and which has a culture which actively perpetuates the appearance of niceness, nothing is going to change with regards to these serial scammers. Or rather: it's not going to happen on Ravelry. It's going to have to happen elsewhere and it's going to have to be driven by designers and, I think, by knitters/crocheters/quilters/crafters themselves.

#7 ::: Debbie ::: (view all by) ::: February 25, 2012, 05:02 PM:

Natalie L., that's an interesting point about Ravelry not being public, but people who are on Ravelry are also discussing these scams elsewhere, including Facebook, Twitter, and other craft boards. And ML :-)

#8 ::: m.k. ::: (view all by) ::: February 25, 2012, 06:09 PM:

I happen to be working with Ruth Garcia-Alcantud (I'm the series editor for the Fresh Designs Crochet books being published by Cooperative Press; Ruth is one of the contributing designers). I've suggested she read this post and comments; as a longtime reader of Making Light I've gleaned quite a bit of information specific to writers that is also applicable to knit/crochet pattern designers. I'll be back later today - more to say about this when I get to a full-sized keyboard.

#9 ::: Natalie L. ::: (view all by) ::: February 25, 2012, 07:13 PM:

Debbie, that's a valid point, but the first place most people I know would go to find out this sort of information is Ravelry. And I've seen so many conversations there get shut down because people were angry or upset over getting ripped off and TPTB there explicitly do not want the site to become a clearinghouse for these sorts of complaints/discussions.

I have no clue, for instance, where to even begin looking for this on Facebook or who the right people to follow on Twitter are. As for other boards, well, all the ones I belonged to are essentially ghost towns in the wake of Ravelry. The centralization of the knitting community on one website is, in a lot of ways, worrisome. But that's another discussion entirely.

#10 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: February 25, 2012, 07:30 PM:

Abi #3: I'm just an innocent youth, I suppose.

#11 ::: Henning Makholm ::: (view all by) ::: February 25, 2012, 11:13 PM:

One obvious difference is that in fiction publishing, the authors are generally expected to spin their yarns themselves.


#12 ::: MacAllister ::: (view all by) ::: February 26, 2012, 12:07 AM:

A conversation about this situation would be entirely welcome on AbsoluteWrite: We have the Bewares room, we have a Crafting room, and we have pretty solid Google juice. But we're not where most people would think to look. However, I'm afraid we're not a place it would occur for pattern designers to check, before submitting -- in spite of the inevitable overlap between online communities of pattern designers, writers, and freelancers.

I don't actually know enough about any of the various convolutions to start or inform such a thread, myself -- to my chagrin, Abi had to fill me in about what Ravelry actually was or did (I generally go lurk on Blacksmithing forums, when I'm online but not on AW...)

But generally speaking, my impression is that people look to their own communities for warnings about dodgy and exploitive companies -- so they aren't likely to be Googling for information. Like Abi, I'm very interested in the mechanisms by which the knitting/fiber arts online community will develop those warning systems.

#13 ::: MacAllister ::: (view all by) ::: February 26, 2012, 12:10 AM:

That'll teach me to post without RE-previewing. I can only beg your collective indulgence for the rather glaring editorial revision flaws.

#14 ::: TexAnne ::: (view all by) ::: February 26, 2012, 06:31 AM:

The Knitter's Review forums seem to be doing very well, even post-Ravelry. But I don't hang out there, so I can't tell you about the board culture. The Rav moderators are very firm about the "Ravelry is not customer service" rule, and will block people and archive threads at what I consider the drop of a hat. It's an interesting version of moderating, and they're always trying to make things better. (Of course, the biggest difference is that they deleted the big all-members all-topics board because the flamewars and trolls were sucking up a disproportionate amount of modly attention.)

Rav does have groups whose mods set their own rules, and I know that some of those groups are aimed at designers. Possibly they'll serve as a clearinghouse for complaints? Or the members might decide to take it off-Rav.

#15 ::: Debbie ::: (view all by) ::: February 26, 2012, 06:40 AM:

It seems that there are two issues here: One is spreading useful information about scams. The other is publishing patterns per se.

Ravelry started in 2007. Before that, knitters* shared information online via blogs, the fora on places like Knittyboards and Knitter's Forum, and on specialized groups such as Knitting Beyond the Hebrides (for stranded colorwork, in case you're wondering). There's still a huge number of knitters, including yarn store owners, who have little connection to the internet, whether for knitting or in the rest of their lives. Then as now, it's hit or miss whether one finds out about problems, depending on whether you read the right things. So I'm really not sure how to improve the situation.

As for designers and publishing, IANADesigner, but it looks to me like designers are certainly talking to each other about a -lot- of issues on Ravelry. I also have the impression that they are especially active in going back and forth between their own blogs and Rav.

*and crocheters! and dyers! and other fibery people!

#16 ::: Naomi Parkhurst ::: (view all by) ::: February 26, 2012, 06:53 AM:

Individual groups on Ravelry do have more leeway about topics than the official forums. However, there are community guidelines which apply across all forums, including the individual groups. So, while the individual groups can swear to their hearts' content and discuss politics or religion, they still have to abide by the 'Ravelry is not customer service' rule. The moderators on the busiest designers group are thorough about enforcing this.

#17 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: February 26, 2012, 01:20 PM:

Naomi, #16: Maybe this is just me, but I wouldn't classify information about scams as "customer service". Public service, perhaps.

#18 ::: TexAnne ::: (view all by) ::: February 26, 2012, 02:41 PM:

Lee, 17: So would I. Unfortunately, the Rav PTB are strict constructionists.

#19 ::: rams ::: (view all by) ::: February 26, 2012, 03:00 PM:

Oh, Mystical Creations Yarn in the frontier days of Ravelry. Them was the days. I came in a little late as that developed, and couldn't get away ... it was developing every ten minutes. As satisfying when an uber-geek got the cyber-goods on her (proved she was in Arizona, not Massachusetts or wherever she said she was) as any Agatha Christie. Thanks for the memories.

#20 ::: Naomi Parkhurst ::: (view all by) ::: February 26, 2012, 03:15 PM:

Lee @17 I wouldn't interpret it that way either, frankly. But it's how the owners of the site have chosen to go with it - and as Abi said in her post, I don't blame them. I used to be one of the official Ravelry Helpers back when the site was new (which is to say that I helped answer support emails and questions on the Help chat back when the site was only about 50,000 accounts; it will have 2 million accounts in just a few days. More than a quarter of those accounts are active every week.) I quit volunteering as a Helper before I got burned out, but I am still friends with several of the main mods and I have some idea of what they have to cope with already.

At this point, I would be more hopeful about the possibilities of a site outside Ravelry. MacAllister's offer upthread certainly seems like a possibility for an information clearinghouse, though as MacAllister said, I would wonder about its visibility to the people who most need it: new designers are the people who have made it possible for Kerrie Allman to continue publishing her magazines, because they hadn't even seen the posts with cryptic allusions that are the sort of thing allowed on Ravelry.

Perhaps if enough designers were involved in adding information to Absolute Write and linking via blog posts?

One question I would have is this: many designers can't earn enough to make a living from designing (no surprise there). Many of them also teach classes at shops and the knitting equivalent of conventions. Just as there are publishers who are unreliable, there are also trade show organizers who are unreliable (see Natalie L's reference to Jo Watson). It might make sense to have a place where people can discuss not only publishers, but event organizers and people who sell fiber arts tools and supplies.

(The funny thing is that I am mostly an interested spectator, despite dabbling (so far) in designing for money. I am strictly self-published because I know my limitations when it comes to deadlines.)

#21 ::: Debbie ::: (view all by) ::: February 26, 2012, 03:46 PM:

rams @19 -- believe it or not, it seems that she's moved on and re-surfaced in the indie cosmetic community.

#22 ::: Don Fitch ::: (view all by) ::: February 26, 2012, 05:11 PM:

I kinda wish Ravelry were accessible to outsiders -- I'm not really qualified to Join, but have seen some fascinating ... ummm, reprints, if that's the word,.. of posts made there, and I'm getting an area ready to plant a half-pound of flax seeds, so I might find it helpful.  And I'm always interested in the machinations of Scammers, in an abstract way.

Meanwhile, I'll try some other (printed on paper) sources for information on the more complex setts for Osage-style finger-wovern sashes.

#23 ::: Naomi Parkhurst ::: (view all by) ::: February 26, 2012, 05:16 PM:

Don @22 - you don't have to be a fiber artist to sign up for a Ravelry account. I know of people who have signed up to discuss all kinds of things in the groups that aren't fiber-related. (And various spouses have even signed up so they could go admire the database programming.) If you're interested in growing flax, there are definitely groups that would be happy to discuss that with you!

And if you're weaving? There are multiple groups you'd enjoy; you can even enter your projects into the personal notebook.

#24 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: February 26, 2012, 05:34 PM:

Naomi, #20: Here's a thought. Assuming that MacAllister was able to get a fiber-arts clearinghouse forum set up on AW, would Ravelry be willing to feature a link to it? Seems like they could take significant work off the mods by telling people, "If you want to talk about crafting scams, you can do it over here." That puts a reference in the place where most people are going to look.

Also, does Ravelry have a kumihimo section by any chance? That would interest me.

#25 ::: Naomi Parkhurst ::: (view all by) ::: February 26, 2012, 06:07 PM:

Lee @24 I don't know if an official link would be forthcoming or not. If someone puts something together, I'd be willing to suggest it to them. I'd also suggest it to the mods of the designer group, which has its own little wiki of pertinent information for designers. Group mods are generally different from the PTB and the mods for the official boards, and have a lot of leeway.

There are two groups specifically listed for kumihimo, though the discussion in them is slow - newest post is a month ago. There are occasional more recent posts in other groups, however. I feel like I've been seeing more references to it lately, but maybe that's because I've never done it and like learning a range fiber arts.

You wouldn't be able to list kumihimo projects in your personal notebook (that's limited to knitting, crochet, and weaving), though you could catalog your yarn or cord stash.

#26 ::: Ellen G ::: (view all by) ::: February 27, 2012, 12:22 PM:

I agree with #6 Natalie L., scam through and through.

The non-payment issue is not new, it dates back to MagKnits and has continued through since then.

Additionally, HipKnits was not immune from issues either. Parcels would be marked as sent only to never arrive, they might be "re-sent" once or even several times. Royal Mail got the blame for "losing all the parcels".

The further problem of this information being "out" in the knitting/crochet/fibre community is that knitters ≠ quilters ≠ whomever buys Simply Beautiful. There is always fresh blood, always someone who wants their name in print...

#27 ::: Natalie L. ::: (view all by) ::: February 27, 2012, 06:04 PM:

Debbie @ 21, that's not the Mystical Creation Yarns woman, that's someone else who faked her death for...I don't know why, but proceeds from her pattern sales were supposedly going to charity and they probably weren't. And people were buying a lot of patterns because that's how Ravelry is.

There have been a fair number of yarn/fiber clubs gone wrong and most of them have people pay via PayPal which, if it's a year-long club, is a perfect way to run a scam because you only get 45 days to make a claim for non delivery of goods... And that's not to say that people don't get in over their heads and underestimate how popular their stuff is going to be, but there needs to be a place for people to talk about it without having to go through the gymnastics required to do so on Ravelry (while I obviously disagree with TPTB's policies, I do understand why they made them; this sort of thing would Eat Their Lives if they let it).

It would be wonderful if there were some place people could look for information about publishers and suppliers and even more wonderful if it were a resource publicized on Ravelry (but not hosted by them).

#28 ::: Randomknits ::: (view all by) ::: February 27, 2012, 06:14 PM:

Debbie @ 21, momma monkey/Gina Silva aren't Mystical Creations. Two people, same story, same fake death scene.

#29 ::: Jacque ::: (view all by) ::: February 27, 2012, 06:58 PM:

Naomi Parkhurst @20: MacAllister's offer upthread certainly seems like a possibility for an information clearinghouse

Open it up to the crafter community in general and call it "Absolute Wright"?

#30 ::: Chris ::: (view all by) ::: February 27, 2012, 09:52 PM:

One reason I think Ravelry doesn't want to get into the "customer service" thing is that (and I know everyone knows this but I'm going to say it anyway) not all complaints are justified.

Granted, not getting paid for months after your contract says you will be paid is pretty unambiguous. But not all complaints are that straightforward, and it's hard to draw lines and allow one sort of complaints and not others.

It's also the case that there are plenty of people out there who will complain, moan, whine, gripe, and do just about anything *except* contact the company they have complaints against and ask for resolution. That clearly doesn't apply to *this* case, but it's one more reason to discourage that sort of discussion on some forums.

#31 ::: Juli Thompson ::: (view all by) ::: February 27, 2012, 10:03 PM:

Is this the person who was involved in Knit Camp UK? I did some quick googling but didn't see a name attached to that. ISTR that there was some magazine involved.

#32 ::: Naomi Parkhurst ::: (view all by) ::: February 27, 2012, 10:05 PM:

(Darn it, when I see posts discussing Ravelry, I keep looking for the little "educational interesting funny agree disagree love" buttons at the bottom of each comment.)

#33 ::: Naomi Parkhurst ::: (view all by) ::: February 27, 2012, 10:07 PM:

Judi @31 That was Jo Watson.

#34 ::: Naomi Parkhurst ::: (view all by) ::: February 27, 2012, 10:25 PM:

Argh! Juli, not Judi. My sleepy eyes are at fault.

#35 ::: Juli Thompson ::: (view all by) ::: February 27, 2012, 11:19 PM:

Thanks, Naomi.

#36 ::: Natalie L. ::: (view all by) ::: February 27, 2012, 11:22 PM:

However, Kerrie Allman was one of the tutors involved with Knit Camp UK who did not get paid.

#37 ::: JaneC ::: (view all by) ::: February 28, 2012, 02:15 AM:

The Jo Watson story, for those who have no idea what it is, can be read in The Oldie article in this blog I wrote last year - apologies for linking to my blog, but I don't know how to display the image otherwise now the article is no longer accessible on The Oldie website.

#38 ::: Debbie ::: (view all by) ::: February 28, 2012, 02:44 AM:

@27, 28 -- ah, sorry, thanks for the correction.

It's pretty bizarre when it gets hard to keep fake deaths sorted.

#39 ::: LMM ::: (view all by) ::: February 28, 2012, 05:27 AM:

@30: It's also the case that there are plenty of people out there who will complain, moan, whine, gripe, and do just about anything *except* contact the company they have complaints against and ask for resolution. That clearly doesn't apply to *this* case, but it's one more reason to discourage that sort of discussion on some forums.

I'm really not sold on that. Ravelry tends to be a fairly outspoken community -- I think that, if groups were being unfairly bad-mouthed, they'd have people speaking up for them. Even within the complaint threads that are available and that involve clearly fraudulent behavior, you can see people trying to tone down the discussion, and they don't *all* seem to be sock puppets.

The fact that Ravelry doesn't permit customer complaints basically makes them complicit in fraud, IMHO. I'll admit to being occasionally tempted by sock yarn clubs (though I'm very texture-oriented, so I'm not sure it would work to begin with), but this sort of behavior -- combined with the lack of community enforcement -- really makes me disinclined to sign up for anything.

#40 ::: LT ::: (view all by) ::: February 28, 2012, 08:30 AM:

Just a little FYI about Ravelry's 'no customer service' rule as there seem to be some misconceptions about it.

Ravelers can post complaints about businesses openly. What they can't do is tell a business, "If you don't fix this I'm going to tell everyone on Ravelry about it!" They also can't post if they haven't already tried to contact the business and seek resolution that way first. But if both those conditions are met any complaint posts about a business stays. There are plenty of them on Rav. I can only think of a few I've seen archived and that was because they'd used Ravelry as a threat to a business to get satisfaction or hadn't tried to resolve with the business first. That's not allowed at all and I don't blame them. That's a PR nightmare waiting to happen otherwise.

#41 ::: Naomi Parkhurst ::: (view all by) ::: February 28, 2012, 08:44 AM:

This is true.

It's also true that sometimes threads get archived/locked because they started out being about a legitimate topic and then they went on a tangent and devolved into a flamewar about the disagree button or copyright or something else.

It is also the case that if it's a thread that's not in one of the official forums that a moderator might be overzealous in their interpretation of the Community Guidelines. Since individual groups are allowed to have their own rules so long as they don't contradict the TOS and Community Guidelines, it might seem like Ravelry was cracking down when it wasn't the PTB doing the moderation. I have seen this in at least one case regarding calling out behavior of this sort. TPTB don't interfere in individual group moderation unless it violates the overarching rules.

(There are 23,708 unofficial groups on Ravelry, each with their own moderators and many with their own additional group rules. There are 7 official groups, with 9 volunteer moderators. There are 4 paid staff.)

#42 ::: Teresa Nielsen Hayden ::: (view all by) ::: February 28, 2012, 12:35 PM:

Mac, needlework and crafts has always been a branch of publishing, but it's often unacknowledged because it's got girl cooties. It's another one of those areas where women's work and women's interests have no coherent history because it's "too trivial" to keep track of.

I think an AW Water Cooler area that's specifically designated for discussions of craft and needlework publishing, subrights, copyrights, etc., would be useful and interesting. I have trouble imagining that knitting designers would be any more prone to pointless bitching than unpublished fiction writers.

#43 ::: Teresa Nielsen Hayden ::: (view all by) ::: February 28, 2012, 12:55 PM:


The fiction world is used to this kind of thing. There are resources like Writer Beware and the Absolute Write Water Cooler where these stories get told for the edification of the community.
The science fiction field is owed a fair amount of credit for that, primus inter pares Victoria Strauss; also Ann Crispin, Jim Macdonald, and a double handful of others, plus the SF community itself.

The science fiction world has never maintained a big social divide between fans and pros, publishers and published, book buyers and booksellers. Normally, those gaps are the space where the scammers operate. In SF, the gaps are small and shallow enough that it's easy to converse across them, and so compare notes and figure out what the scammers are up to.

#44 ::: m.k. ::: (view all by) ::: February 29, 2012, 12:53 AM:

I'm taking a look at AbsoluteWrite's forums. I think it could be very useful as a public forum, and being outside of/not affiliated with Ravelry is a big part of that. Having clear standards and effective moderation is important to me too - there are topics I actively avoid on Ravelry because they tend to devolve really quickly.

#45 ::: MacAllister ::: (view all by) ::: February 29, 2012, 10:12 AM:

Teresa, yes - that makes perfect sense.

I've known knitters, sewers, spinners, and weavers pretty much all my life. Its one of those areas of expertise the watching of which is completely mystifying to me. Knitters generally look to be happily knitting away, making sweaters and socks and hats and such, practically from thin air. Often, while they're doing something else like reading or watching a movie.

The fact that somewhere there's a pattern the knitter is following makes complete sense, of course, and that someone created that pattern, in the first place. But it hadn't actually occurred to me because I hadn't seen it in use. (And of course, once you've made a bunch of socks, it makes sense that you don't have to stop and physically look at the pattern every time you make another sock.)

As mentioned previously, AW has a room called "Hands On" for crafters and so on -- and the knitters tend to be the most active in that particular space, but it's still awfully quiet in there. I'll give some thought to where a room for discussions of craft and needlework publishing, subrights, copyrights, and so on, would have the best visibility and accessibility.

#46 ::: Chris L. ::: (view all by) ::: February 29, 2012, 10:25 AM:

@40: Thanks for the clarification. That makes much more sense.

I will mention that I'm a knitting designer/writer and I appear to have lucked out and chosen a good publisher, Interweave. All my interactions with them have been very positive.

#47 ::: Serge Broom ::: (view all by) ::: February 29, 2012, 11:08 AM:

MacAllister @ 45... I've known knitters, sewers

Some people knit in the strangest places.

#48 ::: Sarah ::: (view all by) ::: February 29, 2012, 04:20 PM:

mk, #44: there are topics I actively avoid on Ravelry because they tend to devolve really quickly.

The acrylic wars? ;)

#49 ::: m.k. ::: (view all by) ::: February 29, 2012, 11:52 PM:

Sarah @48, oh, you mean the baby melting acrylic? ;)

#50 ::: knitcrazybooknut ::: (view all by) ::: March 01, 2012, 10:19 AM:

From what I've seen, the left-handed vs. right-handed knitter wars are less frequent, but far more bloody!

#51 ::: TexAnne ::: (view all by) ::: March 01, 2012, 11:00 AM:

KCBN, 50: Speaking as a left-handed knitter, no, they're just as frequent as all the rest. In fact they're a microcosm of the world's *important* divisive topics: you got your derailing, your righty-splaining, your "suck it up and be normal" posts, your blindly smug dudebro/dudette-sis types, your arguing from authority*, etc., ad nauseam. Anybody who wants to practice their arguing-against-privilege skills ought to start there.


#52 ::: Serge Broom ::: (view all by) ::: March 01, 2012, 11:05 AM:

knitcrazybooknut... the left-handed vs. right-handed knitter wars are less frequent, but far more bloody!

I presume that TexAnne usually stays out of those, in spite of her deadly needle mastery, because blood is *so* difficult to get out of the wool.

#53 ::: abi ::: (view all by) ::: March 01, 2012, 11:11 AM:

Serge @52:
blood is *so* difficult to get out of the wool.

A sufficiently dark shade of purple will hide any number of stains.

#54 ::: Serge Broom ::: (view all by) ::: March 01, 2012, 11:28 AM:

Coming soon on Masterpiece Theater, Agatha Christie's Hercules Tricot in "Death on the Knit"...

#55 ::: Mycroft W ::: (view all by) ::: March 01, 2012, 12:15 PM:

So, is this "english vs continental" right-handed vs left-handed knitting arguments, or "I'm left-handed, how do I do <style> in my works" arguments?

(I know, the answer is a CPSC "Yes", but I'm actually interested in the frequency distribution. I'm left-handed, and there's NO WAY I could do anything requiring the coordination of knitting "the normal way", so I'd have to do it backwards. I get some really odd looks, sometimes, with the things I do do "backwards", but that's the perceiver's problem (unless it's table saws without reversable guards, or the like, of course, in which case it's "not touching that, sorry.")

#56 ::: Debbie ::: (view all by) ::: March 01, 2012, 01:10 PM:

Mycroft W -- there are lots and lots and lots and lots of ways to knit. Most or all of them have long traditions, often with a regional element. There are people who are more than willing to argue endlessly that a certain method is 'right' or 'wrong' or 'better' or 'worse'. Handedness gets thrown into these arguments sometimes as a further excuse to call a method good or bad.

The reality is that there are oodles (no idea how many, if it's a different distribution of the general population or not) of left-handed knitters, some of whom do things 'backwards' from the point of view of right-handers, but who achieve the same results.

Links to english and continental demonstration videos can be found here (scroll down a bit to the links).

#57 ::: FaultyMemory ::: (view all by) ::: March 01, 2012, 01:16 PM:

I just wanted to add another wrinkle in the righty-vs-lefty knitting debate.

My wife's a righty, and a knitter. Some time ago she taught herself to knit left-handed so that on the purl rows she just turns it around and knits back the other way. (She really doesn't like purling.)

#58 ::: Victoria ::: (view all by) ::: March 01, 2012, 01:33 PM:

#48 Sarah
I have a Ravelry account that I've done little with. I take it there is a large and vocal group of anti-acrylic knitters doing a mutual bash with an equally large and vocal group of pro-acrylic knitters?

#50 knitcrazybooknut
I don't care much about carrying or throwing the yarn, (i.e. left vs right) I'm curious about what they have on combined knitting - which is what I do. It's all in the needles, not how you manage your yarn.

#51 TexAnne
As a self-taught knitter (I had three different instructors at widely spaced intervals) I actually had to google "Elizabeth Zimmerman" to see why she was referenced at all, let alone in all caps.

FWIW, I learned the purl stitch from the left/Continental/carry type of knitter and the knit stitch from the right/English/throw type of knitter. Because the purl left/C/carry version made more sense (I learned to crochet long before I knitted), I figured that the knit stitch was the purl stitch done backwards on the needles. It turns out that I was making the knit stitch wrong. It look even longer to find out that what I do is called combined knitting. It took several on line knitting videos how-to sessions before I figured out why my directional decreases weren't working like the pattern said they should. (And what I was really doing.)

On the one hand, I can go pretty fast.
On the other hand, I have to mentally edit all patterns on the fly.
On the third hand, I can knit in darkened rooms by feel alone due to how the yarn wraps over the needle.
The fourth hand is always used to keep track of the yarn bag because we Quaddies knit too.

#59 ::: knitcrazybooknut ::: (view all by) ::: March 01, 2012, 02:24 PM:

From what I've observed, I wouldn't say that there are wandering gangs of knitters roaming from forum to forum, ready to trash any knitters who disagree with them. Instead, you have a wide variety of people talking about a chosen subject, which occasionally morphs into crazy town. There are debates about right vs. left, throwing vs. scooping, acrylic vs. "natural", LYS vs. internet, cheap vs. sustainable, ad nauseum forever. And the cycle described by TexAnne in #51 is totally spot on. The only thing I would change is to somehow put more emphasis on the holiness of Elizabeth Zimmerman. (Oh wait, that's another conflict I forgot to mention: EZ vs. EZ Heretic.)

Occasionally trolls happen in the major boards, which led to the deletion of the Remnants forum. We now have Loose Ends, and I'll be curious to see how long that survives.

#60 ::: Naomi Parkhurst ::: (view all by) ::: March 01, 2012, 02:41 PM:

Loose Ends, being restricted to fiber-related topics that don't fit in the other main boards, has promise for not overwhelming the moderators. So far so good. Though I see we've already had "how much should I charge for my knitting", "can I take my knitting needles on airplanes", and "should I be allowed to knit in meetings at work". Hm. Suppose that was inevitable.

#61 ::: Victoria ::: (view all by) ::: March 02, 2012, 10:55 AM:

#60 Naomi Parkhurst

I may have to blow the dust off my Ravelry login

The answers are: "How much do you think your time is worth on an hourly basis?* take that times the number of hours you spent working on the project. That's how much you charge"; "Ask the airlines, they get this question a lot and usually have the answer on their web site"; "That's up to your boss. (Personally I draft patterns on graph paper during meetings.)"

*I've found out that telling people "I charge $10 an hour for my work. If you want me to make you a ______ for your _______, you buy the materials and pay for my time." nips every request in the bud. Even something as simple as "you buy the materials" puts a lot of people off. (sarcasm on) Because crafting has no "value". So of course I should just give up my time and materials for free. (sarcasm off)

#62 ::: Teresa Nielsen Hayden ::: (view all by) ::: March 02, 2012, 12:38 PM:

ACM/All Craft Media now has its own thread at Absolute Write. Future developments and further questions can be posted into the same thread. People will be able to reference that discussion years from now. I posted there:

Color me dubious about that liquidation. One half of a married couple declares bankruptcy, so the other half buys them out and dismisses the existing debts? I don't think so. It's the UK rather than the US, so I don't know nearly as much about the laws, but married couples are a legal unit, and unless they have formidable prenuptial agreements, they're an economic unit as well. Since ACM is a new company, and I haven't heard anything about Armstrong's husband being in the needlework business prior to its formation, I doubt it has that kind of separate status.

More simply, if this kind of maneuver were legal, couples could take turns buying out each other's bankruptcies every few years, and never have to pay their debts. More people would be doing it, and we'd have heard the outcry about it.

Here's my question for KAL's creditors: is there any independent confirmation that this liquidation actually took place, or did you just hear about it from Armstrong and her husband? It's worth checking. Consider chipping in on an hour or two of legal advice, and find out what your options are. Kellie Armstrong's many outstanding debts may still be collectible.


Back to knitting --

I still mean to try a hybrid method using a cable needle with a crochet hook on the right end and a knitting needle on the left. I learned to crochet early on, so when I was introduced (badly) to knitting, it seemed outrageous that I should be having to make a loop in yarn and pull it through another loop without a hook to grab it.

As Patrick can attest, I've been saying for decades that in a just universe, there'd be a book called Godel, Escher, Bach, Zimmerman.

#63 ::: Naomi Parkhurst ::: (view all by) ::: March 02, 2012, 01:06 PM:

Victoria @60, look me up if you'd like; my Ravelry name is gannet.

#64 ::: Victoria ::: (view all by) ::: March 05, 2012, 10:33 AM:

Naomi at #63.

I will. Thanks.

#65 ::: abi ::: (view all by) ::: March 05, 2012, 03:29 PM:

Joy Gerhardt has published an excellent timeline of KAL/ACM's deeds and misdeeds. She's also linked here.

I tried to comment on her site, to explain to her (and her readership) that AW is set up to host exactly the kind of conversation about publishers that would be useful in this context, but I couldn't get her comment form to accept any of the IDs I fed it. It just refused to authenticate me.

If anyone else can comment, it might be useful to explain AW and Bewares, Recommendations & Background Checks over there, and emphasize that threads on craft magazine publishers are welcome.

#66 ::: Naomi Parkhurst ::: (view all by) ::: March 05, 2012, 03:43 PM:

I think I can do that, Abi - would it be all right if I copy-paste your comment and then expand further upon it?

#67 ::: abi ::: (view all by) ::: March 05, 2012, 03:52 PM:

Naomi Parkhurst @66:

What I tried to post was this:

Thank you for the timeline; I'll link to it on the Making Light post.

Also, please note that Absolute Write has a Bewares, Recommendations & Background Checks thread on KAL/ACM. Absolute Write is a writers' site. BR&BC is the area where publishers and agents are discussed, both by people who submit to them and by experts in the publishing industry. In this context, "writers" includes knitting designers.

It's a good place to put warnings and bad experiences of presses people have submitted to. If anyone wants to join AW (it's just a free signup), they can start similar threads on other craft magazines publishers. The mods there will be happy to help out, and AW is used to dealing with publishers who behave badly when people complain.

There's not much overlap between the community of knitting designers and the community of writers (although many writers I know are also avid knitters). But we in the writing community have a lot of resources that might be useful, if knitting designers wanted to take advantage of them.

#68 ::: Naomi Parkhurst ::: (view all by) ::: March 05, 2012, 04:02 PM:

Oops - I just jumped the gun and posted. I think it contained much of what you wrote, but I will go back and quote this.

#69 ::: abi ::: (view all by) ::: March 05, 2012, 04:06 PM:

It's OK -- what you posted is fine. Mostly wanted to get attention to AW and invite designers to come over.

#70 ::: Naomi Parkhurst ::: (view all by) ::: March 05, 2012, 04:17 PM:

I'm glad it's fine. It's just as well; it seems that the second post won't go through (I'm guessing the gnomes over there got me).

#71 ::: abi ::: (view all by) ::: March 05, 2012, 04:20 PM:

Thank you for doing it.

#72 ::: Naomi Parkhurst ::: (view all by) ::: March 05, 2012, 04:34 PM:

Glad to. I've been a little bemused by all this, because this situation has made the overlap in the Venn diagram of Ravelry and Making Light bigger than usual for me.

#73 ::: Serge Broom ::: (view all by) ::: March 05, 2012, 05:52 PM:

abi @ 65... It just refused to authenticate me

"Authenticate! Auth-en-ti-cate!"

#74 ::: Jamamm ::: (view all by) ::: March 26, 2012, 07:05 AM:

Did you know said knitting mag now has another new name?

#75 ::: Jamamm ::: (view all by) ::: March 26, 2012, 07:06 AM:

Did you know said knitting mag now has another new name?

#76 ::: abi ::: (view all by) ::: May 08, 2012, 03:30 PM:

All Craft Media has now gone into administration.

If anyone is owed money by this business (for instance, for designs which were not paid for), this is a good rundown on how to ensure that the claim is appropriately dealt with.

(There is also extensive information and discussion inside Ravelry, but the above post is publicly accessible.)

#77 ::: FaultyMemory ::: (view all by) ::: June 08, 2012, 03:29 PM:

If you are owed a sample by an All Craft Media publication, please check here. More info here.

#78 ::: Gina Perry ::: (view all by) ::: June 27, 2012, 10:49 AM:

As someone who wants to start publishing a knitting magazine, I want to thank you for this information. It was invaluable to read because I now I know some of the pitfalls I want to look out for. As an honest person, I never want anyone to perceive me in this way. I am just beginning to put a proposal together for a magazine and this information will be very useful to me and to any contributors I have. Again, thank you.

#79 ::: ThatLibraryMiss ::: (view all by) ::: July 07, 2012, 06:32 AM:

She's Back! This time as Craft Magazine Shop.

The ACM stable of titles were sold on, and some - Modern Quilting, Simply Sewing, Handmade Fashion, Simply Beautiful and Handmade Weddings- have ended up in the hands of Craft Magazine Shop. Kerrie Allman has protested that she's nothing to do with the new company but she's working in the same office and contacted a photographer with a view to using her photos in one of the magazines. (Unpaid, of course. The exposure would be payment enough.).

The magazines are badly edited with poor choices of colour and font. Pictures are blurry. Subscription copies arrived late. In short, it's business as usual in the Allman media empire.

#80 ::: Book club ::: (view all by) ::: July 07, 2012, 06:48 AM:

Yes it's definitely her. Check out at WhoIs who registered the 'new' companies website - All Craft Media (a company in administration registering a domain name!)

Simply sewing (aka sew hip) advertised in the magazine that their website is again check WhoIs and this time the registration was kerrie rycroft (allmans maiden name)

Interestingly the new magazines don't have printer details printed in their mags! Shame as they should be warned to ask for cash upfront from this allman Phoenix company (this is the third!)

#81 ::: book club ::: (view all by) ::: July 11, 2012, 01:13 AM:

well the above post doesnt make much sense now as kerrie has altered the whois to the new company. what is interesting is that the whois for is registered in her name but with the new companies (craft magazine shop) address. If she has nothing to do with it, why is she using their address!!

#82 ::: Prefer ::: (view all by) ::: August 10, 2012, 01:11 PM:

She is most definitely a scammer, and has told some outrageous lies....including that her baby had a terminal illness diagnosed, in order to avoid a commitment.

#83 ::: Tom Whitmore ::: (view all by) ::: August 10, 2012, 01:40 PM:

Welcome, Prefer! Got a reference to point to on that? I'm curious about the situation.

#84 ::: Jon Meltzer sees sex clip spam ::: (view all by) ::: December 23, 2013, 02:28 PM:

And it's tangled.

Welcome to Making Light's comment section. The moderators are Avram Grumer, Teresa & Patrick Nielsen Hayden, and Abi Sutherland. Abi is the moderator most frequently onsite. She's also the kindest. Teresa is the theoretician. Are you feeling lucky?

Comments containing more than seven URLs will be held for approval. If you want to comment on a thread that's been closed, please post to the most recent "Open Thread" discussion.

You can subscribe (via RSS) to this particular comment thread. (If this option is baffling, here's a quick introduction.)

Post a comment.
(Real e-mail addresses and URLs only, please.)

HTML Tags:
<strong>Strong</strong> = Strong
<em>Emphasized</em> = Emphasized
<a href="">Linked text</a> = Linked text

Spelling reference:
Tolkien. Minuscule. Gandhi. Millennium. Delany. Embarrassment. Publishers Weekly. Occurrence. Asimov. Weird. Connoisseur. Accommodate. Hierarchy. Deity. Etiquette. Pharaoh. Teresa. Its. Macdonald. Nielsen Hayden. It's. Fluorosphere. Barack. More here.

(You must preview before posting.)

Dire legal notice
Making Light copyright 2001, 2002, 2003, 2004, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2008, 2009, 2010, 2011, 2012, 2013, 2014, 2015, 2016, 2017, 2018, 2019, 2020 by Patrick & Teresa Nielsen Hayden. All rights reserved.