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!