Sunday, August 14, 2011

Why my shawl patterns aren't available as PDF's

I'm often asked when my shawl patterns will be available in a downloadable format. Today I read something that solidified my answer...

When I design a lace shawl, I put hundreds of hours into the design, the math, setting up charts in the computer, testing those charts, making adjustments, etc. After all the preliminary work is done I then work hard to format everything into a useable booklet style pattern printed on high quality paper that will last for years (decades?). The process is extensive and I invest not only time and money but a little bit of me goes into each shawl I design. I've never made my shawl patterns available as downloadable patterns because I felt that something was lost in that format.

Today I read about a designer that had 36 of her patterns loaded into a forum for free download. Yep, that's right, I did type thirty-six! Imagine the time, effort and expense that went into those 36 patterns and what an impact having those designs stolen and then given away to the public must have. I took the time to browse through the designers patterns and they were adorable, all knitted toys, some extremely complex and all very original. Toys aren't my passion but it was very clear that they are hers and she does a wonderful job with her designs. I know I put my heart into my lace designs and I'm sure that this woman does the same with her toys.

Sharing patterns is a copyright infringement. Oh, I know this will happen between friends and family (its hard to refuse your mother-in-law when she asks for a copy) and the reality is that its OK to lend a pattern, the same way a library can lend a knitting book and the borrower has the right to knit a pattern from it. What is NOT OK is making patterns available to strangers and the general public for free. This is not only copyright infringement but also theft of goods. If you participate in this type of file sharing you are stealing from that designer.

All four of my lace shawl patterns pictured above are now available in my online shop If you don't see them there, drop me a note and I'll create a listing just for you. More of my lace shawls will be listed in the future but they will always be listed only as a printed pattern. You'll never find my lace shawls, the products of my heart, listed as a PDF download. Technology is a wonderful thing and out lives are streamlined and efficient because of it but sometimes it can hurt and I'll avoid that possibilitiy as best I can. I'm off my soapbox now and headed back to my fiber. It's a cold and rainy day here but I'm fortunate to have lots of wool to keep me warm :)

Knit On, Bitsy

Thursday, August 4, 2011

Getting Ready for SOAR - the Sharlea is here!

It's the time of year that is busiest for me, getting all the yarn, fiber and tools ready for sale this fall at shows but this year is a bit different. I'll be vending at SOAR - the Spin-Off Autumn Retreat, an annual Spinning Conference, to my knowledge, the only one of its size in the world. SOAR's location shifts each year and this year it is on the East Coast, giving me the opportunity to show my fiber to the spinning world.

In preparation for SOAR as well as the other festivals I'll be at, I've been hunting all over the world for some really special spinning fibers. I've found a lovely variety of wonderful local domestic fleece that are currently at the mill being prepared into rovings, I have an amazing quantity of Quiviet that I'm having a hard time letting go of but the best of the best arrived just yesterday...

13.3 micron Sharlea merino, unwashed in its shipping package

In yesterday's post I reveived 2 of my 4 Sharlea fleece. Sharlea is a brand name that is used to identify Saxon Merino sheep that are raised according to a patented method. The sheep are cared for like pets in the US, housed, clothed, fed special feed and given human and humane contact. These sheep are healthier than there more traditional bretheren, living as much as 50% longer lives but all of the love and care that goes into raising them has only one purpose - their amazing fleece. Ranging from 12 to 15.5 microns, the ultra-fine Sharlea merino is clean, consistant in crimp and staple length and an amazing experience for the hand spinner.

Only a handful of Sharlea fleece are available for individual sale each year, the bulk of them are baled and auctioned off. The fiber generally ends up at fashion houses around the world where they process the wool and it is woven into luxurious fabric to be made into custom garments for high end customers (think $15,000 men's suits). To the best of my knowledge, there are no more Sharlea certified fleeces available until the Spring shearing begins but there is a reason that mine have just arrived...

Two of the fleeces I have purchased were held back to be shown at the Australian Sheep and Wool Show at Bendigo, AU this year. The heavier of the two won Reserve Champion in the Ultrafine Merino Class. I had to wait until after the show for my fleece to arrive - in fact, I didn't even know until after the show what micron count they would be and how heavy they were. They are both 13.3 microns and these two are very similar. I have two others, both a bit 'coarser', one at 13.9 microns and the other at 16 microns which puts it at Superfine rather than Ultrafine but still exhibiting the Sharlea Characteristics. The estimated yield of Sharlea is 75-82%, much higher than would normally be expected for a merino in part due to the great care used to keep these sheep clean and free of debris.

I can't tell you how excited I am to be able to offer this very special fiber to handspinners in the USA. The Sharlea will be packaged unwashed in 50 gm boxes and will be available in my festival booth this fall. You have to see and touch it to believe it so please stop by and see me at the shows.