Tag Archives: CLF

Crocheters/knitters didn’t “intend” to denigrate. That’s not an apology USOC.


Ugh. To follow up on yesterday’s brouhaha with the Olympic Committee’s letter to Ravelry: Looks like we’ve hit the big time.  Crocheters and knitters took center stage in the news.

Gawker was the first to cover Ravelry’s plight. Though their take on the story handily left crocheters out of the picture.  Though I didn’t see it until later, seems next in the day was Hot Air with their article, “The Olympic Committee just messed with the wrong old ladies.” I don’t think too many of us appreciate their title, but they did write a fair article and also pointed out, like I did, that “knitting actually was an Olympic event at one time.”  My Google-Fu is strong.

It might have seemed it would pretty much stop there, but #ravelympics began trending on Twitter.  And before we knew it, NPR, New York Times and USA Today were all covering the debacle.  Albeit, with lots of references to women with pointy sticks.  Hey, we hookers are a part of the Ravelry community too you know!  However, Fearless Leader’s open letter to the USOC and Crochet Liberation Front was mentioned in two of those three.  That’s pretty something.  Still, I would have liked to have seen less humor and pointy stick references and a little more respect for an inappropriate use of language slung at a largely female demographic.  Journalists are having a field day with the puns in their coverage of #ravelympics.  We got attention alright, but there’s a few more snickering undercurrents than I would like.  Aren’t we so cute with our hooks and our sticks waving?

To sadden me further, New York Times reports that the organized “knit-in” turned up one lone person.  Well, that’s the way to be respected and set a precedence of ignoring anything any other group might unfairly experience at the hands of a large organization again.  And if a membership largely made up of women can make a lot of noise online, but not put their money where their mouth is and actually show up for a protest, what makes you think that helps any cause ever that involves women.  Good at being loud, but just don’t have the chutzpah to actually do something real.  If there were more peeps there, please, please post the pictures.

While many knitters seem to be quieting down, I’m still quietly crocheting a strip of bacon to mail in to the USOC.  It takes time I don’t really have, but I feel strongly that there needs to be a real and tangible response and not just a temporary internet roar.  Even if it does take some time, money and patience to do it on my part, there needs to be a reminder.  This can’t be the end of it.  And though I picked bacon for speed and ease of mailing, because if I could get it there today I would, I personally desire a demonstration of skill as well.  Though after the snip about accepting free hand-made items from us as a show of support, I also thought seriously about mailing them my crochet hook in protest instead. In fact, I like the idea of hooks and needles filling their office just about as well as bacon, crochet poop and an amigurumi middle finger – additional suggestions left by our tweeps and blog peeps yesterday.  Hmmm… An envelope dumping out a hook with a note that says “I will not crochet for you,” in principle feels rather satisfying actually.  I think I’ll reserve the right to change my mind today.

Jocks aren’t the only ones who work all their lives to hone a skill.  And I say that as a mother in a community that fosters and supports aspiring athletes.  My kids attend a charter school that was originally founded for children pursuing the Olympics and such.  A free school, I will point out.  I am friends with families of all walks of life who hold Olympic and athletically competitive dreams, poor and wealthy.  So I’m not ignorant of what it takes.  I know all too well the tears and stress on a family and the athletes and the skills required.

But if you want to compare breasts to balls, my skill will nurture and keep someone warm, even in the worst of times.  However, with the first apology’s reference to supporting us by asking for free handmade stuff, I’m not of the notion to send them anything they might enjoy too much.  I’ll hand-make and hand-deliver something to an Olympian any day.  Funneled through the USOC under that pretense?  I don’t think so.  Or at least I’m not convinced yet.

A second apology has been tacked on to the first from the USOC. I read it, but it’s still legalese. They said they know crocheters/knitters didn’t *intend* to denigrate or disrespect.  You can read it on the USOC website here.

Statement Update:

“As a follow-up to our previous statement on this subject, we would again like to apologize to the members of the Ravelry community. While we stand by our obligation to protect the marks and terms associated with the Olympic and Paralympic Movements in the United States, we sincerely regret the use of insensitive terms in relation to the actions of a group that was clearly not intending to denigrate or disrespect the Olympic Movement. We hope you’ll accept this apology and continue to support the Olympic Games.”

Ummm…. Excuse me? That’s not an apology.  I’ll bet you regret the use of the terms, but you’re still saying we denigrate and disrespect, but that you clearly see we did not intend to.  No, I don’t feel like accepting an apology written for public spin.  Words mean things.  And I will not infer for you what you have not said.

Additionally, the claim was made yesterday that the letter sent to Ravelry was a form letter. Hence, gee – it was nothing personal and we aren’t really responsible. One of our readers also kindly shared the link to a similarly approached letter sent to the “Redneck Olympics” which you can read here: http://lettersfromaway.wordpress.com/tag/redneck-olympics/.  The article includes photo copies of the entire letter they received.

Yes, it looks like the USOC cut and pasted phraseology from the “red neck” letter to ours, but I have failed to find this phraseology in any other posted letter from the USOC. Many people have received letters addressing trademark infringement, shared them with public and that part of course is not our issue with the letter to Ravelry.  The issue was the insulting language used against knitters and crocheters who were supporting and watching their teams.  We’re not even talking about a separate event that piggy-backs off the idea of an international sporting event.  We were supporting the real Olympics and encouraging ever more people to watch.  Hello.

Beyond even all that, by definition, a form letter is not compiled and tweaked individually. Just because phraseology is similar does not make it a form letter. Calling it a “form letter” is meant to give the impression that there was no personal attention put to the creation of the letter and that everyone receives the exact same thing.  And that’s simply not true in this case. 

Denigrate, disrespect and unappreciative – these are the words they used to describe us in the act of supporting our Olympic teams.

In fact these appear to be the only two letters where such wording has been used.  An event in support of the actual Olympics and does not use its name and one that does not support and does use its name.  Which means in essence, that the law office considered the activities of knitters and crocheters who hand-make things while watching the Olympics to  be comparable to events of body humor that poke fun at the Olympics themselves. With a cliched image of “Here Bubba, hold mah beer and watch this.”

There we go. That’s awesome. I feel more respected now.

I say this, because on a personal level I absolutely feel that toilet seat horseshoes, no matter how fun it might be, is a bit disrespectful when being directly called “Olympics.” The red neck event was not about supporting their favorite Olympic team.  And I say that as a Texan.  So our handcraft skills have thus essentially been compared to a tongue-n-cheek beer party, something generally considered at best to be mildly inappropriate in polite company. I’m not saying there’s not a place for redneck games. I’m saying I can understand the phraseology of the law clerk’s letter being used for that situation because the Olympics wants to maintain a certain image of what they represent and frankly bobbing for pigs feet isn’t that. Even to me, good ‘ol BikerMom from Texas, it sounds more along the lines of Fear Factor material.

So first the USOC apologizes by saying, we’ll show support for Ravelry by letting you send us free hand-made things.  Then they apologize to us by saying we know you didn’t intend to be denigrating or disrespectful.  Where in this do you find an acceptable apology in any polite society?  It’s not one and I don’t have to accept it as one.

I’m sorry, I expect better, especially from an organization that supposedly represents our interests, peace, world community, etc. to the rest of the world.  And from an organization that insulted not just a US community, but an international one.  They insulted and defamed Olympic supporters on a global scale. And neither apology rises to the appropriate level they should.  The slam is still there.

Mr. Sandusky was further referenced by the New York Times as stating that his wife and mother-in-law both knit “for gosh sakes.”  Well sir, I bet if you had asked their opinion of the letter before it was sent, they would have said “don’t use those words and don’t say it that way.”

Whether intended or not, the USOC disparaged our names and crafts.  And with knitting as an original Olympic activity, it’s even worse.  Mr. Sandusky needs to step away from the legalese and just make a good apology that turns it around and states officially that Ravelry members actually have not denigrated or disrespected the Olympics through their activities while watching their favorite teams – at all.  That simply, the USOC just wishes the name to be changed please and never meant to denigrate the spirit of men and women just supporting their national Olympic teams.

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What Caption Would You Add To This Hilarious (Crochet) Picture?


This post was originally published Nov 6, 2010 on my other blog: The Difference Between A Duck.  I thought maybe it deserved some attention here.  Yeah, kinda makes sense.


This is a photo of Laurie Wheeler (Fearless Leader of the CLF) and I at Pinch Knitter Yarns during the Crochet Liberation Front‘s 2010 Conference/Retreat at Cama. Bill, fabulous crocheter, photographer and husband of free-form crochet designer Bonnie Pierce, was snapping photos of everyone. And this shot was in the mix!

“Good Lord,” I said when I first saw it on Facebook. “What happened to my face!”

I know what it is.  That’s the look I get on my face when I’m concentrating. And thinking back, I’m guessing I was focusing in on her words since I’ve trouble hearing in groups. But anyway, since then Laurie, Bonnie and I have supposed on what caption could be put with this photo – related to crochet, yarn, the CLF and our retreat.

"My yarn is not going to be there when I wake up, will it..."

My favorites so far are:
“You’re going to steal my yarn while I’m sleeping, aren’t you…..” and
“Seriously? Since when is there a limit of only five? I’m not giving one up!”
“I’m not hiding anything….”

Maybe: “This is not the yarn you’re looking for….?”

Bonnie added: “Yea…. I DO have enough money to pay for my cabin! You can’t make me put them back!!”

I love it! What captions would you come up with? :D


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Crochet At Cama 2011 – Our First Day!


As you know, everyone arrived at Cama Beach State Park for the Crochet Retreat on Sunday for check in.  We gathered, celebrated and rested.  Then Monday morning is when we all came together, shed free of the traveling wearies and serious fun began!  Here are some photos from the day.

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The 2011 Flamies Crochet Awards Live in Georgetown, TX!


The Crochet Liberation Front’s Annual Flamies Crochet Awards are coming live to Georgetown, TX April 18th, with classes from Crochet Liberation Front founder, Laurie Wheeler and designer Karen Whooley in the Austin area all weekend. This is part of what’s been keeping me busy lately!   :D  I’m really excited!  Some of you are probably going to wonder what all this is about, so I’ll try to explain and tell a bit of the story.  Go to http://CrochetLiberationFront.com to register for the event though!

What on earth did Julia get involved with? 

Well, here’s the back story - as told by me!

If you’re here, then you already know I’m a crochet designer/artist. My main work is in the arena of One of a Kinds (OOAK).  And though each year I tend to make mainly what I’m asked to (more hats than anything else), I don’t really align myself with any one specific crochet medium either.  Clothing, throws, jewelry, miniature, free-form or tapestry crochet (not to mention my fascination for spider webs and love of hook carving) – whatever catches my whim is what I work on.

I have one main rule, that crochet is a love for me and it’s gotta stay fun, because honestly, that’s where the creativity comes in.  If my heart and passion isn’t in it, then frankly, it won’t be nearly as good and I don’t want to burn out on something that I find largely meditative and expressive.  It’s one of the few escapes I can take with me just about anywhere.  So no – I don’t really want to lose that.  The fact that my crochet creations ever turned into something people were interested in buying was a complete surprise to me and as far as I’m concerned it’s a bonus.  Like any art, you have to do it for love, in spite of everything else.  I crochet whether anyone buys it or whether I donate it for cancer or not, and so if someone loves what I make enough to buy it, kudos to me for being able to justify my obsessions.  I say we all have a “madness” or two of some sort, and crochet just happens to be one of mine.  All that being said, no where in all my talk about loving the creative process am I supporting under-valuing one’s work, time or expertise.  Better believe I charge for my skill and time.  I’ll save more about this sad occurrence of under-valuation for a future blog post.

“What is the Crochet Liberation Front – some sort of hook wielding terrorist organization?”

I hear such comments from time to time when I mention The Crochet Liberation Front.  And I just chuckle, because it’s nothing of the sort and all in fun.

There was a time it would never have occurred to me to look for crocheters online.  Largely because I’m not a joiner by nature.  Oh I’m social, but just not into memberships and clubs much.  I spent a lot of time at shows lecturing and demoing about crochet and expanding the horizons of the masses when it came to the possibilities of crochet.  Some of you met me that way.  Maker Faire Austin was my absolute favorite experience, setting up a nook for kids and adults to just hang out to learn and crochet or finger knit with each other.  I was there both years it came to Austin and really missed it when it couldn’t come back.  That perfectly suited my personality, being absorbed by the simple joy of making.  No labels, no judgments, no “right” way. (I’m really not into drama and politics. As far as I’m concerned it gets in the way of true creative joy.)

However, three years ago I found a group that worked for my individualistic personality.  I became a member of the Crochet Liberation Front (CLF) about six months after it began, helping to promote and preserve the last fiber art left that cannot be replicated by machine.  They shared the same passion for innovation and preservation I already had and I found friendly camaraderie without expectation or labels.  I had spent a lot of time feeling like a lonely voice when it came to education and pushing the boundaries of expectations in crochet.  It was amazing to find others “like me.”  How could I not?

At its heart and intention, the CLF is a bunch of crocheters who just want to have fun, complete with a sense of humor to go along with it.  We do however seek to broaden the horizons in our industry, and promote the beauty and innovation present everywhere in crochet.  Many of us have felt general dissatisfaction with attitudes, industry dynamics, treatment of crochet designers and patterns available, especially in the US.  I’m not super in touch with the common industry at large because it usually fails to supply much of anything innovative, technical or unusual enough for my tastes. Not to mention the fact that I do not use patterns. And besides, after all, I AM Aberrant Crochet and it wouldn’t be much in keeping with my personality to be keeping step with the Jones. That makes me a little different, because personally, if everyone else is doing it, I’m much less interested.  Even if I started it.  Seriously, if the world starts obsessing over crochet spider webs, I will be the first to lose interest.

However, all that being said, even I have noticed what seems to me an odd perception that crochet is only beautiful if it’s from somewhere else, like Russia.  As if the only thing that exists in the US are granny squares, shawls and doilies.  Don’t get me wrong, I have a very healthy respect for the history of crochet and its development.  And granny squares, etc. can be awesome.  However there is so much more to our fiber art.  And I know I don’t appreciate being pigeon-holed as to what my art is supposed to look like.  If you’ve seen photos of my work, you can totally get where I’m coming from.  I’m pretty proud of the fact that customers at shows so often marvel at my creations and the fact that they never thought crochet “could look or feel that way.”  Education at its finest!

Die-hard crocheters seek to preserve this art and promote its continued genius and development.  Crochet is the very last fiber art left that cannot be replicated by machine.  At all.  Not one iota (yet).  I kid you not.  Google “crochet machine” and you will find machines made in China that knit a chain, but they use the term “crochet” interchangeably.  However, crochet is purely and always created by a hand and a hook.  No machines.  There is always a cap on just how much one pair of hands can create at any one time.  Even that mass produced crochet you see at the store?  All of it was created with a human hand and a hook, and all too often by children.  (I’ll save the subject of repetitive motion injuries in children for yet another blog post.)  You can see a bit of where our passion for our craft comes from.

OK, what’s the deal about the “Flamies?” How does that fit in with crochet? Did it simply catch fire?

The Flamies” are a grass-roots (I almost typed a grass-fire!) style annual crochet awards that we started some three years ago, and their popularity has grown by leaps and bounds. The CLF itself was started somewhat as a joke by Laurie Wheeler (we call her Fearless Leader), looking to provide a fun home for crocheters around the world to commune, talk shop and celebrate crochet. Something different and outside of the usual boxes available to folks out there.  And BOY do we have fun! Well, the group took off.   And not too long after, due to disenchantment with the yarn industry’s lack of support or celebration for innovative crochet (in the US in particular), it was decided to create our own awards – the Flamies.

The Flamies, you ask? Umm, yeah. Kind of a long story, but it’s a reference to the Flaming Crochet Hook of Justice, which has been waved liberally over the years.  And yes  – the Flamies are a nod of fun to the Emmys and Grammys as well.  In fact, my tapestry crochet charted pattern for my Flaming Crochet Hook design was published in the Crochet Liberation Front: First Ever Book.

Long story short, a bunch of us decided to stop waiting for the industry to provide what we wanted and we began creating it ourselves. We even created our own crochet awards.  And you know what happened? IT TOOK OFF! Today, yarn companies, magazines and designers are competing for the Flamie crochet awards and this year a whopping 30,000+ turned out for voting! The winners will be announced live this year!  Talk about becoming the change that you seek in the world! 

The Landmark Tavern - Georgetown, TX

The event? It’s happening a bit on the fly, but the Flamies are coming LIVE to Georgetown on Monday, April 18th. The editor of Interweave Crochet magazine, and designers from both coasts are flying in for this event, including Mary Beth Temple from Getty Loopy, along with Fearless Leader kicking off her US Tour here in Texas! Nothing like this has ever been done in our niche industry before. It might be just crochet to everyone else, but this is big for us!

Tickets are being sold to the live event held at the Landmark Tavern, (wonderful neighborhood wine bar) on the Georgetown Square where we will have a red-carpet event with photographers, April 18th 7-11pm. And I’m so lucky it’s right here practically in my own back yard.  If you want to come and hang out with crochet creative types (you don’t have to crochet, but you must be friendly), it’s $25 a ticket which includes a drink ticket and snacks.

This is a semi-formal event! Wear your best crochet if you have it! If not, wear your favorite fiber thing!  We’ll be walking the red carpet at The Landmark, so it’s a chance to dress-up. Businesses also have the opportunity to buy tickets to this events in blocks. For a minimum of 5 tickets, the price drops to $20 per ticket.  Go to http://CrochetLiberationFront.com for more details on registration for the event and about the CLF in general.

I hope we’ll see you there!


Calendar of Weekend Events:

April 16: 11am‐ 2pm Meet & Greet in Georgetown, Texas at Dukes BBQ (right on north bound I35): This is a family friendly event, free for crocheters to attend to meet up, admire each others’ crochet and organize local meetings and relationships. We’re expecting a lot of people to attend this event.

April 16: 7‐9pm Fearless Leader & Friend’s soiree at The Knitting Nest in Austin, Texas.
A more adult evening of wine and song. Promoting all that is crochet in one of the leading yarn destinations in Texas. So far at least 25 people confirmed.

April 18: 7‐11pm The Flamies LIVE! Red carpet event in Georgetown, Texas at the Landmark Tavern (a gorgeous wine bar). This year’s awards ceremony will take place as per tradition on the Getting Loopy Podcast with Mary Beth Temple, and at the live event which will be web cast so the millions of crochet fanatics around the globe can see the best of the best! Party goers will receive a drinks ticket, nibbles, goody bags and prizes! We have room for 120 guests!

Go to http://CrochetLiberationFront.com for more details on registration for the event and about the CLF in general.

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Crochet Movie Titles Fun….


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We had a fun thread awhile back at The Crochet Liberation Front group on www.Ravelry.com (a crochet and knit community) about possible Crochet Movie Titles.

These are the ones I came up with – reposted here for your enjoyment! Feel free to participate and add yourself to the fun in the comments!

How to Lose a Hook in 10 Minutes

Last of the Mohair

Triple X-Stitch

Hot Yarn and Cold Feet

The Accidental Crocheter

What About Bullion?

Bullion 5 (Babylon 5)

Backstitch (Backdraft)

Balls of Furry

Attack of the Zombie Fiber Hookers (John suggested that one!)

101 Things to Do with a Naughty Skein (another John contribution!)

The Cable-Stitch Guy

Cast Away the Sticks!

Chasing Stitches

Chronicles of Intarsia (a technique in crochet)

Cirque du Filet

Clash of the Tritons (a shell stitch)

Code Name: Decrease

Cluster Theory

Cables Under Fire

The Craft (Hey I like it!)

The Hidden Lives of the CLF

Crazy Shell Dundee

Weaving in Ends

Cross Trebles Make Hidden Dragon

Saving Popcorn Stitch

Scary Mohair

The Stash

Star Stitch Troopers

Herringbone and the Half-Close Stitch

The Stitch-hiker’s Guide to the Marquerite (a star stitch)

House of Flying Picots

The Coffee Stain (I know I’m not the only one who has spilled coffee on a project!)

Tapestry C and the Hook of Destiny

That Darn Cat (need I say more?)

Triton A.E.

Basic Crochet 2: Risk Addiction

The Back Loop Killers

Ruffling Evil

OK I had some fun with this…..!  What about you? Add to the creative #crochet fun in the comments below!

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Getting the Most Out of Your Fiber Blends – The “Half-Stitch” Technique…


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This is an article I wrote over a year ago for potential use on Ravelry or for The Crochet Liberation Front First Ever Book.  Thought I’d reprint it here for your reference.

Getting the Most Out of Your Fiber Blends
The “Half-Stitch” Technique

by Julia Meek Chambers – Aberrant Crochet ™

 Fiber blending in crochet is when we use more than one color and/or fiber in a project at the same time.  Many people have crocheted with at least two fibers at a time to increase the gage of the stitch or add variety to the colors and shading in a product.  It is a great way to add extra dimension to any look.

 Sometimes, in our work, we assemble the perfect combination of colors and textures for a project, only to discover that there’s not enough of one of the fibers to complete it as envisioned.  Whether the lack of yardage is due to budget constraints or because the fiber itself is simply discontinued or otherwise unattainable, this limitation does not have to mean a disappointing dead-end to an otherwise fantastic fiber combination. 

 Why not try using the determinate fiber for partial stitches only?  I call this the “Half-Stitch Technique.”  This technique is accomplished by using the fiber in question for only some loops of a given stitch, but not others in the same stitch. 

 For instance, a single crochet stitch is accomplished in two steps.  If you don’t have enough of a fiber to complete an entire project or section of single crochet, then with the Half-Stitch technique, you would instead use the fiber in only one half of each stitch and then drop it for the second half of each stitch.  Though more understated than being used in a full stitch, this allows the color and texture of your limited fiber to still be present in the project. 

 Remember, there really are no rules in crochet other than the use of a hook, so give it a whirl and see what this technique can do for you!

  Copyright © 2003 – 2009 by Julia Meek Chambers, all rights reserved.

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The Book My Crochet Design Was Published In….!


Since some have asked, here’s a link to the Crochet Liberation Front’s First Ever Book now on sale that my “Flaming Crochet Hook” tapestry crochet design was published in:

http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/1440408122/ref=as_li_ss_tl?ie=UTF8&tag=thedifbetaduc-20&linkCode=as2&camp=1789&creative=390957&creativeASIN=1440408122

My tapestry design is even featured in the “Look Inside This Book” links! Yay! Very cool!

Fair warning though, this is an advanced crochet book. If you are into crochet, this is not a book for beginners and it’s that way by design. Though some patterns require less skill than others, none of these patterns are basic by any means. This book is a crochet book designed to push the bar. A book for avid crocheters, by avid crocheters and mostly targeted towards those who want so much more out of a book of crochet patterns. You will be exposed to all sorts of techniques in here that if you do not already know, you will be expected to learn them first elsewhere before you can really implement them in these patterns.

I am honored and proud to be featured in this book and to rub shoulders with so many talented designers and artists from around the world!

xoxo!
Jules

Project Bag sporting my "Flaming Crochet Hook" tapestry Crochet Design

Project Bag sporting my "Flaming Crochet Hook" tapestry Crochet Design

The CLF First Ever Book

The CLF First Ever Book

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