Archive for June, 2012

Ravelers Strike Back!

[First, hello to new readers who found this blog searching for info on the Ravelry vs USOC situation. I’m not usually an angry person, so I hope some of you stick around for the more fun side of crafting.]

To be fair to the US Olympic Comission, they have issued an apology.

The commenters [spellcheck is telling me that this is not a word…also that spellcheck is not a word–well played…] pretty much said exactly what I was thinking, but I’ll say it here anyway.

There is no way that the apology was “a standard-form cease and desist letter” considering it included the offending passage that most of the commenters quoted:

We believe using the name “Ravelympics” for a competition that involves an afghan marathon, scarf hockey and sweater triathlon, among others, tends to denigrate the true nature of the Olympic Games. In a sense, it is disrespectful to our country’s finest athletes and fails to recognize or appreciate their hard work.

I can’t imagine that that finds its way into most cease and desist letters.  I don’t think that the USOC really sees just how offensive that comment is.   I can deal with a little bit of gentle teasing from friends about my craft obsessions, mostly because I know that they actually know how much work it takes and, for the most part, actually think it’s kinda cool.  But for strangers to go out of their way to tell me that my hobby somehow disrespects someone else’s work is just plain insulting.

Also, notice the end of the letter where they try to make it up to us, without actually giving us anything.  Instead, they ask for knitted garments for the team.  I am trying to be calm and rational here, but my only reaction is: Whaaa?  I don’t know what kind of things they would expect us to make, since the Olympic rings or anything else is completely out of the question, since Ravelers have been asked to stop making Olympic themed patterns.  And calling a hobby disrespectful to the athletes and then asking for knitted items?  We don’t like making things for people who aren’t going to appreciate them and, while the actual athletes might, it’s clear that the powers that be at the commission do not.

I appreciate that the USOC tried to apologize, but I hope they see how inadequate of an apology it was.  And I’m sure that many non yarny people think that we’re overreacting.  While some may go a bit too far fighting back, the original response on the part of the crochet/knitting community is completely justified.

I’d also once again like to commend The Powers That Be (TPTB) at Ravelry for handling this situation gracefully, as they handle all things.  They have not lashed out at all, and are instead using their legal representation to calmly discuss the situation with the USOC.  Bravo, TPTB!

UPDATE: Holy NPR, Batman!

06/21/2012 at 3:12 pm 1 comment

The US O*y*p*c Commission are a bunch of big fat doody heads

Ravelry, the beloved knitting/crochet website received a letter from the US Commission on a certain summer/winter sporting event that takes place every 2 years.

At the same time aforementioned sporting event, Ravelry hosts an event titled the “Ravelympics”.  Actually, if you want to get technical, Ravelry users sponsor the event, and the Ravelry staff helps promote it like they promote many other member efforts.  The Ravelympics includes events such as “Sweaterboarding,” “Hat halfpipe, ” and “Bag Jump.”  I had a great time participating in 2010.  I made 3 hats, a bag, and a sweater while the games were going on…which is a lot quicker than I would usually do that.

The letter (Which was posted on Ravelry here for those with accounts, and partially tweeted here) goes like this (emphasis mine):

Dear Mr. Forbes,

In March 14, 2011, my colleague, Carol Gross, corresponded with your attorney, Craig Selmach [sic], in regard to a pin listed as the “2010 Ravelympic Badge of Glory.”  At that time, she explained that the use of RAVELYMPIC infringed upon the USOC’s intellectual property rights, and you kindly removed the pin from the website.  I was hoping to close our file on this matter, but upon further review of your website, I found more infringing content.

By way of review, the USOC is a non-profit corporation chartered by Congress to coordinate, promote and govern all international amateur athletic activities in the United States.  The USOC therefore is responsible for training, entering and underwriting U.S. Teams in the Olympic Games.  Unlike the National Olympic Committees of many other countries, the USOC does not rely on federal funding to support all of its efforts.  Therefore, in order to fulfill our responsibilities without the need for federal funding, Congress granted the USOC the exclusive right to use and control the commercial use of the word OLYMPIC a and any simulation or combination thereof in the United States, as well as the OLYMPIC SYMBOL.  See the Olympic and Amateur Sports Act, 36 U.S.C. §220501 et seq. (the “Act”).  (A copy of the relevant portion of the Act is enclosed for your convenience.)  The Act prohibits the unauthorized use of the Olympic Symbol or the mark OLYMPIC and derivations thereof for any commercial purpose or for any competition, such as the one organized through your website.  See 36 U.S.C. §220506(c).  The USOC primarily relies on legitimate sponsorship fees and licensing revenues to support U.S. Olympic athletes and finance this country’s participation in the Olympic Games.  Other companies, like Nike and Ralph Lauren, have paid substantial sums for the right to use Olympic-related marks, and through their sponsorships support the U.S. Olympic Team.  Therefore, it is important that we restrict the use of Olympic marks and protect the rights of companies who financially support Team USA.

In addition to the protections of the Act discussed above, the USOC also owns numerous trademark registration that include the mark OLYMPIC. These marks therefore are protected under the Lanham Act, 15 U.S.C. §1051 et seq. Thus, Ravelry.com’s unauthorized use of the mark OLYMPIC or derivations thereof, such as RAVELYMPICS, may constitute trademark infringement, unfair competition and dilution of our famous trademarks.

The USOC would like to settle this matter on an amicable basis. However, we must request the following actions be taken.

1.  Changing the name of the event, the “Ravelympics.”;  The athletes of Team USA have usually spent the better part of their entire lives training for the opportunity to compete at the Olympic Games and represent their country in a sport that means everything to them.  For many, the Olympics represent the pinnacle of their sporting career.  Over more than a century, the Olympic Games have brought athletes around the world together to compete in an event that has come to mean much more than just a competition between the world’s best athletes.  The Olympic Games represent ideals that go beyond sport to encompass culture and education, tolerance and respect, world peace and harmony.

The USOC is responsible for preserving the Olympic Movement and its ideals within the United States.  Part of that responsibility is to ensure that Olympic trademarks, imagery and terminology are protected and given the appropriate respect.  We believe using the name “Ravelympics” for a competition that involves an afghan marathon, scarf hockey and sweater triathlon, among others, tends to denigrate the true nature of the Olympic Games.  In a sense, it is disrespectful to our country’s finest athletes and fails to recognize or appreciate their hard work.

It looks as if this is the third time that the Ravelympics have been organized, each coinciding with an Olympic year (2008, 2010, and 2012).  The name Ravelympics is clearly derived from the terms “Ravelry” (the name of your website) and OLYMPICS, making RAVELYMPICS a simulation of the mark OLYMPIC tending to falsely suggest a connection to the Olympic Movement.  Thus, the use of RAVELYMPICS is prohibited by the Act.  Knowing this, we are sure that you can appreciate the need for you to re-name the event, to something like the Ravelry Games.

1.  Removal of Olympic Symbols in patterns, projects, etc.   As stated before, the USOC receives no funding from the government to support this country’s Olympic athletes.  The USOC relies upon official licensing and sponsorship fees to raise the funds necessary to fulfill its mission. Therefore, the USOC reserves use of Olympic terminology and trademarks to our official sponsors, suppliers and licensees.  The patterns and projects featuring the Olympic Symbol on Ravelry.com’s website are not licensed and therefore unauthorized.  The USOC respectfully asks that all such patterns and projects be removed from your site.

For your convenience, we have listed some of the patterns featuring Olympic trademarks.  However, this list should be viewed as illustrative rather than exhaustive.  The USOC requests that all patterns involving Olympic trademarks be removed from the website.  We further request that  you rename various patterns that may not feature Olympic trademarks in the design but improperly use Olympic in the pattern name.

http://www.ravelry.com/patterns/library/olympics-rings-af…\

http://www.ravelry.com/patterns/library/vancouver-2010-ol…

http://www.ravelry.com/patterns/library/2010-olympics-inu…

http://www.ravelry.com/patterns/library/olympic-swimmer-d…

http://www.ravelry.com/patterns/library/2008-olympic-ring…

http://www.ravelry.com/patterns/library/olympic-rings-nec…

http://www.ravelry.com/patterns/library/bode-miller-hat-2…

http://www.ravelry.com/patterns/library/usa-olympic-hat

http://www.ravelry.com/projects/belgianwaffleknit/usa-oly…

Thank you for your time and attention to this matter.  We would appreciate a written reply to this letter by no later than June 19, 2012.  If you would like to discuss this matter directly, please feel free to contact me at the number above, or you may reach my colleague, Carol Gross.

Kindest Regards,

Brett Hirsch

Law Clerk

Office of the General Counsel

United States Olympic Committee

1 Olympic Plaza

Colorado Springs, CO 80909

There are soooo many things wrong with that:

  • They are obviously concerned with money more than anything else, even though the Ravelympics doesn’t make any
  • If the games are really about “world peace and harmony”, this is a great way to disturb the peace and prevent a bunch of people coming together to celebrate an event
  • Quite a lot of people watch the games while they work on their Ravelympics projects
  • The overall tone is just insulting.
  • The games have been going on “over more than a century”…read a book, honestly.

(Note that these are all my own words and, other than being a user, I have no affiliation with Ravelry or its staff, who are being quite gracious about it.)

I do understand to a certain extent that they want to maintain some “brand integrity.”  But Ravelympics isn’t even the same word, and does not make any money.  It’s clearly a fun tie in and meant to pay tribute to the games.  This is childish and silly and, in my opinion, denigrates the true nature of the Olympic Games.

I’m glad I got to enjoy the last one. I always prefer the winter games anyway (which, incidentally, is apparently rare).

06/20/2012 at 1:35 pm 23 comments

tacocat is a palindrome

Embroidery.

I am quite possibly addicted to it.  I still knit and crochet, but embroidery is my current obsession.  Bought lots of fabric remnants at Jo-Ann’s  with hopes of turning them into….what? I don’t know. I did not get my mother’s mad sewing skillz.  I bought a sewing book and a sewing magazine the other day, so I think I’m going to give it another shot.  I only want to make small things though. I have no plans to make clothes.

And, if you’re making small things, Jo-Ann’s fabric remnants are the best.  Usually a yard or two of fabric, and it’s way  cheaper than it would be normally.  My designated drawers are officially full, meaning I am not allowed to buy any more until I use some up.

 

Luckily I did last week for one of my two embroidery projects. (Well, the first one took way longer than a week.) I just wanted a plain background in a light color and so I went with the only one I had…which also happened to be the cheapest white fabric in the history of fabrics.  It was see through, it was stringy, it was really horrible to work with. I’d pull the needle through the fabric and bring along with me, not only strands of embroidery floss, but strands of the actual fabric.  Note to self: Don’t try to do anything of substance with that fabric ever again.  Or perhaps not anything. Ever.

 

Anyway, I am a huge fan of the comedy stylings of Chris Hardwick along with just about everything that Nerdist Industries does. Probably the only thing I dislike is their habit of posting an entry on the blog every time a new podcast goes up. They have way too many podcasts for that. But the main podcast, simply called “Nerdist” is really funny and has a ton of great guests.  A while back, Rainn Wilson was the guest.  Jonah (one of the hosts) told a story about how he used to work at a Mexican place and he hated it. He always looked forward to his break, during which he would eat a burrito.  Towards the end, while there was still some burrito left, he would get depressed about going back to work–to which Mr. Wilson responded, “You should enjoy your burrito!” And now they end ever podcast that way.

 

It’s a good, positive message, somewhat close to my “Into Action” tattoo, so I really wanted to make something that said it, but it needed a picture besides the Nerdist logo.  And then it hit me! UrbanThreads’s Mexican kitty cat design.  So I used that, along with their handwriting alphabet and came up with this. I love it! It’s unique, and not something a lot of people will even get. (Though I did have one Nerdist fan over last week who freaked out.) Need to find a good place in the house to put it…

 

One of the problems with embroidery if you don’t sew is finding things to embroider.  I resisted the urge to buy canvas bags from Sublime Stitching, and grabbed one that I already had that wasn’t completely covered.  It only had a small Slackers logo on it. I went through the designs I already had and settled on a very rock n roll design, also from Urban Threads. (It took me entirely too long to look at it and realize “Hey, Guns n Roses!” Not what I was going for, but still cool.)  It was the most intricate design I’d done to date. Everything else was rather cartoony.

 

Because I’d stuck to bold outlines, it never occurred to me to use a thinner gauge thread. (You just pull apart regular thread.) I really wish I had, but I didn’t want to redo it.  You can see that I did use thinner thread for the roses and the gun handle. (If you can’t, you can click on these pictures to make them bigger.) I think the whole thing would have looked better…but I’ll know for next time.  I also knew that I wanted the gun handles to be black and gold, but I couldn’t decide on the configuration.  I vastly prefer the black outlined one but, again, I didn’t want to do it over. As far as I’m concerned, I’m still learning, and you can still clearly see that those are guns.  Plus, the bag holds things, which is really the only qualification for a bag.

06/13/2012 at 8:11 pm 1 comment

My stitches. Let me show you them.

I’ve been on a huge embroidery kick lately.  More on that when I have pictures, because this wouldn’t be very interesting without them.

For the moment though, I’ll do a tad bit of shameless self-promotion for my knitting and embroidery classes this month.  You can go here to see Find X Designs’s schedule for June with classes on knitting, embroidery, and quilting.

I’ll be doing a beginning knitting, kids embroidery, and also a class on this scarf, which uses really funky/interesting yarn.

06/09/2012 at 4:57 pm Leave a comment


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