Monday, December 15, 2008

What's Wrong With the CPSIA

I've been thinking about this a lot since I heard about it on the Etsy forums.  I think the first thread I saw was from back in October.  At that point most people came to the conclusion that this legislation was aimed at the big retailers and/or Chinese importers, and the heat let off for a while.  Recently this forum topic has re-emerged, as concerned vendors received confirmation from the CPSA or their state governments that this would affect EVERYONE selling ANYTHING for use by children 12 and under.  Basically the law (which goes into effect Feb.10, 2009) requires that manufacturers have all components of all products tested for lead and phthalate content.  The reported cost of testing has put at around $35 per component... and by component, I mean every individual type and colour of thread, fabric, paint, material, finish, etc, etc.  For bigger manufacturers that produce huge batches this isn't too terribly bad, but the expense to the small scale manufacturer or one of a kind crafter would be beyond their means.  And even though some primary components will have already been tested, they must be retested once they are part of a "new" product.  Vintage materials must also be tested.  Worse, this law applies retroactively, meaning that any held over stock must either be tested... or discarded.  This also applies to any used childrens' items, you know, the kind people sell at garage sales or thrift stores.  If products aren't tested and certified, they are considered hazardous and the vendor could be subject to a huge fine for selling these.  Also the CPSA has made it clear that they will be determining whether your product is intended for children, whether or not the product is marketed to older teens and adults.   Art dolls, Blythe, stuffed toys and sculpture have all been defined as children's items because said to be they are perceived that way by the average consumer.  All imports and exports (to and from the US) must be tested.  The panic in the handmade community has been growing as people realize what this means for both buyers and sellers.  The wording of the official document is extremely vague, which has caused incredible confusion as people try to figure out exactly how they will be affected.  There are still a lot of questions about who needs to comply, how to get items tested and how this law will be enforced.   

I have a beautiful little boy.  His health, welfare and happiness are absolutely paramount to me.   I can understand the reasoning behind this law.  I don't know what I would do if he became sick or -god forbid- died from a toy or clothing I gave him.  However the CPSIA obviously goes far beyond what is reasonable.  To deem all untested items hazardous is illogical and reactionary.  
It is important that consumers take responsibility for what we bring into our homes.  We can not expect anyone to do this for us.  This law will severely harm the one group of manufacturers most likely to take the care and effort needed to provide parents with safe products and answer our questions honestly.  

I sincerely hope that this law will be amended.  I don't think small business should be exempt from safety regulations, but there must be some middle ground.  I don't have the answers, but I am trying my best to spread awareness about this issue.  

To learn more, please visit these sites:

There are also groups on social networking sites like facebook, myspace, etc.

I hope everyone - world wide - puts some thought into this and expresses their solidarity with the small business community.

A press release on Jan.8/09 from the CPSA has stated that re-sellers of children's items, such as thrift stores, will be exempt the from certification requirements.
You can read about it here

Sunday, December 7, 2008

Isaac's Mittens

This is a great pattern for men’s fingerless gloves, from a Beehive pattern booklet published in 1915. These were probably originally meant to be knitted for one’s strapping husband to wear as he completed various greasy, manly, mechanical jobs on the farm in a howling blizzard… hence the 5” wrist garter. Since most of the guys I know use these gloves now in order to take outdoor smoke breaks or operate their iPhones while taking public transit, I usually opt to shorten the wrist to about 3.5”.
I have changed some of the wording in the original pattern to make it easier to follow, but the directions are unchanged. Sadly no gauge was included with the original. I used a much thicker wool than called for in the pattern and though it was a real, ehm, challenge to knit, the gloves came out quite nicely.

Men's Mittens

Original description: Knitted plain (except for the ribbing, to give elasticity in the wrist) these mittens are simple to make and very comfortable in wear, especially where the fingers require to be free.

Materials: 2.5 oz (around 70g) 3-ply yarn
Four 3.0mm double pointed needles


Cast on 52 stitches, placing 16 stitches on the first needle and 18 on each of the other two needles. Work in 2x2 rib for 36 rounds, or to desired length. After a few rows, place a stitch marker at the beginning of the round.

Work 10 rounds in plain knitting.

Begin the thumb: P1, increase in the next stitch (by knitting through the loop in the row just underneath the stitch, then knitting the stitch regularly), K2, increase again in the same manner, P1, K to end of round. The two purl stitches mark the outside of the thumb.

Knit two rounds plain, but continue to purl the two marker stitches.

* Increase row: P1, increase, K to the stitch before the next P stitch, increase again, P1, K to end of round.

K two rounds plain, continuing to P the two marker stitches as established*

Repeat * until there are 18 stitches between the two P stitches. Knit two more rounds plain without increasing. In the next round, K1 (the first purl marker stitch), place 18 stitches on a holder and leave them for the thumb, cast on 4 stitches, K the other purl marker stitch, continue on in plain knitting to finish the round.

Work 10 rounds in plain knitting.

Work 10 rounds in 2x2 ribbing. Bind off loosely.

Thumb: Take up the 18 stitches that were left on the holder and divide them evenly on two needles. With the third needle, pick up 6 stitches along the space between the other two needles.
Knit six rounds plain knitting

Work six rounds 2x2 rib.

Bind off loosely.
Weave in all ends. Block or steam as desired.

A scan of the original pamphlet is available from in pdf form. It’s in three parts, the first of which is available at
and contains links to the other two parts.

As far as I know this pattern is in the public domain, and you’re welcome to use it to create items for personal and commercial use. Enjoy!

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

We have to stop meeting like this

Well, here we go again. I am really going to have to improve my posting frequency!
I would describe the past summer as long and stressful and I'm sooooo happy it's over. We are more or less settled here in our cute little Winnipeg house. I even put all of our pictures up. That's a sure sign that my nomadic nature has been squelched for at least the time being.
I have really slowed down in my thrifting since we moved to 'the city' as us Manitobans tend to call it (HA). The thrift stores here are super expensive. Also with the resurrgence of thrifting as a cool activity for teens (ahhhh, I remember '96. Back then you could practically drown yourself in old man cardigans and vintage prom dresses for under $10), I just can't compete. And my Blythes... my poor, neglected Blythes. They are still standing sad and lonely in their spring party dresses with their original eyechips.
But I HAVE been doing lots of knitting! I have dropped some serious cash at Ram Wools since moving back here... I have all sorts of beautiful fiber in my stash. I am also becoming more active on ravelry and I can see that being a huge incentive to indulge my obsession. Next on my list is the Jayne Cobb hat for Jim. And after that, Christmas, and after that Chinese orphans and after that, etsy... maybe. :)

Tuesday, April 29, 2008

Some dolly pictures

Syrie before her salon visit.

And after. Still a little frizzy, but much improved!

Here is Nouvelle, complete with new lips!

I just had to put it through the film grain filter, because I'm obsessed with such things ;)

Monday, April 28, 2008

Back from hiatus!

Whew! What a month!

We found out at the start of April that we will be moving back to Winnipeg and have been in a whirlwind of chaos ever since. I think we finally found a place to live (always a good thing), and we're getting pretty close to having our house ready to sell. I can't believe I'm going to leave my beautiful old house. The one we're moving to is very nice, modern and a lot smaller. We'll be renting, so we have to find new homes for our pets though... there's been lots of tears over that.

But I think Olive (our dog) would be much happier on a farm, and hopefully we've found someone wonderful who's willing to take her. And the cats... well... I'll just keep hoping something turns up for them.

In the mean time, I did repaint Nouvelle's lips. I did them freehand, no template or anything. That was extremely challenging! I went with a dark wine shade. I like the shape but I'm still unsure about the colour. I wouldn't mind going a little goth with her, so I'll leave it for now and see how she looks once I (finally) order her new eyechips.

Also, I have a new Blythe! I bought an AE a few weeks ago, but I haven't had much time to get to know her. She's not even named yet! I'm thinking maybe Syrie? I was super disappointed when I got her... she looks so anemic and her hair was an awful frizzy mess. I gave her a nice shampoo and a deluxe fabric softener conditioning treatment, and after LOTS of tlc I got her curls soft and luxurious. Once that was taken care of, I started to remember why I fell in love with the AEs in the first place. She's still shiny, and her chalky lip colour has got to go, but I'm very excited about the possibilities. I haven't downloaded her pics off my camera yet, but will post some soon.

Wednesday, March 26, 2008

the better to see you with

I picked out some new eyechips for Nouvelle from brainworm. I'm pretty excited to get rid of the nasty pink and orange ones she came with. For now I think I'm going to get four colours: plum, wheat, apple and lime. I'd really like to foil them, too. The next steps are hair and makeup. I'm not too sure what to do with her hair... I am thinking of cutting the whole mess into a short bob. As for makeup, I left the factory colours on when I sandmatted, but now I'm rethinking that. I really can't stand those orangey-red lips! So once I get some paint supplies I think I'll sand them off and go either a darker red or medium pink. I'm still waiting for her clothes to come from etsy. But in the meantime, I did get some amazing lime green printed material yesterday at the thrift shop for another a-line dress.
Speaking of thrifting, I made out like a bandit in my shopping yesterday! I'll have to take some pics. Save that for Friday!

Monday, March 24, 2008


Since the Easter Bunny made an appearance yesterday, I guess we can safely say that spring is almost here. This winter has actually gone by quickly and painlessly, thanks mostly to being kept extremely busy with working and mom-type duties. But I'm still pretty excited for the warm weather and smell of living things.
I've finally clothed Nouvelle (my Blythe)! She was getting pretty pissed about standing around naked, so I sewed her a pretty pink dress. It actually turned out quite nice, despite my never having sewn anything more complicated than a pillow.