Way back at the beginning we promised some 'digital treats' to our dear customers, and while we are readying some ideas of our own, we're also looking for suggestions. Is there anything in particular that you'd like to see? Our small (but very very smart) team of techsperts (texperts?) is at the ready. What might we be able to offer digitally that would improve your knitting and crocheting lives? Don't say 'an online needle gauge'; we won't be liable for people poking holes in their screens.
We've also been working on various site improvements, some of which will be visible in the next few days. About half of our patterns are ready to be searched by chest size; as soon as we've gone back and coded the other archival half for it, we'll offer that ability as well. This was based on several customer suggestions, and it just goes to show that squeaky wheels get greased.
Veronik Avery once mentioned that it might be nice to search by year or decade too. That feature will be added as soon as we can; again, a sizeable percentage of our patterns are already coded for it, but it's not fair unless everything is.
The moral of this post: don't be afraid to ask for something. Almost all of our programming is custom (thanks again, Phil!), and if we can do something special for one person, likely everyone else will benefit too.
Sharon Dreifuss of She-Knits wants to help everyone feeling financial pinches these days, and has reduced the prices on her wonderful felted bags from $7 to $6. It figures that someone with seven children would have more heart than usual!
Went to Madame Tussaud's in D.C. Wednesday morning. Streets were blocked off everywhere in downtown Washington, so just drove past the White House and missed the Lincoln Memorial altogether. Kids swam for hours in the late afternoon and fell like trees early evening.
Arrived home safely around 8:30 p.m. Thursday, started laundry, and checked email for the first time in a week. All I can say (short-term) is that Patternfish.com fans are in for big treats over the next few days as I get everything over the last week sorted and posted.
One of the delights of driving over long distances is the unexpected finds. As we were motoring through Pennsylvania, we drove past the federal Allenwood penitentiary, which I believe is where John Phillips of The Mamas and the Papas did his time for selling drugs. The grounds look extremely nice, even in a light drizzle in March. And I recall that (in his outstanding autobiography co-authored with Jim Jerome), Phillips said that his lawyer described it to him more or less as "a lot like Aspen, except milder at this time of year".
In New York State, we also drove past a baby-related outlet called The New York Stork Exchange. I LOVE this kind of thing. There's a store in Toronto called The Merchant of Tennis, and I always laugh when I go past it.
Kids were angelic but there's still a few days to go before they're back at school. Life will be back to more-or-less-normal soon.
Yesterday was the fantastic National Zoo in Washington, with its Giant Pandas and Great Ape House, Reptile Discovery Center (anacondas and cobras and pythons and copperheads et al.) and cheetahs and lions and tigers and Tamarins (look those up-- why haven't they caught on as chic little monkey pets? SO beautiful) and I don't remember what else-- glorious. Also an exhausting day's long walk up and down hill. Today we didn't even make it to the renowned Baltimore Aquarium, just spent all day at Port Discovery, where the kids were able to be delirious in their kidly way and climb and slide and clamber and splash and puzzle and decipher, but mostly climb. The only rotten part was not being able to drink coffee while watching them; but the splendid staff agreed to host my coffee in their Lost and Found until we left, and taped foolscap all over it to keep it as warm as possible and anyone else from drinking it.
That means tomorrow (Wednesday) will be in Washington at Madame Tussaud's and the Lincoln Memorial and the White House. If all goes as planned (as if), we will come back for a swim at a local recreational centre and pack to ready ourselves for the 9+ hour drive back to Toronto all day Thursday. Late Thursday or Friday night I personally plan to reinvigorate Toronto's red wine sales sans family. Friday will be all Patternfish and laundry and email, as will the rest of the weekend at home.
What an outstanding selection of different kinds of days in a row.
Arrived safely late Friday night and spent Saturday afternoon in Baltimore (who knew the rellies-- relatives-- were 20 minutes from Baltimore and 40 from Washington? Bonus!) seeing the USS Constellation (the last sail-festooned warship built in the US, in 1845 or thereabouts) and pedalling around the bay with two happy children in a boat shaped like a dragon. We just barely managed to avoid T-boning a submarine with a shark face painted on its front. At about one tenth of one kilometre an hour.
Today we went to the Washington Mall and saw Congress at one end, and the Washington and Lincoln Memorials in the far distance at the other; extraordinarily moving, even for the 10-year-old (the younger ones were too busy running and climbing to take special notice of their exact location in the world). In between we walked through two sculpture gardens and visited two Smithsonian branches: the National Air and Space Museum and the Museum of Natural History. I am not a particular aeronautics fan, but seeing the actual Glamorous Glennis (the tiny orange plane in which Chuck Yeager broke the sound barrier for the first time in human history) brought me to unexpected tears. Yeager's autobiography is very good if you can find a copy, even if you're not terribly aerocentric. The latter museum was terrific too, but due to tired minors, we whisked through only three bits of it-- dinosaurs (zoom!), mammals (whoosh!), and the Hope Diamond room. The Hope Diamond is somewhat bigger than an American or Canadian quarter (25 cent piece) and quite fearfully wonderful to look at if you know anything about its dramatic history.
Tomorrow Washington again, either the Zoo or further Mall explorations. Tuesday, the renowned Baltimore Aquarium and a kind of kids' resort (Port Discovery?). Wednesday is up for grabs (whatever we didn't do on Monday) and Thursday we drive back to Toronto. Whoosh. Zoom.
Internet access turns out to be dodgier than I had thought, and it's making me anxious, but will try and get a bit more done tomorrow afternoon if I can send everyone else out for a swim. But what a fantastic trip! Highly recommended. Rellies with diplomatic license plates are likewise highly recommended if you can arrange it.
Patterns have appeared on Patternfish in greater or lesser profusion almost every day since we went live on 4 June 2008. Naturally someone has to do this, and so far it's been me. It's even been done at the expense of knitting itself, if you can imagine. I love doing it but it's been pretty relentless.
Starting tomorrow, the family and I will be driving to and around Baltimore, Maryland, and Washington D.C. visiting darling relatives and seeing sights. It's our first real road trip (and our eldest child is 10; waiting this long constitutes a sin in Canada). While you Patternfish fans won't be able to count on many new patterns a day, there might be some, and certainly more frequent (and likely more interesting) blogging-- almost daily, I should think. I have to say I'm looking forward to knitting time as a passenger; our resident tech expert Greg has yet to figure out how to actually upload patterns securely and flawlessly via wi-fi while hurtling along the Interstate. Next year, no doubt.
I will be able to get email, so if you're tempted to submit new patterns or designs for the first time, this is an ideal moment in which to do it. It makes my life much easier than lots of scanning. C'mon!
For some years America's JCA Crafts (parent company of Reynolds, Artful Yarns, Unger, and others) represented a designer line of yarns which is no longer available (I believe it ended in 2006 or shortly after). The name under which it was produced is a marketable commodity, and licensed in many ways to many companies even now.
The yarns were terrific, very high quality, and more costly than many. We mourn their loss.
But... the designs were likewise terrific, very high quality, and looked fantastically expensive-- partly because of the yarns they were made in, but also partly because they were so very well thought out and timelessly striking.
We think it would be an awful shame if access to these designs were lost to knitters forever, just because the yarns were discontinued. So we have asked JCA Crafts repeatedly (they would likely say we badgered them to death) if they saw any fair and legal way to publish these designs online for knitters who would cherish them.
After years of deliberation and thought, they have finally agreed to make them available to fans so long as the name of the designer is not used or mentioned in any of the marketing materials. That is, we can't promote these designs in any way using the designer's name (for which people usually pay large licensing fees). If you know the name involved, keep it quiet! If not, no matter; you may shortly be exposed to designs of such classical loveliness that you won't care where they came from.
We are preparing the first releases of these designs, and are looking for feedback from you as to how to prioritize them-- if it matters (there are spring and fall seasons for many years). We're looking for comments. If we see any comment mentioning the name of the designer involved, we will be forced to delete that comment, so as to strictly comply with any applicable American laws. Be warned. But otherwise, does anyone have anything to say on this matter, pro or con, before we test any waters?
Once I said I blogged with the frequency of Halley's Comet, and this last month I really made that come true. But unique circumstances dictated it-- my Dad's memorial and the people who came to it from all over, and since they've come from all over you really want to see them offline, too.
"You don't blog enough," people say, and I suppose technically that's true. But in a way (and I write most of them) every pattern's description is a little blog. A bloglet. Italians might say (I like this) a bloghettino. We post new patterns almost every day. By the time I should write an Official Blog Entry (perhaps a blogone, pr. blow-GOH-nay), I'm often feeling quite wrung out, like all the words and wit have been through the juicer already. Then I don't want to disappoint people, so I don't Blog.
Someone once asked Margot Fonteyn what she had meant when she had performed a certain gesture or step. "I explained it while I was doing it," she replied. I think a lot of designers talk to us like this. In the descriptions, I sort of hold up signs pointing to certain elements of what they explain by doing-- or what you're prevented from seeing, since you can't read the whole pattern before you buy it. Patternfish's whole existence is rather like that too; we explain it by its being, its very presence. I love my job.
As I write we are two patterns away from having 2500 listings. It's quite unbelievable.