Thursday, June 25, 2009

Gadgets, part 1: Needle Gauges

This started out to be a post about shopping early for Christmas winter and other holiday gifts for knitters. It got really long. So, I'm breaking it up.

I've been collecting a list of links to things I'd like in my notions bag(s). I thought they'd make good stocking-stuffers (etc.), so I was going to wait to post it, then someone started a similar topic on Ravelry, and I realized that people might want to start shopping now (for themselves or friends/family who knit). I started it, but like I said, it got looong. Then, yesterday, I got a new gadget in the mail, and had to show it off, so the series was born!

Go-Go-Gadgets Part 1: Needle Gauges/Sizers
sock needle gaugeNeedle gauges are a real must in a knitter's notions/gadget bag. They're used for exactly what the name says: to determine needle size -- helpful because a lot of needles don't come with the size printed on it (KnitPicks) or the info. wears off after use (any bamboo/wood needles). Most gauges also have a small ruler so you can figure out your stitches per inch (also called "gauge," in the US at least).

  • The gauge shown here is a great item for sock-knitters! I ordered mine from ScoutJ on either Sunday or Monday, and it arrived on Wednesday. Most gauges just have the even needle sizes, except the 10½ (all sizes given are US), which makes it tough when you have sock needles in sizes like 1½ & 2½. This one only goes up to size 4, because that's the usual range for socks. The mini ruler is 2" long -- a standard length for ribbing on many sock patterns. ($12)
  • The same maker has a regular needle gauge (same page as linked above) that starts at 8-0 (that's 00000000) and goes up to size 15 (doesn't seem to have 0, but I could be missing it), with a 4" ruler. ($16)
  • These metal ones come in a wide variety of colors are are pretty enough to wear as a necklace. Even though they don't have the odd half sizes, I want at least one. This link goes to the best price I found ($16).
  • I found the "i needle u" man-shaped gauge yesterday, and think it's hysterical. This link goes to the best price I found ($10).
  • You can get simple metal ones from any craft store for under $3. They're perfectly fine, but can be a pain because they bend so easily.

There are even more options out there, but these are my favorites!

Related gadgets:

  • The Knit Kit - Many gadgets in one! This is like a Swiss Army knife for knitters, with a tape measure (how it fits into this topic), tiny scissors, and lots more. ($19.99)
  • Tape measures - range in price from $1 (small metal ones from places like Home Depot) to $10 (fancy sheep-shaped ones). I lose these things pretty frequently (they eventually show up again), and any child that gets their hands on one tends to pull the tape right out of the case, so I like to find them on sale and stock up. This one from KnitPicks is only $1.99, and since it's yellow, would be easy to find in a dark bag!

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Tuesday, June 16, 2009


Smooshy Socks @ Lunch #2I've been knitting for about five years, and the idea of knitting socks both fascinated and terrified me at the same time, up until about a year ago. Some people start on socks as one of their first projects, some wait awhile. I waited a good long while!

I taught my friend, Anita, how to knit a couple of years ago, and she was knitting socks (two at a time!) within a year, while I was still intimidated. Then, I found a book that changed everything for me. Come to find out, with the right instructions -if socks are something that appeal to you - they aren't that hard or scary at all; in fact, they're downright magical. Wearing hand-knit socks is like having your feet hugged all day long.

I've found it to be rather difficult to knit socks for people when I can't see them a few times during the process and try them on, so I've declared that - from now on - I only knit them for John, myself, and babies.

Before I made that decision, I got some yarn to knit some socks for my friend Heather's birthday. I ordered three skeins, because she's kind of like an Amazon (tall! biggish feet (although if you took my shorter feet and multiplied by width, they're probably similar in size)), and I wanted a pair, too. We have matching tattoos, so matching socks (at least with the same yarn), would be no big deal. I got the bright idea to ask her if she wanted me to knit the socks for her, or if she wanted to learn herself. Woot! Off the hook: she wanted to learn how to knit socks.

It was a little late, but her "birthday" package arrived at her doorstep late last week. I combined the yarn with the book that demystified the process for me, and some other goodies, and sent it off. About 3 months late, but that's how we roll. Heather is ready to get started, so I sent her a big, long email with a bunch of tips. I figured I'd share it with you all as well, with some modifications for a broader audience.

The book I sent: Getting Started Knitting Socks. There are tons of tutorials online (including some with videos), other books, classes, etc. This is what finally made it all make sense for me. Your mileage may vary (YMMV). Heather already knows that the copy she got is one I already owned (not new). I misplaced my first copy, not long after purchasing, and had to go buy another. Of course, a few weeks later, the first book turned up in a drawer (I don't generally keep books in drawers).

TIP: Make a photocopy of the pattern you're going to use, and any supporting pages and pop those in your knitting bag, rather than carrying the book around. As long as you own the book, this is perfectly acceptable.

The yarn I sent is not the yarn she'll start with. This requires a size US2 needle (or thereabouts); pretty small for a first time. But it's fabulous, is it not?

I've suggested that she take a similar pattern for a baby sock, and use worsted-weight yarn to get a feel for the steps involved. This pattern - North Country Cotton Baby Socks (rav link) is pretty much identical to the basic pattern in the book, except for scale.

I've been pretty amazed to find that one can wear wool socks during the hottest days of summer, and have one's feet be the most comfortable part of one's body. The type of yarn I like to use is superwash wool with 20-25% nylon for added durability.

Please note that there are several methods of knitting socks, and each has its pros and cons - and fans. I'm introducing Heather to the most basic, top-down socks.

Stuff you need:

Pattern. There are some excellent free patterns online for beginners.

Notebook & Pen. I highly recommend making notes on something besides (or in addition to) your pattern copies. Why? Notebooks are a little harder to lose. I write down everything that might be different from the pattern so I'll remember for sock #2, or a future pair. Because I lost my notes from John's first pair (see!) I've been extra careful this time.

I make notes like: "7 spi, size 3 needles, DK yarn. CO 68 with MC, 4 rows 2x2, switch to CC, 4 rows, MC - 10 rows." Translation: 7 stitches per inch (actual name of pattern AND my gauge), needle size, yarn weight. How many stitches I cast on, and the pattern I work in (k2xp2 ribbing) I'm using 2 colors of yarn, so this reminds me where to add the stripes.

Needles. I am a huge fan of the Magic Loop method, and do one sock at a time, cuff-down, on one 32" circular needle. You can also use two shorter circs or a set of double-pointed needles (DPNs). I love the fixed circulars from Knit Picks (KP). They start around $4.99 a pair for the metal ones, and the cables are plenty flexible for Magic Loop (more on that later).

Be careful when ordering from KP - they list two size 2 needles (for example), but if you look, the size given in mm is different. The first is a US2, the next would be considered a 2½.

Gauge. Even if you're one of those people who always gets the gauge printed on the ball band, you're going to need to knit up a small swatch in the round, to find out your gauge. Most sock yarn bands list a range of gauges for a range of needle sizes. When you knit in the round, you have a slightly different tension than when you knit flat.

Stitch markers. Most sock patterns are written for DPNs. I use stitch markers to indicate where the yarn would be divided on needles, and just pretend. I mark the end of the round with a double-ringed marker, which makes it very easy for me to figure out where I left off if I was in a decrease (or increase) row. You put it on the first loop when you're on a decrease row, and the second loop for the one after that (always plain knitting). Very simple.

Row counter. You need something to keep track of your rows. For some parts of the sock, I just go by length, but in other areas (like the heel flap), you need to count rows. There are many different kinds. You can get one of the clicky kind at the craft store (use a coupon - they're like $11!), one that hangs from your knitting where your roll a small dial, or just make marks on a piece of paper. (You'll want to take notes anyway.) Another way is to link a series of rings together, and move to the next loop on every row (like these) There are even bracelet kinds, but I haven't made or used one.

Notes on Techniques
  • Magic Loop (ML) method. I learned Magic Loop by watching a video on (Advanced Techniques - scroll down to "small diameter circular knitting" - it's the third item). I haven't seen the video that KnitPicks has on their site (might even be the same one). If you do ML, you must have circular needles with a long and thin/flexible cable.
  • Picking up stitches. Probably the toughest part, and it's not really that hard. Just don't get too far ahead of yourself and you'll be fine. One thing at a time.
  • Toes. Everyone goes on and on about the Kitchener graft. They either love it, hate it or are afraid of it. Count me in among the haters. I just do a gathered toe (back of the book), like at the top of a hat, then turn the sock inside out and make sure I weave in the ends really well. If John can't destroy the toe, I think it's fairly safe.
  • Cuff. I have big ankles, but even when my socks fit comfortably, I tend to scrunch the sock down. I figure, why spent a whole lot of time knitting a long leg/cuff when it's going to end up bunched around my ankle? I usually do about 3" of ribbing, then a few rows of st st before I start the heel flap. If you have more slender ankles, or like longer socks, just knit longer before you start the heel flap.

This is just one person's view of knitting basic socks. YMMV.

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Monday, June 15, 2009

Back to Sheena's - Comfort Food 2

Sheena's BBQ BonesOne night last week, Wednesday, I think, a friend of John's was over, working on the next episode of the news show and helping with something in the basement. They were finishing up just as I arrived, so I suggested dinner -- at Sheena's. R_ had never been, and I'd been craving the stuff for ages.

It was pretty busy when we pulled up, but we received quite the warm welcome! It turns out that Sheena had received my note, linking to the first blog post. She loved the pictures showing off her food, and all the nice things I'd said (all true) about the taste of the food and the cleanliness of the place. (She also said it made her cry, I'm guessing in a good way, considering what happened next.) R_ got a tour of the grill, but no offers to taste things, because Sheena had something else in mind. She told us to order our dinners, and then she'd set us up with some other goodies.

Sheena's Brisket SandwichSo, we ordered and paid for our meals. R_ and I both got the brisket sandwich (mine with coleslaw, his without) and fries; John got the Red Hots dinner. And we all got lemonade (in larger cups!). I had enough left over from my sandwich to make another one for work the next day (between two slices of regular, boring bread).

I neglected to get a photo of the fries this time, and still haven't seen the making of them in action (I'm so easily distracted), but John says that they're fresh cut, on the spot, not frozen. He also says that they heat up - in the oven - pretty well.

Besides our meals, other food just kept arriving! It seems that the blog entry may have sent some business her way. It was definitely shared during a business expo. in Detroit a couple of weeks ago, showing a possible result of good product and customer service. (It's just as easy to write a bad review, but I find it infinitely more enjoyable to write a good one, with all the trimmings (pictures, details).)

Sheena's Red Hots & Hush PuppiesThere was a tiny bit of confusion when the food first started arriving. I hadn't heard John's order, so we thought this pile of deliciousness was a surprise from Sheena. Oops! It was John's dinner. But sharing a couple of pieces of Red Hots (that are really too hot for me) wasn't going to be a problem for him, because then the real surprises started showing up!

Sheena's Ribs, 2 kinds of beansFirst, half a slab of ribs and both kinds of beans, with smoked apples. I didn't have much of the ribs, because my goal was just to taste everything; I still had my own dinner to eat! The guys raved about the ribs; I thought they were pretty tasty and really liked the BBQ sauce. The beans were great, too.

I wish I'd taken a picture of the whole table, instead of the individual dishes! R_ did, with his camera-phone. I should see if he'll send it to me.

Sheena's Smoked Chicken and ApplesI am not a huge fan of poultry, because poultry doesn't like me. I am a sucker for good chicken strips (largely because of the Ranch dressing), and Popeye's chicken nuggets, but I tend to avoid the stuff in general. I will, however, make an exception for this smoky goodness!!

Sheena's Cornbeef Soul RollThis here could just be my new favorite thing. If you like a traditional Irish corn beef & cabbage dinner, this might appeal to you: it's one of Sheena's Soul Rolls, lots of cabbage and some other fresh veggies, tossed with a healthy quantity of juicy, sliced corned beef. This wasn't ours -- I wasn't kidding when I said that Sheena liked my photographs! She called me up to take a picture of another customer's food before he took it away. But then she brought me half of an identical one to try. Oh! It came with the (optional) hot peppers, which I would not order for myself, but I picked them out and devoured the entire half, forgetting about the pile of hot fries, ribs, chicken, etc. I need to point out again that these are only $3.95!

When the weather gets colder, come sometime this Fall, Sheena will close up and focus on her art (she was an art teacher until this calling, and sculpts in her spare time) until it gets warm enough to be outside a lot. I am going to miss it, but since it's only halfway through June, I have lots of time to get my fill until bleak weather takes it all away.

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Oh, so many things

I've had many things to blog about, but not so much the energy or time. So a few short blurbs (light and funner stuff first):

Crafty & Stuff
Glass Swan Stitch Marker

  • If you get the joke, you may want one of these stitch markers: Glass Swans. They are not truly suited for practical use, but are truly fun to have and giggle at. Available in my shop.
  • A new online knitter's magazine just launched (as in last night or this morning): Petite Purls. Focus is on adorable patterns for small children; the first issue has a knitted lobster toy that either gender would enjoy.
  • I'm about a third of the way finished with the second sock of the pair I'm knitting for John. Sock #1 fit perfectly (woot!) and I believe I'll meet my goal of having these done by Friday. As soon as the pair is done, I've promised something for a charity as part of knitalong on Ravelry. Then, maybe a pair for me again.
Fast & Furious
I've had the 'flu for past couple of days. Woke up Saturday, around 4 AM with what may have been a "regular" migraine, but it could also have been a precursor to the illness. As the day dragged on, I felt less and less okay; until, by mid-afternoon, I was quite ill. Sunday was a day of many naps and lots of DVD-watching and knitting. Today, I'm not at work, because I still have very little energy and my fever kept coming back last night and I hate people that show up to work with fevers (frequently means contagious). I'm pretty confident that I'll be fever-free tomorrow and able to walk the two blocks from my parking lot to my building!

Crisis Averted
We have had a small leak in the basement from the floor above for some time. At first, we thought it was just condensation from the air conditioner; however, once we had a dehumidifier running non-stop, it didn't get any better. So John contacted the home warranty company, and they had a plumber out the next day. There was a crack in the hot water main! Not covered, sadly, for convoluted reasons, but cheap to fix considering the alternative (if it broke wide open)! That wouldn't have been covered either.

So Confused (and this won't help a lot)
You may have noticed that I edited the two posts related to the ad debacle. Well, the ads are staying down, but things have gotten, shall we say interesting(?), and I've had to contact a lawyer. What's frustrating is that I thought everything was resolved, and several days later got a series of emails from official channels, opening up an ever bigger can of worms. People really need to get the whole, up-to-date story before they try to dive in and "help." You know?

Next: Back to Sheena's. It would be a way-too-long post (again) if I included that.

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Monday, June 8, 2009

Thank You!

Thanks to everyone who came by and left comments during the last few days. I do have comment moderation on, but I posted every single one received, and I'm grateful for each and every one of them.

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Sunday, June 7, 2009

Ad Update

There's an update in Friday's post, but I don't want anyone to miss it. Ravelry has removed the disputed ads from the site again. The ads were removed, but it looks like it was temporary... again.

Kind of back to where things were. At least as regards the ad.

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Surprise Colorway

Last weekend, I decided to try my hand at dyeing some sock yarn with Wilton food coloring (previously, I've only used KoolAid). A sweet Rav-pal sent me an assortment package of the dyes a few weeks ago, along with a skein of exactly the yarn I needed for a pair of socks for John (I hadn't mentioned that anywhere - it was a total random coincidence). I looked all over for color-mixing charts that would get me the mossy green color I wanted, and found one, forgetting that most of the directions out there are for icing. When you add heat to the mix, the colors break up. (I knew that in the back of my mind, but had forgotten for the moment.) Edited to add: I definitely used vinegar in the pre-soak and some in with the dye itself.

My Hand-dyed: UnnamedFirst, since I had a few skeins of undyed merino sock yarn (another RAK gift (I am so lucky!)), I decided to try dyeing one of those first. I figured I'd end up with some kind of green, which my feet would always happily wear. I played around with it, combining the yellow and violet, which were just not getting it done. So I added some brown. I ended up with a bright green with a touch of greenish brown splotches. I liked it, so I went ahead with the yarn for John, using the hand-painted method instead of the kettle/stove-top.

My Hand-dyed: Crop CircleSomewhere along the lines, something went really wrong. The yarn I put into a gallon Zip-loc bag (to steam in the microwave) was, indeed, a deep mossy green (mostly). What came out... something else altogether. But John liked it, so I decided to leave it as is. After I wound it into a ball (cake), I christened it Crop Circle. (I'm learning that you must name your yarns.) I haven't named the green yarn yet... still thinking on it.

Crop Circle Socks - Day 1Yesterday I packed my emergency knitting bag* for a road trip. (John had to film an interview in Ohio.) I cast on and just knit and knit, the whole way there. There was some rearranging once we arrived (due to vehicle constraints), and I stayed with John's partner's wife and young daughter. We did some gardening, and walked around, and blew bubbles, and I just blathered on nonstop. Later, we went back inside, and I took up the knitting again. I got more done than I think I've ever accomplished in one day, especially on a sock! Plus, I was able to spend time with some lovely people, and stay away from this blasted machine (and not think about certain things) for most of the day.

Later, we went to dinner at a Mexican restaurant they like. The food was fabulous, the company excellent, the service... confusing.

Plans: try a different method of heat-setting the yarn; get some other mordant (I think that's the right word) besides vinegar; try some commercial dyes (which will mean a dedicated set of pans, dishes, etc., but might be worth the trade-off for the control).

*It's so corny; I was saving this bag until I could actually pack it as an emergency kit. Someday I will, and I'll tuck it under the seat in John's car. But it's a great regular knitting bag, with little pockets all around. Highly recommended.

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Saturday, June 6, 2009

Back to knitting

I know, I can't believe it either! It's been a couple of weeks since I did anything but a few half-hearted stitches on a fall-weight ribbed scarf. Last weekend, I attempted to dye some sock yarn. I'll post about that once I have the photos onto Flickr.

John had to film an interview in Ohio today, and I tagged along. I cast on for his socks as we were pulling out of the driveway (didn't actually join the round and start knitting until after I got something to eat), and knit pretty furiously off & on all day. Tonight, I'm starting to decrease the gusset. Feels pretty good.

It's been almost a knitting wasteland here for almost a month. First, I was having pains in my left wrist, so I figured I'd give it a break. Two weeks ago, we lost Sheldon, and I just haven't been in the mood. Today, it just felt like something I needed to do!

*Can't get two socks, even short crew ones, out of a ball of sock yarn for him.

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Friday, June 5, 2009

This is not easy

Update, Sunday, June 7: Heard from the folks at Ravelry that they have removed all of the ads. They can't, obviously, police her account, but if I spot any that are this similar again to let them know. Looks like this info. wasn't entirely accurate.

Something's happened to me that happens all of the time to creative people: someone has picked up something I created and used with without my permission. In the grand scheme of things, it's hardly the end of the world. It's just a squiggly line. But my response to that is, "yes, it is, just a squiggly line, so why can't you make your own?"

In mid-May, I was contacted by a Ravelry user about the possibility of doing some advertising. Until today, I had in my profile a link to a "roll call" thread, displaying some samples of my work, and an offer to exchange ads for cash or yarn. I'm not terribly busy with it, but I have gotten a few skeins of yarn out of it, and met some nice people. As reasonable as my rates were (about half of what some designers* charge), after they hear my rates, more than half of the people I hear from don't get back in touch. This person did, and we ended up speaking on the phone.

I was told that there had been another designer on the job; she'd been paid, but the work wasn't exactly what my new client wanted. Could I base an ad on what had been done, but create the artistic elements of it myself (the remaining elements were straight gray lines and her own logo, plus a typed tag line)?

Disclaimer: I didn't know right off the bat who this first designer was, but I honestly saw nothing wrong with her version of the ad. In fact, I still feel that it was superior to mine. And, I must say that I felt really uncomfortable with this, but against my better judgment, went ahead with it, because sometimes, people just can't work together. Later, I discerned that the cause did not belong on designer #1's doorstep.

I created an ad to her specifications -- mostly tweaks of the original, plus a wavy line that I created. I sent it, like I always do with new clients, as a .JPG file with "DRAFT" embedded into the image. Soon after, when the client didn't like many things about the ad, I decided that it just wasn't worth it, and told her I couldn't help her. I did not bill her, because I didn't finish, nor did I deliver a usable product (because of the DRAFT portion).

Imagine my surprise when, a few days ago, I'm reading a thread in Ravelry, and I see an ad pop up. One that looks very similar to mine. As in, pretty much identical. In this image, the one I found on Ravelry is on top, and on the bottom is the one I sent back in mid-May:

At first glance, they look identical, except for the absence of the DRAFT portion. I immediately contacted my ex-client and gave her 24 hours to remove the ad. On closer inspection there are a couple of tiny differences. Since most of it, except for the placement of the items and the wavy line, were the work of the first designer, I sent another message to the client, stating that all I was concerned about was the wavy line; she couldn't use it in any way, but I didn't care about the rest of it.

It was at this time that I got in touch with the first designer. I didn't find her earlier because I'd mis-heard her name. But I took another look at the designers in that thread on Rav, realized who it was, and sent an email, apologizing for my part in the whole debacle. She was gracious and sweet, did not blame me for any of it, and offered to go to "the powers that be" (TPTB) on Rav and support my story.

I won't bore you with the back & forth conversation I had with my ex-client. She offered to pay me for the ad, but by now it had become about the principle of the thing, so I declined. Eventually, she sent an email stating "Hi Mel, The ad you worked on has been pulled." (Emphasis mine.) In the meantime, I'd located another ad, using the same line, just recolored and a bit lopped off the end. I asked her to remove this. She stated that she had to wait to hear back from her designer, to see if she had created the line. So, I sent this (my Photoshop layers, in red, nudged up a little higher so you can see them both - I made the top line red instead of the original green):

I finally had to get TPTB at Rav involved. They removed the above ad, as well as a group badge and banner I hadn't even seen. That was yesterday.

A breakdown of how the line in question was created, so you can see how minuscule the odds are that someone would create the same line:

Today, I discover that not only was there a third ad, but the first two are back, with subtle changes. (However, the group banner & badge have been replaced with completely new art. Interesting priorities there.) Basically, her designer just squished the line:
If you can't make out the text above the red line, it gives the height & width changes (~95% of the width & ~117% of the height, give or take) that were made to the line. Just squishing the line isn't replacing it. (The little dip was cut off for the first iteration of the second ad, the long one with the knitted fabric.)

Ravelry has since stated that they can't control what their advertisers do ("advertisers have control over their accounts...we can not and will not arbitrate these types of disputes.") Which does confuse me, because if someone had a dispute regarding images on another site, that content would be removed pending investigation. Not the case on Ravelry. I'm waiting to hear back from my lawyer, but I'm thinking I won't be able to afford taking legal action. So, here I am. As of this writing, almost 48 hours after the first deadline passed, the ads containing my work are still present.

As a result, I'm no longer creating ads, except for one long-term client and a few past clients. It's not worth the hassle (plus, people steal bigger stuff all the time, and I'm just not going to open myself up for that in an environment where I have no recourse). I left the design group where I've been modding for over a year, for which I created dozens of group badges and banners (for free). I'm not leaving Rav, because I have found a fabulous group of friends, and the notebook and pattern-finding features are out of this world. I do plan on scaling back my participation in other ways.

Really, who does this kind of thing? And on the same site where she found me? Lame doesn't begin to cover it.

*I'm not a graphic artist. I think people that can apply that title to themselves accurately deserve more money.

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Tuesday, June 2, 2009


I'm not addicted to Farm Town. I can stop whenever I want. Just let me plant one more row. (Just like knitting! Sort of.)

This image is of my farm early this morning. I was too tired last night to plant it all, but I did get some commemorative art work done in the bottom left plot before I fell over. (I try to only plant in the evenings because of the growth cycle. Yes, I have thought about it this much.) The dollar $ign will stay -- this is a gulch after all! (Atlas Shrugged reference FTW!)

It's been a lot of fun, and because I have so many friends that play, that makes it even better. I was "hired" to harvest a couple of big farms* right off the bat, which gave me a significant stake, allowing me to plant my entire garden and get the ball rolling.

In turn, I've tried to hire all of my "neighbors" who are just starting out, at least once, to give them the same leg-up. If they aren't online when it's time, I've found a forum I can go to & request help, rather than going to the dreaded Marketplace, which is full of beggars. Plus, the forum people leave my trees alone (I like them for color).

*There's a real false economy in the game. It starts out okay enough - it costs (in-game) $ to plow every square, and varying amounts for the seeds. Then there is the growing period (4 hours to 4 days (a day is 20 hours)). Then it's harvest time. If you harvest your own crops, you make X. But, if you hire someone to do it, they get a 25% cut PLUS you make 25% more.

On an unrelated note, word to the wise: temper tantrums are not attractive and they don't make people like you or want to help you. After a while, it doesn't matter what your real-life problems are, people are going to quickly move past pity, to annoyed, then peeved.

Online, some people exhibit all the behavior patterns of a troll, even if they aren't intentionally doing it to create drama and tension. I don't know if this makes a person a troll or not, since it's not on purpose. But it's definitely not the way to win friends and influence people. In my mumblemumble years participating in online forums, I've developed a list of things that don't work, and make you look silly:
  1. Constantly demand that an entire site be reprogrammed to match your preferences. The fact that other sites do it a certain way doesn't mean it's the only way, or the right way. Some site owners are innovative and are capable of thinking outside the box.
  2. Keep bringing up the same shit, over and over, after you've been told "no, it's not going to happen."
  3. Refuse to use the tools that are in place to help you avoid dealing with people you don't like. (It's called managing your own experience. Firefox extensions (like AdBlock or MyImageHere) are a prude's best friend. They're also the friend of people like me who are not prudes, that still like managing their own experience.)
  4. When people disagree with you, accuse them of being trolls or being mean to you.
  5. When it becomes obvious that you are in the minority, or that people are not coming around to your view, demand that a topic be shut down or deleted. Better still, just declare that the conversation is OVER. (We saw a thread like that somewhere a couple of weeks ago, and it was hilarious.) At some point, type this in ALL CAPS.
  6. When that doesn't work, start insisting that everyone else is a loser for being online and not doing something real. (Because, friend, you're online, not doing something real, right at that moment.)
  7. Start ad hominem attacks by calling people names based on their user names or avatars, or going through their profile and finding something to use that has nothing to do with the discussion.

The above may be slightly related to events that happened on a forum yesterday, but they're really universal. I've seen every one of these happen (there are more steps beyond #7, but you get the point - I didn't even touch on Godwin's law): on a scrapbooking forum, a cat forum, a wedding-planning forum, a Buffy the Vampire Slayer forum and, yes, Ravelry, time and again. If you find yourself exhibiting any of these behaviors, it's my advice that you turn off the offending browser page/tab and either find something else to do or go for a walk.

A lot of times before it progresses to #7, someone will flounce. That is, announce that they're taking their ball and going home. But usually... they don't. They cannot stay away.

Another thing they might do is get mad and start deleting all of their posts, so the discussion looks lopsided and weird. To that I say: BLOCKQUOTE, people. If you're in an online discussion and what you're responding to is crucial to your post, copy it, paste it in your post, and mark it so it's obvious it's a quote. Some sites have tools for this. If they don't, put quote marks around it and italicize it or something. You'll thank me later.

PS: If you're viewing this via a reader or anything besides the blog page itself, you might be missing some of the formatting. Facebook, for example, does not display the post formatting.

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